Friday, January 27, 2012

Monroe, Louisiana

As I mentioned last blog, instead of Louisiana being all swamps and 'gators, northern Louisiana has many beautiful forests along its roads. I found a couple more photos we took as we travelled.

This is travelling east from Shreveport toward Monroe.

Another place I did not know was along this northerly along Interstate 20 was Grambling college. For some reason I thought it was in Mississippi or Alabama but, as we were travelling along the road, I saw the sign for Grambling.

We decided, on our way east, to stop in Monroe at the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens. Kim puts up with all my dry, dusty, old, historical places so I'm always looking out for gardens for us to visit. I came across this one on the web.

We got off the interstate and drove down into Monroe, across the Ouachita River (wah-shi-tah) and following our GPS to the location. However, once we got there, there was no place to park a 65-ft long motorhome pulling a van and motorcycle. We circled the place and a gardener came running out to us telling us we could park across the street. Sound good....thanks!

I think we took up all but two of their visitor's places but it was a weekday and off-season so it worked out.

This is really three museums in one place with three individual houses for each: The Biedenharn Home, the Coca-Cola Museum and the Bible Museum. The Biedenharn Home was built in 1913 by Joseph A. Biedenharn when the family moved to Monroe from Vicksburg, MS.

You start at the Coca-Cola Museum where they tell you how Joe Biedenharn was the first person to bottle coke. Now, he did this in Vicksburg, Mississippi first but this is where part of the story resides. Amazing. We did not know that. In the "old" days, Coca-Cola would sell their syrup to places and the buyers would then put a dash of the syrup and some spritz water together to sell a drink called coke. But Joe wanted to reach the masses instead of having them just come to his confectionery store. So, he figured out a way to bottle it and sell to people as well as to have salesmen sell it around the surrounding cities and states.

You start with a terrific, historical film about the coke story and continue in the other room with a nice nice lady who told us the story of the coke bottle. Good stuff.

They have a coke machine that sells cokes for a nickel. They're small bottles but kinda cool. We drank ours while watching the introduction movie. As always at this time of year, we had the place to ourselves so it was all very personal.

Next stop was the Biendenbarn house and Emy-Lou's garden she called ELsong garden. Again, we had a very nice docent lady take around the house and gardens. One thing we found very interesting in the house was that all closets were taxed because they were "livable space". So, instead of closets, they had armories to avoid the taxes.
An example of a 1920's amoire.

No photos were allowed inside the house and the gardens were out of season but still very lovely. Here is an excerpt from their website....

This magnificent formal estate garden has several thousand flowering plants, which provide color in all seasons. ELsong (Emy-Lou's song) is richly embellished with seven water features and fine sculpture from throughout the world. The garden unveils its many secrets through various themes and creative plant displays.

You will stroll along winding brick paths that link special thematic areas including the White Garden, Biblical Garden and Oriental Pavilion. The experience is enhanced by background music, one of ELsong's unique features.

The Conservatory is patterned after fine English glasshouses and is home to thousands of tropical and semi-tropical specimens. It, as well as all of the garden, is beautiful year round both day and night.
ELsong Garden has been dubbed "The Best Garden You've Never Heard Of" by Southern Living.

So...for all you garden lovers....some photos Kim took:

A pointessia Christmas tree.

This wall used to be a fountain but could not be repaired without damaging the brick wall so it was turned into some very nice plant sculpture.

The famous garden photographer, Kim, settles on a shot.

Lastly was the Bible Museum. As I have many, many years studied the Bible, this one was particularly interesting. Again, no photos were allowed. Daddy Joe knew Emy-Lou liked collecting Bibles so he would buy them for her. Remember, he was one of the sole distributors and partners of Coca-Cola and a founding board member of Delta Airlines (which, by the way, was founded in Monroe from a bunch of crop dusters).

This Bible Museum had a single page of a Gutenberg Bible dating back to the 1400s. Also there were pages that were hand written by monks in the 1200s! Real amazing history right under glass. This was very moving to me to see the Bible being preserved by so many people over the centuries.

This was a very nice stopover on our way to Vicksburg. We were very glad we stopped. Nice, nice people and a great place to visit.

Next stop: Vicksburg, Mississippi. This one might take a few posts. There is a vast battlefield to visit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shreveport, Louisiana

I've talked to people who are from the midwest, the south, the east coast, etc...and when asked about their impressions of California, it's usually "Beaches, sunglasses, Hollywood, movie stars, great year-round weather...things like that". So, when people think of Louisiana, what comes to mind? Swamps, alligators, New Orleans, Mardi Gras, seafood.....Right? But.... the northern and western part of Louisiana, it's all forests like eastern Texas. Lots of trees. Gorgeous country.

We decided to stay in Shreveport (once time capital of the state) for the Christmas holiday. We were not used to being in a big city (250,000) but our RV park was on the western edge of the city so it wasn't so bad.

Our RV neighbor put up Santa next to us so we quickly got in the Christmas mood.

...not a lot to do there except ... Bass Pro Outdoor World !!!

You cannot believe how huge this place is....they even have a bush plane hanging from the ceiling !

If you wanted anything in the hunting/fishing gear, you had your choice of dozens ! There must be at least 500 fishing poles to choose from !
This is what greets you when you first walk in.

Of course, no home would be complete without Camo Furniture !

We enjoyed our Christmas (first one in our coach). Kim did a great job of decorating the inside.

Even Nattie got in the act.
...and Hobbes got to help us with our jigsaw puzzle.

Someone got a bunch of new clothes this year.

...and someone got Santa PJs.
Our "Santa" neighbor got me free tickets to the Independence Bowl that was played in Shreveport between Missouri (his and his wife's alma mater) and North Carolina. I was expecting 80,000 screaming was very rainy, cold (34 degrees) and dreary.

I wandered around looking for a tailgate party to crash. As it turned out, I found an RV just like ours! So, I struck up a conversation and hung out for about an hour swapping RV stories, but they NEVER OFFERED ME ANY FOOD or drink! Phooey.

The stadium sure looked splendid but the crowd was a bit sparse.

...before anyone came out for warmups

Both teams out on the field for warmups.

Missouri coming out of the tunnel for the start of the game

This is about halfway through the first quarter.

This became a real wind tunnel. I did not stay here very long.

This is about as full as the stadium got. But both teams seemed not to notice...especially Missouri (they won handily).

Other than that, we saw a bunch of great Christmas lights.

And I went for a few runs on the side roads. You should've seen people's expressions as they drove by me..."What the heck is that ??!!"  

We found a terrific fried fish place. Their cooks seemed not to be able to count very well. We ordered 6 hush puppies and they brought out 10. We ordered 3 catfish strips and out came 5. We had to take half our food home...but was it tasty !

Next stop: Monroe, Louisiana