Washington Day 1 & 2

RAIN !!

We arrived in Washington after a long drive and it was raining a lot. We got some food at the local market and settled in for the night. We were watching TV and saw on the news that there were Tornado’s, interested, we discovered that they were in the same area that we were in the day before. We were all astounded to say the least that we missed it by 1 day. Thank goodness!!!!

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The news warned that there would be flooding in Washington in the next few days and that we need to be careful of where we go. We discussed our options and decided on the Smithsonian – Air and Space museum.

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The next morning, in the pouring rain we set off on our first part of our journey to see Washington. Figuring out how the underground worked was a bit of a challenge but we got there in the end. Getting to the museum with the rain still pouring we sought out the tour guide and started the highlight tour. Starting with the Voyager airplane that went around the world in 9 days, the Wrights Brothers airplane, World War 1 & 2 planes and the new modern ones. Then the space one was less impressive considering we had been to NASA in Houston. They did have the Apollo 11 Command unit there and also the Felix Baumgartner RED BULL capsule where he sky dived from the edge of space.

We spent the entire day there and there is so much that I cannot begin to tell all. You will have to look at the pictures.

Both Dad and Andre are under the weather with a bad cold so we decided to spend the day at home on Day 2. The only thing that we had to do was go and vote at the Embassy.

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Washington DC is having flood warnings but this didn’t deter us from getting up, finding the Embassy on the GPS and making our way there. Walking up the road in the pouring rain full of excitement about doing our civic duty and casting our vote. We got to the embassy and they were all set up in reception and ready to go. We were greeted with a big smile and we were all excited about voting. While my husband and I were filling in our forms to vote more and more people started to make their way into the embassy. There is such a sense of patriotism, it was fantastic ! We were checked off the voting roll, had our thumb market with ink and then handed the stamped ballot sheet with 2 envelopes. I went behind the screen, cast my vote, put it into one envelope then the other and put in into the ballot box. Having pictures taken with the SA flag we got photo bombed by a fellow SA voter not wanting to miss out on the pictures. Everyone was happy about doing their duty to the country, and taking pictures to prove it.

Coming back we got soaking wet 🙁  Andrew, Claudia and Christopher went to do the Smithsonian Natural Science  Museum. Mom and I watched a movie while the boys slept. We had our usual family dinner and caught up on the day and made plans for the next day. Tomorrow the rain due to stop during the day so we are doing a Bus tour of the city.

 

Uncle Jack

Jack Daniels Distillery

In the farmlands of rural USA, we found ourselves in a place that doesn’t sell any liquor. Since prohibition times, 1910 this county has not had the sale of liquor. Thank goodness we were told this by the people in the previous place we stayed at, so we were well prepared. Checking into the old farmhouse that was built in 1910, it had a wonderful home feel to it and the other guests welcomed us and wanted to know where we came from and where we are going.

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We slept so well! The breakfast was outstanging… No Gritts! Eggs and Bacon, thank goodness!! Gritts… that is a corn mixture and is a bit like Millie Pap but very soft. Yuk! We planned to go to 2 distilleries today. Jack Daniels and then George Dickle. We got to the JD Distillery and we were told that we cannot take any pictures inside because of the fumes… Very nice smelling fumes they were.

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So we got a history tour of JD and Uncle Jack himself. He started making whiskey when he was 13 years old. I am sure it was moonshine! 🙂 He was one of 13 children and was never married. He was the first person to open a official registered distillery. this is why one of the buildings has a 1 on the wall. The reason for the square bottles was because he wanted to convey fairness and integrity.

The “Old No 7” brand name was assigned to the distillery for Government registration due to the district. The district lines were re drawn  later and the 7 changed to 16 but they chose to stick with the Old 7 as it was already known. When he died, his Nephew took over. He was a very clever man and  when the county became dry he moved the distillery all over until prohibition became law in  1910. He went into politics and came Tennessee state senator and got the law changed so that they could brew the whiskey 1938 so it was a long wait to get things back on track again.

It was a very interesting tour and the next distillery was was just as old. We didn’t do that tour however.

Next stop… Washington DC!

Memphis 4 Elvis!

