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2019-06-02 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs and Bentonville, AR

We attended Sunday Services at Thorncrown Chapel.  Worshiping in such a beautiful place is a very special experience…

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An interesting point was that the preacher was the son of the founder and of the chapel… And there was some good old hymn singing going on…

A mystery occurred behind the blue pilaster on the right.  The minister suddenly appeared from behind the pilaster, then he went back again during some of the singing.  Is he just sitting on a chair back there, and had he been there since before we arrived?  Or is there a hidden back door there that he can slip in  and out of?  Or is there a stair to a basement with an exterior entrance?  Any ideas?

After the service we drove to Bentonville; along the way we found, quite by accident, Hoss’s RV Repair.  The place was littered with old Airstreams (23), in various stages of repair and restoration…

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We traveled on…

Bentonville is home of Sam Walton and his family.  And his family’s store:

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The town Square is very nice…

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We had brunch at a very nice modern diner…

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We were very impressed with the center of this town of 70,000 people.  (In 1960 when the first WalMart was built the town had about 3,000 people…)

We wondered, as we looked around at these downtown buildings, how much of this was built, rebuilt, and/or owned by WalMart?  Did the first WalMart, built outside of town on the highway, kill the town?  Did WalMart buy up the deserted buildings and create this Disneyesque town square?  I don’t know…

(By the way, the original Walton’s 5 and dime is just a facade for the WalMart Museum.  There is a WalMart Neighborhood Market just a block away…)

In any case, the reason we were here was to see Crystal Bridges, the Museum of American Art built by the Walton Family Foundation… It is about 3/4 mile from the heart of town…

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The museum was designed by Moshe Safdie, world famous architect…

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The museum sits atop a small creek that has been dammed to form several ponds at several levels.  The weirs (dams) are under the buildings, so the surfaces of the ponds are kept mirror-still…

The vaulted roofs are supported by suspension cables.  Remarkable!

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But the REAL reason we are here is to see a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The Bachman-Wilson House was originally built in New Jersey in the mid 1950s.  Over the years it was lived in by a variety of families.  In 1980 it was restored; unfortunately, the adjacent river took up a bad habit of overflowing its banks on a regular basis.  By 2004 the owners appealed to the Walton family and convinced them that there is no greater American Art than a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The house was disassembled and moved here, and it was reassembled on a site adjacent to the museum…

It is a classic Usonian, which typically turns a blank face to the street for privacy.  FLlW also typically hides the front door…

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There’s the door…

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(Sorry, no interior photos…)

The house bears remarkable similarities to the Spring house in Tallahassee and the Rosenbaum house in Florence, AL.  The board and batten siding, the views out to the forest, the horizontal lines, the cantilevered carports, and the stenciled cut-outs applied to the glass…

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The house has been beautifully restored and preserved… It is, indeed, a piece of American Art…!

But we move on!

In the little town of Bella Vista, in the far northwest corner on Arkansas, within a mile or two of the Missouri and Oklahoma borders, is another Fay Jones chapel…

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In contrast to Thorncrown Chapel, this chapel is built of steel.  Again, the details are beautiful…

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Built to honor Mildred Borum Cooper, wife of John A. Cooper, Sr., founder of Cooper Communities, Inc, the Chapel is a fitting memorial.  Besides being a devoted wife, mother, and member of the community, Mrs. Cooper had a deep spirituality and a love for nature.  Her family commissioned the Chapel in her honor to celebrate her life and her dedication to God and his creations.

We returned to Eureka Springs and enjoyed a dinner in a fine French bistro: Le Stick Nouveau:

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We enjoyed five courses of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres… and a bottle of fine Pinot Noir from Oregon…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-09 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Country and Country Music – Day #15

We visited three local points of interest today… We started at Mountain Home Place…

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This is a working farm; all the buildings here were moved onto this property from adjacent land that was taken when the Paintsville Lake State Park lake was built.  The buildings date from 1850 to 1900.

