January 29th ~ Feb 27th Days # 205~234
01/29/2014 - 02/27/2014
January 29th ~ Day #205
Arrive for visit #2 with the Canduccis. More visiting, terrific dinner of shrimp with orzo beautifully prepared by Carol Ann, terrific wine and after dinner conversation… till midnight! (and we swore we wouldn’t stay up late! But…that being said, Jerry was at a dinner meeting so we had to wait for his return and stay up, so we could catch up…of course…)
Another wonderful day of R&R at Jerry and Carol Ann’s with our rig sitting IN THE ROAD in front of their house, which they assure us is perfectly OK. No sliders out, though,…sleeping in our bed, which takes up the whole bedroom when the slider’s not out, was reminiscent of the days in our old rig when we had no bedroom…just a king size bed.
Exiting the neighborhood, as we’d done before…proved problematic! It seems the local tree branches have actually grown this winter. We are now missing a vent cover and continuity in our rubber roof in a small section….more work for the hero of the rig!
January 31th ~ Day #207
Another repeat visit ~ today we’re back to Poche Fish N Camp in Breaux Bridge LA ..one of our Top Ten Camps. Great spot by the lake –no overhead trees…all the better for roofing work tomorrow. Tonight…..off to Poche’s Market and Restaurant, a fabulous local meat market that specializes in homemade local fare. I was treated to my first helping of crawfish Etouffee, a local favorite, along with a sample of the much-acclaimed boudin balls which were surprisingly delicious fried sausage and rice balls! Another local taste treat…you can’t hardly get them in New England!
February 1st ~ Day #208
Trace spent many long hours doing temporary roof repair so we’d be dry when it rains tonight! I was in charge of long walks around the lakes and a nice dinner! We both experienced success in our “assigned” areas of expertise.
February 2nd ~ Day #209
On to New Orleans!!! One of the US cities on my bucket list.
Our accommodations were, we later found out, in case we hadn’t picked up on it ourselves, in a very sketchy neighborhood. It was largely boarded up, closed, burnt out and generally about 20-50% empty. We were in a very tight campground nestled between the Railroad yard, a bright pink apartment building and some kind of a deserted business….charming. Our camp “landlord”, Curtis, was primarily toothless but very hospitable! Unfortunately my most noteworthy “event” of the day was, after returning from my trip to Winn Dixie when Trace greeted me to help with groceries I opened the (very high) truck door to almost catch the liter bottle that was leaping out!!! Back to Winn Dixie...cause who wants to have chicken drumstix and watch the super bowl without their vodka?
February 3rd & 4th ~ Days #209 & #210
A day in NOLA…
My check list included…a little iconic food, a little Jazz, some walking around the French Quarter, a tour of an old above ground cemetery, something Mardi Grasesque and definitely a tour of the Katrina devastation and rebuilding. It all took 2 full days but we got it all in. It was sunny and cold and occasionally sprinkled so NOT your hot, sweaty Bourbon St of summer nights but a sampling of all a couple of chilly winter days in New Orleans could be.
February 5th through Feb 7th ~ Day #211 - #213
Biloxi Mississippi ~ New territory
Biloxi was the scene of more Katrina devastation. The gulf coast is graced on the south side of route #90 by the beautiful turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico & dotted with high rise casinos and buildings still in the process of being professionally demolished; finishing the work the hurricane started about 9 years ago. The north side of the road is nearly empty in many places… expansive lawns with trees at about the height of an 8 year growth and an occasional front walk to nowhere. Chain Saw artist Marlin Miller has created a garden of birds and fish from the trunks of destroyed trees...a magnificent testament to nature growing out of the median island between the north and south sides of the road.
Day #212 was an at home day for TBA and a completely fruitless day at the premium outlet mall in the rain for me in an abortive attempt to track down a MOB dress….(lots of time left but even a flicker of hope hasn't presented itself yet…)
February 8th & 9th ~Days #214 & #215 7 months on the road!
More new territory... After a quick stop at the interstate welcome center where we were greeted with fresh grapefruit juice and the overhead strains of Jimmy Buffett crooning Margaritaville, we arrived in Destin/Miramar Beach Florida, a territory found through several of my facebook friends, who simultaneously chimed in with “go to Destin”! So here we are. It’s kind of a bustling high end area, from what we can see arriving in town. A 10 min walk put us back on the main drag at beachside where one can walk endlessly above the beach and across from multiple (very) high rise condos on and across from the beach. Unfortunately the self-proclaimed Tiki Bar we saw seemed boarded up for the winter ..albeit a sunny brisk walking day with temps in the high 50s. alas, no margaritas! Our camping fees just jumped from a low of $18/night, maybe averaging in the mid 20’s to $60/night! Welcome to Florida in the winter (way up in the panhandle...but none the less)
A lovely warm day…but not a day to be sitting on the embankment next to the highway waiting for yet another AAA rescue to repair our THIRD BLOWOUT!!! Homemade broccoli soup and banana nut (flour-less) muffins helped to pass the time…. 2 hours later and we’re off!!! There will be 2 MORE new rig tires in our very near future!
