Friday, November 28, 2014

New Orleans, LA - A Day in the Park

This is our last day in New Orleans, we leave tomorrow for Alabama. What to do on our last day? Our answer to this question was really answered by a TV program we had seen yesterday when the news was over before our dinner and we watched a program about City Park, its history, its attractions and its beauty. We thought a beignet at Morning Call and then a walk around the park would be great and leave us time to do anything we needed to do on the RV to get ready for moving.

Since we had spent several days in a shop for some work on one of our leveling jacks and on our heat pump and we were in the middle of the Great Dry ice Adventure, we knew we were a bit behind. We had actually spent 3 of our 14 days in New Orleans on some problems: one when Gary worked on the heat pump to find out exactly what the problem was, one day when we drove to the service center to get them to look at the problems and order what parts they needed to order and one day actually getting the problems fixed. Gary was spot on with his analysis of the problem and the heat pump was easy to fix but the leveling jack had to be ordered and it took about 3 hours to put it in.

But that is all behind us and it’s time to enjoy the New Orleans and no place better than City Park.
We parked, walked to Morning Call and sat down. An older woman came to wait on us, took our order and, when she returned with it, told us it was $15.00. Hmmm. $15.00 for 2 orders of beignets which the menu said were $2.00 each and $8.00 for 2 coffees (terribly expensive). Doesn’t that = $12.00? We asked her to verify the price. Yes, she was caught and changed the price. My, and she called me ‘hon’. Funny, she looked like a nice little old lady not a trickster con man. Where’s that Trojan Horse?
But it was nice to sip our coffee and nibble on our beignets while we watched all the other groups and couples having theirs. We then walked around the park. Beautiful park and it was so ruined by Katrina that people thought it might never regain its former glory. But, because it was such a symbol of New Orleans and so many families had grown up visiting the park, they all worked to bring it back. And, their hard work showed.

Every tourist has to have their picture taken by the Lions at the Peristyle built for dances in 1907.
We strolled through the vast sculpture garden.

As we were finishing up with our walk, we heard band music off in the distance. We sauntered towards it and found that it was a college band practicing for a big football game on Sunday called the Bayou Classic against Grambling and Southern University. Nothing better than a big band and Southern, which was the band we heard, is big. We marched over to the stadium where they were practicing, ran up the bleachers and sat in the middle for the big show. It was so much fun. We really enjoyed it.
Then home to finish laundry, clean up and get read to move.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New Orleans, LA - Serendipity

We made plans but altered these along the way and the day turned out better than we might have imagined. Hey, isn’t that the way? Ya gotta go with the flow and make choices which seem the best at the time. We planned to travel the gulf coast from New Orleans to Biloxi and visit the last home and Presidential Library of Jefferson Davis at Beauvoir. We didn’t even get half way there.

Our first stop was the Vietnamese bakery down the road for cinnamon rolls which friends of ours said were delicious. But, isn’t saying ‘delicious cinnamon rolls’ a tautology? Oh, no, no cinnamon rolls so we settled for the almond rolls with pecans. Oh, my, they were um - um - good, maybe better than a cinnamon roll. Let’s get another. No - maybe we’ll want a treat later today. Let’s not spent all our calories at 9:30 in the morning, let’s save some for later.

Next, we began crossing the bridge which links LA and MS, looked down and saw - wow, an old fort, let’s stop to see it. Well, yeah, we were already on the bridge with no way to turn around s we drove to the end of the bridge, turned around, got to the fort and walked around it. Neat old fort. Mostly bermed, built in a baseball diamond shape with a moat around it and a last ditch citadel in the middle. The fort was built 2 years after the War of 1812 to protect New Orleans and the Gulf Coast from British invasion. It was named after Zebulon Pike (as was Pike’s Peak) who led the American Expeditionary Forces for the Louisiana Purchase and who died in an accidental explosion of an ammunition magazine in 1812. It was used on and off until 1890 and then allowed to deteriorate until the state took it over as a park in late 1900’s. Both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav have damaged it but the state has worked to restore it and clean up the debris.
We could walk through the whole fort and around the top edge. Cannons lines all three sides of the fort (luckily no cannon from this fort has ever been fired),
the moat surrounded it
and in the center was a thick-walled citadel in the middle where the soldiers could hole themselves up if the fort was breached. But, not they could still shoot outward.
Almond rolls, historical fort - hey, this day is going pretty well.

