Search

Month

April 2019

2019-04-15 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL…

This morning we walked 1/2 mile down the road to the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.  We enjoyed looking at old cars; some of the other collections, not so much.

img_2010

There were row after row of cars, from the late 1890s to the 1980s…

img_1989img_1990img_7838img_7839img_1992img_1993img_1994img_1995img_7841img_1996

They had lots of Bat-mobiles, a Bat-plane, and a Bat-motorcycle…

img_1998img_1999img_2001img_2002img_7842img_2003img_2004img_2005

And then we had to scratch our heads at the collection of old, worn-out golf clubs… not to mention knives, dolls, medallions,and other things that people collect; this place is sort of a collection of collections…

img_1997

We had a fun hour or so – nothing earthshaking… We returned to the Villa and caught up on some errands…

That evening we went to eat at a Farm-to-Table restaurant called Backwoods Crossing that was very good!

img_2007img_7843

We were joined by two other Airstream couples from the area…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-14 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL, and Frank Lloyd Wright

All night long I heard and saw tornado warnings on the weather channel; storms were coming in from the west.  We were up at 6:00 am to hitch up and go; then ambulances and fire trucks rolled in, blocking all traffic lanes in the RV park.  Apparently there was some minor medical issue 3-4 trailers down the row…  But by the time we were ready to go they had all left, and we rolled out at 7:00 am.  We saw lots of lightning as we drove north 15 miles, then, as we turned east we started to get some light rain.  But no tornadoes, no hazardous wind (despite the large flashing signs warning us about hazardous winds…), and the rain soon stopped.  We heard of terrible storms in Michigan and Texas and Alabama, but I think the storm had petered out by the time it got to Florida…

We arrived safely in Tallahassee and set up in a nice RV park.  We walked around and found another Airstream – and found out that it was another couple that we knew from an earlier caravan, and who will be going on the Kentucky caravan with us!  Small world!

img_7822

We had an appointment at 2:00 pm to see the Spring House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house built in Florida.  We had light rain as we approached, but the house itself was delightful.

img_1974img_7826img_1976img_7828img_7829

Obviously it is in need of repair and restoration… The daughter of the original owner, who grew up in the house, still lives here; she is trying to raise funds on behalf of a foundation (www.preservespringhouse.org) so that they can buy the house, restore it, and open it for philanthropic events…

We met Byrd, the current owner, and heard the story of the house.  Her parents, Mr. and Mrs Lewis, saw an article by Frank Lloyd Wright in a magazine about houses having “souls”, and they were impressed.  They had a chance to meet FLlW in 1952 and they said, “We have a lot of children (4) and not much money; can you design a house for us?”  At the time FLlW was 84 years old and was still excited about his “Usonian” houses for people of modest means, so he agreed.  After a 2 1/2 years the Lewises had found this five acre property with a stream running into a lake.  The house was designed and eventually built, with all the usual FLlW drama, even though he never visited the house…

The house is boat shaped, and it has three curved walls, the two exterior walls being convex, and the interior balcony being concave.  The ends are pointed.  There is a huge two-story tall curved wall of glass facing the forest; all the major rooms in the house face this wall of glass and have a continuous view of the wall of trees a few feet away from the house.  Spectacular!  Unfortunately, interior photos are not allowed…

img_1978img_1979img_7830img_7831img_7832img_1980

The little windows resemble half-portholes…

img_7833

The ship lap siding runs through the glass…

img_1981img_7834img_7835img_1982img_1983img_7836img_1985

So between talking to Byrd, the other docents, and other visitors, we spent a delightful two hours.

