Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013 – “Vidalia, LA to Vicksburg, MS”

The short trip from Alexandria was uneventful, and we arrived at Riverview RV Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, LA about 1:30 pm. The park is on the river side of the levee, and two years ago was under about 4 foot of water. With all the rain between St. Louis and Chicago, it is only a matter of time before the water levels raise here. From our rig, we had an excellent view of the “Mighty Mississippi” and watched the Riverboat Pilots push barges in both directions day and night. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge or any underlined to expand the topic.)

The following morning, due to rain being predicted for Wednesday, we decided to travel back westward about 10 miles to the Frogmore Plantation. For us, this was a different look at plantation life, and I think more accurately depicts what actual life in the mid 1800’s was really like.

This was indeed a tough life, and nothing was wasted, at to which this sign can attest.

Slaves worked from “see to can’t”, and had to live on very modest rations handed out weekly.

As many as 8 – 10 slaves would be housed in this simple two room structure, raised off of the ground to increase the air flow and stay cooler during the hot, humid summers. It also served them well as springtime rains would often cause flooding of this cotton plantation located in the Mississippi Delta.

Pictured below, the kitchen in the foreground, consisting of an oven and stew pot, with two hole restroom and cotton in the background.

Most of the barns were destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War, but this one is the original dating back to the early 1800’s.

Ginning cotton prior to the invention of the gin was a laborious task. Only one pound of cotton per day could be de-seeded by a single slave. This was the first steam powered cotton gin in the South, and was delivered in its first year of production after the patent was granted to Munger in 1884.

Rain was predicted for Wednesday, which it did, but subsided by around noon, so CC and I set out to see one of the many Antebellum Homes across the river on the higher grounds of Natchez, MS. Which one to visit was quickly decided when we discovered most charged $12 per person for a tour. However the Melrose is operated by the National Park Service, and since we purchased a yearly pass, it was a no brainer.

Lavish is just one way to describe Melrose. The National Park Service allows pictures but NO FLASH. I think they purposely keep the house dark with only minimal lighting, to prevent pictures from being taken. Of the few that were decent, this one of the dining room illustrates their way of living in the 1850’s. The most fascinating fact about Melrose is ALL the furniture is original, not reproductions or period pieces.

The parlor, or living room was equally opulent, with 24 karat gold leaf window cornices.

The children’s bedroom was nothing like I had growing up. How about you?

This estate had 25 slaves that lived at Melrose, and their accommodations were dramatically different than those of Frogmore Plantation, and actually had plaster walls, solid floors, glass windows and operational doors. Life as a slave at Melrose was much different than at Frogmore.

We discovered Natchez to be one of those “Diamonds in the Rough”, that we are constantly searching. One could easily spend a week or two here as there is so much to see. Click here to see more images of this historic town.

Thursday we visited the world renowned Delta Music Museum located in the bustling metropolis of Ferriday, LA. Their “claim to fame” is being the birthplace of cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart; as well as notable broadcaster and journalist Howard K. Smith and finally, Ann Boyar Warner, wife of Hollywood movie mogul Jack L. Warner.

After a brief introduction about the museum, one of the volunteers directs you to a small theatre to view a short documentary on all of the 20 inductees. Most are one hit wonders, but they all have their roots along the banks of the Mississippi from Vicksburg to New Orleans. All but one were present when they were inducted into this homegrown small town replication of the Stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Care to guess which one missed this prolific event? If you guessed Jerry Lee Lewis, you win the prize. But really, in his defense, he’s a busy man, as just last November, at the spry age of 77, got married for the seventh time! Triple sevens; hallelujah!!! Bet there was a “Whole Lotta Shakin’Goin’ on”…….........And just maybe, at his age, experienced “Great Balls of Fire!”
(Click on underlined to listen to two of his top hits)

Friday morning we drove the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez to just outside Jackson, MS. The drive was relaxing; very little traffic and no commercial trucks as they are not allowed on the Trace. It’s only a two lane road with no paved shoulders, but the short 90 mile drive took us nearly 3 hours to complete.

We had reports from others that there were “numerous” places along the Trace to pull over and explore the area. We did see numerous ones, albeit NOT for a 43 foot coach with toad. In the first 90 miles on the Trace there are only about 3 or 4 large enough to accommodate our rig.

