New Orleans Saint Louis Cemetery Number One with Zeb and Soapy

We are ready.   We have our tickets.   We are at the Basin Street Station information center.   The tour is about to begin.   Saint Louis Cemetery Number One is the oldest and most famous cemetery in New Orleans.   It opened in 1789.

Colorado Traveling Ducks with our guide

At the entrance with our guide, we are ready to enter.   So many.

One tomb may be for many family members

These tombs are large and close together.   One claims to have remains of more than 80 human family members.   All tombs are above ground.  Remember, New Orleans is below sea level and located on the Mississippi River where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico.   Here is possibly the most famous grave in the cemetery, actually in the entire city.

Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau was the most famous voodoo priestess.

Marie Laveau

But she also attended the Roman Catholic Church.   That is why she is allowed to be buried here.   Her followers leave flowers and tokens of admiration.   You can see how the cemeteries arranged.

Rows of tombs

There are many rows, each with several tombs.  Here is an unusual situation.

Future home of Nicholas Cage

This pyramid has been purchased, but there is no body here.   The American actor, Nicholas Cage, likes New Orleans and this is his tomb.   He purchased this in 2010 and when he dies he wishes to be buried here.   Some of you may recognize this one.

Large. Was in a movie

This tomb was used in a Hollywood movie.  I’m not sure which movie, but maybe Easy Rider.   This tomb reminds us that this cemetery is really old.

Old tombs

This one has places for many human remains.

Places for many

Each in a separate tomb.   Looks like more than one human buried here.

Homer Plessy

One of them, Homer Plessy, was the plaintiff for the landmark 1896 Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights.   There is so much history here in the cemetery.   Our cemetery tour was very interesting and our guide was wonderful.   Back at the information center, we rest on this decorative coffin.

Decorative coffin

We get back on the tourist bus.

Soapy’s mom on bus with cemetery in background

Soapy’s mom is here with the Saint Louis Cemetery Number One in the background.   Due to vandalism, people can only visit with a tour guide.   Relatives may apply for special passes.   Visit a cemetery.   It is really interesting.

Colordo Traveling Ducks Visit New Orleans, Louisiana

This summer, I, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck and our moms flew to New Orleans.   This was our first time in New Orleans. We stayed at French Market Inn.   We were in the French Quarter, across the street from the Mississippi River.   Let’s look at our hotel.   It is old brick.   We have a courtyard.

Doorway on left goes upstairs to our room

There is a small swimming pool, but we are too busy seeing New Orleans to swim.

Close to the street, but quiet in here.

These narrow passages offer protection from the intense New Orleans sunshine.   From our second floor room, we look out our window.

View from my room

Soapy and his mom have a similar view from their room.   This is so much more peaceful than looking at the street.   Let’s walk a little and maybe eat lunch.

The Gazebo Cafe. Love it!

The Gazebo Cafe offered outside seating and musicians performing.   What to order?   The New Orleans Sampler.

Our first New Orleans meal

It was so good, the humans starting eating before the photo.   We have red beans and rice, gumbo and jambalaya.   These are typical and famous New Orleans food items.   And they are delicious.  We are next to the French Market.   This was once the great bazaar and pulsing commercial heart for New Orleans.

French Market food stalls

Now is it bustling with tourists, like us.   The food stalls smell wonderful.   We did sample some on a later visit.   Tastes as good as it smells.

French Market souvenirs

Wandering through the souvenir area of the French Market is fun also.   It is pretty hot, so the humans bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off tourist bus.

Hop on Hop Off tourist bus

Riding around New Orleans we smile at the VooDoo Mart.

Voo Doo Mart

That just seems so New Orleans.   And look at this Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn with huge clarinet

We love the huge clarinet on the building.   New Orleans has music everywhere.   Jazz is famous in New Orleans.   Wow.

Mercedes Benz Superdome

Look at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.   We see this on TV during our football season.   The football arena is covered, so the Super Bowl Football game is often played here.   Many years ago, our Denver Broncos played here in a Super Bowl Game.   Now we are at Basin Street Station for our tour bus.

Basin Street Station and information center

This is also an information center.   Next to this building is a famous cemetery.   We bought tickets for a cemetery tour and we will take you there next time.   We are liking New Orleans.

Shrine of the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, Colorado

Today we are following the path up the hill to the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross.

Up cement steps. To chapel on the hill

I, Zeb the Duck, am ready to walk up this cement path.   That chapel is pretty far away.   Where is the cement?

