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!

 

 

 

 

Paradise Is Summer In The San Juan Islands

Orcas Island, Mount Constitution

The View From The Summit Of Mount Constitution On Orcas Island

We are now in the last week of our time in the San Juan Islands. It will be with mixed emotions that we board the ferry from Friday Harbor for the last time. How do we find words for this place? Magical. Enchanting. Romantic. Musical. Breathtaking. We may return some day but for now it’s on to another adventure. When we made the video we had to leave out several things or risk turning it into a mini series! So the still photos touch on a few of the places we had to exclude.

A bit to familiarize you with the islands before you view our video. San Juan Island is the second largest of this 85 island archipelago. The Washington ferry system serves only four islands so private boat transportation are like cars here. The only town on the island is Friday Harbor. It was named for one of the Hawaiian shepherds who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company Bellevue Sheep Farm. His name meant Friday in his native language. So yes, there was a man Friday. It was originally called Friday’s Harbor but in the 1950s when the post office changed to automated address readers the machines couldn’t handle apostrophes. So all towns with ‘s had to change their names. Same with Vancouver Island which was originally Vancouver’s Island. On the north end is Roche Harbor. Originally it was the company village for the Lime Kilns. They were the largest lime works west of the Mississippi River. After the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, lime from San Juan was used in the concrete to rebuild the city. In the late 1800s the Hotel Haro was built. Today you can tour the lobby and see the guest register signed by Theodore Roosevelt. Today, Roche Harbor is a resort, marina and very upscale housing area. The Madrona Grill was one of our favorite restaurants. The mussels in Thai curry coconut milk are to die for!Mount Baker, Washington, scenic drive

When we came to the islands, we thought we might get island fever. For folks who think a day trip is 250 miles we wondered if we’d tire of a 16.5 by 6 mile area. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We only returned to the mainland twice in four and a half months. Now we see why the islanders average mainland voyages only 2-3 times a year. When we did get back, besides running errands, we visited Mount Baker, North Cascades National Park and met up with a fellow Red Rock Lakes volunteer who lives in La Conner.

The people you see in the video are Rangers from San Juan Island National Historical Park, fellow volunteers or visitors. Events range from the Memorial Day and July 4th parades to the annual Encampment weekend, weekly Living History and/or our off time activities. On July 4th you are either in the parade or watching it. This year’s theme was Hollywood movies. I’m sure you won’t have trouble picking out our favorite entry. We hope you enjoy seeing the video. It’s no wonder we woke up every morning singing Camelot!

A Long Weekend In Phoenix

Just two weeks before we finished our time at Petrified Forest NP we took a long weekend to see some sights in the Phoenix area. Once again we opted to use a pet friendly motel rather than move the trailer. For Opal it meant several long days in the truck. I don’t know why they call it sightseeing. When you’re a dog all you get to see is the back door, the front seat and a hotel room. If I heard ‘be good, we’ll be right back’ or ‘you’re on duty, guard the truck’ once I heard it twenty times!

Salt River Canyon, Arizona, scenic byway, road trip

Our GPS Showing The “scenic” Salt River Canyon Byway

Salt River Canyon, Arizona, scenic byway

Salt river Canyon Overlook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way down  to Phoenix we drove a scenic route through the Salt River Canyon. A wonderful alternative to Interstate travel. Naturally we had to stop at several overlooks for photo ops and to stretch our legs. The 3000 foot elevation change brought us from the 40s to the 70s. Mmmmm…sun, warmth, ahhhhhh!

After checking into the hotel we chose a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant for dinner only to find it was closed on Sunday when we arrived. So we headed to another Triple D selection called Chino Bandito. This is a walkup counter  place that combines Asian and Mexican food. Want your stir fry on a flour tortilla or to eat your carne asada with chop sticks, no problem. It is inexpensive and filled with students and young families with a few snowbirds mixed in. The food was tasty but the atmosphere was definitely in the Dives category. Don’t be surprised if you have to bus your own table and if children were there earlier food may decorate the floor. Next time we’d probably do take out.

