Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Witte Museum

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  This museum has a little of everything,focusing mostly on Texas natural history,but also including an exhibit with a mummy and galleries of visiting exhibits. In the outside area,Witte Backyard,there are historic buildings which have been relocated and the Science Treehouse,a science learning center for kids.

  Most areas  are accessible. A few of the exhibits have signs that are placed too high to read. The log cabin in the outside section is a reconstruction and it has a ramp. The cabin out buildings are not accessible.The other buildings are authentic but aren’t opened to the public. The paths are stone slabs and are not very even.The Treehouse is accessible but the observation deck has railings and fencing blocking most of the view.

  Parking is limited. Part of the parking lot was closed because of construction when we visited which limited parking even more. RVs may be able to park sideways across the spaces. We could back in and hang over a grassy area but larger RVs may have a problem.  Witte Museum

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Taking a Break

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    To my four followers   girl and all of the nice people who have come by to read some of my blog- We  took a fast trip across the Gulf states,bypassing some good attractions because we had a set date to be in San Antonio for a visit with family. We’ll be here for a couple of weeks so I won’t be doing many posts but after that-back on the road. Our plan is travel up to Seattle and then onto Alaska. I’m not sure what route we’ll be taking and our trips don’t always materialize as planned but we’ll be going somewhere. So check back in a couple of weeks!

Texas State Parks Pass

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    We decided to get a Texas State Park Pass. All of our other passes have saved us money but I’m not sure about this one yet. Texas,like many states,has a daily entrance fee for most of it’s state parks but unlike the other states,the fee is not waived for campers. Plus each person is charged a fee and they are charged every day. All these extra charges can make camping really expensive.

    The pass is $60.00 for a year. As an added bonus,two coupons are loaded onto the card-pay for one night and get the second night for half price. The problem is that there isn’t any standard fee for camping or for the daily fees. Sometimes there isn’t a daily fee and sometimes it is waived. Campsites can be relatively cheap or pretty expensive. The only way to find all the fee information is to look each one up individually. On top of this many west Texas towns have free campgrounds. Texas also allows 24 hour stops at their numerous picnic table rest areas. These are along most rural roads and are usually small but some are like miniature campgrounds.

  We saved $6.00 on one night’s stay so it shouldn’t take long for it to least pay for itself.  Texas State Parks Pass

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lake Texana State Park

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    Six campsites in this campground are considered handicapped accessible but most of them are inadequate. The tables are on elevated concrete platforms so in the handicapped sites,concrete ramps have been built up to the platform. The paved parking pads have not been widened and there isn’t any pavement leading to the tables. Some of the sites have a drop off from the parking pad ,slopes down to the table , rough ground leading to the table and ramp front edges that are not even with the ground. Only one has easy access to the restroom.  The tables do have a long overhang on one end.

   We didn’t use a handicapped site. The site pictured above is in the non-electric section which is only suitable for shorter RVs. If you can fit and don’t need electricity ,I’d recommend the non-electric section because it isn’t very popular. We had it almost all to ourselves with a nice lake view too.  Check around first rather than taking a handicapped site. Some of the regular ones have fairly level ground,the parking pads are flush with the ground and the concrete table platforms are flush to the ground too. The only thing that you won’t have is the table overhang.  Lake Texana State Park Campground

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site

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    This is the main house of a rather large sugar cane plantation. It was built in 1834 with slave labor and local materials,mainly handmade bricks using clay from the Brazos River. It was owned by the same family for 34 years but sold after the Civil War. In 1901 it was bought by former Texas Governor Hogg. His daughter donated it to the state in1958.

    The only part of the site that is accessible is the admissions building. The house has a short step up to the porch and a few short steps up into the house. A couple of movable ramps could be used to provide access to the first floor and the kitchen annex but they do not have any available. You can view the house from the outside and look around the grounds for just $1.00. The house tour is $6.00.

   RV parking is along the road beside the house. Varner-Hogg Plantation

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rollover Pass Fishing Area

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   The pass cuts through the Bolivar Peninsula and links the Gulf of Mexico with Rollover Bay and East Bay. It’s a very popular fishing spot with large sandy lots on both sides of Texas Highway 87. In 2008 Hurricane Ike swept over the peninsula and destroyed the small community of Gilchrist. The community association has installed signs stating that the lots are private property but are available for public use. All they ask is that no one litters. There are porti-potties and trash cans. Staying overnight is allowed.

