New Orleans, Louisiana

Day 285

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     We went into New Orleans for the day. We visited all the touristy locations, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, the French Quarter, the French Market, the Garden District, rode the trolley, took a ferry ride over to Algiers on the other side of the Mississippi. We will be going back here at least two more times.day-285-new-orleans-louisiana0290_fotor

      La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.  The city is named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who reigned as Regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723. His title came from the French city of Orléans.

     We stopped by the Bank of Louisiana (see day 274). The bank was liquidated in 1867, and the building is now a police station. 

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Mandeville, Louisiana

Day 281

     We are currently near New Orleans in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Barbara’s brother lives.  We went to our first Mardi Gras parade here in Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans. There are about 50 different parades – most in the suburbs, very family oriented. We are going into New Orleans later for three more parades (one right after the other on the same route). Each has a theme and they are getting more and more elaborate as we near actual Mardi Gras day on Fat Tuesday, 2/28/17. 

     Our first Mardi Gras parade was in the pouring rain.

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     It did not dampen the spirits of the parade participants

     Or of the spectators

     Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. However, Mardi Gras is only one day. The rest is called Carnival Season, which starts 12 days after Christmas, January 6th, and goes to Fat Tuesday. (For fabulous prizes, does anyone know the significance of the twelfth day after Christmas?)

     Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.

     In 1703 French settlers in Mobile, Alabama, established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. The first mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society. It was these secret societies that first organized the parades. Today, these independent societies (no longer secret, by law) sponsor the floats of the parades. The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans took place in 1837.

     You would not believe what Barbara had to do to get those breads. 

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Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Day 280

     Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was originally established as a mining camp in 1820, incorporating as a town on February 12, 1861. William Akers was the first mayor and is credited with founding the town, establishing it on land he purchased from the Federal government in 1832. Ponchatoula is a name signifying “falling hair” or “hanging hair”. It was the Indians’ way of expressing the beauty of the location, with much Spanish moss hanging from the trees. 

     Because of it’s close proximity to New Orleans and this being Mardi Gras season, we will be staying here a month. Come by and see us. 

Technical Stuff:

Vidalia, Louisiana to Ponchatoula, Louisiana 138.7 miles

3 hours 15 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.22

 

Frogmore Plantation, Louisiana

Day 278

     Frogmore Plantation, in what is now called Feriday, Louisiana, was built on an enviable plot of real estate. A farmer named Daniel Morris built the farm along an early wagon trail that stretched from Natchez, Mississippi to Natchitoches—a city that, at 300 years old is Louisiana’s oldest. The trade route eventually led to the Camino Real in Texas, and all of this interstate travel meant that Frogmore’s cotton was easy to ship across the South and beyond. By the time the Civil War came to Louisiana, the once-tiny plantation had grown to a massive 2,640 acres.The plantation is named after Frogmore, England. 

     Today it is still a working cotton plantation, with a section kept as it looked in 1815. Barbara was tasked with picking cotton, but she didn’t meet her quota, and I had to leave her. 

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Vidalia, Louisiana

Day 277

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     We traveled from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana on Route 61, the blues road, named for the fact that it was the road taken by many artists going north from New Orleans to Memphis.      

     Our campground is on the Mississippi River in Vidalia, Louisiana, which is across the river from Natchez, Mississippi.

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.    We walked along the river bank watching the barges going up and down the river. 

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     Vidalia was founded April 21, 1798 by Don José Vidal, when he received a land grant from the Spanish Governor. This territory was under Spanish rule, before the United States acquired it in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. 

Technical Stuff:

Askew’s Landing, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana 96.6 miles.

2 hours 29 minutes

11.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.17

 

 

Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi

Day 274

     The battle of Vicksburg is unique in that during the 47 day siege, May 19 to July 4, 1863, of the 100 skirmishes the union was only successful in taking one hill, which they were not able to keep. The Union Army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, could not take the city of Vicksburg by force because the city was bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and by 300 foot bluffs on the remaining sides. However, Grant was able to cut off all supplies to the city. 

     Grant’s counterpart and defender of the city was General John C. Pemberton. (See day 272). On July 4, 1863, Pemberton surrendered 2,166 officers and 27,230 men, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Grant. This combined with the battle of Gettysburg, being fought also July 1-3, 1863, irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor. 

     Interesting note: Following the surrender on July 4, 1863, the city did not celebrate Independence Day for 82 years. It appears Mississippi is a sore loser, as their state flag still displays the stars and bars. 

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     We toured by car and walking the 16 mile loop of the Vicksburg Battlefield. Markers were placed at the location of each encounter, blue for Union, red for Confederates. 

     Also on the battlefield was The Cairo, a Union ironclad warship that engaged the Confederates on the Mississippi and surrounding rivers. Contrary to my high school memory, that there were only two ironclads during the Civil War, there were hundreds. This gunboat was sunk on December 12, 1862 at 11:52 AM by a mine on the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg. This was the first sinking of a vessel by a mine. The mine was manually operated electronically by soldiers hidden on the banks of the river.

     Quire: Does anyone know why the South is referred to as Dixie?