OK, now let’s cross the bridge and head to the MS Welcome Center. Here one of the volunteers told us about a neat refurbished Depot in a small town called Bay St. Louis. You really ought to see it and they have some marvelous Mardi Gras costumes. OK, not on the plans but, we’ll do it. Meanwhile there is a marvelous drive along Beach Road, along the Gulf. Here we found some sculptures that had been carved out of trees that had fallen in Katrina’s vicious winds. They were carved by Marlin Miller who grew up on the family farm in Manson, IA. He served in the Air Force and now lives in Florida. He carved 40 sculptures along Hwy 90 in Mississippi. He wanted to create some beauty out of the massive destruction. And, he certainly did. He donated 2 1/2 years to this project.

Here’s one we found in Pass Christian.
And, here is a second one combining metal and wood.

We did find the Depot and thought it wonderfully restored. But, the Mardi Gras costumes are marvelous and we could get close to really see them and all the little hand stitching they required. In the museum in NOLA, the Mardi Gras costumes were not as spectacular and more protected. I’ve only shown one of the many they have here but look at the fine hand sewing in the second picture - part of the costume pictured.

Then the Bay St. Louis Welcomer there asked us if we’d like some ‘Magnolia Bucks.’ Huh? Well, BP, which ruined their tourist business for several years has given the communities along the Gulf grants of money to use as they see fit to attract tourists. Some communities put up billboards, some have TV ads. BSL decided to hand out ‘Magnolia Bucks’ to each tourist to use in the local businesses. Then the local businesses turn them in and get money for them. We were going to refuse but - how dumb would that be? So, we had an absolutely marvelous lunch at the Cypress Cafe. Gary had the angus beef in the pretzel bun while I had the chicken salad wrap. Both of us had the best potato salad we’ve ever had.
But the best part? We had $15 ‘Magnolia Bucks’ left over for the bakery where we bought 4 blueberry scones and 2 monster cookies. Mine was the almond-flavored cranberry and macadamia nut, 5” diameter, 1” thick cookie. I figure the volume of this was 19.6” of solid goodness. Oh, my.

Luckily we hadn’t used up our day’s worth of calorie on the almond rolls.

Almond rolls, historical fort, marvelous dinner and treats and we haven’t even gotten half way to Beauvoir and it’s time for our daily walk - through Pass Christian, one of the towns heavily hit by Katrina. Here we saw some of the hurricane’s damage. A mail box with no home in back of it.
A front sidewalk leading up to some steps.
Finally a car that we think must have been shoved aside. It’s covered by bushes and overgrowth - probably forgotten along with the other cars near it.
And, of course lots of empty lots for sale.
But we also saw home like this.
We walked back along the beach and saw this beautiful sunset over the pier in Pass Christian.
Ah, time to head back to New Orleans without hitting our goal. But that’s OK, we had a wonderful day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Orleans, LA - 'In 1814 we Took a Little Trip'

Ok, we’ve got the dry ice in the refrigerator and it’s time for a road trip - hmmm - maybe only a short road trip like the 11 miles to the Chalmette Battlefield where the Battle of New Orleans was. To get in the mood for this: pretend that you are an American history teacher in Arkansas and need to interest your students in the War of 1812.

        ‘Ah, why do we have to learn about that?’

        ‘Didn’t we just fight the British, why are we fighting them again?’

        ‘I get the two wars mixed up.’

        ‘Which one did Washington fight in?’

So, how about writing a song about the battle? And, let’s call it the ‘Battle of New Orleans’, put it to an old fiddle tune called ‘The 8th of January’, add some words and teach the battle that way? That’s just what Jimmy Driftwood did. Little did he know that Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others would make a hit out of it. Not only teach your students history but get royalties in the process. Good ideal. And, don’t we all know the words to this song? As we were driving home, I sang the first 2 lines and Gary chimed in with the next two. Between us both, we knew most of the words, just not in the right order.

