Friday, March 30, 2012

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

    This museum is really big so it takes a couple of hours to see it all. The museum follows the lives of George and Barbara Bush from childhood to the present. Don’t miss the walk around the little lake and through the flower gardens on the grounds behind the library

    Almost everything is accessible. A few of the exhibits were a little too high for easy viewing. A button that has to be pushed to activate a video in the Gulf War exhibit is at the end of a narrow space between the seating  where most wheelchairs will not fit.

  The parking lot is huge with marked spaces for RVs and buses.  Museum
30.59654, -96.35417

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Caddo Mounds State Historic Site

   The Caddo Native American tribe inhabited this site from 800 AD to about 1300 AD. It’s believed that the Caddos, part of the mound building culture of the Mississippi River valley, moved into the region from the northeast. The site has a short trail with interpretive signs explaining village life and the purpose of the burial mound, temple mound, and ceremonial mound.There’s also a small museum with artifacts that were excavated from the mounds plus a short film.

  The museum is accessible. The trail is level and composed of finely crushed gravel so it’s very easy to roll along.

  The lot isn’t very big but large RVs may be able to fit parked along the edge. The lot makes a loop so you can pull through and get back onto the main road if there’s no suitable parking.  Caddo Mounds
31.59641, -95.15001

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center

  With its many hands-on exhibits, this museum was a hit with all the kids that were visiting the day that we stopped in. Most of the exhibits are aimed at grade school and middle school children with a special section for very young children.

  Many of the exhibits, because of the physical nature of them, can not be used by someone in a wheelchair. The museum building itself is all accessible.

  Parking is available next door in the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Regional Visitor Center  lot. The parking lot is large enough for all RVs but there are many one way streets so map your route carefully.  Museum
32.51393, -93.7421

Shreveport Riverfront

    The riverfront is a nice place to spend and hour or so. This little area has a grassy park, splash fountains for kids, an outdoor garden, a small conservatory, a gallery displaying the work of local artists (all for sale) and a jogging/biking trail. The trail is close to the road and not very scenic.

    Everything is accessible. Park in the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Regional Visitor Center lot. Go to the right on the sidewalk at Clyde Fant Pkwy. and cross at the pedestrian crosswalk. This route has the best curb cuts.

  The parking lot is large enough for all RVs but there are many one way streets so map your route carefully.  Garden and Art Center     Trail
32.51571, -93.74352

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harrah's Louisiana Downs Casino & Racetrack

  This casino has a huge lot for RVs and trucks. It’s right of off I –20 which makes it a very convenient overnight spot but along with that comes noise from the interstate traffic. Add in the noise from the trucks sharing the lot and occasional air traffic from the nearby  military base and you might need ear plugs to sleep. Most casinos where we stay are much quieter.

  The casino is kind of accessible. The chairs are easy to move but rolling on the carpeting is tiring. Most of the machines have ticket and card slots that are a little too high.  Casino
32.54632, -93.62817

Monday, March 26, 2012

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

 Wildlife refuges serve a variety of purposes-conservation, restoration, and resource management which can include hunting, fishing, education, and recreation. Black Bayou has a visitor center, a learning center, a fishing pier, and several trails.

 The Prairie Trail across from the visitor center, and the Arboretum Trail at the learning center are both short, concrete trails, fully accessible. The nature trail which links to the pier is a little over a mile long, part boardwalk, part gravel. The nature trail is accessible but the gravel sections require some effort to push along. There’s a little step up where it joins the boardwalk. We had to backtrack at a couple of places because heavy rains had raised the water level and flooded the trail. Use caution on the boardwalk. It doesn’t have a railing or any type of guard along the edges.

 The nature center has a few displays about the bayou and is accessible. The learning center has exhibits with live fish and other animals in tanks and is accessible too. The fishing pier has sections with lowered railings so that it’s possible to fish from a wheelchair.

Vans and small RVs can fit in the visitor center parking lot. Large RVs can be parked along the loop road at the learning center or in the larger lot at the pier.  Refuge
32.60458, -92.05158

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

   Joe Biedenharn, the man who bottled the first Coca Cola, built this house in Monroe, Louisiana. His daughter, Emy-Lou Biedenharn, who lived in the house for most of her life, remodeled it, decorated it and also designed the garden.  Admission to the site includes a short film, an entertaining talk with a “soda jerk”, a tour of the house, a walk through the garden, admission to the Bible Museum, and a five cent bottle of Coke dispensed from an antique machine.

