Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 17 - 24, 2011 "Florida Coastal Highway 98"

Emerald Coast RV Resort is a top rated resort by Woodall’s and Trailer Life, and we can see why. This place is gorgeous; landscaped to the 10’s and impeccably well maintained. While our nightly rate of $66 is steep, spaces here for the winter average about $600 per month, with a four month commitment. (As always, click on any image to enlarge)

Our trip across the Gulf of Mexico has enabled us to survey the beaches as we travel. Hands down, Panama City Beach is the best so far; powdery soft off white sand, with the clearest water we have seen since leaving South Padre Island, TX. It has been almost one year since the Gulf oil spill, and I can honestly say you wouldn’t imagine the beaches could be so clean. We saw no indication at all, of any remnants of the spill; our rating for Panama City Beach, an astounding 10.

Another travel day; it sure is hard to leave such a beautiful resort and beach, BUT, like Pee Wee, we are on to the next big adventure, with Carrabelle, FL in our sights. We have followed Highway 98 along the coast for most of our Florida “vacation”, and it does not disappoint the visual appetite, especially having lived in Colorado for the past 30 years. As we pull into Carrabelle Beach, we noticed a change in the beaches appearance, from that of our departure just 90 miles to the northwest.

One of the first questions we ask upon check in at a new destination is, “Are there any place(s) that you would consider a must see, must do, while in the area?” You see, we are currently on the shores of Apalachicola Bay, THE oyster capitol of The Gulf of Mexico. Our friends, Carl and Carla recommended an out of the way place in nearby Indian Pass, and the Ho Hum RV Park manager agreed, the Indian Pass Raw Bar was a must do. Mere words alone cannot describe how fresh and sweet the oysters were, but I can honestly say, for those of you how don’t like oysters, eating them here would change your attitude, and your palate.

As the sun rose the following day, while sipping our morning beverages, we gazed out across the Gulf, watching the pelicans dive into the emerald waters for their breakfast; we pondered our day’s activities. How about a walk down the beach? Sounds like a plan, so off we were. As the tide slowly drifted out, we were suddenly awestruck by an unusual creature at water’s edge; a Horseshoe Crab, almost prehistoric in its appearance.  

Making our way a little further down the beach, we noticed a “gathering” of Horseshoe Crabs; and then it FINALLY donned on me, “Mating Season”. During the breeding season, horseshoe crabs migrate to shallow coastal waters. Smaller males select a female and cling onto her back. The larger female digs a hole in the sand and lays her eggs while the male fertilizes them. The female can lay between 60,000 – 120,000 eggs in batches of a few thousand at a time. Many shore birds will eat the eggs before they hatch. The eggs take about 2 weeks to hatch. The larvae molt six times during the first year. If you would like to see the mating process, click on the following link to You Tube – Horseshoe Crabs Mating.

Another travel day already? You’ve got to be kidding me. Where does the time go? Oh well, if we must…..We continue along Highway 98/19 southeast in the direction of Old Town, FL, a distance of 135 miles, we move a little further inland and away from the coast line drive. It continues to amaze us that pine trees and palm trees can grow in the same eco system, side by side; I surmise too many years of living in the high plains desert of Colorado, can make one leery of such vegetation.  But arrive we do, at the Yellow Jacket RV Resort, right on the Suwannee River; can you say “Hot & Humid?” Right. Off to the pool for a cool down.

We had been in the pool for all of 15 minutes when a gentleman asked, “Are you coming to the pot luck dinner tonight?” Well, didn’t know we were invited. Sure, just sign up, and bring a side dish. (We decided on taking Potatoes Lyonaise.) So promptly at 5 we ventured to the pavilion where 20  - 25 people gathered and shared a 30 pound smoked ham. It still amazes us how incredibly friendly people in the South are. We had a wonderful time, met some new people, and as always, with any pot luck, ate waaaay too much. Diet starts tomorrow. Right.
Until next time, when we will be following our current route to Homosassa Springs, to swim with the Manatee; take care and stay well. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 5 - 16, 2011 "Mississippi, Alabama & Florida"

