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Southern  Louisiana  and

Southeast  Texas


is a good place for a weekend getaway or short vacation.  It's the place we chose for mini-vacation in July, 2005.  (Please note we do not know the current status of this area, as this was just prior to hurricane Katrina.)


This is our "Southern Louisiana and Southeastern, Texas page."  It's our opinions and observations of our visit;  yours may certainly differ.  Prices and other information can obviously go out of date, so check with each vendor for updated info.





The area is abundant in scenery, and there are a multitude of things to do.  For those who like nightlife, Bourbon Street in New Orleans provides entertainment nightly.  As we prefer family activities, we chose to eat seafood and Cajun food, take an airboat tour, and enjoy the scenery.


We drove from the Dallas area.  While there are interstate highways, we chose some of the back roads for scenery.  Be aware when you get into Louisiana there are three types of roads (including the interstates):  those recently constructed, those under construction, and those in need of construction.  Traveling down I-55 provided a constant wop-wop-wop flat tire sound.  While we'd experienced this before so we knew it was the highway, one can only assume it's not good for one's car.





Louisiana is full of rich history, including pirates.  John Lafitte, a pirate who refused to attack a ship flying the American flag, assisted Americans in the war with the British (in return for a pardon).  The Mississippi River has created much of the lower area south of New Orleans, changing the appearance of the state over the years.  Louisiana became part of the U. S. in 1812 with the "Louisiana Purchase."


The area is rich in French influence.  "Counties" are called "Parishes,"  "City council members" are "Police Jurors," and "rivers" are "bayous."  French names abound, and can make pronunciation a little difficult for some.


Alligator farms are big business, and swamps are abundant.  Most cemeteries bury people above ground, as much of the area is below sea level.  (New Orleans is about 6' below sea level, and has many pumps to keep it from flooding.)   Home to the most famous Mardi Gras, the area is abundant in Creole and Cajun foods, as well as traditional seafood.  The Hurricane was invented at Pat O'Brian's in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Tours abound, including bus, ship (you can take a ride on the Mississippi on a paddle boat), swamp boat, and air boat.  Bridges and ferries give amazing views of the Mississippi River.  New Orleans is home to a national museum and a well-known aquarium.  The area has many old plantations, and I-10 west of Baton Rouge is designated by AAA as a scenic route.  (Warning:  this area of I-10 is elevated across a swamp, and is heavily patrolled by radar.)


Lake Pontchartrain, the second largest saltwater lake in the U. S., just north of New Orleans, contains the longest over water highway bridge in the world.  At over 23 miles (38 km), when you are in the middle of the bridge, you cannot see land.  In spite of the size of the lake, it averages only 12 - 14 feet in depth.





Because we took the scenic route, we took two days to drive each way.


The Econo Lodge in Nacogdoches, TX:  There was a sign on the counter stating "absolutely no refunds."  That should have told us something.  We couldn't get the "card key" to open our door without depressing the handle and turning it upward very slowly ... an employee had to show us how.  A light fixture near the bed didn't work -- it had no light bulb.  Thankfully, when I reached inside the lampshade to determine if the bulb was loose, I didn't put my finger into the socket.  I kept swatting at a fly in our room.  There was supposed to be a continental breakfast, but it was extremely sparse.  Communication with the desk clerk was difficult as he didn't speak much English, and I don't speak Arabic.


Comfort Inn in Amite, LA:  When we made our reservations on the phone, the manager would not honor the published AARP rate, so I had to go online to make our reservations.  Again, that should have told us something.  While the room was appointed nicely, the end doors closest to our room were locked from the outside, and the "card key" access had been turned off.  When I asked the desk clerk if they had a security problem, she said "no."  However, the next morning when I attempted to speak with the manager, he said several banks in the area had been robbed.  Our bill had a $1 charge for the safe in the room, and they were very upset when I made them take it off.  When I told the manager that I was giving him a courtesy notice I would be complaining to Comfort Inn, he responded with, "I don't need your courtesy notice."  (My complaint call to Comfort Inn resulted in a bored, "We'll let them know.")  Next time we'll stay in Hammond.


(Why the fuss over $1?  Assume a business gets away with tacking a $1 charge onto every room, and they rent an average of 50 rooms per night, that's an extra $18,250 a year they steal from the public.  I refuse to participate in such a scam.)