We exited the Trace just west of Jackson, where we back-tracked on I-20 West for 15 miles to Edwards, MS. Here CC found Askews Landing Campground on our “go to” travel website, where we were graciously greeted and escorted to our site. CC and I both commented about how friendly people in the South are to everyone. After our last couple of weeks of travel, I wonder how different our country would be today if the Confederates had won the war. From our experience, I can only assume that it would be like it is here today, live and let live; you do your thing and I’ll do mine and afterward we can have a cold one (or two).

The view as we exit our “home” is extremely spacious, and the grounds are grassy and well manicured. This land is still owned by the same family that owned it before the Civil War, the Askew’s, and Dan and Edna take great pride in ownership, and it shows

In fact, right across from the office, is this historical marker.

Painted on the side of the pavilion is this mural depicting the Battle at Askew’sFerry, about a half mile west of the campground, where Dan’s great-great grandfather operated a ferry crossing the Big Black River.

On Saturday morning, after coffee and our usual WDYWTDT, I logged onto and searched for things to do in Vicksburg, 15 miles west of the campground. Numerous things caught my eye, but after watching all those barges down river in Vidalia, the Lower Mississippi River Museum in Vicksburg stuck out like a sore thumb. They had onsite one of the largest tugs on the river, AND it was open to tour. And it gets better………..for FREE. Hallelujah; today is my lucky day. I may just have to buy a Powerball ticket as well.

Whew……..!!!!! What a week. I think we may need to slow down a little, as we’re just not used to this much excitement. We had only planned on being here until Monday, but have decided to stay for a couple of days. From here, we’ll move to Meridian, MS, and make our way to the Birmingham area by the weekend to visit friends and former neighbors, Patrick and Jennifer. For now, that’s about it. Thanks for stopping by and catching up on our dull lifestyle. Until next time, take care and stay well…………………..

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21, 2013 – “Alexandria, LA”

I will post a short one while we have a good internet connection today. We left Jasper last Monday, missed a turn, and ended up on a road with a sign that read, “Bridge ahead 28,000 pound limit”. That damned Murphy again? So, what’s a guy to do? Pull over on a two lane road with no shoulders, unhook the Equinox, and turn this rig around. It took some doing, but we got it done. What really aggravates me is the Rand McNally for RV’s navigational device was routing us that way, and it is supposed to route us around bridges we are too heavy for and around underpasses we are too tall for. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

We eventually made it to LA Hwy 8, which runs from the border with TX, through Leesville, LA (Ft. Polk), up to Alexandria, so I’m thinking we’ve got it made. Not so fast. This highway is nothing more than a rough two lane logging road with no shoulders. Did I mention it was rough? If I didn’t, it was. Luckily the only traffic we encountered was from oncoming logging trucks….loaded. Most were driving like a bat out of hell with their pants on fire. Yep, Murphy is still with us. It was only 120 miles from Jasper to Alexandria, but it felt like so much more.

We arrived at Alexandria RV Park, which we found on our numero uno website, It only had one review, but we took the chance, and once we arrived, were glad we did.

The following day CC got caught up on laundry, while I tried unsuccessfully to connect to the wi-fi available here. They only have 10 campsites, and their router is about 75 yards away, so all I could manage to pick up was a very weak signal. I finally gave up, and decided a trip to Best Buy for a wi-fi amplifier was in order.

Now that we have a better internet connection, thanks to the amplifier, CC spent most of Wednesday planning our next few stops in route to Birmingham. With that bit of research completed, it was now time for “Happy Hour”.

Thursday we planned a visit to the Kent Plantation House, which is central Louisiana's oldest standing structure and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is a representation of plantation life between 1795 and 1855. The main structure was erected in 1800. The Creole house and restored period outbuildings are now used as a showcase for tourists.

For more images of the Kent Plantation House, click here.

Tomorrow we move a short 90 miles east to Natchez, MS. We plan on a little sightseeing and a trip up the Natchez Trace Parkway later in the week. That’s about it for now, until next time, take care and stay well. Thanks for stopping by and catching up on this couple of gypsies.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013 – “On the Road…..Again”

