Thursday, August 29, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Just want you all to know we arrived home safely yesterday, early afternoon.  It takes awhile to gather everything up, bring it home and then put it away on this end.  

Mail was minimal and took no time but little projects I have for my computer are on hold because it is flashing Missing Operating System.  Oh oh!

I'm not sure how much is backed up but Allison is coming tomorrow.  We will discuss a replacement and how to coordinate getting whatever we can from old to new.  And where do we get rid of the tower and monitor since I am looking at a 27 inch all in one?  That might be overkill for what I use my computer for and Allison's opinion is important.  Stay tuned.

Here are a few photos as we rolled into Texas.

The funniest Facebook comment "looks like you have a few hitchhikers there!"

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”

 Lyn Yutang quotes (Chinese prolific writer and editor, 1895-1976)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Best RV Park Ever

We decided to spend one more day in Louisiana so we could take a swamp tour in the Atchafalaya National Heritage area.  We have driven the 18 mile bridge over the Basin many times and decided it was time to take a closer look.

We booked a morning tour with Champagne Tours and had a full boat.  There were several gators swimming around the area.  Despite the sign not to feed them, I'm sure they get food thrown to them constantly.  At least it insures you will see one.

I am glad we had a National Park Service employee at Okefenokee Swamp because this Cajun only knew what he knew.  The white water lilies here had very long stems.  When I asked if these lilies were different from the white ones that float ON the water he said those were purple water hyacinths I must be referring to.  Huh?  


The ranger in Georgia had explained to us about the decaying matter turning into peat on the bottom and releasing methane gas.  When a girl asked about the bubbles he told her it was just pressure from the boat!  He explained about the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  A man asked what was the difference between Spanish moss and peat moss and he said he didn't know!

Another thing we learned in Georgia was that the water repellent characteristics of the plant below was instrumental in the development of Gortex used in waterproof clothing.

It was a beautiful ride and we saw lovely, graceful Great Blue Herons, Green and White Herons that didn't take off like the blue ones did, turtles and alligators.

We came home, had lunch and went to the water park here.  This has to be THE BEST park we have ever stayed in.  Besides the great RV sites there is miniature golf, fishing, gym, theater, arts & craft room, video poker, three snack bars, a swim up bar, video poker and golf cart rentals.  The water park is several pools.  There is a lazy river type hot tub, an over 21 area at the swim up bar, large pool, another area for bigger kids and a 1-2 foot deep pool with slides, ships, dragons, buckets that dump, poles that sprinkle, etc. for little ones.  Then there is a pool just for the tubular slides to end in and another area for volley ball.  There are plenty of lounge chairs and shaded areas.  For the first hour or so we had the entire pool area to ourselves.

We came home at dinner time, showered, ate dinner and started to pack up what needs to go home with us.  We leave a lot in here but perishable groceries and most of our clothes, clean and dirty, need to be dealt with.  Then there are the things we have accumulated along the way.  I took several things for folks and remembered to give them out.  We will need to go home with the truck loaded down and use my car for the second trip.  

I have Happy Hour tomorrow night, Shanghai on Thursday and the first theater performance on Friday plus sandwiches to make for a funeral.  But I have begged off Happy Hour and Shanghai, changed our theater tickets to the next week and will make the sandwiches and send Ted up to church with them.  A haircut and color will be my first thing to do on Thursday if I can get in.  Next up, the nail salon.  Then I will be ready to get my groove back.

"The first person to eat an oyster was either really brave or else really hungry”  ~ Oysterman; Houma, Louisiana

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cajun Country

On Saturday our plans to visit Fort Morgan were shot down when it rained cats and dogs most of the day.  It finally stopped long enough for us to go to St. Margaret of Scotland Church.  It was gorgeous with medium dark wood floors and a long center aisle.  Great church for a wedding.  We went home for dinner and prepared to leave Sunday morning.

It had rained again through the night but wasn't raining while we drove through Mississippi and stopped at the Louisiana Welcome Center.  We ate a sandwich and continued on and immediately were on Washboard Lane, also known as LA I-10.  Too bad they had Huey Long instead of Robert Byrd.  I am still in awe of the West Virginia roads.

We arrived at Cajun Palms RV Resort in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  Unlike the use of the term Resort by some parks, this one truly is.  We have a super long, double wide pull through spot with the next spot about 20 feet away.  There is plenty of room for the trailer, truck and picnic table on the pad with lots of grass on the sides.  There is a water park, movie theater, fishing pond, a restaurant that will deliver to your rig, a train ride, miniature golf, video poker, and a camp store that sells liquor!  They said it is almost impossible to get in on a weekend.

What a surprise when we opened the door and all seven of my French white corning ware dishes were splintered and broken all over the trailer.  I will be picking up white slivers for years to come!  The cabinet door flew open and tossed them right out.  Thank you Louisiana DOT.  I bungee cord the doors together for this very reason but this is a single door with nothing to attach a cord to.  I guess I will be at Bed, Bath and Beyond sometime soon.  

We went to dinner at Crawfish Cafe instead of having them deliver food to us.  Then we took a ride around the area.  We checked on Poche's RV Park that some of our friends use and saw the most exquisite sunset but I didn't have my camera.

Today we drove to Nottoway Plantation in White Castle, LA.  

On the western banks of the Mississippi River, southwest of Baton Rouge and northwest of New Orleans, stands a stunning and truly awe-inspiring Greek and Italianate style “White Castle”. This is Nottoway Plantation, the South’s largest antebellum mansion, and the mere fact that she actually is still standing is a tribute to the tenacity, courage and commitment of many people throughout her history. Nottoway has survived the Civil War, a variety of owners, and years of decline and disrepair to become a favorite destination for visitors the world over.