Good dirt path

Most of this path is dirt.   But it is an easy path, so all is good.  People come from all places to visit this Shrine of the Stations of the Cross.   We met and chatted with a very nice couple from England.   Here we are at Station I.

Station of the Cross I Pilate condemns Jesus to die

This is where Pilate condemns Jesus to die.  All of these sculptures are done by Huberto Maestas.   We think these sculptures are fabulous works of art.   Huberto Maestas has his studio here in San Luis, Colorado.  Each station has a beautiful sculpture and two plaques explaining the station and some biblical explanations.   This is Station VIII, Jesus speaks to the Women.

Station VII Jesus speaks to the women

We wanted you to see the detail and expression in these sculptures.

Station VIII Jesus speaks to the women

This station has two sculptures.   One of the women and one of Jesus carrying his cross.   At Station XI Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Station XI Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

These are bronze sculptures.   At Station XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Station XIV Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

As you can see, many humans have left objects on the cross.    Traditionally there are 14 Stations of the Cross, but here a 15th station has been added.

Station XV The Resurrection of Jesus

This station shows the Resurrection of Jesus.   The path is a little less than one mile, but seems like an easy walk if you stop to see each sculpture and read the two plaques at each station.    At the top we entered the small chapel.

Chapel

No regularly scheduled church services exist here.

Inside chapel

The interior is very nice.

Inside chapel

I, Zeb the Duck,  like to show you views from the front and from the back.   Humans sometimes leave offerings here.   We found a small bunch of fresh carrots near the front.  The view of San Luis from the top is beautiful.

View of San Luis and the “Vega”

The valley is one of only a few “vegas” or public grazing lands in Colorado.   The pastures belong to all the people.   Not to a single person.   This is a nice community feeling.  If you are in or near San Luis, Colorado, we hope you visit the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross.   We really enjoyed our time here.

San Luis, Colorado’s oldest town, with Zeb the Duck

We are in the San Luis Valley, and today we are visiting the town of San Luis, Colorado.

San Luis, Colorado

This is the oldest town in Colorado.   This is town is older than the state of Colorado.   Colorado became a state in 1876.   We love the murals on the buildings.

Colorful mural

San Luis was settled by people from Mexico.   There were wild horses in the area.

horse

We love horse statues.   This is a small town.   The 2010 census showed a population of 629 for the town of San Luis.

Street in San Luis

We enjoy the small town feeling here.  This colorful mural is on the Visitor’s Center building.

Visitor’s Center

It is beautiful, and so bright.   Behind the Visitor’s Center, we found Most Precious Blood Catholic Church.

Most Precious Blood Catholic Church

We entered the church and gazed at the alter.

Inside church

We love the old churches.   And this is an old church, built in 1886.   From the alter the view toward the entrance is wonderful.   It is so peaceful in here.

Inside church

And my favorite part of many old churches.

Beautiful window in church

The stained glass windows.   I love stained glass.   San Luis is a small, but friendly old town.   We felt welcome here and everybody we talked with was so nice.   Next post we will take you to the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross in San Luis.

Path to Shrine of the Stations of the Cross.

You will love it.

Fort Garland, Colorado

As the United States was exploring and claiming territory in the 1800’s, military forts were needed to attempt to keep peace between the settlers and the indigenous people.     In 1852 a military presence was needed in the San Luis Valley.   Fort Garland was built, using the local bulding material, adobe or mud bricks.   Fort Garland opened in 1858.   Today, I, Zeb the Duck, and the humans visited Fort Garland, Colorado.   Paying our fee, looking at museum items and the gift shop, we entered the inside of the Fort.

Parade ground and flagpole

This is the Parade Ground and Flagpole.   Looking down one side, I hopped on the picnic table.

Ready for a picnic

Five of the 22 original buildings are still standing.  Original buildings were constructed in adobe, the style of this area.   Adobe is basically mud and water.   Let’s go in the Soldiers Theater, one of the original buildings.

Soldiers Theater. Probably former barracks

This was probably used as a barracks.

Living quarters

The plaques said soldiers slept 2 to a bunk, sleeping head to toe.   The soldiers were also required to bathe once a month, whether they needed it or not.   This is not like today when humans seem to shower daily.   Table for morning coffee and planning.

Coffee and planning

All space had a purpose and this post became a temporary home for rifles.