Wait a minute now, I’ve got the words printed here but, before you go any further, close your eyes and try to sing the song.

You remembered quite a bit didn’t you? Well, only if you’re as old as Gary and I.

Lyrics to The Battle of New Orleans

written by Jimmy Driftwood
sung by Johnny Horton
(c) 1991 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon an' we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British at the town of New Orleans.


We fired our guns an' the British kept a'comin'.
There wasn't nigh as many as there was awhile ago.
We fired once more an' they begin to runnin'
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We looked down the river an' we seed the British comin',
There must a'been a hundred of 'em beatin' on the drum.
They stepped so high an' they made their bugles ring,
We stood beside our cotton bales an'didn't say a thing.


Ole Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise,
If we didn't fire our muskets 'til we looked 'em in the eyes.
We held our fire 'til we seed their faces well,
Then we opened up our squirrel guns an' really gave 'em ...well!


Yeah, they ran through the briars an' they ran through the brambles
An' they ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn't go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We fired our cannon 'til the barrel melted down,
So we grabbed an alligator an' we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls an' powdered his behind,
An' when they touched the powder off, the 'gator lost his mind.

Johnny Horton had a hit with this song in 1959 but I like the title to his previous 1959 song: ‘When It’s Springtime in Alaska, It’s 40 Below.’

Nice smaller National Battlefield but the displays inside are very good. British and American uniforms and accoutrements: guns, ammo, silverware etc.

The Americans, with 4000, mainly inexperienced, were outnumbered 2 - 1 since the British had an experienced, battle-hardened army of 8000 but, when the battle was over, the British had lost 2000 while the Americans lost only 20. But it was the British who attacked the Americans behind well-fortified lines with lots of artillery that just shredded the British lines as they attacked. Here’s a picture of the mural on the wall in the Visitor’s Center. I probably don’t have to point out the British attacking across a bare field nor the American lines behind their breastworks firing at will at the advancing British. The British bravely attacked but were demolished.
And, even though the battle happened after the peace treaty had been signed, it solidified our ownership of the Louisiana Purchase, established our presence at the mouth of the Mississippi, made other nations sit up and notice this new country and made a national hero out of Andrew Jackson.

We walked the battlefield since we needed our daily walk and also walked through the National Cemetery next to the battlefield.

But, hey, we’ve still got the ‘Prettiest Painted Houses in America’ adventure and a sad drive through the devastated Ninth Ward to round out our day. The Prettiest Painted Houses are in the Old Arabi district which is east of New Orleans. It used to be plantation lands and, when New Orleans banned stockyards from its city limits, they all moved to Arabi. These have been replaced by the Domino Sugar Refinery which is still operating today. In 2012 Old Arabi was named one of America’s Prettiest Painted places in a nationwide search conducted by the Paint Quality Institute of America ‘for the stunning use of color on the area’s elaborate historical homes and buildings.’

And, we certainly found some beautifully painted homes - well, it helped that there was a small sign in each front yard identifying this house as one of the “Prettiest Painted Place.’ Nothing like a good sign. But, we really recognized these homes because they were really stunning in their paint schemes. Not difficult to recognize those that helped the town win its title. They were stunning, even though it was overcast and heading towards evening.


Finally, to end the day on a very somber note, we drove through the Lower Ninth Ward to get back to our RV park. Some homes have been beautifully restored, some abandoned (I have to think that this was one of the roofs that was broken to get to the people who had gotten into their attic to escape the rising water),
some torn down and replaced with homes on stilts
and others demolished leaving only an empty lot. You can close your eyes and envision a vibrant community with kids playing baseball, parents coming home from work and the smells of dinner wafting in the evening breeze. But, much of that is gone now. Will the Lower Ninth Ward ever be a complete community again? Many are working to see that it does but it is a work in progress and the same geological problem remains: they are below sea level.

