Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baton Rouge-Old Governors Mansion

Another road trip into Baton Rouge which means the auto pilot on the car takes us to Mike Anderson’s Restaurant first.  Today I had the Fresh Gulf Shrimp lunch special, their shrimp in as good as I’ve ever had, lightly battered and as tender as can be, Cathy went with her favorite, the Jason. The Jason is a fillet of fresh fish wrapped around a crabmeat dressing, fried and topped with a crawfish tails cooked in a cream sauce on a bed of rice, salad or cole slaw, choice of side and garlic toast.  I get excited just typing the descriptions of their meals.

After saying good-bye to Big Mike and letting him know that we would be back sometime next year we headed into the downtown area. After a beautiful drive through the campus of LSU with all it’s Live Oaks and Magnolia’s we arrived at our destination, The Old Governors Mansion.  We had a 2fer coupon so it was only $7.

A little history here, when Huey Long was elected Governor there was already a Governors house located on this site but it wasn’t quite what he wanted, so he when to the Senate and told them he needed $125,000 dollars to build a new Mansion.  The senate said that what he had was good enough and to live with it, NO MONEY, now this was Huey Long and that just wasn’t going to happen.  He called the head warden of the prisons (a man he had just appointed to this job) and asked him to send him 60 large strong inmates with a lot of tools, within a week the mansion was dismantles into a large pile of rubble.  Huey then went back to the Senate and they gave him his money for a new mansion. 

Since Huey’s plans were to move to Washington DC after serving as Governor, he had the mansion designed much like the White House, large entrance, lobby, east wing and an oval office, he wanted to be prepared for when he was President.  Our guide Ory Poret, had spent his entire life in Baton Rouge and really made the tour great because of all the behind the scene stories he was able to tell us.


Notice how it looks a little like the white house.

The East Wing is often used for wedding, it has two gigantic mirrors on opposite walls you get an endless reflection as you can see by the chandeliers, there are only three.

One of my favorite things was the Wall paper in the dining room,  this is the original wall paper that was hung in 1929 and the colors are still as bright as they were then, this room has some big windows and a lot of sun light yet the wall paper appears to have not faded at all.  When JFK was running for President, Jackie visited here for a lunch and told the people that if Jack got elected that as First Lady she was going to have this wall paper copied and do a room in the White House with it.  He was, she did, it is.

West Point scene

Boston Tea Party Scene

 The Governors Desk

I believe he told so that six different governors lived here, one was Jimmie Davis, the Cowboy country singer who recorded “You are My Sunshine” which later became one of the state songs of Louisiana.

Here is Governor Davis taking office on his horse “Sunshine” which he rode up the steps and into his office.

Another Governor was Huey’s little brother Earl, Earl served two elected terms a Governor, during his second term he was institutionalized for a period but returned to finish his term.  He then decided to run for the Senate, everybody told him that he would never make it because of his condition, he didn’t listen he had thousands of buttons made up that simply said “I Ain’t Crazy”.  He won the election but died two days later from heart problems.

Ory had so many stories that I would fill ten pages repeating them, but here’s two quick ones.
Huey Long’s Secretary of State  died in office so Huey appointed his Girlfriend to fill the position until the next election, often Huey would go on a trip out off state and he would take the Lt. Governor with him because this would make his girlfriend the Acting Governor while they were gone.
Another one was that Earl Long also had a girlfriend, Blaze Starr, one week when his wife was gone he had Blaze stay at the mansion with him, when she left she packed everything but forgot her fur coat.  When Mrs.. Long returned home she found the fur coat and had the maid run it through the washer and dryer so it would be clean when Earl returned it.

The tour lasted about an hour and old Ory had us laughing most of it. Time and money well spent.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Food & Family

Our first stop after leaving the Casino was at the outlet mall so I could replace all the shirts that I lost off my back at the Casino, The final score was Casino – Takes all, Jim & Cathy ZERO. It's still a very nice RV Park and if you time it to be there Sunday -Thursday with their coupon it's very cheap and if you have enough points on your players card they will comp you when you check out to make it even cheaper.

We did another Long drive for us, about 175 miles on back roads (US190) over to Hammond,LA. Just about every little town that we passed through was filled with boarded up buildings and homes but they all had a combination Gas Station/Casino, and the parking lot were full. We've noticed that as we drive the back roads down here you will go through neighborhoods filled with broken down trailers, mobile homes and small house’s that are just barely standing and then right in the middle of them there is a huge 4 to 5000 sq ft, newly built mansion. So we just figure somebody hit the JACKPOT and didn't want to leave their friends and family.

