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Thanksgiving and Natchitoches 2006
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
thanksgiving dinner
Ilaria and I took a flight on Thanksgiving Day to save a little money.
 
thanksgiving dinner 2
We arrived just in time for the action.
 
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One of my folk's friends made them a fried turkey - a Louisiana delicacy. Deep frying a turkey is an outside activity that requires giant cooking thing that almost everyone in Louisiana owns (you can use for crawfish boils and giant pots of Jambalaya too). Put 5 gallons of oil in the giant cooking thing, heat it up to the right temperature, and 25 minutes later you've got yourself a finished turkey.
 
dad thanksgiving dinner
Fried turkeys are not greasy.
 
mom thanksgiving dinner
Somehow frying the turkey just keeps all the moisture inside so you don't end up with white meat that could compete with a Saltine cracker in a water absorbing contest.
 
natchitoches thanksgiving
The next morning, we woke up early and headed up to the Cane River Lake in Natchitoches, LA. (Natchitoches is pronounced NAK-uh-tush; and when people say it fast is sounds like nakadish; neither of these sounds like they'd be spelled Natchitoches)
 
downtown natchitoches
Downtown Natchitoches is nice, but very small. If you see it once in your life, you've seen it enough. If you don't see it before you die, you can probably still rest-in-peace. I'll only remember going here, because I got these photo here on the web.
 
flowers natchitoches
It was certainly warmer than Boston here. End-of-November and they still have flowers shining their colors to the world.
 
J LSU Natchitoches
We woke up early for the 4hr drive here, because there was an important LSU football game vs Arkansas that day.
 
J LSU Natchitoches 2
As luck would have it, all the TVs on one side of the street lost TV reception, and all of the places with TVs on the other side of the street were closed. Thankfully, we could make out through the blurry fuzz on the TV that LSU won, and the blurry reception raised the level of camaraderie in the bar.
 
cane river lake
Our walk back from downtown to our Bed and Breakfast passed by the most famous (only famous?) attraction in Natchitoches,
 
steel magnolias house natchitoches
Julia Robert's house in the movie Steel Magnolias. (now it's a bed and breakfast, but not the bed and breakfast we stayed at)
 
mom natchitoches bed
Bed and Breakfasts tend to be hit-or-miss ordeals. This place was a miss. Unfortunately it was my parent's first (and last?) time at a Bed and Breakfast.
 
mom natchitoches bed 2
The breakfast was good; but our accommodations were, um, well, interesting. What is that net thing for? It looks like some kinda thing to keep the mosquitoes off ya while you sleep. Plus, the entire place had settled over the last 100 years or so, and different parts of each room were at different really steep angles to the horizon. Something with wheels would roll all over that place until it found a nice concavity to settle in.
 
christmas lights natchitoches
The other Bed and Breakfasts in town all required a two night minimum stay because the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of lights had just begin.
 
christmas lights natchitoches 2
The lights were nice, but one day was enough.
 
chopin house louisiana
The next day we took a tortuous path home through middle-of-nowhere America. It was Ilaria's first experience with the real south I grew up with. Old broken, weed-covered cars and washing machines on the front lawn; One house every couple miles; No stores or gas stations (well we did pass one over the course of 1hr of driving and inside they had one of everything: 1 twinkie, 1 bar of soap, 1 of everything you might need in life until you had time to drive an hour to the grocery store).

Our first stop was Kate Chopin's house in Cloutierville (pronounced something like "Clouchivile").
 
chopin house louisiana 2
It was a pretty cool lookin house. Back when she lived there, the bottom floor of a house in the south was only used for storage.
 
chopin house louisiana 3
This house was in the middle-of-nowhere. So I was kinda surprised that the first thing we saw when we entered was a flat screen television (though that was really the only modern thing in the museum).
 
chopin house louisiana cookbook
Back in the day, this book would make you a complete american house. The best recipies from the american colonies, what else could you need?
 
civil war utensil
We'll if you fought in the Civil War, you'd probably need one of these. After the Civil War, so many people had lost an arm that they made a new utensil. Just rock-back-and-forth with the sharp rounded part to cut your food. Then pick up the newly cut piece with the fork end. Brilliant.
 
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This right here is the heart and soul of the Kate Chopin house. She's a descendant of Kate Chopin's husband and knew everything there was to know about Kate Chopin's life in Cloutierville. She explained how most of the people in the town (even today) marry people in the town. If you don't, you are shunned. So you end up with a close-knit community of slightly inbreed people.
 
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Here's the back of the house.
 
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Inside was filled with antiques, but only one piece in the house originally belonged to Kate Chopin.
 
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There's a speaker hidden behind this giant Kate Chopin doll. When we got in the room, our guide pushed a button and this doll started talking to us. It was kinda eerie.
Despite the scary talking doll, this house and our guide definitely provide us with an interesting learning experience. A look at a part of the world quite different from the one I live in. So if you're ever in Cloutierville (not likely, but you never know), stop by and have a look around Kate Chopin's house.
 
melrose plantation louisiana
The last stop on our trip was Melrose Plantation.
 
melrose plantation louisiana 2
This is certainly one of the most interesting plantations I've visited. This plantation, in Louisiana, was owned for a while by a freed black slave, who'd a thought?
 
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Well I'm not just gonna give you a new thought, I'm going to give you a picture too. The lady on the right is the former slave that was given the plantation and freed by her french owner (on the left).
 
melrose plantation louisiana
The plantation itself, was you typical big white plantation house. But around main house were a bunch of little, very interesting looking buildings.
 
melrose africa house
This is the Africa House. Pretty neat lookin place. I wouldn't mind living there.
 
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This little house is decent too.
 
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A later owner of Melrose Plantation turned it into a sorta artist hangout.
 
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Artists would come here and make art and stay in the little houses. Even John Steinbeck came to say for a while.
 
clementine hunter portrait
This lady here,
 
clementine hunter grave
Clementine Hunter, live at Melrose Plantation for many years and painted on everything she could find: iron skillets, washing boards,
 
clementine hunter painting
and even the walls of the Africa house.
 
clementine hunter painting 2
Her work was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. I plan on buying an original once I finish the indentured servitude of graduate school. Her paintings aren't that expensive yet (single digit thousands).
 
melrose plantation front
We left the plantation to head by to my folk's house in slidell.
 
fried green tomatoes
I made sure to get some fried green tomatoes while I was in the south. Why can't I buy green tomatoes in Boston?
 
christmas tree faiths
We put together the Christmas tree. We put each one of those bulbs on my parents new artificial tree, one-at-a-time. There are lots of bulbs on that tree.
 
ilaria presents
Since Ilaria was going to be in Italy during Christmas,
 
ilaria presents 2
see opened them the night before we left.
 
ilaria presents 3
The we packed up her new books and went back to Boston.