SUN AND MOON

February 28, 2010

From Mary’s desk:

One benefit of being a road gypsy, we manage to see sunrise and sunset almost every day even during the summer. We took a moonlight walk last night and concluded that photographing the moon is tough. You  need a tripod and a time lapse option on your camera.  Sunsets are pretty easy. The one above was taken in Monroe, WA. The one below, too, along the Skykomish River.

The Yuma Crossing Bridge. We road ten miles on our bikes to get this photo.

This one was at Cypress Cove last week, Venice Louisiana. Winter sunsets are  rarer with a lot of color.

Yesterday was chore day. The Bronco still has remnants of some awful grit we picked up in Venice, even after a car wash. The Motor Home is waiting. We found the Health food store closed-for good. Louisianan’s enjoy deep fried shrimp and oyster Poboys.  They seem less concerned about diet than where I live. People seem happier here, too. Could there be a connection?


REST STOP

February 25, 2010

From Mary’s desk:

Jim and I left Venice and threaded our way back to civilization. Since Katrina, people who live and work in Venice and surrounds, have to drive one and one-half  hours to do grocery shopping in Belle Chasse. There are no movies, restaurants, bowling allies, bingo games or Community Clubs in Venice. We asked Terri, the attendant at Cypress Cove why do people live here? Jobs, is the answer, and family. The oil rigs are located here and oil riggers are well paid. Everyone else loves fishing and charter operations. If you are married to one…well, you get a job to have something to do or you read and watch television. (No library, but you can order books on-line.)

On the trip back, I smiled at some business names, and signs, along the way.

Madre And Sons Towing. Sounds stronger than Mother and Sons.

Born To Fish Charters. Now that is the one I’d try if I were looking to go fishing.

Along the road, its common to see restaurants with warm and fuzzy names like Country Cooking, Home Cooking,  Just like Moms, or Mom’s Kitchen, or something referring to good old Mom. How about Maw’s Place. Now, that’s “down home” for ya.

At one Katrina wrecked house we saw a home made sign that read: Ronnie Graniers Back. A little welcome note of triumph.

And, speaking of triumph, there is a town with that name, Triumph, LA.

In one of my previous lives, I collected stamps and postmarks. I meant to find towns all over America with interesting post marks, like Why, AZ or  Cut N’ Shoot, TXNorth Pole, AK, Panic, PA, Normal, IL, Peculiar, MO, Waltz, MI, and , Whynot, MS.  It was fun at the time. Now post marks are machine made and centralized to larger towns. You have to write to the Post Master to get the mark of a small local place. Collecting post marks is a good way to get kids  get interested in maps and  geography.  Adults, too.

It rained when we left Venice and the motor home and Bronco are spattered with mud. But, we are parked in Raceland, its gonna be a sunny day, and who knows what’s around the corner?

VENICE AND PILOT TOWN

February 23, 2010

http://neworleanspodcasting.com/JimJailletandMaryMatzek.shtml

Yesterday, Jim and I heard from Craig Kraemer, the guy who interviewed us for his podcast. If you are interested you can click the link above  and hear our interview. You press the “plug” to get it to play.

Several months ago we watched a video of Charles Kuralt, a long time television personality, who traveled around the U.S. in his motor home and visited a number of out-of-the-way places. One of those was Pilot Town. Since we were kind of in the vicinity, we decided to attempt to visit Pilot Town.  It is the furthest point south in the State of Louisiana, on a small Island only accessible by boat . On the way, we stopped at Fort Jackson, now closed after being badly damaged by Katrina.

We were able to hike around the grounds and watch the boats churn up the Mississippi. The Fort was strategically located during sailing ship days on a big bend in the river that gave it an advantage when the ships would have to lag looking for a new wind to make it around the bend.

Much has been said about the horrible damage done to large population centers like New Orleans,  Shreveport, and  Biloxi, and rightly so. As we drove through Plaquemines Parrish, the devastation was horrible for  miles and miles. Many, many foundations with nothing on them. Blasted buildings, row upon row of temporary modular housing sitting on blocks, piles of debris including rolled together cars and trucks. Boats rotting in fields, and huge storage containers on empty lots. One property had a beautiful blown up picture on a small billboard of what their once gorgeous house looked like.  Mailboxes still stand by the edge of the road with nothing behind the driveways but trees. In one tract, huge trees drowned by standing salt water, lay dead with huge tangled root balls in he air. It was sad to see.

We reached Venice late afternoon and found a friendly cop who told us to contact Mike Bally out at Cypress Cove to help find us a boat ride out to Pilot Town. Mike was a very friendly, helpful guy and gave us a couple leads that produced no results-yet. We are hoping for better luck today.

In the meantime, we sit at this beautiful resort. Mike allowed us to plug in and here we spent yesterday afternoon and evening  walking around this beautiful resort and  harbor watching the pelicans play.

This old drake was hanging around and then joined by a blond. I know nothing of pelicans and which is male or female, but that’s the way it looked to me.

