Today we endured blistering winds and scorching deserts; we climbed to the tallest room of the tallest tower-no wait… Today three of us stayed behind while the rest of the team drove to Annapolis, Maryland this morning at approximately 4am. Keith, Nathan and I stayed behind in New Orleans with the intention of seeing Ed Sheeran at Jazz Fest!

We tidied up the tree house when we woke up, grabbed our luggage, and headed to our second swamp tour of the week. There was a mix-up, and we went to the wrong one last week… Whoops… So we went again, starting at a different location on the river, and we definitely saw more wildlife this time. I was hoping we would see Scarface, the 12 foot alligator the tour guide was telling us about. Apparently said alligator has a big scar on his face from a fight with another gator, and his numerous amount of “girlfriends” can be found along the majority of the river.

We met George Cooney the raccoon, and fed him some marshmallows, much to his delight. The tour guide, Bishop, told us he named George himself. Down the river and through the tighter parts of the swamp, there lives a family of boars. There’s one male that’s more aggressive than the rest, so Bishop directed him towards the boat with marshmallows and cereal, while he threw food to the runts in the back. A couple of the boars got up on the ledge of the boat while standing on a log, and paused, allowing me to get some pretty cool pictures of them.

After the swamp tour, we went to Jazz Fest. Ed Sheeran wasn’t on until 5pm, and we got there at 12:30, hoping for a good space, relatively close to the stage. But by the time we got there, where we wanted to be was packed: people had shown up before the gates even opened. So we chose a small space in the middle, behind a big speaker, where we could still see the screens for when Ed went on. I can’t thank my grandfather and my brother enough for letting me go, and basically bore them for seven hours(: We played card games, dots and boxes, more card games. We also played the game where we apply sunscreen every hour so we don’t burn, but guess who ended up with a horrible sunburn anyways? That’s right. Me. I guess I should’ve asked for help on those spots that I can’t reach on my back, well… Too late now.

The sun was hot, the food smelled amazing, and the racetrack was crowded. Ed Sheeran was amazing; usually when you see a person or a band in concert, they sound a little different due to computers and such when they record, but Ed Sheeran sounded exactly the same with both! I’ve been listening to his music for years, and when given the opportunity to see him in concert, I had to take it! Unfortunately, my grandfather and brother were bored out of their minds. I still feel bad, but they were good sports about it(:

Now we’re in our hotel room, about to get some sleep. Our plane takes off at 6 in the morning, though thankfully we’re right across the street from the airport! This week has been tough at times what with the grueling work and early morning hours, but we’ve all survived, and I can say that coming back next year is always a possibility! I want to thank the rest of the team for making my first time to New Orleans fun and exciting! I’ve made some new friends while helping families who lost their homes to Katrina, and I hope to stay in touch with them in the future! Looking forward to seeing you guys again! Thanks for reading everyone!

-Heather Launchbury