Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our Past Three Weeks

The time has flown, and it has been a most unusual December for us!  As I may have mentioned, we made a trip north to help our daughter and her husband move to Florida.  On our way there we made a stop in Atlanta, Georgia to visit my sister Linda.  After a day sitting in the car, John and I were up for a hike.  As it has been many years since I have seen Stone Mountain, we decided to see it once again, as well as climb it.
Not a good picture, seems the figures have faded on the rock surface since I last had viewed them.  First man is Jefferson Davis, the second is Robert E. Lee and the last is of Stonewall Jackson.  Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to do the carving but abandoned the project in 1925 (and later went on to do Mount Rushmore).  Carving on Stone Mountain was completed by Roy Faulkner in 1975.  After viewing the carving we drove over to the other side of the mountain to hike the Walk Up Trail.  The path is 1.3 miles, ascending 78 feet in elevation to a height of 1,686 feet.  It was an unusually warm day for Atlanta in December, but the lower slopes of the mountain are forested and shady.  The top of the mountain is a landscape of bare rock, and at that height the atmosphere was a bit cool.   We made it to the top!
 From this height we could see downtown Atlanta, as well as the park spread out below us.  In the background is Stone Mountain Lake.
Three days later we arrived in Carbondale to assist our daughter and her husband pack for their move to Florida.  And on December 19th our son-in-law Spencer graduated from law school.  The past three years has not been easy for him and Melissa, but those years did bring the joy of the birth of their son Nathan.  I must say that graduation day was a very happy one for all of us!
We are now back at our home in St.Petersburg.  We made it home in time for the arrival of our son Dan and wife Amanda from D.C., who spent Christmas with us.  And we now have another cat residing with us, Zelda.  She belongs to Spencer and Melissa who at present cannot have her with them.  When things settle down there will probably be more postings, as we have a lot to see and do in the Tampa-St.Petersburg area.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Events in Pinellas County

For clarification here, Pinellas encompasses the peninsula we are residing in.  In extends from Clearwater to St.Petersburg, and down to the De Soto National Memorial.   This will probably be my last posting until after the holidays, so it seems appropriate at this point to end with a Christmas theme.  On Sunday we drove back to downtown St.Petersburg and Christ United Methodist Church.  The church, as well as St.Petersburg College, had their 25th annual Winter Choral Festival that afternoon.   Two highlights of that concert were musicals selections played on the AEolian-Skinner pipe organ, and the Hallelujah Chorus sung by not only choir members but other people from the audience who were familiar with it.  The rafters were certainly raised when that was sung, Handel would have been proud!
In the picture above the audience was standing for the Hallelujah Chorus.  We heard it again that evening when we attended the full rendition of Handel's Messiah in Clearwater.   The Florida Orchestra, Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, and University of South Florida Chamber Singers performed it.  There were four guest singers for the solo parts, and it was one very fantastic concert!  It is hard to believe that Handel wrote the complete musical score in 24 days.  He commented to a servant that "I did think I did see Heaven before me and the great God Himself".  It has been about 25 years since we have heard it live, and I think that from now on it will be a more frequent occurrence for us.
The above picture may seem a bit strange.  It was taken at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, Fl.  Currently the gardens are open in the evening for the Holiday Lights display.  For us it was interesting to not only look at the lights but to search out the plants around which the lights are strung.  In the picture above is an angel trumpet tree, its blooms hang over flamingos as well as one duck.  Other Christmas lights of the garden are in the background of the picture.

While we strolled around the topiary/ wedding section of the garden we were entertained by a small band playing Christmas carols.  Pictured below is one of the topiaries located in this area, in case you might be wondering who is standing there with his arrow ready to fly, it is cupid!

