For us, the quickest route from Pensacola is to begin on Interstate 10 at the corner of the Florida Panhandle where we live, then travel west near the Gulf Coast across the southern boot heels of Alabama and Mississippi, into Louisana where we cross the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, then on to Lafayette, considered the heart of Cajun Country. It takes five or more hours to get to Lafayette.
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Blue Angel aircraft at Florida Welcome Center, Pensacola
A permanently tethered Blue Angel jet greets visitors arriving in Florida at the welcome station in the western Florida Panhandle. Nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station has been the home of the Blue Angels since 1955. More about the Blue Angels can be found on the official Web site of the Blue Angels.
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Mobile Bay, looking south from Interstate 10
The area around Mobile Bay is a good place to catch a glimpse of water birds. I never tire of driving these few miles on the Interstate 10 bridge across the upper end of the bay and noting how the view varies with every change of tide, weather, and season. This day was heavily overcast.
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Some of these houseboats in this sheltered area on Mobile Bay have been docked here a few years. These are located not far from the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
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USS Battleship Alabama
The historic USS Alabama at Battleship Memorial Park near Mobile, Alabama, is a big tourist attraction. CLICK HERE for a full-size picture that I took a few weeks prior to this on a sunnier day.
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Mississippi River at Baton Rouge
There's always something compelling about crossing this big ol' river, the "Mighty Mississippi." (You're looking at the third longest River in the world.) I can never resist wanting to take pictures every time we cross it. This view is looking north from the I-10 bridge at Baton Rouge, Louisana. Ocean-going ships come upriver as far as Baton Rouge, which is 229 river miles from the Gulf of Mexico. This city hosts the fifth largest port in the United States.
Did you know . . . ? That at this point, the Mississippi River is about a mile wide. That the Mississippi River Basin or Watershed drains 41 percent of the United States, plus parts of a couple of Canadian provinces. That 60 percent of all migratory waterfowl in North America use the Mississippi River Basin as their migratory flyway. For more interesting facts about the Mississippi River, see http://www.nps.gov/miss/features/factoids/ and http://biology.usgs.gov/s+t/SNT/noframe/ms137.htm.
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The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisana
The Atchafalaya Basin is a huge Lousiana swamp west of the Mississippi River. When we passed by here last year (2000 was a dry year in the Southeast), there was a lot of bare ground to be seen, but this year the area looked more like a swamp again. In case you're wondering, one of our friends, a native of Louisana, says he's always heard Atchafalaya pronounced something like "chah-fuh-LIE-yuh," kind of dropping the first syllable, but I also heard it pronounced on a Louisana radio with the beginning "uh" syllable attached: "uh-chah'fuh-LIE-yuh." (Either way, a swampy place with a musical-sounding name.)
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Sugar cane grows thick and lush in this southern Louisana area near Lafayette. I tried to get some pictures of some Louisana bayous when I noted them coming up on the travel map, but most of them went by too fast for me to get my camera up to my eye. Most of the bayous we saw from I-10 looked like little sluggish muddy creeks with banks overgrown with vegetation.