Of course, we start in the Gift Shoppe… They sell all hand-made products produced by local craftsmen…

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The old men caravaners enjoyed sitting on the front porch…

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We strolled the property and saw the vintage buildings; we also enjoyed their animals…

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I enjoyed what appeared to be really tentative foundations…

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We saw the local church…

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And the local one-room school house, in use until 1958…

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A typical cabin…

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Interesting ladder to the attic lofts…

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Then we moved on to lunch in Paintsville…

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I enjoyed a local delicacy… Fried Bologna Sammich…

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The next local landmark we toured was the Mayo United Methodist Church; the church was donated in 1904 by Mr. Mayo, who made his fortune in coal mining.  (We are only about 50 miles from the West Virginia border.)

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The stained glass windows are remarkable…

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The organ was relatively small (1,000 pipes, 18 stops, two manuals), but high quality, and still in good condition; it still uses the original mechanical connections to operate the pipes.  The manual pumps were replaced by electric fan chambers in 1914 when electricity arrived at the church…

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Our own caravaner played for us, and we returned the favor by singing a few hymns…

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Next door was Mr. Mayo’s house… The Mayos only lived here for a few years; Mr. Mayo died suddenly, and Mrs. Mayo moved to Tennessee to be with her family.  The house (45 rooms) is now a Catholic School…

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And finally we visited the Highway 23 Museum…

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It was so-named because of the many country music stars who were born along Highway 23…

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The only country music stars I had known anything about were Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gail.  We also saw a video of an interview with Loretta Lynn about the making of the movie, “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”… We will visit her childhood home in nearby Butcher Hollow tomorrow, and re-watch the movie in a few days…

The museum is small, but it was enjoyed by those who followed country music… We returned to the Villa, and walked along the lake again…

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Happy Hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-05 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Cinco de Mayo! – Day #11

We had a busy day today, but everything was easy-going and enjoyable.  We began by driving 20 minutes into downtown Lexington;  we attended services at the 2nd Presbyterian Church…

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The 8:45 am service was very sparsely attended; maybe 60-70 people.  I trust the 11:00 am service would be better…  It was a very traditional service; it was a little odd that their hymns had familiar tunes, but totally different words.

We returned to the Villa, and then we walked over to the Horse Park.

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We saw horses.

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The big barn houses the draft horses – Clydesdales and similar hard working horses…

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The Big Barn is supposedly the largest horse barn in the USA…

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There was an interesting display showing the earliest and biggest horse farms and estates.  There was no mention that the horse farms, dating to the early 19th century, used slaves to work the horses.  In fact, all the early jockeys were slaves, and later, former slaves, until the Jim Crow laws and attitudes eliminated blacks from horse racing tracks altogether; this changed finally in the late 20th century…

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We watched a potion of the “Showcase of Breeds”, where we saw four different saddle horses on display…

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We walked through the “Hall of Champions”; this is where former winners are spending their twilight years living in the lap of luxury…

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And we walked back to the Villa…

We drove to the tiny town of Midway, so named because it was at the halfway point of the Ohio and Lexington Railroad; it was the first town in Kentucky founded by the railroad.  It was a delightful town, with railroad tracks running down the center of Main Street… Did I mention that it was laid out by the Railroad?

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This corner building used to house the local IOOF lodge – Oldfellows.  If I ever wanted to move to a small town I would find a building like this to convert to living quarters… What could be better than living in a place like this?

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The former train depot is now a bank…

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We had lunch at the Brown Barrel.  Good burgers (a blend of ground brisket, short rib, and chuck – just like I use at home…), and The Best French Fries Ever!

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The building is a former distillery, but I suspect the roof had caved in, because this roof  structure looks pretty new and pristine to me…

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After lunch we drove to do another bourbon tasting.  We are in the heart of the Bluegrass country – green pastures and horse barns as far as you can see…

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We arrived at our destination:

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Woodford Reserve is a very pretty place!  The distillery was built in 1812, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  But Woodford Reserve was founded here in 1996…

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They have a nice deck area where you can enjoy a cocktail or a light lunch…

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We started the tour overlooking the 1812 stone buildings…

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You know the song, “Roll Out the Barrel”?  This is where the barrels are rolled out from the distillery to the Barrel House…

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The traditional cypress wood fermenting tanks…

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The pot stills…

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Woodford Reserve is unique in that they use ONLY pot stills; there are no column stills here.  The fermented mash is distilled three times to get the whiskey to about 168 proof…