What we were able to see of the garden at night makes us desire to see it during the day.  It is a 150- acre garden with native plants as well as exotic specimens suited to the local climate.   I will sign this off now with a Merry Christmas to all of our loyal readers!  May it be a blessed and safe holiday for all.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Our first days in St.Petersburg, Florida

Our first days here have been a bit different, and we are still settling in.  The weather is a bit strange, it can be breezy and cool with a wind off the ocean (bear in mind that we are on a peninsula).   However, one never knows when the sun may pop out and then the shorts need to come on.
We also are doing the more normal things that home owners do.  For some strange reason John got into the spirit of the season and draped Christmas lights over our home and on the tree next to us.  That is a first ever for us since we started traveling!  And for the first time we have a patch of sod to take care of.  We complained at the park office about a dirt patch around our home (should we have a good rain we would be in a big mud puddle).  They were so kind to place sod around our home, and then said it was up to us to keep it watered to get the grass growing.  We have a hose for the former, but unfortunately do not have a mower should that sod decide to grow!  I guess maybe a sharp scissors would work.
Today, Saturday, we had great plans to do a walking tour of downtown St.Petersburg, visit the farmer's market, and the  Chihuly Collection.  We encountered a massive traffic jam once we drove into the downtown area.  For some strange reason a boat show, Christmas parade. Snow Fest, and Holiday Magic events, including the farmer's market were all planned on the same day.

 There is nothing so wonderful as a big white bird just dropping down and taking ones mind off of traffic frustrations, which was what happened to us.  He acted like he had not one care in the world!
John and I decided to get out of the area fast and just find the Chihuly Collection.  We asked a policeman how to skirt the downtown area, and he gave us the name of several streets which, by making right turns, would take us to the museum.  Unfortunately those turns nearly got us killed, he put us on streets which were one-way and not the way we were expecting to go!  We figured that the policeman was a newbie and may never have driven on downtown streets.
We finally arrived at the museum, only to find parking was at a premium.  One policeman advised another motorist to park and walk- which we did, and which was about 10 blocks.  We finally make it to the museum.  We have seen a lot of Chihuly glass exhibits during our travels, and most of his work here was not new to us.  However,  there was a special exhibit by other artists which we enjoyed.
 The glass art pictured above is titled Sunshine and Rain- artist is Jason Christian.
Our admission ticket to the Chihuly allowed us to watch artists at work in the Hot Shop later in the afternoon.  We had a couple of hours to check out the Snow Fest across the street along Tampa Bay.  What a surprise, as we were standing in a food line we had an opportunity to watch part of the Christmas Parade. 

We had to move our car and drive to another area of town to get to the Hot Shop.  It was quite fascinating to watch a working artist create a magnificent glass dish.  It also helped that the artist (Pauli Maiville), explained every step of the process.  We talked to him after the show and he said that he had been working with glass for 31 years.  Most of his learning about glass blowing had come by observing other artists and working closely with them.
That was our first day in St.Petersburg,  it had not turned out as we expected,  but we got a good walk in and saw quite a bit of the downtown area.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Butterfly Rainforest

We are now parked about 40 miles north of Gainesville.  The park we are staying at is quite the lovely place with lots of open green space complete with tropical birds and farmyard animals.  The birds sometimes set up quite a din with their squawking and the donkeys get to braying at night, but I will take that noise any day to the roar of motorcycles and trucks!
Yesterday we drove into Gainesville to the Museum of Natural History, which is on the University of Florida campus.  Part of the museum is the Butterfly Rainforest and the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity.  Here there is everything you may want to know about butterflies and moth biology.

 As we entered the section of the museum devoted to the study of butterflies we immediately saw the Wall of Wings, a section of which is pictured above.  Mounted for display are butterflies from 5 major geographic regions of the world.  The wall is nearly 3 stories high and has 13,000 butterfly and moth specimens and photographs.  Butterflies and moths are the second largest animal group in the world, there are more than 165,000 described and 100,000 yet more to be described.  Along the Wall of Wings are laboratories where we were able to watch scientists at work.  The lab pictured below is the conservation lab, where scientists are searching for reasons why certain butterflies become endangered.

There is also a rearing lab, where butterflies in the chrysalis stage arrive from around the world and held until they emerge as butterflies.   Instead of cutting down forests to grow crops, butterfly farms make money by breeding butterflies in their natural environment.  It saves natural habitats as well as boasting small farming economies. There is also a lab in this area for DNA testing of moths and butterflies.