We then traveled to the home of the WBCCI Caravan Director, Jay Thompson, and his wife, Elna.  They were leaders of the Southwest Caravan that we did last year.  We had a nice time catching up, drinking wine, and batting around ideas about how the caravan experience can be improved…

We returned to the Villa about 6:30 and enjoyed a bottle of wine and some pasta…

img_1988

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-16 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Tallahassee, FL to Chattahoochee Hills, GA…

We left Tallahassee in the morning and headed north.  it wasn’t long before we were in Georgia; we pulled in to the Visitor Center for a brief stop…

img_2011

img_2043

We continued on.  For about 4 hours Georgia looked like this…

img_7848

We arrived at Chattahoochee Hills by mid afternoon.  We drove down this dirt road…

img_2034

We ignored the Private Driveway signs and proceeded in, hoping we were in the right place and that we wouldn’t find a dead end…

But it was OK – we arrived at this large clearing with a lovely house and pool…

img_2015

img_2014

We parked the Villa off to the side and called our friends, who live nearby…

img_2028

Our friends arrived and we walked about 1/2 mile to the village of Serenbe, more specifically, the hamlet of Selborne…

img_2023img_2016img_2024img_2026img_2025img_2027

Serenbe was designed and developed along the lines of Neo-Traditional Town Planning similar to Seaside.  Unlike Seaside, which is a holiday town, by the sea, Serenbe is a place meant for full-time living, on the outskirts of Atlanta.  While Seaside is relatively dense and compact, all on 80 acres, Serenbe is hundreds of acres, with four hamlets separated by rolling open space.

It was delightful.

We met up with our friends and hung out at the pool for awhile.  Dinner and wine was consumed, and we ended the day on the balcony, overlooking the streets below…

img_2018img_7854

We were transported back to the Villa on their golf cart…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-13 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Seaside, FL, and a shocking discovery…!

We spent the day in Seaside, FL.    WARNING:  Architectural rantings and discussions approaching!!!

img_1924

Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the western Florida panhandle.  One of the first communities in America designed on the principles of New Urbanism, ot Neo-Traditional Town Planning, the town has become the topic of slide lectures in architectural schools and in housing-industry magazines world-wide, and is visited by design professionals (like me…) from all over.  

The idea behind Seaside came in 1946, when the grandfather of future founder Robert S. Davis bought 80 acres of land along the shore of Northwest Florida as a summer retreat for his family.  In 1978 Davis inherited the parcel from his grandfather, and aimed to transform it into an old-fashioned beach town, with traditional wood-framed cottages typical of the Florida Panhandle.  Davis, his wife Daryl, and architectural partners Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company did painstakingly detailed research; they toured the south, studying small towns, armed with cameras, sketch pads, and tape measures; this became the basic for the planning of Seaside.  While a few houses were built in 1982 to “test the waters”, the final master plan was complete around 1985.

The developers used the master plan to write their own zoning codes.  Seaside’s commercial hub is located at the town center.  The streets are designed in a radiating street pattern with pedestrian alleys and open spaces located throughout the town.  There is a mix of uses and residential types throughout the community.

Individual housing units in Seaside are required to be different from other buildings, with designs ranging from styles such as Victorian, Neoclassical, Modern, Postmodern, and Deconstructivism.  Seaside includes buildings by many different architects, including such notables as Robert A. M. Stern, Daniel Solomon, and Samuel Mockbee.  Architect Scott Merrill designed the Seaside Chapel, an interfaith chapel and local landmark.  Seaside has no private front lawns, and only native plants are used in front yards.  The picket fences, required to be in front of all houses are all different from each other…

The result of all this work and planning is a remarkable little community.  Streets are designed first for pedestrians, and secondarily for automobiles.   We walked for hours, and every time we turned the corner a new delight was seen.

We arrived at about 9:00 on a Saturday morning.  The farmers’ market was in full swing; we stopped by one of the many Airstream “Food Trucks” for a breakfast crepe and coffee…

img_1901img_1902img_1913

We then headed out for a stroll along the beach.  There are seven access points to the beach, each one with a tower-type structure to mark its presence, each tower designed by a different architect.  This tower and stair is the ONLY public access to this stretch of beach…

img_1916-1img_1917

Yes, that’s right.  The beach is private, and all the other access points have locked gates.  Not only that, but there is a solid wall of buildings lining the Gulf Coast Highway (30A), so that as you walk or drive along the highway you wouldn’t even know the beach and the gulf are there!  I think Florida could learn a thing or two from other States which treat the beaches and oceans as a public resource to be enjoyed by all…