     Completed in 1859Nottoway’s 53,000 square foot palatial white mansion awes visitors with its 64 rooms and countless extravagant features like 22 massive exterior columns, 12 hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces, exquisitely detailed plaster frieze moldings, soaring 15½-foot ceilings, enormous 11-foot doors and a lavish pure white oval ballroom, as well as unheard of innovative features, like modern bathrooms with running water and a gas plant providing gas lighting throughout the 

     The construction was commissioned by John Hampden Randolph, a very prestigious sugar planter, to be the ultimate showplace of his wealth; he wanted no expense spared and ordered that it include every extravagance and innovative feature possible. Stately, opulent Nottoway would be home to John, his wife, Emily Jane Randolph, and their 11 children, but also the perfect setting in which to elegantly and dramatically entertain their many visitors.

I was in awe of the live oaks that are 100, 200 and 300 years old and tried to capture their majesty in photos.  I didn't succeed because they are so much more beautiful than shown here in my photos.

Our initial approach.

A closer look.

And close enough to show the wings that were deliberately built differently so the mansion would be distinctive from the river.

Here are a few of my attempts at capturing the trees on the property.

This is a small garden surrounding a bell used to call the slaves to the start of the work day.  The area is where the detached kitchen stood before it burned down.  The threat of fire kept kitchens separate from the main house frequently. 

This is the white ballroom mentioned above.  Everything is white and was built specifically for the seven  Randolph girls' debuts and weddings. 

This is the dining room with the Randolph china.  

This is the music room where the girls learned to play various instruments.  The boys were not encouraged in the arts.

Here is a view from the second floor balcony of a barge passing on the Mississippi River which used to be eight acres away but floods and time has brought it closer.  In 1940 a 53 foot levee was built next to the road.

A view of lovely crepe myrtles.  You can see the road, levee and river from this vantage point.

We watched a short video of the history of the Randolph family and visited a small museum.  Information on John, Emily and their 11 children was extensive.  The oldest son was killed in the Civil War at Vicksburg, the second came home with malaria, the third one served but would not talk of his experiences.  The youngest took up with a mulatto slave and was shunned.  They had two daughters but never married.  He died alone in New Orleans but had reunited with his family by then.  There was no further information on him, the woman or the children.  The girls were all married except Sallie who was sickly her whole life and died at age 40, engaged but not married.

Our last visit was to the family cemetery.  Those not initially buried here were moved from St. Mary  Cemetery, Bayou Goula, Louisiana, December 2003.

It rained off and on our way home.  We decided to stay one more day to take a swamp tour tomorrow.  Ted does not need to stop in Beaumont so we will head out early Wednesday heading for home.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back To Florida

Despite the rain, we headed east 30 miles back to Pensacola FL to visit the Naval Air Station Museum.  It turned out to be a good day to be inside.  We arrived in time to take the guided tour conducted by a volunteer who is a former serviceman.  He took us from the first airplane used by the Navy in the early 1900s to the planes of today.  He had many amusing comments along the way. 

This is a Sopwith Camel, made famous by Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip when he used it to fight the Red Baron.  Note Snoopy is the pilot!

This is the plane that Bush Sr. trained in to become the youngest military pilot.  He later flew an Avenger off an aircraft carrier and crashed but was rescued.  He visited the museum and viewed an Avenger on the USS Cabot flight deck mock-up in the museum.  The Cabot had quite an illustrious career.

This is the plane of the commander immortalized in the TV series Black Sheep Squadron.  Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (12/4/12-1/11/88) was a USMC officer who was an American fighter ace during WWII.  He was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  He commanded the USMC squadron VMF-214, the Black Sheep Squadron, during WWII.  He became a prisoner of war. 

This is an F3F-2 that met its end on August of 1940 in the waters off San Diego.  It was being flown by Robert E. Galer, who became a Brigadier General in the USMC.  Its engine failed during a test flight and he bailed out.  In 1990, Galer was reunited with the plane after it was discovered by sailors searching for a downed helicopter.  It was missing a wing but was otherwise perfect, the only military model of the F3F-2 to survive the war.

These are more modern day jets that have wings that fold so they can be stored on the aircraft carriers, taking up less room.

Next we rode the tour bus to the restoration lots and garages.  There are lots of aircraft waiting to be restored but sequestration has affected this area also.  Much work is done at this museum by volunteers.

We had tickets for the I-Max movie Magic of Flight but had time to grab some lunch in the cafe beforehand.  The food was excellent and since we were on base, no sales tax!  After lunch we saw one of the two movies offered.  Ted also bought a simulator ticket but I passed.  Turns out there are two different sets and Ted had the one that didn't turn you 360 degrees and I would have been fine. He said it was fun and interesting.  

After his turns down the pool slide yesterday and the simulator today, Ted also climbed into the cockpit of a Blue Angel and took his seat on a 40 mm anti aircraft gun turret to show his friends his new "skeet" gun.  He has moved on from putting hats on every statue at least!

A Sikorsky VH-A Sea King that served Presidents Ford and Nixon is also at the museum.  You will remember it from the famous victory sign photo of Nixon before boarding as he left the White House for the last time.  A mannequin of him sits inside.


Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels and that moniker is used all over the area from car washes, to day care to pizza.  The cancellation of the two shows they do annually at the base cost the merchants $4 million in revenue.  More unintended consequences.

Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror ~ Pappy Boyington.