The first thing on our list in this area is a drive to Baton Rouge for lunch at Mike Anderson's Seafood Restaurant.  There might be other restaurants in the city but we'll never know because this is the only place we've gone to since we discovered it about 8 years ago.  We even plan what we do here around their lunch specials. The food is fantastic but the great thing is nothing ever changes, if we're lucky we get here once a year and and when we pull in the parking lot it's just like we were here only last week. The manager Big Mike is who I always look for, as long as I see him I know that all is right with the world and we are in for another great meal, I don't know how he does it but he remembers everybody , yesterday we were walking to our table when he came out of the office door, he looked up got a big smile on his face and said “Hey I haven't seen you guys for quite awhile, how long are you going to be in town this time”. Now remember it's been a year since the last time we were here, we just feel like family when we come here. Today I had the special which was Shrimp / Crab Patties, their description of this dish is (Fresh Gulf crabmeat sautéed with onions, bell pepper,  bread crumbs with hints of fresh herbs and seasonings. Lightly dusted with flour, flash fried, and topped with a white wine cream sauce, served with your choice of salad, baked potato, and garlic toast.)

Cathy sez that she would be happy with just their big bowl of cole slaw.
To describe our lunch experience here I would have to say that it's close to orgasmic, but then again that's just us, some people may hate the place, mean evil people.

After we got back from Baton  Rouge we killed a couple of hours before meeting Cathy’s sister at Applebee’s where we spent a few hours picking at our food and catching up on family happenings for the last few years. A long day but a good one.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good-bye Texas

After two and a half months we finally left Texas and started heading east across the gulf shore. We spent the last week in the Houston area visiting with a few of Cathy's sisters and a cousin. We really enjoyed the warm weather while we were in the RGV area, but for having things to see and do we prefer to stay north of San Antonio.

We did a short drive over to Kinder, LA, Cathy needs a casino fix and they have a huge one here, the Coushatta Casino and RV Resort At Red Shoes Park. We were only going to stay for three nights but when I got to their website they had a coupon, pay for 3 stay 5, how can you turn that down. So it worked out to under $13 a night for a large fully paved pull through site, we're walking distance to the casino or you can grab the shuttle which runs every ten minutes. Other then a few restaurants there is nothing within 20 miles of here.

We made our first venture into the casino today, CASINO 2 – Jim 0 – Cathy 0.

Maybe those two free nights aren't going to be that free after all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's cold here

Our week in Victoria is over so we're going to take our time and slowly head towards Houston, our first stop is in Palacios but I don't think we'll get to much done since it's FREEZING here. I guess this is pay back for me rubbing it in to our Florida friends when I kept mentioning that it was in the mid to high 80's everyday while we were in the valley, well all I can say is ” I'm SORRY, Please make the cold weather go away and I promise I'll never do it again”.

NOTE FOR:   Odel & Laurie of  Semi True Tales

I have some good news and some bad.

First the bad news, please see the pictures below.

Cathy and I were really looking forward to a big bowl of Smokey Gumbo, and now the good news, as we drove around the parking lot we found a sign that said : 
Guess we'll try it next time through this area.

Hey!! Florida people, I said I was SORRY.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Downtown Victoria

We were both glad to be away from the constant wind in the Rio Grand Valley, I don't think that it was below 15-20 MPH the whole time we were there, of course no rain and the temperature in the 80's everyday made putting up with the wind a little easier. Here in Victoria we have spent a lot of time out running around and no wind, that is until last night. Around 4:30am a storm hit here that damn near  knocked us out of bed, it lasted about two hours with the rain coming down in sheets and the wind made the Valley's look like an amateur. We were rocking and rolling like we never have before, I mean it was actually jerking my head around on the pillow.  Anybody outside if they would have been able to see through the sheets of rain would have thought that there was a team of Sumo wrestlers inside having an orgy. (Yes Laurie, Cajun style)

Anyhow we did get downtown the other day and saw a few things in the historic district so here are a few pictures.

Six flags of Victoria
France,Spain,Mexico,Republic of Texas, CSA, USA

The Last Stand.
Bldg's reflection off of one
with Mirrored windows

A lot of Germans settled here.

