Easter In Louisiana

Day 940

     We are in Louisiana at Easter. What do we do? Go to a Louisiana Crawfish Boil, of course.

     Crawfish are from the lobster family, but much smaller. 

     Tidbit of Information: Louisiana supplies 95% of the crawfish harvested in the US.

     Our host got 35 pounds of live crawfish

     He brought his pot of water to a boil.

     Put in the screaming crawfish.

     Then put in seasoning,

     salt,

     and his secret ingredient.

     Checked periodically.

      When they were done, added ice to stop the boiling.

    Then added corn, sausage, potatoes and finished cooking.

     Took out a crawfish to make sure they were dead.

     Their is nothing worse than bitting in to a crawfish and finding out it is still alive.

     Then the feasting begins.

     Next time: Charbroiled Oysters.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival

Day 932

The annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival was this weekend.

There were so many people, the police were going around in circles.

As I mentioned in post Day 296 on Ponchatoula, the train goes through the center of town. The parade had to stop as the train did not slow down.

There were the usual floats,

and characters

Every Parade around New Orleans (Ponchatoula is 1 hour north) is Mardi Gras.

Plenty of food.

And, of course, funnel cakes.

performers

and dancing

I was going to win a cupie doll for Barbara, but no room in the Sphinx.

Plenty of rides (can you see Barbara”s feet?).

Everyone had a great time.

Jefferson Island, Louisiana

Day 929

     Joseph Jefferson was born February 20, 1829 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became famous for his adaptation and portrayal of Washington Irving’s story of Rip Van Winkle, presenting over 4,500 performances.

     In 1869 Jefferson bought a place called Orange Island in New Iberia, Louisiana. There he built his winter mansion. The site is on a peninsula on Lake Peigneur; the peninsula became known as Jefferson Island in his honor.

    Jefferson Island is not really an island, but one of five salt domes in this area that rise 75 to over 100 feet above the surrounding landscape. The water from an ancient sea that once covered parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi evaporated leaving behind large salt deposits. The deposits were then covered by thousands of feet of sediment. Salt, which was less dense than the sediment, found its way upward in the form of bulbous columns. The rising columns of salt formed the 5 Louisiana “islands” that exist today.

     A worker in 1923 unearthed three boxes under these oaks filled with gold and silver coins. The treasure is believed to have been buried by Pirate Jean Lafitte between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

     President Grover Cleveland was often a guest of Jefferson, and would nap under this live oak, now called The Cleveland Oak.

     When Jefferson died in 1905, his heirs held onto the property for a while and eventually sold Jefferson Island and the 2,000 acre plantation to John Lyle Bayless. Bayless was not interested in the mansion, but in the salt that lay beneath adjacent Lake Peigneur. He and several partners began mining salt.

     In the late 1950s, John Bayless’ son and heir to the estate, began developing gardens around the mansion after selling the salt mine. In 1980 he built a multi-million dollar dream home on the shores of the lake. Nine months after moving in, on November 20, 1980, a Texaco oil-drilling team on a platform out in the lake (oil is frequently trapped in the rock strata surrounding salt domes) accidentally drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Company salt mine under the lake. The 14″ drill bit punctured the roof of the mine that created an opening in the bottom of the lake.

     The lake then drained into the hole, expanding the size of that hole as the soil and salt were washed into the mine by the rushing water, filling the enormous caverns that had been left by the removal of salt since 1919. The resultant whirlpool sucked in the drilling platform, eleven barges, a tugboat, and 65 acres of the surrounding land, including Bayless’ home. All that’s left of John Bayless’ new home was this fireplace, which was on the second floor,  and now shows above the waterline.

      The damage to the island took 4 years to recover and rebuild, and is now open to the public. We toured the mansion.

    And viewed the gardens.

     Flowers were in bloom.

     This fountain is made from cups used to mine the salt.

     At the entrance to the property was a bird sanctuary.

     And guess what? We saw birds.

     Don’t ask me to name them, who can remember?

     The water was infested with alligators.

