Leaving New Orleans was bittersweet. There’s no way to see it all in the time we had, so we’ll have to work in another trip there. In the old days (before our big trip) we might make a trip to Las Vegas for a ‘break’ every few years, but we have grown tired of Las Vegas- it’s dirty, expensive and the same old thing every time. New Orleans could be our new ‘break’ destination, we’ll see. As much as we liked it, there was a pair of museums calling our names outside of the city, and both were off the wall and out of the ordinary- the kind of places you see on the news or hear about at work that ‘you just HAVE to see for yourself one day’, but never actually do it. Originally we had planned to head straight for Baton Rouge and the American Dime Museum, but we discovered another museum stop that wasn’t too much out of the way in Abita Springs- so there we went.

At the V intersection of the museum formerly the UCM Museum, now the Abita Mystery House. Front row parking, no problem.

North out of NO (that’s the local abbreviation for New Orleans), the highway is raised as it skirts Lake Pontchartrain to the East, dipping into small communities and bayous and alligator nests (we assumed). Back onto a terrestrial byway and North to Abita Springs we arrived at the Abita Mystery House, aka the UCM Museum. Those 50 miles from NO were a chance for Trevor to get behind the wheel and trail along behind a lethargic bus driver (I enjoy setting cruise at 55 – 58 MPH). It offered some local roads, some highway time and a chance to talk with Mom about life stuff. Trevor has been across the board emotionally on this trip, as we all have been, but he seems to be making the most of it. He embraces the opportunity one minute, and then screams for his release from captivity the next- which pretty much represents how everyone feels at different times.

Despite the flowery blog, the trip has been a demanding, emotional roller coaster. To plan a direction every day or week, to carve out any private time, to get regular sleep or to use the bathroom without worrying that someone is within earshot of every creak, sniffle or toot are concerns we all have. If someone’s poor choice lines up just right with another’s bad idea, accompanied by a misunderstanding or ‘funny look’ from someone else at just the wrong time, it can be almost unbearable. Is that any different than real life at home in 4,000 square feet of house? No. But we can’t run away from it and hide until time clears the air and makes everything better. The million dollar question is whether this pressure cooker of handling things as they come up even if you’re still mad about it- will be good or bad in the long run.

Heading in! The entrance door area should be a warning about what you are about to become part of. OPEN YOUR EYES WIDE, there's a lot to take in.

We rolled into this little town called Abita Springs, and found a small community decorated with a single story town hall, center or town ball fields, comfortable country homes dotting the 2 lane highway into town, and then this old gas station at the convergence of 2 roads that joined in a V. We had arrived at the Abita Mystery House!

Inside the first hallway of the museum, surrounded by finished paint-by-number artwork. More of these than we've ever seen in our life, combined. Also, the start of the mechanically and electrically motivated dioramas depicting life in these here United States with a bias towards the South.

Save your cracked and broken plates and bowls and you too someday may have enough to cover the outside of a building of your choice. Lots of color and shimmer, but watch your fingers!

Trevor's got his eye on the mechanical wonder made of popsicle sticks- a ball starts on the top and rolls its way through the maze- unless it gets stuck. In case of a traffic jam, reach around the back of the case and give it a little push. Meila's checking out one of many cool old pinballs.

True to its name, this is a real mystery house. “What’s the Mystery?” we asked the proprietor, John Preble. He said it was ‘all a mystery’. We would soon find out. This place was a hodgepodge of everything, of something for everyone, a piece of anything that caught Mr Preble’s eye over the last 10 years, and then some. One ceiling is lined with PC boards, door frames lined with remote controls, and the occasional extinct computer mouse makes an appearance in between it all (I spotted a Commodore II mouse among other classics).

The Bassigator was missing an eye, but looked the real deal. It was mounted on a trailer, and makes regular appearances (or did) at local events.

Even the beginning of the end (the museum exit into the gift shop) is a cornucopia for the eye.

We weren't sure if this was more Incredibles Super Hero-ish or alien-esque. Kelly didn't think it was her style.

Clearly an attractive choice of glasses that Lauren made for me, I opted in the end for a T-shirt.

Mr Preble himself, who is either responsible for this business, or the artist behind it depending on how you like it.

The entire outside wall of one of the buildings (there are several buildings) is slathered with fragments of anything colorful that was once a plate or bowl or ceramic something as well as mirrors, which are grouted into place in what is overall very striking visually. The courtyard of this compound surrounds a water feature, viewed by walking along the wooden boardwalk among the vintage airstream trailer with a UFO impaled into the side- complete with aliens inside,  then a ‘Bassigator’, measuring over 20’ long under it’s own roof- which has not done a very good job of protecting this mysterious natural oddity from the elements (strangely it looks like parts are made from concrete or papier-mâché- which is impossible because Mr Preble said they caught it a long time ago, but didn’t have the exact details), then it’s onto any one of the other animal gaffs including a 2 headed chicken in perhaps a baseball jacket, a wide mouth bass (complete with full denture set) or a 32 foot alligator- no kidding, we saw it in person, not to forsake the very authentic classic arcade games that were turned on and ready to play (although we were too distracted to play any of them) or the intricately detailed dioramas depicting various elements of modern society and the old days right alongside each other- on some you could push a well marked button and some action would begin. Whew! Was that a run on sentence or what?! That is the Abita Mystery House- one big, detailed, exciting run on sentence. There are so many details to see, and it just goes on and on and on. Everyone enjoyed themselves through the museum, but we had the best time in the gift shop. Trevor chuckled at the “Maybe You Touched Your Genitals” hand sanitizer, while Kelly & I tried on the latest sunglasses (from outer space), and Simon and Henry found an exploding ice cream cone and oil/water psychedelic action toy; we ended up leaving with some unique gems and heading North for Baton Rouge. Believe it or not, we got a late start today, or took too long at the museum, so found a spot to park and called it a day, anticipating another museum tour and Cajun music stop. Plus, I need to get some Biology reading in before it’s time to teach in the morning.