July 31, 2008

For a fun, family adventure take a trip to the Alexandria Zoo

I have spent my entire life traveling through Alexandria without stopping to explore. When I was small my grandparents would load us up and travel to South Louisiana to visit relatives. Then when I attended LSU, Alexandria was only a rest stop on my way to Baton Rouge. I never took time to explore the city. All those years I was missing out.

Alexandria is a great city, there's so much to do and see. One of my favorite things to do is to visit the Alexandria Zoological Park. It is such a great place to visit. There are so many animals and exhibits that we weren't able to see them all in our first visit. The zoo has a great Louisiana exhibit with animals native to our great state. In addition to the animals in the Louisiana Habitat, there are Bengal Tigers, Indochinese Tigers, Clouded Leopards, Black Bears, Spider Monkeys, Toucans, American Crocodiles, White Tailed Deer and so much more.

A highlight or our visit was riding the Bayou Le Zoo Choo Choo train around the park. It was a great way to see the entire park and enjoy the scenery. Our kids just loved it!

The Alexandria Zoological Park, founded in 1926, boasts over 600 animals on 35 acres in the middle of Alexandria. The Zoo, which is run by the City of Alexandria, is located at 3016 Masonic Drive or Highway 165 Business and is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Admission: Adults 13-65: $3.00; Seniors 65 and over: $1.50; Children 4-12: $2.00; Children 3 and younger: free. Train Rides ages 1 and older: $1.50.

One of the great things for the residents of Alexandria and surrounding area is the educational programs offered by the zoo. There are educational programs for all ages including Homeschool Classes, Wild Nites free lectures for teens and adults during fall and spring, field trips and lectures.

The zoo also has a gift shop and a snack shop, Palm Cafe.

According to the Alexandria Zoological Park's website the mission of the zoo is to promote understanding and conservation of the natural world in which we live.

So, the next time you are looking for a fun, family activity plan on taking a drive to Alexandria, Louisiana and visit the Alexandria Zoological Park. Make sure you allow plenty of time to view all of the exhibits and take in the sights and sounds of this fun, educational place.

To view more information about the zoo, vist their very professional website at http://www.thealexandriazoo.com/. Visit the kids page at http://www.thealexandriazoo.com/education/kids/index.html to learn more about the fun programs at the zoo and also about the animals that call the zoo home. For parents and teachers visit http://www.thealexandriazoo.com/education/teachers/educationLinks.html for some educational resources and information.

Upcoming events at the Alexandria Zoological Park
Saturday, Sept. 6
Black Bear Conservation Day

Saturday, Sept. 20
Zoo Day

Check out the events in October and during the holidays. There are special events such as "Boo at the Zoo" in October and Christmas lights during the holidays. When planning your family holiday time, think about taking a visit to the zoo.

July 29, 2008

If you haven't tried Lucky Palace, then you're missing out on GREAT FOOD!

One of our favorite restaurants in Bossier City, Louisiana is The Lucky Palace Chinese Restaurant. I don't even remember the first time we went there but I do know that it has been one of our favorites for over 7 years now. In fact, my husband and I have sampled just about every meal on the menu. My favorite is the Garlic Chicken. My husband enjoys the Curry Chicken. But I'm here to tell you every meal that we have ever eaten at Lucky Palace has been scrumptious!

The appetizers are yummy as well. We always, always order Crab Rangoon. We also enjoy the Steamed Dumplings and Vegetable Rolls. Oh and their Fried Rice is excellent as well.

Lucky Palace also offers dishes for those who wish to try something a little different...Peking Duck, Shark Fin Soup and many other special dishes that the chef creates.

One of the wonderful things about Lucky Palace is the warm, friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It is cozy and romantic. This is a great place to take that special date or celebrate that special occasion. In fact, my husband proposed to me at Lucky Palace.

The restaurant has won several awards for their wines including Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2003-2007; Wine Enthusiast Award of Distinction 2005; Wine Enthusiast Award of Unique Distinction 2006 and 2007.

Lucky Palace was also voted top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA 2006 and 2007 by Chinese Restaurant News Magazine.

My husband and I are very picky about the places where we eat out. This restaurant has remained at the top of our list. The food is consistently excellent every time we've been, the service is exceptional and the atmosphere is relaxed. It is a place where you can go and enjoy an amazing meal and not worry about time.

If you don't want to eat in, Lucky Palace offers a take out menu as well. Give it a try, if you like great Chinese food, you won't be disappointed. If you go, please email me and let me know how it went LouisianaTrekker@gmail.com

Lucky Palace is located inside America's Best Value Hotel, 750 Diamond Jacks Blvd., Bossier City, LA. Hours are LUNCH: Monday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner: Sunday-Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Call 318.752.1888; 318.752.1887; 318.752.3888.

Publisher's Note: This is not a paid ad. I truly feel this way about this restaurant. I have personally visited this restaurant and LOVE it!

