Monday, June 30, 2014

Take a Trip on Route 66 From Oklahoma City to Miami, OK

We are stopped for the night at the eastern edge of Route 66 in Oklahoma; we got as far as Miami, OK ("spelled like Miami but pronounced my-am-uh" as Steve has been telling me all day) before stopping for the night.

We started out the day in Frisco, TX, drove up I35 to Moore, and then Oklahoma City, and then picked up Highway 66 at Edmond.

We drove through Moore, briefly; we passed through last year about a month after that devastating tornado, and we wanted to see how they are doing.  We were glad to see that they are rebuilding and while you can certainly still tell that a huge tornado came through, there are new houses, fences, and buildings going up all along the path of the tornado.  Moore is alive and well.

Once we got on Route 66 we tried to drive as much of the original route as we could.  There are various alignments of it and some isn't feasible to drive on.  Some is unpassable.    But really, who would ever take that awful turnpike when you could see real America like we did today?

We've seen lots of cool things like a round barn:


and a giant neon soda bottle (which would be very cool at night),


but the highlight of the day was the Catoosa Blue Whale.



It was built in the 1970s as a 34th anniversary present for Mrs. Zelta Davis by her husband Hugh S. Davis, closed down in 1988, deteriorated, and then was restored in 2002.



Back in the day you could picnic there, swim, slide down the slides into the water, and sunbathe on top of the whale.  It was lovely just sitting there in the late afternoon, listening to the wind whisper through the trees and watching turtles and fish in the pond.

We soldiered on to Miami, had a mediocre cheeseburger for dinner, picked up some beer, and now we rest.  Tomorrow, we continue our trek to Iowa.

Stone Service Station

An old stone gas station along Route 66 in Oklahoma just outside Arcadia. It was built in the late teens or early twenties and gas was dispensed from a fifty gallon drum. And there was a counterfitting operation in the back room.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hello, Texas!

The Becker 2014 Summer Adventure begins!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Take a Trip to the Dorcheat Historical Museum and the Minden Cemetery

After driving by The Dorcheat Historical Museum for several years and often commenting that we should go visit, Steve and I finally went inside today to check it out; we were actually in Minden anyway to get the Jeep serviced, and it was a spur of the moment decision, but one well worth the time.

The museum has been open since 2008 and is located on Pearl Street in historic downtown Minden, Louisiana.  The main purpose of the museum is to preserve Webster Parish history and to educate future generations about the past.  The museum does an excellent job on both accounts; what struck me as we walked through the various displays was how unique the displays are and the obvious great effort that has been made to collect and preserve historic items from Webster Parish.  These people have done a lot of work!

We were greeted by Museum Director Schelley Brown Francis as soon as we entered; she offered us a tour which "lasts about thirty minutes," she said, but we decided to just poke around for ourselves this trip; if we'd had more time I would have done the tour and I certainly will next time.

Many of the displays have lovely 5 x 7 cards for you to pick up and keep as you go through; the cards have images on one side and text on the other related to the particular display.  Our first stop was about cotton production and plantation life.



There is a video that loops continuously that talks about the plantation system in the south and the various crops that might be raised (cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, etc.);   There's a huge bale of cotton there where you can feel how tightly packed it is, and cotton seed to inspect.

Here is a cool sign from the Webb Cotton press:


Dorcheat Bayou cuts right through Webster Parish: it starts in Arkansas and empties into Lake Bisteneau; in the early 19th century Dorcheat Bayou was navigable for three to six months per year.  This part of Minden's history is represented by the huge wheel just inside the door:


There was a display about Germantown, a Utopian society established in 1835 just northeast of Minden.  In this display you walk through a typical one room home complete with double bed, a hearth with iron pots nearby, and a baby cradle, among other things.