Tire #1- bought! at local Wal-Mart so we do have a spare to carry with us our way to the Tire Mart!)
February 13th-16th ~ Days #218-221 O’Leno State Park (formerly known as Keno FL)
First stop: Tire Mart on the way out of town….we now should be cutting down on blowouts! The oldest tire on our rig is 2012…here’s hopin’!
Highlight of our O’Leno visit was a 4 mile walk along the Santa Fe River, a river which leaves this park UNDERGROUND at 900 million gallons an hour, goes underground for 3 miles and reemerges in River Rises State Park…magnificent park and outstanding Valentine’s Day walk. A day which started with a lazy sleep-in due to the fact that we have NO TV and no internet. Here we are nearly incommunicado again! We had time for a little morning backgammon, our long walk and a Tracy-prepared steak and cauliflower dinner, which I topped off with large chocolate dipped strawberries…Best Valentine’s Day ever!
Nearby Gainesville provided an opportunity to see one of the many Academy Award nominated films we’re trying to catch…12 Years a Slave………..haunting!
One more trip to the home of University of Florida, Gainesville, on Saturday produced a possible MOB dress- we’ll see how it works out.
February 16th -20th Days #221-224 Wekiva State Park FL E Curtis’ Birthday
Ahhh….”you’re a little early” says the ranger on our arrival at Wekiva St Park in Florida. It seems Reserve America has made our reservation for MARCH 16th! One hour’s worth of phone calls later we have secured ourselves a spot in the PARKING LOT for the night. Better than being told to move on… but we were without potable water, electrical connection or dump hookup, not to mention I was depending on getting onto my Kindle to order a new book tonight, we have only one paper plate blah, blah, blah…IT’s WARM, who cares! No TV, no book but a lot more together time…a long walk around a huge, sprawling camp (It’s a mile to where the campers and restrooms are located) gave us an appetite for some warmed up leftovers and …since we were alone in the parking lot without anyone nearby to be bothered by us- we turned on the generator for microwave use as well as 90 minutes to watch a DVD.
Next morning we moved to a campsite with full hookups that we negotiated at 8 AM when the rangers arrived and our new-best-friend Jordan, hooked us up ;-). A field trip to the Laundromat, hardware store, grocery store and a little wifi contact back in civilization and we were good!
Next day was a stay-at-home in the woods day. We took a grand bike tour of the park seeing its enclosed spring and swimming area, walked on the wooden boardwalk over the marshland in the woods and were intrigued viewers at a controlled burn of a large area of forest underbrush … and we without our marshmallows! Lakes, ponds and terrific scenery abounded!
February 20th ~22nd Day#224 -#226 Clerbrook Golf and RV Park
A completely new experience, as noted by the name of our campsie. An 18 hole golf course surrounded by over a thousand rigs and little houses made by stationary rigs with vinyl foundation trim and lots of landscaping...and LOTS of little yard figurines. The neighborhood made for some interesting walks. ..but I digress. Day #1 we landed during a very exciting women’s Olympic hockey game which was being televised and went into OT…we finally decided we should pull ourselves away & check on tee time availability since it was now about 2:35. Could we play at 3:00 o’clock Trace asked…”nope…shot gun start in 10 mins “ says the starter!!! ..and.. WE WERE THERE! ...yanked the clubs out from under the rig, threw on our golf sandals, found balls and gloves, found the golf shop, paid, got a cart and were thrown out onto the empty 10th tee all in about 11 mins! For the first few holes we were both on auto pilot scoring bougies and even a par …then…well never mind! It was finally gloriously sunny and we were in shorts, tee shirts and sandals...who cares? Oh.. and did I mention my first ball landed under some guy’s propane tank on the rear of his rig backed up to the first fairway side by side with about 18 other rigs flanking the fairway…it is warm, though!!
The following day we took what we thought would be a ½ hour field trip to The Mall at Millenia in Orlando for some MOB accessories…turns out it was about 2 hours round trip with all the city stop lights! we're RETIRED, remember? who cares?
And our 3rd and final full day at the "golf resort was for an hour walk through a newly discovered wooded path as well as another tour of our neighborhood, lots of reading (what’s retirement for after all?) and Trace had the luxury of keeping up with some long missed professional golf on television.
February 23rd-27th ~Days #226-#230 Thousand Trails Orlando
Arrived at our very long-planned jumping off spot for our annual trip to Puerto Rico. We very large, well equipped spot for northern snow-birds. We attended to packing, laundry, stocking up on golf balls and sunblock and generally readying ourselves to "abandon ship" for the entire calendar month of March. As I write we are 1 sleep away from spending the day in Orlando with our friends Bert and Susan playing golf and going out to dinner tomorrow. By the end of the day today we will have to be prepared for our pre-dawn pack up, winterize and storage of our rig and truck on Saturday morning the 28th. Saturday morning at 0700 will be our pick up by local driver Earl for our trip to Orlando Airport. Our scheduled departure for San Juan is at 1015. Next entry will be from Rincon PR!!!