 One thing I learned about butterflies in the exhibit is that the designs on their wings, as well as their coloring  serve a variety of purposes, from attracting mates to warning off predators.  In the picture above about 6 butterflies are feeding on a banana.  Notice the one butterfly with large spots on his wings.  That eye spot intimidates predators as small birds.  To them the eye spot looks like the eye of a larger bird who may harm them.
The butterfly rainforest has an average of 60 to 80 butterfly species.  They are the ones that come in chrysalis stage from butterfly farms.  One method the center uses to prevent them from reproducing and getting out into the wild is by not providing the right plant on which to lay their eggs.  Among the wildflowers in the rainforest there is, however, many host plants for Florida's native butterflies.  It is quite the beautiful place with  the many colorful butterflies flitting around the plants.
I am posting this from St.Petersburg, where we are now parked for the winter.  The postings from here may not be as frequent, at least for awhile.  Next week we will make a trip to Illinois to attend the graduation of Spencer from law school, as well as to help him, Melissa and Nathan move down to Florida.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Last Notes on Mobile, Alabama

After we had finished the Carnival Museum we had a little time left in our day before the sun sank below the horizon.  We drove over to the Geri Moulton Children's Park near USA Children's and Women Hospital.  In a beautiful wooded setting there are more than 50 life size bronze sculptures depicting children and families.
The statue above has the title Puppy Love- "Our Children Are Our Future".  It is dedicated to the faculty and staff of the University of Alabama College of Nursing.  Some of the statues, commissioned by individual families, are dedicated to children who have died.  The park brought back bittersweet memories of my years as a pediatric nurse at St.Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
Pictured above is an oyster sculpture called LoDa (this is what the Lower Dauphin Street shopping area is called).  Mobile, Alabama has been called, "The Big Oyster".  There are dozens of giant oysters around the downtown area, made of fiberglass.  On the backside of them there is information about the economic and ecological benefit oysters provide for the Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound.  We discovered some of the oysters while on our downtown walk.
One of Mobile's nicknames is also the Azalea City.  No, you are right in thinking that the flower above is not an azalea.  John and I were just here at the wrong time of the year for azaleas and we will perhaps remember the town for the many beautiful camellias which are blooming now.  We visited Mobile's Botanical Garden Wednesday and learned that the greatest concentration of outstanding camellia introductions in the world originated along the central Gulf Coast.  No where else can such a broad spectrum of camellias be grown as in the Mobile area.  According to park information, 600 new camellias composed of 400 new cultivators are planted along the paths of the garden.  Equally beautiful this time of the year are the Japanese maple trees in the garden at this time of the year.  What a beautiful display of autumnal color!
Next to the Botanical Garden is the Mobile Museum of art which we also visited.  I especially enjoyed its collection of American Art dating from the Revolutionary War to more recent times.  The museum is one of the Gulf Coast's largest art exhibits.  It has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 works spanning 2,000 years of cultural history.  We spent another day this past week touring the USS Alabama and the submarine USS Drum, both World War II vessels.  I have done postings on other battleships in the past, so will not write on that experience.  All I will note here about the USS Alabama is that it is very large- it was able to provide a home and work place for 2,500 troops. 
That was our week in Mobile, we were kept busy touring the city nearly every day we were here, and still we did not see all that it has to offer.  Friday we moved on into Florida.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mobile Carnival Museum