Minden's educational history is displayed with old yearbooks, band pictures and uniforms, letterman jackets and instruments:


There's a research room filled with historical journals, yearbooks, collections of local fiction, and other documents:


There's a display of the various religious groups in the area; artifacts from various churches are on display:



The museum also has a large meeting room where various speakers give lectures on occasion; you can keep up with those events via the museum's Facebook page.  This room also holds a display of artifacts representing Minden's journey through various wars.  There's an old radio by the WWII display that plays Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address; the display has a young man (a mannequin dressed in period clothes) sitting in a chair by the radio listening intently.

There's much more that I just didn't photograph such as the old drive-in movie speaker in the entertainment display, or the ammunition plant display, among others.

Before we left we stopped in the gift shop and I bought a copy of Dr. Donnis Taylor's 2011 lecture at the museum on Ada Jack Carver Snell, a Natchitoches born writer prolific in the 1920s and 30s who married and moved to Minden with her new husband who had business there.  Ada wrote beautiful short stories (and a play) reflective of southern life with language that just drips Spanish moss and moonlight.

Of course I had to drive by and look at where Ada lived when she was in Minden; it's an adorable house with a lovely garden in the back in Minden's now Historic Residential District.   I'd like to see what it looked like when she actually lived there.


She quit writing and became a recluse after her husband died in 1959; she lived until 1972 and is buried in the Minden cemetery, next to her husband and her infant son.


The Minden cemetery is also fascinating and I learned something today that I didn't know; again, something we picked up in the museum.

In the old section of the Minden cemetery there are 20-30 Confederate soldiers buried; it's known as the Civil War Trench.  According to the display card I picked up at the museum:
Estimates are 20-30 bodies lie buried along the concrete line...Though names may be lost, their lives are remembered for their bravery & valor in April of 1864.  They likely were from Walker Texas Division & General Polinac's Division of Louisiana.  During bloody battles of Mansfield & Pleasant Hill they were wounded & brought to Minden to be treated.  These divisions had been in Minden a few months earlier, wintering in 1864.
You can read more here.

The "Trench" is in the back corner of the cemetery:



Only one name is known.


All the others are unknown:


The large monument was placed in 1936 by the Daughter's of the Confederacy...


...and the markers were placed by T.M. Scott Camp of Minden's Son's of Confederate Veterans in 2008.

You can go here to read more about T.M. Scott Camp of Minden - it's a cool site but I'll warn you, it plays music when you go there and I hate those autoplay things.  The content is interesting, though.

You can read more about the historic Minden cemetery here and here.

At any rate, it was an interesting afternoon and I learned some things.  I'd like to go back and take the museum tour and go walk though the cemetery among the unusual grave stones and iron fences.  Maybe in the fall...when it's not a hundred degrees with off-the-chart-humidity.

Admission to the Dorcheat Historical Museum is free and they are open Tuesday - Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 pm (closed for lunch).

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Need A Home!

UPDATE:  Kitty has been adopted!

This sweet kitten has been abandoned at The American Legion on Cross Lake.  I'm desperately trying to find her a home before they have to call Animal Control on her.  If you can adopt her, please let me know.  Please share this post and help her find a home.  She's very sweet, scared, and a bit skittish, but she warms up to people pretty easily.  She just wants a home.


Still Fighting for Justice for Braveheart

I spent the morning in court today.

I wanted to see what evil looks like:  I wanted to see the face of someone who could chain a puppy to a car block in a storage locker in August in heat over 100-degrees and leave it there to die.

Today was yet another court date for Gabriel Lee, the man accused of doing just that to the puppy now named Braveheart.

For the backstory, go here.

And for the record, Braveheart is happy, healthy, and doing just fine, now.

Bo and Ronda Spataro, along with the La. Baby Momma Rescue group and other supporters, were in court today to see justice served for Braveheart but were denied yet again; the court delayed Mr. Lee's trial until
Braveheart today
August 26.

"It's frustrating," Bo said after the hearing.  "I feel like they just think we are going to go away and this will all die down, but it won't."  And true enough, every time a hearing date comes up, there are more and more supporters for Brave in the courtroom.  In fact, when we all got up to leave after the delay was announced, we emptied two and a half rows in the courtroom.

