Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama

I thought I'd finally show some pictures of where we're staying right now.  We're pretty much out in the country in Tanner, Alabama.  The closest large towns are Athens and Decatur.
Here's where we have parked our 5th wheel - not exactly the resort we stayed at in Florida!
However, the price is reasonable, the people are friendly, and the park is quiet...........
.............except when the tornado siren screams and we all have to race for the shelter.
In fact, I had to do that one day last week.  We're bracing for more severe storms tonight.  I just hope we don't have to crowd in with 300 other people in their pajamas!
Two years ago, on April 27th, while people sat shoulder to shoulder on these benches, the park above them was destroyed.  There are still lots of empty spaces where mobile homes once stood.  We are located in a real "tornado alley."
On the plus side, Hubby is enjoying his work at Brown's Ferry Nuclear Power Plant.
There are so many guys he knows from Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant in Arizona, they have dubbed it "Palo Verde East."
We're making sure to get in our sightseeing though.
Civil War sites abound!
So do beautiful old homes.
These are in the Decatur Historic District.
If only I could see inside!
They have house tours for Christmas.  I'm hoping they have one for spring too.
Of course, I've just begun to shop!  These are spent bullets from the Civil War I purchased for the grandsons, but they will have to wash their hands after handling them since they're made of lead.
We also got these "cannon" pins for their "Junior Ranger" vests.  Richard had to have the Confederate Flag pin for himself.  According to the curator at the museum where we purchased it, the real Confederate flag is actually square, not rectangle, like we usually see it displayed.
We continued our tour of the south last weekend with a visit to Shiloh National Military Park - but more about that later.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Houmas House Plantation - Part 2

It's hard to believe that this beautiful plantation survived the Civil War with it's precious treasures intact. 
They had one whole room designated as a game room.
John Burnside was the owner during the Civil War and he had a plan!
Whenever troops would arrive at his plantation, Union or Confederate, he would declare diplomatic immunity.
He claimed to be a subject of the British Crown - a lie.
Nevertheless, he saved the property for future generations to enjoy.
Houmas House actually had a twin plantation built by the relative of an earlier owner but it was burned down during the war.
However, the Great Depression did take it toll on the property, but in the 1940's a new owner started work to restore Houmas House to it's former glory.
The home was opened up for tours, weddings and even movies.
Today's owner actually lives in the house and searches all over the world for new treasures to display.
He even allows visitors to tour his own bedroom where he has a genuine Tiffany lamp on his desk. 
I just couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the lamp with his personal papers laying everywhere.
We concluded our tour in the kitchen where slaves labored over a hot fireplace.
I can only assume that there is a modern kitchen located somewhere in the house since Houmas House is owner occupied.
Of course, I'm sure, he could always get takeout from his restaurant located on the property.  I wonder what it's like to have so much money?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Houmas House Plantation

As we were traveling from Florida to Arizona, last December, we made an unscheduled stop at Houmas House Plantation and I was so glad we did!  We had been on the road less than an hour, after leaving New Orleans, when Hubby spotted a small sign advertising the plantation.  Knowing how I love touring historic homes he made a quick exit and four miles later we saw this beautiful sight.
We eagerly paid for a tour and walked through the beautiful grounds to the house.
We found out that Houmas House is actually named after the Houmas Indians that lived in the area, not the owners.  The house was completed in 1828.
We were there in mid-December but the weather was absolutely beautiful and warm.
We found out that many of the oak trees surrounding the plantation are over 600 years old.
They are so old and huge many of their branches are resting on the ground.
This view is from the front porch looking out toward the dike keeping the river at bay.  The plantation would ship the sugar they grew to market on barges and people would come to visit via the river too.
Soon it was time to begin our tour by entering the front door, all decked out for Christmas.
I've toured many houses but only a few of them allow you to take pictures inside.
I had never heard of Houmas House until we saw the highway sign but they were a very important large plantation with 300,000 acres under cultivation.  Guest would even eat on Houmas House china.
There are many items belonging to former owners of the house on display.
The dining room was beautiful and full of valuable objects.
How would you like to be served from this fabulous dish?
Not only were we allowed to take pictures but we were actually encouraged to touch anything we wanted to touch!  Our tour guide had me play this irreplaceable piano while she sang along on Amazing Grace.  (I had forgotten what kind of piano it is but I zoomed in on one of my other pictures and it is a Steinway and Sons.)
This was just one of the many beautifully decorated trees throughout the house.
Why is there a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a Louisiana home?  And how did so many treasures remain intact through the Civil War when other plantations were being looted and burned?
I'll torture you a while and tell you all about it the next time!

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Orleans

After our visit in Mobile, Alabama we continued our trip home with a quick stop in New Orleans.  Whenever we were pulling our 5th wheel to, and from, Florida we would by-pass the city, but traveling home in the car we could finally have a look at the famous French Quarter.
The Quarter was all decked out for Christmas but what I was interested in was - breakfast!
Naturally, we headed straight for Cafe Du Monde and their famous beignets.  We joined a long line of people waiting to get in.
We soon had our own plates of the delicious french pastry and cups of cafe au lait with chicory.  Yum!
Thus fortified, I could enjoy the view of the church and carriages around Jackson Square.
A Mississippi Riverboat waited for passengers.......
.......artists tried to sell their work.........
......and Hubby toted my gift shop purchases.
This statue of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, was erected on the square in 1856.
We had other places to visit before reaching Arizona so we waved "good-bye" to Cafe Du Monde and headed out of town...........
....past the statue of Joan of Arc, a gift to New Orleans from France in 1972.
Our next stop was completely unscheduled, but was my absolute favorite - a real southern plantation!