Friday, February 22, 2013

More about New Orleans in my next post. First I have to tell you about the "rest of the story." As you know, on Feb. 8 we were downtown to see the parades when Jim fell and injured himself. He had surgery this past Tuesday and everything went well. He came home Wednesday. Unfortunately, between the truck and the 5th wheel he lost his balance and fell. The good news is Jim was not hurt. He is now safely ensconced in the trailer. The trailer has provided many challenges for Jim. It's very hard for him to get around since it's two steps up to the bathroom and two more steps up to the bedroom. Because his hands were injured in the fall it's impossible for him to use his crutches or the walker to hop up the steps. He has to get down on his hands and knees and crawl up the steps. To simplify things he's sleeping on the sofa with Maggie Waggie. He's spending all day sleeping and watching TV with his foot propped up on a bunch of pillows. In two weeks the cast comes off, the stitches come out and he gets a boot. Then at least four more weeks of no load bearing on the foot. If all goes well he'll start some physical therapy with just an itty bitty bit of load bearing. At this point we can leave for home. Then he'll have 4 to 6 more months of physical therapy at home. Here are his boo boos.






Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day two in NOLA and we took a steam driven stern wheeler boat ride on the Big Muddy.
The upper deck of the Natchez has a steam operated Calliope. Every afternoon before sailing
the steam organ puts on a concert for the passengers. The music was lively and very loud.

As the river flows through New Orleans it forms a cresent shape. The river is at it's deepest here - about 200 feet deep. This is one of the deepest bends in the river, it's called Algier's Point.

The Natchez can be rented for parties and weddings. On our cruise a wedding party had come aboard for lunch and photos.

As we sailed down river we passed two cargo ships which are maintained by the Army for rapid deployment anywhere in the world. They're pretty cool, the whole back of the ship is a giant door that lowers to allow materials to be loaded by semi trucks. They can be loaded and under way in 2 days. Pretty cool.
I love this photo. This is a Domino Sugar  Plant. If you look closely you'll see the original plantation house tucked at the base of the plant. Ever since we crossed into Lousianna there have been sugar cane fields lining the highways. 

This barge is being loaded with raw sugar. River tugs will push the barge to a refinery where the raw sugar is processed and packaged.

This is a sea going tug. The barge is built so the tug actually fits into it. These tugs are HUGE.
Here's Homeland Security. They provide security for the harbor. Jim loved the 50 cal. guns.
The Huey Long Bridge. One of two bridges that span the Misssissippi at New Orleans. Like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this bridge dominates the skyline.

One of many oil refineries doting the Mississippi. I was surprised to learn that the gas and diesel we use here in the USA is delivered as crude and refined here providing thousands of jobs for Americans.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our next stop was Laura Plantation which is a Creole Plantation. You can tell it's Creole by the many  colors and elaborate gingerbread on the house. I really liked the architecture of the house with it's double staircase entry.

Like Destrehan, Laura Plantation farmed sugar cane. Like all plantations along the Mississippi, Laura was like a small city and almost completely self sufficient. It had it's own lumber mill, blacksmith, midwife, brick maker, candle maker, infirmary, etc. Laura also fronted the Mississippi River. This allowed the owner to ship his crop and receive goods. Due to the swampy conditions almost all travel was by riverboat. Here is the map of Plantations along the Mississippi River in 1858. Everyone has access to the river, but parcels are narrow and quite deep. Most of these plantations were 1000's of acres. Laura was 12,000 acres.

Construction of the manor house began in 1804 and was completed 11 months later. The work was executed by highly-skilled slaves. The home owner ordered a "20 squared." This meant the house would be 20 joists across and squared. The framing was cut from timber on the property. Everything was fitted at the mill and then delivered to the site and reassembled. Assembly was tongue and grove with wooden pegs. Every sill and beam was numbered to facilitate assembly on site. These markings are still visible. The house has withstood numerous hurricanes which speaks volumes about it's construction. Because the land is boggy and the water table is at six feet the house is raised high above ground, resting on brick columns and walls, supported underground by an 8-foot deep pyramidal brick foundation to keep it from sinking.

This is Laura, the Mistress of the house. During this era ladies were given an ornate ivory fan as an engagement gift instead of a ring. This is Laura's fan.

Creole Plantations were a family business. Every family member had a job to do. The family did not just supervise the work, they actually worked in the fields, sheds, etc. Laura was the president of the business. The Presidency was decided by who was the smartest and hardest working member of the family.

