Entering Louisiana

We woke up this morning in Marshall, Texas, still tired from cheering on the Bison the day before. We started driving and after we had been on the road for a while, we saw a sign about Cane River Creole National Park. We hadn’t heard about it before but because we love national parks, we had to check it out.

The park contains two former plantations: The Magnolia and The Oakland. We went to the Oakland plantation just to check it out. The Oakland, formerly known as the Bermuda, was founded in the mid 18th century as a indigo and tobacco farm. Later on, when the U.S. made the Louisiana purchase, the farm became a cotton farm and slaves could be seen picking cotton out on one of the fields of this Creole farm.

The Civil War drastically changed life on the plantation. When the Confederates were retreating, they burnt the farms cotton gin and all of their cotton to prevent it from getting into Union hands. Many slaves also escaped to the north during this time. After the war, Freedmans Bureau labor contracts made it so that skilled workers like Solomon Williams, the blacksmith, could negotiate wages and hours. For unskilled workers, sharecropping was another option.

During World War One, many workers moved north to work in war related jobs. They were replaced by machines. By the 1960s, instead of seeing people lining the fields, you saw a mechanical picker being driven down each row. Throughout this time, the Creole traditions created almost 300 years ago still endure today.

After this, we hit the road, traveling through Baton Rouge to stay the week at Fontainebleau State Park, just outside of New Orleans. -AT

Experiential Education

When we kicked off on this adventure, I knew Andy and Woody would have fun, I knew they would like seeing new things and I knew Maureen and I would enjoy the change of pace. So far, what my boys have learned:

1). Sometimes things may be culturally accepted but aren’t morally right. It takes courage to do what’s right and sometimes that courage shows up in unexpected ways. We’ve had the chance to talk about slavery while at a National Park Service plantation, segregation while at Central High School in Little Rock, and all the crazy harassment stuff being talked about on the radio.

2). Family are not only an important part of who we are, they are those who we can rely on! Family can be blood or even those close to us. We had the chance to spend Christmas at Lucy’s, camp in Frisco with my parents, tailgate at the NCAA Division I FCS Football Championship with our Bison friends and family, and establish a bit of a routine as we move from one location to another.

3). Control the things you can and respond rationally to everything else. As they’ve experienced, sometimes things don’t go as planned. We didn’t plan to break down in Joplin, but as we dealt with that, we had to work through issues, wait for information, change our plans and ultimately buy a new truck. As they’ve grown up, they have learned that I am very frugal with cars. Sometimes reliability is more valuable!

4). You’ll never regret having more power(or as Rick Giesel said–Ummpapa)! After we decided to trade in the truck (which ended up needing a whole new engine courtesy of Ford), I started looking at F250’s. Given that our new house is on wheels, it only makes sense that we ensure we can get our house to go where we want. After almost 1,000 miles, I can say I’m happy with the purchase!

After we’ve gotten through the “planned” part of our travels, we’ve now set off on the unplanned part. We made it to Fontainebleau State Park just outside of New Orleans. Those of you who know me well know that I like to plan. I like to know what’s happening next and what’s planned for after that, all while having contingency plans in place. We don’t have any of that. We know we just reserved this spot for seven nights. We begin the exploration tomorrow!