To show the diversity these two buildings are across the street from each other.

I love how they placed the marker about a person named Rose in the middle of a Rose bush.
The original City Cemetery, the windmill was the first one in Victoria.

A beautiful Courthouse that was almost torn down to build the new one.  How could you tear down something this fantastic.

We did part of the driving tour which takes you past more then 60 historic houses, a majority of then built in the 1800's. There were so many and they were so big that I didn't even try to get any pictures of them, we figure next time we're here we'll take the bike and ride around so we can stop and get pictures without blocking the street.  

We did an hour stop at The Museum of the Coastal Bend, a very small museum on the campus.  It had a nice history of La Salle and his adventures in the area and the history of the city.

7 of the 8 canons recovered at La Salle's Fort St Louis
Iron safe with a hidden key
somewhere in the front door

Victoria Advocate was the first paper to publish the
strip with the character Popeye 

And my favorite story, this guy was a great negotiator, would have been a union president today.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catching up on Texas History

Up early and off to breakfast to get ready for our road trip to Goliad and some more Texas history.

Our first stop was at the Fannin Battlefield Historic Site located just south of Fannin, Texas. It's a mile south of US59 on FM2506, plenty of signs on the road and plenty of room for any size rig to easily get in and out. We missed this site the last time we were in this area and wanted to make sure that we got to it this year. This is the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek, where Col Fannin surrendered his 342 troops after a two day battle with General Urrea's and his Mexican troops.

To read about The battle and Fannin's Massacre check our blog from Jan 2009

We continued down to Goliad State Park to tour the Mission Espiritu Santo, first built at this location in 1749, this was the center of life for this area up until 1830 when many reasons forced it to close. It remained in ruins until 1931 when the Texas State Parks took control of the site, in 1941 the CCC moved in and did the restoration that we see today. It was a great place to spend a nice sunny day.

The restored Mission


Canon found in the River behind the Mission

Fannin Massacre Monument

The original wall, all the names engraved in the back wall of the Monument.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Victoria,TX, Riverside Park

We left the Rio Grand Valley the other day and did what for us what was a very long drive (230 miles) to Victoria,Tx. . We wanted to stay here for a week and I called all the parks in the area and they all were full with Winter Texans, we could find one or two days but not a week, digging deeper into the shadows of the internet I found a park that said “No problem, we'll save a place for you”. When we got there we found that it was a small park, 20 sites with full hookups 30/50 amp, nothing else, but it was half the price of all the other parks so that made it look pretty good. It's about 75 percent workers here to build the new Caterpillar plant, about half have their family with them and all seem friendly.

Our first stop was at the Visitors Center where we ended up spending about 45 minutes talking with the people and making a list of all the best places to eat and things to see and do, Super friendly, the president of the Chamber of Commerce gave us his card and told use to call him at anytime if we needed anything while we were in town.

We drove across town to the Texas Zoo, WOW the TEXAS ZOO, everything is BIG in Texas so this might take all day, NOT. It's a very small zoo but a very nice one, we love zoos and take our time going through them and we spent a little less then an hour there, we find that in the smaller zoos the animals seem to be more active and sometimes a little different. So sit back and take a tour of the TEXAS ZOO.


One of the two 11 month old Barbary Lion twins, less then 100 remain.

Cute little Badger.

Grey Fox

And the Winner is

The Zoo is located in Riverside park so when we left we just followed the road through the park which also follows the Guadalupe River, after passing a few ponds, the golf course, a Minor League (A) baseball field and then we came upon the Rose Garden. It's January and I figured there wouldn't be too many blooms but figured it was worth a stop, there were about 6 workers there cutting back the roses. When we talked with them they said that the ones they were cutting back would be blooming by the end of February. Less then 20 percent of the garden was in bloom but it was still very impressive, we would love to see it in the spring when it's at over 90 percent. Everybody apologized that there weren't more blooms for us to see but we were happy with the ones that were there, and now through the magic of digital photography they are here.

The last thing we found was before leaving the park was the half full City Campground, information we could have used yesterday. There are 18 sites with full hookup 30 & 50 amp, all are pull through, nine are pretty good size loops and the other nine are in a line and a little smaller. There is a self registration station and the rates are $12 a night or $60 for the week, like I said information we could have used yesterday.

Sorry for all the pictures but I got carried away.