{Vacation Recap // New Orleans Day One}

If I am being completely honest, I have been putting off these recaps something fierce. Not because we didn't have an amazing time, but because I have been overwhelmed with photos and videos and all of the organizing and editing that comes along with it. There were 1153 photos (after a major purge) and 83 videos sitting in my "vacation" folder and it gave me anxiety!! When you are recapping an 11 day trip there is a lot to cover. Please tell me I am not the only one this happens to?! So for the sake of full disclosure, these recaps will be picture heavy. You have been warned. :)

We had the best time and made so many great memories as a family. I love that even though there were 7 of us (6 adults and Mason) and we visited two towns that we have never been to that we were able to do many fun things for Mason. I was worried about New Orleans not being too kid friendly, but we made it work. I mean, that's what vacations are all about right? Making memories that your child will remember for a lifetime.

I know I shared about our vacation on the blog and where we would be going (bucketlists), but I don't think I mentioned that we were camping glamping for the entire trip. We took Nate's parents 42 foot travel trailer and stayed at RV resorts in both New Orleans and Panama City Beach. Nathan, Mason and I have our own bedroom in the camper which makes it completely convenient when travelling with a child. The fun part was packing for 11 days with no plans of using a washer or dryer for clothes and towels. But, we managed just fine. Nathan, Mason and I rode with Nate's parents so that Nate could be a 2nd driver (pulling the camper) if needed. Nathan's brother and his girlfriend drove in their Jeep.

Our camper and camping spot in New Orleans
We started our trip on Thursday, July 7th. We drove to Shreveport, LA (3-3.5 hour drive) for a quick overnight stay. This was also the night the guy started shooting the Dallas Police. We spent the evening in the camper watching the news coverage and checking news sites on our phones. Our hearts were breaking and fear was creeping in. I don't think any of us (besides Mason) slept a wink that night. We couldn't believe something so tragic was happening so close to home. We also saw threats that this was going to happen the next day in Baton Rouge (which wasn't far from where we currently were and where we'd be travelling through the next day). At some point in the middle of the night it hit me that my mom's office was in downtown Dallas and my dad is usually in Dallas or around Dallas for his job. So I started texting my entire family to stay away. Just stay home. And then I spent the rest of the night going back and forth between prayer and checking the news. Devastating.

We were on the road at 6:15 am the next day destination New Orleans (about 6-6.5 hour drive). Nathan drove the second half of this trip (first time to pull this camper). We arrived to New Orleans in a torrential downpour and the road we needed to take was blocked off by a train that was completely stopped for an unknown about of time. We had to detour and finding roads big enough to fit us provided quite the challenge. Nathan was put through the ringer! We finally made it after about an hour delay. We camped at Pontchartrain Landing RV Resort which was nestled right along Lake Pontchartrain and only 12 minutes from the French Quarter. It was incredibly nice with an amazing pool and a dock/pier right behind our campsite. There were the cutest little pastel colored houseboats right behind us that you could rent. I was tempted to rent the turquoise for a night because they were so dang cute! There was also a boat repair shop across the lake so we saw all kinds of neat Yachts! We really enjoyed this resort. It was the perfect place to come home to after a long and hot day in New Orleans.


New Orleans - Day One - Swamp Tour & a Cajun Supper

Once we got settled in Michelle and I went to the office at the resort to book a swamp tour. There were so many to choose from and we wanted help from the professional/local. Sweet Ashley helped us find a good tour that fit all of us and we booked it for that evening. We didn't have to leave for a couple of hours so everyone (except for Mason and I) took a quick nap. Everyone was exhausted (both physically and mentally) from the events the night before and the early morning and long drive. Mason and I just had some quiet time. It was finally time for our Swamp Tour. We went with Louisiana Swamp Tour Co. I highly recommend them if you're ever in the New Orleans area! They also offer Plantation Tours, Airboat Tours, Ghost Tours and New Orleans/Katrina tours. The swamp tour was a complete blast and our tour guide (Captain Rocky) was awesome and very personable. We lucked out and had a fairly small group on the boat. Besides us 7 there were only 4 others. We had so much room to roam the boat and see gators on every side of the boat. I loved that for Mason. He and Rocky became bffs and Mason was always right next to him. Captain Rocky took us down swampy canals and bayous and got us up close and personal with a ton of gators! We fed them marshmallows, which we thought was kind of strange at first. But then someone asked why marshmallows and he said 1.) gators only see black and white, and well marshmallows are white, 2.) the texture is much like a fish, and 3.) they float. And let me tell you, those gators loved those things!

(I didn't take my big camera and now I regret it!)