We departed our winter home in Weslaco on April 4 in route to an overnight stay in Victoria, TX. Our first destination of our travels this season is actually Spring, TX, just north of Houston, but since that is about 6 hours from Weslaco, we decided to break it up into two legs. Why rush things? We wanted to arrive in Spring on Friday afternoon to begin our weekend visit with friends Rodney and Dena, so why hurry?
We bucked a pretty good headwind as we made our way north to Victoria, but other than that, the trip was uneventful as we made our way to the Lazy Longhorn RV Park. It had better than favorable reviews and ratings on our travel “bible” Nice park; clean and well kept, but very narrow streets and campsites made it challenging maneuvering the rig. In fact, the first spot we tried to get in was so tight due to tree branches, we decided to unhook the toad, and move to an adjacent site. We probably would not stay here again.
Last week, as we were preparing to leave Weslaco, we did some regular maintenance on the rig. One of which was servicing the six batteries. Every time I undertake this chore, it reminds me of the fact the engineers and designers at Winnebago don’t own an RV. For if they did, they would not have designed the battery compartment the way they did, making it impossible to service the batteries without removing the door completely from the rig. My knees are not as “supple” as they once were, and almost every time I’m forced to perform work tasks on said knees, they are unappreciative and “talk” to me later. We managed to complete the battery service, and re-attach the door, but they following day my knee was not only talking to me, it was screaming obscenities to boot.
Last Friday we departed Victoria in route to Spring. I was not especially thrilled at the thought of driving in and around Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, but we timed it so we arrived on the outskirts around 1:30 pm. Our Rand McNally for RV’s (we fondly refer to as Randy) routed us on US-59 to the 610 loop north to I-45, since we had “Avoid Toll Roads” active on Randy. If I have it to do over again, I would gladly pay the tolls on the #8 Sam Houston Tollway around Houston. If your RV travel plans include this sprawling metropolis, either take the #8, or plan your travel through on a Sunday morning.
We finally arrived at Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring, TX around 3 pm and quickly got settled. After eliminating the stress sweat from our bodies in the showers, we called our friends to make plans for the evening. We drove the short 5 miles to their place, and after an adult beverage (only 1), we made our way to Pappacito’s Cantina for dinner. As frequent readers of our blog already know, CC’s favorite food is Tex-Mex, and her second most favorite is Mexican; and yes, there is a difference between the two. I would rate Pappacito’s as some of, if not THE best Tex-Mex we have ever eaten. Check out their website and look for one coming to your area in the future, as they are part of the Pappadeaux Cajun Seafood group. The food was great and the company of Rodney and Dena were equally enjoyed. We had a great time, made even better when Rodney picked up the check ;-) Thanks buddy!

The following day we ventured to Old Town Spring, had an adult beverage at the Loose Caboose and did some shopping. I hate shopping, so maybe the one margarita I had was stronger than I thought. Or possibly CC knew that una margarita would weaken my will? Yeah, that’s it! (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

Late in the afternoon we were back at the rig, where we grilled ribeye steaks and uncorked a bottle of great vino. Good food, good friends, and good conversation; it just doesn’t get any better than that. The last time we saw Rodney and Dena was 3 years ago, and we had a lot of “catching up” to do so it was late when we bid them farewell for the evening, saying “to be continued manana!”
What visit to Spring, TX would be complete without a visit to Old Town Spring? We did that yesterday you say? Well, yes, BUT we didn’t get to see it all, so back we went. First things first, as we lunched at one of the local’s favorites, Wunsche Brothers Grill & Bar.

A short walk down the street was a little shop, The Steel Horse, that in the 1930’s was actually a bank. Not just any bank, but one that was robbed by the infamous Bonnie & Clyde. The shop owners have left the safe intact, and created a mini-museum inside. CC and I couldn’t resist recreating the historic event.

As they say, (who is they?) all good things must come to an end. Our visit with Rodney and Dena drew to a close on Sunday afternoon. Dena had a 3 hour drive ahead of her, and Rodney had some “work” to do for a Monday morning meeting, so we bid our adieus, vowing to stay in closer touch. CC and I are just glad we got to spend the time we did with our longtime friends.
Monday morning we departed Spring in route to Martin Dies Jr. State Park just west of Jasper, TX. As we drove around looking for just the right spot, we decided it was so pretty and peaceful here, to stay for a week. CC could catch up on some of her reading and I could do a little fishing. Here is a bit of free information you won’t find anywhere else, so it more than makes up for price you paid for the subscription to our blog.  At any of the Texas State Parks, after paying the daily entrance fee of $3 - $6, or purchasing an annual pass for $70, you don’t need a state fishing license to fish from the bank, docks or piers. You only need a fishing license if you fish from a boat. Take that to the bank………….….Shampoozie!

That’s all folks! Until next time from an undetermined at this time location; take care and stay well……………………..

ps It's only April 12, and our Verizon air card shows we have already used 75% of our monthly allowance, so we hit the road early in search of a wi-fi hotspot. So, here we are at Whataburger in Jasper, and although the connection is good, it's limited bandwidth makes posting slightly frustrating. (Expletives deleted)