But, in any case, the beach is beautiful, with the same powder sugar sand like we saw in Mississippi…

img_1914img_1915img_1927

img_1928

Lynda tested the waters.  Cooler than what we expected, but warmer than any beach in California… (You did not know that California beaches and the Pacific Ocean there are cold???)

img_1938

We were also surprised to see the waves, which were non-existent in Mississippi…

img_7801

These are some of the houses that block off the beach from the highway…

img_1940img_1941img_1943img_1944img_1945

We had a lovely walk on the beach, but we came here to see the town…

All buildings appear to have the form of this type of vernacular, although there are many different styles of homes…

img_1923img_7804

The streets are delightful…

img_1948img_1949

This tiny house is set back far from its neighbors…

img_1950img_1953

Not all the houses are traditional…

 

img_1961

These townhouses surround a courtyard just a short block from the business district, and many have businesses on the ground floor…

img_7807img_7806img_1960

This is the interfaith non-denominational chapel.  We wished our schedule would have allowed us to attend services on Sunday…

img_1963img_1965img_1964

More streets – each one more delightful than the next…

img_1958img_1955

Finally, by mid afternoon, we were ready for a break.  The beach was much busier now, and the patrons of the restaurants were hopping…

img_7814img_7815img_7818img_1967

We had a lovely lunch on the terrace overlooking the beach…

We walked around the business district and did some shopping…

img_1905-1

The troubadours were playing adjacent to the farmers’ market…

img_1912

There is this large central park shaped like a amphitheater.  On Friday evenings they show movies on the lawn…

img_1911img_1909img_1908

The farmers’ market…

img_1907img_1910img_1903img_1904

We returned to the Villa.  Happy Hours ensued.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-12 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Four States!

We woke up early in the Villa, in a parking lot in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

We took a walk in the early morning light…

img_1882img_7734

After about one mile we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde…

img_1883

We took a table inside, and ordered Beignets and cafe au laits…  (They are famous for Chicory coffee, but I don’t understand why; chicory is a cheap substitute for coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee nor does it have much caffeine in it.  It is used where people can’t afford coffee, of when coffee supplies are rationed, such as during WWII…  No real coffee drinker would touch the stuff.  Leave it to the South to romanticize and popularize bad food, like chicken fried steak, or grits, or biscuits and near-rancid gravy…)

img_7735

But we had a great time, watching the early birds come in for their coffee and beignets… After scraping about two cups of powdered sugar off the beignets they were quite tasty…

We walked over to get a better picture of the Basillica.  It sort of reminds me of Cinderella’s castle…

img_1884img_1885img_1887

We caught a few more early morning street scenes on our way back to the Villa.  We love early mornings in big cities…!

img_1886img_1889img_1890

We returned to the Villa and prepared for travel.  We headed out, found the 10 freeway, and pointed ourselves east.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at a new State:

 

img_1891

We pulled into the Visitors Center.  It looked like the inside of your grandmother’s house, with some grandmotherly women offering us coffee and assistance.

img_7741

We asked how to get to the scenic Gulf Coast Highway, and maps were supplied.  We returned to the truck and soon we were on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico…

 

img_7749

The sand is like powdered sugar – just like what we scraped off our beignets earlier this morning…

img_7750

I put my feet into the gulf waters, the first time since I did it in Galveston in 1984.  This time, when I pulled my feet out of the water they were not covered in tar and oil…

img_7751img_7753

There were thousands of seagulls on the sand.  Probably because there were millions of sea shells on the sand…

img_7754img_7755

img_1892

Other than the seagulls, the beach was deserted.  We don’t see deserted beaches in California at any time, day or night…

Across the street from the sand are these houses, fronting on the highway.  They are built up on stilts to protect from flooding and storm surges…

img_1895

A house under construction – note the brick columns…

img_1899img_7762

We eventually left the coast and drove through several swamps and other wetlands…

img_7769img_7769-1

Soon we arrived at…

img_7773

We stopped in for a minute, and continued on…

Alabama is a lot like Mississippi… until it doesn’t.  Mobile is a big city!

