Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Orleans - The (Almost) Final Adventures

Okay, I admit, this post really has nothing to do with New Orleans, per se.  But it's the next stop on our trip and it was really a fun day.

When Nancy came to Colorado from Florida to live and work, she came with one of her best friends, also named Nancy. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to call Nancy’s friend NancyM. It gets too confusing otherwise. So, on Saturday, we headed to Lacomb, LA where NancyM lives with her husband, Don. Nancy and NancyM had recently reconnected and had not seen each other in 40 some years.

Nancy and Don M

NancyM and NancyP

NancyM and Don came to Louisiana some 20 years ago for a job and stayed. They live in a beautiful home overlooking a bayou and offered to give us a personal bayou tour in their boat.

Aboard their boat
View of the backyard from the dock

So, after serving us lunch that consisted of a crawfish pie and spinach salad to die for, we hopped aboard, along with Willie (the dog) and got underway.

Willow (Willie) sat on the front of the boat during the trip.

Now, Nancy and I had been confused over all the terms describing water we had been seeing, so we looked up some of them. These definitions might help as you view the pictures following.

Bayou is an American term for a body of water typically found in flat, low-lying areas, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to creeks whose water level changes due to tides and which hold brackish water.

Marsh is a type of wetland defined as a low lying, poorly drained section of land, which is often if not always covered in water. 

Swamp  is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water.

Swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy.  We didn't see one of these from the boat, but crossed one in a car somewhere in Louisiana.  I just liked the sound of it!

I had always thought that a bayou was a swamp.  So, the first surprise, to me, was that they resemble rivers and that Don and others use the bayou as a runway for their planes. In fact, as we were going under the drawbridge containing a walking/biking path, we saw a plane that had landed and was taxiing to it’s home.
Drawbridge over the bayou

Plane taxiing

Headed home, I guess

The neighborhood had beautiful houses along the bayous, a combination of natural and man made waterways, and looked like a typical waterfront neighborhood.  Some things we saw along the way….

View of the bayou from the boat

Cypress trees and knees

A fisherman

Sunken boat in the bayou

Cherokee Roses on the banks

Someone's boat

Osprey nests

The marsh

Crab trapper
A water skier

And, of course, BIRDS!

Pelican on a post

Don was a fantastic tour guide and told us all kinds of things, from the history of the area to how the boat works. Nancy and I had never been on a boat this big, so it was a real treat.

NancyM was my kind of woman - independent, quirky and full of adventure! I really liked her. One of her many art pieces….
A bit hard to see, but "Babe" is made of a Rottweiler skull, a flamingo frame, wears flip-flops and is decorated for Mardi Gras!

She’s also known as Baba Yaga by her family and friends. Baba Waga was a woman in Russian folklore and translates to “Wild Old Female Goddess.” Gotta love someone with that sense of humor!

We were treated to wonderful hospitality and Nancy and NancyM were able to catch up on all the years since they had seen each other.

Coming home from Nancy and Don’s we had a slight oops! And ended up having an impromptu tour of downtown New Orleans. No problem, we eventually found our way out - it’s just another big city! Back in the condo, it was our last evening in New Orleans, but we were too tired to do anything but a bit of "voodoo" that we had learned,

Look closely, do you see anything holding up the broom?

so it was dinner and off to bed early. 


Our trip almost over, the next morning we packed up the card and headed to River Road to tour some plantations. First on the list was Oak Alley, an iconic sugar cane plantation that is the site of multiple movies and seen in many publicity photos.

The grounds of the plantation are just beautiful.
Bottle brush tree and azalea bush

Spring flowers

The baby oaks lining the walkway at the rear of the plantation

Sugar kettle, used for boiling sugar cane

Nancy at the base of one of the "baby" oaks

Katie was our tour guide and she was dressed in a beautiful period dress.
Katie, our tour guide

She spoke in the gentlest manner, with what she called a "back Vacherie" accent.  You could almost believe that she actually lived at the plantation!

The house is very beautiful, inside and out. 
This is the BACK of the house

Entry hall


Dining Room

Table set in the creole fashion.  I have not been able to find out what that exactly means, but notice that the fork and spoon are laid face down and there is no knife.

Rolling pin bed.  Since mattresses were stuffed with Spanish Moss and could get lumpy, the "rolling pin", seen here laying on the bed, was removed from the headboard and used to flatten out the mattress each morning.

A different style of washstand

Oil pot used to import olive oil.  When empty, the pot was buried in the ground and used as a place to keep things cool.

The plantation bell was the communciation system for the plantation.

A confederate officer's tent set up on the plantation grounds.

Sugar cane field

The hallmark of Oak Alley plantation is, of course, the 28 live oak trees that line the entry to the home. Interestingly, the oaks were already there when Jacques Roman built, primarily with slave labor, the Big House in 1837-1839. According to legend, the oaks had been planted in the early 1700s by a trapper who hoped to channel the breezes from the Mississippi River to cool his cabin. Also interesting, the house was never called Oak Alley until the Stewart family purchased it in 1925. The oaks are estimated to be 300 years old and, as live oaks can live to 600, are considered “middle aged” trees!
View from the second floor balcony

Oak Alley

There were originally 8 acres of land between the house and the Mississippi River. Over the years, however, the river meandered and changed course so now there is only one and a half acres in front.

Once we finished with Oak Alley, we traveled up the road a few miles to the Nottaway Plantation. Nottaway was built in 1859 and has been turned into a resort. The 64-room, three-story palatial mansion is sometimes referred to as an "American castle."  Rumor has it that Nottaway was named such because the owner refused to use any wood that had knots in it, but the truth is it is named for the county in Virginia from which he originally came.

While the details of the house are beautiful, so much has been “restored” to accommodate modern lifestyles that it detracts from the history of the house. I did manage to capture some of the original details, however.
The white ballroom

Original ceiling medallion, carved completely out of cedar

Hand painted door knobs

Chaperone's mirror.  Its convex shape allowed one to see everywhere in the room

Table setting

Hand made camellia frieze

1800s microwave.  Plates were put in this, then it was place in front of the fireplace to keep food warm.

Elegant tea chest

The piano room

Ancentral hall.  This is where all the portraits of the ancestors would have hung.

A view of the Garconniere (boy's quarters).  Only married men and their wives, women and children were allowed to live in the main house.

Original gas lighting fixture

The master bedroom, now turned into a guest room that you can rent

The exterior style of the house was designed with two sets of stairs so that young ladies would go up one stairway and young men up the other. This was so there was no chance that the ankles of the young ladies could be seen by the young men.

Lunch was jambalaya at the Nottaway Café and then we got on the road, headed back to Texas. We drove as far as Port Arthur, TX because we wanted to take a longer route back to go through Galveston. We ended up eating dinner at a Texas Road House because we’d eaten so much sea food in N’awlins that we were CRAVING beef! And the motel was the cleanest we had stayed in, plus had a HAIRDRYDER!! Yeah! I’d gone a week without one. J

Next up, the last day...

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