We had an uneventful travel day from New Orleans to Gulfport, MS, which is the way we like them. It is so nice to travel in the South; people are Soooo friendly and helpful. We pulled into Southern Oaks RV Park a little after noon, set up and decided to just relax for the remainder of the day. The following day we went for a drive along the beach to survey the repairs that have been done since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in September 2005. Most of the damage has been repaired, and / or replaced, but there are many vacant water front lots for sale. The residents made lemonade out of lemons by commissioning artist to carve wooden sculptures out of the damaged trees along the waterfront. (As always, click on any image to enlarge)

The following day, CC was feeling frisky (I mean lucky) and convinced me we needed a little R&R at the Island View Casino Resort. After our last episode of kissing sister in Lake Charles, I was skeptical, but being the nice guy that I am, finally succumbed to her prodding. After an hour or so we were down a whopping $12, playing $0.25 Video Poker, when I suggested we move to another area of the casino in search of a winning machine. While we sat there, I complained that I hadn’t had a flush all day, and CC exclaimed, “You mean like this one”. She didn’t even realize what she had until I shrugged my shoulders and said “Yea, like that one.” You can see by the reaction on her face, just how low keyed she was. I guess it was her lucky day.

On Thursday, while CC did laundry, I finished our taxes, and got that information off to our accountant. I’m sure I will be writing checks in the near future. While I could easily be prompted to get on my soap box, and scream about all the wasteful spending by Congress, I will merely comment that I, for one, will no longer vote for another incumbent until the situation is rectified.

Friday was a travel day; Gulfport, MS to Foley, AL, a short drive of 108 miles. We have slowed our travel pace down considerably, largely due to gas prices, but also to take some time and “smell the roses”. We arrived at the 5 star resort, Bella Terra, shortly after noon, set up and ventured off to Gulf Shores, Al, for a boat show. There were 250 boats on display, 100 of which were in the water. CC found one she would consider, a 52 foot Carver that would average 3 - 4 gallons per mile. Yes, you read correctly, 3 - 4 gallons per mile. While Ms. Sol Crucero is currently averaging 7 – 8 miles per gallon, it makes the price of gas less painful in retrospect. It’s all about perception.

The Strawberry Festival in Loxley, AL was our destination for Saturday. They were also hosting a car show, which I enjoyed more than the festival. On display were about 80 cars, all makes and models, from Studebakers to Corvettes to Ferraris. CC’s eye was captured by this beauty.

Afterward, we were both famished, and found Lambert’s in Foley, AL. For those of you that have never been to one of the three Lambert locations, let me just say, you will leave feeling as if you had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner.

I ordered the catfish dinner, a little pricey, I thought, until they presented the plate of 6 catfish fillets. CC ordered the lemon pepper chicken breast, and it was the whole thing; both breasts. A double full breasted chickadee, if you will. My kinda bird!

Sunday we decided to drive the 30 miles to Pensacola, and check out not only the town but the beach as well. It was a cool and overcast day, so lunch and a brief walk on the beach was all we wanted. Pensacola Beach was the nicest we had seen so far in our quest across the Gulf; semi-soft light beige sand and huge expansions of it. The water was clearer than at Gulf Shores, but only marginally.

We like to travel Monday – Thursday, thus avoiding the “weekenders”. So it was off to Niceville, FL, just a few miles north of Destin and Ft. Walton Beach, FL. It was, again, as we prefer an uneventful trip to Fred Cannon Rocky Bayou State Park. (Wow, that’s a mouthful) What a wonderful place, as we have found State Parks to be among the best camping values for the money, and this did not disappoint.

As we sat, lounging in our chairs and looking over the bayou, CC noticed a “snake” peeking its head out of a hole in the tree next to us. Upon closer examination, it was only a Five Lined Skink, and NOT a snake, as I explained to her, snakes don’t have legs.