  Everything is accessible except for the second floor of the house.

  There isn’t any nearby parking for large RVs. Vans and smaller RVs will fit in the museum lot on Speed Street.  Museum
32.51933, -92.13051

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Poverty Point State Historic Site

 This is the site of the earliest organized community in North America, dating back to  1650 BC.  A lot of it is a mystery because erosion and extensive farming has destroyed much of evidence but large earthen mounds and semi-circular raised earthworks surrounding a large flat courtyard can still be seen.  Many arrowheads, tools, stone beads and figurines have been unearthed and are on display in the visitor center. This was the beginning of the mound building culture that spread along the Mississippi valley and continued until the arrival of the first Europeans.

The visitor center is accessible. A tram tour is given five times a day. It does not have wheelchair access but the one way road may be driven by private car. The road is also fine for walking or rolling. It’s about two miles long and goes past all of the major sites.

The parking area is large enough for RVs parked lengthwise across the spaces.  Poverty Point
32.63549, -91.40357

Margaret's Grocery – Crumbling Folk Art

     In 1979 Margaret Rodgers, widow and store owner, married H.D. Dennis, a 63 year old preacher , who got to work transforming the store with bible verses, pink and red paint, artificial flowers, and Christmas lights. Margaret died a few years ago and H.D. is living in a nursing home so his work is slowly crumbling and will soon be just be a pile of colorful rubble.

   The property is closed to visitors but there’s a large pull off so that you can stop and check it out.  Grocery
32.41059, -90.84202

Friday, March 23, 2012

Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum

   Joseph Biedenharn  was the first person to bottle Coca-Cola. He installed the equipment in the rear of his soda fountain candy store and sold the filled bottles in the countryside to farmers and lumber camps. The museum has examples of the type of equipment that was used plus old advertisements and promotional merchandise.

  The museum has a step at the entrance, steps in and out of the main room, and steps into a reproduction of a 1890 soda fountain so it’s not wheelchair accessible.

  There’s parking along S. Washington Street, a block north of the museum. Washington Street, driving south, gets congested and a little tight so if you’re driving a RV you might want to avoid that route through town.  Museum
32.35168, -90.88197

Riverfront Murals

   Thirty two murals by artist Robert Dafford depict important events in Vicksburg’s history. They’re painted along the floodwall on Levee Street. Each mural has a brass plaque explaining the event depicted. The Children’s Art Park, which has mosaic artwork made by kids, splash fountains, and a playground is located across the street.

  A sidewalk runs the length of the wall. Most of the signs are at the edge of the walk and easy to see.

  A gravel lot is located at the north end of the wall. It’s large enough for RVs but the roads leading down to Levee Street from the main part of town are very steep so you may not want to attempt it. Murals
32.35193, -90.88332

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Old Courthouse Museum

  With a slightly southern slant, this museum relates the history of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Artifacts, many recovered from battlefields, have been donated by local families. Additional collections include antique furniture, period clothing, china, and household goods.

  The museum sits high on a hill with a very long ramp to the entrance. The entrance door is very heavy. The bottom floor is fairly accessible but the thresholds between the rooms are a little high. A stairlift, which requires a transfer, is the only option to access the second floor.

   Parking is available along the streets.  Museum
   32.35196, -90.87879

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vicksburg National Military Park

    Gaining control of the Mississippi River port city of Vicksburg was an important but difficult goal of the Union Army. The city was protected by a bluff at the river front and bayous, swamps, and hills on the north, south, and east sides. After several unsuccessful and bloody campaigns, Grant’s army settled in for a 46 day siege which ended with the Confederate army, sick and starving, surrendering on July 4,1863. A 16 mile self-guided driving tour along the siege lines will take you past elaborate memorials erected by each state after the war. The park also has a visitor center with a movie plus a few exhibits  and a small museum with an outdoor display of the reconstructed Union gunboat, the U.S.S. Cairo, which spent 100 years sunk in the Mississippi mud.

  Most of the signs and monuments along the driving tour can be easily seen from your vehicle. The visitor center, museum, and gunboat exhibit (long ramps) are all accessible.