Chino Bandito, Diners Drive-ins and Dives, Triple D

Mealtime at Chino Banditio

Day 1 we headed for the Museum of Musical Instruments. Had we known how large this place was we’d have gotten there earlier. As it was we spent five hours and had to run through the last few galleries to see it all before closing time. At $20 per person you might think it expensive until you experience all the museum offers. You are given a headset and as you walk into the galleries with TV screens a white box near the floor connects to your headphones. Music begins to play and/or a video starts. Soon you are foot tapping, head bobbing, hip wiggling and maybe even singing along as if you’re the only one there. Funny thing is, no one cares because they are in their own small world. Downstairs galleries are devoted to the history of instruments where some instruments date to the 1500s. In the special exhibits hall was a drums of the world exhibit. As we entered the drum circle was just starting. There was only one seat left so I told Steve to take it while I took pictures. Lights under the drum let you know when and what rhythm to do. Later we went to the gallery with a calliope demo and on to the gallery featuring instruments from stars such as John Denver, Carlos Santana and John Lennon. Upstairs the galleries are set up by geographical location: Africa, Asia, Middle East, South Pacific, South American, European or by instrument type (ex. violin). We later learned that only half of the museum’s collection is on display! You can also watch conservators work on restoring new additions to the collection or items from other museums or collectors. The collection runs from a Stradivarius violin to instruments made from a garbage dump in Paraguay. It’s hard to describe the total experience. One of the best museums we’ve ever visited. But wait…there’s more. Several evenings a week the MIM hosts performances of professional musicians. We missed seeing Carlos Nakai by one day! This is a must see (hear) museum!

Music is the language of the soul 1

Motto Of The MIM

Music In Africa

Music In Africa

Chinese Instuments

Chinese Instruments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music In Celebrations

Music In Celebrations

Costume From Peruvian Scissor Dance

Costume From Peruvian Scissor Dance

Music In Switzerland

Music In Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flamenco In Spain

Flamenco In Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indonesian Gamelan

Indonesian Gamelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Lennon's Piano

John Lennon’s Piano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apollonia

The Apollonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tunes In The USA

Tunes In The USA

Steve Joins A Drum Circle

Steve Joins A Drum Circle

Great Design From Germany

Great Design From Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 took us to Talesin West, the Arizona home of Frank Lloyd Wright and his school of architecture. Access is by tour only and we chose the 90 minute version. Our tour guide was excellent and gave us a lot of information about FLW, his personal life, his work and the architectural program. For a mere $40,000/year you can send your child here too where for the first six months they will have to live in a primitive shelter they designed. I have been fond of Wright’s designs for many years and have now toured three of his buildings. Steve is less impressed with Wright as he feels the designs are not comfortable. This should be a must see attraction for anyone visiting the area.

Examples Of Student Shelters

Examples Of Student Shelters

Desert Garden At Talesin West

Desert Garden At Talesin West

Entry Sculpture And Fountain

Entry Sculpture And Fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Of Taliesin West

View Of Taliesin West

In the afternoon we stopped at the Fire Fighters Hall of Flame. Our favorite display was the hand and horse drawn fire engines. Some were used to fight fires while others were only seen in parades. Other displays of firefighting equipment, fallen heroes and walls covered with fire company patches. Steve located a patch from the small town of Altus, Oklahoma where I was stationed in the Air Force in 1971-72. The restored trucks are all the work of volunteers especially a retired fire chief who has worked almost full time for the past 25 years.

fire truck, museum

Ceremonial Parade Wagon

Hand Pulled Truck With "Balloon" Type Water Tank

Hand Pulled Truck With “Balloon” Type Water Tank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Truck Inspired By An Elephant?

Fire Truck Inspired By An Elephant?

Truck With Jumper Net Just Like The Old Movies

Truck With Jumper Net Just Like The Old Movies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patch From Altus

Patch From Altus

Dinner At DeFalco's

Dinner At DeFalco’s

By then we were hungry so off to DeFalco’s Deli, a Triple D spot, for some more of their great sausage and dinner. We’d been there last October. If we were in the Phoenix area for an extended time we’d be regulars. We had lasagna, salad, bread and a glass of wine for under $20 each.

Day 3 we drove about an hour south to visit Casa Grande National Monument. A volunteer gave a wonderfully informative talk and tour about the Hohokam people and how they adapted to the arid land, not only surviving but thriving. They built irrigation canals and were known for their pottery which went beyond utilitarian needs. The 2 story ruin protected by the monument is the best example of their work still standing. We were fortunate to be there on a Wednesday when they had a guest speaker, an archeologist specializing in ancestral puebloan cultures. For once we just visited and didn’t take photos!

