Friday, February 22, 2008

Catching Up with Baton Rouge

Woke up to lots of fog this morning (Friday) and took a couple of pictures. This “laid back” life is getting really laid back. I sleep to almost 9 a.m., my first choice of what I want to do is “nothing”,. I am getting ready to take a shower after unsuccessfully trying to get my water heater to work; but I learned that when the propane tank gets low it has difficulty coming on so I switched over to the full one and it came on right away. Guess that is a job I should put on my list of things to do - fill the tank. I did get the dishes done this morning, heating water on the stove. My other job is to get this blog caught up.

Have a slight migraine and the humidity is uncomfortable; but, the sun is trying to come through, so that should brighten my sprits up. Yesterday, Thursday, I needed to get some walking in so I went over to Apalach and walked around the town. We had been having small showers so didn’t want to get out in the open (like at the beach)and then get drenched, so walking around looking in windows was my second choice. There isn’t really any beach to walk on on the Bay side so have to drive over to the Island for beach walking.

Day 3 - I managed to leave the campground at 7 a.m. knowing I had a long driving day ahead of me with a tender sit-down. I drove down to Paris, TX on US 271 all the way to I-20; then to Shreveport, LA; from there down I-49 to I-10 to Baton Rouge and to Jeri’s house.

Most of the road was pretty good, though am not a fan of concrete highways that bouncy bounce - especially like the ones in Louisiana. Going thru Shreveport was a nightmare as the highway on the bypass, etc. were awful. I stopped as soon as I could once I got out of the City to make sure everything was still in place after all that bouncing around; and, found I had popped a rivet above the cabinet that is above the refrigerator.

I had thought of sending the Mayor of Shreveport and Governor of Louisiana a charge for the time of replacing the rivet. Many, many years ago I and the kids traveled back to Baltimore MD to see my folks in my brand new car. When we hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike, everything got jarred so bad. Before I left to come back home I had an alignment done as the car needed it. When I got home I sent a copy of the alignment bill to the Governor of Pennsylvania asking for reimbursement or fix the dang Turnpike! No response, but about 10 years later I traveled on the Turnpike again, again to visit my folks via car, and imagine my surprise when I found the whole dang length I traveled was beautiful! Didn’t want to pay the alignment bill but fixed the Turnpike instead - see the power of the word is mightier than the sword! I know, I know, don’t ruin my story. The kids are tired of hearing it though, I bet.

On the way down, saw my first cypress trees and commercial crayfish farms. I got in at Jeri’s around 6 p.m. and she fixed a wonderful dinner of spinach greens and turnips and interesting spices. It was so good but I forgot to get the recipe and I hope she still has it to send to me. She also makes a good pimento cheese spread. I slept in a real bed that night and just stretched out.

Monday, Jeri took me down to New Orleans so I could see a couple of parades on Mardi Gras Eve Day. I enjoyed that and participated in the putting the hands up to catch the beads and trinkets.

I am still trying to get use to all the bridges and the length of them. The first long bridge I went over is the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge (west of Baton Rouge) and is 18.2 miles long. I will have a picture of the St George Island bridge from Eastpoint, in my Flickr set, as soon as I get a few more pictures. The St George Bridge is a little over 4 miles long, as I remember.

Tuesday, Jeri drove me down to SW Louisiana towards Cameron and Holly Beach. We went west on I-10 to where the LA Visitor Information Center is and then went south to Catahoula, to St Martinsville, New Iberia, then SW to Avery Island and the Jungle Gardens, back to New Iberia. Traveled west on State 14 to Abbeville, south on State 82 to Forked Island, west to Pecan Island, over to Grand Chenier, Cameron, Holly Beach and north State 27 back to I-10 and eastward to Baton Rouge.

Hurricane Rita came onshore in 2005, not too far west of Cameron. It is very evident that it did and how long it takes to get life back again. There is a lot of evidence of new homes and businesses going up, but still a lot of slabs where houses use to be. Some had FEMA trailers on them, some had personal trailers on them, some just had slabs where the home use to be. Back before Katrina, a lot of homes were built on slabs because it was cheaper, but since that and later hurricanes, homes are built on stilts raising the house 12 to 14 feet (some much higher) above the ground or flood plain. Most houses are built so that storage, parking area for vehicles and boats, maybe a screened in patio area are located underneath. I did see one house that had it’s garage area up with the house. This was very unusual. And, of course the fishing areas for shrimp and oysters were devastated and hit the area economically too. It is good to see life coming back.

One place we went to is the Avery Island Jungle Garden , started by McIllhenny of Tabasco fame. We did not tour the plant but did go through the Jungle Garden. Even at this time of the year there were some flowering plants. The Spanish Moss hanging off of the trees was beautiful and photographic. Here I saw my first alligator. He even swam up close to me so I could take his picture! I didn’t stay around long when he got to the edge of the pond. McIllhenny built Bird City to save the egrets from extension. Their plumes were being used to adorn my ladies hat way back when. I could see why they were used as when the birds would preen themselves in the wind you could see the “feathery” look. I have some pictures under my February 6th entry.

From Avery Island, we followed the highway along the coast. At Cameron we went out to a point where it was foggy and saw some pelicans. As we were watching the pelicans, I noticed something moving in the water and when I looked closer they were dolphins. Those were my first dolphins out of captivity. Was cool watching them, up and down, up and down. Then Jeri and I noticed the small group of 6 or 7 pelicans were in a semicircle and dunking their heads down under the water at the same time and on cue would come back up together. Almost like a water ballet.

I learned what a chenier is at Grand Chenier. A chenier is, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, “a beach ridge and is the Louisiana French term for the oak tree belts that mark the distribution of the ridges in the Mississippi Delta region. In that area there are several sets of cheniers, each separated from, and slightly unconformable to, the next.”

Jeri wanted to go over to Holly Beach to make sure the beach was still there as she had heard that it had been washed away during Rita. It was there and she was relieved to see it. From there we headed back to Jeri’s.

Wednesday, Jeri had some work to do, so I drove up to St Francisville, an old plantation town. I took their “walking tour” driving around it and saw some lovely and cute properties that had been restored. The grounds of the Episcopal Church were beautiful. After lunch at a local restaurant (I had a delicious BLT with bean sprouts and avocado chunks), I drove out to the Rosedown Plantation and took the tour of the house and grounds. I previously posted a picture of the Rosedown. From there I went over to the Oakley Plantation, a different style more in line with an Islands flavor. I missed the 4 p.m. tour, so just walked around the grounds and took pictures there. They are in my set on Flickr.

When I got home, Jeri took me out to dinner at a restaurant where I could hear some live Cajun music - Jeri I forgot what kind you said it was. It wasn’t Zydeco. The zydeco style is what I am use to and the old Bob Wills style of music. I enjoyed the evening.

To bed early as Jeri had an early morning appointment in New Orleans and I had to get on the road.

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