Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sometimes, Indecision Can Save Your Life

Location: Farr Park RV Campground (El 25 ft); Baton Rouge, Louisiana

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

First off, I changed the layout of the blog. I haven't done anything to the layout since I started it about 2 years ago. With this change, I'm creating a wider body which I hope makes it easier to read and post pictures. We will see. Let me know if I should go back to the old layout. 

As I said in the first New Orleans post, I intended to stay in New Orleans for only 5 days but extended my stay by 3 days. I extended my stay because I couldn't decide which campground to go to after New Orleans. I knew I needed to be in Baton Rouge by the 26th or 27th so that left me 5 to 6 days for a stay somewhere in between those two cities. My thoughts were to find a campground half way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River and explore some of the old plantations along the River Road. I couldn't decide between a campground near Donaldsonville on the west side of the river and another campground about 10 miles away near Convent on the east side. Both campgrounds had their own good and bad traits and with a bridge crossing at Donaldsonville, either would be convenient for exploration. I just couldn't decide between the two. That was strange because I usually get a "good vib" about a place just by researching it. That "good vib" has been right many, many more times than it has been wrong and I have learned to trust it. I didn't know what to do so I decided to do nothing and stay put, thus the 3 day extension at Bayou Segnette. My plan was to skip the middle stay all together and get to Baton Rouge a couple days earlier than originally planned which I did on the Wednesday, the 24th. 

My indecision may have saved my life since the campground I was considering in Convent was the Sugar Hill Campground. It may not have made the news elsewhere, but a tornado blew through that campground last Tuesday evening. RV's were scattered everywhere. Some blew up like a bottle of pop that had been shaken up while others were sitting on top of other RV's. It was a mess. A couple people had died and one was missing. I haven't heard if they found him or not, but would be surprised if they haven't. Thought and prayers for them and their families.

Aerial view on the day after

Aerial view

Early on the morning after

Dogs searching the wreakage

The picture says it all

If I had not extended my stay in New Orleans, I may have been in that campground. I have dodged death a couple times in my life and each time was sobering. It was no different this time. Someone upstairs was keeping an eye out for me as usual. It was interesting in the way it was done this time. By simply making me indecisive, they knew I would stay put which was the safest place.  

Like I said, I got to Baton Rouge last Wednesday. The campground is a city operated park just off the River Road. It is conveniently located to the convention center where I will be attending the conference next week. The sites are water/electric only with 30 amp being the largest electrical hookup. The 30 amp is fine with me since I shouldn't have to run both A/C units at the same time. I will be running both electric heaters but shouldn't need both on high at the same time. I will be here 8 days which is the same amount of time I stayed at Bayou Segnette. As it was then, it will be on the upper end of my waste tank capacity, but I am sure it will all work out fine. 

I haven't done much exploring since I got here. I went into town the second day and planned to visit the State Museum but couldn't find any parking within several blocks. As I was driving around looking for parking, I noticed a crowd of people on the steps of the Capitol Building and realized it was some kind of ralley which sucked up all parking. I decided to get groceries and a haircut instead. 

I did go back on Friday and visited the museum. It was worth the $6.00 entrance fee and was an enjoyable couple hours. I intended to also visit the old State Capitol Building but as I approached it, there were at least a dozen school buses parked nearby. Literally hundreds of children were running all over the grounds and going in and out. I did not stop.
The River Road about 20
miles south of Baton Rouge

My campsite at Farr Park.
It was a little wet on the first
day but dried out quickly.

A submarine from the Civil
War found in Lake

A sign of the times during the heyday of Huey P. Long's road building years. It was a good idea, but Concrete Pavement shouldn't have been used on some of the roads. They are still causing problems today.

The sign as you enter the 3rd floor. Notice the big crawfish on top. They are much better than lobster any day.

State Capitol Building. The tallest capitol building in the country. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New Orleans (part 3 and last)

Location: Bayou Segnette State Park (El. ?); Westwego, Louisiana

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

As I'm writing this post, the TV is on as the local channels are reporting on tornadoes that are touching down around this area. So far, there have been 6 or more that have caused property damage, injuries and at least one death. Thoughts and prayers to those who have suffered losses. 

