We arrived in Baton Rouge a day early (last wednesday) and we have been enjoying our rest. Meeting new people and seeing lots of sweet stuff.
On Thursday March 8 (Mom's Birthday) we did some sight seeing because thats what Mom loves to do. First off, we visited the LSU campus here in Baton Rouge. Very nice campus, huge stadium that seats 91,600! I wanted to get an LSU hat so we stopped at what we thought was a gift shop thing that ended up being the LSU sports museum. This place was insane. It was in a smallish hall, jam packed with photos and exibits including one of Shaq's game shoes and a pair of Pistol Pete Maravich's game shoes. To add to the atmosphere, LSU fight songs were being played in the background at top volume. We met a very nice guy named Tom who gave us a tour and got out the old Tiger's head for me to take some pictures, haha that was sweet.
Then we went to the capitol building, to the 27th floor which gave us a spectacular view of Baton Rouge and the Mighty Mississippi (Muddy Waters, Old Man River, whichever you prefer).
That night we had dinner at this Cajun restaurant and heard some great Cajun music, Jay Cormier & Cajun Country. We had a great day, happy B-day Mom.
The next day we got up early (530) and drove down near New Orleans to take a swamp tour on an air boat. This tour was great, the swamp boat could go anywhere and we saw many gators, swamp rats, egrets, ducks etc.
The guy who gave us the tour was pretty funny, a true Cajun, he had been in the swamp his whole life. He talked so fast that we could barely understand him. He said: "People tell me that I talk too fast, I say no, you listen too slow." Lame joke but hearing it from him was pretty funny.
After the tour we drove to New Orleans to meet with Dr. Ed Grabczyk, his team, and some fellow Ataxians in the area.
Dr. Grabczyk's research as I understand it:
Dr. Grabczyk and his team are trying to construct a cell that will behave like a cell affected by FA. They are constructing these cells so that they can test chemicals to see if the chemicals can slow down the disease. The DNA in the cells will be equipped with a little code that will tell the cell to glow in the dark if the chemical is beneficial, I'm not making this up. These cells will hopefully lead to a technique in which many, many chemicals can be tested at once and they will initially be able to tell if the chemical is beneficial just by looking for glowing cells. This is not a very good explanation, but thats how I understand it. LSU research folks, help me out here.
The cells are kept in freezers at like 200 dgrees below freezing. During Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Grabczyk lost all of his work due to power failure. His lab had to start over and they are still not at full capacity. As you might be able to imagine, it was extremely difficult to see all that progress go to waste. However the lab is almost back to where it was before the disaster and Dr. Grabczyk said "It is important to keep a sense of humor in the face of disaster"...some Ataxians might be able to relate.
We had pictures and an interview with the New Orleans Times Picayune.
After our lab tour, we hung out with our fellow Ataxians and took a few pictures. Nice to meet you all, see you soon, hopefully in about a week and a half.
Today we took a stroll in the french quarter and heard some more great Cajun music before we headed back to Baton Rouge.
Tomorrow we will finally be on the road again. We will have a short day, we will probably travel just past St. Francisville before returning to Baton Rouge to pick up Alessandro tomorrow night.
Please re-visit the previous post "The Italian." I added a large section...do it!