Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011

Sugar Cane and Tobasco

We left a little later this morning hoping to miss some of the commute traffic.  That was successful but was more than made up by the nature of drivers in New Orleans.  The drivers here are the most aggressive and disrespectful I have seen ANYWHERE.  Driving the Los Angeles freeways is heaven compared to this place.  I will not be back here any time soon.

Once west of New Orleans we got off the freeway and headed south.  Sugar cane.  Miles and miles and miles of it. 

Cutting the Sugar Cane

That was after driving twenty miles over a freeway/expressway literally built over a swamp.  The entire 4 to 6 lane divided road was on stilts for miles.  Pretty cool actually.

Freeway in the swamp

DSC03165 Ship on Mississippi River

Oil tanker


We stopped in a town to see a carillon.  Technically a campanile with a carillon in it. Local wealthy woman donated small park as wildlife sanctuary and put carillon in it for enjoyment of people to come and relax.  Her money, spent her way.  Bells made in Europe.

IMG_0003002 Tree on path to campanile/carillon.



Campanile/Carillon.  Woman at small visitor center said it is one of only three in country with as many bells (this one has 61). 


These guys live under visitor center.  They come out looking for cookies.

Settled in New Iberia and headed to Avery Island, home of Tobasco Sauce.  ALL Tobasco Sauce products are bottled here and sent to over 100 countries all over the world.  Nice semi-self guided tour followed by sampling of various products including two flavors of Tobasco ice cream.

Tabasco Factory, Avery Island, LA

Tourists with hot sauce.

October 20, 2011

French Quarter and Swamp Tour

This morning we drove into New Orleans (along with a lot of other people at 8:00 in the morning ) and parked near the French Quarter.  We spent a little over two hours walking the streets, looking into shops, and peering through gated passages into secluded courtyards.  Interesting, old, and historic.  Just about every building has a plaque on it describing its’ history.  Impressions and observations:  Bourbon Street is synonymous with booze.  A bar on every corner for blocks and blocks and the space between the corners is filled with more bars.  The other streets are a collection of upscale clothing, jewelry, art, T-shirt, trinket,  and coffee shops.  And one neat candy store.  Fresh pralines.  Yum. Several ‘tourist info’ locations would be happy to sell you tours of just about anything.  In front of Jackson Square is a string of horse drawn carriages at least ten long.  Each driver ready to tell you all about the Quarter.  Above the stores and bars are apartments and condos.  Second and third floor balconies with wrought iron railings. Street musicians.  Flower boxes.  Gas lights. Narrow streets.  The buildings line the blocks corner to corner but do not go through the block.  In the center of each block is a courtyard.  A sort of hidden retreat for residents.  Overall a similar feel to the various districts of San Francisco but with its’ own definite flavor and MUCH older.  Fun to see and maybe see again but that would be enough.


Jackson Square.  Church in background is oldest in US.




Gas Lights


These are probably alcoholic but all over the South we have seen small, often drive through, stands similar to ice cream cone stands we saw in Alaska.    Appears ‘Daiquiri’ is the Southern term for ‘Slurpy’.


They come in several flavors.

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They wash the streets with some sort of cleanser.  Sweet smelling.  Not just water.



Not the typical historic, informative plaque.

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This building was owned by the mayor of New Orleans – a long time ago.  The mayor offered Napoleon sanctuary there if he desired it.  That’s how long ago.


French Quarter police car.

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Reason New Orleans is called ‘The Crescent City’.  The Mississippi River makes a bend through the middle of the city.


This afternoon we took a swamp tour.  Driving the Interstates and around town looks like Interstates and towns everywhere.  Shopping malls, fast food, blocks and blocks of residential neighborhoods, etc.  What you don’t realize is that the freeway is built up to at least 30 feet above sea level and that if you go a half mile down the right street it is a very different world.  We went down one of thos streets and were on the banks of a delta river.  Twenty of us climbed into a flat bottom boat and spent two hours cruising on the open river and into several bayou swamps.  Guide grew up in the area and was very informative.  Saw variety of wildlife and cruised through a Cajun fishing camp.  Good experience that we may repeat in western Louisiana.

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Small alligator on log (right), turtle (left).


Great blue heron


Alligator (center, mouth open)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 19, 2011

Louisiana Back Road

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Yesterday morning it was 58 degrees when we got up.  This morning it was 40 degrees.  Tomorrow is supposed to be 36 degrees.

South into Louisiana and then east on Louisiana 10.  When possible, we like to avoid interstates.  This road did not disappoint.  Nice two lane through woodlands and farmlands.  Every home is on manicured ‘lots’ of one or more acres.  Riding mower business must be booming.  Many of the homes look like mini-mansions but are just typical houses for the area.