It was late but we really wanted to stop by the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. We only had a bit more than an hour which allowed us to see just a fraction of the garden. Fortunately we were given passes good for two years so as we are fond of saying…”when we come back…”

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

3 Generations Of Cactus

Barrel Cactus In Bloom

Barrel Cactus In Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get The Point?

Get The Point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sticky Subject

A Sticky Subject

 

 

 

Dinner was at yet another Triple D restaurant (he really likes Phoenix) called Barrio Cafe. Yes it is Mexican but done with a very different style. Not a nacho, taco or burrito to be found here. A bit on the pricey side but the food was out of this world. We’d definitely recommend you try it. The art work on the building is worth coming by even if you don’t go in.

The Barrio Cafe

The Barrio Cafe

 

 

Barrio Cafe Artwork

Barrio Cafe Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our bellies were bursting with all the restaurant meals and our heads were full from sightseeing. On the way home to PEFO we stopped by some campgrounds at Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest to evaluate them for future use. We also stopped at the USFS Visitor Center to see a film about the Salt River dam project and the Apache Trail. While there we spoke with some volunteers about work camp jobs there. The area is beautiful and we have applied for next winter. Just a bit down the road is Tonto National Monument which protects some of the few ruins associated with the Salado people. We took an hour or so to tour one of the ruins then spoke to the head of Interpretation about possible volunteer positions. We’d love to spend some extended time in the Phoenix area.

We’d hoped to be home earlier in the afternoon but by the time we got to Show Low it was dinner time. We decided to stop at a Thai restaurant we’d enjoyed a few weeks earlier. Tired and full we returned to the trailer. Now our attention turns to finishing up at the park and getting ready to hit the road.

Our Wonderful Time As Volunteers At Petrified Forest National Park

Well here it is our last day of work as volunteers at Petrified Forest National Park. It is with mixed emotions that we will pack up and set off on new adventures in a few days. We’d planned on doing several posts while here at the park. But you know how things can keep sliding from today to tomorrow to next week. So instead of a lot of details about how all of the trees turned to stone 225 million years ago we offer a half hour slide show instead. The show also includes a few pictures from Canyon de Chelly, Route 66, Winslow and Christmas 2014.

When you see the petrified wood there are two types. The colorful pieces are agatized (fully petrified) and the pieces that still look like wood are per mineralized (petrification process was interrupted). A cubic foot of fully petrified wood weighs about 200 lbs. so you can just imagine how heavy some of these trees are.

To view the video full screen, click on the center arrow to play then click on the diagonal arrow in the lower right corner.

We hope you will get to visit and enjoy this interesting and beautiful place for yourselves some day. Until then, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy!

Make That Two For The Road

RV, fulltimers, travel,

Chari And Steve’s Travels For Year Two On The Road

WOW!!  Can it really be two years since we pulled out of our driveway in Charlotte, NC leaving life as we’d known it for a modern day Travels With Charlie or in our case Opal? The answer is yes. We have 65,500 miles on the truck to prove it. In 2014 we stayed in 39 campgrounds and travelled 33,500 miles with about 30% of the time pulling the trailer. If you want to look at the map above in full screen just double click over the picture.

The Gypsy And The Vagabond

The Vagabond And The Gypsy

We made our first international trip to the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Chari has learned to hook up and disengage the truck and trailer. As of last week she now has driven interstates, backroads and into a truck stop. Learning to back into a campsite is a goal for year three. Real women drive RVs! After eighteen months of being east of the Mississippi River we’ve now crossed over to explore the west for a few years.

We’ve also experienced the down side of mechanical failure and accidents. Even this hasn’t caused us to question our decision to continue the RV lifestyle. We love it. We’ve seen and done so much only to discover we’ve barely scratched the surface.

We are officially SoDaks now, that’s residents of South Dakota. This is one of the most popular states for full timers to use for residency.