This is the master bedroom. This bed has a rolling pin headboard. Can you see it? The mattresses were stuffed with cleaned and dried Spanish Moss. At night the moss would get scrunched and balled up leaving the mattress lumpy. So every morning the LARGE rolling pin was removed from the headboard and the mattress was rolled until flat again!

Frequently plantations had daybeds at the foot of the bed. These were provided so the lady of the house could lay down during the day if necessary. Why not use the regular bed? Because only whores went back to bed during the day!

This bed has a prayer stool at it's foot (most plantation owners were Catholic.) Everyone on the plantation was expected to say their prayers regularly, including the slaves.

Also in this room is a plantation era walker. It's the tripod shaped thing next to the chair.

The main living area includes a clock which is original to the plantation. There was a fire some years ago and the clock was damaged. Fearing for the clock the owners moved it to their home in New Orleans where it was then damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Note the difference in the color of the wood on the clock. This marks how high the water was in the home on the second floor!

 Laura's Plantation still has many of it's outbuildings. Livestock sheds, the overseer's cottages, slave cabins, carriage sheds and the kitchen all give a peek into plantation life.

Laura's formal French Gardens have been restored. Even in winter the gardens are beautiful.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

OK, so first off - let me apologize for this post. I have fought with it for hours and I can't figure out the damn crazy format errors. So it is what it is with my apologies.

So Jim's injuries have continued to "cure" over the past couple of days. In addition to the right hand and right foot he now has a terrible bruise on his left palm, 6 bruises on his chest and a BIG bruise over his left kidney. We saw the sports medicine ortho doc today and Jim's Achilles Tendon is completely severed. Jim is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday. His doctor is the orthopedic surgeon for the New Orleans Saints so he should be in very good hands. After surgery he'll be in a cast for two weeks. Then the stitches come out and he gets fitted for an ortho boot. Unfortunately, he can't bear any weight on the foot for about 4 months. We're not sure how he'll manage getting in and out of the trailer. At the moment I am sick as a dog with a TERRIBLE cold. Wish I'd start to feel better, it's hard taking care of Jim when I am dying.

On our first full day in New Orleans we did the plantation tour thing. But before our first tour we stopped at little hole in the wall place for lunch. You know the kind - you look at it and think you're taking a chance. But we were HUNGRY!

This place was the best example of "you can't judge a book by it's cover." I had chicken and sausage Gumbo and Jim had a PoBoy sandwich. The food was excellent! The restaurant was decorated with Mardi Gras beads and these alligators. Pretty funny.


First stop was Destrehan Manor.

This is the front of the house. The back of the house includes two cisterns that collected rainwater from the plantation's roof for drinking water. The ground water was so muddy that it was unusable for human consumotion

The house is surrounded by HUGE oaks. Most are covered in Spanish Moss. While the moss is pretty don't touch it! It's full of chiggers.

The HUGE diningroom is on the ground floor. In summer this room would be the coolest room in the house.

This is my favorite piece in the house. It's a locking tea chest. The little brick in the front is compressed tea. You would shave off what you needed and then place the tea brick back in the chest. The problem with this..... the chest is lead lined so your tea was eventually fatal.

After the home tour we visited the kitchen where this young man was doing a candlemaking demonstration. He is a professional history interpreter (who knew they had these?) His presentation was not only interesting, it was very humorous.

Slave quarters. The French had written rules on how slaves should be treated, housed, etc.

This bottle of wine is from Spain and it's about 30 inches across. To dispense the wine the bottle was hung upside down in a harness in the cooling room. The wine was poured into a decanter for serving.

My favorite plantation story is about pineapples. When guests arrived pineapples were placed in their room. Once a guest had outlived his welcome the pineapple was quietly removed signalling the guest to move on.

I am not sure but I think this pretty lady is Jim's first arm candy of the trip. I love the fact that he always sucks his gut in for these photos.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

So here are some of the floats we saw. These are Krewe Hermes floats.

The Krewes who toss beads and "stuff" from the floats are always dressed up.

Jim and I thought this float looked like us (except for the hair on the guy.) Besides a ton of beads I got a much desired Hermes light up headband.

Next came Le Krewe D' Etat.

For hours before the parades there were dozens of vendors hawking their wares. It was crazy how loaded the carts were with colorful stuff.