New Orleans, River Road, Baton Rouge, St. Francesville
After sleeping late we decide to get some cash from the ATM next
to the Navy Exchange. This Bank One ATM would not give me cash.
Undeterred, we went to the ATM operated by the Navy Federal Credit
Union. This ATM took my Debit Card giving me a receipt informing
me of it and providing a phone number to contact. Using a nearby
pay phone I dial the number and the operator tells me to deposit
$4.24. Like Hell! I hang up and redial using my pre-paid AT&T
card. This time a message informs me that the number has been changed
to-XXX-XXXXX. You guessed it. I did not have a pen or pencil. I
am losing what cool I may have had. I go to the car and get a pin,
return to the pay phone and re-dial. This time I am able to write
down the new number. Calling the new number I wade through a complex
voice mail matrix then get to a message that says the next operator
will be with me in approximately 4 and one half minutes. It was
closer to eight minutes. As I tried to explain to the totally innocent
voice on the other end the pay phone hung up on me. Exasperated,
I dial back only to be greeted by the message that says the next
operator is 9 minutes away. I hang up realizing that there is no
way I can handle this over the phone. We obtain directions to Navy
Federal. Upon arriving I sign in requesting to speak to the Supervisor.
A few minutes later we are escorted into the office of a bleached
blond in her mid-fifty's. I am looking into the blue eyes of this
complete idiot that was ruining my day. The bottom line she knew
very little. Emphasis on VERY LITTLE. She did not know why her machine
had taken my card. She was responsible for the wrong number on the
receipt in the machine. She was responsible for not having enough
employees to answer their phone within nine minutes. It was her
voice mail system that could not be navigated. She did know that
a Brinks armored truck would retrieve everything in the machine
I returned to Blondie's Navy Federal Credit Union shortly before 5:00. I was immediately escorted to Blondie's office where I signed something indicating that my credit card had been returned to me.
Moral and lesson learned: Those of you traveling in your RV for
extended periods may learn from my experience. First let me add
that my Federal Credit Union has agreements, supposedly, with all
other Federal credit unions to provide cost free ATM service. My
mistake, that will not be repeated when I am out of town, was to
put my card in an ATM. Never again will it get out of my sight,
in one of those machines, when I am not at home and in my local
credit unions facilities. In the future I will take my debit card
to a grocery
Joyce and I took the ferry to New Orleans for a late lunch at Mothers.
For those of you not familiar with New Orleans this is one of the
"must do" eating establishments. Joyce and I like to order
a variety of things then share. On this occasion we chose the famous
Ferdi Special (a half loaf of French bread stuffed with baked ham,
roast beef, debris and gravy, shredded cabbage, mayo and Creole
Mustard), seafood gumbo, and two bread puddings. Neither of us wanted
to share our bread pudding. Imagine that! Debris is the roast beef,
which falls into the gravy in the oven. If your roast beef does
not fall into the gravy you probably need to cook it for about 20
more hours. With enough cooking and liquid a roast will transform
to shredded beef gravy. Ladled onto a split loaf of French bread
and WOW, you know why Mother's is so popular. Mother's also serves
bread pudding with rum
I spent considerable time trying to send e-mail this afternoon.
Actually, I want to send e-mail but cannot get my dialer to dial
the sequence of numbers required to access my ISP via a pre-paid
phone card. Dave Damouth has provided detailed instructions on how
to accomplish some pretty complicated dialing sequences. I know
that I am close, however close don't count. When I return to Pensacola
this is one of the things I have got to perfect. I have to have
a dialer that will access my ISP from phones that require a 9 to
We spend the early part of Tuesday night listening to election returns. My home state of Florida seems to be behaving like some sleazy Banana Republic. It is embarrassing! We are watching CBS and they are effusively apologizing for giving Florida to Gore.
Wednesday, November 08, 2000. We move the motorhome to Baton Rouge
104 miles north of New Orleans following the meandering Mississippi
River today. Using the GPS and SA8 Joyce navigates us from one attraction
to another. We exited I-10 twenty miles north of New Orleans and
started visiting a series of quaint museums, Plantation homes, specialty
Cajun meat markets and the Stockpile restaurant in Grand Point.
