You are currently viewing archive for January 2015

2015/01/31: Let the Parades Begin

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I'll start today's blog with a definition and some history. A "krewe" (pronouced crew) is an organization that puts on a parade or ball for the carnival season. Each krewe has a unique history and theme. Some have been around for decades others for just a few years. If I counted correctly there are 68 krewes in the New Orleans area. Towns outside of the New Orleans area also have Mardi Gras parades. The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe where it was referred to as "Boeuf Gras" or "fatted calf". On March 2, 1696, the French arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when the sailors realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America's very first Mardi Gras. In 1704, Mobile established a secret society similar to those of the current Mardi Gras krewes. In 1710, the "Boeuf Gras Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The parade signaled the coming Lenten meat fast, with the parade occurring on Fat Tuesday. New Orleans was established in 1718 and by the 1730s Mardi Gras was celebrated openly, not with parades but with society balls (the basis of the balls of today). By the late 1830s the parades to celebrate Mardi Gras began. In 1870 is the first recorded account of Mardi Gras "throws". In 1875, the Governor of Louisiana signed the "Mardi Gras Act" making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is. As they say "and the rest is history".

A few parades are held the two weekends before the main Mardi Gras celebration, which this year begins on February 11. As we leave the New Orleans area on February 10th we'll just get to see a few of the preliminary parades.

Today we drove to Slidell (maybe a half an hour drive away) to see our first Mardi Gras parade of the season. The parade was put on by the "Krewe of the Bilge". When we read the name, the first thing that came to mind was boats and bilge pumps. When we looked the parade up on the Internet we realized our first thought was in the right direction, it was a parade of boats on the canals in Slidell.

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We watched the parade from the parking lot of "The Dock", a restaurant on the water. The posts around the dock area were carved with nautical figures.

Some of the boats in the parade.
The king of the parade.



Wizard of Oz.


Puff the Magic Dragon, occasionally he would send out a puff of smoke.

Even Santa was at the parade.




Catching beads. You didn't want to miss because the beads hurt when they hit you. I think the glove was to protect his hand. We also saw people with fishing nets. At first we couldn't figure out why they had them then we saw them netting items that fell short of the shore and sometimes even catching items in them.

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Along with a lot of beads, I caught a frog. Beside me was a little girl and her dad so thinking she'd get more enjoyment out the frog than I would I gave it to her. Think she likes it. Carol and I with some of the beads we caught. A woman told us that the fun was in catching the beads not having the beads --- she was correct.

Thought the door to the dock was a cute touch.

2015/01/30: More Swamp

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
About 25 miles south of Metairie is the Barataria Preserve (part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve). The preserve's 23,000 acres include bayous, swamps, marshes, forests, alligators, nutrias, and over 200 species of birds. Being winter, the alligators were all in their holes and many of the birds have gone south for the winter.

Ed and I decided to follow the popular trails and hiked the 4 mile round trip from the visitors center. These trails took us through a swamp, a marsh and along a canal.

A fellow hiker told us where to look for this owl. All that's visible is the top of his head, one eye and his ears.

We saw a number of sparrows, some chickadees, a woodpecker and a few egrets. This egret was working on lunch.


Nutria, Myocastor coypus, are large semi-aquatic rodonts indigenous to South America. In the 1930's nutria were imported into Louisiana for the fur farming industry and somehow ended up released into the Louisiana coastal Marshes. Nutria are considered a pest as they have caused extensive damage to Louisiana coastal wetlands due to their feeding activity.

Ed and I think this is a mom with seven babies.

I really love the swamp --- the sound of the birds, the Spanish moss hanging over the water, the total peacefulness of the place and no bugs. They tell me my opinion may change if I visited in the sweltering heat of the August when all the bugs are out. Today the peace was shattered for a little while when large group of Asians (one or two bus loads I'm guessing) were running down the trails looking for items for their treasure hunt. About an hour after the appearance of the first group of about six they were gone and tranquility returned.

The lookout at the end of the trail.

Cypress trees in the swamp.

Native American, who occupied this area more than 1,000 years ago, used this area as a dump for shells, bones, pottery, etc. A large mound or "midden" was created. From colonial times until recently this midden was mined for shells to uses as road fill. The midden was excavated from under this live oak leaving it perched on its roots.

2015/01/29: Cemetery and Shopping

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today we are visiting the last cemetery on our "must visit" cemetery list. It is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, just north of the French Quarter. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city's older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existance) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire 1788.

One of the many guides that are available to give you a tour. We wandered the cemetery on our own but starting in March the only way you'll be able to see the cemetery is with a guide.

This cemetery seems a lot more crowded than the other cemeteries we've visited and the placement of the vaults not as orderly. A number of famous New Orleanians are buried the cemetery.

One of which is the renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.

This pyramid shaped tomb is owned by Nicolas Cage for his final resting place.

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The photo on the left is the tomb used in the Easy Rider film. On the right: This family tomb now also acts a the New Orleans Musician's Tomb. A iron cross with a blue glass note was added.


Probably the Oldest Extant Wall Vaults, a type of burial facility singular to New Orleans.

