Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swamp Survivors

I know, I know... so much for that commitment to writing two posts per month. Seriously though, my last post was written on February 20th, and on February 21st, life as I knew it became a thing of the past. While a tiny portion of that statement may have been intended for dramatic effect, there really have been lots of events and life changes since my last post. To date, I have about five blog titles waiting to be hashed out for all of you diligent readers out there (ha).

Given recent events, I do want to take a moment to let everyone know that I am, in fact, alive and well. That statement is all encompassing, but it is also specifically intended as a response to the major tornadoes that tore through Raleigh yesterday. I was actually at Lendy's in Wake Forest at the time, so we saw most of the storm as it drove through Raleigh, before losing power as it came closer to us. Everyone I know in the area (including us) spent some time huddled in a closet or bathroom hoping to be spared from the storm. We were without power for several hours yesterday, but for the brief time we were finally able to view video footage late last night, we were amazed at the devastation that surrounded us. I knew it must have been bad for me to receive texts and calls from friends all across the country, wondering if I was okay, but I had no idea how bad it was until this morning even. Let it be known that my friends are a-okay, but we're also keenly aware of how just close of a call this was for us.


And now onto the real story I've come to share today...

Following my thesis defense on March 2nd (more about that in an upcoming post), I flew home to Louisiana on March 3rd and stayed through the 13th. Despite close calls along the travel experience, I was armed with my "bff Jill" and lots of reasons to celebrate for a week in my beloved Cajunland. Below are the "nitty gritty" details of our trip. :)

March 3: Traveling on two separate itineraries, through two separate layover locations, Lendy and I set out for a memorable (in more ways than one) adventure in Louisiana. In Raleigh, we tried to merge our itineraries, but to no avail; it wasn't until I nearly had a heart attack after being informed that all planes into Louisiana (all cities) were overbooked, and as a result, I'd be stuck in Atlanta for the next three days. Thank Heavens there are good people out there, and some nice man gave up his seat for me (all the while risking a two-day delay for himself in the process). In the end, Lendy and I made it to Lafayette within an hour of each other, as planned. That night, we had dinner with my parents at the Riverfront restaurant in Abbeville, and later surprised my Nanna (she had no idea I was coming!) for her birthday.

March 4: Per Lendy's request, we spent Friday out in the marsh doing real-life Cajuny things. My daddy and his friend took us out in the boat to fish and crab. We had some funny mishaps and lots of enjoyable experiences as we set trout (catfish)lines and learned to "run" the crab cages. That night, we had a crab boil, and Lendy learned how to peel boiled crabs for the first time! It was a good day.

March 5: When storms dampered our plans to travel to New Orleans for a night of Mardi Gras parades, we decided to have a lazy day of watching The Nanny from the living on the living room couch. My Nanna made a huge spread of Cajun food and invited my family and my cousins over for dinner that night. It was a two-for-one birthday celebration, and just another opportunity for us to "wine and dine" Mrs. Johnson (with her Cajun boyfriend).

March 6: Sunday, the weather lightened up and we were finally able to make it out for an evening of Mardi Gras celebrations in the Big Easy. We were eternally grateful to my college roommate, Jen and her husband, Logan, for taking us in as houseguests and serving as tour guides for the adventure. And my, was it an adventure...Sparing the details, I'll say that my first (and perhaps) last experience at Mardi Gras in New Orleans was even crazier than I expected. The word intense doesn't do it justice. Either way, we caught lots of beads, and (I think) a good time was had by all. To celebrate surviving the chaos, we ended the night with delicious beignets and hot chocolate at a cafe in Metarie. YuM.

March 7: On our way back home, we made a side stop in Thibodaux so that I could show Lendy my beloved Nicholls and the town where I spent 3 (wonderful) years of my life. We had lunch at Cane's (the LA version of Zaxby's), explored Nicholls' campus for a bit. We even took a few minutes to play at Pullen Park. That night, my daddy brought home crawfish, and Lendy experienced another first - peeling boiled crawfish.

March 8: Mardi Gras! Lendy's last day in Louisiana culminated with a parade on Mardi Gras Day in Lafayette. We witnessed some authentic Cajun celebrations, and saw some crazy stuff while we were at it. In the end, I think Lendy had a great time (I know I did), but the fun had to come to an end, because there were people waiting patiently to have her home again.

March 9-13: Benjamin, Lindsey, and I hosted our second web training for the group of Collegiate Facilitators who were selected for this year's National 4-H Conference. I relaxed, did *some* schoolwork, and spent lots of time with my family. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to visit my godchild and his triplet sisters. On Saturday, my mom and I got pedicures together before having a nice dinner at Chili's with my parents and grandparents. I was so grateful for the opportunity to spend time at home for my birthday (two years in a row). Sunday morning, I was up and at 'em for an early morning flight back to North Carolina, where someone really special was waiting to retrieve me (more about that in an upcoming post, as well).

All in all, it was a fabulous Spring Break/Mardi Gras/Birthday, and I definitely wouldn't trade it for the world! I do apologize for the lenghty post, but I told you...there's lots of catching up to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to add another chapter to the saga someday soon. (Pestering the author is extremely encouraged!) For now though...