Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A birthday, a visit to Nederland and a big bee

After going thru a period of blogger block, which was immediately followed by a bout of grandkid crud, I am finally getting around to finishing the San Antonio trip.  The main reason for this trip was to be with our youngest daughter Katie and husband Dain for her birthday. It was a great week of visiting, but somehow once again not many pictures were taken.  This may be because I prefer outdoor pictures as much as possible and the weather was truly cold for Texas. We did manage to visit the nearby horse racing track on race night.  We have only been to one horse race at a county fairgrounds in Iowa a few years back but never at a real horse track.  Perhaps it was the small crowd and unbelievably blinding lights, but I just did not find it very exciting.

While touring the large numbers of shopping opportunities in greater San Antonio, we did stop for refueling at the largest gas station I have ever seen.  It is a Buc-ee's.  The store is as large as a Wal-Mart and has 120 gas pumps.  It is also the first gas station I have been in that carries a complete line of hunting equipment including large size deer feeders.  It has a little something for everyone.  With great access for RV's will be using them where ever we find them.

We were planning an extended trip in Texas after finishing our visit in San Antonio, but it was just too cold.  So we headed towards Florida.  Anneke wanted to stop at a town she had seen on the map near Beaumont, Texas.  The town of Nederland, as one would suspect, was settled by Dutch Immigrants in the 1800's.  They were followed by many other groups including those who came to be known as Cajuns.  When oil was discovered in the area, the town was quickly surrounded by the oil industry and remains so today.  The town itself is trying to hang onto that quiet small town feel.  There is a town park with a Dutch history windmill with gift shop.  The park also has a cabin that was typical of the early Cajuns that settled the area.  We enjoyed a tour of both by friendly town volunteers. 

Since we hope to make the journey to San Antonio on a regular basis, we think we have found two RV parks that will allow us to make the nearly 800 mile trip in three days.  The Gulf Coast RV Resort is located just off I10 west of Beaumont and has full amenities including FHU, free cable, free WIFI, pool, and a free Texas waffle breakfast.

The second one is not available to everyone, but it just in the right spot for us.  It is the Navy SeaBee construction base in Gulfport, MS.  It is nearly new, as it was built after Katrina did major damage to the area.  It is a great stop for those that have a DOD id. 

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Baton Rouge and the old state capitol

Our last day with Dan and Corrie was used to visit the old state Capital of Louisiana. This building was used as the state capitol from the mid- 19th century to 1929 when the current capitol was completed under the Huey P. Long administration.  The building intentionally looks like a castle and some thought it was used like a castle, as well.

During the Civil War, the Union army captured New Orleans and occupied the state capitol first as a prison and then as a barracks for an African American Union Company.  During its use a as garrison, the building caught fire and was gutted.  In was completely redone by the mid 1880's and included the current staircase, stained glass along with separate rooms for the state senate and representatives.

Today the old capitol is used as a political museum and also hosts weddings and other events.  The political history museum is very well done and covers many of the famous and infamous politicians of the state. Chief among these is Huey P. Long, who was much loved and hated by many.  Even in far away upstate New York we learned about Huey Long and his strong hold on the state.  Going through the museum, I learned a lot more.  Even in death, he created controversy. He was assassinated by Dr Carl Weiss, but many believed that he was actually accidentally shot by his security detail from the state police when they thought Dr Weiss was reaching for a gun.  Since the investigation was conducted by the head of his security detail, the truth of any of the alternate stories were not examined.

It is a beautiful building to walk through and the political history displays  reveal  a great deal about state politics.

We did not have time to visit the current state capitol that was created though the efforts of Huey P Long to be the tallest capitol in the country.  He now rests on the front lawn of that building.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Friends and activist artist

We next headed to Tickfaw State Park, LA to meet with some long time friends Dan and Corrie. Dan and I were stationed in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in the late 70's and as things turned out, we both left the country with our new wives..  Tickfaw is not exactly along the beaten path, but it proved to be a nice park, including a nature center and boardwalk.  After catching up on news, we first visited the park nature center and walked the boardwalk.  It was a pleasant stroll but given that this was a swampy area, I am always looking down for those creepy and sometimes dangerous critters.  Sure enough, we spotted a good size Cottonmouth snake. 

Dan wanted to head into the city of Hammond to visit an artist mentioned in Roadside America.  Dr. Charles Smith began his art depicting the African American history from slavery to the present while living Illinois.  When we arrived at his studio/home, he was sitting in the front yard.  We introduced ourselves and he offered us a guided tour and explanation of his work.  He says he was inspired by God to create this art and to inspire his fellow African Americans to understand their history and work for a better future.  We spent the better part of an hour with him.  He is a very interesting person totally dedicated to his art and mission. 

Next on the list is a trip to the LA State Capitol.