The King of Rock and Roll

TOO SEE PICTURES CLICK HERE:  MEMPHIS PICTURES

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We have had 2 days of driving about and it was too short for me to do the bloging and the internet was not so good.

We arrived just outside Memphis to a beautiful guest house and conference centre. True to our nature, Mami and I spotted the German shepherd and the rest was not important. We got of the car and went straight over to play and love the 9 month old boy. Very Very cute!

We checked in and we had a nice glass of wine and aimed to relax, this was short lived as we met a very nice couple that told us that at big storm was coming and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. So what we had planned for the night we had to change and to do dinner close by. We got to the resturant and the food was fantastic! Way too much of course, true to the USA way. When we decided to leave the heavens opened and it was flooding like mad. We took a very slow drive home to the hotel and went to bed.

Up early and met the owners of  Bonne Terre and gave them the Mandela coin that we have ceremoniously been handing out at each place we have stayed at. She was so taken aback that she gave us a big hug! Then the trip to Graceland was on. Driving in you get to Elvis Presley Blvd. You just knew that this was going to be something to behold. We took the VIP tour and drove with the bus into the gates of Graceland. It is too beautiful and the stunning gardens! The house is exactly the same as it was before he died. Seeing the lounge, Kitchen and then the Jungle room.  Hearing how they turned the Jungle room into a recording room and Lisa Marie was sitting in the big round chair. Moving through the house we got to the rooms where they had set up the records, letters, Grammy’s, clothes just took my breath away, this was even bigger than I had imagined. There is simply too much to tell, the pictures will have to tell you that story. Walking outside again you see the garden of remembrance and this is where his Mother, Father and Elvis himself is laid to rest. There is a small plaque there too for his twin brother that died at birth.

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Getting the gifts for those back home was really hard to do. Once that was done, we went into Memphis to the Hard Rock Cafe in Beale street, which is very much the same as Burbon street in New Orleans. They have a big Elvis Expo there too amongst the other stuff like Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison to name a few.

Now the long drive to Lynchburg. It was a scenic drive through Tennessee. Rolling hills (even though small) and the green lands of the country. We arrived at our new home for the next 2 says in the country side. Tomorrow it is the Jack Daniels Distillery.

New Orleans Day 3

Ghosts, Spirits and History

Today is the last full day in New Orleans. After a hearty meal we had planned to drive today to the places we wanted to see. First stop, Mardi Gras World!

We got to see the floats that were used in this years Mardi Gras. Wow, wow, wow!! They are huge!! We got a brief history on how they came to be and they have been around for a very long time. The art work that goes into each piece is priceless. They have actually started the process of the new ones already for next year. All the “krews” have to wear masks as it is tradition for them to throw gifts to the people in the street. Beads, cups etc. and your not allowed to see the persons face. Very cute! It costs Millions of Dollars for all these gifts. It is called Fat Tuesday and by Ash Wednesday it is all over and Mardi Gras is done for the year. The floats have electricity and a toilet on board as you can be on it for over 8 hours a time… that could prove a bit of a problem otherwise.

We had a good giggle taking photos with the cut out figures amongst the massive figures of the floats. Boats, famous people, kiddies animated caricatures and things that go bump in the night to scare you to death.

2nd Trip – St Louis Cemetery 3. All the tombs are above ground because of the table… New Orleans is a swamp you know!

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We were looking at all the old grave stones but a lot of them were badly damaged from Katina and the water level in the one building was still very clear and it was high up on the walls. Louise Glenton had asked me to go take a look at her family tomb that is buried there. It didn’t take long and we found it. The cemetery is very impressive and beautiful.

I had run out clothes and my shorts broke so we had to get some new ones for me to wear. This was a brief trip to the shops and then we came back to Masiuon Perrier to drop off the family and then Andre and I went on a Ghost tour of the city.

