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2015/02/28: Cold and Snow

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I think I spent the last two weeks in hibernation as I wasn't ready for the extreme cold after a month in more moderate weather. I can handle minus 5 Celsius but -20 to -30 is a bit much. Zaph is the only one who likes the cold and he can only handle this extreme cold for a few minutes at a time. My car even complained about the weather, Little Blue would start at -22C but would groan before she did. I didn't even try to start my car when it was -32C. The only good thing about the weather was there were just a few minor snow falls and lots of sun.

Here's a few pictures of the snow just after we got back from New Orleans.

You have to admit the snow makes it very pretty.

There's a reasonable amount of snow but definitely less than last year and definitely less than the east coast.

Not sure when the ice developed as it hasn't been above freezing for more than 2 months.

One of Ed's jobs when we got home was to dig out paths in the backyard for Zaph.

2015/02/15: Home!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Very cold today, but sunny. Good day for driving except when you have to get out of the truck. Also had an easy border crossing.

Good to be home. At least one of us is enjoying the cold snowy conditions and he has four legs and a tail.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We drove from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Findlay, Ohio, approximately 600km. Distance wise it was a pretty easy day, weather wise it was interesting. The weather was fine when we left Bowling Green, then we ran into a few flurries, then the flurries got thicker and started staying on the ground, then the flurries were gone and wind picked up. Repeat several times with the wind staying strong and the temperature dropping. By time we reached Findlay the snow had stopped, the sun was out, the wind was frigid and the front of the truck has a layer of ice on it. I wonder when the ice will melt.

Looking forward to cold but better driving weather tomorrow.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Back on the trace today. The plan is to finish driving the trace and drive up to Bowling Green, Kentucky. It's almost time to go home for more winter. Yup, I'm really looking forward to cold weather and snow.

Today was another day packed with beautiful views, interesting sites and interesting people. The Natchez Trace travels through three states, so far we've only seen Mississippi. Today we continue in Mississippi, cut through a corner of Alabama and finish up in Tennessee just below Nashville.

Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway is a 234-mile man-made waterway that extends from the Tennessee River to the junction of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system near Demopolis, Alabama. The Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway links commercial navigation from the nation’s midsection to the Gulf of Mexico.

The terrain is changing slightly as we drive up the trace. The flat lands of Mississippi are giving way to slight hills and some rocks. This is a cave that was used as a water source for Indians.

The longest bridge on the trace crosses the Tennessee River.

At Rocky Springs in Alabama we stop to see a natural spring. Stepping stones were built to aid in crossing the creek.

Looking for a geocache took us off the trace, just a few hundred yards and it led us to a rock wall. The wall is known as the Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall. Walking around the wall we met Tom Hendrix who has been building the stone wall for over 35 years in memory of his great-great-grandmother's journey. His great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay was part of the Yuchi Indian tribe that lived near here along the Tennessee River in the 1800s. Some history from the Internet: "Tom's grandmother (Teh-la-nay's granddaughter) told him the stories about his great-great-grandmother when he was a little boy. Later in life Tom knew he needed to do something to honor her memory. During a conversation with an elder of the Yuchi tribe he was told "All things shall pass. Only the stones will remain." It was then that he knew what he needed to do.

After walking the length of the wall, Charlie Two Moons, a spiritual person, said: "The wall does not belong to you, Brother Tom. It belongs to all people. You are just the keeper. I will tell you that it is wichahpi, which means 'like the stars'. When they come, some will ask, 'Why does it bend, and why is it higher and wider in some places than in others?' Tell them it is like your great-great-grandmother's journey, and their journey through life--it is never straight.""

Ed liked this section of rocks that looked like faces. Tom showed us rocks people have brought him from all over the world, the rock that makes women pregnant, about the people who come on a regular basis to sit and reflect and natives who come to play the flute among the stones. I think this stop was the highlight of my day. If you're ever driving the Natchez Trace stop in and see Tom, he'd love to see you and show you around.

In a couple of places along the Natchez Trace you can drive the "old" Natchez Trace. If the section we drove is any indication of what the road was like, it would have taken days to drive from Natchez to Nashville.

One of the water falls at Fall Hollow.

The Gordon House is the house of John Gordon who operated a trading post and ferry on the Dock River. The house was constructed in 1817-1818.

The Double Arched Bridge that spans Birdsong Hollow was completed in 1994 and received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995 for its innovative design that rises 155 feet above the valley.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Another beautiful day to drive the Natchez Trace.

We stopped and walked around a Tupelo/Bald Cypress swap,

saw the Pearl River,

and enjoyed a walk through an old pine forest.

We toured the small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi wear Oprah Winfrey was born. The town was named for a Polish general Tadeusz Kościuszko, who assisted United States military efforts during the American Revolution.

After checking into the hotel in Tupelo we had time to visit of the grounds of Elvis's birthplace and museum (it was closed when we arrived).