July 25, 2008

Support Your Local Farmers

I grew up eating fresh, farm grown fruits and vegetables because my grandfather planted a garden. I miss those days. You can still get those same types of good, nutritious and great tasting vegetables, fruits and more at your local farmers markets. Mike Strain, D.V.M., Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, has issued a challenge for everyone to eat foods purchased from their local farmer's markets for one week, August 3 through 9th. Below you will find the challenge issued from Strain as well as links to local farmer's markets and agritourism activities. If you have any comments or suggestions of your favorite local farmer's market, send me an email and I'll publish the comments in future postings and in the newsletter.

The following is an announcement from the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commission page.

Commissioner Strain challenges you to eat local for one week!

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. is challenging Louisiana to eat local for one week.

“I’m issuing the Eat Local Louisiana Challenge to everyone,” Strain said. “I’m asking everyone, including the governor and officials across the state, to only eat food that is grown within 100 miles of their homes for one week.”

The Eat Local Louisiana Challenge will coincide with the National Farmers Market Week of August 3 through 9. Strain will be appearing on local morning television shows across the state to publicize the event and stress the importance of buying and eating locally.

“We’ve got more than a hundred local farmers markets and fruit stands across the state,” Strain said. “Think of the possibilities: peaches from Ruston, blueberries from the Felicianas, crawfish from the Atchafalaya and pork and beef from your local meat markets and rice and gravy.”

Seasonings would be no problem because Louisiana hot sauces are among the best in the world and the state is a leader in salt production, Strain added.
Strain said families and individuals could make an event out of the Eat Local Louisiana Challenge by visiting local farms, farmers markets and other agritourism venues to get a better understanding of how food gets to their dining table.

“Visiting a farm or a dairy is a great learning activity for children and adults as well,” Strain said.

Strain said the Eat Local Louisiana Challenge will lead to changes in the way Louisiana eats.

“Your food will taste better because it’s fresher and you’ll be proud to support your Louisiana farmer and the local economy,” Strain said. “You’ll know your food is coming from your area and not trucked in from hundreds of miles away.”
Strawberry photo courtesy of the LDAF during the Grand Opening Red Stick Farmers Market LDAF Location.

July 18, 2008

You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

This is a hilarious rendition of the good ol' state song, You Are My Sunshine, written by Louisiana's own former governor, Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell. It was officially adopted as Louisiana's Official State Song in 1977. Governor Jimmie Davis was known as the singing governor.

Last night while trying to get my children to sleep I began singing this song. I love it. While researching the history of the song, I ran across numerous artists including Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Anne Murray just to name a few. Then I came across this video of Will Smith dressed in a sunflower outfit singing You are my Sunshine with a bunch of children and thought I'd share it with you.

If you'd like the lyrics to sing to your children, grandchildren, Sunday school class or sweet heart, click here.

July 09, 2008

The dog days of summer are approaching

You can tell it's summer time in Louisiana because it is hot, hot, hot. It's a good time to spend some time indoors. And what better way to spend that time than learning about art, history, culture, gardening, military, astronomy, insects and more.

There are many exciting places to visit in Northeast Louisiana. A trip to Monroe offers many exciting things to do and see including the Masur Museum Of Art, the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, and the Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana.

The Masur Museum of Art, located at 1400 South Grand in Monroe, is the largest visual arts museum in Northeast Louisiana. The mission of the museum is to provide educational programs and high quality visual arts to the community. Admission is free. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; Friday-Sunday from 2:00-5:00 p.m.; and closed on Mondays. For more information contact the Masur Museum of Art at 318-329-2237.

Current Exhibitions at Masur Museum of Art:
June 8 - July 20, 2008, The Third Annual Member's Exhibition Members of the Twin City Art Foundation showcase their works.

August 3 - 31, 2008, The Permanent Collection of the Twin City Art Foundation. For over 35 years, the Twin City Art Foundation has collected works of art this exhibition will showcase some seldom seen pieces.

September 14 - November 2, 2008, The Gus Kopriva Collection Outstanding exhibition of German Expressionist works on loan to the museum from Gus Kopriva, noted collector of Houston, Texas.
Information taken from the Masur Museum of Art website: http://www.monroela.us/masurmuseum_exhibitions.php


The next jewel in Northeast Louisiana is the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens which is rich in history, not only of the area, but also the history of one of the most treasured American beverages, Coca-Cola. The next time you are sipping on a cold, fizzy, delicious Coca-Cola, you will know that this beverage originated in the area.

The story is told that Joe Biedenharn worked at his uncle's confectionery shop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Upon his uncle's death, Joe inherited his uncle's part of the shop and turned it into a general store and installed a soda fountain. Young Joe was very industrious and enjoyed a challenge. He was selling coca-cola to the city folk around Vicksburg. He thought it would be nice if the country folk who could not make it into the big city could enjoy this tasty beverage as well. He was already bottling soda water at the time, so in the summer of 1894, Joe Biedenharn put Coca-Cola into bottles, becoming the first person to bottle the popular beverage.

If this small snippet has piqued your interest, you can read the entire story at the Biedenharn website.

It is a fascinating saga of the life and legacy of a first generation American. It is an inspirational story to anyone who knows what it is like to work hard and use their own resources to get something accomplished. The legacy of this man and his family is still living on today in the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. When Joe Biedenharn was in his late forties he moved to Monroe where he built a bottling plant and gave people in Monroe jobs. He and his family contributed greatly to the arts and the community.

