Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Orleans Day 1: Jennings Gator Chateau

We took the longest car ride our family has ever been on...and it was only to New Orleans!  Benjamin casually mentioned that it would be about 4.5 hours  And in one sense he wasn't wrong.  Our trip there took about 8 hours with multiple stops!  I had loaded the car down with snacks, books, car activities, and my iPad was stocked with a series of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood if the situation turned dire.  
Little buddy was a fantastic car rider and just about the time that he (and I!) were needing a stretch we saw the glorious Golden Arches along with a billboard advertising that you could hold a baby alligator, for free!  Jackpot!

After scarfing down some Mikey D's, we drove over to the Oil & Gas Park where the Gator Chateau is located.  The park itself has a fishing pond complete with ducks, trails and picnic tables.  The Gator Chateau had 6 or more alligators outside in a pool area.  Winston was mesmerized as one of them moved from sunning them selves on the rocks to going for a dip in the pool.  As soon as we went inside, we were greeted by a friendly gal who introduced us to Alfonse and allowed us to touch and hold him.  
Winston was a little timid at first, not quite sure what to think of being that close to a tiny alligator.
We learned that alligators have skin, not scales and are actually quite soft.  We also learned that most alligators have more babies than they can carry, leaving some of the wee ones to fend for themselves.  The Gator Chateau takes in the babies that are left behind and cares for them.  The gal told us that members of the community of Jennings as well as travelers passing through come back again and again to check in on the alligators that they held when they were just wee ones.
It was quite a treat to be able to hold Alfonse and to learn about him.  The longer we were there, the more Winston warmed up to him and was making his alligator sounds.
Thank you Jennings for having such a fantastic, free place for families to stop and stretch their legs!  Petting a baby alligator was on our trip bucket list and because of this stop, we were able to cross it off!  
Shortly after packing back into the truck, my travel buddy zonked out and snoozed until we got to the Tanger Outlet malls about an hour outside of New Orleans.  We finished off our first day by checking into the hotel and walking to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe as it is a family tradition to eat at HRC to enjoy a Twisted Chicken Mac & Cheese {no tomatoes, add bacon!} and for B to get a pin.  Hard Rock Cafe is a great kid-friendly dining option when in New Orleans.  They have high chairs, a kid's menu and it's loud so even if the littles are tired or extra boisterous it won't matter!  

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