Monday, March 19, 2018

historic district of st. francisville

St. Francisville, Louisiana is a quaint town that's close enough to Baton Rouge that it is an easy day trip or weekend getaway. Thoughts of summer trips home from Saudi Arabia or of time spent at the old ferry landing. Eager anticipation while waiting to cross the Mighty Mississippi River on the ferry. Now there is a beautiful bridge that connects Pointe Coupe Parish to West Feliciana Parish. If not  taking the bridge then visitors can hit Scenic Highway (aka Highway 61).  

Cruisin' the Historic District

St. Francisville is rich with history. After all, it's right off the Mississippi River. There are six plantation homes that are open to the public for tours in the area. The picturesque historic district has shopping, historic homes, churches, galleries, and much more. It is all walk able and is really the best way to experience the area. 

Walkin' the Historic District

If you're in town for a weekend then there are numerous bed and breakfast options. We were bummed about not being able to stay at 3-V Tourist Courts, but hopefully you'll have better luck making a reservation. We were fortunate to make arrangements to stay at the construction zone that is currently our camp. There's Lake Rosemound Bed and Breakfast, but I'm a little partial to the (free) camp. I mean, it's my second home.  

Among the graveyard oaks.

After exploring around the Afton Villa Gardens we headed into St. Francisville to wander. Our first stop was Grace Church. Giant, mossy oaks, and a creepy cemetery surround the circa 1827 church. When we had our fill we then headed down to the old ferry landing. Well, we tried. The Mississippi River was up and the river water was cascading over the road like a waterfall. It was a sight. 

Mississippi River Cascading over the Road

We then headed towards the courthouse. We walked along the streets lined with historic homes. We pointed out our favorites or things we appreciated about their character. The darling gift shops were beginning to close for the day. We took our cue and headed to Magnolia Cafe for dinner. Magnolia is consistently good. The food is reasonably priced and on Friday and Saturday nights they host a band! Another good choice is The Francis, but be warned it fills up quickly and parking is limited. If you're in town through the weekend then be sure to do breakfast at Birdman Cafe. You won't regret it...especially if you need a coffee fix!

Many adventures end at Magnolia Cafe.

Tired from a day of exploring St. Francisville, we headed to Lake Rosemound and call it a night. Natchez was on tap for the next day. Stay tuned for our wandering of Natchez.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

haunting beauty afton villa

Spring has sprung in the deep south. There is no better proof than a visit to Afton Villa. The original plantation home was designed in the Gothic Revival architectural style (ie. fancy), but it burned down in 1963. The draws here are the beautiful gardens that still remain and are, as of 1983, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Azalea and Oak Lined Driveway

Afton Villa Garden is about a 45 minute drive from Baton Rouge, just off Highway 61. Long paths are invitations to leisurely strolls of the grounds. This is a place to get lost in silence and scenery. A picnic along the pond, that was added in 1970, will make you feel as if you're trapped in the work of Georges Seurat. OK, maybe not, but it's still really nice y'all. 

Daffodil Valley (Over 100,000 daffodil are planted in the valley.) 

Be sure to bring your own water, or snacks if you plan to tour for some time.  This haunted beauty provides a restroom, but that's about the extent of it. Benches are located along the paths, so take your time and enjoy it.

Spooky Barn

We apparently missed full peak azaleas by a week, but we were right on time for the tulips. I'm pretty sure Eric is only aware now upon reading this. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers. My Dutch genetics must predispose me to be a tulip lover! The garden's webpage shows you what is in bloom in the coming weeks. 

Tulips for Days

Per the website, "Beginning in 1972 Genevieve and Morrell Trimble undertook the task of restoring the grounds.  Today the estate contains over 20 acres of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, including the famous ruins gardens, a formal partner garden, a daffodil valley, a historic family cemetery, and more..."       

