The oil spill may mess up some parishioners’ vacation plans, but others are heading far out of town.
Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said that the oil could spoil his annual family camping trip to Lafitte where he usually enjoys relaxing and sporting with his grandchildren.
“The fun part is just getting away from the madness and spending some time with the grandchildren at the camp, just hunting and fishing,” St. Pierre said. “This year, there might not be any fishing, though, with all this oil.”
He said that the camping and hunting will still be a relaxing break from the everyday stress of running the parish.
Destrehan High School Principal Stephen Weber also said that the oil could put a damper on his vacation plans.
Weber said that his vacation usually revolves around planning for the upcoming school year and his children’s summer activities. This year, his oldest son and daughter have moved on from St. Charles Parish to collegiate baseball and Cirque de Soleil, respectively.
But Weber still hopes to have the whole family together at some point and to make a trip to Pensacola to visit family.
“There is a small window in July when all of my children will be home, so we may all take a vacation to visit my sister-in-law in Pensacola, pending the oil situation,” Weber said.
Unlike St. Pierre and Weber, St. Charles Business Association President Toni Maggio headed north for her summer vacation.
In the first of two trips Maggio plans to take this year, she and her husband, Rene, visited Yellowstone National Park for nine days.
“Yellowstone was huge, diverse and awesome. I can’t believe we didn’t go before now,” Maggio said.
The two most enjoyed seeing the local wildlife, including bison, bears, coyotes and bald eagles.
“At first the bison on and in the road were spectacular! We could take pictures and videos and just watch in awe as these huge shaggy beasts slowly walked by our car,” she said. “But then, after days of this and the traffic jams they caused, you just take them for granted and wish they would get off the road so we could pass.”
The couple has visited many national parks together in the past 20 years and enjoy traveling all over the world and backpacking with the Sierra Club. Maggio said they try to plan two big trips each year.
Ken Rousseau, St. Charles Parish Hospital EMS director, also plans a trip or two every year – but he always goes to the same place.
Rousseau fell in love with the Caribbean island of St. Martin 12 years ago while on a cruise. Now, he owns a time share there and returns every year with family and friends.
“It’s just quiet, friendly, laid back, restful, beautiful…I could throw adjectives out all day,” Rousseau said, laughing. “I’m a sun and sand kind of person and from the moment I got there I just fell in love with the island.”
Rousseau said that one of the island’s charms is that it is 20 years behind the times and that the locals are extremely friendly.
“The people are kind of like the people here in Louisiana – they’re friendly and easy to get along with,” he said. “No matter where you go on the island…you meet people and you know them for life.”
Cruises to Caribbean Islands, especially Jamaica, are the most popular travel plans this year, according to Vanderlyn Hill, owner of Getaway Travel in Luling.
“People are looking for an easy way to do a vacation,” Hill said. “It’s all inclusive; the price includes food and everything.”
Vance Gulliksen, public relations manager for Carnival Cruise Lines, said that the oil spill in the gulf has not affected his cruise line’s travel plans.
“We’ve had no changes to our schedule thus far,” Gulliksen said. “Captains have latitude in maneuvering around the affected areas and we’re keeping a close eye on the situation.”
Hill said that people traveling anywhere these days should make sure to plan their trips carefully because accidents can happen.
“Make sure to take out travel insurance. A lot of people don’t take out the insurance and then an emergency occurs and then they have a problem,” Hill said. “Also, if booking a vacation on the web, make sure that you check the cancellation policy because usually once you book it online it’s non-refundable.”
Hill said that one way to save money on trips these days is to travel in a group of 10 or more. Her agency, Getaway Travel, specializes in group travel and she said that these trips can make paying for a vacation a lot easier.