Leaving the cemetery we drive down to Magazine Street where we spend a few hours wandering around the shops. I found a couple of things I thought about buying but everyone agreed that the items were over priced. Using the "if it's busy it's probably good" theory we stopped at a Caribbean style restaurant called The Rum House. The menu is eclectic --- nachos with pulled pork, tacos with brisket, fried oysters, pork mole,seared scallops, chopped shrimp and more. Ed and I split a Rum House Salad (Spinach, roasted sweet potato, toasted pecans, beets, goat cheese crumbles, shaved red onions, and a curry vinaigrette), a taco with jerk chicken and a taco with lamb vindaloo. Everything was delicious.

2015/01/28: Graveyards and Parks

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
One of the photos you see for sale when you walk around New Orleans is a photo of the Weeping Angel. We missed seeing it when we visited the Metairie Cemetery, so today we went looking for it.

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One of the people selling the photo told us that the doors were added more than 25 years ago after a vandal put paint on the statue. Now you have to take your photos through the grate in the door.

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Nearby was another cemetery that has a few all metal tombs. Some have not been maintained and are rusty others have been painted and look really nice.

A couple of miles away is St. Louis Cemetery Number 3. The last cemetery for today. The guide book lists one photographer (that we didn't know) as being buried here but describes the cemetery as scenic so we thought it was worth a visit. The three tombs in the center of the photo are skinnier than most and have tiles (or tile look) on the sides. of the tomb. The larger tomb on the left is the same as the three small tombs, just larger.

Again, an unusual looking tomb. This one is owned by the Hellenic Orthodox Community.

Not far from St. Louis Cemetery 3 is the Bayou St. John. We took Zaph for a walk around the Moss Road neighborhood. A pedestrian bridge across the bayou.

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Birdsill Holly patented this short, cast iron, pot-bellied hydrant Sept 13, 1869. It was the first model Holly Manufacturing produced in Lockport, NY. Ed found a geocache at this antique located near Bayou St. John and is the last known example in New Orleans. Not sure why they do it but this neighborhood puts pottery items around posts.

The cemetery and the bayou are across the road from City Park. Cafe au Lait, coffee with chicory and beignets called to us so we went to Morning Call. It was a perfect day to sit on the patio and enjoy the near perfect weather. We confirmed that their coffee is better than Cafe du Monde but the beignets are not as good. We had a very nice waiter who brought Zaph a bowl of water.

Walking around the park we found this video taping in progress.

Not sure on the timing but when the geese were half way across the road they started honking --- think they were warning the approaching car.

Zaph and his dad.

Zaph found this fountain as we were walking down the sidewalk.

Leaving the park we drove along Bayou St. John then ended up at Lake Pontchartrain and followed the lake back to Metairie.

There are some beautiful homes backing on the bayou. This interesting art was on someone's backyard deck.

Following the Vietnam War, thousands of South Vietnamese fled to the US, settling in Southern California, Boston, the Washington, DC area and New Orleans. Many of the refugees were Catholics and the New Orleans Catholic community was helping to direct refugee resettlement. This building is attached to a Vietnamese Catholic Church.

Sailing lesson in progress.

After reading that New Orleans had a large Vietnamese community I decided that this was a good opportunity to try Vietnamese food. This is Pho Shrimp and it was really good.

2015/01/27: Beignets and Ferries

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The sun is shinning and the high is suppose to be 65F today --- another beautiful in New Orleans. We ticked a couple of items off our "to do" list today.

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We headed straight to Cafe du Monde when we got off the street car this morning, walked right in and sat down at a table and in less than five minutes we had a cafe au lait for me, a black coffee for Ed and two orders of beignets. That's six of those hot little delicious doughnuts. The beignets were so good ... just as everyone told me they would be. It didn't hurt that while we ate there was a fellow standing outside the restaurant playing a trombone (I think). The beignets at Cafe du Monde were better than the ones we tried at Morning Call in City Park but the coffee was better at Morning Call, a little stronger. I'll add my voice to the chorus of "if you every go to New Orleans you have to go to Cafe du Monde and have the beignets".

There is a ferry that runs from the foot of Canal Street at the edge of the French Quarter to Algiers just across the Mississippi River. Until last February the ferry was free for passengers. Now it is $2 for a Pedistrian and $1 for a Senior (Ed is enjoying this perk of aging). Still a cheap way of getting on the Mississippi and getting a different view of the New Orleans sky line.

New Orleans from the ferry.

If you're lucky a freighter or a barge will go by. Actually it doesn't take a lot of luck as the river is pretty busy with boat traffic.

We walked around Algiers for about a half hour (there's not a lot to see there). This is a courthouse.

Thought this was cute.

The ferry coming back to Algiers.

Back in New Orleans we wandered around and came across a movie/show being filmed. We were hoping it was NCIS: New Orleans but it appears to be something that is set in late 1800s or early 1900s given the costumes.

New Orleans is the city of music. You can't go far without seeing or hearing music. These young fellows were pretty good.