Back in the RV, my brother called to tell us that ISU (#13) was playing basketball on TV. Usually ISU is on TV when they play one of the Big 12 like Texas, Oklahoma, U of Oklahoma, Baylor - you know, the ones in the top ten in football. But Iowa State has an excellent basketball coach and should contend again. Last year they made the Sweet 16. Who knows this year?

New Orleans, LA - The Great Dry Ice Adventure

Today is the Great Dry Ice Adventure. Why would anyone need dry ice? Well, to put in a refrigerator to keep your food cold. Not just any old refrigerator but a refrigerator that doesn’t work as it should. We noticed a few days ago that our refrigerator was not as cold as it should be. We turned the temp gauge down but the inside temp kept rising. Luckily, I had just gone shopping and had it jam - packed with perishable foods like milk, yogurt, produce, etc. The freezer seemed to be holding its own but the refrigerator was heating up and heating up fast.

Now, if you’ve been following our story over these last few years, you’ll know that we’ve had our share of problems with RV’s from awnings that fall off because they are not anchored to any studs. to slide mechanisms that break, to windshields that seem to be falling. In fact, we just had the Leaky Leveling Jack Adventure and the Broken Heat Pump adventure last week. And, I’m not even counting the self-inflicted wounds due to choices we made like the floor that was installed wrong which we had to tear up and replace or the broken motor in the front MCD shade which we also had to replace. But that’s just a short listing of the things we’ve had to contend with and only in the last 2 RV’s. We should have paid attention when we bought this RV and noticed that the bathroom exhaust fan blew in and the stereo wires under the counter were attached to - nothing. Maybe those things should have been a clue. Yep, you say, they bought the last RV off the line on a Friday before a long weekend. But, how do you tell? How can you look at an RV and say, oh, yeah, the refrigerator will die in 3 years. Or, oh, yeah, the jack seal will break in 2 years. Maybe you’ve got future glasses and can see those things but Gary and I just have present glasses. And, our present is a refrigerator that is not cooling our food.

Thus - the Dry Ice Adventure. I look up dry ice in Google and find 3 dealers in the New Orleans area, all miles away. I called a local grocery store chain and they did not carry it. I heard that UPS might carry dry ice for shipping fish or whatever, but the one I called did not. So, across town we went, bought our dry ice, put it into our freezer and refrigerator along with 2 thermometers and we’ll wait. Our freezer dipped rapidly to 10 degrees but our refrigerator is holding steady at 50 degrees. And, we’re eating that produce and yogurt as fast as we can. Salad for lunch one day and veggies for dinner. The next day I mixed it up and we had veggies for lunch and salad for dinner. Yogurt for snack. No, it’s not that bad but we are concentrating on those items since the freezer is holding its own.

Dry ice comes in 10 lb chunks wrapped in plastic. Here you can see that we’re all ready with the ice in our freezer compartments and in the refrigerator. Look how full that refrigerator is. Compare it with the picture on the day we get the refrigerator fixed December 6.

The next day, I checked and the freezer had dipped down to 29 degrees. I picked up a yellow pepper - hard as a rock. The orange pepper was the same. Pretty to look at but it ain’t gonna be pretty when it thaws. And, the carrots - rubbery and grainy. Aha - pepper/carrot borscht. Nothing like a good soup but a soup with these ingredients - well, we’ll see. I also cleaned out the rest of the produce that would go into a soup and cranked up the crock pot. It was ok. Again pretty to look at but interesting to the palate. And, how about a salad? Gotta use all the produce.
Now, you’re asking why we don’t get the refrigerator fixed while we’re her in NOLA? Good question. But, there are not many RV service facilities here and, when we called one, they told us they had time to look at it on Wednesday. But we leave for Alabama on Saturday. We don’t have the time to wait for them to analyze, order parts and get them in. Besides we will find more people to look at it there in RV land. NOLA is not RV land. We already have an appointment with a guy who lives in the Escapees park where we are staying in Summerdale. He probably can come and look at it when we arrive. How handy is that? Much better than hieing ourselves across NOLA only to find out that they need to order a part which will come in after we leave.

