Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 44, 45 and 46 of our trip to FL and SE

On the Road Again, Thursday March 10 to Fort Morgan to cross Mobile Bay by ferry to Daphne Island.  It was a smaller ferry, holds about 28 vehicles. It was interesting to note that the first vehicle off the ferry was a Roadtrek, and we were the first vehicle on. It was windy on our trip on the ferry. Met a couple from Wis. Dells. We did see 10 to 12 natural gas wells on the way and even a sailing ship.

Mobile Bay is on an average only 10 feet deep so easier to work than in the Gulf of Mexico. The natural gas is piped from wells to the islands or mainland.

A friend suggested we stop at Bellingrath Gardens. What a place! The gardens were huge and included a Conservatory, Rose Garden, Rookery, Japanese garden, the Historic Home and so many more gardens. The home was built by Walter Bellingrath for his wife, Bessie. Walter had purchased, for $1,500 the CocaCola franchise in Mobile, AL in 1903. He added $5,000 of his own money to his investment and became very successful. The home was a showcase for Bessie's antiques, china and other items. The azaleas will be blooming the next few weeks, but we were in awe of the camellias. They were beautiful. A shrub plant we don't see in the Midwest.

Drink Coke!

Next stop Biloxi, MS. people we met on our travels shared about their Casino experience. In a travel newspaper there was a coupon for $20 each for "Snowbird Seniors" for Palace Casino. So we thought give it a try. The security guard said, yes we could park overnight for free. So we ventured into the Casino, handed in the coupon and got our "plastic card" with $20 credit each. Dah, now what do we do.  Neither of us are into going to Casinos. We had gone many years ago with Phil's Mom and she guided us. We didn't know what to do but eventually figured it out. We spent $1 each to activate our "free account.". Ellie won $14.90 and Phil was the big winner.... $53.15. Okay, now we can afford the buffet at $18.99 which seem kinda pricey! But they gave us another $10 each credit. So after eating we "played" again and each won $12.00. What a crazy experience. We slept good that night in an almost vacant parking lot but an overnight security guard was in a nearby trailer.

On the Road Again Friday March 12. Since we "boon docked"....not hooked up to electricity it was easy to get on the road quickly. In fact we were on the road before 7 am.

On Thursday Ellie said you know we will be passing near Kiln, MS. As we are driving, Phil said, how about we stop. So we got coffee in Kiln, MS. and took a few photos.

We needed to make a rest stop and lo, and behold our next venture was waiting for us. The Rest Stop at Exit 2 on I-10 in Mississippi is the receiving center for the tour. This blog explains things better than I probably could.

At the visitor center a presentation was given about the astronauts' preparation and then what they do when in space. It was another phenomenal experience on this trip.

Rocket pad

H-1 Rocket used for Saturn, 1961-1973

F-1 Rocket

Saturn V Rocket

Solid Booster Rocket for Space Shuttle. 129 ft. Length, 12 ft. Diameter.


Jupiter Rocket

Ellie's going give it a try???!!!!!

Canal similar to the Panama Canal needed to move the rockets because they were so heavy.

Back at the Rest Stop, Ellie marveled at the Mardi GRAS outfits on display.

On to Pontchartrain Landing in New Orleans, LA. A great benefit of this park is the shuttle bus to the French Quarters. At 3:45 pm we were on our way. For supper we had a muffelata, lobster bisque and gumbo. Stopped at the Cathedral of St. louis the King.

Joan of Arc
Lots of walking around and seeing all the crazy goings on. There was a parade for St. Patrick's Day.

We got some beads....they even have beads hung in the trees and bushes. What a crazy town.

French beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe Du Mode, serving daily since 1860's.

Mississippi River

The bus picked other campers and us at 8 pm.

On the Road Again on Saturday March 12 by shuttle bus at 10 am to the French Quarters. We took a Gray Line Tour entitled Katrina and City Tour. As we were waiting for our tour we hear a band playing.  Ellie talked with one of the Moms. They are high school students from Berlin, WI. Once again a WI connection, small world. On our tour we learned so much about the history of New Orleans but also so much about levees and Hurricane Katrina.

Fats Domino's home.

The guide was a life long resident of NO. She really spoke from her heart plus had a huge notebook of documentation that the levees were not constructed right not maintained correctly. We saw homes in shambles, empty lots where homes and shopping centers had been.

Blue tubes show how high the water was.

We visited a cemetery dating back to 1853.

St. Jeanne Jugan, founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

She was positive in the fact that New Orleans people are survivors. Although hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost. Not all people could return because the jobs were no longer there. BUT she said things were learned about disaster relief. With the recent tsunami in Japan, she said the world knows better how to help, what is needed.

We had lunch, then saw an IMAX film about Katrina. The focus was on the need for wetlands. They are disappearing. When a hurricane comes inland it is slowed by land. Because the wetlands are disappearing the force of the hurricanes hit the cities harder because the wetlands are not there to buffer or slow down the hurricane. Another powerful and learning afternoon.

Then to 5 pm Mass at the Cathedral -Basilica of St Louis the King. There were maybe a thousand or more attending.  Rev. Msgr. Crosby W. Kern was the priest saying Mass. They had an excellent cantor. After the service we walked through Jackson Park and other streets.  

Crowd watching gymnasts.

There were a lot of musicians, gymnasts, magicians and parades.

Artist going home at the end of his day on Jackson Square.

The locals say we love parades. There was a parade of a wedding party and guests through the many streets of the French Quarter, with a police escort. It is a constant carnival atmosphere. It's quite a city.
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