A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Carriage, Natchitoches, LouisianaCarriage, Natchitoches, Louisiana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         When I married my present wife I wanted to show her the United States.  Betty had come to the U.S. from Ecuador about ten years prior to when we met and had not yet seen much of the country that I love and that she had grown to love.  What better way to see the country than with road trips?

         By 2007 we had crisscrossed the country a few times.  Most typically we would travel during the Christmas holidays so we could go visit my family in Tennessee or Arizona with a few side trips thrown in the schedule.  Then in 2007 after Betty had recently purchased a new Nissan Maxima we decided to take a truly epic road trip for the holiday.

        We took five days to drive to Washington, D.C., making a few stops along the way to visit sites and a couple of my family members.  We then went to Maryville, Tennessee to stay a few days with my mother and visit with my kids and siblings.

         On the return trip back to Los Angeles we planned to stop in Houston to meet up with Betty's daughter and her fiance.   Since my daughters wanted to get back to New Jersey for New Years and they had left a couple days before hand, I decided to leave as well and take a couple of leisurely days to make it to Houston for New Year's Day.

          I made the decision to spend New Year's Eve in Natchitoches, Louisiana.   I think I'd been there many  years before, but I didn't remember much about it.  One thing I did know was that they were supposed to have a pretty amazing Christmas light display there.

         We weren't disappointed.  The town has a quaint look not unlike New Orleans except without the sleaze factor and the big city busyness.  We got into town early and spent time in the afternoon strolling about and looking through the shops.  Then as evening neared we went to  have dinner at a restaurant along the river.

          After dinner, darkness had set in and the main street had taken a more festive atmosphere.  The crowds--at least crowded in a small town sense--had begun hitting the main street and the walk along the river.  The decorative lights along the street were shining Christmas cheer as horse-drawn carriages ambled up and down the brick street carrying tourists.

           The real attraction however was the river walk that paralleled the main street.  Vendors were selling kettle corn, Louisiana link sandwiches, hot cider and other goodies from stands that created a carnival-like effect.  Christmas music played over loudspeakers to set the Yuletide mood.

           Across the river and on the bridges were colorful displays of lights as boats likewise decorated with lights cruised up and down the river.  There was a chill in the air that suggested winter, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable to us since we were wearing coats.  This was a happy place.  Not big city gaudy, but simple small town Christmas charm.  We could have imagined ourselves to have been in a Thomas Kinkade painting.

           Perhaps there may have been fireworks at midnight to usher in the New Year, but we didn't stay to find out.  It had been a busy day driving down the Natchez Trace and visiting the historic Natchez, Mississippi river district.  We were planning an early start the next morning.   We went back to our motel room to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  We were asleep before midnight arrived in Natchitoches.

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welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful N read Lee. most enjoyable.


Dino said...

Knowing nothing about the US of A I'm fascinated by your posts.

Lynn Proctor said...

looks and sounds utterly charming

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

You weren't the only person to feature Natchitoches (Louisiana) as today's "N-word". Check this out:


~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Kittie Howard said...

Happy to read you enjoyed your visit to Natchitoches. Didn't realize you'd used the same N as I had until you alerted me. Natchitoches is a lovely place I hope will benefit from the added publicity.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Natchitoches sounds completely charming. If I ever visit that area, it sounds like I would much prefer it to New Orleans, since I'm not much of a city gal at all.

Wishing you continued success with the A to Z challenge,

Sherry Gloag said...

It's always interesting to llearn somethiing new about places you may never visit.

Arlee Bird said...

Yvonne -- Thanks!

Dino -- I give the tour that no tour operators offer.

Lynn -- It was a charming experience.

StMc -- Thanks for the heads up. It was interesting to see someone else writing about this same out-of-the-way town.

Kittie -- I like promoting lesser known places with something interesting to offer.

Jocelyn -- Natchitoches seems like a pretty laid back place, but with culture. There is a university there.

Sherry -- And you never now when the opportunity will arise when you'll be able to visit some of these places. I like hearing about places I've never been as well as places I have been.


Cheryl Klarich said...

I would enjoy visiting Natchitoches, I'm sure!!

Jenny said...

NO! Don't come to NJ. It sucks here!! :P Hehehe

Jessica L. Foster said...

The description makes me want to go there. I love smaller towns for the charm. I bet it was a new year's eve that you'll never forget.

raisingthecurtain.net said...

A great theme for the A to Z journey. I have seen a fair bit of the US, which I love, but not most of the places you are writing about. Thanks for the insights. Can't wait to get back there and see more.


Arlee Bird said...

Cheryl -- If you're in the neighborhood you should take a trip. It's nice in the afternoon to stroll through the shops. At Christmas the Festival of Lights is well worth the trip.

Jenny -- NJ is not all that bad. Not the part that I saw.

Jessica -- It was a memorable New Year's Eve partly because it was so quiet and subdued.

Judy -- There may be some obscure places on my list, but they are all places that have special meaning to me.


Red said...

I am a Louisiana native and Natchitoches is always relaxing fun. And I love to road trip. There is so much more to enjoy.

Arlee Bird said...

I'd like to be on the road much of the time if I could afford to do it. One day I'd like to go back to spend a bit more time in Natchitoches.