NOLA = New Orleans, Louisiana. The "Big Easy", home to Mardi Gras, amazing local cuisine, voodoo, swamps, and fancy balcony things that are super pretty (see right). I had gone down for the 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPAs). See my "Research Updates" blog post for more details about the conference, and my 5-minute talk, and my props :)
Our family vacation had two other major highlights: reuniting with family members we hadn't seen in 20+ years (during which we rode in the best Uber ever) and an airboat swamp tour. If you ever find yourself in Louisiana, get yourself to Lafitte and on an airboat because if I ever had the opportunity I'd probably buy one. THEY ARE SO MUCH FUN TO RIDE IN!!!
You are floating on top of the water instead of cutting through, so small waves are no issue and you literally drift on the turns. Absolutely one of my favorite ways to get from point A to B, given you're actually wearing your noise-cancelling ear muffs (we modeled them for you above). And don't be swamp-shy - there are other swamp options if airboats are not your thing.
Also, we got to hold a baby alligator. The owner of the airboat tour works with the state of Louisiana in a conservation initiative that helps to preserve wild alligator populations while also meeting the demand for local food, belts, and shoes. Hence the opportunity to hold a baby, which was shockingly soft and actually quite cute up close.