Bayou Bridge

When Sandy & I took our vacation to New Orleans we included a City Tour to see the sights. At one rest stop while everyone was in the coffee shop I ran across the lawn to take a photo of a stone bridge that I thought was gorgeous.

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Back home  it made my top 10 list for 2015. I stared at it for almost 9 months before I decided it needed to be enlarged and framed. Not to pat myself on the back but I think it came out great and it hangs in a place of honor in my living room.

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Recently I thought I should see if I could locate the name of the park. It was kind of embarrassing to keep saying “Its in a park in New Orleans”.

To my surprise as soon as I googled “parks in New Orleans” I found myself looking at “my bridge”.

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So I didn’t need any guesswork to identify the park. The bridge is the Bayou Bridge and it is located in City Park, New Orleans.

Current Weather Conditions

Some clouds. Low 71F. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph.

Big Easy City Tour

Our tour  was billed as the Super City Tour covering the French Quarter, Jackson Square, The French Market, Mansions along St Charles Ave, St Louis Cemetery, City Park  and the Universities of Tulane, Loyola and Xavier.

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Unlike the San Antonio Tour which took all day, the tour was only about 2.5 hours and consisted of driving past most of the sites. We only made 2 stops and those were both very short.

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One of the stops was at St. Louis Cemetery and with the storm clouds threatening it set the proper mood for a New Orleans Cemetery!

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The Stop at the City Park was very short. Most of tour group went into the Morning Call Cafe for coffee or to use the rest rooms. I broke from the group to try to get some pictures of the park itself. I would have loved to spend more time there.

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There were ducks in the ponds and lovely stone bridges. Trees with Spanish moss over hung the water features.

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Later in the hotel room as I browsed one of the magazine I found an article about the park. It seems that it is a high crime area which explains the quick stop. It made me sad to learn this because it is such a beautiful place.

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The ride past the universities was fun because the Students had gone all out to decorate for Halloween. The Day of the Dead was also celebrated in New Orleans so skeletons and skulls abounded.

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Sandy was looking forward to visiting the French Market as she buys  coffee or something online from there unfortunately there was no stop there. The same with Jackson Square. We just got to peak out the bus windows as we drove past.

A little Tower in Brockton

Once upon a time there was a little hill in the area which became known as Brockton, Ma. Long, long ago it was known as Indian Hill. Some say it got this name as a look out point for Native Americans. Others say it was sacred ground for those same Native Americans and that they held religious rituals there.

The site is said to have been first explored by white men when the Pilgrims made their “First Hike” through the area.

Today, the spot is known for its tower, built in 1925 by local workers to honor  local men and women who served in World War I. The 65-foot stone tower, with  about 100 steps, offers a great vista of Brockton from the top.

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I first saw the stone tower about 2 years ago when I discovered D. W. Field Park. The park has a paved road that winds around Waldo Lake and the Brockton reservoir. The road is shared with dog walkers, joggers, families, any one who wants a peaceful place to enjoy a day close to nature in the heart of a busy urban area.

The tower is locked now. Climbing the stairs to the top is reserved for 1 day each summer but the locks simply add to the romance of the tower. A perfect setting for a damsel in distress, locked up and waiting for rescue. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.

Ah but I am letting my imagination run wild. I simply wanted to share a stone tower that I find fascinating every time I see it.

Gillette Castle and State Park

The answer to Challenge #3 is….. Gillette Castle in Hamden CT.

Here is a post from March 2011 when I first saw the Castle.

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As we cruised south on the Connecticut River our guides pointed out a huge stone building on a bluff overlooking the river. With no trees to block the view it was hard to miss and certainly does look like a Medieval castle.

I had noticed signs on the way to the boat landing referring to Gillette Castle and Gillette Castle State Park but I had never heard of it before so had no idea what it might be.

According to our guides, Gillette Castle State Park is located in Haddam, Ct. The Castle was built by “William Gillette as a private residence. It is said he came to visit and was so taken with the views that he bought 184 acres and built this huge stone house.

William Gillette was an American and made his money as an actor, most notably playing Sherlock Holmes on stage.

Gillette loved showing off his estate and even had a railroad track with a working steam engine so he could show his visitors around the grounds.

In 1882 Gillette married Helen Nichols of Detroit. They were blissfully happy. She died in 1888 from peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix. According to our guides, Helen , on her death bed, begged him not to remarry and he honored that request. He was grief-stricken for years and in the Spring of 1890 was struck down by tuberculosis. By the time of his death he was almost penniless but he still had his home.

When Gillette died , he had no wife or children to inherit, his will precluded possession of the castle by any (and I love this) “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded”.

Connecticut’s government took possession of the property in 1943 and renamed the home Gillette’s Castle and the land around it Gillette State Park.

The Castle is open during the summer and can be toured while the grounds are open all year. Even if the Castle is closed you can stand on the veranda and look out over the Connecticut River, enjoying the same views that so enamored William Gillette.

Driving and Driving and Driving

The road to Pemaquid seemed to go on forever. It was a good road, well paved and now that the rain had stopped and the sun was out it was easy to look for signs if there were any.

I followed the road through little villages and long stretches with nothing but trees and the occasional farm. I questioned if I had missed a turn somewhere. I didn’t see any ocean. Shouldn’t there be ocean if I’m looking for a lighthouse?

It was almost lunchtime and I wasn’t seeing too many places to stop when I came over a rise in the road and there was this enormous lobster.

The sign in front of the restaurant was “Taste of Maine”. Why not. This was as good a place as any.

I was seated on the deck that looked out over a marshy tributary.

A few boaters were traveling the channel but mostly it was populated by ducks and other water birds. It was so peaceful. I could have just stayed there. Of course I had their baked scallop casserole. It was really good. Service was friendly and pleasant. It was just a nice experience. But all good things come to an end and I wanted to find this lighthouse so back on the road I go.

The trip (without counting the lunch stop) was definitely an hour and a half, maybe more and I am very glad I didn’t attempt this drive at 4 AM. I would have been really lost.  Finally I saw a little lighthouse sign! I’m on the right track. A few more miles and the road splits in the middle of a little hamlet. I crossed my fingers and took the right fork. Sure enough there was a sign. Lighthouse Park ahead. I still didn’t see any ocean. Those Maine distances came into play here. “Ahead” was probably about 7 miles.

The guide books all said that Pemaquid Light is best seen from the ocean but so many of my photographer friends and acquaintances raved about “shooting it” that I felt sure there must be a way to take it from land.

Entering the park I paid a small entrance fee and pulled into the dirt parking lot. The lighthouse was right in front of me.

The grounds were pretty busy. There were a few benches for people to sit and watch the ocean and you could climb up the tower to see the lens. It was hot and humid and as I stood inline I happened to notice a sign. It listed the usual restrictions and one extra one for  “Stout” people.

It really didn’t look like it would be that bad of a climb but I certainly qualify as “stout” so I wimped out. I didn’t want to get to the door and have them tell me no. I would have died of embarrassment so I wandered the grounds instead.

The rocks are amazing. I’ve heard them described as “waves frozen in stone”.

What a great description. I don’t think any of my pictures captured they way they truly looked. People were climbing down them out to a point that jutted into the ocean.

I wanted to head out there with the tripod. What a picture that would make! I actually started down but after nearly turning my ankle twice I decided to stop where I was. Whatever I managed to get from that vantage point would have to do. Old bones don’t mend easily.

After I wandered the lighthouse grounds I went next door to a little snack bar and souvenir shop. It was crammed. So many interesting things around.

Having satisfied myself with this visit I headed out to find a boat that could take me past the lighthouse.

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