We've heard a lot about crime and violence in New Orleans. Until this afternoon we hadn't seen any. Probably because we spend most of our time in tourist districts and are only in New Orleans during the day. The people in general are very friendly and very polite. While we were riding on the street car we witnessed a fight at a street car stop. Two older fellows either stoned or drunk or both seemed to be having issues with each other. One of the fellows was pushed against the street car right below Ed's window. The altercation ended and the street car moved away. This will enforce the "don't ride the street car after dark" rule we have heard from many people.

2015/01/26: Oil Rig

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In one of the New Orleans Guide books, there is an entry about an oil rig museum in Morgan City about 80 miles from Metarie. When I read it, I thought what a great opportunity to see something we've heard about but have only seen far off in the distance.

From the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition web site: "From 1954 to 1986 "Mr. Charlie" drilled hundreds of offshore wells off the coast of Morgan City, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. He was the first transportable, submersible drilling rig and an industry springboard to the current offshore rig technology.

"Mr. Charlie" was built in 1952 and finished in 1953. In 1954 he went to work for Shell Oil Company, drilling a new field in East Bay, near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Despite skepticism from offshore industry professionals, "Mr. Charlie" performed up to expectations and went on to drill hundreds of wells for every other major oil company operating in the Gulf, with a cumulative depth of 2.3 million feet. "

"Mr. Charlie" The oil rig is still considered off shore even though it is only a few feet off shore. Today it is used as a museum and a training facility.

This little guy ran out to greet us and after following us for a while decided to go aboard the oil rig. Unfortunately, the cook saw him and chased him off.

The oil rigs are used to drill for oil. A "platform" or "production platform" is put into place when the well is in production. The "platform" is unmanned. Men are flown from oil rigs to inspect and repair when necessary.

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An oil rig is like a small town, everything you need is on board. On this oil rig, four men shared a room and several rooms shared a bathroom. On the newer rigs, 2 crew members share a room (one from each shift) and each room has a bathroom. The rigs have a mess hall with cooks, recreation rooms, gyms, medical personal, cleaning staff that clean and do laundry, and maintenance people such as plumbers, etc. Back on deck we see an ROV or Remotely Operated Vehicle, that is used to maintain the sea floor level portion of the oil rig. This is an older vehicle that has been repaired and is now used for training.

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The photo on the left shows the tower or Derrick. The photo on the right shows a pipe where the drill is lowered (blue pipe at bottom left) and the yellow pipe apparatus on the top right is called a "kelly" which attaches to the top of the drill pipe and both turns the pipe via. the floor mounted drive gears, as well as connects the mud pump to it, so the drilling mud can be forced down the well.

The beams aren't bent, Ed used his fish eye lens to get more of the room in the picture. This room was used to sift the debris that was produced by drilling. The fine mud was saved and mixed with a special ground rock. The drilling mud is put down the well to prevent gases from coming up the tube and perhaps exploding.

The cat came aboard with the tour group and followed us around the oil rig. I think he was auditing the tour.

The view of the Atchafalaya River from the deck.


2015/01/25: Plantations Part Two

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
On our first outing to look at the Plantations, we visited plantations on the south side of the Mississippi River, today we toured the north side.

Destrehan Manor House was construction in 1787 and is the oldest plantation in the lower Mississippi.

In 1721, 300 German immigrants trickled into the French Colony deluded by propaganda describing Louisiana as "a land filled with gold, silver, copper and lead mines". These Germans were given land along the river about 25 miles from New Orleans. The industrious Germans planted crops of tobacco, corn, rice, beans, peas and other vegetables. Over the years they expanded to included all kinds of meat, grains and fruit, supplying New Orleans with their products. By the end of the Spanish era, the Germain Coast had become so well known for its abundance that it acquired the designation of Gold Coast. The Ormond Plantation, built 1787, is in the area known as the German Coast. Currently, it is being run as a Bed & Breakfast.

"Denver" is a 48 foot Louisiana Lugger style wooden tugboat built in Bayou Gauche in 1953. It remained in service till 1980.

Some new tug boats in use on the Mississippi.

San Francisco Plantation front

and back. Valsin Marmillion built a sugar plantation on the land left to him by his father. While touring Europe Valsin fell in love and married Louise, a German girl. After Valsin's death Louise moved back to Germany. A few years ago, Louise's granddaughter came to New Orleans looking for her American roots --- she found them at the San Francisco. She brought many letters, documents and family photos with her which she donated to foundation that takes care of the plantation.

The north shore of the Mississippi River use to be all plantations. Today the landscape has changed. Now the river bank is home to many different industries that use the Mississippi for transportation of goods. We saw grain and oil companies. This one is grain but we have no idea why they are watering the pipes.

Not sure what they were doing here but everything in the area was covered with red dust including street signs and fences.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We went down to the French Quarter today and I'm sure it won't be our last visit as we have still missed seeing or doing a few things.

Our first stop was to be Cafe du Monde for Beignets but the line up was too long so we continued walking by. Next time we go down will be during the week so hopefully there won't be a line up. Our first stop was the Old US Mint. Borrowed from it's website "The Old U.S. Mint holds the distinct title of being the only mint to have produced both American and Confederate coinage. Completed in 1838, it was designed by William Strickland of Philadelphia, who also designed the Second Bank of the U.S., the Philadelphia Mint and the Tennessee State Capitol. The simple, classic style of the building reflects the Greek Revival era."