KSLA posted a story on today's events.  KTAL TV and KMSS-Fox both were present and interviewed Bo outside the courthouse; when asked what he thought the punishment for Mr. Lee should be, Bo was diplomatic.  He does wish that the court would impose a serious fine and perhaps disallow Mr. Lee from owning another animal "for a significant period of time."

LRS14:102.1 is the statue that deals with felony cruelty to animals which is what Mr. Lee faces:  he could be ordered for a psychological evaluation and treatment and could be banned from owning or keeping animals "for a period of time deemed appropriate by the court."  The defendant could also have to pay for the costs of the evaluation and treatment.  He could be fined "not less than $5,000 nor no more than $25,000"; he could be imprisoned  with or without hard labor for not less than one year nor more than ten.


So.  In a perfect world, the defendant in this case, for doing this:


...should undergo a psych evaluation and a period of treatment; he should be banned from owning or keeping another animal, of any kind, for a very long time, and should be fined $25,000.  He should go to jail with hard labor for ten years.    

We wouldn't tolerate this kind of abuse toward children; why do we tolerate it for animals?  




Sunday, June 15, 2014

The American Legion Post 14 Flag Retirement Ceremony

Yesterday was Flag Day and as is customary the American Legion Post 14 on Cross Lake conducted its annual Flag Retirement Ceremony.

Steve and I got there early to help set up and prepare for the ceremony; Steve was to participate in the ceremony yesterday and wanted to do a quick run through with the Boy Scouts that would be assisting.

We hauled the podium, amp, and flags out to the hill by the Boy Scout hut, we set up chairs in the shade for spectators, and brought out iced bottles of water.  

Here's our buddy Jerry helping hook up the amp:



The Boy Scouts got the fire going:


Various organizations were present and brought flags to be retired.  The VFW was there:


And Shawn Bohanan, Chef de Gare of  Voiture Locale 137 of the Forty & 8:


My friends John and Julia Dunning were there; I liked this one:


But Steve had me retake it when they were all paying attention:


After everything was set up Steve rounded up his little delegation and ran them through their paces a time or two; the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Young Marines were also there and joined the Scouts in assisting.


A small group of spectators assembled in the shade:


The Flag Retirement Ceremony is very dignified and formal.  A ceremonial flag is presented for inspection by the First and Second Vice-Commander and the Commander says:

Comrades, we have presented here these Flags of our Country which have been inspected and condemned as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love. 
“A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy. 
“Let these faded Flags of our Country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new Flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier or sailor dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning. The members shall stand at attention.”


There is a prayer, and a bugler plays "To the Colors" and "Taps".  


One of the values of the ceremony, I think, is the dignity of it and the respect that the young people learn.  


Those participating did an awesome job.

The local media was there scrambling for the perfect shot:


And the firemen were there to keep everything safe!


After the bugler is finished, the flags are placed on the iron grate for burning.  At that point, legionnaires and veterans in attendance assist the Scouts in placing the flags on the grate.


This goes on for a while as the flags are properly consumed by the fire.  There were lots and lots of flags that had been collected through the year.


The fire department was at the ready:


You definitely wanted to stay out of the smoke:


The column of black smoke could be seen for miles:


And the heat from the fire was intense:


Just as it was all over and the fire about burned out, a lady drove up with a handful of flags and those went in too.  

It all took about forty-five minutes and then it was done.  

We loaded up the podium, chairs, amp, and the Post flags and cleaned everything up then adjourned to the lounge for some cold refreshments.  

Following that, Jerry, Steve and I went to grab some lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon cruising Cross Lake and just drifting the afternoon away.  



Check out this magnificent heron:


He was awesome:


And if all that wasn't enough fun, I made friends with a stray, nearly feral, kitten that is hanging around the Legion;  I fed her ham, cheese and crackers from our boat snacks.  It took me forever to get her to let me pet her but once she decided I was okay, she was very sweet.  We are going out there today to take some proper food for her so that whoever is on site each day can feed her.  



