Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Donaldsonville to Allendale, LA - Tuesday, June 18. 2013

            This morning I was up with Cal so that I could take him to the location where he stopped yesterday.  However we first stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast, as the motel did not have much.   Cal continued to ride along LA #1.  The first several miles out of Donaldsonville had just been resurfaced, so there was a smooth wide shoulder. Later, even though the shoulder was wide the surface had deteriorated, making it a rougher ride.    

            North of White Castle, LA the antebellum home, Nottoway Plantation, is located along the river road, facing the river.  We have been there before, so we were not going to spend the time to tour the home, but I decided I wanted to drive by it and take a few photos.  I turned off of LA#1 and found the river road at this location to be smooth and very lightly traveled.  As I rounded the bend, Nottoway Plantation greeted me, gleaming white in the morning sun.  It was simply stunning as you drive around the bend.  I turned around, found Cal, and told him he has to go that extra mile to see the home. It was worth it!   
Nottoway Plantation House
St Louis Plantation House

Also in this area facing the river, was another antebellum home, St Louis, but it is a private residence and is not open to the public.  After getting to Plaquemine, the shoulder along LA#1 disappeared so we used the river road (at the foot of the levee) to get through town.  After visiting the museum at the old locks, we decided to continue on the road along the river at the foot of the levee rather than to drive LA #1.  There is a whole different feel to this road.  History was everywhere and there was very little traffic in this section of the river.  I took photos of the historical markers along the road which proves to be very interesting and enlightening.  There are other antebellum homes along the river in various states of disrepair. Also there are places where there is a grouping to “live oak” trees with a place that surely had a home at some point in history.  “If only those trees could speak!”   “Live oak” trees are trees that stay green all year around – they are not related to the Oak trees we see in the northern States.  The “Live Oak” trees can live to be 5-600 years old.  They not only have huge trunks, but they can spread out and cover a huge area.    

At several points along the road we have been able to observe farmers preparing the fields for the new sugar cane planting.  Southern Louisiana is the sugar cane capitol of the US. In Iowa we have acres and acres of corn, in southern Louisiana it is acres and acres of sugar cane.  We have not seen any cotton yet – it is too humid for cotton this far south.  This morning when we turned off of LA #1 a farmer was working in his field right beside the road.  Guess what?  We stopped and visited with him!! 
Leveling the Field - Notice the Computer Pivot
Tractor with Ridging Disc

 Very briefly: they first level the field so the water runs to one end or corner of the field, due to all their rain.  This is all computer controlled.  They follow that with a tool bar, attached to a tractor, with disc clusters that begin the formation of the ridges where the Sugar Cane is eventually planted.  The first of three cuttings, per root stock, takes 14 months for the plant to be mature.   After the third cutting the sugar cane is removed and soy beans are planted on the ridges either two or three rows per ridge.  After the soybeans, it is back to sugar cane.

We knew there was a lot of industry along the Mississippi river, but we really had no idea until this trip.  It is unbelievable!  Around every bend there is another refinery, another chemical plant, and another fertilizer plant.  What is produce in this area for the rest of the US is unbelievable.  The river is the source of transportation for all these products. 

              We continued on the river road to Allendale. We have been on the west side of Mississippi this whole time.  Due to the motel situation we stopped here for the day.  We are actually in a motel outside Port Allen.  Later this afternoon we went across the river to visit Magnolia Mound Plantation in Baton Rouge. This is a Creole style Plantation home.  It is now a museum.
Magnolia Mound Plantation House

Detached Kitchen (Fire Safety) and Garden

Living Room

Parents Bedroom

Kitchen with overhead fan

Slave House
Inside Slave House

Tomorrow we will drive back to where we stopped today, and will continue on the river road north to St Francisville where we will cross the Mississippi.

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