Early rifles

Colorado did not become a state until 1876, after the US Civil War ended, but as a territory, Colorado did have a role in that war.   A major battle, the Battle of Glorieta Pass, in New Mexico, was fought between Colorado (Union side) and Texas (Confederate side).   Texas was to go into Colorado, through New Mexico, and take the Colorado gold fields.   Colorado won this battle in March 1862, forcing the Confederate soldiers to retreat back to Texas, and Colorado kept their gold fields.

Typical camp

This is a typical camp during the battle.   Howitzer cannons have been recovered and one is here.

Cannons

Here is the Howitzer at Fort Garland.

Howitzer cannon

It looks pretty good for being over 150 years old.   After the Civil War the former slaves were free.   Some joined the military.

Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Calvary

The Buffalo Soldiers West were here at Fort Garland.

Uniforms and accessories

We saw some uniforms and accessories for the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Calvary.   Many of the black soldiers won awards and medals and some received the distinguished Medal of Honor.   Next we entered the Infantry Barracks Museum.

Exhibit in Infantry Barracks Museum

This is a nice display.   And a cart.

Cart pulled by oxen

I believe this is the type of cart pulled by oxen.   Not too comfortable, but a saddle.

saddle

Looks similar to ones on oxen to secure the load.   We stayed until closing time.   Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center has so much to see.   And we didn’t see everything.   In the Officer’s Quarters building, we saw this model of Fort Garland when it was used.

Model of Fort Garland

Kit Carson was the commander here, in 1866, after the American Civil War.   We hope you visit and enjoy Fort Garland.

Great Sand Dunes National Park with Zeb the Duck

Colorado is hundreds of miles from any large body of water, but we have sand dunes.   Let’s go to Great Sand Dunes National Park and see the highest sand dunes in North America.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

As we drive to the Visitor’s Center, we stop to admire the view.

Road to Visitor’s Center

These dunes are probably close to 440,000 years old.   The Great Sand Dunes National Park covers 33,549 acres (13,576 hectares).   That’s a lot of sand.   Our first stop is usually the Visitor’s Center, and here we are.

Visitor’s Center

Let’s see what they say about today at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.   The summer sand surfaces reach 140 degrees F, (60 C) but this is a nice day in late September.    So walking on the sand is fine.   Wear closed toe shoes and monitor pets’ feet.   The humans are wearing appropriate shoes and we have no pets.   No, I, Zeb the Duck, am not a pet.   I am the star of this blog.   Back to the car, we drive a short distance, park and then start walking on the sand.

A long walk for a small duck

It is hard to walk in loose sand, so mom takes off her shoes.   That only lasts about 10-15 minutes.   Sand too warm, shoes back on and off we go again.   Getting closer, we see people already on the dunes.   They sure look small.   We still have a lot of sand walking to do.

Getting closer. Humans ahead

There really are several humans on the dunes.   They sure are tiny.   They will walk and hike on the dunes, some will sand board down the hills and we even saw some with a hang glider.   All so much fun, but quite strenuous to climb the dunes to enjoy a favorite way back down.  My little duck legs are screaming for mercy.

As far as my short duck legs wanted to walk

OK mom, this is enough.   Now, tell me, how did all this sand get here?   The sand dunes are in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado.   The San Juan Mountains are to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are to the east.   Most of the sand comes from the San Juan Mountains, about 65 miles (104 km) west of us.   The valley was once a huge lake and sand and sediment settled in the lake.    As the lake reduced, winds from the southwest bounced the sand piling it against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.   Northeasterly storm winds blast through the Sangre de Cristo Mountain passes, piling dunes back on themselves, creating North America’s tallest dunes, 750 feet (213 m) high.   That’s what we learned at the Visitor’s Center.  Walking back toward the car, we stop to admire the view.

Heading back towards car

A great view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We love these sand dunes, here in Colorado.   The elevations in the national park range from 7,500 feet (2,286m) to nearly 14,000 feet (4,267 m) above sea level.   Climates change with the altitude, so be sensible and be prepared.   In the spring Medano Creek runs through the Great Sand Dunes National Park.   Snow collects in the Sangre Cristo Mountains from October into April, then with spring warm up, the snow melt feeds the Medano Creek which flows through the national park, providing great entertainment for human visitors.   While feeding the underground aquifers for the San Luis Valley, the creek seems to have tide movements providing great fun for small and adult humans as they enjoy the cool water in the hot sand dunes.   We were there in late September, so there was no water in the sand dunes.