In the Cajun meat markets we purchase andouille sausage for our
own use when we return to Pensacola. In two of them we purchase
hogs headcheese for Joyce's father. He is an old Georgia country
boy and Joyce remembers him liking hogs headcheese. In the meat
market they assure us that they do not make hogs headcheese the
old way. Dumb me! I ask -------"and what would the old way
be?" They explain that it IS NOT made with the pig's head anymore.
Lunch at the Stockpile restaurant (corner of La 3125 & La 642 near Grand Point) featured dirty rice and baked chicken with peas. This was Cajun dirty rice containing about 50 percent beef and pork chips and gravy. The rice had soaked up the gravy giving it the dirty color. They heaped enough "dirty rice" on our plate to feed a field hand. If you have never experienced dirty rice this is the place to get your sample.
We arrive in Farr RV Park South Of Baton Rouge in time to set up
and prepare for the cold front sweeping across the area. Our weather
radio has been going off all day warning of thunderstorms. Tonight
the weather radio says we are under a tornado and thunderstorm warning
from 6:00 until midnight. Several times the local television interrupts
programming to advise of dangerous thunderstorms and tornados transversing
the area. Doppler radar shows severe storms passing all around us.
Joyce and I have checked out the concrete
It is Wednesday night and we still do not know who our new President will be. CBS is still apologizing for the Florida fiasco. This election was so close that neither candidate got a mandate. Whichever one occupies the White House for the next four years is likely to moderate their current stance. I predict that the winner will have to build a coalition of moderates from the opposition party. I suspect there may even be members of the other party included in the Cabinet much like Clinton did with his Secretary of Defense.
Thursday, November 8, 2000. That was some kind of major front that
passed through here last night. Tornadoes passed north of us several
times. Each time our weather radio would warn us. We never abandoned
the motorhome for the concrete block restrooms but we knew what
we would do if the tornado was headed our way. The tornadoes passed
Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge
We toured the Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge today. If you are
passing through Baton Rouge on I-10 or I-12 this is an easy place
to stop and visit. It is not well marked but it is located at the
Essen lane exit of I-10. Cost is $5.00 each and was a super value.
This is an excellent collection of 1700's and 1800's memorabilia
ranging from farm implements, to early mousetraps, and bear traps.
Various mortars & pestles, mostly concave indentations in large
cypress logs, set on end, with a rounded wooden pestle also made
of cypress. The wealthier plantation owners had large stones that
ground corn and were driven by mule or slave power. In the delta
area of Louisiana mules had to provide the power that was provided
by water in more mountainous regions. They had a fantastic presentation
of rural sugar cane processing complete with pressing juice from
the cane to the three stages of boiling molasses. The more molasses
that is refined from the raw sugar juice the better the price. Some
plantations only refined down to thick molasses while others achieved
a sticky brown sugar and the best would produce white sugar that
we know today. There were displays of houses for slaves, and tenant
farmers, as well as the early settlers. Exhibits displayed a variety
of early ice boxes, butter churns, egg incubators, a horse drawn
hearse from the 1850's, many 1800's vintage cane and logging wagons.
If settlers used
Farr RV Park and horse activity center is
operated by the city of Baton Rouge on what appears to be an old
plantation. There are many old pecan trees dropping nuts around
the park. Joyce and I fill several grocery bags with what we call
seedling pecans. Seedling pecans are small in comparison to the
commercial varies being cultivated today. However, seedling pecans
are full of oil and flavor. While picking up pecans we observe many
killdeer on the ground around the pasture. We could also hear the
Michael Anderson's Seafood Restaurant was the dining place tonight. Michael Anderson's in Baton Rouge and New Orleans is noted for fine dining. We chose to do Ralph & Kacoo's in New Orleans and save Michael Anderson's for our Baton Rouge stop. We recommend the Crab Meat Au Gratin, bread pudding and soups (gumbo, etouffee and bisque.) Joyce and I shared a sampler of gumbo, etouffee and bisque. I particularly enjoyed the bisque while Joyce favored the etouffee.