  The visitor center and the museum parking lots are large enough for RVs. The driving tour road does not have any posted limits for weight or length but because the route is windy and hilly people with large RVs may want to leave them in the visitor center lot and use a smaller vehicle.  Park
32.34661, -90.84938

Vicksburg Battlefield Museum

   Free ebook from Amazon - Narrative of a Blockade-Runner

  If you really, really like models of ships, go to this museum. The ships are excellently constructed and there’s also a large battlefield diorama but not much of anything else.

   The parking lot has a good slope and the ramp to the entrance of the museum is uneven and a little too steep. The diorama and the informative plaques are hard to see from a seated position.

   The parking lot is shared with a motel and is large enough for all RVs.  Museum
   32.34583, -90.8444

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mynelle Gardens

   This was a private house and garden that is now owned by the city of Jackson. The house which was built in 1917 may be rented for events but isn't open to the public. Many different varieties of azaleas make the garden very colorful in the spring.

   About 1/3 of the garden paths are paved and accessible. Obstacles on the remaining paths include loose gravel, small steps, and very steep bridges.

   The gravel lot on the right side of the admissions building is large enough for all RVs.  Garden
   32.32888, -90.25212

Jackson Zoo

   The large animal enclosures in this zoo are really good – lots of room and easy viewing. Many of the smaller enclosures are undergoing renovations so some of the animals weren’t out for viewing.

   The zoo is semi-accessible. It’s hilly and the paths are uneven in places. Most wheelchair uses will need to have some help if they want to see the whole zoo. The handicapped parking spaces are on a slope.

  The parking spaces are head-in on both sides of the street. If you’re driving a RV go to the end of the street and park across the spaces or use the little parking lot.  Zoo
32.32169, -90.22105
 32.32169, -90.22105

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mississippi Museum of Art

   The main galleries in the museum comprise the “ Mississippi Story” All of the artwork is about Mississippi and most of the artists live in or are natives of Mississippi. The “Mississippi Story” is free to the public. Special exhibits have an admissions fee. The Art Garden space outside of the museum is very nice with more artwork, flowers, water features, and trees.

  Everything is accessible.

  Small RVs can be parked in the little lot south of the museum on S. Lamar Street. Larger RVs can be parked taking up a couple of spaces along Pascagoula Street – 2 hours meter limit.  Museum
32.29605, -90.18668

Old Capitol Museum

   This building served as the capitol building from 1839 until 1903 when a new building was constructed. The old building went through abandonment, renovation, and reuse for other purposes before it was restored to it’s former 1839 glory in 2009. It now serves as a museum with displays about the architecture and restoration of the building; the role of the legislature, governor, and high court of the state; and some of the important cases that were heard in the courtrooms. There are just a few displays concerning Mississippi’s history.  A history museum is in the planning stages and is set to open in 2017.

  Most of the museum is accessible. There are two very steep ramps on the third floor. A touch screen in one of the displays on the second floor is partially blocked a table.

  Parking is located behind the museum. There are two levels. Small RVs and vans with a handicapped parking permit can fit in the top lot. Larger RVs will fit parked across the spaces on the lower level. There are steps or a very steep road leading to the museum entrance from the lower lot. Museum
32.29907, -90.17934

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mal's St. Paddy's Parade

   St. Patrick's Day parades are a bit different in the south –they throw beads and moon pies! In some cities they throw cabbage ,potatoes, and carrots too, the ingredients for Irish stew. Just beads and pies in Jackson, Mississippi though. This is a big event for the city so if you want a good viewing spot make sure that you arrive about an hour before the parade starts. If you’re lucky enough to get a spot right at the barrier along the street, pull up close or people will push in front of you. Other than that it’s not too crowded. Moving back on the sidewalk will get you a good view of the floats but it’ll be a little too far for catching beads. There are 50 floats and the parade lasts about 1 1/2 hours. The floats aren’t as elaborate as the ones at Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama.
  The parade viewing route is fairly accessible because the sidewalks are wide enough so that there’s still enough room for a wheelchair to maneuver through all of the people. We parked at the fairgrounds which involves going up a steep hill to get to the parade route. The curb cuts are very poor. There are parking lots closer to the route which would be better if you don’t have help pushing.

  The fairgrounds lot has electric hookups, dump access and water faucets. The water faucets are gross, located in boxes below the ground level so they fill up with mud and gunk.Look for faucets on the sides of the buildings if you need to get water. Parking is $10.00 whether you chose to stay overnight or not.  Parade
32.29895, -90.17647
        mississippi1           076  Surprised smileToo many beers
                           and an extreme lack of porta-potties!