Saturday, March 26, 2011

An interesting walk on Duluth's Lakewalk

Icy Light Post

Today, despite the cold and wind, Noelle and I headed out with Parker for a walk on the Lakewalk. Noelle had been down there yesterday and saw the results of the wind storm that Duluth experienced earlier in the week: ice coating some of the benches, light posts, and other structures in Canal Park. I wanted to check the icy landscape out, and so we headed to the Rose Garden where we parked to start our walk.

The wind was brisk, but as we headed towards Canal Park it was at our backs. Once we got past the Fitger's complex I could see the ice coated trees off in the distance. As we got closer the scene was quite fantastic. We found benches coated in ice.
Icy Bench

Fences covered in ice.
Icy Fence

Frosted trees.
Icy Tree

Eric even took a chilly rest on one of the benches.
Eric on Icy Bench

As we approached Canal Park we were treated not only to the frozen landscape, but to the view of a ship entering the canal and passing under the lift bridge.
Mesabi Miner Approaches the Aerial Lift Bridge

It was the Mesabi Miner and it was a our first ship viewing of the 2011-2012 season.
Noelle and the Mesabi Miner

After watching the ship pass under the bridge we turned into the wind and headed back to the car. 
Wave Remnants

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Heading North

driving Noelle

Today was a day of mostly driving. We made it from near New Madrid, Missouri to Galesville, Wisconsin. We did however, find a few minutes to stop in Springfield, Illinois to visit Lincoln's Tomb and pay our respects.
Lincoln's Tomb

Friday, March 18, 2011

Natchez, Mississipi and the Natchez Trace


Spent a warm night in the tent and was lucky to find that there was not much dew or condensation last night and so the tent stayed dry. We packed up camp and headed south, back to Natchez where we got breakfast at Natchez Coffee Company before heading over to Melrose, part of Natchez NHP. The tour of Melrose was interesting and the grounds surrounding the house were worth exploring as well. From Melrose, we headed to downtown to check out the other unit of the NHP, the William Johnson House.

After touring the Johnson House we got a sandwich at Subway for a picnic lunch on the Natchez Trace. We hit milepost 0 shortly after noon and started to make our way north. We stopped at several points along the way, including an old cemetery,
Natchez Trace Cemetery

Emerald Mound: the second largest burial mound in the US (second to Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois which we visited at the end of our Yellowstone wedding roadtrip),
Noelle at Emerald Mound

the Sunken Trace: a deeply eroded section of the old Natchez Trace,
sunken trace

Mount Locust an old stand or inn on the old trace,
locust stand

and the old town site of  Rocky Springs.  

Rocky Springs was interesting in that a bustling town in the 1800s is now home to zero inhabitants. The only structure that remains is the old Rocky Springs Church
Rocky Springs Church

with its interesting graveyard.
Rocky Springs Cemetery

Other remains include a safe from one of the towns many former businesses.

Perhaps the best part of the day however, was enjoying the beautiful warm weather and flowers in bloom.
spanish moss hair


In just a day this warm weather will be thing of the past. it will be another two months before it gets this warm in Duluth.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chalmette Unit of Jean Lafitte and the Abita Brewery

Chalmette Memorial

Packed up our campsite at Bayou Segnette State Park and headed through New Orleans to the Chalmette unit of Jean Lafitte, site of the Battle of New Orleans. It is a pretty small unit but we enjoyed exploring it. We started at the visitor center where we learned more about the battle before heading out on the auto tour road.
Chalmette View

We actually walked to the first stop on the tour road and then walked over to the Malus-Beauregard House.
Chalmette House

Samuel Potts Monument

Eventually we made our way to Chalmette National Cemetery
Chalmette National Cemetery

and shortly after headed out of the park. We drove north to Abita Springs, passing over a section of Lake Ponchartrain. The town of Abita Springs was quite pleasant with a fountain commemorating the town's namesake springs.
Abita Springs

Right near the fountain is the Abita Brew Pub where we ate lunch and I drank a delicious Black IPA. From the brew pub we headed to the brewery where we toured the facility and drank a few more beers on the house.
Abita taps

Abita brewery

After the tour and beer a we headed northwest to Natchez, Mississippi to Natchez State Park. We stopped at a snowball stand just off of Interstate-55. Delicious!
Noelle & a Mississippi Snowball

We enjoyed you Louisiana and vow to return someday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Barataria Preserve and New Orleans

Woke up, ate breakfast and headed down to the Barataria Preserve, a unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. We were excited to see some of the bayou plants and animals,

dark anole

especially the possibility of seeing an alligator. We started at the visitor center where we grabbed a hiking map and stamped our passport books. We than hit the trail, or in this case, boardwalk.