 

img_7776

Mobile has a tunnel under the bay!

img_7778

And then Alabama looks just like Mississippi again…

img_7780img_7782

We stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel.  Our first visit to a Cracker Barrel.  It seems to me that almost everything Cracker Barrel represents or espouses are things that I dislike.  But they are RV friendly, they are located at every major interstate interchange (usually right next door to a Waffle House), and we are meeting fellow Airstreamers at a Cracker Barrel in Tennessee in a few weeks…

img_7783

We able to find a few items on the menu that we could eat, and the portions were only double what we can handle, not the 4x they usually serve… The food we had was pretty good, and I think if we eat here once or twice per year the food won’t kill us… Don’t get me started on why we, as restaurant diners, should have to stand in line behind trinket-buying tourists in order to pay our check…!

But soon we were in Florida!

img_7784

We will stay four nights in Florida… Tonight we are outside Freeport, on the western portion of the panhandle.  It amazes me that we still are not yet in the eastern time zone…!

The RV Park is quite nice.  There is even a boat launch; this river gives access to the salt water bays and the freshwater lakes…

img_7787img_7788img_7790

The Villa is set up and Happy Hours occur…

img_1900

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-11 – Airstream Caravan Travels – New Orleans, LA

We left Carencro at first light.  Not too many Airstreamers were up and about…

We drove east on the 10.  After about 20 minutes we stopped.  And stayed stopped, despite the sign…

img_1798

We were there for 1 1/2 hours…  Apparently there was an accident about three miles ahead on the causeway, so they simply closed the freeway…  So everyone in their cars was able to catch up on their Facebook posts…

Eventually we were on our way.  We crossed the Mississippi river for the first time today…

img_7675img_7681

An hour later we crossed over the Mississippi for the second time today…

img_7683img_7690img_7691

 

 

By about 10:15 we arrived at our first destination:  Oak Alley Plantation…

img_7706

Oak Alley is one of the more famous “Big Houses” due to this lane of 200+ year old Live Oak trees… The interior tour did not disappoint.  (Unfortunately, no photos were allowed…)

The interiors of the Big House are quite grand – much more than I had anticipated.  If you recall, the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge is modeled after Oak Alley, but we were told that the governor’s mansion was much grander.  I’m not so sure… Certainly the governor’s mansion is bigger – 25.000 s.f vs Oak Alley’s 7,000 s.f., but the ceilings are tall (12 1/2 feet) and the rooms are large – there are only eight rooms and a large central hallway.  We were impressed.

The house was built in the 1830s, similar to Shadows -on-the-Teche, but this is far more sophisticated and grand.  The original owner died young, in the 1840s; the difference is that the owner of Shadows built a modest house, where as the owner of Oak Alley built a very grand house, way beyond his means, with several hundred thousand dollars of debt.  Where as Shadows was maintained after the Civil war, and newly freed slaves were hired for cash wages, the war ruined Oak Alley and its owners.  After the war it was abandoned by the family and sold for taxes.  It was unsuccessfully operated as a farm and as a cattle and hog ranch.  It fell into disrepair until the 1920s, when it was bought by the Stewarts, a family from Texas; they restored the house and added indoor bathrooms and a kitchen.  The Stewarts lived in the house for many years, as a vacation home and later as a retirement home.  Upon Mrs. Stewart’s death in 1972 the house was deeded to the Oak Alley Foundation, which restored the house (removing bathrooms and kitchen); it was then opened them to the public.