Path of Medano Creek in the spring

But we could see where the river runs in the spring.   Mom, we need to come back here in the spring.   Driving a little more in the national park, we found the amphitheater.

Amphitheater

Our national parks have interesting presentations, but today’s presentation had been cancelled.   The Great Sand Dunes National Park is open 24 hours a day.   At night, be sure to enjoy the incredible display of stars on a clear night.   We hope you visit here.   We think you will find it very interesting and a lot of fun.

Colorado Alligator Farm with Zeb the Duck

Alligators in Colorado??   Of course.   Why wouldn’t a high altitude desert have alligators that live in tropical waters?   OK   This is why we have an alligator farm.

Alligator Farm in Colorado

Isn’t it funny how things happen?   Start raising fish, have fish parts for disposal, bring in alligators to remedy the problem.   Soon you have a tourist destination for Colorado alligators.   Then other humans had exotic pets like snakes and other reptiles.  Soon humans realize they cannot care for these animals as they grow to adulthood.   What to do now?   Take them to the alligator farm.

Large African Sulcata Turtle

Here is an African turtle.   He was abandoned here years ago.   Now there are several African turtles here.  Mom said turtles do not eat little rubber ducks.   Are you sure?   He is coming pretty fast.   But let’s slow down here.   First we park, enter building, pay our fee, and meet the first African turtles.   Before entering the first room, we pet this alligator, he feels like hard rubber.   Now Tom holds the alligator and I, Zeb the Duck, sit on the alligator.

Tom holding alligator. I’m riding on the alligator

This is fun.   Everybody that enters pets the alligator and gets their photo taken with their camera.   You can purchase the photo or use your own camera and take your own photos.   In the first room, we immediately notice the heat and humidity.   This room has many exotic, tropical animals.

Parrot

This parrot was very loud, but friendly.   We saw many snakes in cages.   All had been relinquished by their human owners, or rescued after being abandoned.   The alligator farm is becoming a sanctuary.   Remember all this started because some humans wanted to raise fish for human consumption.   Here is a green iguana.

Green iguana

Iguanas live in Central and South America and the male can grow to 6 or 7 feet (1.8-2.1 meters) in length.   Too big for a household pet.   Walking outside there are many alligator areas.   Fences are in place to separate the humans and alligators.   I, Zeb the Duck, am staying on the human side.

Alligators enjoying the sun

These alligators have water available, but seem to be soaking up the autumn sun.

Alligator has an overbite. Big, sharp teeth

These alligators seems to have an overbite.   I can see many sharp teeth.   I’m staying close to mom.   Here is Elmo the Emu.

Elmo the Emu

Elmo is mean.   He tried to kill his siblings and had to be moved to a separate area.   There is another area with more emu.   Elmo even put his head over his fence to snap at my humans.   Wow.   More distant cousins.

White ducks

Aren’t these white ducks beautiful and so graceful in the water.   I like this canal or river.

Swimming along the water

This alligator is leisurely swimming today.   Here are the rare stars of the alligator world.

White alligators

White alligators are rather rare.   They have only been found in the southeastern US state of Louisiana.   There were three layers of fences here.   The camera lens went through the first fence, but these additional fences made it difficult to take photos.  Baby alligators are about 8 inches (20.3 cm) long at birth.   Less than 1% of baby alligators survive to become adults.   Humans have not found any adult white alligators in the wild.   Born in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the white color makes them more visible to prey.   The theory is that they are quickly eaten by predators.   The sign says there are only about 100 white alligators in captivity.  And we are looking at three of them.   Years ago we visited the Alligator Farm and there were less fences. This is a photo of the white, albino alligator from 2013.

Albino alligator

This last alligator, Freeway, is probably mom’s favorite.

Freeway, an alligator TV star

This lady alligator was found wandering along the freeway.   She was taken to people that provide animals for movies and commercials.   Freeway starred in the Lubriderm commercials.    She was also in TV shows, including Dexter.   Mom enjoyed the Dexter series.   Now this is an alligator fact that surprises us.

Really??? Frozen alligators thaw and then swim??

Alligators can be in frozen water, thaw out and then swim to warmer water.   That is almost unbelievable and just amazing.   And fortunate for alligators and for us.   Wherever you go, you always learn something new.  Learn more at http://www.coloradogators.com   The alligator farm is 17 miles north of Alamosa, Colorado.    Visit our alligator farm.   It is fascinating.