Tag Archives: Writing

A Louisiana Life: Shelby Stanga

Shelby Stanga might be a television personality, but you won’t find him living in luxury. The swamp logger prefers to sleep in a sleeping bag and hammock next to a boat launch on the Tangipahoa River.

Stanga has recently become a bit of a star thanks to the History Channel’s show Ax Men, which features him and four other logging companies around the country.

Stanga, as the show chronicles, pulls ancient sinker logs out of the Bedico Swamp in Tangipahoa Parish. Between 1850 and 1944, the swamp around Tangipahoa River and its creeks and bayous was milled extensively. The old-growth trees, most of which are cypress, were felled and floated down the creek to Lake Pontchartrain and used in home construction in New Orleans. Some of the logs sunk, and they’ve been sitting in the mud ever since — some for more than 100 years. The trees range in age from 2,000 years old to 5,000 years old.

Read the rest of the story online at Louisiana Life.



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People of the Mounds: Exploring Ancient Cultures

My first impression of the massive ancient earthworks at Poverty Point is not a good one.

I’m driving on Highway 577 east of Epps in Northeast Louisiana and don’t realize I’ve just driven past the site’s six curved ridges until I look at a diagram later. The highway plows right through the rings, but they’ve been so worn down by farming and natural erosion through the millennia that what must once have been an impressive sight now (to the untrained eye, anyway) appears to be little more than an empty field.

But when I get a chance to see the rings and the mounds up close and learn about their construction, I quickly change my mind.

Read the rest of the story online at Louisiana Life.

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Seattle sidetrip: Hiking in North Cascades National Park

I HEAR THEM as soon as I get out of the car. Waterfalls. Across the valley are 7000ft saw-toothed mountains, flecked with melting glaciers. The roar of those long streams of meltwater carries for miles.

After an hour of dodging potholes on a partially unimproved Forest Service road, I’m damn happy to be standing up straight, about to get my pack on my back and get up into the mountains.

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Trips.

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Best parks in Seattle

Seattle has some incredible parks, which is why I find it so hard to get any work when I’m visiting the Emerald City. If you have similar problems when you travel, consider meeting rooms for hire, to get your clients (and you!) away from distractions and to a quiet, conducive work space. In fact, the Warwick Hotel, just downtown, has meeting rooms available, putting you in easy reach of these parks by bus or car–or even on foot. This way, you can get your work done in a professional setting before venturing out to explore.

1. Washington Park and Arboretum

This park is expansive, covering 230 acres northeast of Downtown, so my favorite way to take it in is to combine cycling and walking. I love speeding down the Arboretum’s green hills and hiking the trails at the park’s northern end, which snake through forests and marshy islands.

There are a few hidden swimming and picnicking spots, but I also like having a snack while watching the kayakers on Lake Washington paddling through the lilypads around the I-5 overpasses.

Getting there: Rent a bike at Recycled Cycles, head across the Montlake Bridge and through the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry. A trailhead starts here, but you’ll have to walk your bike through the marsh trails.

Avoid biking on Arboretum Drive, as you’ll snarl traffic and piss off a lot of drivers. Instead, there are paved roads throughout the park that are closed to vehicles.

Read the rest online at Matador Trips.

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Wildlife Surprises

It’s hard to believe anyone could mistake a chubby, gray, bewhiskered manatee for a mermaid, but it’s thought the so-called sea cows may have been the source of the mermaid myth.

These large mammals are sometimes spotted in Lake Pontchartrain and the freshwater rivers of the Northshore, although they stay close to the rivers’ mouths. They migrate to this area from Florida in the spring and leave before winter. If you spot one of these gentle herbivores, consider yourself lucky.

“There are maybe a dozen animals total in Lake Pontchartrain,” but probably fewer, says Gary Lester, biologist manager with the Wildlife and Fisheries’ Natural Heritage Program. “It’s hard to judge, because we’ll get 25 calls coming in for the same animal.”

Read the rest of the story online at Inside Northside magazine.

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Sunken treasure: Keith Dufour’s furniture

CONTACT KEITH: 504-908-6867

Keith Dufour is no stranger to media attention. The Covington furniture maker has appeared on three episodes of the History Channel’s Ax Men series, which feature his logger and four other logging companies around the country.

Dufour’s creations include tables, benches and mirrors made from either reclaimed wood he’s retrieved from old homes slated for demolition or ancient sinker logs pulled out of the Bedico swamp west of Madisonville.

Dufour makes his furniture in his free time from his day job as a territory manager for Cephalon, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. About ten years ago he hired an acquaintance to teach him woodworking and began making mirrors from wood salvaged from old homes. “I was always fascinated with architectural salvage,” he says.

Read the rest of the story online at Inside Northside magazine.

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Whatever happens, happens: Artist Stephanie Schoen

It’s been a good year for Stephanie Schoen. The Covington artist has seen her son graduate from high school and the Saints win the Super Bowl. And she’s been awarded the opportunity to design the official poster for the Junior League of Greater Covington’s 2010 Harvest Cup Polo Classic.

Schoen traces her interest in art to the days when her mother worked for the Saints as an executive assistant. “I grew up with the Saints. They’re more than just a team–more like family,” she says. Schoen remembers seeing then-owner John Mecom’s art collection at his office in the Superdome when she was ten years old.

“He had the most extensive art collection. I think that’s where I got the inspiration to paint. Everywhere you turned, it was there. That was my first real exposure to art,” Schoen says. “His office was like a museum of sports art. How often do you get to see art like that up close?”

Read the rest of the story online at Inside Northside magazine.

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