The Perfect SoLa Summer Day

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We woke up Wednesday morning to a little miracle: 70 degree weather. That little #cajuncoldfront was almost enough to make me cook a gumbo.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I told my kids to get ready for a day of outdoor Acadiana fun! We packed the backpack with snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, and mosquito spray, and headed out on an adventure.

The first place I thought of when I realized it was no longer hotter than hell outside was the Acadiana Nature Station. I have fond memories of that campground and hiking those trails with my grandparents as a child, and attended a night hike in Fall 2018 with my Girl Scout. The Nature Station itself is super cool. There are numerous exhibits available for the kids to observe with their eyes and hands, and there is an additional classroom on an upper level that is available for groups. There are turtle shells and snakeskins and bones and skulls and sample birds’ nests and eggs, and a real live snake, and mounted butterflies, beetles, moths, and local bugs. My son is my big nature lover, and I definitely made a mental note to bring him back solo one day so he could spend as much time as he would like observing the exhibits. Because on this day, his nearly-three-year-old-sister was giving me a run for my money in being too rough with the specimens. So we sprayed ourselves down with mosquito repellent and headed to the trails. We lasted all of 10 minutes, y’all.

THE MOSQUITOES

While it was the ideal temperature for hiking, BOY did I forget about those rains that brought in the frontal system. Which was not a good thing because the mosquitoes were EVERYWHERE! In our hair, eyes, ears, noses. It was bad. We hightailed it back to the trailhead and jumped into our car so I could scramble to think of how to continue our adventure.

Because the hike WAS supposed to be the adventure, damnit.

Then I had an aha moment and remembered Vermilionville and all its un-air conditioned exhibits and outdoor walking paths. and its 10 am opening time.

It was 9:30.

On the drive over to Vermilionville, we passed the Acadian Cultural Center, so I peeled out a bit turning into its parking lot because it opened at 9am! It’s air conditioned, so it put a bit of a damper on our outdoor adventure day, but the staff was so kind to my children, and the kids liked seeing the exhibits on Acadian and Cajun culture. We sat to watch the educational video about the Acadians, but the Grand Derangement was a little too intense for us, and the kids were “huuuuuunnnnnggggryyyyy moooooommmm.” We ditched the movie and sat at a picnic table for snack. All in all it was a bit too old for my crew but it would be a GREAT AIR CONDITIONED option for when they are older.

Then we arrived at our final destination: Vermilionville.

My kids had a blast. The staff was super interactive and helpful. My kids especially enjoyed the Watershed exhibit that featured weather patterns, waterways, and wildlife local to Acadiana. There were also live exhibits featuring an Attakapas tribe member, a woman spinning thread, boatmakers, an accordionist, school teachers, and a wealthier couple tending to their “farm.” My kids also flipped over the ferry that travels across the creek via manpower: they pulled us across the water all by themselves! I had my very own little team of four. Walking around the living museum worked up an appetite, and my kids begged for some gumbo, but we were teetering on the edge of meltdown central, so I knew it was time to head home. [pro tip for locals: you can get a free day pass for Vermilionville with your Lafayette Parish library card. These passes are available at all library locations and are valid to be redeemed one week after obtaining the card]

It was amazing to get a glimpse at what summertime feels like in parts of the country. I can see what all the hype is about!

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Sarah Keating
Sarah is a 30-something mom of four children under six and wife to her high-school sweetheart. She returned to Acadiana two years ago following her husband’s completion of medical school and residency in Shreveport. After the move, Sarah switched gears from full-time pediatric speech-language pathologist and working mom to full-time stay-at-home mom to her brood. Her current hobbies include “speech-therapizing” her children, re-reading the Outlander series, catching up on her Netflix queue after the kids go to bed, completing XHIT videos at naptime, and taking her medication every morning. She loves and respects the sacredness of motherhood, but sometimes you just have to let go and laugh it out. Motherhood has been the most humbling, and empowering journey she has experienced.

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