After the interior tour walked the grounds…

Slave quarters in the distance…

img_7692

Gardens…

img_7693img_7694

The Oak Alley…

img_1799img_7695img_7696

The rear of the house…

img_1800

The oak alley, looking away from the house… The Mississippi River is just beyond the levee.  In the olden days the levee was much lower and the river could be seen from the uppers verandas of the house…

img_1807

The oak alley extended from the front and the rear of the house… At the rear are the slave quarters…

img_1818img_1819img_7708

These are all double cabins, exactly as we saw at the Rural Life Museum.  They are reproductions.  The exhibits tell of the lives of the slaves, with very little sugar coating or white washing.  One cabin was filled with various shackles and other restraint devices…

The was even a slave chicken coup…

img_1820

A few interesting details…

The front door:

img_1804

The columns (as is the house) are solid brick, covered with plaster.  Sometimes historical accuracy gives way to modern technology…

img_1805

This is an appropriate time to mention that these houses were made to look like Greek temples, which were built of stone.  Of course, the Greek temples were copies of Egyptian temples, which were built of wood…  So here we see plaster mimicking stone mimicking wood…

Most rooms have French doors:

img_1809

Some rooms have windows to match the French doors…

img_1810

Typical tourist on the veranda…

img_7700

And so we moved on…

img_1821

Next stop is Evergreen…

img_1831

Evergreen was originally a simple one story three room house in the Creole style, raised up about six feet off the ground to ward against flooding.  It was built in the 1790s.

img_1827

In the 1830s the house was raised up so that three ground floor rooms could be added, and these stairs were added to give access to the main living quarters on the second floor.  In this way this house is very similar to Shadows.  Eventually the rear verandas were enclosed and additional rooms were added on the sides.

The entry door:

img_1834

Again, plaster and brick mimicking wood…

img_1835

The rear verandas were enclosed and exterior stairs became interior stairs.

img_1838

Gardens to the rear…

img_7717

The rear of the house…

img_1841

The kitchen in one of the dependencies…

img_7721

There are two VERY long oak alley’s here – one planted in the 1780s and one planted in the 1940s.  They are much longer than the alley at Oak Alley, but they are not centered on the Big House.

The interesting thing here is that these trees conceal the slave quarters…

img_1844img_1848img_1849

These are the original slave quarters; after the war they were occupied by former slaves and hired workers until the 1940s…

img_1851img_7724

Again, after the war the house was sold for taxes, and subsequently it was unsuccessfully operated as a farm.  Eventually the bank foreclosed and the Big House was boarded up.  However, the bank never noticed that more than 100 people were living on the property, both in the former slave quarters and in the various sharecropper houses further to the rear.  The people on the property let the house stay boarded up, but some of the former owners moved back in.  They let the grass grow un-attended and the place appeared to be abandoned.  But the people continued to farm the land and live in the many buildings.  In the mid 1930s the bank sold the property to a woman who had no idea that all these people were living here, but eventually they made a go of the farm.  This family still owns the property and it is still a working farm (although no one lives in the slave quarters, or the big house…).

This tour was less about the house and dependencies and the grounds than it was about pushing the agenda of the owners.  What we heard was that slavery was wonderful, slave owners were wonderful, slaves were happy and well taken care of, no slave-owner would ever mistreat a slave because it would hurt his investment and profits, and the slaves knew they would have to work somewhere, somehow, so they might as well be happy working as slaves.

Poppycock…

We moved on.  We crossed the Mississippi again:

img_7725img_7726img_7729

Our third Big House today is called Destrehan.

img_1856

Destrehan was also one of the oldest Big Houses, built in the late 1780s.  Originally it was a one story house build up above the ground similar to Evergreen, but after the river levees were raised they enclosed the ground level and enclosed the rear verandas.  During the Civil war the owner, who was a French citizen, abandoned the house and sailed for France to try to become the French ambassador to the Confederacy.  Obviously, that didn’t work out.  Federal troops took over the house in about 1863.  After the war they turned the house and grounds into a settlement house for freed slaves who had nowhere else to go.  The owner, upon returning from France, convinced the Feds that he had always been loyal to the North, so they gave him his plantation back.  The family continued to live in the house until 1916 or so, when the plantation was sold to an oil company.  An oil refinery was built and the house was used for offices and as a residence for the manager.  In the early 1960s the oil company torn down the refinery and abandoned the property.  The house was looted and ransacked by vagrants and squatters, and fell greatly into disrepair.  Finally a restoration society was formed and the house was restored.

