Working in education has certain advantages. No, I do not work in the sector of education that "enjoys" summer break. I put that in unnecessary quotes for two reasons: 1) I am hoping the folks from the blog of unnecessary quotes will happen upon it and make fun of it in a future post, and 2) because most of the folks I know that are in that sector (i.e. teachers) rarely get to enjoy the same summer break the students gets. I'll save the tirade for another day, but know that most teachers I know work their butts off long after the "work day" is done and far above and beyond anything written on some contract somewhere.
This year, the family decided to take advantage of Spring Break and head for a mini vacation (which may prove to be our real vacation if gas prices keep heading upward). We drove a couple hours south to the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City, LA. It had been quite a few years since we had been there, and one of the BEST new sites turned out to be the hotel. There is now a Courtyard Marriott right there on the premises. It sits right next to the Louisiana Wildlife Carousel, which is located at one end of the boardwalk. Walk out the door of the hotel, pass the carousel along the way, and you instantly find yourself in the shopping streets of the Boardwalk. The river runs along the left side (assuming one is still heading away from the hotel). The entire area is set up like a huge shopping mall, but each shop has a street entrance. You've probably seen such set-ups,as they are growing more and more popular - like a little retail village rather than a mall. Stores include Nike, Farmer's Almanac, Build-A-Bear, Chocolate Crocodile, jewelry shops, food shops, clothing, and more.
On the first night, we opted to take a swing at Glo Golf - an indoor, black light-filled mini putt course. I have to say, the artwork and the obstacles were great! The whole thing is done in some kind of Aztec/jungle mix. The black lighting hit parts of the "folk art style" murals in ways that gave the environment a distinctly eerie feel. The obstacles (er, most of them anyway) featured spinning blockers, hanging stoppers, and other pieces meant to keep you from getting your ball to the hole. We had a lot of fun, and for the longest time (Billy Joel song starts to play in your head here), we were the only ones in the place. It doesn't matter who won (er, that would be me). Really. The main thing is that we all had fun.
We wanted to go to Auntie Annie's pretzels, but they were closed that night due to... wait for it... mosquitoes. Seriously. A sign on the door said that the health inspector was working with the Boardwalk owners to come up with a plan to combat the pesky little buggers. Now, before we saw the sign, we had not really noticed them. Afterward, however, we saw them taking up nearly every inch of wall space on the exterior of several buildings. Not sure what the "solution" was, but the place was open the next night.
Sometime that night, we ate at the Saltgrass Steakhouse. A lot of our friends suggested we go there. I will be the first to suggest you don't. The food was overcooked and somewhat bland. the prices are about 50% higher than what you would pay at say, Texas Roadhouse. Shan's BBQ chicken was actually pretty good, though for me it was more about the actual sauce than the chicken. My steak (supposedly medium-well, but was actually more like well-done plus) tasted okay, but was dry and not what I would have expected for the price. Tyler had a burger that, despite adding his own salt, pepper, fries, and anything/everything else he could find, still had no taste whatsoever. I suggest you head to Joe's Crabshack or Hooters. Heck, even the IHOP on site would be a better bang for the buck in my opinion. The highlight of our supper was seeing a guy that was a spitting image of my brother-in-law. It was scary. I took a picture of him with my Fascinate, but the lighting just wouldn't let me get a good shot.
We shopped around a bit, grabbing snacks at The Chocolate Crocodile and ice cream at Cold Stone.
The next day, we headed to IHOP for brunch. We spotted a Haggar store and headed there for a sale. Tyler needed a suit for an upcoming awards program and I needed one that fit. Since the sale was a two-fer, we took advantage. Then, we headed down the road to Old Navy, Target, and to Pierre Bossier mall (mainly for JC Penney). Of course, what we really went for was down the road a little farther - Buttercups Cupcakes. We saw the owner on "Cupcake Wars" and decided that we would try one of her cupcakes since we were right there. We did not try one of her cupcakes, though. We tried about half a dozen! We had the red velvet that she made on the TV show, plus a wedding cake cupcake, chocolate and vanilla cupcake, chocolate and peanut butter cupcake, and a chocolate one. Let me tell you right here and now - these are AWESOME! Holy smokes. The cakes are moist with lots of flavor and the icing is piled up high! Man, those were GOOD eats!
We left there in sugar-shock and headed back to the Boardwalk. We weren't there long, sitting in Children's Place, when Shan sat down saying that she wasn't feeling well. I saw that she had gone pale. Tyler walked her back to the hotel and I paid for Emily's clothes. Shan had the stomach bug and it hit her hard and fast. I'll spare the details but let's say she was down and out for the rest of the night.
To give her some peace (and let her do what she needed), the kids and I headed back out. We went to Pietro's Italian Restaurant. Let me tell you, that is a great place to eat. They serve everything cafeteria-style and put it in the oven when you order. I had a couple slices of pizza, as did Emily. Tyler had a meatball sandwich and we all had some of their breadsticks. You have GOT to eat here! They have pasta, calzones, and a myriad of things to please all kinds of palettes! We also picked out a couple bottles of imported Coke - from Italy! Emily had Italy-imported water. Very cool and a lot of fun!
We walked around for a bit more, and headed back to the room. The kids wanted to go swimming in the FREEZING pool and hang out in the hot tub, so I walked down with them and watched as they played. Tyler is putting together a video of the mini-vacation and I'm sure it will end up on YouTube at some point.
The last day, we packed up and headed home. Shan was pretty wiped out and we needed to get her back as quick as we could. Actually, after everything we had done and played, I think we were all ready to get back. Well, maybe not the kids. As soon as we got back, they jumped out our vehicle and into their grandmother's. She was headed for Little Rock for a weekend getaway and they went along with her. They are the jetsetters, aren't they?