BOOM…. BOOM…. BOOM…. What the hell was that? It sounded like something exploded, as I ran out of the rig to see if I could see smoke arising from a downed airplane. Another BOOM, and no smoke. Sonic booms perhaps? As we exited the park for our daily excursion, I asked the Park Ranger if he knew what the explosions were. As he explained to me, the Department of Defense has a bomb detonation school nearby, where they train our allies, to detonate unexploded ordinates found around the world. OK, no harm no foul; on to Henderson State Park in Destin, right on the beach.

Happy birthday CC. Today she turned the big ?? (I may be slow, but I’m not stupid). We decided on some R&R at the rig (OK now, get your minds out of the gutter) and just relax and absorb some of the beautiful surroundings that Mother Nature had provided us. We kept looking for Bullwinkle, but he was nowhere to be seen, as Rocky made a solo appearance.

Another travel day already? It seems like we just got here. But as reality set in, it was on to Panama City Beach, FL, a very short jaunt of only 55 miles, where we checked into Emerald Coast RV Resort, another 5 star resort. And well it should be at $66 per night; OUCH!

We’ll be here for a few days and then we off to Carrabelle, FL, where we will be residing at the Ho Hum RV Park. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, take care and stay well…….

Monday, April 4, 2011

March 29 - April 4, 2011 "Louisiana"

Where is the calendar? Without it, I have no idea of where we have been, OR, where we are going, OR what day it is. We left League City, TX, in route to Lake Charles, LA, where we stayed at Sam Houston Jones State Park, just north of Lake Charles. A very nice park, we can highly recommend; the sites are large, and the area is beautiful. (Click on the images to enlarge)

At the top of the list, on things to do, was finding the best Cajun food in town. We asked around, and hands down, all agreed, Steamboat Bill’s on Lakeshore Drive; it did not disappoint!

We both opted for the gumbo; CC had piquant and I chose chicken and sausage. After 4 months of Mexican food, my taste buds were kicking up their heels with a new culinary sensation. Mmmmm Good. I think CC enjoyed it as well; she might not be so bold as to publicly admit it, being the Hispanic connoisseur that she is.

We tried or luck at the local casinos, Isle of Capri and L’Auberge, and had mixed results. Win a little, lose a little; kind of like kissing your sister. Oh well, at least we didn’t break the bank; ours OR theirs. Now it was time for a walk along the lake, as they have a very nice paved walk on the NE side, adjacent to the downtown area. It was an overcast day, in the mid 70’s, as we strolled along watching the ducks swim and children feeding oyster crackers to the hundreds of hungry pigeons.

Travel Day. On to Breaux Bridge, LA, where we wanted to stay at Poche’s, but ended up at Cajun Palms RV Resort, which is actually nearby in Henderson, LA. Cajun Palms is a new park, maybe 2 or 3 years old, and is already expanding to double its size. It’s a little on the pricey side, but so many amenities; we didn’t have time to take advantage of all of them, because we had sightseeing on our agenda. Check out Cajun Palms here:

We have so much to see in so little time, we had better get off our lazy butts and hit the road. We drove the 10 miles or so to Breaux Bridge, parked and walked around the historic district. The adjacent cemetery was CC’s first sight of above ground burial tombs. I must admit, two dimensional pictures are no match for being there in person.

Eastward to Lafayette, to find a place for lunch. Almost miraculously, as we were driving northbound on University Blvd, I noticed a full parking lot at a little out of the way place named Country Cuisine. Over the years we have rarely been disappointed when using this method of choosing a better than average eating establishment. As we entered, it became increasingly apparent to me that we were the only albino-like people there. No problemo. We stumbled around for a few minutes, do we sit down, wait for a table, go to the counter and order; just what is the protocol here?
Finally, the lady behind the counter asked, “Would you like to order?” 

“Yes, I’ll have the crawfish etouffee and she’ll have the catfish.” 

As we sat down, the other diners appeared to be having a party, and sure enough, Country Cuisine was having their twenty-fifth anniversary party with family and close friends. It looks like we crashed their party. Oh well, the food was fantastic, and as we exited spoke with one of the owners, who was very friendly, asking us where we were from, as he could tell we were “not from around here”. Go figure.
OK, now onto some sightseeing, as we maneuver southward to St. Martinville, in search of the Longfellow – Evangeline Plantation. As we drove up, I had a visual image of “Tara” (Gone with the Wind), and this was not what I expected; a true working small plantation of only about 700 acres.

