| Ybor City, Florida |
We greatly enjoyed our day trip to historic Ybor City (pronounced Ebor) which is northeast of Tampa, FL. It was founded in 1885 by a group of cigar manufacturers. The original population was comprised mostly of Cuban and Spanish immigrants. Italian and Eastern-European Jewish immigrants followed shortly afterwards. The city is unique in the American South in that it is a prosperous manufacturing community built and populated by immigrants.
| Ybor City, Florida |
The city prospered until the Great Depression when the world wide demand of cigars declined.
In the 1980s the area became popular at a bohemian haven for artists. Later in the 1990s Ybor became a destination for night life and entertainment. Since 2000 many buildings have been revitalized and restored.
It was chilly the last day that we camped at Fort DeSoto. The egrets scrunched down their long necks to try to keep warm as the wind fluffed their feathers. I've seen egrets near my home where it is often much colder and have never seen them do this pose, but these egrets looked like the were trying to keep warm.
Hillsborough River State Park, FL
| Pileated Woodpecker |
Hillsborough River State Park is a short distance north of Tampa. It was close enough that we decided to drive back to St Petersburg to see the Dali Museum.
Hillsborough is yet another beautiful lush Florida State Park. I was quite taken by the beautiful walk along the river.
The river was quite still and would develop wonderful pools of deep shimmering color. The light in came thru the moss hanging from the trees and was quite magical.
Dali Museum, St Petersburg, FL
We drove back south 45 minutes to see the Dali Museum in St Petersburg and were especially glad that we saw the museum. I wasn't a big fan of his work but we both gained a lot of respect for Salvador Dali's life and artwork. Most people know of his "melting clocks" but he created so much more than those well known works. Having a degree in art history I knew quite a bit about Dali but seeing his work in person is even more impressive. He is a master of fine detail. They have a noteworthy collection that was mostly collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. They began the collection early in Dali's career and the museum has 96 pieces from their collection on display. It is the largest collection of Dali work outside of his home in Spain.
Dali was a very talented and creative man. Considering much of the work was done in the 30's it was quite unique. Now having seen his work in person, I would like to add that he was a master of technique as well.
The museum building was designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK. It incorporates a glass structure that follows the principals of Dali called the "enigma". Inside the museum there is a helical staircase playing off the love Dali had for spirals. It is unique museum with an outside labyrinth and gardens as well.
After a night at Suwannee River State Park we drove east to Destin along the Florida Panhandle. The panhandle is wonderful area that includes the Emerald Highway. The weather is much cooler here than in the south Florida this time of year but the beaches have the same crystal white soft sand found at other beaches along the Gulf Coast further to the south. We stayed at our last great Florida State Park called Henderson State Beach State Park.
Henderson Beach State Park, FL - It felt like a beautifully landscaped garden at the campground.
Two hours after our arrival in New Orleans we were walking around the historic French Quarter and I missed a little 3" step and fell twisting my ankle. I broke a little piece of bone in my foot attached to ligaments and sprained my ankle.
I got to visit Tulane Medical Center ER where two of my friends children have gone to school. I was quite impressed with the efficient, friendly, quality care that I received. They made a fiberglass splint fitted to my leg and then wrapped it up. In the photo you can see the doctor station. The x-ray was about 25 feet to my left and the waiting room was just another 25 feet to the right so everything went quickly.
Brief history of NOLA - New Orleans was originally founded by the French in 1718. Before their arrival it was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years. The site was chosen by the French due to high elevation compared to other areas. It was intended to be a major colonial city due to its location on a major trading route and on the Mississippi River. After a hurricane in 1722 the city was laid out in the grid pattern that exists today.
In 1763 following Britain's victory in the Seven Year War, the colony west of the Mississippi River was ceded to the Spanish Empire. This was followed by years of fighting, epidemics and fires that burned much of the city. The French gained control once again and in 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase.
The city was an important commercial center for the US and had the US Mint located there in 1838. Early in the American Civil War New Orleans was captured by the Union without a battle in the city itself and therefore it was spared the destruction suffered by many of the other cities of the American South. It retains a historical flavor with a wealth of 19th century structures.
