A Cajun Christmas In New Orleans

NOLA Panorama

NOLA Panorama

We’ve been wanting to spend time time in New Orleans ever since we hit the road. This year (2016) we finally got here. Another sticker for the RV map. That only leaves 3 states in the lower 48 we haven’t camped in West VA, Ohio and Connecticut). We chose Bayou Segnette SP on what is referred to as the westbank area. Good choice as it has large sites, free wifi, free laundry and is only a 10 minute drive to the Algiers Point ferry to downtown New Orleans. The parking for all day was $5 and senior rate on the ferry is $1 each way. If you are lucky you might even get serenaded by the calliope from the Steamboat Natchez.

Steamboat Natchez In The Fog

Steamboat Natchez In The Fog

We spent the first day with friend and fellow volunteer from Red Rock Lakes, Marilyn, touring two of the six sites that are part of Jean Lafitte NHP. The first was Chalmette Battlefield (site of the 1814 Battle of New Orleans) and the other in Thibodaux, LA at the Acadian Culture Center. We arrived in Thibodaux just in time for a Ranger led walking tour of town covering history and architecture of the area. If you enjoy discovering the small towns and hidden gems of our country, don’t miss this walk. We saw original Acadian homes, Victorian homes, Art & Craft homes, Beau Arts buildings and even one of only two Second French Empire homes in Louisiana. We also learned about the Louisiana seal which depicts a pelican with 3 chicks ripping her own flesh to feed them. This was created based upon what the first governor thinks he saw. Truth, per the Ranger, is that pelicans never have more than two chicks and usually only one survives, no bird would rip itself to feed young and that until the late 20th century the seal also showed blood droplets. The Center hosts free events such as a Cajun music night and a local dialect of French discussion group to preserve the language. At one time it was illegal to speak the Acadian language. We ended the day with a meal at Fremin’s, once a pharmacy cum restaurant. Oh, those smoked oysters and gumbo!

Seal Of Louisiana

Seal Of Louisiana

Chalmette VC and The Battle Of New Orleans

Chalmette VC and The Battle Of New Orleans

Malus-Beauregard House

Malus-Beauregard House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victorian Home In Thibodeaux

Victorian Home In Thibodaux

Second Empire French Home

Second Empire French Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thibodeaux Cemetery

Thibodaux Cemetery

Day two was a walking marathon through the French Quarter. We started at the Old Mint, the only mint to have coined currency for both the US and the Confederacy. Currently it is also being used as the Visitor Center for the New Orleans Jazz NHP. Then we walked and photographed ourselves silly on the fabulous architecture and seasonal decorations. We returned to the Jazz park for a Ranger led walk on music and cuisine. If America is the melting pot of the world then surely New Orleans is the epicenter. We knew about the Spanish, the French, the Acadians, the Caribbean influence but Canary Island Islenos … we had no idea. We were still able to catch half of the free jazz concert by the NPS Arrowhead band too. Starving we stopped for a muffuletta and jambalaya.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

The French Market

The French Market

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic

The Cornstalk Hotel

The Cornstalk Hotel

Mardi Gras Beads On Balcony

Mardi Gras Beads On Balcony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

muffuleta-sign

Landmark Eatery

OMG! The Food!

OMG! The Food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans Architecture

New Orleans Architecture

French Quarter Scene

French Quarter Scene

All That Jazz!

All That Jazz!

 

New Orleans From The Ferry At Sunset

New Orleans From The Ferry At Sunset

Being in a vibrant city at holiday time is special. We loved the decorations, the lights at The Oaks and most of all the Cajun custom of guiding Papa Noel with bonfires along the levees. Steve has put together a video of these events and our visit to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

 

 

 

 

Fortress Louisbourg Celebrates A Tricentennial

Louisbourg Composite

Anyone know the difference between a “fort” and a “fortress”?  I always thought the difference was a “fortress” had “breastworks”, but, as Chari loves to point out, I’m wrong again! 

Actually, as it was explained to us at Fortress Louisbourg, a “fort” is a military installation, sometimes a single building, generally protected by a wall of some sort, built to defend an area against attack.  A “fortress” is more in line of a walled city, with a strong civilian presence, and a military garrison whose purpose is to protect that city.

OK, now on with the story.

Glace Bay, not far from Sydney, Nova Scotia, was for many years a thriving coal producing town.  But by the 1950s and 60s, the coal was mostly played out, and after some tragic disasters, many of the mines began closing down.  The economy of the area began a steep decline.In an effort to restore the economy of the area and put unemployed miners to work, as well as promote its proud and rich history, the Canadian government began a restoration project of the old fortified town of Louisbourg.  Today, Fortress Louisbourg is operated by Parks Canada (the Canadian equivalent of our National Parks Service) as a Living History Museum. This year, 2013, marks the 300th anniversary of Fortress Louisbourg with many special events scheduled.

Any student of history knows that England and France were involved in several wars during the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, and one of the primary goals of these wars was control of the North American Continent.  In 1713, with the Treaty of Utrecht, Britain gained control of the French territories in parts of present day Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but the French retained control of Quebec City, Île Royale and what is now Prince Edward Island.  As a base for their very lucrative cod fishing industry, the French began building Port Dauphin on the former site of Fort Ste-Anne, but winter icing conditions led them to move to the ice-free harbor at the extreme southeastern part of Île Royale.  This became a winter port for French naval forces on the Atlantic seaboard and they named it Havre (Harbor) Louisbourg after King Louis XIV.  The location provided excellent defense from an enemy (British) attack by sea, since an island and a reef forced an approach to the town through a five-hundred foot channel, easy to protect with artillery.  In spite of an excellent defense from the sea, a series of hills to landward were very good locations for siege batteries, and, in 1745, British New Englanders took full advantage.   After forty-six days of seige, Fortress Louisbourg surrendered.

Politics being politics, the end of that particular war between Britain and France, three years later, saw the town restored to the French by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, much to the chagrin of the New Englanders who captured it.  During the next war, known in Europe as the Seven Years War, and here in North America as the French and Indian War, the fortress came under siege again.  It fell in seven weeks in 1758, and the British, determined that it would never again become a fortified French base, demolished the walls.  They maintained a garrison there until 1768.  Many of the stones removed from the walls were shipped to and used for the building of Halifax.

In 1920, it was declared by the Canadian government to be a National Historic Site, and as mentioned, after the decline of the coal industry in the area, restoration began in 1961.  The fortress as it stands today represents 25% of the original buildings. The unemployed miners were taught 18th century French masonry techniques to create an accurate replica of the town in 1744.  Parks Canada does an excellent job.  Docents in period dress play the part of both townsfolk and soldiers.  They all speak both English and French and are extremely knowledgeable of the town’s history.  Spending a day or two wandering the streets, talking with the local 1744 inhabitants, and exploring the buildings and surrounding area, is both educational and entertaining.  Anyone visiting Nova Scotia should set aside some time for Fortress Louisbourg. Technically the site is open all year but the Living History is only there from June through September. In the winter months all artifacts are stored away and you cannot see the exquisite interiors or museums.

We’ve created a short video with some of our photos from Louisbourg.  If some of them don’t look quite like photographs, it because we’ve used an editing technique to make them appear more like illustrations.  Let us know if you like the effect.  Turn on your sound, and as always, click on the diagonal double-arrow icon to view full screen.