Yes, we seem to have our share of RV problems. But, there are much worse problems in this world that the little RV annoyances we have. I had a co-worker who told me that every problem she faced at work could be solved: some took time, some took money and some took both time and money. How right she was. I’m thinking that this problem will take time - AND lots of money. Somehow, I’m not sure I worked all my life to spend my money on a broken refrigerator. I thought I worked hard to have fun later in retirement. Silly me.

This adventure will continue. Keep tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Orleans, LA - Just Around the Park

We are staying on the East side of New Orleans in a nice little RV park called Jude Travel Park. It is not fancy and the owners are still working on it since they just bought it 4 years ago but it has a locked gate, nice pool and hot tub, level sites, good hook-ups, passable wi-fi as long as everyone isn’t streaming their video, close to the parts of the city we would like to visit, friendly owners who actually live here and know who belongs and who doesn't, and we would definitely stay here again. Before we came someone told me in a stern finger-wagging warning voice: ‘don’t stay on the east side!!!’ Well, some friends of ours stayed here and we’d stay here again. I’ll have to admit that the neighborhood is not so hot - but then it was flooded by Katrina and only parts of it have recovered. It is on Chef Menteur Hwy and we actually walked along it yesterday. Lots of car shops, lots of deserted buildings, lots of trash and the speed limit - well, maybe anything goes. But we were walking to a nice boulevard and, once we got to that, we turned up that, had a nice walk up it and back. Most of these homes look somewhat new but every now and then, we saw one of the X’s that was put on each home in the flooded area.

We had a rare treat today on our walk. Usually when some young man has loud speakers in his car, we can feel the rumble of the bass from blocks away. Today, we were treated to outside speakers - some young man had speakers on the outside of his car so we could all hear his music. Not only could we feel the bass but we could be hear the whole song. What a treat that was. How would he like it if I had the same kind of speakers and played my Peter, Paul and Mary for him?

Spice drops - now there’s a topic of discussion. Well, yes, we could discuss spice drops. Gary likes spice drops and I’ll eat some flavors. But, the problem is that each company makes the same colors but the flavors are different. Brach's makes marvelous orange spice drops, kind of sweet like those orange slices you can buy. I’ll eat those. But, then we bought some Walmart spice drops and the orange are not the same - but I’ll eat the black/purple ones since they have an anise flavor. Then we bought some at the Winn Dixie here in New Orleans - even Gary doesn’t like them - and that’s pretty bad. Luckily I bought only one bag, just testing them.

We’re staying in an RV park on Chef Menteur Hwy - in New Orleans, that must be named after a famous chef, right? That’s what I thought. Wrong. The literal meaning is ‘lying chief’ in French. According to one legend, the Choctaws called one French governor the ‘lying chief’ when the French reneged on a treaty. Or maybe it refers to the meandering of the Mississippi River which obviously is unreliable and can’t be counted on. Or maybe it refers to a Choctaw chief who was fond of stretching the truth and was eventually exiled to a backwater section of Lake Pontchartrain called Chef Menteur or ‘Lying Chief.’

Whatever, it certainly does not refer to a famous chef. On most signs, this hwy is referred to as ‘Chef.’ Much easier to spell and say.

OK, here’s our problem: we are running out of cash. We are customers of Wells Fargo and, since we have always been in areas where Wells Fargo banks are plentiful, getting money has never been a problem. In Louisiana it is: the nearest Wells Fargo is in Gulfport, MS, a long way away. Now what? But, a friend told me her secret: go to Walmart, pay for something with your debit card and ask for cash back. Never done that but we’ll try.

And, everyone who reads this blog is saying: 'Join the real world, Nancy.' Everyone does this.' 

In fact, I just checked the New England states, where we plan to travel and there is no WFC north of Connecticut. We could be in deep sneakers: no WFC in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, NH or Maine, all states we plan to visit. I’d look up our old bank when we lived in MA, RI and NH but there have been so many bank mergers since we lived there, who knows what its name is now. Maybe I’ll go back and see if my credit is good after all these years.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Orleans, LA - Plantation Fever

Let’s slow down, we’ve been spending lots of time in the French Quarter and on the go but, today, for a change of pace, we chose a road trip and a visit to two of the many plantations along the Great River Road, up the Mississippi. Both of these plantations are sugar plantations, common to this area after sugar was refined in 1795. Unfortunately, sugar is an extremely difficult crop requiring much hand labor and thus sugar plantation owners frequented the slave auctions often. Some had upwards of 200 slaves, each costing between $300 and $600 which would be $8000 - 16,000 now.

