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Baton Rouge

January 8, 2013

Louisiana – Saturday, January 5

I started off with my donation-of-the-day. Today was my animal-related one for Louisiana, and it went to APAWS, which stands for Animal Protection and Welfare Society. They’re located in Baton Rouge, and will take in any animal, and are very pro-active in finding “forever homes” for them. In fact, they were having a pet adoption day at a local PetSmart, which is where I saw them. There were lots of cute dogs there! There were people looking at the dogs, and I hope they had a successful day. They appreciated the donation – and said every bit helps.

Then I headed to downtown Baton Rouge, which is on the Mississippi River, so I was hoping to find a good river walk in addition to walking around the Capitol area and the rest of downtown. Parking was easy on a Saturday – hardly anyone was around. Louisiana has the tallest Capitol building in the country – I walked around the grounds, but didn’t go inside. Then I walked around the downtown area, but there was nothing very exciting. Not many places were open – must be a city that is busy during the week, but not on weekends. After a mile and a half of walking around town, I found the stairs and elevated crosswalk to get over the train tracks to the river walk. There was a bit more life down at the riverfront – people were out enjoying the river walk, and there was a big museum, some riverboat casinos, and a navy destroyer that offered tours. It was kind of a sprinkly day, but Tula and I were able to get about 5 miles of walking in altogether. And that was enough of Baton Rouge!

Then I drove north along the Mississippi for a ways. This is part of the Petrochemical Gold Trail and there were a lot of oil refineries and that sort of thing. It’s hard to know whether to be fascinated or disgusted by all of that! I’m sure things are much, much cleaner than in the past, but there’s still a lot of pipes, towers, tanks, smokestacks, white smoke spewing forth, lights, flames, etc.

I ended up in St. Francisville which is pretty close to the Mississippi border. It’s in plantation country, and several have been restored to their original appearance. One of the plantations is still occupied by descendants of the original owners. St. Francisville was named for a short-lived monastery, and in the early 1800s was also the capital of The Free and Independent Republic of West Florida – “a small but spunky nation” according to my Triple A guide – that lasted for 74 days until the US and Spain finally decided that this area was indeed part of the original Louisiana Purchase. St. Francisville is also known for its Audubon Pilgrimage every March – John James Audubon painted dozens of his bird illustrations in this area. I finished my walking for the day in this town despite the drizzle. Then I thought I would drive down the other side of the Mississippi as I made my way west toward Lafayette. Somehow I got really turned around near a big oxbow lake that I thought was part of the river (which I think it was long ago) and despite heading west on a road, I somehow ended up going east, and I was getting into an area of narrow roads and vacation cottages, and it got dark and I had no idea where I was! I just had to turn around and was able to retrace my route – I’m still not exactly sure where I was! An interesting little detour!

But I made it to Lafayette – I drove across the huge Atchafalaya Basin, which is mostly swampland, but didn’t see much of it since I had lost time around the lake by the river. But I will see other swampland!
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