Alexandria, Louisiana, and surrounding areas….

Louisianna is somehow different; a fun place to visit.
Only in Louisianna do you have drive through Marguarita bars and signs warning to watch for bears, turtles, and alligators…..
Last time we were in northern Louisianna, in February, 2009, we visited most of the well known tourist sites, but there is always something more to see wherever we go.
In nearby Alexandria, we visited the Silver Dollar (Cajun) Pawn shop of TV fame.  It was so packed with every conceivable item.  It was part museum, part antiques store!

And of course the whimsical and unexpected
One day we visited the Melrose Plantation with the Hedmans.  This plantation is one of several along the Cane River. It was one of the largest plantations in the United States owned by free blacks.
This was the original home on the land, until the main house was built in 1833.  It  later became an artist/writer haven in 1884.  As long as there was progress made on a project an artist or writer could continue living there.  
The upstair of this building has murals painted by a former cook, Clementine Hunter.   She became a well known artist, known for her primitive folk art depicting life on the Cane River.  (We were not allowed to take pictures of them) 

We had lunch at Natchedoches, at Lazones, famous for their fried meat pies; and I also had to try the fried green beans, both of which were really good!

Paul had the Gumbo

Another day we went south to Washington.  It was founded in 1720, incorporated in 1835, and is the third oldest settlement in Louisianna.   It was known as the largest steamboat port between New Orleans and St. Louis, Missouri.  The last steamboat left in 1900, after the arrival of the railroad. Eighty percent of the buildings in the town are historic or of architectural significance.  It is now known for their antique shops.  But for us, we will remember the unexpected family friendly Mardi Gras parade.

Vehicles were the theme, with army at the front of the parade.

We were surprised to see Mickey and Minnie there!

And Marie and I got our beads 😉

We took a trolly tour after the parade, got a feel for the town and some of the old homes, which were very diverse!

The old 2 story school house was made into an antique mall, with 100 shops in the gym alone!

And of course we had to get our off-road itch taken care of.

We found a couple of these small cemeteries in the middle of the Kisatchie National Forest.

The cold weather followed us home.  I love seeing these in the winter!

This is along our interstate highway!  In the spring these icicles become mini waterfalls…. We love traveling around, but we love coming home to Tennessee….

MMAP, February 2014, Tall Timbers, Forest Hills, LA,

We have been home for a week….between losing a day somehow, and unpacking and cleaning, taking the RV in for some general repairs, and spending time with the grands, this week has just disappeared!!
So now it is catch up time!
We were back at Tall Timbers in Forest Hills, LA, for the February project.  The last time we were at Tall Timbers Camp/Conference Center was January, 2009.  It was our MMAP “buddy” trip, checking out the MMAP organization.  We did not join during that month; but later in the year, we signed up and started full force in January, 2010.  It was a great decision…one we feel keeps us in God’s will.
The entrance has changed since 2009, when there was road construction going on.  There is now a four lane highway and a beautiful gated entrance.
When the camp was forced to sell part of their property for the road construction, they replaced the assistant managers house that was on the land sold.  We worked on the new house  back in 2009.  They also replaced the maintenance building (formerly one of the original cabins) with a much larger user friendly building, which came after we were there.  In January another group demolished the inside of the old maintenance building.  Our MMAP guys continued with the remodeling.  
Since they now have a bigger, better maintenance barn, it is in the process of being converted back to a campers cabin.  The new building is behind the new RV park.  We were the first volunteers to use the new facilities!

The new layout in this building is four rooms with four bathrooms, able to accommodate about 48 campers.   Paul and Gary installed all of the plumbing…. quite a bit when you consider starting from scratch, to support eight showers, toilets and sinks, two drinking fountains and two janitor sinks.   

They spent two weeks in the attic! 

 Others were running electrical wire,

and adding support boards.

Everyone helped get the four 50-gallon hot water heaters up into the attic.

New mapper Gary and Coordinator Gary worked in the barn building benches,

Gary, a woodworker, also built cabinets for each room to hold the linens.  He did some wonderful quality work!  His wife helped out a bit.

One day the cement for the sidewalk and steps into the building was poured.  Both doors were inaccessible, so the new door for the day was a window!

It took all day to get the cement worked, but it came out beautiful.

During the last week all but a couple of sheets of sheetrock got put up, ready for the next group to mud.
We were not able to paint outside the first week due to the cold, nasty weather outside.  But the second week Marie and I accomplished a lot.  We were able to get the first coat on all but the very top rows of the new bricks on all sides.

This view of the building showed one of the sides covered with the first coat.  Some of the cracks still needed some work.

It was cold and rainy the last week, so we could not get started on the second coat.
Other jobs done by the ladies were trimming trees, 

miscellaneous cleaning, washing windows, and helping with laundry. 

Since being in MMAP, I have worked the least amount of hours at this project, but it  was a great chance to get acquainted with my new sewing machine and begin making Christmas gifts!

Of course, we had some social time; especially being February, we celebrated Valentine’s Day along with the McDiffett’s anniversary.  

The McDiffetts also brought out a puzzle… hard because the pieces were the same shape and size throughout.  Color was very important!  All but about a dozen pieces got placed…and they were all dark brown of the pepsi bottle!  Vonda sure found a lot,especially when she claimed she was not a puzzle person.
Ladies day out was to a small town, Le Compte (pronounced Le Count) known for Lea’s pies.  We stopped there for lunch at Lea’s (famous for their pies, but we were generally not overly impressed),

and then visited their museum housed in the old school house.
It was fun… we enjoyed the outing and each other. 
The thank you dinner was prepared and attended by staff, and we enjoyed a true Louisianna feast including craw fish and shrimp etouffe, catfish, and alligator!!  it was delicious!  Yes, even the alligator.

One morning we were reminded that it was indeed winter, even in the south.  Everything was covered with ice!
It was a great project; we enjoyed meeting two new couples, and renewed friendships with three others.