Sybel’s Memories Our trip to Louisana April 17-22, 2000

27 Feb

Day one: Lorene took us to the center. She is feeding the Bill Bailey for us, and picking up our mail, stowing it in a box on the dining room table, and making it possible for us to leave our car at home.

We had lunch on the bus, from a box Sue and Helen, who is the director from Lavaca, packed before we left. We arrived in time for supper at Barnhill country buffet in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We passed through Vicksburg where the battle of Vicksburg was fought during the Civil War.

The big tour bus was loaded. Two cancellations made it possible for Treva and her daughter to go. Treva is a paid helper at the center.

We played bingo on the bus to while away the long hours. I won one game, got a candle holder for the short fat candles. That made a nice holder for the tiny shells and white sand I picked up on the beach at Gulf Shores. Two retired school teachers, man and wife, set behind us, and she is very nice. The woman across the aisle engaged in loud conversation the whole day. Que Sera! We didn’t let it ruin our day.

Most of the day was spent traveling down across Arkansas, Barling to Little Rock, then southeast to Lake City and south to Mississippi then east across Alabama and down to the Gulf Shores. We stayed at the best Western on the beach.

I am very weary. But Al and I didn’t have to take turns driving to get here, PTL! We can see the waves rolling in from our motel window. Most of us plan to spend tomorrow on the beach, watching the other people and going on a dolphin watching boat, supper included.

We hated to believe Bill Bailey behind, but Lorene will go by every day, feed and water him and hold him if he’ll let her. She’ll also bring in the mail and newspapers.

Dad just opened a wicker freestanding closet and found a microwave and refrigerator. He was out on the hall balcony with some of the others who each said they plan to spend most of the day tomorrow on the beach.

I believe, according to our itinerary we’ll take a boat and dolphin tour tomorrow evening. I look forward to it all. There are 50+ in our party.

We had driven down in the southeast corner of Arkansas on our goose tour recently, but still marveled at the flatness of the land year as compared to our Western Hills. 6 AM to 11 PM makes an LONG day.

Tuesday: Up early and ate in this huge motel on the beach, then out to walk on the beach. We saw one pelican fly from the beach. I drew a blank and had to ask what it was. I think of pelican swallowing fish not from  flying, then we saw a black backed gull and black headed gulls. I asked one woman to see if she could find me a Florida bird book at the mall (we are not mall shoppers unless we go for a specific item. We usually go one day to Christmas shop. Al always tell me to “get everything you need today because I’m not coming back!” Sometimes I go with Lorene, but mostly she goes every week with Doris.)

As we played bingo on the bus yesterday I won one game and got a medal holder with a small glass holder for a candle. Since I don’t use candles I decided this would be a unique way to display my small Gulf Beach shells and the white sand.

The hotel is gorgeous, six stories high, and we are on the sixth floor. There is a wicker standing clothes closet and inside is a microwave and dorm size refrigerator the. The fridge is perfect for keeping Al’s eye medicine cold.

Lunch is on our own today… Mine will be very light since his lack of physical activity (I exercise 40 minutes, five days a week at the senior center) doesn’t use up much energy.

Tonight we have dinner cruise and dolphin watch. Hope we see dolphins.

Today we are hanging out at the big beach hotel and resting from yesterdays long 14 hour trip. We sat on the balcony outside our hotel, sixth floor, and watched the sunbathers on the beach in a teeny teeny bikinis. One of our fellow travelers commented that the girls only wear strings with small patches to cover the necessary parts. ” I’ve got one of those at home, but I sure wouldn’t wear it in public!” Then her husband looked at her in surprise, and asked “you have?”

For lunch we were on our own so we walked across the street from our hotel, moseyed down, looking in shop windows at garishly painted T-shirts and other tourist trap offerings, stopping at an ice cream store for our favorite ice cream in a cup, which we ate under a big umbrella out front.

We had quite a show from out there as several police and rescue trucks, sirens wailing, rolled up the street towards the beach, and at least two pickup trucks, filled with white teenage boys and decked with the Confederate flag drove up and down the street. Then there was a pickup with girls in swimsuits driving up the highway and back again. Spring break?