The house Elvis was born in.

A statue of Elis at age 13, the age when he left Tupelo.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We said we were going to poke along the trace and see everything there was to see and we did --- left just after 9am and got to the hotel in Canton about 6:30 pm. It was a good day, we saw lots of interesting things and talked to some interesting people. The photos show some of the highlights of today.

Built around 1780 this is one of the oldest structures in Mississippi. It functioned as both a working plantation and as an inn, where travelers on the Natchez Trace could rest for the night and have a meal for 25 cents. The National Park volunteer was very knowledgeable about this home. The author Nevada Barr used the Natchez Trace Parkway as the setting for two of her books. In one of her books the murder victim was found in this house. The volunteer told me that Nevada Barr had been a seasonal ranger on the trace.

It looks a bit like fall but spring is definitively coming. Trees are starting to bud and there were some spring flowers along the road.

We were told to stop for lunch at the Old Country Store Restaurant in Lorman about a five minute drive off the trace. It was good advise. The lunch buffet included good fried chicken, excellent ribs, fantastic mustard greens, mac and cheese, dressing, salad, corn on the cob and much more. Desert was fruit cobbler --- Ed and I split a half and half cobbler with ice cream --- half peach and half black berry. The owner Mr. D came out to say hello to everyone eating in the restaurant then proceeded to sing a couple of songs --- one of them about his Grand Mama's cornbread.

About 15 miles off the trace is the town of Rodney, or should I say what was the town of Rodney. The town was founded in 1828 and in the 19th century, it was only three votes away from becoming the capital of the Mississippi Territory. It's population declined to nearly zero after the Mississippi river changed course. Today, the town is used mainly as a hunting camp.

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During the civil war, Union troops fired cannons at the town. One of the cannon balls lodged itself in the front wall of the Presbyterian Church. The cannon ball in the photo was placed in the wall many years ago after the original one had fallen out.

This old railway car is being used as a cabin by a hunter.

We took an alternate route back to the trace that took us down this dirt road. This is one of the many sunken roads in the area. The dirt compacted over time as by road traffic while the land around it stayed at it's original height. We were surprised when we drove into the back end of Alcorn State University --- pretty campus.

Another famous landmark just off the trace is the Windsor Ruins. Built in 1859-61 by Smith Daniell who only lived in the large mansion for a few weeks before he died. The Windsor plantation once sprawled over 2,600 acres. Legend says that from a roof observatory, Mark Twain watched the Mississippi River in the distance. The house survived the civil war but during a house party of February 17, 1890 a guest left a lighted cigar on the upper balcony and Windsor burned to the ground. Everything was destroyed except 23 of the columns, balustrades and iron stairs. The stairs are in a building on the Alcorn University campus.

Stopped to read a sign and noticed this little guy.

2015/02/10: Natchez

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
After checking the weather forecasts for Walkerton and points between Metairie and Walkerton we decided that Sunday looks like the best day for the drive into Ontario. Hope the forecast holds true.

As we have six days to do a three day drive we decided to drive to Natchez Mississippi and poke along the Natchez Trace to Nashville. About 7 years ago we did this route but we were hauling a fifth wheel trailer so we didn't do a lot of poking.

First stop was a park in Vidalia, La, the town across the Mississippi River from Natchez. Seven years ago we stayed in an RV park that is part of the town park. I've always wanted to go back and walk along the Mississippi and see the barges.

Established by French colonists in 1716, Natchez is one of the oldest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. The strategic location of Natchez, on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi ensured that it would become a pivotal center of trade and commerce. Natchez is the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace.

There are some beautiful old buildings in Natchez.



Loved this yard.

Zaph says remember to take time to smell the flowers.

2015/02/09: Last Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Can't believe today is our last day in the New Orleans area. The month just flew by. I think we managed to see and do everything that was on our list and enjoyed all of it. I'm really glad we were able to catch a few of the Mardi Gras parades.

Today was packing and cleaning day. Not sure why but I can't leave my house dirty when I leave for vacation and I can't leave the vacation home dirty when I head home even though it's a rental.

We also went out for one last seafood meal at Landry's on Lake Ponchartrain. The weather was perfect so we sat on the deck and enjoyed the view.


Ed's lunch.

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It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that spring has sprung here in New Orleans and we have at least six weeks of winter at home.

2015/02/08: Gone to the Dogs

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is our last chance to see parades in New Orleans. We were pleasantly surprised that we didn't have any problem finding parking by our usual street car stop, so we made it downtown with lots of time to spare. The first parade we wanted to see was the Krewe of Barkus in the French Quarter. From the Krewe of Barkus website: "Whereas, the captain, declares this year’s theme—BARK WARS: The Return of the K9– so that our members can restore order to the galaxy known as the French Quarter by wagging their tails with light saber strikes, pounding their paws with storm trooper precision and lapping up Happy Juice in a quest for canine world domination."