This is a must see for everyone interested in Louisiana history. The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, located at 2006 Riverside Drive in Monroe, is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday - Saturday, and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information call (318) 387-5281.

The museum offers many different activities for people of all ages including Children's Activities, Moonlit Gardens, Special Events, Tours, Concerts, Exhibits, and Garden Path Programs.

The following activities are listed taken from http://www.bmuseum.org/eventsandexhibits.htm.

Children's Activities
Desert Container Gardens on Saturday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $5.00. Children will learn about succulents, get to chose from a variety of cacti and other desert loving plants and feel the unique texture of the soil that these plants love. In addition, Ralph Calhoun and Lamar Smith, local cactus enthusiasts, will display some their collections.
Insect Plant Pokes on Saturday, August 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $5.00. The activity will feature new insect designs, a live insect display, and insects that look like plants!

Plant a Plant for Grandparent’s Day on Saturday, September 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $5.00. Surprise your grandparents with a plant that you planted, or bring them to the Biedenharn and garden together! Children will decorate a planter and play in the dirt. The finished product can then be given to their grandparents in honor of Grandparents Day, celebrated the first Sunday following Labor Day each year.

Moonlit Gardens
Experience ELsong Gardens under the light of the full moon when the Biedenharn offers Moonlit Fridays on July 18, August 15, September 12, and October 10, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free.

Moonlit Gardens: Astronomy Night is Friday, July 18, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is Free. Learn about astronomy while exploring the moon up close with special guest Don Wheeler, Associate Professor of Science at Delta Community College. Delta’s telescopes will be set-up in ELsong Gardens for all to enjoy. Wheeler will be available to answer questions and will also have information on the local astronomy club, Ouachita Valley Astronomy League. Afterwards, stroll through ELsong and enjoy the moonlit glow cast upon Biedenharn’s many plants, water features and sculptures.

Special Event
2nd Annual Biedenharn Coke Show on Saturday, August 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is Free – No Reservations Necessary
Want to be a part of Monroe's most exciting event? Now is your chance. By popular demand, the Biedenharn Coke Show is back for the second straight year. Biedenharn Curator and Coke Enthusiast Justin French will be available to help you identify and date your Coca-Cola items. For the first time, we will be offering audience seating. Come and watch as Coca-Cola collectors from the tri-state region bring their items in for identification. Bring the family, have a Coke, and create a memory.

Tours are offered daily.

In the fall discover many other activities for plant enthusiasts, music lovers, and decorators. There are a host of gardening and landscaping programs to enjoy.


Children are in for a treat when they visit the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, located on the Ouachita River in Downtown Monroe at 323 Walnut Street.

There are several exhibits for the children to explore. In "The Kid's Cafe" which is sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association, children can explore what it's like to be a server, a dishwasher or a chef. "Bubbleworks" is an exhibit sponsored by the Junior League of Monroe where children can make giant bubbles, sail boats in the waterway and view themselves inside a giant bubble. A visit to "Health Hall" and children can become a paramedic, drive to the ER, listen to a heart beat and look over an x-ray. The Ouachita Medical Alliance Society sponsors "Stuffee" a 9 foot doll with removable organs so children can learn how their bodies work.

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 per person (ages 1 and up). For more information call (318) 361-9611.Visit http://www.nelcm.org/ for a 2 for 1 coupon.


Northeast Louisiana played a vital role in aviation and military history. The Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana located at 701 Kansas Lane in Monroe is dedicated to keeping this history and the stories of the men and women who contributed to it.

It may amaze some to know that General Claire Lee Chennault and the Flying Tigers are credited for saving China from the Japanese during WWII. Monroe was the hometown of Jim Halsell who became a NASA astronaut. The Selman Field Army-Air Force Navigation School, which opened in Monroe in 1942, was the largest such facility in the U.S. It offered the nation's only complete navigation course during WWII. These are some of the fascinating facts that can be explored during a visit to the Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana.

In addition, there is a large collection of military memorabilia, and a collection of oral histories from WWI to the present.

The museum is currently working on a restoration project and needs volunteers. There are many areas where volunteers are needed. Contact Jerry Smith, Curator, at 318.362.5540 to find out where you can help this Louisiana treasure.

Admission to the museum is free. The hours of operation are Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1:00- 5:00 p.m. The gift shop offers prints of "Flying the Hump" and the "Last flight of the 'Spirit of L.S.U.'", t-shirts, stuffed airplanes and more.

Visit http://www.ammla.net/ for more information or to offer your support in preserving Louisiana's Aviation and Military history.


There are some things to get you going. Go, explore, learn, experience what the great state of Louisiana has to offer. Don't let the hot weather keep you from enjoying a bit of your heritage.

And when you visit, please do me a favor, tell them you read about them on http://louisianatrekker.blogspot.com/.

If you are enjoying this blog, please email me and let me know. Also if there are other areas of interest that you know about or would like me to research, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you. If you would like to advertise your attraction, shop, restaurant or event and it's happening in North Louisiana, drop me a line and I'll get back with you. I want to share with the world the great people, places and events that North Louisiana has to offer. And I need your help.