Tomorrow is moving day so this will be the last post from this area. One of the places I wanted to see was the location of The Battle of New Orleans. Everyone, of a certain age, is familiar with the battle from the number one hit song by Johnny Horton back in the late 50's and early 60's. It was the number one song of 1959. I was only 3 years of age at the time, but for some reason, I know every word of the song. The song is only about half accurate since the "cannons didn't melt down", the head of alligators were not filled with cannonballs, their behinds weren't powered and they didn't lose their minds when the power was touched off. But it was a good song. :)
There was a street party and parade
as I passed through the Lower Ninth
Ward neighborhood. 

Some of the places from Katrina

Entrance to the battlefield

The Battle of New Orleans was actually fought nearer the town of Chalmette which is on the east bank of the river and about 10 miles south of New Orleans. You have to go through the Lower Ninth Ward to get to Chalmette. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because it was one of the hardest hit areas from Hurricane Katrina. It's been 10 years since Katrina but there are still scars from that disaster throughout the area but more so in the Lower Ninth Ward.

The ramparts where the Americans

The field that the British had to cross
except back then it was a recently
harvested cane field.

Looking along the canal that was
deepened and widened to be used
in making the rampart on the left.

Again, looking along the rampart
and canal
I won't get into a lot about the reasons for the War of 1812 but remember, it had only been about 30 years prior to it that we won our independence from the British. This war was like part two. One of the things the British tried to do was capture New Orleans. If they were able to do so, then they would have controlled the entire Mississippi River trade traffic. That would have prevented the westward expansion of America because if America had not been in control of New Orleans, then the Louisiana Purchase would never have occurred. The battle was very pivotal to the outcome of the war and to our country. It is surprising that its importance is not taught in the schools more. Maybe it needs a fancy name instead of just a date. 
This gives and idea how close the
river is to the battle field. I'm standing
on the river levee by the battlefield.
Notice the size of the trees that have
washed up from previous floods.

Looking back towards the battlefield.
The house was built a few decades
after the battle, but is somewhat
from the era.
Notice the watertight gate in the
flood wall. Kind of neat. 

The Riverboat Natchez was making
her tour rounds while I was on the

Nice old live oaks. That is the area
where General Jackson's HQ was
located. Wouldn't you know it, the
General is in the shade while the
soldiers are in the sun. :)

One of the interesting things about the battle was the lopsided win by us. The British started out with 10,000 battle hardened men who had just defeated Napoleon in Europe. They were up against 5,000 Americans made up of regular army, local militia, volunteers and pirates. That's right, pirates. Specifically, Jean Lafitte's pirates. He had been approached by the British to join their side but chose the Americans instead. The pirates manned most of the cannons during the battle and some sources say some of the cannons came directly off of the pirate ships. Of course, Jean Lafitte didn't do anything for free. In this case he bargained for pardons for he and several of his men. General Andrew Jackson, who was in military charge of New Orleans after the battle, granted those pardons. 

The British didn't sail up the Mississippi River to get to the battlefield. Instead, they made an amphibious landing (like D-day?) with 10,000 men on the banks of Lake Borgne and then marched overland about 6 miles to the edge of the Mississippi River. It was their intention to follow the river into New Orleans. General Jackson, and his 5,000 men stood in the way. Jackson widened an existing canal that ran from the river on the west to a swamp on the east. The mud and dirt dug from the canal was used to build a shoulder high rampart strong enough to survive a hit by the British cannons. While the Americans hunkered down behind the rampart, the British were forced to march through an open field of recently harvested sugar cane. It was a slaughter. 2,000 dead and wounded on the British side and only 20 on the American side. That wasn't a typo, only 20 on the American side. 
This would have been from the British lines looking towards the American.

One of the tragic stories from the battle was about the 93rd Highlanders. These were cracker-jack, hard-ass soldiers that had been fighting around the world for the British. They were originally placed near the river but during the battle was ordered to march diagonally across the battle field to aid in the fight near the swamp. This was a stupid order because to cross the field they would have to pass in front of the British artillery which would have to stop firing until they passed. To compound the stupidity, the officer in charge of the Highlanders order them to "halt", probably with the intention of following up with another order to "kneel and fire" or something similar. But, before he could give the second order, he was shot in the head and immediately killed. Without another order, the well trained and disciplined Highlanders just stood there, with their weapons on their shoulders, as the Americans continued to shoot into them. Finally, another officer came up and took charge, but by then it was much too late for the majority of the Highlanders.

The battle lasted about 2 hours until finally the British retreated and the Americans had won the day with the war ending shortly afterwards.

The flag on the stone by the roots is
the only one I saw with a flag. 

That is the battlefield in the distance
and Freedom in the parking lot
on the other side of the fence.

Planted live oaks provide a nice,
peaceful location.

A nice picture of the 'road to infinity'

I was surprised to find a National Cemetery right next to the battlefield. It wasn't established for The Battle of New Orleans. It was established in 1864 for Union troops from battles around the Gulf area. There are 16,000 people buried there and it is now closed to any new burials although there are a few spouses and soldiers that have sites yet to be filled. There is one soldier buried in the cemetery that fought in the Battle of New Orleans but he didn't die in the battle, instead he died in route back to his home in Tennessee after the war was over. 

This is the second National Cemetery that I've accidentally found. The other was at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Along with Arlington National Cemetery, all three have a certain kind of peaceful aura surrounding them. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll being heading to Baton Rouge. The Engineering Conference I will be attending begins this Sunday, the 28th. It will be a short tow, so I will probably wait until around noon to pull out so the predicted high winds behind the front that is passing through will have time to calm down.
This is the reason I don't like big cities because they usually mean big traffic jams.

I had to get at least one picture of the Superdome
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Orleans (part 2)

Location: Bayou Segnette State Park (El. ?); Westwego, Louisiana

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

There is a nice walkway along the river that runs from the point where the Ferry lands at Canal Street to a point downstream about 1 mile. There are plenty of benches to sit and watch at the river makes it way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

At the southern end is the French Market. 
Main Entrance
It is about 5 blocks of produce, crafts and eating places. It sits on about the same location as an old Indian Trading Post dating back to 1791. A lot of it was more of a flea market type place. 
Inside the flea market end
I'm sure there are some great things at great prices in amongst the junk, but I didn't have the time or inclination to find it. Liberty doesn't need to carry any more weight. 

I did get a sandwich that sounded good on the menu, but the bread was so hard I couldn't eat it. The inside was good though. I should have went to the place selling Jambalaya, but they were very busy with a long line.

At the very end of the French Market is the Cafe du Monde with their world famous beignets. I got a small order of beignets which comes 3 in a bag with plenty of powered sugar in the bottom for only $2.73. By the way, think of beignets as flat donuts without a hole. 
This view was to my back as I ate
my beignets along the river. It is the
St. Louis Cathedral and it is the
oldest catholic cathedral in
continual use in the U.S.

I got a coffee to wash them down and headed to a bench along the river. The beignets were really good and fresh, almost too hot to eat at first. The coffee seemed to have a lot of chicory in it and that ruined the taste for me as I threw half of it away. 
This was also behind me to my right.
It is the old Jax Beer Brewery. It
definitely is a fancy building for make

On the way to the bench, at least 4 different "hey Joe's" tried to stop me by saying they could tell me where and when I bought my shoes. I was curious but blew them off by saying I got them at Walmart. One of these days I'll
That is the front view of the Jax
building. Notice the tents of
the homeless people down my
the railroad tracks.
have to find out what their game was about the shoes. 

After I finished the beignets, I sat for a while and watched the people. There were plenty of tourists but also natives and a surprisingly large number of homeless people, both male and female. You can spot them because they are carrying all of their belongings with them as opposed to the beggars which were not and the 'Hey Joe's' which were better dressed. As I was leaving my bench, I noticed a young guy in his late 20's. He had a backpack, wore dreadlocks and walked with a confident air about him. He was carrying a bag of beignets and would stop now and then to give half of one of them to a homeless person. I walked faster than normal to keep him in sight and saw him give away 4 halves which left him with one for himself. As he went into a restroom, I caught my breath and waited for him. After he came out, I caught up with him and told him that I had seen what he had done. Before I could finish talking, he offered me his last beignet. I politely said no as I reached in my pocket and gave him a 10 dollar bill and told him the next beignets he bought would be on me. He thanked me, said God was good and off he went. I stood and watched him for as long as I could see him and sure enough, he gave his last beignet away to a guy that had been sleeping on a bench. As he threw his empty bag away, I got a feeling that at least in that man's world, all was right. It is the small things like giving beignets away that affect so many people and not only the ones receiving them but also the ones that witness it, like I did. I should have thanked him, but didn't think of it. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New Orleans (part 1)

Location: Bayou Segnette State Park (El. ?); Westwego, Louisiana

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

This is a nicely laid out state park with plenty of room between campsites and paved roads/parking areas. Westwego is a city that was started in 1870 when the Texas and Pacific Railroad built a rail yard just north of canal that connected the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico by way of Bayou Segnette and Bayou Lafource. Legend has it that the city got its name from a train conductor that used to say "West We Go" as the train would head out to the west. Eventually the words became combined and pronounced "Wes-way-go". It is within 30 to 45 minutes of downtown New Orleans by way of the Algiers/Canal Street Ferry. Country-like camping but near big-city things. Nice. 
Campsite at Bayou Segnette SP

My plan was to be here 5 days but have since extended that by 3 more days. The campsites are only water/electricity so I will have to monitor my waste tanks since 8 days is about the limit of my tanks. I have 3 waste tanks on Liberty, (grey, black and galley). Each are 38 gallons but the grey tank is the controlling tank. It is for the shower and bathroom sink. I am used to taking Navy showers in about 3 1/2 gallons of water without really trying or 4 gallons if I get really crazy. That uses up about 30 gallons of the grey tank leaving 8 gallons for the sink and extra. 

I went into New Orleans to see a few things. I don't like spending a lot of time in big cities, but there are things worth seeing. I didn't want to drive Freedom
Entering New Orleans and Algiers
into the city due to its size and the narrowness of some of the streets. To avoid that, I used the Ferry. It connects the west bank of the Mississippi River at Algiers to New Orleans at the end of Canal Street. You can park
Living under the Crescent City
Connection Bridges
along the street in Algiers but I decided on using the parking lot at $5.00 for the day. The Ferry cost $2.00 each way, so for $9.00 I was able to get to the end of Canal Street.
New Orleans City-scape from
the middle of the river


The ferry is privately owed as of a couple years ago. Prior to that is was operated by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and paid for from tolls collected on the massive Crescent City Connection Bridges. The tolls ended in 2012 after the bonds were paid off that financed the
The Crescent City Connection
Bridges in the distance
building of the
second bridge back in 1989. The tolls were very cheap. If you used the electronic option, the toll was 20 cents for a car and 50 cents for an 18-wheeler. Those tolls were used to not only pay off the cost of the bridge but also for its maintenance. On bridges that size which are carrying over 180,000 vehicles per day, maintenance is a daily necessity. 
Two old-style stern-wheeler
The tolls also built and maintained about 13 miles of a multi-lane expressway along the west side of the river leading to the bridges. By the way, the bridge and expressway used to have their own police force to take care of any problems. There was a big fight about whether to remove the tolls or keep them in place after the bonds were paid off. A vote of the people decided the issue and the tolls were removed. It was a bad mistake and will prove to be very much "badder" as time goes on. The funds to maintain the expressway and bridges will now have to compete with every other road and bridge in the state instead of having their own source of monies. I won't go into how the Louisiana Transportation Trust fund is so poorly funded, but just know, trouble is coming.  

Once you get off the ferry, you are within easy walking distance to catch the streetcars. You can ride the streetcars all day by using a $3.00 pass. It is well worth it. There are 4 streetcar routes. Two are on Canal Street, one is on St. Charles and the fourth is along the river. I rode all of them and think it is a very nice and lazy way to see a large chunk of the city.

The St. Charles line is the oldest continuously operated streetcar line in the world. It goes through Loyola University, through a residential neighborhood and around Lee Circle. It connects with Canal Street which makes it easy to transfer to another streetcar line. 
Looking up Canal Street.

