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August 21, 2018
Nottaway Plantation, Louisiana


Unlike ocean-going cruise ships, the American Queen does not “dock” at its ports. Instead, it literally beaches itself in the sand, then lowers gangplanks to the shore.

Our first “port” upriver from New Orleans was Nottaway Plantation. We would be there from 12:00 noon until 5:30 pm. There is pretty much nothing here except for the plantation itself, which is walkable from the ship on the other side of a levee.

    
The American Queen “docked” at Nottaway Plantation

We had other plans. The boat has several free bicycles available for use on a first-come first-served basis. We were told to come and get two at 11:45 am, as there would be plenty. When we showed up at 11:45, we were shocked to hear that a group had just come and taken six of them. Fortunately, there were still two left for us. We brought a couple of sandwiches that James, the head chef, had made for us.

Our destination was Tally Ho, a different plantation house about two miles upriver. Our original idea was to ride the trail on top of the levee, but it was gravel and we only made it about 50 feet. Instead, we rode on the fully paved Highway 405,watching out for speeding cars.

    
The gravel levee road versus the paved Highway 405

Tally Ho is in the small community of Bayou Goula. Gail was interested in this site because it was owned by Jean Fleming, a “free man of color,” sometime before 1855. The home is still privately owned, so we weren’t able to go inside.


Tally Ho!

From there, we rode back past Nottaway a further two miles downriver to the equally small community of White Castle. Here we found a small park where we ate lunch.

    
Lunch at tiny Sciortino Park in White Castle

After we returned the bikes, we did go ahead and take the guided tour of Nottaway Plantation. The site is considered one of the finest remaining antebellum (pre-Civil War) plantations in the south. Constructed between 1855 and 1859, the site has been fully restored and is now a resort. We were less impressed by the 64 huge and opulent rooms filled with antiques and 15-foot ceilings. (Gail still has a problem with the decadence that was built on the back of slavery.)


Donovan, our guide, who got to wear a full tuxdeo in 93-degree heat


The White Ballroom, the largest room in the house, which still hosts weddings


An upstairs bedroom, filled with antiques

We were more impressed by the oak trees around the property, some of them 160 years old. Imagine some of the history these trees have seen!


Nottaway Plantation surrounded by some of its heritage oak trees

All told, we bicycled about eight miles today. Gail was proud of herself, as she had not been on a bicycle since our long tandem bike ride four years ago. (Also, it was 93 degrees with 60-percent humidity.) We hope this will be the first of many bicycle trips on our Mississippi adventure. If nothing else, it will help us burn off some of the many calories we are ingesting!


 

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