I last left off on the Saturday afternoon of my visit: Bea and I drove off into the country to go visit a plantation. On the way we passed through cuts of lush forest, and at one point the sky had 8+ white egrets. I mention this because I forgot what dense forest looks like, and even from a highway clearing it's impressive.
We arrived at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie in the early afternoon. Back when it was operational, it was a sugar plantation. Now it is preserved by a historical society, the mansion (built in 1839) has been restored for tours, and the grounds are used for a variety of tourist and entertaining purposes. Around the mansion there are rows of live oaks, which are estimated to be 300 years old. These massive trees can live to be about 600 years in age. In the back of the house are some younger oaks, about 150 years old. They've figured out where the slave cabins were in the back of the property, and the historical society is in the initial stages of rebuilding those. I'd be interested to see how that turns out, and it's good they are working to acknowledge the people who were arguably the most important presence on the plantation.
The mansion itself has a pretty interesting history, and went through a handful of owners before the historical society received it. In particular, one family allowed their sons to race horses from the stables in the back of the property, to the front of the property... and the fastest way was through the house. I can't imagine this, but sometimes wealthy people are weird and do strange things. The mansion has been used in a variety of television shows and movies, such as Interview With the Vampire. I'm sure most people would recognize it, the oak trees leading up to the house is pretty memorable.
I don't have pictures from my own camera (always check to make sure you have a memory card before you go on a trip, sigh), so I'm waiting to get the pictures from Bea, who let me snap some shots on her iPhone. I hope they came out okay, it was such a pretty place. They have cabins that you can rent, and I'd love to come back and spend more time looking around.
Here are pictures!
|Artsy photo of a live oak.|
|Waiting for the tour to begin.|
|The Mississippi River, flooded right up to the levee.|
|View of the walk up to the mansion from the 2nd floor balcony.|
|More live oaks.|
|Live oaks and the mansion (tourists for scale).|
|View of the plantation from on top of the levee.|