Around 7:00 when we exited Michael Andersons we decided to drive the Saturn around the old and the new Capital buildings. Joyce cranked up the SA8 & GPS and navigated us to the old Capital building. It is a massive Gothic Revival Castle built in 1849. Reported to be the ugliest building on the Mississippi by none other than Mark Twain. I beg to differ with Mark Twain. It surely must look like a European castle from the Mississippi River complete with an ornate wrought iron fence and lawn that rivals the one sported by the White House in Washington, DC. In the center of this castle is a large stained glass window facing the Mississippi River. At night, lights inside of the Capital shine on the stained glass creating a truly awe inspiring tapestry. I cannot see what Mark Twain's hang up with this building was.
Friday, November 10, 2000. Joyce has a day in St. Francisville
planned for us. St. Francisville is located 30 miles north of Baton
Rouge and about 5 miles east of the Mississippi River. As we head
north out of Baton Rouge we pass miles and miles of refineries then
the landscape changes from flat sugar cane land to small hills.
There are more live oaks and red oaks. The swampland has given away
to oak hammocks and rolling pastureland. This was once upon a time
cotton plantation territory where as south of Baton Rouge sugar
Using SA8 & GPS Joyce navigates us from one Plantation house to the other. The Plantations in this area are built on the top of small hills. Each hill is an oak grove with live oaks being predominant.
Joyce chose the Magnolia Café in downtown
St. Francisville. This was another local restaurant highly
recommended by a variety of sources. The food was good and we recommend
the place, best of all was the bread pudding. They have the best
rum sauce we have sampled on this trip. It was either better or
they ladled on more of it. Which ever
On the trip back to the motorhome we decide to take the hwy 190 bridge west over the Mississippi River to Port Allen, on the west bank, follow La 1 south to I-10 then come back across the Mississippi River on I-10 thereby bypassing downtown Baton Rouge. An added benefit was getting to see Port Allen. From Port Allen, which is across the Mississippi river from Baton Rouge we could clearly see the new, completed in 1932; State Capitol building purported to be the tallest capital building in the United States at 450 feet with 34 floors.
Another day has passed and the country still does not know who their next president will be. It is embarrassing to tell anyone that we are from Florida. How can a Presidential election come down to this? Is it going to be decided by one county in one state?
Tomorrow is Saturday and Florida State University will be playing football again. I will have to get a newspaper or TV schedule to see whom their opponent will be. Whatever Joyce is planning for tomorrow may have to be "adjusted" J.
Magnolia Mound Plantation
Saturday, November 10, 2000. Mike starts the day by picking up a grocery bag of pecans. Then Joyce navigates us to Magnolia Mound Plantation located within a mile of the LSU campus. Magnolia Mound Plantation was preserved by the City of Baton Rouge. It is a treasure. Magnolia Mound is a Creole house originally constructed in 1790. Because they used cypress for the main timbers the place is still standing and in relatively good shape. There are many good exhibits and the docent was extremely knowledgeable. The docent gave a good account of kitchen activities and how each of the unique kitchen implements were used. Of particular interest was a waffle iron dating to 1800. It looked similar to current waffle irons except it was made of cast iron and had a 4-foot long handle so it could be thrust into the open fire in the fireplace. Another unique tool was the "pincher" which resembles a modern day tree lopper. The handles were long with only about 2 inches of cutting blade. Salt and sugar in the early 1800's came in blocks and they used this tool to "pinch" off some salt or sugar. Now you know the origin of the term a pinch of salt.
In one of the out buildings craftsmen of the area were building and repairing things using tools from the 1800's. One of the men was turning a table leg on a crude but effective lathe. Another was using a drawing plain to construct another part. We had seen many of the tools and implements in other exhibits but did not understand how they were used. Now we know.
Another item unique to this plantation was a pigeon roost. This was a small building that had holes or roosts about 15 feet off the ground. According to a period recipe book, pigeon was a delicacy. By providing a roost for the pigeons they could harvest them at leisure. According to the recipe book there were various sorts of pigeons, tame, wood and wild. The tame were the most in use. Wild pigeons were tasty boiled or roasted, but not in fricassees or ragouts, as the flesh was considered too "black".