The barrel house…

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The tour guide talked about the historic stone barrel house… However, when questioned, he told us that it only holds 5,000 barrels.  They have five other modern barrel houses over the hill, which each contain over 50,000 barrels each…

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Another thing we heard for the first time is that they use steam heat in the barrel houses during cold winter months; they add heat, then turn it off; the result is that the temperature changes from high to low many times throughout the winter.  I was shocked!  This would kill any fine wine; wine needs a constant temperature to mature in the bottle.  But bourbon ages in wooden barrels, and the hot-cold cycle allows the wood to expand, sucking whiskey into the wood, then contract, pushing the whiskey back out of the wood.  This is what provides the flavor to bourbon, and it seems like they know what they are doing…

We tasted the Woodford Reserve and the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.  The regular WR was good, the WR Double Oaked was better.  The Double Oaked is aged in the regular way for 4-5-6 years, then the bourbon is poured into another new oak barrel that has been heavily toasted and charred; the bourbon is aged for another 9-12 months…

Driving back to the Villa we saw even more beautiful vista across the Bluegrass countryside.

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We enjoyed Happy Hours (6:00 – 9:00 pm) with another couple that we had not met at the various GAMs… And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-28 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Traveling from Bowling Green to Bardstown, KY; Jim Beam! – Day #4

Time to move on… The caravan moves to Bardstown, KY, the center of Bourbon production in Kentucky…

But first, we attended services at the Christ United Methodist Church in Bowling Green…

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(I didn’t take this photo – I stole it off the internet…)

It was a remarkable little church and the services was excellent – lots of singing by EVERYONE!  ABout 130 people by my estimate.  Old People, young people, everyone!  Olde time hymns, plus the Gloria Patri and the Doxology… It felt good to sing!

And then we moved on.

We hitched up the Villa and headed to Bardstown, KY.  We are staying at the White Acres RV park.

We set up easily and quickly, then we drove about 1/2 hour away to check out the Jim Beam Distillery.

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Unfortunately, tours were sold out for the day; we made a reservation for Tuesday.

We walked around a bit and learned something about the Beam family; here is the family tree of Master Distillers for the past 150 years of so…

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Booker Noe was not a direct descendant, but was a nephew of T. Jeremiah Beam; his son, Fred Noe is the current leader.  Jim Beam is now owned by Beam Suntory, which is owned by Fortune Brands, an Multi-national holding company that owns many brands of wine, beer, and spirits.

We did do a tasting of three premium versions of Jim Beam Bourbons…

Jim Beam Bonded – 100 Proof Bourbon:  Just OK

Jim Beam Black – Extra Aged Bourbon:  Not bad; nice and toasty, smooth

Jim Beam Double Oak – Aged in a second new oak barrel after 3-5 years in the first new oak barrel:  Pretty good.  Very smooth…

Jim Beam also makes Knob Creek, Bakers, Basil Hayden’s, and, of course, Bookers.  We will have a chance to taste these after our tour on Tuesday…

We returned to the campground and enjoyed a dinner prepared and organized by a team of fellow caravaners…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-21 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Easter Sunday and moving from Asheville, NC to Chattanooga, TN

We had a leisurely morning.  It was cold!  41 degrees!  We had a little hitching up to do; at about 9:30 we pulled out of the RV park and drove 5 miles into downtown Asheville.  We parked at the Visitor Center (it was closed), and walked towards the First Presbyterian Church.  It is Easter!

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By the time we were approaching the church we noted that we were over one hour early.  And we were cold!  So we stopped into Mayfel’s for brunch.  The Crab Cakes Benedict was great!

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Brunch over, we walked the 3 short blocks to church.  We were none too early.  This is not a “five minute church”.  We always worry when we attend a church as we are traveling that we are sitting in someone’s favorite seat!

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We didn’t take these photos while we were there – I stole them off the internet…

This was a lovely, VERY traditional Easter Service; organ, orchestra, choir, and the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus at the end.  We were invited to join the choir to sing!  (Not just us – everyone was invited…).  It was very nice…

We slipped out after the final singing and walked back to the Villa.  We pointed the truck west and we were off.  Quite a late start for us, but the weather was beautiful, and we had no reason to arrive at our destination (Chattanooga, TN) at any particular time…

The freeway out of Asheville; different than all the other southern states we have seen…

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It was great to see blue sky again!