If you know of anyone who wants a sweet, beautiful kitten, let me know!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Take a Trip to Coushatta, See the Lawnmower Man, and a Crop Duster

Living in the deep South has its advantages sometimes.

I will probably never have enough money to travel to Europe or take fancy cruises around the world and that's fine; I've always been pretty adept at making the best of where I am.

I'm reminded of how beautiful Louisiana can be whenever I drive Highway 1 south.  Steve and I drove down to Coushatta today for our annual pilgrimage to Ed Lester Farms and as is our way, we eschew the interstate and take the back roads.  Not that Highway 1 is exactly a "back road," but it is less traveled now that the folks in a hurry use I-49.  We are never in a hurry.

Long time readers may remember my 2010 post down this same road.

And 2011.

And 2012.

You get the idea.

Anyway, as we drove today you could certainly tell that we have had good rains this spring.  Everything is lush and green.   There was water in most of the roadside ditches and naturally we saw some guys crawfishing in one of them; they were pulling up nets filled with squirming crawfish.

Speaking of lush and green, when you get to Ed Lester's you're tempted to stay a while.


Take a seat among the caladiums, listen to music, and people watch.


We loaded up on peppers, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, and a bushel of pinto beans.


Oh and potatoes!


Not everything has come in yet, so I'll make a few more trips down there before summer is over.


From there we made our obligatory stop at Bailey's for big, greasy, delicious burgers.


We always end up sharing the picnic table with someone and today was no exception.  We met a nice couple from Shreveport who had hooked up their pop-up camper and hit the road.  We sat and ate our lunch together, had a nice visit, and parted ways.


Steve and I hit downtown Coushatta...


...and we went into an antique shop where I bought a nifty Murano whale.  His tale has a little chip so he only cost $10 but I don't care.  I liked it.


There was an odd mannequin:


We visited with the show owner for a while, pet the shop cat ("Pie") and then headed over to Nichols.  If you've never been to a Nichols, it's like a small town WalMart except everyone is friendly and the store is clean.  You can buy shotgun shells, baby clothes, and galvanized washtubs.  Steve bought weedeater string and some 30w motor oil.  I bought a gift bag and some super glue.  I love Nichols.



It was time to head back home so we made a pass through town and past an old school to get back to the highway and I had a "True Detective" deja-vu moment.  At this abandoned school there was a guy on a riding lawnmower cutting the grass, riding in a big circle.



We had to circle around the block several times before I could take the picture and I never did get it just right, but when I first saw him, well, it looked right out of "True Detective." (pay no attention to the red arrow; it's the only picture I could find that looked like what I saw).  I am easily amused.


The old school was neat, though.


I guess you had to be there.

There's a new funeral home in town; Now Open.



Good ol' Shakey Ray is still in business.


But, we had to get home and shell pinto beans.

What is it about driving over a river that makes me always want to take a picture?


Crop duster!


That was pretty cool.


Sometimes you have to take pleasure in the little things.  Like a lone tree in a field.


Or a swamp.


Or a relic from another life.


The corn looks good!


And, of course, there are cows.  I like cows.


Once back in town we stopped at Bergeron's for boudin balls and smoked chicken wings to go with our veggie dinner.



And you know, if you looked back at the posts from years past of this same trip, it seems that I always take pictures of the same things.  Vegetables.  Cows.  Bailey's.   And that's okay...I guess that's why I'm content and happy where I am because I always look at things with a different perspective or a different eye.  Sometimes we over look the fun in our own backyard as we look for loftier things.

Would I like to go to Italy or to Oktoberfest in Munich?  Sure, but meanwhile, I've got Coushatta!

Tomorrow we are going to a friend's birthday party.  The invitation said we would grill burgers and shoot skeet!  When I asked what I could bring, the answer was "Bring your gun and whatever you want to drink!"
Like I said, living in the Deep South has its advantages.  Where else would you get an invitation to bring a gun and alcohol to a party?

Gotta love it!



The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation