First Trip With the Hoffmans

On May 20, we moved to an RV park on a private property in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This was our first trip with the Hoffmans, and we caravanned the entire way.

While in Baton Rouge, we got to visit some friends, Mr. Jack and Mr. Ron, who are fellow believers in the Lord.  We also got to meet some people from their church.

Two days later, on May 22, we carravaned to Hodges Vineyards and Winery in Camp Hill, Alabama.  (We stayed here on April 26 as well).

The next day, we carravaned to Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield, South Carolina.  On the way, we stopped at Congaree National Park, where we took a 2.6 mile boardwalk hike.  Congaree was protected by the NPS because of its historical floodplain, once lived in or used (at separate times usually) by Native Americans, escaped slaves, and loggers.  Now, it is a great place to explore the outdoors, hike, and canoe and kayak.

While at Poinsett, we walked to the small waterfall, lake, and playground.  My brothers and Mr. Josh went fishing, and Mason caught a catfish.

On May 25, we moved to Threads Run Thru It, a quilting shop in Rustburg, Virginia (also a Harvest Host).  On the way, us Wongs stopped at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in North Carolina.  This is where, in 1781, the Patriots lost a battle to the British, but ended up escaping almost unscathed.  Meanwhile, the British suffered a loss of over a quarter of their men.  The battle fought here weakened the British and helped win the freedom of America.

After that, we stopped at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia.  This place honored the African American boy born into slavery who was freed after the Civil War, excelled in school, and became a first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School.  He became an author and orator, looked up to by many people of all races.

We met up with the Hoffmans at the Harvest Host, where we ate dinner with them and stayed the night.

The next morning, we got on the road again and went to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (in Virginia) with the Hoffmans.  This is where General Lee (of the Confederate army) surrendered, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.  The reason it wasn’t the end was because the other generals of the Confederate army still had to surrender.  However, Lee’s surrender persuaded the other Confederate leaders to do the same.

At the Park, we walked around and looked at the different buildings, including a prison, the McLean house where Lee surrendered, and the tavern.

After that, the Hoffmans made their way to the Harvest Host we were staying at that night, while us Wongs went to Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia.  This is where a nine month siege took place, ultimately ending in the Union cutting off Petersburg’s supplies and the Confederates losing.  About a week later, Lee surrendered.

A lot of the park was closed due to COVID, so we only got to see the graves of people who died during the siege (due to clashes between the two sides).

Finally, we drove to Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights, Virginia.  We went into the museum and stayed the night with the Hoffmans.  The museum had hundreds of vehicles.  There were tractors, trucks, bikes, and decorations.

The next morning, we moved to Virginia Landing RV Campground in Quinby, Virginia.  At the RV park, we clammed, crabbed, had campfires, and found different sorts of sea creatures like conch.  We went door-to-door in a neighborhood near the RV park.

On Saturday, us Wongs went to Assateague Island National Seashore, a NPS site dedicated to preserving the seashore, island, and wild horses there.  It was a drizzly, cold, windy day, soo most of the time, we stayed in our truck.  We got to see three horses from afar, as well as the ocean and a river (where we tried catching crabs and failed).

We moved after almost a week, but for now, here are pictures of some of the stuff we ate in this blog post:

Food – Louisiana and Mississippi

Some interesting and new foods that I tried are:

  • Gumbo, a thick soup with chicken, sausage, and vegetables (at least in my case)
  • Boudin, a rice and pork sausage
  • King cake, a purple, yellow, and green frosted cake with a small plastic baby inside (there are other versions, though)

Alligators in the Wild – Louisiana and Alabama

On February 2, we moved to Santa Maria RV Resort Marina in Gautier, Mississippi.  Before moving, however, we went to another of one of the Jean Lafitte national park sites – Barataria Preserve.  There, we went on a ranger-led hike/tour through the marshy, swampy land.  We got to see an alligator up close and a nutria sleeping in some plants on top of the water.  The alligator was a mamma-gator, and she was very calm, even though we were pretty close.  She was sun bathing mostly.  The nutria was brownish orange, and it was very cute sleeping.  The nutria is a large rodent, and to me, it looked like a small capybara.

We visited Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, where we actually didn’t see sandhill cranes.  Instead, we took a hike and found carnivorous plants, including pitcher plants, sundews, bladderworts, and butterworts.  Since it was sunny and hot, most of the pitcher plants were brown.

So, since we didn’t get to see Mississippi Sandhill Cranes at the wildlife refuge, I’ll tell you about where we did get to see them – in the RV park we were staying at.  They were very tall, and we didn’t get to get very close to them.

On February 3, we moved to Meaher State Park in Baldwin County, Alabama.  Mommy and us children went to the Five Rivers Delta Center, which was close by, and looked in the different buildings.  We saw bugs, birds, snakes, and rats.  One of the snakes that I liked seeing was the venomous cottonmouth (because it’s venomous, of course!).

