Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Southern Louisiana

After Texas, I headed to South Louisiana.  My first stop was to Sulphur, LA.  My main  reason for stopping here was the Creole Nature Trail (a Road, not a hike!).  This drive went through or close to several wildlife refuges and through some interesting towns.  Some of these towns were just about destroyed during the last few years by either Hurricane Rita or Ike.  Some places have rebuilt, but others have not.   

The picture above is where a church stood.   You can just make out the foundation and I’m guessing the tall structure is where the steeple was.

Sabine Wildlife refuge was one of my favorite places.  They have a couple of trails, but a great 1.5 mile handicapped accessible walkway where I saw many birds, alligators and plant.

I think the above bird is a Tri-colored Heron (also called a Louisiana Heron), but not all pictures have a blue beak like this one.  This bird is also in the upper right hand corner on the picture with the alligators.

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge was another place I enjoyed.  They have a wildlife drive that was very interesting.

Above is an Ibis and several Black-necked Stilt.


The alligator above was about 15 feet from my car on the wildlife drive. 

I know the above bird is an Ibis, but I’m not sure what type.  If anyone knows, let me know. 

I left Sulphur, LA and headed toward Plantation Country in South Eastern, LA.   I actually stayed at one of the plantations – Poche Plantation.  This is not one of the larger plantations, but they do have an RV park behind the house.

Just next to this plantation, is St. Michael’s church and cemetery.  I have always enjoyed walking through cemeteries and this one was very interesting.  Being in Southern Louisiana, most of the graves are above ground and in addition many of these were old, the oldest one I saw was 1832.  Quite a few of the graves were brick and in need of repair such as the ones below. 

In addition to the free tour I got at my park (Poche plantation), I toured 2 others and saw quite a few more.  My favorite was The Laura.  This is not one of the largest or more elegant plantations, but is a Creole plantation.  I didn’t know much about the Creole lifestyle and learned quite a bit during this tour.  

The Laura has several slave cabins and one of these cabins is where Br’er Rabbit was recorded.  I saw recorded rather than written because Br’er Rabbit (not the original name) was actually a West-African Tale that was brought over to America and recorded here.  You can learn all kind of things while taking tours!

I also toured Nottoway plantation.  I wasn’t as impressed with this one, but I did find it interesting that there were no doors to get to the upper deck/patio.


To get outside you had to go through the windows.  It was planned this way, you can see how long the windows are as my tour makes it way back inside. 


I thought the room above was clever.  The entire room was white.  This made it not only elegant, but it was extremely bright.  This was very useful before electricity!  Also, note the ornamental thing that the chandelier hangs from.  (I should ask my mother what it is called, so I don’t have to call it a “thing”. I’m sure she knows)  While the ones today are probably made of plaster, this was made of clay, horse hair and other natural materials. 

I went to an arts and craft show at Oak Alley plantation.  This plantation has been used in many movies.  I didn’t notice until later that when I took pictures they were working on the house.  Note the person on the ladder at the front door.  I did learn at another plantation, the reason for the oaks.  They would line oaks between the river and the homes to get a better flow of wind to cool the houses. 

Poche Plantation is on River road, so just across the road is the Mississippi river.  You can’t see it from the road as there is a levee between the road and the river.  But this levee made a great place to walk and ride bikes!  Unfortunately this part of the river is a working river.  Barges were loaded and unloaded with whatever they were hauling.   It was interesting to watch, but took away from what could have been a beautiful spot. 

My next stop was a week in Desoto State Park in Alabama.  Then back to Georgia for a few weeks.  I’ll post more on that later.

(Just a note – I finally got around to writing this blog and now my internet connection is down and I can’t post!   Hopefully I will be able to publish it soon).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mission, TX

I finished spending a great month in Mission, TX a couple of weeks ago, but am just getting around to the blog.  I stayed at the Bentson Palm RV Park which is right next door to Bentson State Park.  Some of you may remember that I stayed at this same park last year. 

While there, I walked, biked and watched birds (and a few other animals).  As I have mentioned before I don’t really know much about birds, but I am learning and it’s fun to meet bird watchers who really know what they are doing. 

I learned that a big black bird, might not just be a Blackbird or a Crow.  One day while at the Hawk Tower in the State park, I saw some black birds and the volunteer told me that they were Grove Billed Anis and that it was a good sighting (they aren’t too common).  Well, my pictures didn’t turn out too good, but a few days later I saw them again.  Below is my picture of a Grove Billed Ani. 

While there, a very rare bird to the U.S. happened to be visiting the State park.  I heard that he was 200 – 300 miles further north than where they typically live. According to the park, it was only the 6th recorded time it has been in Texas.  The bird was a Black-vented Oriole.  For several weeks, it was a very famous bird.  I meet several people who came from out of state just to see this bird.  I didn’t realize how serious some birders are.  I meet people from New York and Michigan who came to Texas and this park just to see this bird.  The bottom picture is the Black-Vented Oriole and a woodpecker, I think it’s a Sap Sucker.

Because I was in the park so much, I saw this bird many times and talked to people who sat for 8 hours and never saw him.  There was also a rare Blue Bunting and I saw the male and female once, but when I took a picture they flew off.  

I saw the Vermillion Flycatcher a few times.  It was interesting watching him catch bugs.

If you are also a reader of  Life's Little Adventures(fellow Lazy Daze Rver’s – Jim and Gayle) it may seem like you have already read part of this blog.  When I read their blog a few weeks ago and they had a picture of the Vermillion Flycatcher, I thought it was a bit funny that we had seen the same type of bird(their March 9 post).  In the next blog, they talk about people flying in from around the world to see a rare bird that they saw.  They were in Arizona, but I was beginning to feel like I was copying them!  (Note – if you love the outdoors and hiking you will enjoy their blog.  I’ve made many notes for future trips based on their travels.)

Other pictures -

Ringed Kingfisher










Green Kingfisher -










Altimira Oriole -











Once I left Mission, I stopped in Victoria, TX for an overnight stay and took a picture of some fellow campers -

I am now in Louisiana and will be headed out tomorrow, I have spent a couple of weeks touring South Louisiana.  I will blog about this soon.