Carbus in Louisana Hwy 10 Loading up the hay

We are now in Slidell.  Striking distance of New Orleans without being in city.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 18, 2011


Finished driving the rest of the southern Natchez Trace Parkway.  Wish there were more roads like this.

Pete walking the old  Natchez Trace

Walking the Trace


Rocky Springs Methodist Church, built 1837

Only remaining structure of a town that was on the Trace.  Church was in use until a few years ago.

First inn (called a ‘stand’ in those times) on the Trace.  Photo taken from location of actual Trace.

Sunken Trace

This is the effect of thousands of people walking the same path for years.  Section of actual Natchez Trace.

Settled in a RV park across the river in Louisiana.  Right on the river.  We watched barges being pushed up and down the river. 



Like several spots we have been this trip, this park is recovering from this springs’ floods of the river.  We have also spoken to several people along the way who suffered flooding on other rivers and streams.  Yesterday we talked to a man from Texas.  Exact opposite situation.  He mentioned one lake that is 50’ below normal.  MANY lakes are gone.  Something for us to see in a week or so.

Natchez is known for being OLD.  Dates way back.  Many antebellum homes and estates.  We drove by many of them and toured one.



This mansion is kind of interesting.  Only the first floor (local terminology - ‘basement’) is finished.  About the time the structure including the entire exterior, and the finishing of the lower floor floor was completed the Civil War broke out.  The builders were from the North and didn’t think it feasible to remain in the South.  They went home to wait for the war to end.  An event that was supposed to happen in six months or less.  The owner consolidated his holdings and cotton inventory and placed all his funds in the bank for safekeeping ‘till the war was over.  One problem: it was a Confederate bank.  And the war lasted a bit longer and the estate was visited by both Confederate and Union soldiers who destroyed all his inventory of cotton.  The family lived in the lower floor for several generations.  That one floor was still pretty nice and extensive.  Had the mansion been completed it would have had over 30,000 square feet of living space.


Another picture of moss hanging from southern trees to add to your collection.  You do have a collection don’t you?

Last night we had our first crack at local food.  Figured that we were missing one important facet of learning about local culture.  Natchez area is known for catfish.  Asked several sources to recommend a good spot.  All of them mentioned the same place.  Nice, quiet (it was early Tuesday evening), and very nice staff.  (I still need to look up the derivation of “y’all”)  One person told us to go hungry.  She wasn’t kidding.  Large portions and very tasty.


Monday, October 17, 2011

October 16-17, 2011


Layover days to sight see and relax a bit.

Yesterday we toured the Vicksburg Military Park.  The tour traverses the Federal and Confederate lines with interpretive sites along the way.  I had never really known much about the Vicksburg campaign and this tour is really informative.  Amazing to see the scope and magnitude of the events of that made up that conflict.  I can’t begin to describe it all except to recommend a visit here and to spend time learning about it.  As always, start with the Visitor Center Video.  Another recommendation: there are audio tours (one and two+ hours) for sale.  We borrowed the one hour tour from our RV park.  It really adds to the understanding of what you are seeing.


Recreation of what Confederate line would have looked like (for several miles).  Federal soldiers actually dug trenches to within a few feet and sometimes under of the base of these fortifications.


This picture was taken from Confederate line.  Fortification is just to the left.  Federal position was along ridge in distance.  Zigzag trench allowed Federal soldiers to get close to fortification.  Diggers were protected by large rolling cylinder (log like) that blocked rifle shots.  Zigzag kept Confederates from looking down length of trench.  This system worked well enough for Federals to get close enough to actually tunnel under Confederate fortifications in several places.



Only structure to survive battle.  (Since restored, obviously)


House at time of Vicksburg battle and siege.


Tunnel dug through ridge to keep soldiers from exposing themselves.


View from other side of tunnel.  Confederate position was distant ridge.  Federals made it about 3/4 up the slope in the center several times but never breached the line.


Trenches dug along ridge line to allow protected movement.  There were miles of these trenches, all dug by hand.


Restoration of ironclad warship Cairo (pronounced kay-ro).  First warship to be sunk by ‘torpedo’(mine).  It lay at bottom of Mississippi River for 90 years.  Was discovered/located by Vicksburg Military Park archeologist and after much effort was raised and restored to give excellent view of size and structure of boat.


Today we took the driving tour loop of Vicksburg.  Goes through many areas including much of the historic old part and passes many old buildings from very small to mansions.  Seems like every mansion is now a Bed and Breakfast and happy to give you a tour – for a price.  They do take plastic :) .

Baer House Inn

This one has a feature of note.  It has a two story privy.  Couldn’t get in back to see it.  :(

Pemberton's Headquarters Cedar Grove  Inn & Restaurant

Sue and Pete at Mississippi River, Vicksburg, MS


Trip map to date.