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Tuesday, June 30

French Navy (Camera Obscura)

Louisiana is one of the states that we've never when presented with a few days off, we thought we'd just hop on down there and see what we could find!!  (In the upcoming weeks, we will be creating units on all the wonderful things we experienced, so be sure to look for those...)

History Museum in Shreveport

Our first stop was the State Museum of Louisiana, where we learned the basic background.  We learned that they have just as much oil and gas activity as Oklahoma does, and that cotton and rice were king crops for a long time.
We got to see the native wildlife, and the boys were very impressed with the pelicans.  They learned that Louisiana is nicknamed the Pelican State.  We also saw some historical krewe costumes from various Mardi Gras parades around the state.

Science Museum at Shreveport

The Sci-Port Discovery Center was one of the ASTC membership museums, which means that we could pop in and look around for free with our card!  (If you don't have a membership yet, and you travel at all, you should look into one.)  This is similar to our Omniplex, but had a few novelties.
We flew airplanes and learned to navigate ships by the constellations.  We also played on giant pulleys, life-sized compass and protractors, and shot ourselves up into the air!  Mom thought the last one was really fun!
The sky started to turn a weird shade of green, so we decided to head on down the highway and see where it took us...
Fort St. Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches
This place was pretty neat for a little hole-in-the-wall!  You know we love our history, and this was something we had never studied.  Fort St. Jean Baptiste was a French fort and trading outpost during the French & Indian War.  They have recreated the fort, complete with actors, to bring history to life!
It was nice to get out of the car and walk around a bit, and we learned some science along the way when the boys stopped to ask about all the algae growing in 'de swamp.
We poked around the trading post, picking up a bit of French along the way, and learned how to make an outdoor brick oven for baking outside in the heat and humidity.  We visited both the enlisted men and officer's quarters, and got to try on some of their uniforms.  Did you know that it's not just the Dutch that used wooden shoes?  The French wore them, too!

Le Vieux Village in Opelousas

About two hours from New Orleans, Opelousas IS creole country.  We visited three different museums, and learned a lot about creole history, but were only allowed to photograph in one of them.  Le Vieux Village offers a glimpse of early life in St. Landry Parish.  While the set up is similar to places we have visited in Michigan and Oklahoma, each region is unique, and we never tire of comparing and contrasting how the various cultures once lived...when the world was considerably more isolated.
The end of the road came for us in Opelousas.  It was getting dark, and we had been in the car for over eight hours....on the road for nearly fourteen, with all the stops.  We found a roadside motel and checked in, with the intention of making it to New Orleans the following day.  However, Mother Nature had other plans for us....and what unfolded was a fabulous journey through our past!  That however, is another story for another day...
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