Boardwalk Trail

There were a lot of interesting things to see right away. We checked out a cypress swamp, some dwarf palmettos,

Noelle and palmettos

spanish moss and even saw a few animals, including lots of bright green tree frogs

Sunning Tree Frog

and anoles.


Eventually we made our way to a paved trail and saw some more tree frogs

tree frog

and eventually some alligators!


We also saw a few birds that we were able to identify including a white ibis. We heard lots of other birds which we never saw and couldn't identify.

Eric crosses bayou

We crossed a canal on a footbridge and stopped to eat a snack at the end of the trail before retracing our steps. It was a great hike and we both agreed that we would love to return to explore by kayak or canoe.

From Barataria, we headed into New Orleans. I forgot to get the directions to the Algiers Ferry until we had already passed the exit and so we had to park in town which was expensive. We walked around the French Quarter quite a bit. The residential areas were relatively quiet and interesting, but neither of us particularly cared for Bourbon Street. It was dirty, loud, and expensive. We stopped in one bar to get a beer and it cost $10.50 for a pint of domestic beer in a plastic cup.

Eric and 10 dollar beer

What a rip off!

Jackson Square

The highlight of the French Quarter was the beautiful Jackson Square. We also enjoyed the Jean Lafitte Visitor Center. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, however, did not offer much. It seems it's current location is only temporary though, until it moves into a new visitor center in Louis Armstrong Park. We had planned on going into the St. Louis Cemetery #1, where the burials are above ground due to the low elevation of New Orleans, but it closed at 2 pm, about an hour and a half before we arrived.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Driskill Mountain: Louisiana's Highpoint and Cane River Creole NHP

Driskill Mountain Trail

Woke up to a chilly morning and drove out of the Parish Park and down to the Driskill Mountain trailhead. It was a pleasant, easy walk to the highpoint of Louisiana, Eric's 36th state highpoint.

Eric with flag at LA HP

Noelle Driskell summit

From the highpoint we drove around, getting a little bit lost as we tried to make our way to Natchitoches and the two units of Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

Eventually we made it to the beautiful Oakland Plantation. The grounds were very interesting, and we explored the caretakers house

Oakland Caretakers House

and slave quarters

Oakland Slave Quarters

before going on a guided tour of the main house.

Oakland Plantation

From Oakland Plantation we headed south to Magnolia Plantation. While the main house at Magnolia is not part of the park, we were still able to explore the other buildings associated with the plantation including the slave hospital

Magnolia Slave hospital

and the very spartan slave quarters.

Magnolia Slave Quarters

The slave quarters were so small it was difficult to imagine what life must have been like for the enslaved and their families living in such tight, cramped quarters.

After touring the Magnolia grounds it was a long drive southeast to the outskirts of New Orleans and Bayou Segnette State Park where we are camped for the night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vicksburg, Mississippi and Poverty Point

Woke up refreshed after a quiet night of sleep in our motel room. We got some breakfast and then headed over to Vicksburg National Military Park. We checked out the exhibits in the Visitors Center and stamped our passport books before heading out on the auto road to tour the park.
Vicksburg Arch

First we passed under the Memorial Arch and then followed the Union line to some of the different memorials and interpretive sites, the most impressive of which was the Illinois Monument.
Illinois Memorial

Eventually we made it to the highlight of the park, the USS Cairo, a union ironclad gunboat that was sunk in the Yazoo River on December 12, 1862 and recovered in in the 1960s.besides the ship itself, there is an interesting museum that displays some of the artifacts recovered from the wreckage.
USS Cairo

From the Cairo we followed the Confederate line back to the visitor center with a few stops at interesting monuments.
Noelle at river overlook

Jefferson Davis Statue

It started to rain a bit as we drove, and by the time we returned to the visitor center it was pouring rain. We ate a picnic lunch in the car before heading west into Louisiana for the first time in our lives.

Our destination was the Poverty Point State Historic Site which preserves one of the oldest known mound complexes in the United States. We drove the tour road there and hiked up to the top of the tallest mound, a bird-shaped effigy.
Noelle at Poverty Point

From the State historic Site we headed southwest to Lincoln Parish Park to camp fro the night. Luckily the rain stopped but it's surprisingly cold out there tonight.