   We don’t fish but this looks like a very good place for wheelchair users to fish. The channel of the pass has concrete or metal walls and the water is about five feet deep.Most spots along the pass don’t have railings and it’s possible to get close to the water. Rollover Pass and Gilchrist

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Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum

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   The museum is inside an retired drilling rig. There’s a short movie and many models of ships and different types of drilling rigs plus a couple of places where you can go out on the deck. It does a good job of explaining all the processes but since it’s sponsored by the various oil companies the information is slightly slanted–no mention of the big oil spill.

  Access is a little difficult. Most people in wheelchairs will need some help holding doors opened and getting over the thresholds which are metal and higher than normal. Everything inside is accessible except for a display with story boards that have to be turned and may be out of reach.

  Getting to the museum is also a little difficult. RVs can park in the lot on the corner of Wharf Road and 21st Street. The entranceway between the curb and the ticket machine is tight. If your RV is wide you might want to find a spot on the street. The lot price is $4.00 an hour no matter what size of RV you have.We didn’t check the street meters. Use the sidewalks on 21st Street to get to the wharf-good condition with a sidewalk level set of train tracks.The entrance to the museum is at the end of the wharf. There’s a ramp up to the building but you must come back down and go through a normally locked gate to get to the ramp for the drilling rig. This ramp is very long with just a slight up grade but it’s wavy which makes pushing a little hard. If you go by yourself make sure that the gate is left unlocked. There isn’t a way to get the attention of the person in the admission building so that they can open the gate for you when you’re finished touring the museum. Drilling Rig Museum

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Sea Rim State Park

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  Free camping doesn’t get any better than this-quiet ,scenic ,beach front property. Sea Rim State Park which has been battered by multiple hurricanes. Everything has been washed away except some of the roads and parking lots where camping is permitted. Camping is also permitted on the beach.

  There’s an accessible boardwalk that wanders through a salt marsh. We saw many birds including some pink spoon bills , the first that we’ve seen in the wild.
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Texas Highway 87 used to run from Port Arthur to Galveston but because of  storm damage it’s closed right after the second park entrance. The park website lists a fee but there isn’t a charge now.Sea Rim Park

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Museum of the Gulf Coast

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  One of the best exhibits-Janis Joplin’s Porsche!  The museum has her story along with those of many other famous Gulf Coast residents. It also has a condensed history beginning with the Indians up to the era of the huge oil refineries which still operate today. Other exhibits include collections of glassware and seashells.

   Everything is accessible. The parking lot is large enough for RVs. We parked in the bus parking. It’s never crowded. Gulf Coast Museum

  The city of Port Arthur has fascinated us since our first visit years ago.Something horrible has happened here and we’re not sure what-pollution,hurricanes,businesses defecting,what? The entire downtown area is deserted-multistory buildings,empty and crumbling. Driving through town is eerie.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spindletop/Gladys City Museum

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  Spindletop is the name of the hill where the first Texas oil gusher was located and Gladys City was the town for the oil workers and their families that grew beside it. The original well and the town are long gone but this small re-creation has been built on the campus of Lamar University. There’s a short movie and informative sign boards that explain this short lived oil boom very well.

  There are several accessibility problems. The door to the gift shop/admissions building is very heavy. The town has boardwalks joining all of the buildings. The boardwalks are in good condition but the thresholds on all of the buildings have steep little ramps and the doors are spring loaded making it difficult to enter the buildings.

  The parking lot while not large is still big enough for any size RV.  Spindletop
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Isle of Capri Casino

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  This is a good overnight stop but the RV parking section is under the I-10 which makes it noisy. There’s also a train that comes through frequently. Even with all of the noise we still got a good nights sleep, maybe because the noise is fairly constant.

  The best way to get to the casino from the lot is to stay close to the river and enter the building from the dock where the river boat is moored. The casino is on the boat so you must take an elevator up a floor and cross over to the boat. We usually don’t like riverboat casinos because they’re too cramped. This one is okay with wide aisles and easy to move chairs. Some of the machines have high ticket dispensers that are hard to reach.  We only visited one floor of the casino and I think that there are two separate riverboats but we never found the entrance to the second one. (we didn’t look very hard)

The parking area is large enough for any size RV. It’s a little hard to find. After exiting the interstate follow the signs.You’ll come to a stop sign with another sign for truck parking , go straight through the stop sign. This road curves around and you’ll come to a RV parking sign on the left. There are also a few spots in the next lot for RVs with electrical hookups-no water or dump. The spaces are tight with the electric hookups between the sites, leaving very little room for extending a lift. One of the end sites might work-if you pull in backwards the lift could extend out to the parking lot. They’re $10.00 a night with some hotel privileges.  Isle of Capri Casino
30.23604, -93.24861
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Acadian Village and Campground

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   Very little of the village is accessible. The general store/admissions desk and the gift shop have ramps. None of the other buildings have ramps and all of them have steps. The walkway, mostly brick, and the bridges are all in fairly good condition.