St. Tammany Parish

Day 923

     The State of Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes (French: paroisses) in the same manner that 43 other states of the United States are divided into counties, and 6 states (including Alaska) are divided into boroughs. Nine of the parishes are named for Saints. St. Tammany Parish is named after the Delaware Indian Chief Tamanend, born in 1628, who made peace with William Penn at the time Philadelphia was established. Among the nine Louisiana parishes named for “saints”, St. Tammany is the only one whose eponym is not a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, Tamanend is not known to have been a Christian, and was certainly not a Roman Catholic. However, he became popularly revered as an “American patron saint” in the post-Revolutionary period.

     Tidbit of Information: An eponym is a person, place, or thing after whom or after which something is named. You see, you learn something new every day.

     Lacombe, located in St. Tammany Parish, is a Creole colony first visited by Pierre le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville in 1699. It is a very small town near us, so we decided to visit. We get most of the information for this blog from the local people, like this gentlemen, who helped establish this museum of Lacombe a few years ago.

     He informed us that Lacombe was established because of it’s clay. At that time New Orleans would burn down every 5 years or so because everything was made of wood. Someone got the bright idea to build the structures of brick. That brick came from Lacombe.

     Well, got to go, today is wash day.

Bayou Lacombe, Louisiana

Day 910

     Traveling around this part of Louisiana, we came across a vendor selling shrimp right off the boat, so we stopped to buy.

     Barbara beat the pelican to the front of the line, with a crane coming up to be third. Yogi Bear told us to wait for him.

     With spring finally arriving, Barbara heard azaleas were in bloom down by Bayou Lacombe. So, off we went.

     Richard Webster Leche was born May 17, 1898 in New Orleans. He was a dirty, rotten politician who ultimately became Louisiana’s 44th Governor. Corruption was to become the major feature of his administration. Shortly after becoming Governor, he claimed “When I took the oath of office, I didn’t take any vow of poverty.”  He served from 1936 until 1939, when he resigned as a result of criminal charges. Convicted on charges of misuse of federal funds, Leche was the first Louisiana chief executive to be imprisoned, but not the last.

     The estate and gardens we visited today were purchased by Leche in 1946 upon his release from prison. The land and buildings were acquired by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1998 and opened to the public. Governor Leche’s house was not very impressive:

     The gardens were nice, with the azaleas in bloom.

     Hiked down to the Bayou, no frogs on the lily pads.

     Spring is here.

Another Mardi Gras Parade, La

Day 889

     During the day we lounged around at Reunion Lake. We will be here for a month in the warm weather. It’s snowing in Maryland. 

     In the evening we went to the Krewe of Orpheus Parade. It started off with bubbles 

     The Krewe of Orpheus derives its name from the mortal Orpheus, son of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope.

     They had some weird floats

 

 

Global Wildlife Center, Folsom, Louisiana

Day 885

     So, where can you find the largest totally free-roaming wildlife center in the United States?

     It is in Folsom, Louisiana. The Global Wildlife Center has 4,000 animals, most from Africa, on 900 acres of land. 

     So, Jay, we couldn’t go to Africa, so Africa came to us. 

     The reticulated giraffe is native to the Horn of Africa, (the Rothschild giraffe is most commonly seen in zoos).

     Père David’s deer is no ordinary deer. With two sets of  antlers (one set for summer, and the other for winter), atop a head shaped like a horse, the animal has a donkey’s tail, and hooves like a cow but with webbing between the toes for swimming. The 550 lb. animal, native to China’s Yangtze River basin, was already disappearing in the late 19th century when French missionary Père (Father) David first saw them. He thought they were a new species and managed to obtain 18 of the deer. Afterwards, because of severe weather conditions, and the boxer rebellion, there were no longer any of these deer left in China. Father David’s deer, now named for the priest, is now being re-established from those in Father David’s original possession, on reserves such as this, and are being re-introduced in China.

     The Rheas are distantly related to the ostrich and emu and are native to South America.

     I can see your eyes glazing over with my detailed description, so I’ll just say what other animals we saw:

Elk

Camels

Both 1 and 2 hump

Zebras

Kangaroos

Antelope

Llamas

Watusi

Bison

    The animals would come up to our tram so you could feed them

and pet them (if you are into that)

.