Monday, May 31, 2010

Baton Rouge

Welcome to the state capitol of Louisiana; Baton Rouge! Behind me is the new state capitol building. At a height of 34 stories, it proudly towers over the city as its tallest building.

The name Baton Rouge is French, and it means red stick. (Actually, it means "stick red," but we'll forgive the Latin-based languages for putting their adjectives after their nouns.) The legend is that in 1699, French explorer Sieur d'Iberville was moving through the area when he saw a cypress pole sticking in the ground, which was adorned with bloody dead animals. That was the original red stick, and apparently it served as a boundary between the Houma and the Bayou Goula tribal hunting grounds.

Since becoming an established settlement, Baton Rouge was governed by France, Britain, Spain, Louisiana, the Florida Republic, the Confederate States, and finally the United States. Quite a mix, huh? Much of its colonial ancestry comes from the Cajun settlers; French colonists who were exiled from the lands of Acadia, Canada by the British. Today, Baton Rouge is a major center for the petrochemical industry.

Below is the way-cooler, old state capitol building. It was built in the fashion of a Neo-Gothic medieval castle!

Here is a different angle of the castle. Now that is a place fit to rule a state!

You might not know it from looking at me, but I do love a good meal. So restaurants often cath my eye while traveling. This place I was not so sure about, because they were not so sure about when their specialty was. Seafood, Chinese food, and the local version of a sub sandwich known as a po'boy? I like variety, but this place just seemed confused.

Speaking of confused restaurants, check out this one. The table is bread? As much as I like bread, I think I'll refrain from eating that table!

But wait, there's more! How about Russell's Grill? The sign says "Open 24 Hours" and "Under New Night Management." Well, it surely was open 24 hours, because the windows were missing, and I think the "Night Management" probably consisted of raccoons and possums!

I didn't have much time to explore Baton Rouge, but I did take the opportunity to check out the USS Kidd which was moored on its shore. The USS Kidd is a World War II (WWII) destroyer. Destroyers are a class of smaller, fast and maneuverable ships which often serve to protect the larger, less maneuverable ships, like battleships and carriers, from small but powerful attackers, like airplanes and submarines. This ship was turned into a museum in honor of her veterans.

Everything in the ship was labeled as a matter of practicality, to provide fool-proof terminology for maintenance and wartime activities. Even seemingly unnecessary things were labeled, like this red light being labeled (surprise!) "RED LIGHT."

The USS Kidd saw heavy action in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Not only did she protect protect aircraft carriers and battleships from kamikaze planes, floating mines, and bombers, but also played an important role in land invasions such as Okinawa. On a mission near the end of her duty in WWII in April of 1945, during the act of repelling three separate air raids along with other division mates, a plane crashed into her, claiming the lives of 38 service men and wounding 55 others. We will always remember and respect those who lost their lives in the service of our country. So in honor of her veterans, all of our veterans, and our active military personnel, I solute your personal sacrifice on this Memorial Day.