It’s about 50 minutes from where we are so we took off early. Our first stop was the Laura Plantation, which bills itself as a Creole Plantation as opposed to an American plantation which the Creoles considered very low class. In fact, marrying an American was almost verboten. It is significant because it has a great number of complete original structures. The name comes from Laura Locoul who lived from - get this - 1861 - 1963: she was 101 when she died. She wrote a book for her children and grandchildren chronicling the lives of the 5 generations of her family who lived in this house. And, what a group of people they were: wealthy sugar planters, slaveholders, Confederates during the Civil War, Creole society in New Orleans and book writers. Finally, Fats Domino’s parents and family lived here and Alcee’ Fortier collected the Brer Rabbit stories here.
Our tour guide was Brooke who led us through the lower level to show us how it was built. Then through the upper level.

And, finally out to the slave quarters. One of the women who ran the plantation after her husband died was Elizabeth and no one ever accused her of being nice, not even her grandchildren. The law said that the owners had to build homes for their slaves - but no one ever said how many families were to live in each home. Elizabeth thought 2 would be fine. In another instance, one of her slaves ran away and, when caught, she branded him on the forehead.

Brooke also told us that a neighbor snuck over at night and wrote down the storied that the slaves told about a trickster rabbit. This neighbor, Alcee Fortier, compiled these stories, translated them and published them at about the same time that Joel Chandler Harris who heard some of the same stories in Georgia published his stories about Brer Rabbit. Interestingly enough, the Cherokee Native American tribe also has a group of stories featuring a sly, clever rabbit.

When we finished our tour of the Laura Plantation, we drove down the road to Oak Alley, another plantation but much more sumptuous than the Laura Plantation. Actually, this plantation was built as a home for the owners whereas the Laura Plantation was built more as a business office with places to live attached.

Here is Oak Alley from the river. About 300 years ago, someone planted two rows 80’ apart with 28 trees, 14 on each side. Later, around 1837 a wealthy Creole sugar planter, Jacques Roman, built a home here for his bride, centered on ‘Oak Alley.’ In the rear of the house is the Back Alley with trees 150 years old leading down to the slave quarters. Usually, the plantation owner and slaves did not live quite so close together but in this case, they did - because of the tree placement. Again we had a good tour with a guide that knew the history of the house.

However beautiful the house and opulent the life style of the owners, one must always remember that it was built upon slave labor. Slaves were the currency for this lifestyle. Oak Alley has quite a few exhibits about slavery on this plantation. Interestingly, when Jacques’ mother died, he and his sister disagreed about what to do with the slaves. His sister wanted to sell them individually which would break up the families. They did this but then Jacques bought them all which kept the families together. Some owners did this but most did not.

As we were walking through the Back Alley towards the slave quarters, we saw a plaque listing the names, ages and worth of slaves on the Plantation as of the death of Jacques.

