Posts Tagged ‘Louisiana’


Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more


A New Pencil Box

25 Linda schoolLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A new pencil box and the first day of school. Who is old enough to remember the fresh wood smell of newly sharpened pencils? I’m thinking about that as I put on my hat and head out the door for my first day of classes at Henderson. The American West and Arkansas History; that’s my course of study this semester. Why? On the Journey I explored almost every inch of the “western” states but was left with more questions than answers by the end of it. I want to learn more about the legislation that opened those vast lands for settlement, the many treaties with the natives who were already living there, the creation of the new states; in other words, the expansion of our country throughout the 19th century. All to make this site more useful for everyone who accesses it. The Arkansas History class will help with that too, and additionally will provide insights about the emigration of my ancestors who died here in 1849 on their move from Alabama to Texas. Ancestors. A little family talk now. And “how I spent my summer 25 group at pianovacation.” Since I’m settled in one place with plenty of room for visitors, I invited, and they came! Grandson Andrew arrived June 21; grandson Sam July 12. Andrew left July 16; son Mike, and his Brenda, and her grandson Michael arrived July 31. Granddaughter Kayla and son Rick arrived August 2. Mike and Brenda and Michael left August 3; Sam left August 6. Rick and Kayla left August 16. Did you notice? There was a perfect alignment of planets on August 2. » read more


Engineering Chemicals

Linda Burton posting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana – “Chemical engineering,” Robert answered, nodding as though that were the only logical answer. I was stopped at the gate on the LSU campus, asking for directions and permission to drive through. I’d also asked the young man sitting in the booth his major. “My grandson Justin is studying chemical engineering too,” I smiled back, “he’s a junior at the University of Florida.” “I’m a junior too,” he replied. “Tell him that for a chemical engineer, Baton Rouge is the perfect place to be.” It probably is, I thought as I drove through this well-settled campus where oak trees curve above wide streets. I’d seen the tank fields north of the capitol; I’d seen huge cargo ships on the river. I didn’t know who they belonged to however, or what their business was all about. Back in my room on this chilly but sunny first day of winter, I settled in; a little research to do. According to the Baton Rouge Chamber, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, The Shell Group, and BASF are a few of the players; names that pop up under the header of Specialty Chemicals and Petrochemicals. Did you know one-quarter of America’s petrochemicals are manufactured in Louisiana? That includes basic chemicals, plastics, and fertilizer. Annual production of the nearly one hundred facilities operating in the state is valued at more than $19.6 billion. And approximately 65 of these facilities are in the Baton Rouge region. » read more


Open For Business

Linda Burton posting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana Merry Christmas glows red on the electronic board behind the President’s chair in the Louisiana Senate Chambers. Seasons Greetings follows below, in green. The time and date and the Louisiana state seal shine brightly in the middle; the senator’s names are listed on either side of the sign. Through the open door I see red-striped flags, pots of red poinsettias, and wreaths with red bows; all surrounded by soaring square columns in a dark exotic sturdiness. Splendid is the word that comes to mind; it’s the shine, the color, the richness of the look. The House Chambers are closed for a while; major renovation work is going on. But that’s okay, there is plenty to see in stunning Memorial Hall; handpainted murals in glowing colors; white marble statuary, double life-sized; filigreed bronze chandeliers; the Senate Chambers to the left; and just beyond the centered Christmas tree, the flags. I counted twelve in all, hanging over the bronze elevator doors. I boarded the elevator with a crowd; a mix of state employees and others like me, just visiting. It’s clear, the Louisiana state capitol is open for business. » read more


La Famille And The Beausoleil

Linda Burton posting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana –Sunday morning in Louisiana calls for brunch, in my opinion. Brunch with music, something French, perhaps? I picked Beausoleil; it met the French requirement (meaning “beautiful sun”) and was on the way to the state capitol, which would be my second stop. Christmas wreaths on red doors; the Sunday music man standing by the front window tuning his guitar; I knew I’d made a good choice. “Merry Christmas,” I said; he nodded back, “Same to you.” The hostess approached; hair in a French plait; leather boots to her knees over casual jeans; fringed scarf draped down long; the proper ambiance. I was seated right away; a cozy corner facing French doors that led out to the patio. This was a neighborhood stop; a friendly charm permeated the room; people chatted from one table to the next. My server appeared wearing a butcher’s apron and a handlebar mustache. “I’m Christopher,” he said, as he leaned close and rattled off the specials of the day. Southern Magazine recently listed Beausoleil as one of the top 50 restaurants in the south, I’d read, citing Chef Nathan Gresham’s Seared Foie Gras French toast and Truffled Fried Oysters as part of the reason; he’s built his menu around fresh, local ingredients. So far, so good, I’m thinking, studying my menu. » read more


Geaux Tigers!

