Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw State Park is in Springfield, LA near Hammond. This is a great park with lots of elevated boardwalks and a great nature center. We stayed 3 days and 2 nights at site #37. The sites on the tent loop and RV loop are spacious and have trees in between each site for privacy. Here's what our space looked like:
This is just the tent pad. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and paved parking spot. The best part of our camp site was the cat that showed up! He was so nice and tame. I think he lives at the park. He loved the beef jerky we fed him. Here he is sitting in Dave's lap.
The cat stayed with us until we walked to the nature center. Tickfaw has a really nice nature center, it has a huge aquarium in the center and a big taxidermy display.
The nature center has a trail leading off the back porch that goes through the swamps. There hasn't been much rain so it wasn't very swampy. It was so cold Saturday morning and we didn't see any wildlife on the trails except for squirrels.
Another unique feature of Tickfaw is the huge bald cypress tree called the grandma tree. The sign says it was around in 1812! I couldn't get close enough to get a good picture so I took a picture of the sign. I originally wanted to walk up to the tree and stand next to it so you could get an idea of the size, but it was in standing water and I knew the mud would suck me down and I'd probably loose my shoes. I'll try again in summer.
I'm pretty sure the holes in this tree were caused by a woodpecker. This tree was right off a boardwalk on one of the trails. We saw a woodpecker at our camp site. They have a bright red head so they are easy to spot. He was high up in a tree so I couldn't get a picture of him.
This picture was taken on the last trail we walked on. The trail is called the river overlook/bottomland hardwood trail. The bridge stretches over the Tickfaw River. I thought it looked more like a bayou than a river. That's all for this blog post. If you want to see pictures and videos, follow me on Instagram. My username is msexton1227. If you're reading this on a laptop the link will be in the top right corner. Until next time!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

State Capitol

David and I haven't been to the state capitol in years, so we decided to tour the capitol and surrounding grounds today. Its free to tour the capitol and the building is very pretty inside. I tried to take pictures inside, but I didn't have enough light and most of them didn't turn out well. Here's some of the good ones.
This is a picture of the Memorial Hall. This hall is the first area you see after you walk through the front door. I would describe this hall as opulent. The first thing you notice is all the marble, its everywhere! When you look up, you see two huge bronze chandeliers hanging from the tall ceiling. They each weight two tons. I can't imagine the ceiling framework needed to support them.
The doors were my favorite. Each section depicted a scene in Louisiana history. Each door had three to four sections like this. I think the doors were made of bronze, but I'm not sure. There were two sets of doors, one leading to the House of Representatives chambers and the other the Senate chambers. The chambers are on the far left and right of the Memorial Hall.
This is an example of the border around the ceiling. I think it was painted, but I'm not sure. It was very detailed and they had Spain and France represented on the ceiling too.
The view from the observation deck. It is on the 27th floor and is 350 feet high. I didn't like it up there, it was too high. David didn't mind at all, he was leaning over the railing looking at the people below. The center of the garden is Huey Long's grave. He was the governor in the 1930's and was assassinated at the capitol in 1935. Huey Long commissioned the present day capitol building to be built in the 1930's.
I think every one that visits the capitol takes a picture like this. The steps leading up to the entrance have each state's name and the year they were admitted to the Union.
At 450 feet, the capitol building is the tallest state capitol in the U.S. It was built in 14 months and completed in March 1932.
After we walked around the capitol, we walked a short distance to Arsenal Park. Here is a replica of the Liberty Bell cast in France in 1950. France gave every state a bell like this with the stipulation that it remain on the capitol grounds.
Near the bell is a bust of George Washington. It commemorates his 275th birthday on February 27, 2007.
This is the Old Arsenal Museum on the state capitol grounds. I think this was our favorite part, we both love history. This building was designed to store gunpowder, its walls are four and a half feet thick. Gunpowder needs to be kept dry, so underneath the arsenal the troops stored barrels of charcoal. The charcoal soaked up any moisture that snuck in. It was occupied by the Army from 1810-1885. The museum is inside the old arsenal and its free admission. They have hundreds of replica gunpowder barrels inside.
Here's a section of the Arsenal museum. There are several old pictures from the civil war. They also have cannon balls and two guns on display.
Next to the Arsenal is an Indian mound with two cannons on top of the mound. Dave loves cannons.
This is the Pentagon Barracks viewed from the observation deck of the capitol. You can't go inside the buildings now because they are used as apartments for state legislators. It was built in 1819-22 to house U.S. troops. We walked around the buildings and found this really old sign.
It says: On this site stood the Spanish fort captured by the forces of the Republic of West Florida September 23, 1810. We couldn't read what it said below that. I wish better care had been taken of this old marker.
Did you know that on April 10, 1912 the first U.S. air mail plane flew between New Orleans and Baton Rouge? I didn't either. We found this sign across the street from the Pentagon Barracks. That's all the pictures I have for y'all. If you like history, definitely visit the state capitol.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