This is the “warming Room, where the food was brought from the kitchen, plated, then delivered to the butler’s pantry before being delivered to the dining room.  I had never seen this arrangement before…

img_1860

When the rear verandas were enclosed they used this Egyptian motif for the door trim.  Note the tapered jamb casings…

img_1861

The house originally had simple wood columns with corbels at the top.  Later, brick columns were built around the wood columns and a fascia was built to give the house its Greek revival facade.  But on the veranda you can still see the wood columns and their corbels… The wood columns still support the house today…

img_1863img_1862

The slave quarters are all reproductions, and they were originally not in this location directly behind the house…

img_1857img_1858img_1859

I’ll save you from the more repetitive photos… after a while, all interior photos look alike…

The day was getting late.  We returned to the truck and the Villa and drove into New Orleans – the French Quarter…

img_7732

We parked the Villa in a parking lot at the Visitors Center and walked around a bit.  I think if the French ever saw New Orleans they would roll over in their graves… But some of the street scenes were interesting.

img_1866img_1868img_1869

img_1873

This streetcar was NOT named Desire…  These RR tracks run right along the waterfront.  Most enlightened cities today have removed RR tracks from their tourist oriented waterfronts…

img_1870

The Mississippi was still mighty…

img_7733

The massive basilica facing Jackson Park:  We’ll get a better picture tomorrow…

img_1872

We returned to the Villa, changed into our dress-up clothes, and walked to dinner at Meauxbar Bistro.

img_1968

I wish we had a place like this in Redlands.  Or any where in the IE, for that matter… Cozy neighborhood place, small bar, very French, but very contemporary menu and recipes…

img_1877img_1879

We each had two courses, which is more than either of us can comfortably eat, especially with a fine wine (Gigondas…)

Lynda ordered Pom Frites and Aioli, and their house special French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich, of which she could only eat one of the four pieces…

img_1880

I opted for two simple dishes – Escargot and Beef Tartare.  Both were fabulous and, since they were small appetizer courses, I could actually finish them…

We walked back to the parking lot, snuck into the Villa, and had a wonderful night’s sleep…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-10 – Airstream Cajun Country Caravan – Carencro and Lafayette, LA

Today was our last day of caravan activities… All we did was eat…

We began with breakfast in the meeting room, served by fellow caravaners.  Our local Airstream club always serves hearty breakfasts, which I always enjoy.  Eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls, casseroles, corned beef hash, yogurt, cereals, etc.  This was not one of those breakfasts…

img_1783

There were tiny silver dollar size blueberry pancakes.  Nice start.  Next we had what were reported to be beignets, but they were nothing like the beignets we’re familiar with.  As usual, they were covered with powdered sugar… But these were not puffy little balls – they were more like flat pancakes.  Maybe a regional thing…

Then… crawfish ettouffe, served over grits (a semi-edible combination of cornmeal and fiberglass…).  And ice cream on top.  I’m sorry.  Maybe the others enjoy food like this, but it is not part of my culture…

img_1784

But it’s always fun hanging out with the group for a meal, even if we didn’t eat much…

img_1785img_1786

After breakfast we walked around the park again…

Adjacent to the campground there is a house with a motorhome in a lovely carport…

I’m sure the motorhome cost way more than the house…

img_1787img_1789img_1791

We prepared the Villa for travel.  Cleaned up, hitched up, slide-in, tanks emptied and filled.  Tonight is the final banquet, a long-standing tradition of these caravans.  Of course, in the not too distance past these were formal affairs, with dinner jackets and long formal dresses.  Thankfully, this is a thing of the past…

We gathered at an old Lafayette institution – Don’s Seafood and Steak house… We started with happy hour…

img_1792img_1793

Then dinner and pronouncements…

img_1794

We were joined for the evening by a fellow Airstreamer, and a local Cajun himself.  Beaudreau is a common term for any Cajun, but this just happens to be his name. (Sorry – no picture)  He was the originator of this caravan and he lead it for many years.  He also told a few jokes about people named Beaudreau and Thibodeau… Ask me later if I remember them…

img_1795img_1796

We were entertained by our own caravaners who had brought their instruments along…

img_1797

We bid our farewells to our new friends, some of which we will see again in two weeks in Kentucky…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-09 – Airstream Cajun Country Caravan – Carencro and Lafayette, LA

