Marie and Tom's Vacation to
NEW ORLEANS Part 2
Oct 6 to Oct 20 2004
Our instructors told us about a wonderful view platform right in the heart of the French Quarter.on the roof of a very posh hotel. They gave us directions and assured us that we could walk thorough the lobby and up the elevator without getting accosted. So we did it, and after brazenly walking past the doormen, and the desk, we rode the elevator to the roof. Then past the Penthouse, and the roof pool, and up to the platform. It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous view. (note how Marie almost managed to get that steeple up my nose!)
This is the Riverboat on which we made our excursion
Dinner on the last night of the Elderhostel is generally a special event, and this time was no exception. We had about 120 people there from 3 Elderhostel groups and we had the restaurant (and a nice 4 piece jazz band) to ourselves. The dinner was special, and, in Mardi Gras fashion, a King and Queen were chosen. Then we all did a Mardi Gras snake dance!
The next day, after the completion of the Elderhostel, we rented a car for a week and drove to the River Road (on the west side of the Mississippi River) and visited two plantations. The first was called Laura, and it had the largest set of ancillary buildings, but the main house, which had been under restoration for several years, was almost burned to the ground this past summer. But they had a wonderful guided tour describing the history and what the day to day life on the plantation was like. This is a view of some of the slave quarters.
The second plantation we visited is called Oak Alley for this very long approach (I show less than half) of 300 year old Live Oaks. We saw huge live oaks through many parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. We had a delightful tour of the mansion, but no photos were permitted inside.
The next day Marie screwed up her courage and drove downtown to the warehouse district where the relatively new "D-Day" museum is located. We arrived about 10:30, and much to our surprise it captivated us until closing time at 5:30! It is in a large old three story warehouse with a few landing craft and airplanes in the lobby, but the rest is composed of many well assembled displays of photos, charts, small artifacts, etc. The name is somewhat misleading because almost half of the museum is dedicated to war in the pacific, where there were many more invasions. They also had a movie theater where they showed two excellent films, one on D-Day, and the other on the war in the pacific. Scattered throughout the museum there were little booths that could sit three or four people, and listen to 2 minute audio recordings of veterans who described their personal experiences. I really liked these. We were so engrossed in the D-Day section that we never reached the Pacific War displays. We both liked it very much It was spearheaded by Stephan Ambrose, the American historian, who recently died. Tom Hanks and many Hollywood luminaries were at the opening ceremonies.
On Sunday morning we checked out of our big hotel and drove north about 200 miles to Vicksburg, Mississippi. The countryside in northern Louisiana and Mississippi was very pleasant. We went directly to the Battlefield National Park, where we watched their movie of the Battle of Vicksburg, which is recognized as General Grant's most brilliant campaign. It's victory was crucial to the successful winning of the war. We signed up for a personal certified guide at a fantastic price -- $30 for a personal guide for 2 hours in our car. The next morning Bob Cunny, who was wonderful met us at 9 and we started out down the Union lines.. Here you see Marie and Bob in the Illinois monument, the largest in the park. It is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, and it has the names of all of the natives of Illinois that fought in the Union Army at Vicksburg. (there were many fighting for the south also) He showed us the name of private Albert Cashier, who after breaking a leg in 1911 was discovered to be a woman! She kept her pension.
Here is Marie in the recreation of the Gunboat Cairo that was sunk during the siege and recovered in pieces about 1960. We have many photos of the battlefield for those who want to see more sometime.
A guide in the Old Courthouse in Vicksburg recommended this restaurant, called Walnut Hill, in this old house built about 1860. I had fried chicken, okra and tomatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy,iced tea, and corn bread. It was superb!
After lunch Sweet Marie drove me through the whole 16 mile loop in the park again to get more photos.It is roughly 8 miles along the Union siege lines and then returning for 8 miles through the Confederate defensive positions. They were very strong because the ground was steep and broken. We found many signs referring to a Union General Carr. His full name is General Eugene Asa Carr, and normally commanded cavalry divisions. He had a nickname as that black bearded Cossack! This is a statue of General Ulysses S Grant.
We left Vicksburg on Tuesday morning and headed towards New Orleans. We were attracted to a National Parkway that ran the full distance between Nashville Tennessee and Natchez Mississippi, a distance of 444 miles. It retraces the full length of the historic Natchez Trace, originally used by the Native Americans. It's peak travel occurred in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when many farmers floated their crops on flatboats to New Orleans, sold the crop and boat, then walked back north on the trace. It is a beautiful two lane smooth asphalt road lined with woods and fields. No commercial traffic and no commercial buildings. Just rest stops and historic sites. The Patterson family had a thriving farm and inn here by the side of the trace, where weary travelers could stop overnight. Now all that is left are these graves back in the woods. I think that there were about 11 females and 2 males buried here attesting to the hard times on the frontier. It is very beautiful
We next visited a famous plantation called Nottoway where we had a nice tour of the interior of the mansion.Marie is standing by this live Oak to give some indication of it's size.
The Nottoway tour permitted photos of the interior. This is the music room.
And finally, on Thursday morning we flew home on Southwest Airlines. A very nice flight
I actually shot many photos on our new digital camera. After a little weeding, my file still contains 233 photos of which 27 are included in these 2 album pages. So if you want to see more, come see us!