   The campground has electric and water hookups plus a dump station but there are no tables or fire pits. The sites are grass, thick and soft, so rolling around is hard. The campground is next to a busy road so expect some traffic noise.
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   Touring the village is included in the campground fee which is $20.00 for the first night, $10.00 a night after the first. This is an  informal place-pay at the village general store, wander through the village then pick any campsite or vise versa.  Village and Campground
30.1772, -92.09353
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vermilionville

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  Most of the buildings in this reconstructed village date from the 1700 to 1800s and have been furnished to fit the time period. We were surprised by the lack of interruptive material such as a museum building or detailed informative signs outside the structures. There were three artisans in period clothing at the village the day that we visited. They were all very friendly and knowledgeable but for a better experience visit the National Park’s Acadian Cultural Center next door first so that you have the background story of the Acadians.

  Almost all of the village is handicapped accessible. The paths are all paved and, with the exception of the tack room, all buildings have ramps. Many of the buildings have narrow double doors with only one door opened. The latch for the other door is at the bottom on the inside so a person in a wheelchair may need some help with the latch. The hand pulled ferry that crosses a small stream has a big step up and is not accessible.

The parking lot is very big with plenty of room for RVs. Vermilionville
30.21428, -91.9975
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve-Acadian Cultural Center

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  Free ebook from Gutenberg - The Acadian Exiles

 The center has  a very good movie about the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and a small museum about how they adapted to their new life in Louisiana, borrowing from other cultures to create the Cajun community of today.  Everything is handicapped accessible. The parking lot is large enough for RVs parked across the spaces plus there are a few long bus/RV spaces.  Cultural Center
30.21341, -91.99423
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old Louisiana State Capitol

This is a very unique building. From the outside it looks like a castle. Inside is a magnificent rotunda dome made with over 2000 pieces of stained glass. It was built in the 1850s and used until 1932 when a new capitol building was constructed. Now it houses the Museum of Political History, a brief history of Baton Rouge's role as state capitol with a special section about Louisiana's most well known politician, Huey Long.

  The wheelchair entrance is in the back of the building. There's an intercom with a push button to talk. We're used to these not being manned which necessitates Tony going in through the regular door and tracking someone down to open the wheelchair entrance - this time someone was actually watching the camera and automatically opened the door before we even asked! Once inside take the elevator to the first floor. Everything is accessible except for a podium with steps where there are buttons to push to hear and see a few excerpts of Huey Long's speeches. The video is projected onto teleprompters and it's not visible from a seated position.  Old Capitol
30.44665, -91.1891
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Monday, March 14, 2011

BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo

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    The zoo celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and, like many zoos, some of the original enclosures are still in use. Others like the tiger habitat, pictured above, are newly constructed. Most of the animals have roomy enclosures and are easy to see. The small cats are in older cages and viewing is blocked by the cage construction. Some of the fish and reptiles are placed too high to be easily viewed.

   The  paths are wide, fairly smooth concrete. The South America section has an arched bridge that is very steep. It’s easy to bypass loops of animals and end up back at the entrance so check the many maps posted throughout the zoo so that you don’t miss anything.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Zoo
  30.56425, -91.1612
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Louisiana Art & Science Museum

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  This museum has a lot of empty space, overwhelming the collections displayed in the galleries. The science section consists of the theater, hands on exhibits for young children, and a gallery about our solar system and the way it has been understood (and misunderstood) through the years. The art section has changing exhibits and a very good but small exhibit about ancient Egypt with a well preserved mummy. Most of it is accessible but a door that opens to the galleries, from the elevator on the second floor, is a bit heavy. Art and Science Museum
30.44632, -91.19035

  Click for parking information - Parking Info.

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LSU Museum of Art

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  The art museum is on the 5th floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts building. The collection is a little bit of everything. We found nothing particularly outstanding but I did enjoy the Art and Crafts section. The museum is completely accessible.