Not an Original

We visted the town of St Francisville.  If you're looking for a day trip then check out Afton Gardens and the Audubon Pilgrimage March 16 - 18, 2018.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

over the hills and (not so) far away

The hilly trails and waterfalls of Clark Creek are a nice getaway for those looking to get away from the flat streets of Baton Rouge. You'll find it along a rural highway and about ten minutes north of the Louisiana/Mississippi border. You know you've arrived when parked cars begin to line both sides of the road.

A Clark Creek Waterfall

Payment is basically the honor system. No one is there taking payment. This is all DIY (except bathrooms; they have those). However, someone is watching. I don't know if they're lurking in the bushes or hiding in a tree, but they're there. If you don't pay, or forget to display your tag, then you're sure to return a friendly sticky note reminder on your window.

A view from the trail.

A backpack with water and some snacks and you're good here. If you forget something then hit the Pond Store. It's your last (and only?) chance. It's also a good idea to bring some water (or water friendly) shoes, because the park is best experienced off the hiking trail and down along the creek bed. The terrain isn't really suitable for bare feet, unless your feet are like leather or you enjoy the feeling of Legos under your feet. We arrived in sneakers, so we mostly stayed on the trail. The hiking trail is elevated from the creek, so it is nice to have the creek view below along the hike. However, do not fret. There are spots to get down to the banks and climb around on some rocks in the creek. You won't totally miss out.

Clark Creek is fab-u-lous!

The people along the trail are friendly. After all, we're all there to have a good time. Everyone's in a good mood. Or just winded, out of shape and just too tired for foolishness. Don't get me wrong though. It's not a difficult place to hike. It really just depends on how far you're wanting to go. The hike is mostly shaded, so it makes for a pleasant hike. It is the south though, so the humidity will still get you sweating.

No Darwin finalists here.

Pro tip: be on the lookout for children seeking Darwin Awards. They're typically found standing at the edge of waterfalls. If you're not sure you've spotted them then look for their parents. Not to be found? Congratulations! You've located a finalist! Seriously though, if you are a parent and bring your children then please don't be THOSE parents. A foot of creek water isn't going to be a gentle landing. It's a wonderful spot, but not exactly a Costa Rican cliff diving kinda spot (or wherever they cliff dive; research-smesearch).

We pretend we're cool.

Do you have a favorite spot to hike? Please let us know. We're always looking!

Monday, March 5, 2018

graffiti tour of baton rouge

Art, graffiti, murals and bright colors. I guess my fascination with these things trace back to my roots growing up in Saudi Arabia. It was a desert, sure, but it was full of color. Gaudy and all things bright. In 2015 I visited the Museum of Public Art (MOPA) for the first time. I've returned multiple times to share the spot with family and friends (some visiting from as far as Japan).  

 Museum of Public Art
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Across the street from MOPA is The Lincoln Theater. When we started our blog we thought it would be fun to showcase MOPA and some of the murals around Baton Rouge. This is an introduction to our city of Baton Rouge. It is a side of our great city that even many residents have yet to discover. Playing tourist and adventuring around town, parts both new and old, is highly encouraged.

Historic Lincoln Theater

Along Government Street, throughout Mid City, downtown Baton Rouge and off Scenic Highway there are quite a few murals by one of our favorite local artists, Marc Fresh.

Set back on Government Street, you'll find Eric's favorite Marc Fresh piece (so far).

Another hidden gem is located off North Street and should not be missed. Some of the world's best graffiti artists were flown in for the project. The piece spans the entire side of Iron Design's studio and is too large to even fit in one pic.

Egoless -Bonzai

Egoless -Sofles

Egoless -Koka

Egoless -Odeth

Our city also has The Walls Project. They rely on public and private resources to create innovative and sustainable public art. Their most recent event was the MLK Festival of Service 2018. 

A Marc Fresh and Jo Hines, Jr. collaboration from the recent MLK Festival of Service.

It should be noted: I recently messaged the MOPA via their Facebook page and I was informed they are permanently closed.  You can still get lots of shots of the buildings exterior and the Lincoln Theater and other murals in the area. Peek inside the front doors for incredible pieces of Muhammad Ali and Richard Pryor. 

