Across America – May 2019 – Random Scenes Part 2

Central Tennessee – Bus Graveyard







Northern Alabama – Rock Zoo





Scottsboro, Alabama – Did you ever lose your luggage on an airplane and never get it back. It likely ended up here, as they buy all of the unclaimed luggage from the airlines and sell it in essentially a thrift store.





Pawhuska, Oklahoma



Bartlesville, Oklahoma – Phillips 66 Petroleum Company Headquarters







Vinita, Oklahoma – Will Rogers Rodeo



Eastern Oklahoma – Pensacola Dam. A mile long and releasing a lot of water because of the recent rains.





Joplin, Missouri – America’s 2nd largest truck stop.



Southern Missouri – Presumed dead armadillo



Somewhere else in Southern Missouri – Coke Machine Graveyard



Scenes around Cairo, Illinois – At the confluence of the Ohio River and Mississippi River – with flooding.











Evansville, Indiana – Restored Greyhound Bus Station, now a hipster hamburger place. Manhattan prices in small town Indiana.

The interior looked nothing like a bus station.



Evansville, Indiana – County Courthouse



Scenes around Louisville, Kentucky







And after 3 weeks of running around the country – back in Ohio (in Cincinnati). Only 2 hours to home.






Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas – May 2019 – Slot Canyon and Hoodoos

In addition to the national park there is a state park along the Rio Grande in west Texas called Big Bend Ranch State Park. While smaller than the national park, it is still very large.

Our morning in the park took us along the renown River Road, which is very scenic.















Our first hike of the day was through Closed Canyon. The trail through this slot canyon quickly becomes sided by 150′ cliffs.

Eventually you reach a point where you need rappelling equipment to continue over large erosions, so we had to turn around and return to the car.












The HooDoo Trail is another highlight of the park. Being able to get close up gives you a sense of how large they are.

Our time along the Rio Grande ended with this hike. From this point forward it will be north and east towards home.














Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Jungle Gardens

With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.



With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.



The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.



There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.



As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.



Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).



We did NOT feed this alligator.



The turtles were safely out of harms way.



A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.




This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.



The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.

Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.

When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!








New Orleans – May 2019 – Getting Around The Big Easy

Getting to and around New Orleans has always been an adventure. Situated near the mouth of the Mississippi, the city is essentially surrounded by water and swamps.

While most people likely fly into the airport, or take I-10 from Mobile or Baton Route, the best route into the city by car is from the north across Lake Pontchartrain.



The Lake Pntchartrain Causeway is a 24 mile long bridge. Completed in the 1950s it is to this day the longest bridge in the world over water.



Which results in a funny looking navigation system – we are in the middle of the lake, still 14 miles from shore.



Eventually you get close enough to see the skyline of the city off in the distance.



Once you make it to town you see plenty of the ride share bicycles.



Although this person chose his own unique ride.



The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the country, with constant ships coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River.



The tugboats stay busy all day.



At the base of Canal Street is the tourist ship The Natchez, a faux stern-wheeler.



The best transportation however are the streetcars.





New Orleans turned out to be a fairly easy city to navigate.






Moss Point, Mississippi – May 2019 – Gulf Coast Gator Ranch

The Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is located in the swamps of southern Mississippi, near the town of Moss Point. They specialize in raising alligators for commercial use, but they also retrieve ‘nuisance’ alligators from golf courses, etc.



Their ranch is surrounded by a levee and fence to keep the wild alligators away from their alligators. Because their gators get lots to eat they grow to impressive sizes.



They lurk about in the ponds and nearby grasses.



You can buy ‘gator chow’ and throw them over the fence to the gators.



They are everywhere!



Some just hang out on land enjoying the warm Mississippi sun.



Our host, and boat captain – Captain ‘Frog’ – brought out a baby alligator for us to hold.



It was time for part 2 of our morning – an airboat ride!



Just outside their ranch we found this guy keeping an eye on us.



Fortunately he was just hanging around for a snack as well – marshmallows.



As we headed out into the swamp we passed by even more gators.



The black waters of the bayous were beautiful. Captain Frog was very knowledgeable about the plants and flowers of the swamp, and the traditional uses, as he grew up in the swamps of Louisiana. He had the perfect Louisiana accent to go with it.



We would ride for a while then stop and check out the wildlife and surroundings.



At times Captain Frog would pick up speed as we went sailing through the grasses with ease.



There is an amazing amount of beauty in the swamp.



This might look like a pile of brush, but it is an alligator nest, where the female gators place their eggs.



For good measure we passed a couple more gators on the way back to the dock.



It was great to ride along with Captain Frog – we learned about the swamp, saw lots of gators, and had a good time blasting around in the air boat.

Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is a highly recommended stop if you are in the area.

Columbus – February 2019 – The Ice is Back

This weekend is a bit of a repeat from last weekend with visits to icy places and botanical gardens (to recover from the cold)

While Columbus doesn’t have anything close to Lake Erie, they do have a few streams that have enough drop to have small waterfalls, including Indian Run Falls in Dublin.





The falls are very small, but with enough splash onto the rocks for some nice ice formations.





As noted in the Cleveland ice posting it had warmed up and rained (a lot) but it is now very cold again, resulting in frozen puddles, with interesting patterns frozen in them.




Further down river is Hayden Run Falls, the best in town. There is a nice boardwalk to get back to the falls, crossing over the flooded bottom.





After a short distance you arrive at the falls. The Featured Image for this posting has a closer photo of the falls.





Everything within 200′ of the falls had a nice coating on it from the continual mist coming off the water, although mostly on the side facing the falls.









The ravine walls had numerous icicles all over them










As we made our way back down the boardwalk we could hear the ducks quacking away.





Our last stop was Griggs Dam. Again with all the recent rain and snow melt off there is flooding, so the dam’s for the reservoirs are running at full capacity.





With this being a dam, and not a waterfalls there is little spray to cause ice formation right at the dam, but just down stream the trees along the banks were covered in ice.





They aren’t Niagara Falls, but a nice way to spend a few cold hours on a Sunday morning.