I think I've gone overboard on the number of photos I'm posting today but today but the Krewe of Barkus parade was really good with lots of really cute participants. It was a walking parade so the viewers and the participants tended to mingle. I think there were more dogs watching the parade then were in the parade and there were a lot of dogs in the parade. Sometimes it was hard to figure out who was in the parade as many of the people and dogs watching were also in costume. This was Ed's favourite parade.

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Floats were pushed or pulled.

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Walkers were encouraged to match there K9 companions.

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The official videographer.

The parade was a family affair. This little snowball (New Orleans version of a sno-cone) crashed hard.

Dogs and kids in the zoo wagon.

I was really happy to see several marching jazz bands in the parade. This one reminded me of bands I've seen in movies featuring New Orleans funeral parades.

"Where's my beer?" We joined other parade attendees in a local bar.

Great decorating job.

Leaving the French Quarter we headed to Canal Street to watch one of the parades in Uptown (there were four parades parades). We got there just as the Krewe of Carrolton parade was ending and the Krewe of King Arthur and Merlin was beginning.



This was a double float and needed every inch of the road to make the U-turn. We noticed a couple of difference between the parades in New Orleans and the ones is Metairie. There was police presence in Metairie but a lot more police presence in New Orleans. Also a lot more barricades along the parade routine in New Orleans (or at least where we were). The first spot we watched the parade from was near a woman who was a little nasty. We moved on a found another spot near a woman who was a joy to stand beside. She was happy and having a great time dancing along with all the dancing groups in the parade. She also encouraged her son to thank me after I gave him a couple throws I caught (a stuffy and a football).

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You just have love the kids.


First time I've seen a mini-ambulance. I was a little surprised when a full sized stretcher was pulled out.

2015/02/07: Last Metairie Parade

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
at least for us. Last night it was quite cool and the parades were long so we decided to miss the parades in New Orleans today (there's some tomorrow). Tonight's parade starts a 6pm and we've decided to go closer to the beginning of the parade in hopes we can be back to the townhouse by 8pm. As the parade is at dinner time we went out for a nice seafood lunch --- figured it would keep us filled till after the parade.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Well, that's what happened today. Ed ran scans on the hard drive of his computer this afternoon and on the last reboot (that happened just before we were ready to leave) Windows did not load. Anyone who knows Ed, knows he doesn't leave anything for a minute least of all an evening if he might be able to fix, so John, Carol and I left him at home and went to the parade. He called to say he had got his computer working again, but by then we were 40 minutes into the parade so too late for him to come. John, Carol and I thought it was a really good parade so when we got back to the townhouse we told Ed he should walk down to the ending point of the parade to see it especially as the paraded hadn't reached that point yet. The parade was so good that the three of us went down with Ed and actually enjoyed the parade more the second time around. Surprisingly, we arrived on the parade route about 15 minutes before the parade arrived. After trying near the beginning of the parade, near the middle of the parade and near the end of the parade, we decided that near the end of the parade was our favourite. The people on the floats were more generous with the throws as they were trying to rid of "stuff", the people along the parade route were generally more mellow (usually with the aid of alcohol, though a couple of people were obnoxious), plus there were generally fewer people.

Motorcycle police passing us.

The horse of one of the mounted police.

Before the parade started I commented that it was too bad there were no jazz bands in the parades. Think I spoke too soon.

Superhero parade marshals --- Spiderman and Iron man

This parade was put on by the Krewe of Ceasar. We thought they had some really nice floats and some great costumes. The theme this year was Broadway.




The front of the float.

The rear of the second half of the float.

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Lots of good bands.

The star wars group was really good.

The parade ended with some good jazz music.

One happy little girl --- that was some throw.

The aftermath. When the people emptied bags on the floats, the empties were thrown from the float adding to the unwanted beads and other debris.

2015/02/06: Parade Time

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This evening there are two parades in Metairie and another one on Saturday evening. In New Orleans there's about ten parades this weekend.

The parades in Metairie starts at 7pm and given it takes about 3 hours to walk the route, the first parade won't reach the end till after 10pm. The second parade follows the first parade so it could get pretty late. We're staying within walking distance to the end of the parade but decided that 10 pm is a little late to start watching a parade so we'd drive to a spot in the middle of the parade route. Also hope the people walking in the parade would not look as tired as they did during the parade last Sunday.

The first parade is the Krewe of Excalibur. As one can imagine the "krewe" floats have dragons, lions, knights, etc.

Fountains in the median where we stood to watch the parades.

Budweiser Clydesdales. They are appearing in 7 parades during the Mardi Gras.


These young ladies were having a great time roller blading down the road.

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The Krewe of Anthena is a new krewe that was established in March of 2014, so this is their first parade. This is an all woman krewe so I didn't understand the float with the "King of Athena".