We began our day again with a nice walk around the perimeter of the campground… Yesterday I posted this field of colored weeds.  Today the horses were out standing in their field…

img_1698

The swamp is looking as swampy as ever…

img_1699

Today we have our last official caravan outing.  We carpooled out to central Lafayette to the Vermilionville Historic Center.

img_7645img_7646

This is the Vermilion River or Bayou.  The river has a reddish hue.  The town was originally named Vermilionville after the river; in the early 19th century the Catholic Church created a new parish in this area called Lafayette, so they renamed the town… This location is not the original city center – the Cathedral we saw  yesterday was at the original city center.  This land was originally one of the many plantations surrounding the city, and the buildings we saw were either moved here or they are re-creations of typical buildings of the era.  This place is very much like the Rural Life Museum that we saw in the first days of the caravan, so I will try not to repeat information here…

We spent about two hours walking the various buildings.  Again, the guide was really not interesting to me, mostly talking about the families, weaving, crocheting, and nonsense like that.  I wanted to know more about the architecture and construction techniques I was seeing, but she was clueless…

But the buildings are interesting in their own unique way…

This is a large Acadian plantation or ranch home from the early 1800s .  It was very substantial, obviously owned by a prosperous land owner.

img_1705

It did have an interior staircase…

img_1708

I immediately noticed the shutters.  Some are hinged like doors, and some are hinged at the top.  I asked if this was just a personal preference or was there a functional reason to use one or the other?  The guide was clueless – I don’t think she understood the question, maybe she never noticed that they were different, or maybe she didn’t know what shutters were… All the houses had different configurations:

img_1702img_1701img_1711img_1715

img_1770

As we walked amongst the houses several opinions and ideas were expressed, but as soon as we thought we had a good theory going the next house proved us wrong… I guess that just did whatever they wanted…

This next house is an urban house, built in central Lafayette in the 1880s, post-Civil War.  What was neat about this was that the original house is in tact, but they were also showing the additions, made in the 1920s, of a indoor kitchen and bathroom…

img_1720

Another interior stair…

img_1725

1920s bathroom:

(I have the same bathtub in my 1905 house…)

img_1728

The kitchen:

img_1727

We strolled near the swamp.  Wait!  Is that a… an alligator!

img_7663img_7659img_7657

He seemed harmless enough.  Alligators are not naturally aggressive – he slinked away into the lake as we walked nearer.  (Crocodiles ARE very aggressive…!)

This is the church and the pastor’s house…

img_1730img_1733img_7654

This next house has an interesting floor plan, and it helps to explain some other features of these various houses we have seen on the caravan…

Note the layout here in this exhibit:

img_1739

The center front room is the “great Room” for living, dining, and entertaining.  To the right is a bedroom for the younger children; to the left is the room for the parents and infants.  Behind the parents’ bedroom is a bedroom with no door except into the parents’ room; this was for the older daughters.  Behind the children’s room is a bedroom with no door except a door directly onto the rear porch.  This was for the older boys.  All older boys had jobs, either on the plantation or ranch, or as an apprentice at a local tradesman’s place.  The boys slept here, but they often had their own schedules that might have been different than the family’s; also, they may have taken meals away from home.  Thus they needed their own entrance so that their comings and goings did not disturb the family…

Door to the older girls’ bedroom directly from the parents’ bedroom…

img_1742

Door to the older boys’ bedroom directly on the rear porch…

img_1744

This concept also explains why these exterior stairs that we have been seeing also made sense – the older boys slept upstairs, but they had their own entrance…

img_1737

img_1778img_1768

One mystery solved, another mystery still unsolved…

At the Rural Life Museum I had asked about these weird ridge shingles.  I asked here again, to no avail… Some houses have them, some don’t; they face all directions, so prevailing winds wouldn’t determine anything.  There was no consistency between Cajun, Creole, French, or Spanish influences…  I guess we’ll never know…

img_1756img_1757img_1758img_1759

This is the school house from the 1920s.  Note the Spanish Moss in the trees:

