We left New Orleans this morning just before 10:00. Since there is no left turn out of the campground and then a sharp left turn at the next pull through Jerry had scouted out a route for us. We rode down to the Winn Dixie, turned into the parking lot and then were back on Chef Menteur Hwy where we could easily exit to I10 West. Apparently we made both GPS’s angry because they started sending us into the city. I knew this was not correct so I told Jerry to keep going on I10. He was getting a bit frustrated since the traffic was heavy and he didn’t know where he was going. At his suggestion I started Waze. It seems to work better in New Orleans. I put into the information and it immediately led us in the right correction. Whew!
It only took us a little over an hour to get to Lamar-Dixon Ag Center and it was just as I expected. Just a parking lot full of RV’s but not a Class A anywhere. Check in was quick and easy and the ladies in the office were so welcoming. Someone led us to our site, 49C and we quickly set up. I called the office and got the Wi-Fi password and it appears that the Internet actually works! We’ll see. We had a quick lunch and then headed out for our first plantation on this leg.
San Francisco is billed as the only “Grand Mansion” on the River Road to be authentically restored. The hand painted ceilings are amazing. There was a period of time when the owners rented the house out and let the renters do as they pleased with the house. I couldn’t believe that they painted over one of the ceilings and covered the lovely cypress beams. The house is much closer to the road now since the Corps of Engineers build a new levee. While once there was a white picket fence on the front now there is a chain link. The house is truly close to the highway. The plantation also has an 1840’s one-room schoolhouse and a slave cabin. Neither are original to the plantation but were donated by others. If I’m not mistaken I think the school house was donated by Destrehan. The bottom floor of the plantation house is constructed using bricks in a herringbone pattern but not cemented down. That was so any flood waters could rise and fall without damaging the floor however no flood marks on the wall indicate that the house never did flood.
Our next stop was Houmas Plantation. Since it was almost 3:30 I was a bit concerned that it might be too late to view the gardens but it turned out to be perfect. Instead of taking the 4:00 tour we took the 4:30 so we had plenty of time to wander through the yards. I can only imagine how beautiful they must be in the spring and summer. They are beautiful now with just a few blooms although I did see some sweetheart roses in various places. Also saw something that looked like azaleas. The statuary is beautiful and interestingly enough there are several bird houses. Oaks were built on either side of the front of the house creating a wind tunnel from the river so that cooler air would enter the house. Our guide was Susan and she did a terrific job. One of the highlights was playing the Steinway Grand Piano. Oh what a joy. Built in the 1800’s I couldn’t believe how well it played. It is tuned twice a year and they clean every string. It certainly did not play like an antique piano. I sight-read the sheet music on the stand, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. Susan and I sang and I harmonized with her. What a treat!
Mr. Kelly still lives in the house and we got to see him before we left although we didn’t speak with him. One cabinet camouflages the only television in the house and it’s in his bedroom.
In one room Susan pointed out a mirror which appeared to have two angels in the reflection. She took a picture of it and they are more easily seen in the picture.
One of the outstanding features of the house is the free-standing spiral staircase. Tradition was that the men had to ascend first because if the women went first the men could see their ankles and that was akin to a marriage proposal. Naturally Jerry led the way up the stairs.
The kitchen was also fascinating. Most of the plantations had the kitchen in another building away from the house due to the threat of fire and the harsh heat emanating from there but at Houmas House the kitchen is on the first floor. The reasoned that there were three people in the kitchen and they could put out the fire before it got to the house. Susan showed us many of the interesting utensils they used to cook.
Another perk of the tour was our guide, Susan. In conversation we discovered that she too is a Christian. It is amazing and quite a blessing to see how God has placed Christians on our path during this trip.
After we left we had planned to eat at Cajun Catch as the crawfish had been recommended. Unfortunately when we finally got there we realized that it was a deli and take-out so we came on back to the coach and warmed up the meat loaf and I fixed some veggies to go along with it.
Another quiet night and we were headed to bed!