Monday it was still cool so we thought it best to visit museums or some of the older homes.  Unfortunately, it being Monday, many of them were closed- except for one which sounded very interesting and different to us.  The Carnival Museum is a repository of historical artifacts pertaining to the Mardi Gras in Mobile.  We had learned from our tour book that Mobile lays claim to being the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States.  The first one was held in 1703, 15 years before New Orleans (another city which celebrates the carnival in a big way) was even founded.  The Carnival Museum is located in a restored mansion.  By the way, the balloons in the picture below, as well as on many of the floats, are made from pig bladders.  It was one of many interesting details regarding the carnival which our tour guide shared with us.
The first room we entered on our tour of the museum had a couple of floats from past carnivals in it.
There are several companies on the Gulf coast whose only work is to make floats like the one above.  Artist are also hired to consult with them.  Mardi Gras begins every year with the Feast of Epiphany and continues until Fat Tuesday.  This period of time is marked by parades, balls, feasts and pageantry.  Some are sponsored by mystic traditional societies, some of which are secretive and not open to the public.   There are also societies formed by affiliated groups as co-workers, bachelors, Jews, Black women- they may have open membership.  Some of the groups are out to just have fun, as the Comic Cowboys.  Just after the Civil War the first group to revive the Mardi Gras custom was a number of Confederate soldiers who called themselves the Lost Cause Minstrels.  Over the past three centuries many of the groups have come and gone.  Our guide said that there are currently 39 societies.   We learned about some of those groups during our tour of the museum, as well as their costumes.
Pictured above is a costume of the Santa Claus Society, behind him is a Maid of Mirth, and the blue costume belongs to the Blue Knights of Revelry.
On display in the museum is also some of the Queens and Kings formal dresses, suit, and trains over the years.  They are quite elaborate and decorated with jewels and other ornamentation.  I believe it is the one pictured above which is said to weight 84 pounds and needed ball bearings under it for the queen to be able to walk with it.  One king's train was also fascinating. Story has it that his mother traveled to France to gain information as to how to design his Napoleon costume. The train especially is quite elaborate, complete with little bee pins.  Napoleon used the symbol of the bee on his uniform to show off his prestige and power. 
In the picture above you may notice a china plate on display in the corner.  That particular king's feast had china decorated with the head of Napoleon.  In the museum there is a display of another king's table and decorations which he had prepared for his queen.  It all was a bit much to wrap my head around, but Mardi Gras is an important tradition in Mobile!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Sunday Walk on Dauphin Street in Mobile

Before I begin, I have to give a shout out to St.Paul Lutheran Church (a member of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) for the wonderful reception they gave us when we attended church there on Sunday.  Many of the members came up and introduced themselves, they were also insistent that we stay after church and join them for their Thanksgiving meal.   It was almost as wonderful as being back at our home church in St.Louis!
It was one of the coldest days that Mobile has had since February (high for Sunday was 53 degrees with a strong wind).  Fortunately we were prepared for the cold by layering with a couple of jackets.  We started our walk at Fort Conde, located in downtown Mobile.  It is a replica of a fort, built between 1723-1735, to defend the French colony from the Spanish and British.  There is quite an extensive museum in the fort detailing the history of Mobile.  It was there we learned more about Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. We first heard of him In New Orleans as he was once governor of French Louisiana.  He was also founder of the French colony in Mobile in the early 1700s.  An interesting story about him, which we learned in the museum, was that he had his body tattooed  with snakes.  He had noticed that the Indians had done that to their bodies with needles, and so when he marched into battle with them he went nude.  That was to show his tattoos and to to indicate that he was part of them.
We learned at the museum that Mobile has had quite a bit of history since the 1700s.  It went from a French colony to a British one until Spain captured it in 1780.   Three decades later Spain lost Mobile to the United States.  And there is also quite a bit of history in the city in regards to the Civil War.  The Battle of Mobile Bay was an important win for the Union Army.   Our walk took us by the statue of Raphael Semmes,  Admiral of the Confederate States Navy.  The sign below him notes that he was a "Sailor, Patriot, Statesman, Scholar and Christian Gentleman".
Our walk took us to a couple of parks which are called Bienville Square and Cathedral Square.  An important part of the latter park is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception built in 1842.
Mobile has fortunately kept many of its older buildings which are notable for not only their beautiful architecture, but also rich in history.  Pictured below was the residence of Nicola Marschall who in 1861 designed the Confederate flag and uniform.  The building was constructed in 1853.

One last building to mention here is the Saenger Theater.  It was constructed in 1926 to be a home for vaudeville and silent movies, and remains still today the entertainment center for downtown.   We had seen in the paper that the Mobile Symphony was playing "Beethoven and Blue Jeans" there this week-end.   Unfortunately we were to busy being tourists that we failed to purchase tickets for it!

