The Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo are planning a trip and they’d like you to join them.

The classic safari to Kenya, “the original safari destination,” is set for Nov. 9-20. The escort on the adventure may look familiar. He’s Phil Frost, the BREC zoo’s director for 15 years.

“It is our desire to help the members and friends become more passionate about helping conserve the spectacular wildlife and wild places they encounter,” Frost said.

The program, also open to non-members of the Friends group, is designed to offer individuals the rare opportunity to see wildlife and wild places with wildlife experts.

The itinerary includes spending time in Nairobi, the safari capital of East Africa.

There, tourists will visit Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage on the edge of Nairobi National Park, the Karen Blixen House (author of Out of Africa) and the Kazuri Bead Factory.

Then it’s on to Mount Kenya and a “tree hotel” at The Mountain Lodge. There, a a Colobus or Sykes monkey may just jump on the veranda. The area is great for game viewing during the evening and night.

The following day, the trip stops at Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and the Sweetwaters Tented Camp. Visitors will also tour the 200-acre chimpanzee sanctuary.

The safari also goes to Lake Nakuru National Park, with its Sarova Lion Hill; and Maasai Mara, Kenya’s most famous wildlife reserve and the setting for the film Out of Africa.

An optional excursion is the Maasai Mara is a morning balloon safari for an hour of uninterrupted wildlife views.

Package prices vary. For more information, or to reserve space on the Friends trip, visit the Classic Escapes website or email


Sites mark Memorial Day

The Vietnam Veterans of VFW Post 3798, the National Park Service, and The National WWII Museum will honor America’s fallen service members during Memorial Day weekend at Chalmette Battlefield and Chalmette National Cemetery, 8606 W. St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette.

A Memorial Day ceremony presented by the Vietnam Veterans of VFW Post 3798 will begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Chalmette National Cemetery. The public is invited. The ceremony will include a color guard of living history volunteers, bagpiper, and remarks from post members. Vietnam War veterans buried in the cemetery and members of the post interred elsewhere will be honored with a special salute.

Also Sunday, the Remembering the Citizen Soldier program runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. At 2 p.m., there will be a militia muster and musket drill, musket firing demonstration, and camp cooking demonstration. — A ranger talk and cannon firing by Jean Lafitte’s Baratarians is planned for 2:45 p.m.-3:15 p.m.

All programs are free and open to the public.

Volunteers are needed Tuesday, May 28, to pick up flags and repackage them for storage. The project begins at 7:30 a.m. and continues until the job is done, usually three to four hours. Picking up the flags requires walking and bending over. Volunteers will be outdoors in possibly hot, humid and buggy conditions and should be prepared with sunscreen, insect repellent and closed-toe shoes. Repackaging the flags requires sitting and rolling the flags for storage. To sign up, call Ron Merrill at (504) 281-0511 ext. 32.

The Civil War-era Chalmette National Cemetery is located next to Chalmette Battlefield, the site of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The national cemetery and battlefield are managed by the National Park Service as one of six sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The national cemetery, battlefield and visitor center are open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily and admission is free. More information is available at (504) 281-0510.


Audubon’s summer hours

All Audubon Nature Institute attractions in New Orleans soon will be open seven days a week.

Beginning Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Entergy IMAX® Theatre will welcome visitors daily, an expansion from the usual Tuesday-through-Sunday schedule. The seven-day-a-week summer schedule continues through Sept. 8. The final Monday on the summer schedule for Audubon attractions is Labor Day, Sept. 2.

Cool Zoo is already open for its third season at Audubon Zoo offering visitors a refreshing option to beat the New Orleans summer heat. Guests can climb a two-story white alligator water slide, skip around dancing fountains or stay dry on the sidelines with a cool drink and a snack. Cool Zoo offers three different splash zones with one area specifically for toddlers and younger kids.

Once visitors have had their fill of the splash park, they can explore the rest of the world-class zoo. And then go right back into Cool Zoo, if they wish. Cool Zoo admission is an additional purchase to zoo admission.

At the Audubon Aquarium, stroll through the underwater tunnel beneath the Caribbean Reef and gaze up at moray eels, cownose rays, angelfish and exotic sea creatures.

Check out the underwater oil rig in the Aquarium’s Gulf of Mexico exhibit which measures 17 feet deep and holds 400,000 gallons of man-made saltwater. It’s packed with sharks, schools of fish, stingrays, and sea turtles, including King Mydas, an endangered green sea turtle.

The Backstage Penguin Pass, a new program, offers an opportunity for an intimate, hands-on experience with a penguin in Audubon’s newly designed private penguin encounter.

At Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, the Butterflies in Flight exhibit is home to an amazing array of butterflies that flutter and fly from one flower to another, sometimes stopping to rest for a moment on the shoulder of a visitor. A small buffet of edible insects awaits those with adventurous palates at Bug Appétit where the menu includes six-legged salsa and chocolate chirp cookies.

New on the Entergy IMAX® Theatre film lineup this summer is Great White Shark 3D, a film about one of nature’s most misrepresented and misunderstood creatures. The story explores the iconic predator’s place in our imaginations, in our fears, and in the reality of its role at the top of the oceanic food chain. The theater, which features a five-and-half-story screen, is undergoing an upgrade and will feature 327 new, wider theater-style seats to be ready by Memorial Day.


Park pools to open

The Office of State Parks has opened swimming pools for the Memorial Day weekend. Pools will remain open through Monday, May 27, then close on Tuesday and Wednesday for maintenance and resume regular schedules through the summer.