For generations, a blend of history and legend has drawn visitors to this meeting place of incredible natural beauty and unique historical background. In legend--the area was the meeting place of the ill-fated lovers, Evangeline and Gabriel. In history--it was the meeting place of exiled French aristocrats fleeing the French Revolution, and of Acadians of Nova Scotia seeking refuge after the British expulsion. It was also the meeting place of wealthy New Orleanians escaping the oppressive heat and epidemics of the city. In nature--it is the meeting place of the swamp and the prairie.
At Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, visitors are introduced to the diverse cultural interplay among the French-speaking peoples along the famed Bayou Teche. Many visitors may be familiar with the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, and their arrival in Louisiana, as portrayed in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 epic poem "Evangeline." In Louisiana, the story is also known through the poem's local counterpart, Acadian Reminiscences: The True Story of Evangeline, written by Judge Felix Voorhies in 1907.

An Acadian Cabin vividly illustrates how different the lives of the Acadians and Creoles were. Prior to the arrival of the Acadians, or Cajuns, in 1764, the Bayou Teche area had already begun to be settled by the French. Many of these settlers were descendants of the first wave of French settlers in Louisiana. They are sometimes called "Creoles," meaning native, since they were born in colonial Louisiana.

Travel day has us moving on to “The Big Easy”, where we stayed at the Bayou Segnette State Park, just south of New Orleans. Usually travel days are uneventful, and that is the way we like them, however this was NOT one of those days. As we later learned, the Huey P. Long Bridge, is the most hated bridge in the area, with 9 foot lanes and NO shoulder on either side of the 2 lanes. Our rig is 8’-4”, so that leaves about 4” on each side for clearance, and traveling 45 mph, doesn’t leave much room for error. Just about the time CC shot out of her seat, I heard “massive scraping” on the passenger side, followed quickly by the tightening of my sphincter. As I looked into the driver’s side mirror, there were 2 cars beside me, and the bridge wall a mere 4 inches from the passenger side. As I slowed, and let the 2 cars beside me escape by getting around, I moved to the center, and continued across the bridge right down the middle of the road, blocking any and all vehicles from getting around me. I was not looking forward to stopping and discovering the damage that in my mind,  just had to be horrific.
We arrived at Bayou Segnette, and the first order of business was to survey the damage; OMG, only a relatively small area on the front quarter panel behind the front wheel. Thank you Guardian Angel! The rest of the check in and set up process went without a hitch, although I was definitely ready for my “customary travel day” martini after we got completely set up. I think CC also enjoyed her “Double Margarita”.

No visit to “Nawlins” would be complete with a visit to the French Quarter and the Café Du Monde for beignets. Since it was early, we started with beignets and café au lait.

The art vendors were just getting set up as we arrived, so we walked around the town square, admiring their artistic wares. Only once did this dreadlock wearing female yell at me, “No pictures!” Like what the hell is her problem?  The only reason I wanted a picture was to show the setting, not her ugly mug or her artwork. (She only painted in one color; black) Now when did that become art? Oh well, on to another part of the French Quarter.

After walking around for almost two hours, both of us had worked up quite a thirst, so it was off to Bourbon Street. CC wanted a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s, just because that is the “touristy” thing to do. I, however, being the one of us that always acts in a responsible and mature manner, agreed to something a little less “intoxicating”, especially since it wasn’t yet noon, and on a Sunday morning at that!

After re-reading this I’m thinking we need to slow down a bit. After all, we are retired and don’t need to try and cram in everything in only one week. After being at one place all winter, we are still trying to re-adjust to “Travel Mode”. With that said, tomorrow is travel day, on to Gulfport, MS, a distance of 103 miles, where we will be staying at the Southern Oaks RV Park. Until next time, take care and stay well……