Bellingrath Home and Gardens- part Two

In the last posting I mentioned of a series of waterfalls flowing down to the Fowl River.  Before moving on with scenes of the house on the outside, I want  to show one of those beautiful fountains.  With cascading mums framing it, it is just too gorgeous to omit!
There was no way for me to get an over-all view of the Bellingrath home as it is completely surrounded by trees.  I can only offer here small glimpses of sections of the 15-room home. The best one showing the brick two-story building is a view looking up at the north terrace.  This side of the house, which features a series of terraces, offers scenes of the river.
The house was built in 1935 as a permanent residence.  It was constructed using bricks dating from 1835 and ironwork from the 1870s.  They were salvaged from historic structures being demolished in Mobile.  Pictured below is the entrance to the home.  It exudes all the warmth of an old English manor.
A courtyard was built off to the left side of the entrance, it was designed to be in the Italianate villa style- a style which was not carried out in the design of the rest of the house.  Also, in the picture below, notice the wrought- iron framing the entrance, as well as the balconies which have cascading mums.
Bessie Bellingrath died in 1943, and her husband in 1955.  By 1957 the house was opened for tours per their request.  All of her collections of period furniture, porcelain, and crystal  remain in the house.  There are Royal Dalton figurines as well as Meissen china.  The interior of the house is as wonderful to see as well as the gardens!   After the house tour we still had more to see of the grounds.  We visited a small chapel which was designed for services for the Bellingraths and their guests.  There is also a rockery with winding stairs, waterfalls and pools, as well as a Japanese/ Chinese garden.  We walked around Mirror Lake which was once a runoff pond for a 19th century sawmill.  Mrs. Bellingrath loved swans, so three large metal swans can be seen floating on the lake.  There is no way I can completely cover everything at Bellingrath Gradens,  I only hope what I have written here will also convince you to put this on your bucket list,  if you have not as yet visited this home in Mobile.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bellingrath Gardens

We have now moved on to Mobile, Alabama.  These gardens had been on John's bucket list to see.  They are considered to be one of the South's most beautiful gardens, and they certainly more than came up to our high expectations.  However, it is the end of November and I was concerned that the gardens may not be at their best appearance given the time of the year.  We were quite fortunate that we were proven to be wrong- the gardens currently have an amazing display of cascading mums.  This exhibit is done yearly, a staff member informed me that 80,000 plants are set out every fall.  Unfortunately this coming week will be the end of them as they will be discarded for the Christmas light display in the garden.  By the way, this is not your usual mum.  These mums can be used in hanging baskets, as you may notice in the picture below.
After we purchased our tickets we were told that tours of the house would not begin for about another hour.  So we then began our tour of the gardens.  There is a total of 900 acres of land, of which 65 are cultivated.  Our first stop was the conservatory built in 1935.  In front of it is a very large rose garden which features about 75 varieties of roses.  Despite the cooler weather, many are still in bloom.
In the conservatory there is a large poinsettia tree, as well as many blooming Christmas cacti and plumeria, pineapple plants as well as orchids - to name but a few of the many tropical plants in the building.
Our walk next took us along the Great Lawn, which is a large meadow.  It formerly was a farm which adjoined the original fishing camp.  The flower bed bordering the lawn is 400 feet long and has a variety of flowers, including the cascading mums and mums in the ground.  Both sides of the walk have the flower beds.
Live oak plaza is at the center of the gardens.  It adjoins a series of fountains and runnels which once carried an overflow of an artisan spring down to the Fowl  River.  The view from the plaza down to the riverfront pavilion is pictured below.  At this point we needed to stop and tour the home,  more on that in the next posting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Baton Rouge- Part Two

There are many historical places of note on the capitol grounds.  An Indian mound is located there dating back 3,500 years.  The grounds were once the site of the British Fort San Carlos.  Spanish forces in 1779 retook the fort and ended British control of the Mississippi River.  The Pentagon Barracks were built in this area in 1819 and survived Civil War bombardment.  The weather was too unpredictable with strong winds and a bit of moisture in the air so we were unable to explore many of the historic sites on the capitol grounds.  We did, however, tour the old arsenal museum.