State parks with swimming pools available for day use are: Chemin-A-Haut near Bastrop, Lake Bistineau near Doyline, Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville, North Toledo Bend in Zwolle and St. Bernard in Braithwaite. Bayou Segnette in Westwego has a wave pool for patrons. Certified lifeguards are on site during pool hours to monitor swimmers.

Bogue Chitto in Franklinton, Chicot in Ville Platte, Fontainebleau in Mandeville, Lake Bruin in St. Joseph, Lake Fausse Pointe near St. Martinville, Palmetto Island near Abbeville, Poverty Point Reservoir in Delhi and Tickfaw in Springfield have water playground facilities for children. The playgrounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and available to overnight and day-use visitors.

State parks with designated beach swimming areas include Bogue Chitto in Franklinton, Cypremort Point east of Franklin, Fontainebleau in Mandeville, Grand Isle, Jimmie Davis in Chatham, Lake Bistineau near Doyline, Lake Bruin in St. Joseph, Lake Claiborne in Homer, Poverty Point Reservoir in Delhi and South Toledo Bend near Anacoco. All beach areas are open daily, but do not have lifeguard supervision.

Visitors are advised to check with the individual parks for specific days and hours of operation. All pool schedules are subject to change. Pool hours of operation and pool schedule exceptions at each state park are as follows:

  • Bayou Segnette State Park: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, $10,adult; $8, child (under 4 feet) wave pool fee.
  • Chemin-A-Haut State Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. Pool will be closed June 5-8 for additional scheduled maintenance.
  • Lake Bistineau State Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays.
  • Lake D’Arbonne State Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays.
  • North Toledo Bend State Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays.
  • St. Bernard State Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays.

Swimming pools at state parks will operate five or six days per week through the beginning of August, when a revised schedule will be announced.


New Roads recognition

The City of New Roads has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting a high level of commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mayor Robert Myer said the accreditation is verification of the city’s progressive efforts to work with local business owners and proprietors to develop economic opportunities for the city, while preserving the area’s unique atmosphere.

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street programs that have built strong revitalization organizations and demonstrate their ability in using the Main Street Four Point Approach® methodology for strengthening their local economy and protecting their historic buildings.

The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by the City of New Roads Main Street Program, which is managed by Lauren Jones and directed by board members Wade O’Neal, Johnny Ewing, Joseph Major and George Miller. She works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet performance standards.

The performance standards include having broad-based community support for the commercial district revitalization process with strong support from both the public and private sectors; developing vision and mission statements relevant to community conditions and to the local Main Street program’s organization stage; having a comprehensive Main Street work plan; possessing and exhibiting an historic preservation ethic; having an active board of directors and committees; having an adequate operating budget; having a paid professional program manager; conducting a program of ongoing training for staff and volunteers; and having a current membership in the national Main Street Network membership.

These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program’s application of the Main Street Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as developing a mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking economic progress and preserving historic buildings.

Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts.


Trails awards given

Jimmy L. Anthony received the 2013 State Trails Advocacy Award for Louisiana, and Freddie Paul received the State Trail Worker Award for Louisiana at the American Trails’ 21st National Symposium in April.

National Trails Awards are presented annually by American Trails to people working toward a national system of trails to meet the recreation, health and travel needs of all Americans.

The Trail Advocacy award is given to an individual who has demonstrated successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development or maintenance. Anthony, a 36-year career employee with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, has worked in his current capacity in three LWDF divisions — Wildlife, Coastal/Non-game and Environmental — to increase the amount of grant funding for ATV trails throughout the state. Between 2000 and 2011, the Recreational Trails Program awarded more than $1 million in ATV trail grants to LDWF.

The State Trail Worker Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding contributions and provided consistent support for trail planning, development or maintenance. Paul, an avid equestrian and trail planner, led in the building of eight corrals added to the equestrian overnight area at Hodges Gardens State Park and also led in adding miles of new hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through the woods of the park.

American Trails promotes the creation, conservation and broad enjoyment of quality trails and greenways, working with state and federal agencies such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Recreational Trails Program.


Forest bridge being replaced

Work has begun on the Valentine Lake Road Bridge that leads to the Kincaid Recreation Area in Kisatchie National Forest in Pineville.

The replacement project is expected to last until Aug. 31.

During the 14-week closure, forest visitors traveling from Alexandria westbound on La. 28 have two detour options to get to the Kincaid Lake Recreation Area. For more information and detour directions contact the Calcasieu Ranger District at (318) 793-9427.


At Poverty Point

Visitors can learn about the various tools that could have been used by the inhabitants of Poverty Point in their daily life.

The staff at Poverty Point State Historic Site near Monroe will conduct a tool demonstration program at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 2, with sessions every hour on the hour through 4 p.m.

The historic site will hold an atlatl competition at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1. This friendly competition will allow visitors the opportunity to see how the original residents of the area hunted the wild game that would become meals, clothing and other tools.

The competition will consist of two events, distance and accuracy, with prizes awarded to winner of each event. Due to the nature of the activity, it is recommended for participants age 10 and older.

Poverty Point State Historic Site offers visitors the opportunity to study the culture of area inhabitants from 1600 to 1100 BC. The $4 admission fee provides access to the museum area, video, hiking trail and tram tour. Children (12 and younger) and senior citizens (62 and older) are admitted free. Poverty Point is located in West Carroll Parish, east of Monroe on La. 577. The park is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

For more information, call (888) 926-5492.

The USDA Forest Service, Pointe Coupee Parish Office of Tourism, Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo, Office of State Parks and Audubon Institute provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to or or mail to Judy Bergeron, News Features assistant editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.