Day 42 – Anoli’ (Stories)

Travelled through Oklahoma today. Seems like a very nice state. Lots of farms and small towns. There are a large number of Native American reservations in Oklahoma. Even the car registration plates say Native America

Visited two Native American cultural centres. The first was the Chickasaw Cultural Centre . The is a relatively new centre, opened in 2010. The centre is amazing. The Chickasaw have created a wonderful place which will be used by both their own citizens and by others to understand their culture and native culture more generally. There are a number of multi-use spaces, including:
A large theatre, which was showing a short documentary about the development of the centre. The film included many interviews with key team members, who were clearly proud of the work that had gone into developing the centre, and their ongoing role in supporting the development.
Meeting rooms which also showcase excellent paintings of tribal elders.
An external area which includes reproductions of Chickasaw buildings which is also used for presentations, such as dances (one of which we were lucky enough to participate in today)
Museum, which contains excellent exhibitions on myths and legends, traditional life and more recent history, including the period of removal.
Cafe which serves very good native food, including buffalo burgers, corn cribs and strawberries in balsamic which is a great dessert.
There is also a research area which supports Chickasaw research into their ancestry.

We also visited the Cherokee Heritage Centre in Tahlequah. This museum runs an annual art show, which is currently on display. The show has a number of excellent modern art pieces from Cherokee artists, which are also for sale. The museum also has a “trail of tears” exhibition, which tells the story of the removal of the Cherokee people from their home in North Carolina to Oklahoma. The exhibition is sensitive and contains a large number of personal accounts and individual stories.

20130429-224518.jpg

20130429-224526.jpg

20130429-224532.jpg

Day 41 – when I am bad at Tic Tac Toe

Had a family dinner today at the Golden Corral which is kind of like a country style buffet.

My nephew saw me, ran over and asked if we could play Tic, Tac, Toe because I am so bad at it and he always wins. We had played previously at another lunch and he did indeed beat me at the game (even if the rules were slightly different than I recall). Anyway, we couldn’t play until after dinner, then we didn’t have paper, so drew the game board in the chocolate sauce left over from dessert. I continued to lose, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

The only state that starts with an L

It is also shaped like an L. . I like Louisiana. It has a cool arty vibe, everyone is really nice and the food is awesome.

My total score for Louisiana out of 50 is 35.

Categories out of 10

Home comforts Quality of food, accommodation, etc. Score of 8. Accommodation wasn’t fancy but it did have a fridge and the room was quite large. The reason for the high score is definitely the food. It would have to be some of the best food in the US.

Attractions The quality of the attractions and generally how fun and interesting they were. Score of 7. It is definitely a fun state. There are lots of tours, sporting activities but there are also lots of artists collectives to look at.

Natural Beauty The aesthetic vistas of the state which make the drive easier. Score of 6. Bayous are pretty as are the long bridges.

Culture Historical and cultural sites and interactions with the locals. Score of 7. People are super nice and New Orleans has lots of history as it is very old.

Value Financial value – bang for your buck, so to speak. Score of 7. Pretty affordable.

Day 37 – When Louisiana throws everything at us

Today we got to taste lots of what Louisiana has.

We started off this morning with an air boat tour of the swamps near New Orleans. Our tour guide was native to the area and had lots of experience with alligators and other wildlife in the swamp. The bayou is a maze of large and small channels between the heavy forest and it would be impossible to find your way around without a guide. Our guide, Rodney, was knowledgeable about the environment and knew where to take us to meet a breeding pair of alligators and a large alligator, called Dante, also came to visit our boat. Rodney also spoke to us about the conservation efforts and the government regulations which help to preserve the alligators and other wildlife. The tour was fantastic and lots of fun to go through the bayou.

While we were out on the bayou it started raining, not too badly, but certainly enough to get us soaking wet through the ponchos supplied by Rodney. On the way back, the rain got worse. And worse. And worse. By no means is is an exaggeration to say it was the heaviest rain I have ever seen. While we very slowly drove back to the hotel we were joking that it must be a hurricane or a cyclone. It actually turned out to be a tornado. (Don’t worry, we were safe. The roads drain very well here and Chris drives well in all conditions. It did give me a good benchmark for heavy rain, however.)

After spending a few hours waiting for the rain to stop, we went to the French Quarter which is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in America and has a cool mix of tourist shops, restaurants and artists collectives.

We visited the voodoo museum which is in the heart of the French Quarter. The museum provides a lot of information about voodoo which is still very active in New Orleans (practiced by about 16% of the population). Voodoo is a lot like the city itself and is a mix of a wide range of traditions and the museum presents these traditions in an honest and insightful way.

We also had dinner at the Gumbo Shop. Creole food is some of the best food in America and the gumbo shop is a great example of it.

We had lots of fun in Louisiana and got to see a great sample of it.

20130424-193542.jpg

20130424-193556.jpg

20130424-193606.jpg

20130424-193615.jpg

20130424-193620.jpg

20130424-193624.jpg

20130424-193632.jpg