Winter Trip 2010—From Ithaca to New Orleans

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January 22nd 2010
Published: January 22nd 2010
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Lower Treman Falls, Dec. 2009Lower Treman Falls, Dec. 2009Lower Treman Falls, Dec. 2009

This picture typifies winter in the upstate New York area. It is beautiful, but not for four months!
This is the first leg of our 2020 trip. Our intent is to get as far south as quickly as possible with the end of the first leg, a few days of relaxation in New Orleans. After that, we will travel across the southwest to California. On the way we will travel one day with the next day to enjoy locations along the way such as Sam Houston Jones State Park in Louisiana and McKinney Falls State Park in Austin Texas. The western-most terminus of our trip will be Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea, and Palm Springs California where we will spend time with our son, Nick, and possibly our other son, Rob and maybe Rob’s wife Leila. After about ten days in California, we are heading back into Arizona to meet up with our good friends and former neighbors, Peter and Trudy Brussard, from Reno. We will work our way across the southwest to the Rio Grande valley where we are going to leave our trailers and dogs for a few days and to take a birding and butterfly trip to the El Cielo Biosphere Preserve in Mexico. After returning to Texas, we will spend March and April
Heading south, the first dayHeading south, the first dayHeading south, the first day

We were amazed at the amount of snow on the ground south of the Mason-Dixon line.
at the Bentsen-Palm RV Park in Mission to partake in a hawk migration survey. We hope to share our adventures with you and friends along the way via this travelblog.

We left Ithaca on a bright sunny but cool January day (1/14). It was wonderful to have blue sky; it hadn’t been seen in the Ithaca area for about a month—just constant lake-effect snow and wind! On our first day, however, we had more sun than we needed. Because of the time of year, it never got far above the horizon. We went east early, south during midday and southwest in the afternoon; all directly into the sun.

The other thing that amazed us was all of the snow south of the Mason-Dixon line. Except in places with lots of southern exposure, there were at least six inches of icy snow on the ground until we got to southern Tennessee. We imagined that that snow was the result of the storm that hit the middle-south around Christmas.

The first night, we camped at Ft. Chiswell, in southwestern Virginia after a long nine plus hour drive. The campground was covered with snow and the temperature was in the
Fort Chiswell RV PaRKFort Chiswell RV PaRKFort Chiswell RV PaRK

Located in southwest Virginia about 10 hours from Ithaca. Aside from a few transients and some residents, it is pretty deserted.
teens in the morning. I-81 in Virginia runs between the Appalachian Mountains to the west and the Blue Ridge to the east. The mountain ridges are beautiful and the valley is rolling. With all the snow, it looked more like Vermont than southern Virginia. We could almost imagine the Adirondacks on one side and the Green Mountains to the east.

On day two, we traveled to Gadsden, Alabama in beautiful sunshine and looked for birds along the way. There were lots of red-tailed hawks looking for dinner along the interstate. Travelling through Tennessee we discovered about eight black vultures feasting on something along the highway. Many turkey vultures were observed circling, riding thermals high above us. We stayed at River Country RV Park on the Coosa River and the place is very beautiful. We enjoyed walking around in 60° sunshine in the late afternoon and viewing flocks of coots, geese, herons, egrets, belted kingfishers and other waterfowl along the river.

The next morning we got our comeuppance, we woke up to cold, wind and rain. However, we figured that we would drive in the rain to New Orleans and then enjoy nice weather there. As we were preparing
Fort Chiswell RV ParkFort Chiswell RV ParkFort Chiswell RV Park

Cattle grazing on the hills around the RV park.
to leave, we discovered a flat tire on the Airstream. I guess we were lucky that the flat didn’t happen on the highway where real harm could have occurred. However, the tire was beyond repair and by the time we got a new tire installed, it was after noon. We decided that we would do a little exploring of Gadsden in the afternoon, then leave for the Big Easy in the morning. We disconnected the truck and headed for Noccalula Park in Gadsden (the only attraction that looked vaguely interesting). This park has a 75-foot waterfall and a gorge trail. Aha! back in the Finger Lakes!. The park was operated by the city with miniature train rides and children’s activities. The falls, as you can see in the photo, were quite beautiful. Unlike the Finger Lakes falls, there was a huge cave behind the falling water. However, like the Finger Lakes falls, there was a lot of ice under and around the falling water. It amazed us to see all that ice in Alabama.

On Sunday, 1/17, we woke to more cold, wind, and rain but all of our parts seemed to be working. We prepared the trailer, hitched
River Country RV ParkRiver Country RV ParkRiver Country RV Park

Located on the Coosa River in Gadsden Alabama.
the truck, and headed through the rain across Alabama, through Mississippi, and into Louisiana.