The home was beautiful. Here’s a dining room setting. Now, the average height of a Creole man was 5’1” and the table was quite short. But the silverware was large. Look how large this silverware is. And, it was set turned over so that the engraved initial would show as a symbol of wealth.
I liked the fan above the table which a slave kept in constant motion during a meal.
Because windows were usually open in the summer to catch breezes, lots of bugs flew in too. Often a jar was placed on the table with a sweet fluid in it to catch the insects. The owner of the house always covered it so guests didn’t have to see the dead flies.
When I used to visit my grandmother who had a horsehair mattress, I slept in one groove and she slept in the other. Deep grooves. Here in the guest bedroom is a long wooden rolling pin which was used by the slaves to roll the bed flat after someone had slept in it. I should have done that at my grandmother’s.
After the tour we wandered the grounds and down through the slave quarters. These homes are in the place where the original slave homes were but these are all replicas. In each one is an exhibit about slave life in the 1800’s: health, clothing, tasks, sugar cane farming, manacles. My favorite exhibit was this wall listing the names of known slaves as a memorial to them. Mostly slaves were unknown but here they are listed.
But, of course, there was also a manacle display. Here are some children’s manacles.
One of the slaves, Antoine, was a skilled gardener and was given pecan trees to graft. He was extremely successful and grafted 100 trees altogether. The then owner of the plantation, exhibited the pecans from these trees at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and won the top ‘diploma’ for a new pecan type named ‘Centennial’ in honor of America’s centennial. Shouldn’t it have been named the Antoine?
The family did not have good luck: of the 5 children that they had, two died of yellow fever and a third died of something else. One daughter, Louise was insulted when a suitor who had too much to drink tried to kiss her. As she ran away, she tripped, fell and was cut by the iron frame of her hoop skirt. She developed gangrene, and had to have her leg amputated. Thinking she was now damaged goods and that no one would want to marry her, she joined the Carmelite order of nuns in New Orleans. She is pictured on the left while the other 3 are the silhouettes.

Meanwhile, Jacques died prior to the Civil War and, his wife, who was a terrible spendthrift spent too much, earned too little from the plantation, went bankrupt, let the place go and, in the conditions after the Civil War, had to sell it. It changed hands many times until 1925 when Andrew and Jacqueline Stewart fell in love with the house, bought it and began an extensive program to restore it. When Mrs. Stewart died she willed the home to a non-profit foundation which keeps the property up and gives tours. You can now stay in the B&B, eat in the restaurant and shop in the store here.

As we walked the bike trail on top of the levee, we met a couple biking who told us that steamships used to stop at Oak Alley for tours. We could see the remains of a dock and where there was a cement trail leading up to the bike trail where we were.

New Orleans, LA - Cage, Bullock and the Destitute Orphans

So far, we’ve spent most of our time in the French Quarter but today, we’re heading over to the Garden district where some of the older more opulent homes are. It’s a walking tour around an area of about 16 square blocks. But, ooh, the area might be small but the architecture is beautiful. We were able to park on the street in the area and begin our walking tour with this beautiful home. The paperwork we had says that Nicolas Cage lives here, having bought the home from Anne Rice.
Here’s the top of Sandra Bullock’s home. Note how sections of it are set back so that the sun can hit all the rooms. If I were Sandra Bullock, I’d plant tall bushy bushes inside my wrought iron fence too. Keep those nosy photographers from taking pictures.
I liked the cornstalk fence around this home. The husband bought this fence for his wife when she became homesick for her native Iowa. Actually, the wrought iron fence was cast in a foundry in Philadelphia - must have cost a pretty penny to ship it all here.
How would you like to stand on this ladder to paint on the second story? This house was being refurbished and it really needed some tender loving care. Most of the homes in this area are in great shape but a few show the need for extensive repairs.
At one point is a line of 8 homes that are quite a bit alike - since a father built them for his 7 daughters because he wanted them to stay close to each other. All one story, shotgun homes with a side hallway.
Also on the walking route was one of the many cemeteries in New Orleans, the Lafayette. The cemeteries in New Orleans are especially intriguing since they have an abundance of tombs, statuary and other decoration. The first French settlers buried their dead below ground but this soon looked like a bad idea. Every time the city was flooded, coffins and bodies appeared. Thus, they adopted the practice of Europe and began to bury their dead above ground in crypts. And, hey, not only would they not be flooded out but crypts could be used over and over and over. Whole families could be buried in one crypt. Since Anne Rice has lived in several of the homes in this area, she has chosen this cemetery as the setting for some of her book openings. Even some films have been done here. I heard a guide say that a few scenes of Easy Rider were filmed here but actually, they were filmed in a cemetery closer to the French Quarter.

Here’s a memorial for the Society for the relief of Destitute Orphan Boys. There were lots of pennies and other tokens on the ledge.
Nice walk and many others were taking it along with us.