Zachary Taylor, our 12th president, lived on the grounds of the capitol.  He was in command of the 1st US Infantry Regiment that built the arsenal in 1819.  Part of the armory, the powder magazine building,  is pictured above.  In 1865 that structure was part of the Union line of defense, it occupied Baton Rouge for most of the Civil War.  In 1862 the Union Army burned the capitol building and the capitol was moved to Opelousas, Louisiana temporarily.  A new capitol building was built in 1880 in Baton Rouge.
Our first impression was that the old capitol building looks a bit like a castle.  We came to find out later that the original building looked quite definitely like a castle complete with cast iron turrets and towers.  Mark Twain called it a "sham castle".  The turrets and towers were removed in 1907. 
A beautiful gilded staircase caught our eyes the second we stepped into the rotunda of the capitol.  The massive cast-iron staircase has 32 steps which fan out from the center column and led us to the second floor gallery.  The canopy of stained glass over the old state capitol is a beautiful kaleidoscope of color.  Wood frames hold in place the more than 2,000 panes of glass that make up the dome.
On the second floor are rooms with displays relating to the history of Louisiana, especially the governors.  As I wrote in the previous posting, most notorious of them was Huey Long.  One room is devoted to Long's good and bad virtues, letting the visitor to decide for himself/herself how they wish to remember the man.  True, he got a lot accomplished for the state, as 13,000 mile of roads, funding for Louisiana State University and the Port of New Orleans, books for school children- in a sense he was a bit like Robin Hood in that regard.  However, as the museum also indicates, he was a ruthless dictator in his political wheeling and dealing.  Many years ago I read All The Kings Men by Robert P. Warren, and one of the characters, Willie Stark, is believed to be inspired by the life of Huey Long. 
We had to walk a few blocks from the new capitol to the older one.  Baton Rouge is a mixture of older buildings, as well as newer ones.  One of the older buildings has a balcony with the cast-iron architecture which we saw in New Orleans.  That said, as we neared our destination, we passed the beautiful Manship Theater as well as the town square- all very modernistic in appearance.  As you can see in the picture below, rain storms were heading into Baton Rouge.  It was time for us to leave Baton Rouge, a city which surprised us more than we expected with its most fascinating history.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

This is the capitol city of Louisiana,  and we do try to visit the state capitols as much as possible.  Our niece Kat was a bit dubious about visiting the city, but she was up for going where we wanted to go.  During the course of the day we learned about how the city got its name.  Baton Rouge in English means "red stick".  A French explorer in 1698 saw a tree stripped of its bark and draped with freshly killed animals.  It marked the boundary line between two American Indian tribes.  So Baton Rouge became known as the place of the red stick, I must admit it does sound a bit odd.
A place high on my list to visit was the old governor's mansion.  The Georgian mansion constructed in 1930 for Huey Long is said to be a copy of the White House.  It was replaced as the governor's home in 1961. Unfortunately we were not able to tour the mansion as it was closed for the day.   Here I need to digress, as I want to write here about Jimmie Davis, the first governor to live in the new governor's mansion in 1962.  He wrote "You are my sunshine" and "The green,green grass of home".  Just for writing those two pieces of music, he far outshines the other governor of Louisiana, Huey Long,  of whom we were going to learn more than we would ever want to know in the course of our day!  Davis served two terms, and was known as the "singing governor".  It has been said that he sang his way into the hearts of the people of Louisiana.
Back to Huey Long, his statue was the one of the first objects we saw looming over the horizon as we walked unto the capitol grounds.  One of his hands is atop a miniature version of the current capitol building.  And how that building came to be the tallest state capitol in the United States is an interesting one.  Long had visited Lincoln, Nebraska and saw their modern tall capitol.  He wanted something similar, but bigger.  The current capitol building is 34 flours high and stands at 450 feet.
 Unfortunately Long was assassinated in the new capitol three years later.  His body lies in the memorial garden where his statue is located.   There is not much to see in the capitol, other than the house and senate rooms and the overlook of the city from the 27th floor.  The senate room is pictured below.
The senate room is all ready for Christmas, quite over the top with the decorations.  The docent who gave us a brief talk about the capitol noted that the senators and representatives are only here about three months out of the year during the spring months.  We also learned that only the senators have offices in the building, and they are closet size.  The representatives carry out their business in the lobby.  There are 64 parishes in the state, compared to 19 when the state was annexed into the United States in 1812.  The docent also noted that the ceilings in both the senate and house are made from the pulp of sugar cane.  We got a good view of the capitol grounds as well as the city from the overlook on the 27th floor.  The picture below is the view looking to the west and the Mississippi River.  Capitol Lake is in the foreground.  There will be more on Baton Rouge in my next posting.