We arrived at the Louisiana state park named St. Bernard about 16 miles to the southeast of the city after an eight hour drive in bright, late-day sunshine. Wonderfully un-crowded and loaded with birds, we decided that this park was the true beginning of our trip. A little birding the next morning revealed over 50 species including winter birds like yellow-rumped warblers, American Goldfinch, Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrush, and Red-winged Blackbirds. Local species like Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Carolina chickadees, and red-shoulder hawks were actively setting up breeding territories. Early in the morning, we observed large groups of white ibis flying from roosts out to wetland feeding area. Later, large flocks of turkey and black vultures were observed doing the same. We found that turkey vultures out-numbered black vultures about ten to one.

Later in the day, we left St. Bernard State Park and made the short trip to French Quarter RV Resort located in the center of New Orleans, just off of interstate 10 and adjacent to the famous French Quarter. The park is luxurious and urban. It is walled and gated with
Sunset on the Coosa RiverSunset on the Coosa RiverSunset on the Coosa River

This river joins the Alabama River and enters the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.
tastefully arranged razor wire topping the walls. We have found the combination of living in our old familiar trailer in the middle of a bustling city strangely attractive, at least for a few days, and this has been our third visit. The French Quarter begins one block away and the Mississippi River is a short walk from the park. We had a great “city day”, walking around town, having a wonderful buffet of Cajun delicacies and live jazz at the Court of Two Sisters on Royal Street, and buying some “dumb” souvenirs for certain people. Tomorrow we head west to Lake Charles, Louisiana (almost in Texas) to spend two nights at Sam Houston Jones State Park.

Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 25


Noccalula Park in Gadsden Noccalula Park in Gadsden
Noccalula Park in Gadsden

Legend suggests that the Indian princess Noccalula threw herself into the gorge over an argument with her father.
Noccalula Park in Gadsden Noccalula Park in Gadsden
Noccalula Park in Gadsden

Downstream view from the falls.
St. Bernard State ParkSt. Bernard State Park
St. Bernard State Park

Located 15 miles to the SE of New Orleans, this is a great, small, uncrowded park. We decided that are trip would officially start here.
St. Bernard State ParkSt. Bernard State Park
St. Bernard State Park

With an elevation only feet above river level, this park was hard hit by Katrina, but has recovered well in the past five years.
St. Bernard State ParkSt. Bernard State Park
St. Bernard State Park

Moxie basks in the sunshine but also worries about the high squirrel population in the park.
View of the New Orleans skylineView of the New Orleans skyline
View of the New Orleans skyline

The parking lot in the foreground was part of a supermarket that was abandoned after Katrina.
New OrleansNew Orleans
New Orleans

Little has changed at this supermarket abandoned after Katrina. The French Quarter RV Resort is located behind the supermarket.
New OrleansNew Orleans
New Orleans

View down Canal Street at the hotel and casino district. This part of the city has recovery well!
New OrleansNew Orleans
New Orleans

Looking east on Decatur Street towards the French Market.
Statue on Decatur StreetStatue on Decatur Street
Statue on Decatur Street

This statue shows Bienville, considered the founder of New Orleans with a Catholic priest and a Native American (extending a "peace" pipe) representing the foundation of Louisiana.
Mississippi RiverMississippi River
Mississippi River

Tugboat pushes a barge upriver against a substantial current.
Statue on Woldenberg Riverfront ParkStatue on Woldenberg Riverfront Park
Statue on Woldenberg Riverfront Park

The statue commemorates contributions made to this country by exiles and emigrants from other countries.
Riverfront ParkRiverfront Park
Riverfront Park

This park runs along the Mississippi River from the convention center to the port authority.
Street musician Dr. SaxtrumStreet musician Dr. Saxtrum
Street musician Dr. Saxtrum

Lynn was serenaded with a rendition of "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?." We purchased a CD -- pretty good!
Life finds a wayLife finds a way
Life finds a way

Fern growing in a crack between two bricks in the wall of a building in St. Louis Street.
 Rear view of St. Louis Cathedral Rear view of St. Louis Cathedral
Rear view of St. Louis Cathedral

As seen from Royal Street.
Court of Two Sisters RestaurantCourt of Two Sisters Restaurant
Court of Two Sisters Restaurant

Lynn and Jon enjoy a jazz buffet in the open courtyard of this famous restaurant.
Night view of the New Orleans skyline Night view of the New Orleans skyline
Night view of the New Orleans skyline

As seen from the French Quarter RV Resort. Our truck and "silver palace" in the foreground.
Night view of New OrleansNight view of New Orleans
Night view of New Orleans

Massive billboard facing interstate 10, seen from French Quarter RV Resort.

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