Mid-morning traffic wasn't terrible, and we made good time getting to our first turnoff at Essen Lane. We had been to the Rural Life Museum before, back during our college years, but never to the adjacent Windrush Gardens--and never with kids. I've found that I discover everything anew when I revisit a place with my toddler, whose interests (and eye-level) are very different from my own.
As we drove down the winding road that led us back to the museum, we marveled at how we felt completely set apart from the city, although we were smack dab in the middle of it. In the time it took me to unload the baby, Charles was already climbing a massive column from Louisiana State University's original Hill Memorial Library. My husband chased him inside the Visitor Center, where he took a whirlwind tour of the old carriages while we paid our admission.
|Ox at the Rural Life Museum|
The woman at the front desk informed us that the ox outside had just been fed a pumpkin, so I let my husband poke around the museum while the kids and I went to peek at the giant animal. We heard the ox before we saw it, its deep moo overpowering the air around us. I can't recall ever being face-to-face with an ox before, and as he gave me a hard, unblinking stare, I understood the awe and fear that was showing in Charles' eyes.
Another young boy shrieked at the ox and broke the trance he had caught us in. James, who turned out to be a year older than Charles, was a fearless child and laughed at our timidness around the beast. His enthusiasm was catching, and Charles and he became instant friends, inseparable the rest of the time at the museum.
|Acadian home (built pre-1805)|
After a tearful goodbye between the new best friends, we filled our now starving stomachs with boudin balls and red beans and rice from the The Chimes restaurant just off LSU's campus. As all dining-out experiences are with us, it was an interesting 43 and a half minutes, but we made it through without completely destroying the place.
|LSU's Mike the Tiger|
As we drove away that evening, I realized, once again, we had overdone it as usual. Both kids were now squalling and both parents were exhausted. But as the youngsters fell asleep in their car seats, we breathed a sigh of relief at the quiet and inwardly smiled at the amazing adventure we had just given our children.