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2015/02/05: Causeway

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It was a beautiful sunny day today. Could have been a little warmer but not complaining. One of the items on our "to do" list was drive the Lake Pontchartrain causeway. Not because it yields a beautiful view, or is an interesting structure but because it is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

It is actually a boring 23.8 miles of mostly flat straight road. There is a couple of spots in the road when there are hills which spans navigation channels. The causeway is two bridges supported by 9,500 concrete pillars. This photo shows us coming down the hill. About every five miles is a turnaround --- a small bridge joining the two bridges.

The storm surge after Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) was lower at this bridge then it was at the twin span bridge on highway 10. Thus less damage was done to the causeway then the bridge on I10. The causeway reopened on September 19, 2005 and was used as the major route for recovery teams staying in the highlands to the north. Thought that was an interesting piece of information.

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Mileage markers were every 1/2 mile on the causeway. Wouldn't want to be on it if there was an accident. Today was an exciting day for Ed. He reached the 1,000 caches found milestone. He's a little behind the top geocachers who have found over 100,000 caches.

Ed with his 1,000th geocache.

Instead of driving back along the causeway, we drove around the west end of Lake Pontchartrain. There is a lot of swamp at this end of the lake and what looks like a small town built in the swamp. This photo was taken while driving down the highway.

We exited the highway and got on a lesser highway where we could stop. We found a boat launch area and could see some of the homes in the water.

Thought this place was interesting ... built to look like a lighthouse.

2015/02/04: Rain Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It was cool and rainy today so we decided to spend the day relaxing. Ed went to the Toyota dealer to pick up the part for the truck and he installed it when the rain stopped. The most exciting thing I did was take the dogs for a couple of walks.

2015/02/03: Geocaching Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Everybody who reads this blog knows that Ed loves to geocache and New Orleans appears to be a geocacher haven. Ed has been managing to find geocaches in a lot of the places we have visited but he wanted a day devoted to geocaching. This was the day and a good day it was as 51 geocaches were found. That's a lot of geocaches to find in 3 1/2 hours but it helps when the objective of the group placing is a spot to increase your numbers. The caches were placed 200 to 500 meters apart and many of them could be spotted from the road. Now we have to find another 10 while we are in the area so Ed can hit 1,000 caches found.

2015/02/02: French Quarter again

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The French Quarter really is a nice place to stroll around. John wanted to get some more photos down there and Carol and I were quite happy to go to Cafe du Monde again and Ed wanted to do some shopping. Yup, Ed. He started collecting souvenir shot glasses a few years ago and hadn't picked one up for New Orleans yet.

At Cafe du Monde, the cafe au lait and hot beignets were just the right thing to warm you up after walking in the
cold wind.


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We wandered around the French Market and tourist shops for a few hours. Think we got all the souvenirs we wanted. Stopped at a restaurant for a bowl of gumbo and caught the street car for home. Ed was not a happy camper when we got to the truck (the truck was parked at the top of Canal street where we get on the street car). A vehicle had driven by and caught the edge of the driver's side mirror breaking the cover over the turn signal. I think we were just lucky that was all the damage that was done. The mirror is fine, don't think there's even a scratch on it. Ed, of course, drove to a Toyota dealer to find out out how the damage was going to cost us. Turns out it's an inexpensive cover and we don't have to replace anything but the cover.

2015/02/01: Parade Number 2

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Krewe of the Little Rascals was founded in 1983 and was a vision of a couple who believed that the Carnival spirit of the old New Orleans should live and breathe through our youth as well as through our adults. Members range in age from two to eighteen years old. The parade is in Metairie and is in easy walking distance from the townhouse.

The Farhad Grotto Bug Patrol. This group supports Dentistry for Children with Special Needs.

The parade has several groups of horses --- cowboys and Indians, a posse and kids on ponies.

Every parade needs a king and queen,

fancy costumes,

and fun floats. Each time a float came by the crowd would call out to encourage items to be thrown and the kids on the floats would oblige throwing beads, coins, candy, cups and toys to the crowd.

I think every school band, school cheer leading squad and dance group in the area was in the parade. We were near the end of the parade and could tell which groups went in a lot of parades (still doing their routines) and which ones did not (out of formation and just walking hoping the end is near).


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The weather had been co-operating but suddenly a black cloud appeared and the rain came down. Luckily it only lasted about 5 minutes --- we even had some sun afterwards. Some kids were prepared and had rain ponchos, one group of girls scattered and ran for cover while others just kept marching.


A lot of beads, toys and candy were left on the road. Ed did talk to one fellow who was collecting beads for a school parade --- good idea to reuse then buy. I talked to a police officer who told me that a leaf blower crew would blow items from the boulevard and side of the road to the center of the road. A sweeper would follow them picking up all the debris.