Characteristics of the French Quarter generally cited as being of Spanish origin, such as multi-storied buildings centered around inner courtyards, were common to all European settlements of the period. Other characteristics, such as large arched doorways and the use of decorative wrought-iron were also present in French, English and Spanish buildings.
We had a great meal and were able to listen to the music on the streets. I am so grateful to Tom for such a gift of experience.
I would want to warn anyone walking from resort to French Quarter that two blocks of the trip are by the Projects, a large abandoned building and a police station. We were warned by cycle taxi that we should be careful especially at night. The Projects have been cleaned up since Katrina and look nice but we did hear sirens every night and gun shots one night.
For $6 you can have a taxi pick you right up at your campsite or take you home at night.
Swamp land in Louisiana
We stayed in a private campground, River View RV Resort in Vidalia, LA which is direcly across the Mississippi River from Natchez, MS. We saw number of Confederate flags proudly flying in the South.
You can see an old paddle wheeler with bright lights by the bridge. It is now a casino. This was the view from our campground. We are on the Louisiana side of the river looking at Natchez.
Natchez, MS - Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
The Natchez Indians lived in this area from 700 AD to 1730 AD. Between 1682 and 1729 this area was their main cerimonial place called the Great Village by the French. There are some surviving small cerimonial mounds to be seen today along with these recreated houses.
Relations between the French and the Natchez were cordial at first but deteriorated after disagreements and violence between 1716 and 1723. In 1729 a pro-English element within the tribe led the Natchez to attack the French colonial plantations and the garrison at Ft Rosalie. The French retaliated with such strength that the Natchez were forced to abandon their homeland.
Natchez, MS - we missed the snakes, fortunately
Website for Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
I noticed the French influence in the modern homes in Louisiana with the high steep pitched roofs. I have rarely seen roofs with this shape in the West, but they were very common in Louisiana. They were clearly very French!
Balmorhea, TX - Saddleback Mountain RV
In Texas we found that the campgrounds had a lot of men who worked in the oil fields. Months ago we had to alter our trip around some areas that were completely filled with oil workers.
Balmorhea, TX - Saddleback Mountain -
Some people settled in with furniture. I recall in the Florida Keys at the campground they had regulation against indoor furniture in the campsites. The recliner fit right in this space above.
Despite the dust I loved Texas. It is a beautiful state.
81 Palms RV Resort, Deming, NW - The signs claim it to be the best senior housing in New Mexico. It is a place with lots of humor and quite a nice spot in the desert.
Near the entrance they had two old police cars with dummies in the driver's seats by a sign about 24 hour security.
This museum is made up entirely from private donations. It has an important collection of Mimbres pottery in particular, but they also have exhibits of paintings, furniture, period rooms, antique machines and tools, toys, dolls, clothes, vehicles, farm equipment, war memorabilia, photographs, Indian artifacts, gems and geodes. It is free and worth a visit in the old historic armory building. My only comment is that the displays are not well documented or described, but the variety and quality was work seeing. Website is http://lunacountyhistoricalsociety.com/Welcome.html
I have been a fan of their superb geometric designs since the 1980's. Most of the pieces were found in burial grounds. There is usually a hole in the bottom of the bowls to let the spirit out. Some of the pieces I saw at this exhibit were ones I had seen in books for years so it was exciting for me.
The museum staff let us in the back door with the little wheel chair and Tom was able to push me around to see the exhibits. I learned first hand the limited visibility that people have from a low wheel chair, but for the most part I could see everything. There was work on the top shelves that I could not see well, however.
Arizona ghost town
Quartzite, AZ when it is not the big event in January it still has many shops open for business. It has become a well know place to buy rocks.
When we drove over the highway pass north of LA known as The Grapevine and descended into the valley we knew it was spring. It was so welcome to see the blooms! The day before we drove up to Joshua Tree National Forest, but it was too early for the blooms so we did not stay. In the valley, however, we found lots of welcome spring color. When we arrived home we also found our plum tree in our side yard was in full bloom to welcome us.
The Roadtrek served us very well in health and in sickness, but I'd rather not use it as a sick room again.
We have another trip planned to Santa Barbara in a few months if all goes as planned.