Somewhere near the middle of the tour Captain Rocky asked if anyone would want to hold a gator. Mason ran to the gator and had it in his hands before I even had the chance to be terrified! It was a two year old gator and he was pretty calm. We learned that mama gators leave their babies when they are very young so this tour company will rescue them and keep them until they are big enough to survive on their own. While keeping them safe they are a fun attraction for the tour! Mason loved it. That boy has no fear sometimes!


I plan on making a video of all of our vacation videos combined, but I wanted to share this one that Nathan captured on the GoPro. He lowered it down near the water to get a good view of the gators!

Swamp Tour - Louisiana - Gators from Crystal Hall on Vimeo.

The tour was both exciting and relaxing. And even though it was a swamp, it was quite beautiful as well. It was the perfect way to spend our first day in Nola. After the tour we asked Captain Rocky for some suggestions on some good Cajun restaurants in the area. He gave us three or four suggestions and said that we couldn't go wrong with any of them. We just randomly picked one called Boutte's. When we first sat down we were less than impressed with the service. Our waitress was a bit abrupt and came off pretty rude. But, by the end of the evening she was joking and chatting away with us. We just forget that some places are not the same as the southern hospitality we are so accustomed to here in Texas.

Nathan's dad ordered a batch of chicken livers as an appetizer (umm, yuck). We were sure he'd be the only one eating them, because um, no thanks! I can't even think about eating any kind of liver without gagging. Well, he offered one to Mason and he ate it. And he liked it. So much that he didn't even eat his meal. He only ate the chicken livers. He may have drowned them in honey, but he ate them. I couldn't even watch him because I wanted to throw-up.

After supper we went back to our resort for an evening swim before calling it a night. It was a great first day in Nola.

Next on our agenda...The French Quarter. 


  1. SO much fun. Okay friend I'll admit it when I say Mason holding a gator my heart skipped a HUGE beat. AAACKKKKKKK!!!!!! Glamping is totally the way to go. I bet that camper is way nicer than some hotels. Love that you took this trip as a family too. I would love to do that some time.

  2. Haha, I was daunted by all of my vacation pics as well! We had well over a thousand pictures and it took FOR-EH-VERRRR to go through them all. It looks like you guys had an amazing time, though! And look at Mason holding that gator! EEEEKS. I would have died. Those are the nastiest looking things!

  3. Glamping I could totally do! Holding that gator... No way! I'm kind of glad Noah is fearful and would never think of holding it... Puts my mama fear at bay lol. That is so scary with the Dallas shootings being so close to home. I'm always amazed at how in my personal life, people seem good and nice, but when you watch the news there's just so much hate and turmoil. Sometimes it doesn't even feel real.

  4. Look at him holding that thing!! So brave!! Can't wait to see all about your trip!

  5. So many things I want to comment on! haha! A 42 ft camper? My in-law's just purchased a 28 footer & I thought that was big! I'm so impressed with Nate driving because if Luke would have been driving I would have been a nervous wreck! haha! And Mason...he sure is brave holding that gator! No thanks, buddy!

  6. Love catching up on all of your vacation adventures. What a wonderful experience. New Orleans is one of our favorite cities of all time. Your boys are so brave holding those gators!! - Home of Malones

  7. I always end up with a gazillion photos after our vacations, so I'm right there with you, friend!

    The Dallas thing was just awful. I can’t believe these things keep happening. The world is becoming such a scary place. It makes me so sad.

    Your photos are beautiful and your trip sounds wonderful thus far! I can’t believe Mason held that gator!

  8. I had no idea you glamped this whole trip!! That's kind of a dream of mine (and about the only way I want to camp). Seeing the swamp tour on your social media sites was so cool! Being that close to alligators sounds terrifying and fun at the same time!

  9. What an adventurous and eventful trip! Wow. I mean. Gators. I would have been petrified! Mason is so very brave!

  10. When I go on trips at least I know I will have a lot of blog posts to write! I love seeing pictures from other people's trips too. I think baby alligators are cute!

  11. Mason sure is a trooper! I'd never hold an alligator or eat chicken livers but awesome for him! It looks like he had a fun first day and it sounds like the rest of you did, too. Nathan caught some awesome footage of the gators! And even though the gators are all around, the pic of the swamp with the moss hanging everywhere is really pretty! I can't wait to read more!

  12. Your trip looks so fun!! I can't wait to see more! I can't believe Mason held the Gator! I would be so scared... and the Chicken liver.. I laughed out loud at that... I would have tried them but I will try anything with the exception of insects ;)

    Can't wait to see more!!


Thanks for the comments! Hope you are having an amazing day!!