  Parking is a bit of a problem. There are other museum to see within a few blocks so once you get parked you can stay put and see the other museums.  There are many metered spaces along the streets but these fill up early. We parked in a self pay lot a few blocks north at the corner of North River Road and Florida Street. After we paid we saw a sign –“NO RV PARKING”. We stayed, no problem so it may be a temporary sign, put up for events, that hasn’t been removed. Sidewalks and curb cuts are fairly good but traveling between museums involves some some uphill and downhill slopes. Most wheelchair users will need some help. Art Museum
30.44734, -91.18894
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Louisiana State Museum

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  Free ebook from Amazon - Strange True Stories of Louisiana

 A wonderful museum covering all aspects of Louisiana’s history and it’s unique blending of different cultures. We spent over three hours at the museum and didn’t see it all.

  The entire museum is handicapped accessible.

  We visited on a Saturday and parked a few blocks south in a lot on the corner of North 4th Street and Laurel Street. The lot is large enough for RVs. If your RV is big you may have to pay for two spaces – $5.00 a day for each space. There are many spaces on the street but parking is limited to 2 hours – $.50 an hour. The sidewalks and curb cuts are good.The museum doesn’t have a sign that is visible from the street but look for the state library. The museum is directly across the street from the library.
Museum
30.45388, -91.18672

Friday, March 11, 2011

Island View Casino

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  Update - this lot is no longer available for RV parking. RV parking in other lots only if you have a room.

This is a great casino lot for overnight RV parking. It’s big , level,fairly quiet and you have a choice of waterfront or grassy median spots. There are even some trees!

  The casino is located across the street so getting there is a bit of a journey. Take the elevator at the parking garage up to the skyway and then on the other side of the street,take another elevator back down to the casino. The skyway has a ADA compliant slope in the middle.  The casino itself is very accessible. The aisles are wide,the money and ticket slots in the machines are low,the chairs are light enough to push or pull out of the way and the carpeting is low pile so pushing around is easy.  Island View
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Davis Bayou Campground-Gulf Islands National Seashore

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  There are two accessible camping sites in this campground , one next to the bathroom and the one that we stayed at,pictured above.Both have extra wide paved parking pads,pavement extending to the hookups,long overhangs on the tables and campfire rings with high sides.

The one pictured above has a graveled slope from the pavement down to the table which would be very hard to navigate. The park officials have promised to fix this. They're also planning to make some changes to the hookups to make them more wheelchair friendly.

This is a really nice campground,on the small side but with roomy sites and many large live oaks for shade. 
Davis Bayou campground
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Arts

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  George Ohr was known as the Mad Potter of Biloxi. The pottery that he made had very thin walls,unusual glazes and twisted and pinched designs. He also made fun pieces like puzzle mugs and clay coins.

  The museum buildings were designed by Frank O. Gehry but just as construction was beginning , Hurricane Katrina came through and destroyed most of it. Several buildings are opened now with a small collection of Ohr’s work plus temporary exhibits of other artists.

   The art museum buildings are accessible but the doors are very heavy making it almost impossible to open them from a wheelchair. Most people will need help. The labels,numbers that correspond to a printed brochure,are not visible on the pottery that has been placed on the higher shelves. An outside observation deck,accessed by an elevator,has brick walls which are too high to see over.

  Admission to the art museum includes admission to the Pleasant Reed House. Pleasant Reed was an born a slave in Mississippi. Shortly after the Civil War ended he moved to Biloxi where he built his house and raised his family. The house was donated to the museum but it was also a casualty of Katrina. The current house,a reproduction,is an interpretive center with a short movie and exhibits about the family and early Biloxi. The house is completely accessible.

  The parking lot for the museum is very small but RVs can park on the adjacent streets or in the parking area for the museum offices. Ohr Museum
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras Biloxi

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   We thought that Mobile would be crowded on Fat Tuesday so we went to the celebrations in Biloxi , Mississippi. It has a similar atmosphere to Biloxi but the floats aren’t as elaborate. Still lots of beads!

  Biloxi’s main street , which is US 90,has not recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Before the hurricane the street was lined with beautiful homes , dating from the early 1800s. They were all washed away or damaged beyond repair by the tidal surge. Now the empty lots provide plenty of parking. We arrived a couple of hours early and had no trouble finding a parking spot. The sidewalks are in good condition and half of US 90 is closed for the parade so wheeling along is easy. On the road( US 90 )is a great to watch the parade. Mardi Gras
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