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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Almost Across the Sabine

Wednesday February 27, 2013  Natchitoches, Louisiana  Holiday Inn Rm 110  6 PM

You all can try pronouncing that name and I'll tell you how the young man at the desk told me it is pronounced at the end of today's note.

Woke up at 6:30 and was thrilled to see a beautiful sunny sky, but was astounded to see frost on the cars below our window. Decided it might be bright and sunny but obviously too cold to get out of my warm bed, so rolled over and went back to sleep until 8.  By the time I washed and set my hair, something I don't do every morning, thank goodness, I'd missed breakfast. So we checked out, with me clutching a cup of coffee to go, and left town along Rte51. Within a few miles we saw the action of some natural recyclers cleaning up somebody's pet dog. As we slowed to take a shot the birds dispersed along the road, up into the trees and some took to circling above us. They are truly unattractive and large but totally necessary for the environment.

 Crossed back to 10 so we could go to St Francisville and Grandmother's Buttons--stop one of my favorite jewelers. This is a familiar route we've followed many times before. Through the beautiful antebellum towns of Clinton with its beautiful old ( 1840) courthouse, one of the largest and oldest still in use in Louisiana, and Jackson, the home of Centenary Military Academy which we visited several years ago--a military academy whose cadets left to fight for the Confederacy-- the Inn which has a pillar made from a beam of the old academy and the Town Hall with its candy kiss roof.  We drove by Locust Grove where a young newly wed Jefferson Davis left his new bride in her grave after becoming ill at a cousins house while on their honeymoon and past Rosedown Plantation where James Audubon served as a tutor and where Gus the Turkey strutted up to greet guests when we visited.  And then we were in St Francisville, one of my favorite towns--the cafe, where we eat breakfast and I buy Mayhew jelly, the Magnolia Cafe where we've eaten many a thick sandwich for lunch, the diner where Bill and the owner compare their conservative viewpoints, the historic district with its beautiful old homes. But this time we were to breeze in and breeze out again. We stopped at Grandmother's where they repaired the link I'd broken on a bracelet I bought there about four years ago. Of course, I had to pick up a few things. ( When I cleaned out my purse this afternoon I found last year's receipt--I spent much less this year--LOL )

I hated to leave but it was too early to stop for the day and except to just linger we had no real reason to stop so off we went to take the new bridge--two years old now--that replaced the little ferry we loved--across the Mississippi and into the West. From New Roads we followed 10 that had now combined with 1 into Morganza. At the railroad tracks we waved goodbye to 10 ( the road we have always taken East or West in this neck of the woods ) and continued along Rte 1 and territory new to us.

The Morganza is one of the spillways they opened during those Spring floods several years ago--the fields around here were allowed to flood in order to protect New Orleans and other towns south along the Great River. As we went over the control structure, led by a lead car, we could see through the slotted sides next to Bill that a great deal of silt was deposited beneath it and many large pieces of equipment were clearing it--in preparation for this Spring rush?  We saw a tree with an eagle's nest in which we could see the white head of a bald eagle....unfortunately, it is really tough to focus from a moving car which cannot stop along the way--both because our convoy just kept moving but also because there are signs every ten feet or so telling you no parking!  Think they mean it. 

Lots of open fields in some places; rows of bare trees in others. Crossed the Atchafalaya--a truly mighty Louisiana river with high levees every bit as impressive as those along the Mississippi. Continued through similar territory and kept on 1 through Alexandria--surprised at how well marked it was and how it literally skirted the main heart of the City, making its crossing quite easy.

We continued to follow 1 as it followed I 49 so closely that it looked like an additional 2 lanes. It was nice to run along looking at the traffic as we cruised a road almost as good with no traffic at all. At Boyce, just outside Alexandria there was a La1 detour that took us onto the Interstate. The main drag in Boyce gave no indication of why but from the highway we saw the very large gap where a bridge used to be. Only movie stars like Clint Eastwood can drive a car so well that they jump these gaps. So we agreed, the detour was in order. We did, however, return to 1 asap. We soon found that we were following the Cane River Heritage Trail--which meant nothing at all though we did cross the Cane several times--a la the White and its branches in Vermont. Along about Chopin and all the way to Derry we saw signs of a very large fire--had all the look of forest and at times we seemed to be headed into it, but then the road took a turn away and it was off to the West and soon passed. Looking at the map it seemed to have been in the Kisatachie National Forest. No one seemed alarmed at all--no rushing cars or sirens so I imagine it was a controlled burn.

As we passed a very old, very large pecan grove we could see workers cutting trees and limbs, gathering the brush into heaps and burning them--as cows roamed among the trees grazing!  LOL At Cypress we took a short back road and was immediately halted by a crossing train. This was the closest 1 and I 49 came together and since the directions to our motel originated at an Interstate exit it appeared logical to get on.  We were 10 miles from the exit--very good planning. As we approached the Quality Inn all the restaurants were of the fast food variety. When we checked in Casey said all the real restaurants were 15 minutes away downtown.  We opted for Domino's pizza ( yuk) and Abita amber( Yum)

While we waited I did some web searches about the two plantations that make up the Cane River National Heritage area and other historic sites around here and there are many. I could tell Bill was less that enthusiastic, which is why I hate starting through La--he never wants to explore--afraid we'll run out of money and not be able to do what he wants in Arizona and New Mexico. When we come back this way he is much more agreeable. BUT, I, as usual , came up with a compromise and since he loves Country music--more than I do--he agreed. There is a museum of Louisiana Country Music in Marthasville which is on the way to Texas. I also go to choose a scenic route on the La side before we cross the Sabine into Texas and head for Palestine. He also agreed that we will plan to return to this area of Louisiana and spend a few days touring it.

So we ate, had a beer and the sun went down in a spectacular sunset. And we are settled in to Knack-o-dish for the night. See you in Texas partners. Good night for now KandB

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