While out and about I talked to a young guy and asked him about a boat ride. He told me his name was Ryan Buras , a river pilot. “I’d take you myself if I wasn’t headed for home,”  he said, which is Covington.  He is 35 years old, was raised in Pilot Town had a house there that was moved off its foundations and deposited in a swamp by Katrina. He now uses his property as a camp, as many pilots who suffered the same fate do. Few of them live there anymore, he told me. He is what is known as a Crescent Pilot, he guides boats in and out of New Orelans. Other pilots work up the Mississippi or their tributaries.   To be a pilot you have to have a relative who was a pilot. His grandfather and uncle qualified him. The Pilots’s Association building was destroyed by Katrina and the new one rebuilt in Venice. He hardly ever goes back anymore. The only people who go there are duck hunters and fishermen. His last teacher was an avid duck hunter and if the ducks were in, and the wind right, she’d cancel school for the day and go hunting. He knew no other life as a kid, nature, hunting and fishing. He recognized that it was unique to live in a place only accessible by boat.

For information about Pilot Town, click the following url:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilottown,_Louisiana

Jim says: Another delightful day…sunny with temperatures in the mid-60′s.

First stop of the day was just a couple of blocks away. Mary is an avid recycler. We hadn’t seen a recycle bin in quite some time and the Bronco was overflowing with recycles.

Picture
Mary and I are now happy campers!

We then headed South and about two hours later arrived at Fort Jackson. I had visited here in 1997 and was most disappointed today to find the fort has been closed to public access since 2005 because of excessive damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Picture
The now closed entrance to Fort Jackson.

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link about Fort Jackson…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Jackson,_Louisiana

Six miles down the road we arrived at Venice, Louisiana and negotiated a parking spot right along the water with the nice folks at the Cypress Cove Marina. The ride today was most interesting in viewing things 4.5 years after Hurricane Katrina. We saw lots of destroyed buildings that have yet to be repaired or torn down. In addition there were lots of foundations with no buildings at all. And finally there are many RV Parks, Mobile Home Parks, campgrounds etc…fill mostly with travel trailers apparently used as temporary housing for workers cleaning up after the hurricane.

Picture
We’re parked 25′ from the water at the Cypress Cove Marina.

Here’s the Cypress Cove Marina website link…
http://www.cypresscovevenice.com/

Picture
The location as seen by Google Earth.
Picture
We’re parked 25′ from the water at the Cypress Cove Marina.

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link about Venice…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venice,_Louisiana

Here’s a link that does a great job describing what was here in Venice, pre-Hurricane Katrina…
http://users.stlcc.edu/jangert/venice/venice.html

To see the other 32 pictures I took, click this link…
http://picasaweb.google.com/jimjrver/VeniceLA022210#

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.co

Belle Chasse, Louisiana

February 22, 2010

Jim says: We got a leisurely start yesterday afternoon departing out of the state park campground at 1:30 PM. At a nearby market Mary bought six pounds of Cajun Sausage. Mmmmmm good! Then stops for gas and groceries at a WalMart Super Center. A few more miles down the road we parked at an American Legion Post in Belle Chasse where we spent the night.

I thought I’d show you some of Mary’s handiwork…she likes the way they sparkle in the sun.

Picture
Mary has hung some of her favorite Mardi Gras beads on her bedroom window. She has also decorated my side similarly.

Today we head South down Louisiana Highway 23 towards the community of Venice at the mouth of the Mississippi River. At least it’s as far as one can go by motor vehicle! If you do not see any Blog posts for the next couple of days, it means there is no cell phone signal down there,

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

The Battle Of New Orleans

February 21, 2010

Jim says: Yesterday was our final day in the New Orleans, Louisiana area (for this visit). On a beautiful sunny Saturday, with temperatures in the low 60′s, with a gentle breeze we headed for the site of the The Battle Of New Orleans.

Located six miles to the South of New Orleans, it is known locally as the Chalmette Battlefield because it was fought on the grounds of the then Chalmette Plantation. This area was especially hard-hit by hurricane Katrina and after almost five years the battlefield area is still in the recovery process.

We crossed the Mississippi River TWICE by ferry today as part of our journey. First from the West Bank to the East Bank on the Algiers-Chalmette Ferry and on return on the Port Nickel-Bell Chasse Ferry.

Picture
The American front line of defense in the Battle of new Orleans.

After the battlefield we visited the Chalmette U.S. National Cemetery just one mile South where over 15,000 veterans and their dependents are buried.

Picture
The Chalmette U. S. National Cemetery.

To see the other 39 photos I took, click this link…
http://picasaweb.google.com/jimjrver/20100220NewOrleansLA022010#

Here’s the official government link for the Chalmette Battlefield…
http://www.nps.gov/jela/chalmette-battlefield.htm

Here’s a Wikipedia link about the Battle of New Orleans…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_New_Orleans

Parts of Chalmette were under 15 feet of water from Hurricane Katrina, here’s a Wikipedia informational link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalmette,_Louisiana

Today we leave the Bayou Segnette Louisiana State Park where we have been situated for the last 14 days for the Town of Venice situated at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It’s only about 80 miles away and we probably will not arrive there until tomorrow.

This departure all begins a notable change in our RVing lifestyle. Since Mary met me in Tucson on January 9th we have traveled about 2,000 miles and have “been on the go!” We had a commitment to arrive in New Orleans on February 7th for Mardi Gras. Next commitment is to arrive in New England near the end of May…about three months from now. For the next month or so, we are going to substantially slow the pace by hanging out and enjoying the many features of Southern Louisiana. Be sure to follow along with us as we do so.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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