Someone needs to get me an antebellum hoop skirt and send me back in time because I'm quite certain I was meant for life as a Southern Belle. I have been enamored of the pre-Civil War south since I first read Gone With The Wind at the impressionable age of 16. Yesterday I toured my first plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, and it was magnificent. The house itself was huge and glorious, the mint juleps and bourbon twists on the verandah delicious but I found the grounds almost speaking to me. There is an avenue of 28 Live Oaks leading up to the front of the home that some unknown Frenchman planted in the early 1700's. These trees are now 300 + years old and they are nothing short of amazing. Huge does not begin to describe how big they are. They look like something from Middle Earth; their roots are mostly exposed and covered in moss and there is no way you could put your arms around one. As I walked under them I could almost hear the leaves whispering secrets; colorful swishing gowns worn by flirting belles, carriages clipping on the gravel, slave children climbing the branches in a moment of leisure, impending war and its utter destruction of a way of life, the likes of which has never been seen again. Perhaps it was just the warm and balmy 70 degree weather lulling my senses but I found the trees to be, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits leaving "scope for the imagination."
Today we traveled from New Orleans to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, a reasonably short 4 hour drive. To be honest, I have never, ever wanted to visit Florida. I am not big on citrus fruit, sunshine or beaches which is just as well because we arrived in a torrential rain. First of all, it is wonderful to be on a Navy base again. I have grown accustomed to living near the ocean and strangely enough, I kept expecting to turn a corner and see water when I was jogging on the bases in Texas. Second, when we arrived at the campground here I was pleased to see we were given a spot right on the water. I can see the Gulf of Mexico from my kitchen window, not to mention hearing the crashing surf which sure beats the crazy bar music in Louisiana. The water itself was the most brilliant shade of green I have ever seen. Quite breathtaking against the fine white sand of the beach. After supper the boys and I took the dogs for a walk on the beach and although I had to wear a jacket I was still able to go barefoot in the sand. We all had a great time frolicking about. Thomas has begun collecting seashells and has scoped out the perfect fort. There is thunder in the air so I know the rain isn't finished but we are quite looking forward to spending a week here, exploring all that Pensacola has to offer along as well as seeing some old friends.