9 PM: We had one of those unbelievable evenings. Our bus driver arrived and we loaded in, each in our own assigned seat, which we occupied for the entire trip while traveling. With 50 passengers booked, a vacant seat identified the missing person. A stuffed monkey, hung at the front of the bus, indicating which side to unload first. I tell you these gals were organized.

Back to our evening. First our bus driver took a wrong turn and we went miles in the wrong direction, and we had to retrace our route.

Then on the dolphin watch the captain had a hard time finding and tracking dolphins. However Al and I were on the left side of the boat when one dolphin surfaced,heading straight for the boat, then dived again, but we saw his friendly face.

Our dinner was very simple, teenage boys and girls as waitpersons. Something happened to the Water supply and there was no coffee… The gal in charge passed Sue two boxes of sandwich cookies, hard and dry, which she passed on to us on the bus back to the motel. However we saw big tugboats and barges crossing the bay and it made us feel right at home. We are really enjoying ourselves. This afternoon Al and I sat on our balcony overlooking the beach with its white sand and lots of sunbathers, little kids chasing the shallow waves in and out, seagulls over head and large pelicans flying by, and soaked up the scene.

Big day, now for the sweet rest and TV before sleep, and the Bellingrath gardens, before heading out to New orleans.

Wednesday: Breakfast in the hotel, bags outside the door. I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and Al just had coffee. It was interesting to hear French spoken among waitpersons and accented English spoken to us.

A long, long ferry trip across the bay. Al got out on deck to take pictures, as did a good many others, but I stayed warm inside. Probably it wasn’t as cold as riding the Vinalhaven ferry outside, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Al took pictures of an oil drilling rig of the day.

Eventually we got to that Bellengrath garden’s about 11. After viewing a short film about Mr. Bellengrath, who started the Coca-Cola company in the 1930s and built this beautiful mansion in Bellengrath, Louisiana, We walked through the mansion and then the beautifully tended flower gardens, featuring a rose garden and an azalea garden, among others. We ended up at a cafeteria on the grounds had lunch.

Afterward we boarded the bus for the trip on to New Orleans, only two ladies were missing. Sue went to hunt them. Someone said the ladies went to visit the mansion because one of them fell in the museum and missed the trip to the mansion. Eventually they showed up and we got underway again.

A long, long drive there to New Orleans arriving about 4:30 PM, going directly to our hotel room and the holiday and, numerous on the West Bank. We passed a cemetery with all the “graves.” on top of the ground. They look like white marble boxes from our bus window.

Wednesday night: the bus picked us up about 6:30 PM and took us to the Mississippi River for our dinner cruise. On the way, as we walked across the parking lot, one lady fell off the edge of the sidewalk and cut and bruised her face and Elbow. She refused to go for medical attention so intense she was and her husband to go on the dinner trip. There was a large dining room on the boat and the long buffet table set off when we got there. 50 one of us filled just one end of the boat, and we can see the paddle wheel out of the rear window.

We had a tall, thin black man for our waiter and he was fun as he joked and teased with us. When I asked for hot tea he made quite a thing of it and I told him “I’m from Maine we like our tea hot.” I got my tea.

After a bounteous buffet he brought us our dessert… Would you believe bread pudding? I looked at mine and asked “could you put a little syrup on mine, that’s what we do in New England.” He brought mine back with syrup and three maraschino cherries! Then he had to bring cherries for the rest of the table.

As soon as we finished dinner the engine started and the huge paddle wheel started turning. That was right outside our big window and we watched it turned as we “sailed” down the Mississippi River very slowly and in a stately manner. Such fun. We were entertained during the evening by a Dixieland jazz group and two of our couples got up and danced. The rest of us just watched.

We sat out on the deck for a while and watched the water traffic on the Mississippi and the lights of New Orleans under a full golden moon. Pure delight!

Thursday: after breakfast a tour guide boarded our bus for our sightseeing tour, and we drove through New Orleans, learning the early history, seeing beautiful homes of the rich and famous, and lovely parks… Not to mention the Superdome where the Super Bowl games are played.

Continued.

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