Monday, January 30, 2023

Giant Marfa

The movie Giant, based on the novel of the same name, spans 25 years of family conflicts, and social and business upheaval faced by a  wealthy Texas ranching family. Parts of the movie were filmed in little town of Marfa, Texas and in the wide open spaces that surround it. Giant free standing cutouts of James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson driving a yellow convertible, and a hotel with the movie crew are located north of Marfa on US 90. Hidden speakers play country music. A friendly local  man stopped to tell us to drive slowly and watch the convertible which appears to rotates you drive past.

The cutouts were made by John Cerney, a portrait artist who began painting murals on buildings which lead to him making the giant cutouts. He's created dozens of the cutouts but this is the only one that we've seen. We have some catching up to do!

Everything can be seen without leaving your vehicle. 

The parking area is pull through and large enough for any vehicle. Murals  30.33781, -104.132

Friday, January 27, 2023

US 90 Picnic Area

This is another Texas picnic area with a loop off of the highway where 24 hour stays are allowed however this one has an additional spur that dead ends in a large turn around. The entrance to the spur is just a couple hundred feet east of the loop but since it's harder to spot it gets no traffic which makes for a quieter night.

Like most Texas picnic areas, there aren't any restrooms or water, just picnic tables and trashcans. 30.32335, -103.74251

Monday, January 23, 2023

Beaumont Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens features winding paths with a few sculptures, a small lake, and a topical conservatory. This is a small park so it doesn't take long to see it however when I looked at the map to make this blog post I noticed more trails a mile south at Cattail Marsh. Something to explore next time we pass through Beaumont!
The paths are paved but the sections are not level so watch for raised edges. The conservatory is accessible.
The parking lot is small but RVs will fit if backed to over the grass or parked lengthwise across the spaces. Gardens  30.02301, -94.14723

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Golden Nugget Casino

The information for RV parking at this casino is confusing. We went to the emptiest lot where other RVs were parked even though the casino website indicates that RVs should be parked in the east lot. One entrance to the lot where we parked has a No RV Parking sign; the other entrance doesn't. This was a one night stop for us. We did not check in or get a parking permit and we were not visited by security.

The entrance casino is an easy roll.  The money and ticket slots are easy to access from a wheelchair. Casino  30.20271, -93.26139 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Louisiana Orphan Train Museum

In the mid 1800s a large number of children in eastern cities became orphans when their parents died during typhoid, yellow fever and flu epidemics. Others were abandoned due to poverty, illness, or addiction. With nowhere to go the children lived in the streets, forming gangs for protection and selling matches and newspapers to survive. Charities established to help the children developed programs to place the children in foster homes which were often in farming communities. The children traveled by train to their new homes hence the term "orphan train".

The children sent to Louisiana were babies, toddlers, and young children from the New York Foundling Hospital. Since this was a Catholic charity the children were placed in Catholic families even if that was not their birth family's religion. All of the placements were arranged beforehand with families who had been approved by the parish priests. Most of the placements were considered successful although there were cases of children running away. The woman who gave us a tour of the museum is the grandchild of one of the orphan train children. It was something that her grandmother rarely discussed leading the woman to believe that her grandmother's experience was not a happy one.

The museum has photographs and stories of many of the children. Some of the families kept the outfits that the children were wearing when they met their new families. These and other articles that the children brought with them are on display.

The museum is located in a former train depot which is part of Le Vieux Village, a collection of relocated historic buildings. It may be possible to see the interiors of the buildings by asking at the tourist information center which is also on the grounds. Since none of the buildings have ramps we did not ask  about visiting them but we did follow the paved walkways to read the interpretive signs at each building.
The Orphan Train Museum is accessible. The buildings in Le Vieux Village are not accessible due to steps and no ramps. The paths are paved and accessible.

The parking lot is small but RVs can be parked parallel to the museum building.  Museum  30.53177, -92.07508


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

Oversize parking is way in the back lot but there's an entrance close by that goes into the casino so it's not as inconvenient as it seems. Th lot is large but might get busy with horse trailers when a race is scheduled.

The carpet is plush which makes rolling tiring. The money and card slots are easy to reach. Casino  30.52808, -92.0603

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Hollywood Casino

A few years ago the Louisiana Senate approved a bill that allows casinos to move from their riverboat operations into land based casinos. When we visited the Hollywood Casino their land based casino wasn't ready to open so I can't report on the accessibility of the interior but the parking lot is good - large and fairly level. No need to sign in. Casino  30.46127, -91.19155

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

West Baton Rouge Museum

The museum consists of several small exhibit galleries featuring permanent and changing exhibits. The centerpiece is a 33-foot model of a sugar mill, originally constructed for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. There's also a short film shown on request. Seven historic buildings, which can be seen by guided tour only, have been relocated to the grounds. Three of the buildings are cabins furnished to represent how rural Black people lived during times of slavery; reconstruction and Jim Crow; and the 1950s and 60s. The Aillet House is a typical Creole style sugar plantation house. An army surplus building has been repurposed to represent a juke joint. The Arbroth Store, closed in 1980 after operating for 100 years, is stocked with goods that would have been sold from the early to mid 1900s.
This museum has excellent wheelchair access. A ramped entrance can be accessed from the 6th Street parking lot. There's also a ramp at the main entrance that allows access to one gallery which otherwise could not be seen without navigating a few steps, The museum exhibit galleries are accessible. The walkways between the relocated buildings are all in very good condition. All of the buildings have ramps at the rear entrances.
The parking lots are only large enough for vans and short RVs. Large RVs can be parked on North Jefferson Ave.  Museum  30.4605, -91.20692

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Rural Life Museum

The main exhibits in the museum, both in the visitor center and on the grounds, center around life on sugar plantations in the 19th century. Excellent exhibits in the visitor center describe the lives of owners, overseers, and the slaves who were forced to work long and hard hours to grow, tend, and process the cane into sugar. The buildings on the grounds positioned to form an example of a working plantation, include the overseers house, rows of slave cabins, outbuildings, and a sugar house.
The museum also has an assorted collection of tools, toys, household items, carriages including several hearses, and usual cast iron caskets. Buildings on the grounds are grouped together to represent an Arcadian settlement and life on pioneer farms.
There's also a statue of an elderly black man that stood in the center of Natchitoches, Louisiana until 1968 when it was removed because of its racist depiction of a "good darkie" avoiding eye contact as he tips his hat. For years the original plaque was covered with a wooden box but that has been removed and a sign erected to explain the reason for the statue in the first place and the reasons it was removed and why it now stands on the museum grounds.
The visitor center is accessible. The buildings on the grounds do not have ramps. It's possible to peek in the doors of some of the slave cabins. The ground is rough grass and difficult to push through without assistance.

To get to the museum follow the directions on the website as your GPS may lead you astray. The parking lot is large enough for any RV. The accessible spots are not long enough for RVs but park as close as possible to avoid the rough gravel of the parking lot. Museum  30.41193, -91.11633