Most of all we hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with us. What will Year Three bring our way? You’ll just have to pack your virtual bags and come along.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled blog…

blog, travel, RV, explore

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!
(Year 1 Yellow and Year 2 Red)

Floating Down The Rainbow

Cracker, living history

Cracking The Whip

festival, Florida

Florida Cracker Festival in Dunnellon

Living Off The Land

Living Off The Land

Posing As A Cracker

Posing As A Cracker

When we decided to spend Winter 2014 in Florida one location we definitely wanted to see was the Crystal River area and the manatees who also flock here. This area is known as Florida’s Nature Coast. Well, we never made it to Crystal River but the beautiful spring and river at Rainbow Springs State Park was an excellent choice. Once a privately owned RV park that has been renovated this is one of the few state parks offering full hookups. Our site was roomy, private and had great satellite reception. The RV park is about two or three miles from the State Park. During the warmer months when the river is a popular tubing area a tram runs between them. For now, we’d have to drive, bike or walk. The only problem was we hit a cool, rainy week.

Honoring Florida Pioneers

Honoring Florida Pioneers

We were to have met up with friends from North Carolina but last minute illness caused them to cancel. As luck would have it, Steve struck up a conversation with neighbors shortly after setting up. A couple from the Buffalo, NY area, Ann and John became new RV friends and we spent several evenings together. They told us about the Florida Cracker Festival at Rainbow Springs and said it was very interesting. Off we went the next day.

music, Florida

Music Filled The Air

Chatting With Neighbors

Chatting With Neighbors

The Blacksmith

The Blacksmith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biscuits Over The Open Fire

Biscuits Over The Open Fire

Our thought was that the term “cracker” was a bit of a derogatory term akin to redneck. Not so. People descended from the Georgia pioneers who drove their cattle into northern Florida are proud of their heritage. The term “Cracker” we were told may have come from the whips used to drive the cattle and/or their use of cracked corn as a staple grain. Several living history venues were set up explaining the history of the area, the way food was prepared, how they lived, their music and even the Catahoula Leopard.

dog, Catahoula Leopard

Catahoula Leopard

The Catahoula Leopard is a working (herding) dog breed thought to have descended from the wolfhound. Named for a parish in Louisiana they were used by the Crackers to round up stray cattle in the swamp. A common feature of this breed is a “glass eye” where they have one blue eye with a distorted pupil.

We also learned how the Florida Crackers were the main source of beef for the Confederacy during the Civil War. With ports blockaded by the Union imports were limited. The cattle from Florida could be driven back through Georgia to the Carolina’s and Virginia to feed the troops.

Crackers As Cattlemen

Crackers As Cattlemen

music, harpsicord

Mary Playing The Harpsicord

We strolled around the festival chatting with the participants, bought stone ground grits and listened to two harpsichord players. While listening the husband of one of the players noticed my camera harness and we began discussing photography. Then we learned they are RVers too who spend summers in the NC mountains. Within five minutes we’d made new friends. Soon an invitation. “Would we like to take a ride on the river in his boat?” Yes, yes, yes! The following video is a sample of the beautiful Rainbow River and the many birds and other wildlife we saw. We also stopped at a riverside eatery called the Blue Gator. I had scallops and both Steve and Frank had fried oysters. We ended the afternoon with a visit to his home where he shared photos of their recent trip to China and of NC wildflowers they’d found while hiking.. They were hoping to go to Russia in 2014 but with the current political climate that most likely won’t happen. Once again we find that RVing is much more than the places we go. It is the wonderful people who enrich our lives along the way.

Running Off To The Circus

While in the Sarasota, Florida area we visited The Ringling, former home of John and Mabel Ringling. John Ringling was one of the partners in what is probably the best known of all circuses, Ringling, Barnum and Bailey Combined Shows. We had no idea that the home, gardens, art museum and circus museum were so extensive. We’d allowed only a few hours. If you go, plan for a whole day. We’ll be going back to take in the rest. For this visit we concentrated on seeing the miniature circus.

Howard Tibbals spent an average of twenty hours a week for over twenty years creating this masterpiece. At first you are amazed at the scope of his project. Then you begin to realize the detail and thought that went into each scene. As we were looking at our pictures we noticed details such as a watermelon rind on the edge of a plate where one of over a hundred performers ate in the mess tent. For me our visit brought back very pleasant memories of my parents taking me to New York City to see the circus when I was five. We visited the animals before the show. My Dad bought some peanuts. He placed one in my hand and held me up so I could feed an elephant, I remember the funny texture of the trunk. Was this where I became enamored with animals?

We hope you enjoy our slideshow. “Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of All Ages…”