Also note:  It is not Spanish, nor is it Moss.  It is an air plant an (epiphyte), which takes its nutrition from the air.  It is not a parasite, and it does not harm the tree… Its proper name is tillandsia usneoides.  It is a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family, and most bromeliads, including Spanish moss, are epiphytes.  So there you have it…

img_1763

In 1916 Louisiana banned the speaking of French in the public schools.  Here we see on the blackboard that some student had to “write lines”.  They read, “I will not speak French”.

img_7664

img_1764

Not that I’m dating myself, but the two-room schoolhouse I attended in my early years had desks exactly like this…

img_1765

Some other utilitarian buildings:  The boat house:

img_1772

The trapper’s cabin:

img_1773img_1774img_1775

After over two hours of wandering amongst these great old buildings we enjoyed lunch in the museum’s cafe – Red Beans and Rice, Chicken Gumbo, and Shrimp Po-Boys.  Very good!

We returned to the truck, and Lynda found several Egrets nearby…

img_7672img_7673

We turned to the Villa.

That evening Lynda joined into the fun of Left-Right-Center…

img_1780img_1782

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-08 – Airstream Cajun Country Caravan – Carencro and Lafayette, LA

Our fast-paced schedule of activities is slowing.  As we near the end of the caravan people are using their spare time to prepare for trips home or to other destinations.  Today we didn’t leave the campground until 11:30 am!

We had a chance to walk the neighborhood around the campground…

Lovely colored weeds in this field:

img_1666

More swamp – a continuation of the swamp we saw here yesterday…

img_1667

At the appointed hour, we traveled into the heart of Lafayette today, to Johnson’s Boucaniere.

img_1673

While I don’t know how to pronounce “boucaniere”, it is a smoke-house.  They sell smoked meats and sausages, including Boudin, a Louisiana specialty.  They were closed.

img_1671

But they were prepared to serve us lunch.  We had our choice of Po-Boy sandwiches: pork, brisket, or chicken.  Also included was cole slaw and bread pudding for dessert… We sat on their spacious deck, covered, of course, in case of rain.

img_1670img_1672

The old building has been nicely remodeled, with the new deck and metal siding.  Interestingly, next door is an architect’s home and office that uses many of the same materials and details…

img_1674

Lunch was quite good.  But not what I had been lead to believe a Po-Boy was.  These were just meat sandwiches.  No seafood, no lettuce/mayo/tomato.  Very good meat, for sure, but nothing special otherwise…

Before our scheduled tour of the adjacent Cathedral, we took a walk through the old neighborhood… This old house stood out as being quite remarkable…

img_1677img_1678img_1679

Other scenes in the neighborhood…

img_1680

We arrived at the Cathedral – St. John the Evangelist…

img_1683

Of course, it has its own cemetery, dating back to the early 19th century…

img_1682

While the exterior is a bit bizarre, with no discernible architectural style, the interiors were quite nice…

img_1684img_1685img_1686img_1687img_1688

The tour guide told about the history of the church.  This is the third church on this site, built in 1916, and it was extensively remodeled in the mid 1980s.  The organ was added in the 1980s remodel.  The organist was there to explain the many functions of the organ and he played a bit for our enjoyment.

Outside the church is the Cathedral Oak…

img_1691img_7639img_7638img_1692img_1693

The Cathedral Oak is almost 500 years old, and it is one of the largest is the US; the trunk is over 9′ in diameter, with a circumference of almost 29′.

And then it started to rain.  We were soaked while running back to the car.  We returned to the Villa, walked a bit after the rain stopped, and Happy Hours ensued.

Some of the Airstreamers gathered in the meeting room for a game of Left-Right-Center… Never heard of it?  Neither had I…

img_7641

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