Linda Burton posting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana – “I’m studying opera at LSU,” Dwayne told me, in basso tones. “I play piano too, and I used to direct our church choir,” said this Vicksburg, Mississippi native who has come south to school. Dwayne is the first person I talked to at my hotel in Baton Rouge, he has the front-desk afternoon-evening checkin job. I arrived early; it was an easy drive south from Jackson with no unusual change of landscape to report. I-55 south is heavy on piney woods and light on traffic; I think “pleasant” would be the word. Traffic expands to mad-hatter frenzy when you hit I-12 west; many tankers headed towards this town of oil refineries. What else will I find in Baton Rouge? I asked Dwayne for directions to the capitol and downtown; on the map he outlined a route that would lead me through the LSU campus. I know about LSU and football, having sons whose Saturdays have always been entwined with the goings-on of the SEC. But I don’t know LSU beyond that, so I did a little reading up when I got to my room. Geaux Tigers was the first thing I saw. » read more


Beyond Numbers

Linda Burton posting from Bismarck, North Dakota – “Over 80 percent of this capitol building is usable space,” the tour guide said. “As compared to Minnesota, say, where they can use only 29 percent. They have that big dome.” The guide has more numbers and comparisons; the North Dakota capitol cost $2 million to build in 1934, the Nebraska capitol, also a highrise, cost $11 million, she says. That’s $.46 per square foot vs $1.10. Frugality was a major consideration when building the North Dakota capitol; this is a state that simply doesn’t spend what it doesn’t have. After the old capitol burned in 1930, they sold 160 acres of land and used insurance money from the burned building to pay for the new capitol. Workers threatened a strike part-way through; laborers asked for a raise from 30 cents an hour to 50. The governor called out the National Guard to protect the partially constructed building; workers were granted a 10 cent raise. Work continued, and the building was first occupied in January 1935. On time, and on budget. One thing I noticed right away; planning may have focused on frugal, and the outside may appear plain, but the building is impressive in its indoor elegance, and its streamlined efficiency. » read more


A Leap Day Story

Linda Burton posting from LaFayette, Louisiana traveling from Alabama to Austin, Texas – An extra day! It’s Leap Day, and I feel like I’ve been given a “breather” to settle in to the Journey. I’ve put a day’s distance between me and brother’s house, and I’ll reach the first capital city easily tomorrow – Austin, right on target. Meanwhile, today I’m in an exotic land, surrounded by bayous and alligators and a history that is romantically French, Creole, Cajun, Acadian. I wanted to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the town; move into a new mood; find some good stories. And that’s just what I did. Here’s a Leap Day story for you. » read more


On The Road At Last

Linda Burton posting from Lafayette, Louisiana traveling from home to Austin, Texas – Sometimes you have to stop planning and start driving. Today was that day. I’d hoped to begin the Journey Across America on January 1; it seemed an auspicious date, an easy target to aim for. I’d do Montgomery first, then Tallahassee, Baton Rouge, and Jackson, arriving in Austin on the first of March. But there was too much to do; buying the Scion and getting it decked out, packing and moving stuff to brother’s house, or giving much of it away. I had to buy a new laptop and phone that will let me work on the road. I had to visit the family in Florida; have that last lunch with cousin Emily; have that last visit to Mom’s and Dad’s graves and say goodbye to step-mom Opal; check in with the doctor and the dentist. Today I’m tired; I could sleep for a week, but no more delays. This is it. It took hours to load the car, brother helped me haul it out; I had no idea how everything would fit. But somehow it did; the cats were tucked against the back of the seat so they could see me, and I could almost see them. Brother got my picture by the car; I got his by the front door; arms extended, whew! We’re done! Now go! I stopped for gas, diet Coke, and a bear claw, my standard convenience-store shopping. It was 9:04 AM, and I was on the road at last. » read more