Magnolia Mound was constructed on a mound like the name implies. It appears that this mound was created centuries ago by a bend in the Mississippi River. Today it is about one half mile east of the Mississippi. There are many 225-year-old live oaks on the property. The grounds are beautiful.
Louisiana State Capital
From Magnolia Mound Joyce plots a course to the Louisiana State Capital building. This is the "new" one that was constructed in 1932 and not to be confused with the old Capital building a few blocks south. The exterior is limestone and the interior marbles from every state in the union with marble and many foreign countries. The floor of the first floor is lava rock from Mount Vesuvius.
The architects used symbolism throughout the design of the building. As the square tower rises, it is cut away to an octagon at the 22nd floor. At this point four allegorical winged figures guard the corners. They represent Law, Science, Philosophy and Art.
The entrance is approached by a grand staircase with one step for each of the 48 states, listed in the order of their admittance to the Union. Alaska and Hawaii were added to the top step when they were made states. The top step is carved with "E Pluribus Unum" from the Great Seal of the United States: it means "One from many."
Louisiana's state symbol, the pelican, decorates the side of the steps and is used extensively elsewhere in the building.
Monumental statues flank the stairs. To the east is The Patriots - an armored soldier and the mourners of a warrior slain in battle. To the west is The Pioneers - men and women of courage who created Louisiana out of wilderness. A carved frieze around the base of the building illustrates Louisiana's struggles and its admission to the Union. Four double life size marble sculptures of great governors in Louisiana history are found in the gigantic hall on the first floor separating the House Chambers from the Senate Chambers.
Chambers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives can be reached through magnificent bronze doors. These doors are an example of superior workmanship. Each weighs a solid ton, yet opens as smoothly as a well-crafted cabinet on oiled hinges. Panels on the House doors represent events in the state's history; Senate doors depict colonial Louisiana.
The marble used throughout the first floor is breathtaking. Every color and pattern imaginable is represented. This place is opulent beyond belief. In my opinion it makes the Capital building in Washington D.C. look like a cheap imitation.
There is an observation deck on the 27th floor that overlooks Baton Rouge at a height of 350 feet. The views are spectacular.
We dined at the Cheesecake Bistro. Joyce remembered eating at a Cheesecake Bistro while visiting Victoria, British Columbia several years ago. The highlight of this meal was the bread pudding with white chocolate sauce. The white chocolate sauce is as good or better than the rum sauces we have been sampling.
Sunday, November 10, 2000. We get up late then pick up another
bag or two of pecans and prepare the motorhome to head east. We
get on I-10 and I-12 in Baton Rouge heading east for 30 bone jarring
miles then exited I-12 at Springfield south to Louisiana 22 which
parallels I-12. Louisiana 22 is a Louisiana scenic highway and traveling
We stopped for several hours in Ponchatoula, Louisiana and visited many of the antique shops and art galleries located in the historic district. Anyone into serious antiques would love this place. They have antique stores on top of antique stores. Wholesale Antiques had a large selection of Chippendale furniture, tables and chairs, china cabinets, leaded lamps and windows, crystal, Victorian furniture, jewelry and collectables.
Ponchatoula has a fat 10-foot alligator on display across the street from the museum. Another place we enjoyed was Julia Sims Nature Photography at 129 E. Pine Street. Julia is an award winning nature photographer. You may be able to see some of her work at http://www.juliasims.com
The next time we pass through Mandeville we are going to try some of the local seafood restaurants located on hwy 190 through Mandeville.
We stop at a Wal-Mart Super Store parking lot in Gulf Port, Mississippi for the night. Jim and Barbara Bolhouse were staying in another motorhome at Wal-Mart with us. They are almost fulltimers but still maintain their home in Michigan. What a delightful couple.
Monday, November 12, 2000. We made our way back to Pensacola arriving home around noon. I-10 in Florida was bad but not as bad as the interstates through Louisiana.
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.