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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Left Amite in 58 degrees and beautiful sunlight with nary a cloud in sight. There was frost on the car this morning but the day warmed up and as we traveled through the rest of the Florida Parishes to West Feliciana and our first destination, St Francisville, we reveled in the beauty of the day. Truly, the most perfect we have had on the entire trip--not TOO hot, nor TOO cold; not too cloudy or hazy; not rainy; not unbearably humid; the sun not too blinding.

We took La 10 and commented on the fact that we'd long ago left the white sands of the Gulf for the red soil of inland South. I love the signs on the Louisana scenic routes---they are also highlighted in green on the map--but the Louisiana map is one of the worst in the country with which to navigate. That is a minor irritation in one of my favorite States. Our friend, Pris, asked why I like it here so much--it is a combination of so many things. I like the terrain and all the water, the food, the music, the people. That said, it is really the Florida Parishes and Acadiana that I love--but in fairness, we haven't explored the rest of the State really.

We hadn't gone very far when we crossed a bayou and there it was, white sand again!  LOL  Rte 10 is a familiar road to us but it was fun to see it from East to West since we usually travel it in the opposite direction--going home! I like this much better. We passed through Clinton with its beautiful domed Courthouse surrounded by the forever present live oaks. On into Franklin where the Centenery Academy that we toured two years ago is located. The unfriendly antique dealer has installed a huge railway car along the east side of his parking lot.  He has a tourist info sign hanging beneath his business sign but when we dropped in two years ago to ask where the Academy is located, since there were no signs for it, he barely acknowledged us and gave us vague directions that eventually did get us there!  Funny the things you remember when you pass places again.

Between Clinton and Franklin we passed a field of Herefords with an odd member of the herd--a Brahman bull!  I asked Bill to please turn around --I just knew this was my picture of the day.  He was like a babysitter--a set of twin calves were close by him and other young Herefords grazed around him. As soon as we stopped he turned directly at us---then he turned a complete 180 as he roused the one twin to its feet and the others stopped grazing--once more he confronted us.  I captioned my first shot: " I charge double for twins and they eat from the field just like the other kids!" The second shot " You got a problem with that????"   Not me, sir!  Just loved it.

Then we were into lovely St Francisville with its red brick walks and sweet little houses along the streets.  Pulled up to Grandmother's Buttons and my heart dropped when I saw the gate closed---it is Sunday!--but all the lights were on and the sign said they open at 11 on Sunday. Oh, happiness, it was 4 minutes til.  Browsed and Bill said " I have to tell you something--there is penance to pay." I could not imagine what happened but--once more--he smokes and throws the cigarettes out the window. In the Cobalt he burned a huge hole in the back seat which he covered with a blanket and which I ,therefore, never saw.  This time he has burnt a hole in my favorite green fleece jacket!!!! An Irish import I bought at an Irish festival several years ago. I have not seen the hole but he says it isn't too big and he'll get me a new fleece. In the meantime, he is paying up to $400 in penance--he set the amount. AND he told me in Grandmother's Buttons???!!!??? Oh, happy day!  Didn't spend it all--so I have some left for Perry Null in Gallup and his wonderful turquoise....... and IF I don't spend it there I have it anyway. I am beside myself since I love both these stores but STILL, I so wish he'd stop smoking!

After lunch at the Audubon Cafe where I picked up another jar of Mayhaw Jelly, having finished the one I bought there two years ago, we headed for the new bridge across the river.  Last year there was incredible flooding in St Francisville--the water rose all the way up the hill and much was damaged. It was decided that since the bridge was built anyway--they were doing all the construction last time we were here--the ferry could go. The girl at GB's told me that the whole town came down for the last ferry run and they had fireworks etc. I miss the ferry--I wonder if there are any left on the Mississippi now except the Creole Queen in NO.

When we arrived at the new bridge BOTH of us REALLY missed having the ferry to cross. Look at the size of the cars in front of us to get an idea of its size and height.  And you can see it coming for miles--and the access roads on both sides are new and are composed of many long though not terribly high bridges over the swamp land.  I was truly happy to see it in our rearview mirror. In future I will have to figure out how to get back to GB's and away again without using this awful but beautiful golden monster.

Traveling now in the Atchafalaya Basin we passed fields that grow cane but are not yet planted and others with green fertilizer--winter wheat--waiting to be plowed under. This is the area that some of you may remember was flooded last Spring for the first time since the '50's in an effort to save NO. It is called the Morganza Spillway in Pointe Coupe Parish--we had now entered Arcadiana. Again we have been along this road before and remembered things we would see including a hysterical sign ( that's what we call the historical signs ) in the middle of nowhere commemorating some distant battle --I have a picture of it from another year. It is still there and it is still the middle of nowhere!

The water table is very high here and so both sides of the road have wide gullies that are divided into pools connected by culverts. Many of the people along the road are raising crawfish in them. One particularly beautiful house landscaped around their two pools and there were ducks swimming in them. The area is really very pretty but I don't think I'd like the mosquitoes that I imagine breed here, nor the wetness in rainy season or the humidity in summer. That is without thinking about the possibilities of flooding--although the levee is behind most of these homes.

Soon, just as the map indicated, La 10 turned off to the right and we took the turn. Now, this is marked as a scenic route on the map but we thought this might be more scenic than we wanted to experience. Behind the levee are the flat fields that absorb the waters from snow melt in the States to the North. If the snow melt is great and there is torrential rain as well the gates of the spillway are opened and these fields and whatever homes are behind the levee are sacrificed. The people who live here know that this is the deal that was struck when the Army Corps of Engineers developed the system that would protect the Port of New Orleans. When exactly this came about I'm not sure but for some reason the 30's come to mind--sort of about the TVA period etc.  When Irene hit Vt our land and the fields around us served as the natural spillway for the Ompompanussic.  The other side of the levee showed the wide gulley containing the waters of the water table.

Having decided to forego exploring the area that must have washed out we returned to La 77, to La 190 and across the long, long,long Morganza Spillway bridge from Krotz Springs toward Opelousas. Looking at the beautiful homes along the river, many of which are fairly new, I wondered as I have before about the obstinacy of the human race. They build in flood plains, on cliffs in California that slide into the Pacific every year and in the Morganza Spillway. Crazy!

So for another night and part of another day I will revel in Arcadiana before crossing into the Big Thicket.

 Just heard that the tornado stricken area is now being hit by snow. Those poor people. I'm trying not to think what the weather will be when we travel through there on the way home. It will be heartbreaking if we see any of the damaged areas.

Dinner calls--I think we will have pizza in tonight----had my sweet tea and po'boy for lunch! Bon Appetit !!

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