|We left New Orleans in the morning and headed west along the Mississippi River, to our first plantation of the trip (finally). This was Destrehan, owned by an important French family and their Creole (meaning born in America) descendants. The house was what they call West Indies or Creole design, basically a square house raised up above the ground one story (not too big), with a wide (about 12 feet) balcony wrapping all around the outside. This house had been enlarged when the family grew, with much of the side and rear balconies being enclosed as more rooms. The area on the ground level were used in this house, where they weren't in many others. All plantations had their kitchens in separate buildings out back, due to the high risk of fires - the houses were wood frame with the walls filled with a type of material made from limestone, sand, and cured Spanish moss made into a clay like material which hardened over the framework. This was then plastered over on the inside, and covered with wood on the outside where exposed, since it was water soluble. The house had several rooms which were used in the filming of "Interview with the Vampire". The plantation first grew Indigo for dying uniforms blue, and then converted to a sugar plantation, and yes, slave labour was used. Plantations were set up in the same design as French-Canadian farms along the St. Lawrence - all fronted with the homes along the Mississippi, then stretched out in long, skinny acreage to the rear. Back in the late 1700s when they were designed there were only small levees on the river, so that one could sit on the front porch and watch all the traffic passing up and down the river. Now there are 20 foot levees instead, so you can't actually see the water from the house. The plantations are all populated by huge old Live Oak trees laden with Spanish Moss. The Spanish Moss, by the way, is not really a moss but actually a bromeliad - a type of air plant spread by seed from tree to tree. When we finished at the plantation we drove on to the little town of Hammond, where we had an appointment early the next morning to get a little bit of repair work done in our bathroom.