The next day, I and my family went to the Exploreum Science Center in Mobile, Alabama, which had lots of interactive displays.  The main ones that we looked at were the human body displays, and a display about flying airplanes.  Both were mainly video games, and in the human body educational area, there were displays where you could pretend to do surgery on someone through a touch screen.  My brothers really liked the airplane game, because they could build then fly their airplanes in the video game.

New Orleans – Louisiana

Chalmette Battlefield

On January 31, we moved to Boomtown Casino and Hotel New Orleans  in Harvey, Louisiana.  On the way there, we also went to Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum.  At the museum, there were three different sections.  One was about aviation, and there were lots of airplanes, as well as a movie.  Another was about shrimp-catching, and there was a small aquarium tank with different types of shrimp and a few other creatures.  The other one was about cypress trees.  We got to learn about how they cut down and turned trees into planks, and we looked at a whole bunch of machines used for the gigantic treesOn the way there

The next day, we visited the French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, which is another of one of the Jean Lafitte national park sites.  At this visitor center, we learned about the history of New Orleans and how it was built.  New Orleans was originally started by the French in 1718.  The movie that we watched in the visitor center taught about how New Orleans used to be a swamp that was flooded my the Mississippi river depending on the seasons.  We learned how the levees were built to protect the city, an how the drainage system works.

When we first got to New Orleans in the morning, it wasn’t crowded at all, and the weather was sunny but cool.  When we left the French Quarter Visitor Center, it was super crowded.  We walked around and saw people dressed and painted to look like metallic, gold statues, and we also saw many paintings and sculptures.  The buildings in the French Quarter looked fancy to me (they were French style), with their balconies and pillars.

After, we went to the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, which, as the name implies, taught about jazz.  The visitor center was pretty small, and there weren’t many displays about jazz music.  However, there was a program there where we got to learn another form of music.  We learned to play African drums from a man named Segunon who was born in Cote D’ivoire, Africa.  We had lots of fun, and since we were using our hands to drum, my hands were red afterwards and slightly numb.  After the drum lessons, we got to watch him play the African xylophone, which he made, and it looked like planks of wood over gourds.

Finally, we went to Chalmette Battlefield, another of one of the Jean Lafitte national park sites.  In 1812, the U.S. began a war with Britain, a result of Britain forcing people into the Royal Navy, including Americans.  Chalmette Battlefield is where America won the last battle (of the War of 1812) in 1815.  A treaty to end the war had actually been signed, but due to poor communication, the two fighting sides in America didn’t know, and that’s why the battle at Chalmette Battlefield was fought.

Cajun Culture – Louisiana

On January 25, we  went to two of the Jean Lafitte National Park sites in Louisiana (there are a total of 6 sites).  Jean Lafitte was a French pirate and privateer of the Gulf Coast in the early 19th century.  However, on this day we mostly learned about Louisiana’s culture and the influence the French had in this area.  We visited the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Euice, Louisiana and the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Both sites taught us about the early French settlers and their rich culture which people in this area still celebrate.

One holiday celebrated in the area that we learned about was Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).  It is celebrated for many days before Ash Wednesday, when some people fast.  During this time of celebration, people dress up in colorful, silly costumes and have parades, eat food like king cakes, and are decorated with green, gold, and purple bead necklaces.  People in a village would ride horses and travel from house to house.  They also traditionally throw a chicken off the roof and people try to catch the chicken.

We got to listen to Cajun music at one of the visitor centers.  There was French singing, accordions, a fiddle, a triangle, and a guitar.  It was very interesting for me to hear this different style of music than what we normally listen to.

On another day, we went to the Tabasco factory (in Louisiana).  We got to learn how the Tabasco was made, as well as see Tabasco brand things in a museum, but my favorite part of the whole tour was the tasting room.  In the tasting room, I got to try many different Tabasco products, including, hot sauces, steak sauces, balsamic vinegar, mustard, soda, and ice cream.

The Pelican State – Louisiana

On January 18, we moved to Poverty Point Reservoir State Park in Delhi, Louisiana.  On the way, we stopped at a small aquarium (Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium) which had fish, turtles, and an alligator.  Our favorites were the albino snapping turtle and baby aligator.

After the aquarium, we went to Cane River Creole National Historic Park, where we got to see two plantations and the difference between the lives of slaves (who later became sharecroppers) and their masters.  It was interesting to see how small and unequipped the houses of the slaves were in comparison to their owners, and how their lives were much different.  We also got to learn about the plantation crops and animals, and how the buildings were built to last long in damp conditions.  This was the first time I also saw a pigeonnier (a fancy house for pigeons that indicated higher class status).  At the end of our trip there, it began raining, and we had to wait on the porch of the big house for it to slow down.

We visited Poverty Point National Monument where we learned about the Native Americans and their earthworks they left from around 1200 B.C.  The earthworks were very big, so it must have taken many, many basketfuls of dirt to build them, and lots of team effort.    A nice ranger showed us how to use an atlatl (a common hunting tool of the past natives in that area).  An atlatl is a tool which uses leverage to help you to throw spears much further than you could without it.  I found it quite difficult to use, but a few of my brothers and Daddy achieved some distance with it.  The ranger (who got to practice much with it) was very good at aiming and throwing the spear with the atlatl.