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We pulled off the 40 Interstate to the 74.  No trucks!  It was a beautiful freeway for awhile…

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And then we entered the Nantahala Gorge… Two lane road, sharp turns, and a raging river!

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We stopped to take it all in…

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Eventually we reached Murphy, NC, where we stopped to do a little grocery shopping…

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Soon we were in Tennessee…

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The small roads continued, with views of rivers and lakes…

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We reached Chattanooga and the Raccoon Mountain RV Park at about 6:00…

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The park is in a canyon, with views of mountains all around…

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Time to affix the sticker for the new state!

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Happy hours and dinner ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-18 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Columbia, SC…

This morning we met the VanZanens at the zoo… And you know how much I love zoos!

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Just a reminder:  Flamingos have nothing to do with Airstreams!  There is no connection, no tradition, no reason to wear flamingo-emblazoned clothing, no reason to install flamingos around your Airstream!

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Feeding the giraffe!

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After the zoo we went to downtown Columbia…

First Presbyterian Church:

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The church is surrounded by  a cemetery, dating back to the early 19th century.  Woodrow Wilson’s parents are buried here, as is the wife and four children of a man who went back to Connecticut in 1855 because he was a northerner and was unhappy with the political climate in South Carolina.  There are also numerous political figures, ministers, and church families.  Very interesting!

We then walked to the capitol building; great story on the plaque about the construction and destruction… Note that one of the broken columns from the capitol was used as a confederate memorial in the Presbyterian church cemetery…

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Lynda and Maria with George Washington…

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Inside the main lobby, looking up at the rotunda…

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Legislative chambers of the SC House of Representatives… when we arrived into the lobby it was packed with men and women in suits; the House had just adjourned; the Senate was still in session…

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We exited through the main portico and continued walking through downtown…

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Soon lunch happened at the Blue Marlin; very nice!  It is located in the old train station…

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After enjoying the streets of downtown we drove a short ways to a river-walk; we walked about 1/2 mile down, then back up along the river…

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We reconvened at Brent’s house and enjoyed happy hours; more family time…

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We returned to the Villa; 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…

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The swamp is looking as swampy as ever…

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

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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.

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It did have an interior staircase…

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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:

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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…

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Another interior stair…

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1920s bathroom:

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

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The kitchen:

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

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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…

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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:

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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…

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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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”.

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

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Some other utilitarian buildings:  The boat house:

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The trapper’s cabin:

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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…

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We turned to the Villa.

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

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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:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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Other scenes in the neighborhood…

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

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

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

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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…

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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…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-04-04 – Airstream Cajun Country Caravan – Abbeville, LA – We almost meet the Mayor!

It thundered all night long, with a rare glimpse of lightning.  At 7:00 am it started raining in earnest.  It was a real downpour – not the sprinkles that we in California call rain.  The skies opened up and it dumped, with crashing thunder added for effect.  We were supposed to leave at 8:40 am to meet the Mayor of Abbeville and do a walking tour of the town, but this was postponed at about 8:15…

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At 9:45 all of the day’s activities were cancelled… While the campground was not in any danger of flooding, 2″-3″ of standing water makes walking about problematic.

At 11:15 another Airstreamer picked us up in their truck and we drove two miles into Abbeville, to a seafood restaurant called Shucks!  We had a great lunch with good Old Fashioneds, and tasty Louisiana delicacies.  I had oysters on the half shell (raw…) and Gator Bites – deep fried little morsels – way better than chicken… Lynda had crab cakes and fried shrimp, not being the adventurous type (at least when it comes to food…)

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By the time lunch was over the rain had stopped.  We returned to the Villa, then set out again to see what we could of the town of Abbeville…

They have a nice town square – there is a music festival here every Thursday night, with food, dancing, etc., but tonight it was cancelled due to the rain…

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There is a nice big Catholic Church…

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And, in general, it is a fairly nice place, despite there being no viable businesses here (other than attorney offices around the Parish (county) Courthouse…)

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We eventually found our way to Kelvin’s Piano Bar – in a store that sold Kelvinator appliances in the olden days…)

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We had some good drinks and a few bites.  A piano player entertained us for a few minutes.

We returned to the Villa and an enjoyable time was had by all…

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