Inside a streetcar

Looking up St. Charles Avenue
with its Oak Trees

I couldn't pass up this office
combination. Law Offices and Tattoo

This is in the middle of the Lee Traffic Circle. The man on the top is General Robert E. Lee. The City of New Orleans is in the middle of a great discussion/argument to have it removed. The reason given for its removal is it is a reminder of the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression/War for Southern Independence. The reason for it to stay is "if we don't remember history, we will be doomed to repeat it".

I guess if they are successful in having it removed, then LSU will have to come up with another name instead of the  Fighting Tigers. The name comes from a Louisiana Unit that fought as "Fighting Tigers" during the Civil War.

It would also mean all the people buried at Arlington Cemetery needs to be dug up and relocated since the land originally belonged to General Lee.

Once you start down this slope, it gets very slippery. 
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Grand Isle State Park Wrap-up (mostly pictures)

Location: Grand Isle State Park (El. 5 ft); Grand Isle, Louisiana

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

I've been here 5 days and tomorrow is moving day. In the past I averaged moving campgrounds about every 3 or 4 days. This staying put for 5 days feels about right but I am ready to move on. Grand Isle State Park is nice in that it is close to the beach and I've taken several long walk along the beach. The campground is about 25% full so the beach is deserted most of the time. There isn't much to do up in town and there are only a couple restaurants open since it is still the off-season. I did get a burger and some gumbo at one of them and both were very good. Although, I'm glad I came here, I'm pretty sure I won't be coming back since it is somewhat out of the way.
One of the walkways over the sand dunes. This one has an observation tower.

From the observation tower looking north to the bay. The dock in the water is a crabbing pier. For those Yankees that haven't been crabbing this is one of the ways it's done. Buy some cheap chicken parts, such as necks or wings. Tie a string onto the chicken and throw it in the water. Wait for a while (the time depends on how hungry the crabs are) then slowly pull the chicken up to the surface. If you see a crab holding on to it, slowly slip a net under him. Place him in a cooler or 5 gallon bucket. Note: you don't have to do this from a pier like in the picture. It can also be done from the bank. Fun time for families with kids.

Still in the tower looking across the water at Fort Livingston. It was originally a place were the pirate Jean Lafitte stayed but he moved on and the U.S. government built a fort to protect the south side of New Orleans. It has been abandoned for while. I don't think it is open to the public and you can only get to it either by boat or helicopter. The contraption on the left is a lift boat. More on them later.

Still from the tower looking at the beach. I could see many dark colored dolphins surfacing but were a bit far for my cell phone. I thought about going back to Freedom for the fancy camera with zoom lens but was just too lazy to do it. 

Beach walking
Beach combing. Didn't find anything good.

A little bird watching while walking

The second day brought out a different color to the water. The beach was mostly deserted except for one or two others.

Still during the second walk

This is from a drive I took to Port Fourchon which is a very busy oil/gas center. It is located at the foot of the large bridge in this picture. Nothing to do there but drive and see what can be seen.

With the price of gas so low, many companies and people are out of work. The is picture is of one of the lift-boat companies. That is a lot of steel sitting idle and not making money.

This is a close up of one of the individual boats. 

I copied this picture from the internet to show what and how the lift-boats work. You can see the two sets of propellers on the right side of the picture. The boat travels to raised structures in the Gulf such as oil platforms and is capable of raising the entire boat out of the water. Some of the larger boats have legs long enough for 300 feet from the floor of the Gulf. My son worked at a ship yard that made some of the larger ones.  

A nice sunrise. It has been a while since I've seen one.

3rd day of beach combing. Still didn't find anything. 

I did catch a gull flying over the choppy water.

I figured it was time to post another selfie so the grandkids will know what I looked like when they get older. 

I've been around the oceans and lakes a lot over my life but I've been hearing something coming from the Gulf that I've never heard before. It is a constant humming sound and it is the loudest at night. At first I thought it was a shrimp boat passing by, but the sound stayed steady throughout the night. The sound doesn't increase and decrease in volume like it would if it was the wind or surf. It may simply be a sound from some of the industry near by and it just sounds like it is coming from the Gulf. Oh well, a little mystery is good for the mind and senses.

My next stop will be Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego which is suburb of New Orleans. I will be there at least 5 days. I have plans for only 1 of those 5 days so I'll be doing some research once I get there. Of course Taco Bell is on my list since this place is deprived of such a fancy eatery. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.