Today we toured the gardens and home of Joseph Jefferson. This was his winter home and it was built in 1870. Jefferson was an actor best known for playing Rip Van Winkle. The gardens are in New Iberia, LA and it costs $10 to tour the gardens and home.
One of the famous visitors to the home was President Grover Cleveland. He took naps under one of the oak trees and it was subsequently named The Cleveland Oak. This is a partial picture of the oak, it was so big I couldn't get all of it.
My favorite part of the gardens was seeing all the peacocks! They were tame and would let you walk right up to them.
When we drove up to the entrance, there were peacocks walking on the roof of the gift shop, in the courtyard, and on the garden paths.
There were several Asian inspired statues found throughout the garden.
The gardens had several types of bamboo. They were very tall and arched over the paths.
Rip Van Winkle Gardens are covered with huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss. Its rumored that the pirate Jean Lafitte buried treasure under one of the oaks.
This picture is so spooky! In 1980 an oil rig accidently drilled into a salt mine causing all the water from Lake Peigneur to form a whirlpool and drain out. The suction from the draining water caused 70 acres of land, barges, and oil rigs to be sucked in the lake. The lake sucked in a smaller home built on the lake, now all that's left is the chimney and it was attached to a second story fireplace. If you want to read more about the drilling disaster click HERE.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

We spent the day in Saint Martinville, LA at Lake Fausse State Park. This park is located in south Louisiana in the Atchafalaya Basin (the swamps) and we saw plenty of wildlife...6 alligators, 5 snakes, 2 owls, lots of lizards and too many turtles to count. There were 3 trails to choose from and we choose Trail C, the longest one at 3 miles. All the pictures were taken while on that trail.
This picture is a good representation of what Louisiana swamps look like. The trees here are Bald Cypress (LA state tree) and the stumps sticking out of the water are the cypress knees. The knees help stabilize the tree in the swamp.
We spotted these two alligators shortly after we started hiking. They probably weren't over 3-4 feet so they were just baby alligators. Its common to see alligators laying on fallen trees that are slightly out the water. They are cold blooded, so if its a sunny day you are more likely to see them sunning themselves on logs. If something scares them they can easily slip back in the water.
I believe this is a water snake. He was enjoying the sun and was near the alligators.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that we probably saw 20 turtles! Sometimes we would see 5-6 of them lined up on logs. They are shy and plopped in the water with a splash when we walked by.
This alligator was swimming by himself in the bayou. They use their long powerful tails to propel them through the water.
It was such a pretty day today! The trees are leafing out and everything is turning green. Here is a section of the trail we hiked.
This is an American Robin. He was looking for worms in the fallen leaves.
I tried to get a better picture of this bright yellow Prothonotary Warbler but he was too quick. He kept flying from branch to branch. He was in a big bush with several other birds. We saw a male and female cardinal and some sparrows all in the same bush tweeting at each other. They were making such racket that I thought maybe a snake was in one of the nests, but I didn't see anything.
I think this snake is a ribbon snake. He was so small, about the diameter of a pencil. We saw 3 snakes like this spread out over our hike. He looks like he is sticking out his tongue at me.
Part of the trail follows a bayou that is popular for fishing. We saw several people in bass boats while we walked by. The trail is on a small bluff overlooking the bayou and I was always looking down at the water's edge trying to see any snakes or alligators.
Another water snake. I barely got a picture of him because he was so shy! As soon as he heard Dave and I walking near him, he tried to swim away. Luckily Dave saw him in time for me to take his picture.
Not sure what this bird is called. We saw several of them walking through the cypress knees looking for little bugs or fish to eat.
This is the biggest alligator I've seen in the wild. I've seen bigger ones at the zoo but not in the swamps. He was at least 8 feet long. I rarely get to see big alligators when we're out walking because they know to stay hidden in the water where they feel safe. I'm so glad I got to see this one.
Any idea what type of bird is sitting on that branch? Its a Barred Owl! They are the owls that hoot "Who cooks for you?" They are mainly active at night so it was a real treat to see him in the daytime.
This is the same owl but with my camera zoomed all the way out. Its not good quality, but you can see his cute face.
We were nearing the end of our hike, so close to the end that I could see our car in the parking lot, when Dave looks over to his right and see this Barred Owl looking at us! I couldn't believe my luck; seeing two owls in one day! He sat on the branch looking at us for a few minutes then flew away to a farther tree. They are silent when they fly. So that's the end of my pictures. We had such a great day at Lake Fausse Park. Its our favorite park to go to because we always see so much wildlife.