Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tyler, Texas and New Orleans

April 10-14, 2008. After we left Santa Fe on I 40 toward Amarillo the landscape went from mountains to plains. We took 287 out of Amarillo and even saw an enormous cattle ranch with literally thousands of cattle. Just west of Wichita Falls, TX we were pleasantly surprised to see trees and grass on the side of the road. There was a strange sight just east of Electra, TX: a ranch with 12 or so camels! We finished up a really good book on CD called Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum.

A few years ago we reconnected with Jane Vander Muelen Hoover, a friend from Hope College. When we started planning our trip we knew we had to make a stop. We're so glad we did. Jane and her husband, Andy, live in Tyler, TX, just east of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We had such a fun visit. They have property on Lake Tyler where they built a boat house (and little kitchen, and living room/dining room/bedroom, and a separate bathroom). Plans are in the works for building a "real house" for their retirement. We took a boat ride around the beautiful lake and an adjoining one with their neighbors Jim and Karen Jordan. They also joined us for dinner. It was relaxing and the company couldn't have been better. Thanks Jane and Andy for a wonderful visit!

Here are a few homes on the lake, some old, some new, and many large.

The lake's one claim to fame is that the Home and Garden network built their "Dream Home 2005" on it. Unfortunately the winner found he couldn't pay the taxes so had to sell it. Too bad, it was beautiful!

We crossed a river that obviously had had a bit of rain added to it recently - not sure if this was the Atchafalaya River. There was a nice, small visitor center at the Indian Bayou where we took a short hike along the Atchafalaya River and saw the ever present bald cypress. The river had a lot of algae in it too.

On our way out to Arizona we toured a plantation outside Baton Rouge. This time we decided to do a tour of New Orleans. We took the "Historic New Orleans Walking Tour" from the Bourbon St. Cafe Beignet at Legends Park (where you see these statues). (The tour was well done and gave lots of information.) We loved the French architecture with the wrought iron balconies. Some buildings are still in the process of being fixed up. (I think everyone knows by now that the French Quarter had no destruction from Hurricane Katrina. But we still saw some blue tarps from the highway.)

I loved this tropical courtyard at the St. Louis Hotel.

The St. Louis Cathedral is quite dramatic. It faces Jackson Square where there are often outdoor events. (In the picture they're taking away the stage from a weekend function.) On the other side of the square you walk up stairs and you see the Mississippi River, way up high, and the St. Charles trolley!!

We really need to come back to New Orleans and spend a couple of days. There are a number of museums to see (not on a Monday, though), take the Garden District Tour and ride the trolley.

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