Sunday, November 04, 2012

Back in time. . .

Yesterday Gary, Jo, Terry and I left and headed to Baton Rouge. First stop was the waterfront near LSU Stadium, then Cabela's which is just plain fun for all of us. Gary is a charter fishing captain for Lewis and Harp and we use a lot of camping/rv/food items from the store. Terry found himself a new hat and I found some great sandals on sale. SCORE!

Then we were off in search of antebellum mansions to tour and dinner to eat. We found food first and that was at B & C Seafood Market and Cajun Restaurant in Vacherie. What an interesting place. The owners are definitely Cajun, reflected in their speech. One had to listen closely to understand them as it's a lot different from the typical southern drawl. The owner is an alligator hunter and he had several stuffed specimens and photo albums you could peruse. Around the walls in the building were old pictures of various landmarks in the area as well as other points of interest. This is a very interesting part of Louisiana, along the "Old River Road" where antebellum mansions were plentiful due to the Mississippi River being the main means of moving their crops to places worldwide. Most of the plantations we saw yesterday grew/grow sugar cane, while others further north produced more cotton. We had a lively waitress who provided us with great service and our food was very good. After dinner, we browsed through the market which provided all kinds of seafood, turtle and alligator.

The first look at the storied past along the River Road was actually a Jesuit retreat, Manresa House of Retreats instead of an antebellum home. It was quite impressive, however, and we stopped to take a few pictures. We passed several plantations which we will visit another time. There just isn't enough time in one day to see very many. We passed Poche and Laura plantations. We passed numerous other historic houses in various states of disrepair. It is just impossible to maintain all these beautiful old homes and that is sad, but a reality. The historic societies do their best to preserve those that best represent the life and culture of the time. I would think that Louisiana probably has the most antebellum homes, many along River Road and others up north near and around St. Francisville. All within a few hours of each other, so if you want a great look into life back in time, try visiting some of these.

We settled on visiting Oak Alley. What a grand place. It is the quintessential of antebellum homes, built between 1837-1839, and has been restored to its splendor of years past. It actually was lived in and fairly well maintained for all but about 12 years of its history and is now open for tours and bookings and weddings, etc. The furnishings while not original to the families are all period pieces and it looks like someone lives there now. The docents describe the home and the families that lived there while dressed in period costumes. The grounds are well maintained and since this was a working farm, there were a dozen slave cabins to house those people who worked the land. They are in the process of rebuilding those cabins and two are done, but they were not open to visitation. We enjoyed the tour and especially looking down the "oak alley," the live oak trees planted nearly 300 years ago which frame the lane from the Mississippi River to the front door. The view is magnificent, but with the levee at the river's edge, it is impossible to see the river from the home. You can see the tops of some ships passing by, but the river view is gone. That is not totally a bad thing, however, because without it, the home would be in danger of damage from floods.

On our way back to Zachary, we passed by Nottaway Plantation (1859) and as we drove around it, we saw a wedding in progress! What a lovely place for a wedding. Jo and I decided it is on our list for the next time we come to visit! We also passed by a large cemetery. Cemeteries are very different down here than what we see up north.

It was a great day with great cousins and fun activities. Today we are leaving and will be heading to Texas with a mandatory pitstop at Kinder and the Coushatta Casino. Woot!

Till next time. . .


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