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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

When scientists and researchers line up all the states for rankings, Louisiana typically ranks near the top or bottom - and it's usually not in a good way. However, here's something to be "happy" about: Louisiana residents are the happiest in the nation. It's probably the food.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Down the River Road to Paulina

Hello to the three or four of you who actually read this blog. I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long - I've had a few interesting journeys recently, but as this is the busiest time of year for me at work, I haven't had the time to linger and take pictures (or do the writing when I return).

Today I had an appointment in Paulina, located in St. James Parish. I thought this was a good day to dip back into updating this blog because the drive to Paulina allowed me to take "the scenic route" down River Road - home of massive industry and old plantation homes. This post will deal primarily with plantation homes.

There were several faster routes I could have taken this morning than River Road, because it closely hugs the Mississippi as it twists and turns. So although the meeting might have only been about 20 miles from my house as the crow flies, I probably drove something like 40 miles.

I joined River Road in Burnside, home of Houmas House plantation. Unfortunately I forgot that Houmas House was the other direction, so I didn't get any pictures of it. The first place I stopped to take pictures was the site of Tezcuco Plantation. As you'll notice from the photos, the home is no longer there because it burned down in 2002. More information on the demise of Tezcuco can be found here. All that's left now are the grounds and what appear to be chimneys or some other type of support structure. Overall, it's kind of depressing.

This is an old abandoned gas station or general store that caught my eye.

The next stop was Poche Plantation, built in 1867 by Judge Felix Pierre Poche on a 160-acre sugarcane plantation.

Next stop was the magnificent Manresa. Manresa is run by the Jesuits as a retreat facility. As I've learned, many (if not all) the retreats are silent, where the participants do not speak a word all day, even at the group dinner. Maybe I'm crazy, but it felt very quiet and peaceful when I stopped to take these pictures. No cars or trucks were rumbling by, which helped. It's unclear to me whether the buildings on the Manresa grounds were purpose-built by the Jesuits or represent a re-purposing of an older plantation. But either way, the grounds are beautiful.

Shortly after pulling away from Manresa, my newly-acquired GPS was showing that I was starting to cut it pretty close on the timing of my meeting. So after about 30 minutes of disregarding the disembodied female voice's pleas to "turn left" and "turn around," I finally started listening to her. I made a turn left off of River Road and went through a modest residential area. After about a half mile, though, I found myself facing this:

In case that's not clear, it's a dirt road through a sugarcane field. I'm not even sure if it was a public road, but I decided to give it a try. After a couple minutes I came upon an egret...

...who promptly flew away as I drove past...

I also passed this "flower truck..."

...and mercifully the road did let out onto the highway I was trying to reach.

From there it was just a short trip to my appointment...