The Doors are Now Closed

Thanks for touring around some of the Baton Rouge murals with us.  Do you have any favorite murals in your city that you want to share?  Please comment and share the pics! 


Monday, February 26, 2018

on the road again

All great things must come to an end. It was time to close the Big Bend chapter of our trip and begin our bittersweet trek back east to New Braunfels, TX. We woke up early to catch the sunrise at the Greasewood Grocery. After all, it was the last sunrise of the year. Even Eric, the late riser, managed to catch the sunrise.  

Sunrise from the Greasewood

Two more quick showers, a packed car and east we went. Eric and I made promises to each other to return someday. There is still so much of Big Bend and the region to see. We only scratched the surface.

Cold Front Moves Through Alpine, TX

We pressed eastward until we saw a what we thought was a cool looking cloud over Alpine. The cool looking cloud was actually a cool front pushing through. Once we made it down the mountain the temps dropped quick. We're talking twenty degrees in ten minutes kinda' quick. Eric's country casual shorts look was a mistake.  

Eric Rocks His Version of Country Casual

We stopped for gas and breakfast in Fort Stockton and Eric changed into jeans in the car. He wouldn't step out of the car it was so cold. After more warm layers added to our bodies, we continued through the below freezing temps while ice accumulated on the windshield wipers. After hours of this, it finally broke when we landed in New Braunfels. It was cold, just not ice-everywhere cold. Yelp has always been a fairly reliable source for us and it was especially helpful in unfamiliar places. Dinner would be at The Gristmill in Gruene. The Gristmill has amazing tomatillo verde salsa! We had little interest in walking around town after dinner. No offense, Gruene, but it was freezing! I basically ran to the car. Eric described it as a stiff-legged jog. We'll see you tomorrow Gruene, when the sun is out.  

Al Fresco Dining Anyone? Frozen Fountain.

We started our next morning with unlimited amounts of hot water for the first time in days! That meant long, overly hot showers. It was New Year's Day, so few breakfast restaurants were open. Yelp to the rescue! Breakfast was at Fork and Spoon. I had Texas-sized pecan pancakes. Or maybe they just seemed huge because everything is bigger in Texas? Bellies full, we went back to hunt around in the shops in the Gruene Historic District.  

What it looks like while one decides on going full-Texan.

We popped into an antique store that had lots of fantastic finds. We may have lingered for a while because they had the heater on blast. After antique shopping, it was decided Eric should buy a t-shirt and not a used cowboy hat or boots. 

T-Shirt Jackpot

Hopping in and out of t-shirt shops to remain warm and to locate the perfect t-shirt was how we spent the better part of the morning. The Gruene Haus is where we stumbled into Tumble Weed Texstyle shirts. Eric finally found his perfect shirt. We both actually fell for the softness of their t-shirts and the unique designs. It should be noted we've since ordered a few more since we've returned home. Their customer service is amazing. Another fun fact from their website, "Tumbleweed TexStyles was created by two high school teachers. We believe that our number one priority above selling shirts is to support our local community. Since our roots lie within education, we have decided to donate a percentage of the sales for each product sold to the Frisco Education Foundation. This will help provide scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors."  

Gruene Hall. Go.

We made one more stop before we headed out of Gruene. We had to go inside Gruene Hall. The place was packed and the music was going strong. After listening to the band play a few songs, we had to once again hit the road. We (happily) lost a few hours in Gruene. We needed to head home.    

Greetings from New Braunfels

We hated to end our trip, but after a week on the road and moving almost every day, we were ready to be home. Our trip was a lot of fun and is the reason Adventures with Eric came to be. Soon we will begin to share more about our town and regional adventures with you.  

It should be said our trip to West Texas wouldn't have been possible without the help of family. A huge thank you to Eric's parents for stepping in to help provide childcare. It takes a village.  

Thank you for following along with us as we shared our journey to West Texas and back. Also, if you have any comments or questions then please reach out to us. We love hearing from you!   

One last Bu-cee's photo. Is that a goodbye Kiss?