The Old US Mint building.

The automatic weighing machine was used to weigh and sort gold planchets (the blank coin).


On the 2nd floor of the mint were a couple of exhibits. One exhibit was musical instruments and old photos of musicians. The second exhibit was Picture of the Year International of the Year. Many of the photos were of news events like the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

"Sadie Bezzant is crushed by a sheep during the pre-rodeo entertainment of mutton busting during the Strawberry Days Rodeo in Pleasant Grove, Utah." This photo won 2nd place in the Recreational Sports category.

Our neighbour at home e-mailed me a link to an article on the Internet about a restaurant in New Orleans called Coops. When Ed was looking for the best Jambalaya in New Orleans he came across Coops. The guide books I purchased both gave Coops a good review. With all these good reviews Coops was our destination for lunch. Our timing was a little off so we ended waiting about 20 minutes for a table to free up --- the line grew quickly behind us so we figured it was worth the wait.

It's a small restaurant and very loud for our old ears but Ed and I thought the Jambalaya was really good. Ed also really enjoyed the spicey Bloody Mary.

The French Market is like a large flea market, lots of little eateries and lots of vendors.

You can tell Mardi Gras and its associated parades is approaching. Decorations are springing up everywhere.

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We found the 2nd cornstalk fence. This one is on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Notice that the corn cobs are painted yellow.

We walked down Bourbon street, hopefully for the last time.

This woman saw Ed and his camera and talked him into giving her a tip in exchange for letting him take her photo.

2015/01/23: Lazy Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The rain continued this morning. There was nothing that the four of us wanted to do that was indoors, so we decided to take the day off from site seeing. The boys had been wanting to visit Harbor Freight since before we arrived in Metairie, so off they went. Harbor Freight is a inexpensive tool, etc store. Carol and I stayed home and did a little cleaning, Caity supervised and Zaph slept. Around noon when the rain ended Zaph, Caity and I went for a walk. We finished the day by going out for dinner. The guy from the air boat tour told us about a couple of good local restaurants near the townhouse so we decided to try one out --- New Orleans Food and Spirits.

Ed's beer came in a frozen glass. It is a local beer called Turbodog.

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Our dinners: Crab stuffed eggplant with Shrimp Lafayette sauce. Three types of Shrimp, Fried, Shrimp Lafayette and Stuffed Shrimp. Blackened Shrimp with Lafayette sauce. Stuffed Catfish with Shrimp Lafayette sauce. We all enjoyed our dinners.

The photo doesn't do it justice, but this fountain was just outside the restaurant. I like the statement of fire over water.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution, opened on December 16, 1911 with only 9 works of art. Today, the museum hosts an impressive permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects. The collection continues to grow, making NOMA one of the top museums in the south.

While Ed and I were running a few errands this morning, mother nature decided it was time for us to do an indoor activity. NOMA is on my "todo" list, so we decided it was a good rainy day activity.

The lobby of NOMA.

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The gallery has a small collection of Japanese art. This one caught my attention.

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I think this one of the signature pieces in the museum.

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There was art from most areas of the world. The photo on the right is three photos from a collection of New Oreleans' paintings.

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The painting on the left was done by Renoir, one of Ed's favourite artists. The painting on the right reminded both Ed and myself of what one of our friends might look like in a number of years.

There was also a collection of old photographs, which for some reason Ed did not take any photos of. They reminded me of what could be done with photos in the dark room, techniques we are loosing in the digital world. Another interesting item was in a "do not photograph" area. A log cabin was built of logs, the inside of the cabin was lined with chains and shackles, gas caps, keyboard keys, cell phones and tablets, spark plugs, phone curly cords, steel wool and coal. Everything, including the log cabin, but not the coal was painted gold. It was a very intriguing piece.

2015/01/21: Garden District

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
After the Louisiana Purchased was signed, Americans moved to the New Orleans area. Instead of settling in the French Quarter, they built homes on what were plantations. Many of the lavish homes still stand today in the area is known as the Garden District. Today we did a self-guided walking tour of the Garden District. Being an older area there are lots of mature trees and being a wealthy area there are lots of fences. Both these items prevented us from getting a lot of good photos.

It was another warm (high 60s) sunny day today.

Seeing flowering bushes and a few flowers in gardens made it feel like spring is on the way. Too bad it'll still be winter when we go home.


Except for a small section near the top of the building partially hidden by the tree, the entire front of the building is covered with ivy.

We had heard the Nicholas Cage had owned a home in the Garden District of New Orleans, so we had a running joke trying to guess where he had lived. We were surprised when we came across this house with a sign that indicated that Nicolas Cage had owned this house.

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The photo on the left: The home that Nicolas Cage had owned was originally a Catholic Chapel -- Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The photo on the right is a post in a fence.

The cornstalk fences can be found at three homes in New Orleans. The story goes that Short’s wife missed the cornfields in her native Iowa, so he bought her the cornstalk fence. But a revised explanation has the wife requesting it because it was the most expensive, showy fence in the building catalog.

Anne Rice lived in this house once. The roots of the live oak trees come up to the surface and fill the area between the sidewalks and the roads.