Holiday Inn in Slidell, LA:  (372 Voter's Rd., 985-639-0890).  This hotel was comparable to much more expensive hotels in which we've stayed.  The bathroom was not very big, but the room was spacious, and the window air conditioning unit was connected to a wall thermostat.  The room had a refrigerator and microwave, and the manager was not only pleasant, but gave us directions to an excellent restaurant, The Port Hole.  This was probably the nicest Holiday Inn I've ever seen.  (We no longer patronize Hilton Hotels, which are known for quality. This Holiday Inn was comparable to some Hiltons, in our opinion, and was considerably less expensive.)


Best Western in Jasper, TX:  (205 W Gibson, 409-384-7767).  An extremely nice motel, especially for the low price.  The evening clerk was a friendly, gracious lady.  When we checked out, the manager/owner was extremely pleasant.  The room was well-appointed, especially for a Best Western.  Their ice machines were lacking, and restaurants in the area close early.  You won't beat this motel for good East-Texas friendliness.





There were many "hole in the wall" restaurants where we stopped to get shrimp Po-Boys.  We were never disappointed.  The two following restaurants were more formal, and stood out as being exceptional in an area known for exceptional restaurants.


The Port Hole Restaurant:  (4406 Pontchartrain Dr., Slidell, LA;  985-643-1419, on Lake Pontchartrain).  A recommendation from the manager at the Holiday Inn, they have unbelievably good seafood at reasonable prices for what you get (our meal, for the two of us, was about $50).  Upscale, but casual.  There is a dock on the back of the restaurant that accommodates boats coming up the canal from the lake.   Our waitress, Stephanie, was very polite and efficient.  I complimented her service to the manager / owner, who was very gracious.


We did something we never do in Louisiana -- we went back the next night.  (When we go to Louisiana, part of the fun is trying new restaurants.  Their food, service, and attitude were just too good not to experience again.


Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant:  (30160 US Highway 51;  Ponchatoula, La;  985-386-6666, on Lake Maurepas in the Manchac area).  Famous for their seafood, it's good food in a casual atmosphere at reasonable prices.  They are very popular with the locals.  Closed Mondays.





There are many attractions in the New Orleans area.  We list only one, as it was the only thing that stood out as exceptional.  There were signs for other tours, but we didn't know about them as most don't have websites.  One tour company, with a website, didn't publish their rates, and didn't even quote them when I sent them an e-mail.  They smugly responded they preferred to speak directly with the customer.  Since I do most of our planning late at night when they don't want my phone call, we chose the one company that provided sufficient info on their website to allow us to make a planning decision at our convenience.


River Gauche Airboat:  (1-877-AIRBOAT, close to Paradis, on a 14,000 acre estate. 

Another airboat we encountered

Southwest of New Orleans, and a little over an hour from our hotel in Slidell.  Multiple tours, we chose a 1:45 minute tour for $50 each, after a $5 internet coupon).  This was the most fun we had on our trip.  The boat we rode boasted a 454 Chevy engine that produced about 400 horsepower.  Its rear fan produces thrust of 400 mph to propel the boat up to 57 mph.  The scenery was breath-taking.


The swamp where we rode was covered with vegetation in many areas.  The vegetation grows on top of the water, and is so thick our boat driver was able to walk on it.


We stopped at a "camp" where Mariah Carey reportedly made a music video in a swing.  Movie

Camp where Mariah Carey made her video;  swing is on the right

stars are reported to take this trip.  Many visitors to the U. S. take this tour -- we saw several people who were obviously not U. S. citizens, including a very nice young couple from Germany who shared our boat for the tour.  This is absolutely one of the most exciting things we've ever done.


Their website is http://bayouairboattours.com/, and it's very informative, in spite of the extremely annoying flash media.  Don't forget the $5 discount coupon, although they gave us the discount without showing the coupon -- we just let them know we had it.


There were other tours in the area, and we wished we'd known about them so we could have taken them as well.  Perhaps they'll discover the internet in the future!





(These were taken from a camcorder while moving, so please pardon them being a little blurry.

Click on thumbnails to view full-size picture)


The "famous" swing again

Holding an alligator!

Engine and prop


Scene from boat tour.  In the background you can see the I-310 bridge supports.

Scene from boat tour.

Scene from boat tour.


Scene from boat tour

Scene from boat tour

Scene from boat tour


Scene from boat tour

Scene from boat tour

Yes, we went OVER the levee


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