Well what a history lesson ! The French Quarter dates back to 1721 and has a very violent past. The French Quarter was built first and it burnt to the ground. It was re built by the Spanish in and that burnt to the ground too. The great fire was in 1788 and 1794.  During that time there were over 50 murders a night every night, yellow fever out break and the bodies were just left in the street.  The oldest building is the Old Ursuline convent which is now converted into a hotel and is considered the most haunted hotel in New Orleans. The kids of yester year still run around on the top floor,  playing pranks. There is a a civil war soldier there too that has been seen. Jackson square was the centre of it all with the town executions, hangings and torture. They would break all your limbs and cut off your feet and hands and leave you to die on a stake. The locals would take bets as to how long it would take for you to die.

Then there is a more recent horror story about Zack & Addy. He dismembered her and cooked her up before killing himself. So along with the ghosts, horror, voodoo and spells, there is so much more to offer and we just didn’t have enough time to see it all. I would so much like to go back there again.

On leaving Maison Perrier we left them with a small token from SA. Thanks to Kollie for the Mandela coins, they loved it!

We are leaving for Memphis in the morning to go to see the “King”, this is gonna be like ” I can’t help falling in love”

New Orleans Day 2

Hello Yal!!!

Well, wow!!! New Orleans is something to behold!

We started the day with a wonderful breakfast at Masion Parrier and got a taxi into town. First stop the Natchez Mississippi steam boat. Young and old, you are impressed with the flutes, the engine room and the paddle at the back of the boat. After looking around you begin to see the long line of  “ladies” that had preceded her, dating back to the 1800. This majestic wonder took us up and down the Mississippi and both Dad and Andre were in awe!

Our walk into Bourbon street was less impressive as it was dull. Andre &I decided that we need to come back later. Our walk around the sights of Jackson Square with the Jazz band playing was great. Everyone is friendly and eager to help you. We stopped for lunch at Napoleon’s which is a historic landmark. It is said that it’s name comes from the fact that the owner offered the house to Napoleon during his exile but he never took him up on the offer. We did a bit of walking in the French Quarter & then stopped for coffee and the others had some sort of sweet pastry. Not my thing at all 🙁  Christoper fell asleep and we decided to take the scenic route back. We hopped onto the tram and then the street car back home. We decided that we would split up as Andre and I wanted to go back to Bourbon street.

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Bourbon street… Later… so much better, the road was alive with activity. People, strip bars, bands and much more to entice you into their pub. We went to a few and ended up having Hurricanes at Pat O Briens, well it knocks you off your feet. The mix of drunks, beggers, preachers and the rest of us… it was fantastic!

Hard Rock was fantastic, we got a few gifts while we were there too. We got a KISS t shirt for Gerda as it is her favorite band. Pat O Brien for 2 hurricane’s and they gave you a big smack on the head. The bar ceiling was covered in German traditional Beer mugs. The story is that they were bought to the pub during the 1940’s. Some of them were very beautiful. Getting our glass from the drink packed up we were on the road again.  We had a good laugh seeing all the strangely dressed people in the street. We had a nice long chat to the guys with the horse and carriage and decided it was time to come home as we were a tad drunk, he he.

Called a taxi and came home. Tomorrow we are going to see where the Mardi Grais is put together and the cemetery’s… voo doo and ghosts Woooooooo

New Orleans Day 1

Waking up this morning and realising that we are on our way to New Orleans was a dream come true for both me and Andre. The trip was going to be long drive but we were both looking forward to it. Car was packed and ready to go and before we knew it… we were on the road.

Traffic was  a bit hectic but not too bad, stopping midway to fuel and have a disgusting burger at Wendy’s was not the highlight of our trip in. However, things changed quickly. The motorway is built on a swamp and it is an impressive sight to see. Long roads on concrete stands over the water, well I have never seen such a structure.

Once we got to the Mississippi river and the bridge, it was a super fantastic structure, it just took your breath away! This was in Baton Rouge. Coming into to New Orleans I have to say that I felt quite sad about what had happened here a few years back and the fact that they are still trying to rebuild the city. Lots of development and repairs happening.

This place is so steeped with history and I am bursting at the seams to learn about what she has to offer.  The River, the cemetery’s, the French quarter, the Voodoo and haunted history. How are we going to cram it all in???

Then there is Bourbon street… 🙂

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Well time to sleep, tomorrow we start with the Mississippi steam boat trip…