Many of the homes have beautiful balconies on the side of the house. Today they overlook neighbours yards but when they were built they were over beautiful gardens.

2015/01/20: Swamp Tour

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we ran a couple of errands then drove a couple of blocks to Lake Pontchartrain. The townhouse we are staying in about a mile from the lake so it was about time that we saw it. One of the most interesting things about the lake is the causeway.

The causeway is composed of two parallel bridges crossing Lake Pontchatrain. The longer of the two bridges is 23.83 miles.

Yesterday, we had a small taste of the Louisiana swamp. Today I wanted to see more of the swamp, so this afternoon we drove to Slidell and took Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp tour. The boat we went on holds 23 people and it was full. Luckily, Ed has a wife who loves him and managed to get him a seat at the bow of the boat --- the best place to take photographs.

Our tour guide said winter is not the best time to visit the swamp --- all the trees are gray and mostly bare, the alligators are dormant and so are many of the other swamp inhabitant. The water level is a foot lower than yesterday, the sun is shining and it is relatively warm. All of these items helped to increase the possibility of viewing wildlife.

This Diamond Backed Water Snake was one of two snakes we saw sunning in trees.

We also saw a number of turtles sunning on logs.

A Great Blue Heron.

Our guide worked hard, checking out all the places where Alligators normally hang out. He found this young one enjoying the warm sunny afternoon.

After touring an area of the swamp near the boat dock, we drove down the Pearl River finding huge homes backing onto the river. A little further down the river were some Cajun homes.

A few of the Cajun homes looked abandoned but several of the homes were definitely being lived in. Our guide said the owners of these homes live here all year round and are fishermen.

The sign by this house says it all.

The swamp was everything I imagined it to be in the winter --- still, a little eerie but very beautiful. Now Now I've added a swamp tour in the summer to my bucket list.



2015/01/19: Airboat Tour

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
One of the items on my NOLA to do list was to ride an air boat in the swamp. That item is now checked off the list.

Another small air boat went out on a tour just before us.

Here we are enjoying the ride.

Here we are in the swap. The boat is resting on a log, gunning the engine on the boat gets us over the log and moving forward. Reminded us a lot of ATVing.

In the distance you can see three white dots, they are egrets.


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On the left: Most of the trees in the swamp have lost their leaves but there is still lots of Spanish Moss. On the right: if you look closely in the middle of the photograph you can see a water moccasin.

The roots of the bald cypress tree grow up and down, creating the image of a knee.

2015/01/18: Plantations

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In the 1800s plantations lined both sides of the Mississippi River. Today, a few of the old plantations remain and are open to the public. The plantations we decided to visit today are on the south side of the Mississippi.

The highway crossed the river using this suspension bridge.

Evergreen Plantation is the most intact plantation complex in the south. Unfortunately, it's not open on Sundays so we could only view it from the road.

Oak Alley is what comes to mind when I think "plantation", so we decided to take the tour.

The approach from the parking area to the house is from the rear. It even looks grand.

This is the view you see as you walk around the house. It is referred to the as Alley of the Oaks. 28 Live Oaks in two equal rows spaced 80 feet apart were were planted between 1725 and 1750.

The front of the house viewed through Oak Alley.

This Greek Rival style house was built between 1837 and 1839 for Jacques Telesphore Roman and his bride Celina. Most of the basic building materials were found or manufactured on the plantation with finishing details imported from other parts of the United States and Europe. When the house was built the Mississippi could be seen from the balcony.

The house changed hands several times and was in disrepair when it was purchased by the Stewarts in 1925. Repairs and renovations cost more than the purchase price. Before her death Mrs. Stewart created a non-profit Foundation, which would be known as the Oak Alley Foundation, in order that the home and 25 acres of grounds would remain open for all to share.

The main dining room and our guide. The object hanging above the table is a fan than could be swung to create a breeze so the diners would be more comfortable on a warm summer evening.

The master bedroom. The cradle was hand carved.

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All changes done to the house were record on this door in the photo on the left. The photo on the right: The original staircase was circular and in a side room. The Stewarts add this staircase. It definitely was not the large circular staircase I imagined.

A couple of the "younger" oaks --- they are only a 100 years old.

This is the recreation of the blacksmith shop.

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Zaph and Cait came along for the ride.

To finish the plantation experience I tried a mint julep. Interesting drink but a little sweet for me.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We decided to take a second pass at the French Quarter today and once again we drove to the last Canal Street street car stop and rode the street car down to the French Quarter. The first thing we noticed was the French Quarter was much busier than it had been on Monday. Not only were the crowds larger but there was a lot more entertainment on the streets. As we hadn't walked on Royal Street on Monday we decided to walk down it today. Several blocks were closed for street performers.

There were many human statues around town today posed in many different positions. I thought this guy did a great job. Don't think I could stand still for a minute let alone 5 or 10 minutes like these people do.

This band was really good, especially the clarinet player. There was another fellow playing the trombone and one on the tuba.

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Are you familiar with the transformer toy? Here's a real life one.

It's always nice seeing an old "folkie".

There were also a lots of artists, taro card readers and magicians.

Antoines is a famous restaurant in the very expensive category --- decided we wanted something a little more affordable for lunch. We saw O'Brien's and headed in to try one of their famous Hurricanes. Ed and I split a hurricane and an order of Debris fries, French fries with pieces of pot roast, gravy and cheese. Both were very good. As lunch had been light, we thought we might stop at Cafe du Monde for a begnets but decided we didn't need one bad enough to wait in a long line. We'll stop by another day.

After the non-visit to Cafe du Monde, we decided to walk back to Canal Street along Bourbon Street. Now that was an experience. At 3:30 in the afternoon the party was already in full swing. A few cars tried to drive along the street but the crowds were getting large enough that they were spilling out onto the road. Bars were hopping and several of the balconies looking down on the street were packed. "To Go" cups of all descriptions could be seen every where.

John decided that one of his friends would appreciate a photo of this "young lady", so he gave her a tip and took her photo. The jacket was open on the front revealing nipple flowers. There are several Gentleman's Clubs on Bourbon Street and each club had ladies in various stages of undress standing in the doorways to entice people into the club. This definitely isn't something we see on the streets in Walkerton.

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New Orlean's is the city of walking but if you get tired there are a couple of alternate modes of transportation.

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The sign was on Bourbon Street and the drink is the famous O'Brien's hurricane.

The street car we rode on is a normal run of the mill street car like the ones we see in Toronto. The street cars on the St. Charles line are the old green ones. We still need to take a ride of one of these.

2015/01/16: Graves and Cooking

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The Metairie Race Course was founded in 1838 on the banks the Bayou Metairie (which have since been filled in). The race track, which was owned by the Metairie Jockey Club, refused membership to Charles T. Howard, a local resident who had gained his wealth by starting the first Louisiana State Lottery. After being refused membership, Howard vowed that the race course would become a cemetery. Sure enough, after the Civil War and Reconstruction, the track went bankrupt and Howard was able to see his curse come true. the cemetery was established in 1872. The original layout of the cemetery follows the oval layout of track. Ironically in 1885, Mr. Howard died when he fell of a newly purchased horse.

One of the road ways in the cemetery.

Some of the tombs are very elaborate.

Several of the large tombs were owned by societies for use by their members.

Several areas are set up like gardens.

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Some of the tombs have stained glass windows and some are markers where people are buried. There is one section that looks like our cemeteries at home.

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The Moriarty tomb is the tallest of the tombs and there are two tombs for soldiers.

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The photo on the left is the Egan family "ruined castle". and the one on the right is the Brunswig mausoleum which is a pyramid guarded by a sphinx statue.

In the evening John and I went to a "hands on" cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking.


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We picked up a few cooking tips from our instructor Ed, plus learned how to make gumbo, maque choux, fish with meuniere sauce and pralines.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It was raining this morning .... really raining. I took two dogs on a walk this morning and came back with two creatures that looked like drowned rats. Given the weather we decided that an indoor activity was in order and chose The National WWII Museum as our destination. It focuses on the contribution made by the United States to the victory by the allies in World War II and the Battle of Normandy in particular. You may think New Orleans is an odd place for a National World War II Museum, I know I did. The museum began as The National D-Day Museum (it was designated by the US Congress as "America's National World War II Museum" in 2003) focusing initially on the amphibious invasion of Normandy. The Higgins Boats vital to D-Day operations were designed, built and tested in New Orleans by Higgins Industries (see the connection now?)

One of the buildings had several planes hanging from the ceiling and military vehicles on the floor.

One of the exhibits is called Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience. The USS Tang sank 33 ships during it's short career. In this interactive exhibit, you became one of the crew manning a battle station. The sub comes across a supply convey of Japanese boats and attacks. Unfortunately, the last torpedo fired by the USS Tang made a circular run and hit and sunk itself.
Another special exhibit is Beyond All Boundaries a documentary narrated by executive producer Tom Hanks. The movie is advertised as 4-D --- the screen has some 3-D effects, objects appeared (like a guard tower) with film running behind them, your seat shook and it snowed bubbles. With the special effects you really felt like you were there in the trenches with the soldiers. Definitely worth the extra admission.

Walkways allowed you to walk above the planes hanging from the ceiling, allowing you to see the planes from a different perspective.

Harley-Davidson Corporation supplied a number of motorcycles that were used in the European campaign.

A look at other planes hanging from the ceiling.

2015/01/14: Happy Birthday Ed!!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is Ed's birthday .... an important birthday but I won't tell you which one, I'll let you guess. Since it was his birthday he got to choose what we did today. Ed chose to go to Commodore's Palace for lunch. It's less expensive to go to the top restaurants at lunch time and they usually have some good specials, in this case 25 cent martinis if you order an entree. When we sat down I mentioned to the waiter that it was Ed's birthday. Shortly after that the balloons arrived. He got the hat when desert, complete with a candle, arrived.

Desert was strawberry shortcake, with perhaps the lightest shortcake I have ever tasted. The menu indicated that once ordered it would be 20 minutes before the strawberry shortcake would be served. I think the shortcake was put into the oven when the desert was ordered.

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Top left: Commandore's Turtle Soup (Ed's first course), Top Right:, Smoked Duroc Pork Prime Rib with crispy autumn roots, braised red cabbage and Granny Smith apples, and Buffalo Trace honey green peppercorn jus (Ed's main course), Lower Left: Louisiana Shrimp & Grits, white shrimp over goat cheese stone ground grits with melted onions, leeks, roasted mushrooms, concassé tomatoes and sauce forestiere (my entree) and Lower Right:Three of the different martinis that were available for 25 cents (Commanders made with Curacao, Cosmopolitan and Ray's Melon) . Everything was amazing even the martinis (I'm not usually a martini person).

Commander's Palace is definitely worth a visit when you're in New Orleans.

Across the road from Commander's Palace in the Layfette Cemetery. Many of the people buried here died from Yellow Fever.

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I over heard a tour guide saying that Nicholas Cage wants to be buried in the cemetery. As the cemetery is full, you have to prove that a crypt has been abandoned which is suppose to be an expensive and time consuming project.


After the cemetery we drove to a camera store that Ed wanted to visit. Anyone surprised?

2015/01/13: City Park

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
One draw back to staying in a townhouse or condo, if you plan on cooking, is grocery shopping. You don't want to over buy so you end up under buying so picking up a few groceries is always on the to do list. So the first two stops today were Costco, where we bought a couple of things and had Carol's much desired hot dog for lunch and the Dollar Tree.

The tourist destination of the day was City Park. The park is 1 mile long and 3 miles wide and contains not only green space but the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, the Botanical Gardens, a Carousel Gardens, Storyland, the Peristyle, a dog park, tennis courts, mini golf, etc. This afternoon we wandered the sculpture gardens and some of the area around it. The woman manning the information center outside of the sculpture gardens gave us lots of information about the gardens and the park in general. She grew up in the area and her grandfather ran the casino (which was in building housing the cafe).

I found this moving sculpture mesmerizing. Wonder where I can pick up one for the backyard.

Ed found a new friend. She was a good listener but did add anything to the conversation.

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A few of my favorite sculptures --- except for the bird. It was real and use to people. It hung around the coffee shop waiting for left overs.

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It was a little chilly today, so we stopped for a coffee to warm ourselves up. I tried the cafe au lait (one third coffee, two thirds hot milk) which was really good. Ed ordered coffee, our waitress indicated that their coffee contains chicory and is very strong. The waitress was a little surprised when Ed repeated he wanted coffee. Everyone who has ever had a cup of Ed's coffee will know he enjoyed his "strong" cup of coffee. We also tried the beignets -- a deep fried pastry with powdered sugar. They were good and we we need to go to Cafe du Monde to try the "best" beignets.

Thought this was interesting --- I've never heard of anyone denoting a lawn let alone a "great lawn".

A lot of live oak trees were lost during Katrina but happily many also survived. The park is filled with these majestic trees.

Not sure of the significance of the lanterns in the tree but I thought it was very pretty.

The singing oak has several wind chimes creating beautiful music when the wind blows. Look closely and you can see a couple of the chimes.

Live oaks make a great playground of kids.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Decided to try taking the street car down Canal Street to the French Quarter today. There was lots of street parking on Canal Street and the street car was at the stop (lucky timing). The ride to the last stop took a half hour which was longer than if we drove but we saved about ten dollars when you compare the cost of the street car versus the cost of parking.

We started our tour of the French Quarter walking along the Mississippi River. During our stroll we watch the ferry cross the river and watch 3 cargo ships and 4 barges go by.

This is a monument for the Holocaust. What you saw changed as you walked around it. Each view had a different significance.

Looking across Jackson Square at the St. Louis Cathedral.

We stopped at the French Market for lunch --- gumbo soup for me and a Muffuletta sandwich for Ed. The food was good and so was the entertainment.

We loved walking along the narrow streets gawking at the houses. We stopped and chatted with a retired navy officer who was originally from Florida. He wasn't happy when we was transferred to New Orleans but after only a week it became home and he stayed when he retired. He told us you either love New Orleans or hate it.

The area between the cathedral and Jackson Square was filled with musicians and people willing to tell your future. We listened to the musicians but avoided the fortune telling.

We only managed to cover a few blocks of the French Quarter today, so we'll be making several more trips to see the rest of the quarter in the coming weeks.

2015/01/11: Quick Tour

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
As we have a month in New Orleans we decided that we would take today to get a "lay of the land". You know, do things like figure out how to get downtown from the townhouse, scope out the street car and parking, see how big the different neighborhoods are, etc.

Turns out it's pretty easy to get to the French Quarter from the townhouse --- the issue may be parking.

After our first look at the French Quarter we are all ready to go back and spend some time wandering around. By the way that's beads and a pair of shoes hanging on a wire across the street.

First street musicians. Looking forward to seeing more of them and actually getting to listen.

After driving up and down several roads in the French Quarter (including Bourbon street), we drove east. We've been told that the French Quarter was spared from flooding during Hurricane Katrina, but some of the neighborhoods east were not so lucky. We didn't drive through the Ninth Ward (one of the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina) but we did drive along the bottom edge of it. You could see a mixture of homes in severe disrepair and some of the new homes. Continuing east we came to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (Chalmette Battlefield). This weekend was the bicentennial celebration of the Battle of New Orleans, part of the War of 1812 (the war lasted 2 1/2 years). A reenactment of the battle was part of the celebration that started on Thursday and ended today.

The actual battlefield is in the foreground, the information center, monument and tents used in the celebration are in the middle and cranes at the docks are in the background.

You looking for canon balls John?

Don't know who the lady is in the photo but as some of the "soldiers" were posing we thought we get a photo. The soldiers in the photo are a group from Texas that are dressed as Tennessee militia --- they had a sewing bee where the guys cut, pinned and sewed the uniforms. They were a few of the 1,000 people who participated in the reenactment of the battle. The actual reenactment took place in a field a mile or so away from the actual battlefield as firearms are not allowed in a National Park. In case anyone doesn't remember their US history --- the Americans soundly defeated the British.

Beside the battlefield is the Chalmette National Cemetery. The cemetery was established in May 1864 as a final resting place for Union soldiers who died in Louisiana during the Civil War. The 15,000 headstones in the cemetery mark the gravesites of veterans of the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War. Four Americans who fought in the War of 1812 are buried here, though only one of them took part in the Battle of New Orleans.


Back in New Orleans we drove through the Business District, the Garden District, Uptown, past the Audubon Zoo and eventually back to the townhouse.

While we were in the Garden District we drove up and down a few streets. This is one of the many beautiful homes we saw there. Can't wait to get to spend a day wandering around there.

2015/01/10: We're Here!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today was a short drive, only 3 and 1/2 hours. After a stop at the Louisiana information center (where we picked up a few brochures) we arrived at the townhouse we rented in Metairie. Metairie is a suburb of New Orleans. It's about 10 km from the townhouse to the French Quarter.

The townhouse is really nice. At 2000 square feet it's larger than our house and John & Carol's house. The townhouse owners were there to give us the keys and show us around. We definitely lucked into a good place this year.

Before we unloaded, we went to a small neighborhood restaurant called Sammy's for lunch. Ed, Carol and I had shrimp po-boys and John had a catfish po-boy. Delicious.

John and Carol brought a new toy for Zaph. Think he's comfortable in the townhouse already.

2015/01/09: Long Day of Driving

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed felt good this morning and decided we would drive to Meridan, Mississippi, about 960 kilometers. The weather co-operated, with temperatures rising to slightly above freezing and the sun shone for most of the day. With the help of the time change we arrived at 5pm. Our friends John and Carol arrived a couple of hours earlier and had the desk clerk save the room beside them for us. The La Quinta hotel was quite nice though it was a little more expensive than the Internet led me to believe. Guess if you want the inexpensive rooms you need to book ahead.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The forecast for today was pretty favourable for a winter's day, that is until today. When we got there was at least six inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing. Luckily, we have wonderful neighbours. After Rob cleared his driveway with his snow blower he came over and clears our driveway. Of course the snow plow came by when Ed and I were in the house doing a couple last minute things. When we came out, there was Rob and Ellen clearing the snow at the end of the driveway by hand --- they didn't want to use the snow blower as the wind would have blow snow back onto the truck. Thanks again Rob and Ellen, you're the best neighbours ever.

The driving was a little slow at first but that was mainly due to the slow moving vehicle in front of us. Shouldn't complain too much as it was clearing the snow out of the way as it went --- got love snow plows. We made a quick stop at a McDonald's to log onto the Internet to check to see where highway 21 was closed. Free wi-fi in restaurants is another thing I'm really liking these days. Luckily the road closure was north of where we wanted to drive. We continued on our way and soon were driving on went pavement, then dry pavement.

The border crossing was interesting. It took a half hour but then only two kiosks were open and that wasn't enough for the the volume of traffic. Things moved a lot faster when two more kiosks opened. After a couple of standard questions, the border guard asked Ed to shut off the truck and hold the key up. After Ed complied, he asked why, and the border guard said he couldn't tell us.

After several more uneventful hours of driving we stopped at a Red Roof Inn in Erlanger (bottom end of Cincinnati). I highly recommend this hotel. It's not fancy, but it was clean and they served a complementary breakfast. As the building originally was a Comfort Inn the rooms are larger than the standard Red Roof Inn rooms.

2015/01/07: Happy New Years!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed and I had a quiet but nice New Years Eve. We invited two couples over for dinner a good time. After watching the New Year arrive in Newfoundland (an hour and a half before it arrived in Ontario), the couples left. About 15 minutes before midnight I settle down in front of the TV to watch the ball drop in New York. Luckily, Ed sat down and spoke to me a minute before midnight or I would have missed the ball dropping.

Once the New Year arrived it was time to think about getting ready for our trip to New Orleans. I bought a couple of guide books, so I had some reading to do. Winter came back so there was lots of snow to shovel. Added to that was a trip to Burlington to visit my mother who is doing a good job recovering from her broken him. Then of course there is the packing. We're renting a townhouse with another couple so there was lots of discussion regarding what we might need as staples (i.e. spice, flour, sugar, etc.) I hate to buy a bag of flour when I only need a couple of tablespoons.