Winding up the Mississippi

We left Florida mid-April to go to our next assignment in Minnesota but traveling slowly so as not to get there before the snow melts and it warms up sufficiently. Our first stop was Pensacola and the old village which was settled in 1540 by the Spanish from Spain. It then changed hands several times. The French, the British, the Americans, the Confederates and finally the Union. Can you see the various flags running up and down the pole? If you go be sure and see the Naval Air Museum. A freebie and well worth it even for folks who have a limited knowledge of airplanes. Next stop, New Orleans. We have been there several times but there is so much to see. Most importantly, we met with Larry’s cousin, Don Boomgaarden and his lovely wife Paula. Don is Dean of Music at Loyola and a concert pianist as well as having a Bluegrass band etc. Check out ‘You Tube’ of Donald Boomgaarden. We ate at Commander’s Palace, an old and  fine eatery-courtesy of Don and Paula.

Dean Donald Boomgaarden

Next morning Larry and I had cafe au lait and beignets at The French Market.
We have been toting around Flat Stanley’s girlfriend,Flat Halley. 

Cafe au lait, beignets and Flat Halley

We strolled around the square enjoying the perfect weather and listening to  the jazz musicians and the artists displaying their paintings and 
The Cathedral St Louis

at the head of the square.
 Later we went to the wonderful museum complex towards the outskirts of the city where there is a fine arts museum. A river winds through the park ,a walkway for walkers and bikers and an incredible area for kids with an old time merry-go-round, a little village to play in and a choochoo for rides around in and out the trees and gardens.I went into the museum because Don had told me about the collection of French paintings that had been locally collected when New Orleans belonged to the French. They had a huge painting of Marie Antoinette, and one of Louis XVI and other landscapes and portraits by French artists. While I was meandering thru the collection I listened to four women softly sing wonderful 30’s and 40’s music, kind of like The Andrews Sisters.-close harmony and terrific blend. 

Natchez Indian home

Natchez,Mississippi. One of the few towns that wasn’t burned by the Union. Lots of antebellum homes to see and the beginning of The Natchez Trace. The plantation owners kept their plantations in Louisiana as the soil is fertile from annual flooding but the living conditions–cooler air, fewer annoying insects, and drier conditions were better in the higher elevation across the Miss. Think back to the days of yellow fever,cholera, malaria,dysentary, tuberculosis-you name it. Better chance of survival in Natchez. We also visited the Grande Mounds. Native Americans,(I’ll call them Indians as I am not PC), all up the Mississippi River, built mounds. Some for the chief’s home, some as burial tombs and some for ceremony. In Natchez, the Indians lived in permanent homes built of mud and thatch on their own individual farms. There are several mound areas in Mississippi along The Trace and all the way up to Illinois where we found the largest mounds that had been about the size of The Great Pyramids of Giza. Is there a connection?

William Faulkner

We had two days in Oxford,MI to check out Ole Miss and the nice little friendly  town. Good hamburgers at  Handy Andy’s. Writer William Faulkner hometown-see statue. Also John Grishom lives there.

One of Cape Girardeau’s murals

Stopped at the old French towns of Cape Girardeau,Missouri (Rush’s hometown) where lovely old cathedral St Vincent’s has three reliquaries, St Vincent, a Pope and Ste Louise de Marillac who started the Sisters of Charity. The tiny congregation saved the church from demolishion in spite of Cardinal Law’s recommendation. Proud people.
Stunning paintings and statuary inside. Outside along the wall keeping the Mississippi from flooding the town, are a series of incredible murals depicting the history and people who lived along the Miss. I would say they were trompe l’oeil as they appear to be coming out of the wall and straight for you. Also fun is the village of Ste Genevieve where they have saved some of the oldest french architecture-very different construction that our English. We stopped at Chester, IL to visit Popeye, Olive Oyl et al. Cartoonist,Elzie Segar lived there. We did much more -Lincoln’s home, Stillman Valley, German Valley, the tulip fest in Pella, IA,but I’ll save that for later.

Well blah blah bah, we have arrived at our destination on the Zumbrota River, MN at Shades of Sherwood RV park and our new jobs. Larry-maintenance man and yours truly, taking reservations on the computer and doing odd help- out jobs. Plenty of time to paint in this lovely setting for the summer season. 

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