Showing posts with the label Gardens

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Rutgers Gardens

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

On a recommendation from a local, we went out of our way to visit Rip Van Winkle Gardens.

A video about the property is shown in the visitor center. You can watch it here.

First, we toured the Joseph Jefferson Mansion -- an 1870 Southern mansion built for its namesake near Lake Peigneur. Picture-taking was not permitted inside the house, so you'll have to visit yourself to see what's inside.

Joseph Jefferson Mansion
The Joseph Jefferson Mansion (photo by Joseph a)

After touring the home, we set out to explore the beautiful gardens.

We met a local frog as we walked the gardens. The frog didn't seem to be as happy to meet us as we were to meet it; but it did pose for a couple photos before it went on its way.

From the shores of Lake Peigneur, we saw a chimney sticking out of the water. This chimney belongs to a second house on the property that was destroyed in 1980 when a Texaco oil rig accidentally drilled into the Diamond Crystal salt mine under the lake.

After walking the gardens, we had a bit of difficulty leaving the property. A Jefferson Island resident blocked our exit. Everywhere I tried to drive, this resident walked in front of the car, and stood, and stared at us. 

Only after offering him a hug did he move out of the way.

Jungle Gardens

In the 1920s, Ned McIlhenny, son of the creator of Tabasco Pepper Sauce, began turning his Avery Island estate into a 170-acre garden: Jungle Gardens.  

As we drove into the gardens, we were welcomed by a forest of live oak and a sign warning us of alligators. We parked the car and set out in search of alligators.

Live Oaks greet visitors near the entrance to the gardens

Do not become alligator food

An alligator watches us search for alligators

After deciding that I was too big to eat, the small alligator moves along

Having only found a single small alligator, I continue searching for something bigger. A sign in the gift shop where we paid our $8 per person admission fee had invited us to see the 14 foot alligator. I wanted to find this giant lizard before it found us.

Across the road, I noticed a fence around the water. Thinking the fence must be there to protect us from the big gators, I walk to the fence. I'm still hoping to find the fourteener,

A chain link fence separates us from the suspected alligator-infested waters

As I get closer to the fence, I realize that there is a problem. There's a giant alligator sized hole ripped in the fence. I look around. I don't see any alligators on either side of the fence.

Chain link fencing appears to maybe not be alligator proof

I head back to the safety of the car -- leaving Sophia to be alligator bait.

Waiting on traffic to clear so that I can rescue Sophia from the allegedly lurking alligators

I soon find Sophia practicing her alligator-fighting moves with her weapon of choice: a selfie stick. I'm starting to believe that there aren't any more alligators to be found.

Before the alligator eats you, take a selfie

Now safely in the car, and no longer actively searching for alligators, we continue our drive around the gardens. We come upon a few of the over 20,000 egrets that visit Avery Island each year. 

After driving through more of the park, admiring the scenery, we came upon a red arch inviting us to get out of the car and explore on foot. However, the arch was a trap.

An inviting red arch

Or rather, the arch hosted many traps laid by many spiders.

Awaiting the next victim

Ben shoots the carnivorous monsters

Beyond the gate lies a 900 year old Buddha statue.

After wandering about the garden for about 40 minutes, we retreated from the summer heat to the cool air conditioning in the car and set off in search of our next adventure.