Friday, November 26, 2010

The day after

Well now that we've all gobbled our way into the waddling stage, it's time to relax a little.  We're parked at Ken and Jan's - next to our lot.  Just more convenient and closer for our short visit.  They have all the niceties of life - electricity, water and sewer, so we're living in the life of luxury.  We arrived here Sunday, Nov. 21 and have gotten groceries and done laundry, so we're set on those chores for a while.  Got our satellite set up so we have internet and DirecTV for a change.
Yesterday, had a wonderful turkey dinner with 14 friends (old and new) down the street at the Hick's home.  They have an indoor area where we gathered to eat at 1:30.  We ate gumbo first, a traditional in New Orleans - just spicy enough!  Then made our way through all the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  Afterward, sat around on the front porch and visited til about 5 PM when the cold front came through with a vengance and we all scurried home with our leftovers. 
Nice to have the humdity gone, but going to be chilly here for a few days before it warms back up to the 70's.  (80's and equal humidity was a little much since we got here).
Wednesday night we went with Ken & Jan to the New Braunfels Elks Club for their weekly steak dinner...a nice treat!
We still have chores left before we leave.  Need to get the slight damage on the RV fixed (from the tire blowout) and need to get the RV washed and waxed.
Hope all our friends and family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  As we launch ourselves into the Christmas season, may we all stop to remember the reason we are celebrating!

Here's a pix of our lot after we took out some trees and had gravel brought in for the driveway and parking pad last year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Padre Island continued and Jerry's Birthday

Friday the 19th was Jerry's birthday and Sue's cousins from NW Iowa are vacationing in Rockport about 1-1/2 hrs north, so we drove up there to visit and celebrate.  Had an fantastic lunch at the Port Aransas Brewing Co. with their special burgers, sweet potato fries and a wonderful dark beer.  They sang happy birthday to him and brought him their special dessert - a molten volcano - sinfully delicious!  Wonderfully friendly and knowledgeable staff - asked if we could export them to Iowa and they said just to pull up our pickemup and they'd take care of it.  LOL

Then to a computer center across the street and did our email.  Off to Rockport and a great visit with family. Cousin Jan shared some new photos (with names) of the Vinall family with us.  Great to finally know who these people are in the photo I had.  Went to dinner with them and Jerry got more hugs and everyone got free pie for his those small town cafe's!

Saturday, I went birding with a park volunteer couple, another couple who were very experienced birders and a single guy from WA who works for the fish and wildlife dept.  All very interesting folks!  Added 19 birds to my lifelist!  Including two quite rare birds who are only in SW TX...a pair of white-tailed hawks and we think we saw the aplomato falcon but he flew before we got the scope set up.  Was great to go with knowledgeable people! 

In the afternoon, Jerry and I rode the dirt bike about 15 miles down the white sand beach and took pix, etc.  Saw a deer along with many birds and lots of Portuguese man of war which had washed up on shore.  It was hot and humid - about 80 degrees with equal humidity!

Sunday, we traveled NW about 4 hours to our lot north of San Antonio.  Repaired (again) the bolt that runs our up/down legs on the front of the 5er.  The bolt had broken up in St. Gen, MO when we were there and we replaced it with a temp. smaller version and bought replacements to be put in when we got to our lot...well, we had to do that before we could set up...only about a half-hour project.  Good to be here with good friends!
Even got a pix of this old bird on the beach!  LOL

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Padre Island National Seashore

God's beauty - reflected in the waves splashing onto the shore, in the sunsets and in the miles and miles of white sand beach!  We are so blessed to be camped at Padre Island.  Arrived after a long day on Tuesday and settled in the campground $4/night for us senior citizens.  Walked the beach and viewed the sunset.  Wednesday, spent almost all day on the beach, shelling and driving on the hard sand about 5 miles.  Some brave RVers park out there, but they are lighter rigs.  Had the last of our Iowa steaks on the grill last night.  High was 80.  Had to get out and put awning down at 2 AM when the cold front/wind came through.  Only 70 but sunny today and winds have diminished! 

Brown pelicans are prolific.

Pix of our RV taken from the beach.

Hugs to all for now.  Will post more another day when we have better internet.
 Lots of birds on the shore giving us laughs.  Jerry clocked one at 4 MPR as it was running along the beach looking for tasty morsels!  No wifi and iffy phone signals out here so we're in town getting some groceries and doing email! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010 an Acadian Birthday Party

It's interesting to know how people celebrate birthdays.  We were invited to Dave's son's birthday party.  Now we had never met Dave, but since he plays guitar at Betty's RV Park once in a while and since we are guests of Betty's, we were all invited out to his home in the country for gumbo and music.  This is just another example (one of many) of the generosity and loving spirit of these people.  When we arrived, we found George from our RV park out back fishing in Dave's pond and several others of us found pecans on the ground and started cracking, shelling and eating.  In the meantime, Jerry and Ian just had to go down the road to check out the sugar cane harvesting going on and almost got arrested for tresspassing...(not really, but they unknowingly crossed some territory that was hostile.)  He'll have to tell you about it sometime.

We then went to the front patio where the gumbo was bubbling in a huge pot over a wood fire.  Dave had started at 6 AM getting the fire going, starting the water to boil and adding the meat...hens (old fryers) and andouille sausage.  This is not a cheap dish to make with lots of meat in it along with tasso (smoked ham chopped very fine) and lots of spices and veggies.  Dave urged Vicki and me to try some of the broth.  The aroma was so enticing and the sample delicious!
Soon we were all trooping into the house to grab large bowls of rice and french bread hunks and back out to scoop ladles-full of gumbo into our bowls.  It suddenly got really quiet as we all consumed.  Back for seconds or desserts.  Groan...

After some digestion time, Dave and his friend Judy Bailey grabbed their guitars and sang to us for an hour.  (Judy was the 1981 /ACM top 5 female vocalist) and we enjoyed their music! 

The weather could have been nicer - cloudy and kind of clammy and it did sprinkle on us as we were leaving.  But the warm hospitality was enough to keep us happy.  Good times.  Good friends!  Good food!  God is awesome!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rayne and Maurice, LA - Nov. 13, 2010

Rayne, LA is not only the city of murals, it is the
Frog Captial of the World!  So, the whole small
town is full of frog murals, each one more clever
than the last one.  Each time you turn a corner or
go another block, a mural pops out at you to give
you a smile or a gigle or just go "Wow."
We arrived at the Annual Frog Festival around 10:30 am, wandered around, snacked on goodies...Richard's sausage po boy, tacos, bloomin' onions...gastronomical delights!
Checked out the craft show nearby, then back at the stage for the frog-jumping contests.  The crowning of the queens for the various age groups had just ended.  The little kids were the cutest, but I'm not posting their pix here.  It was fun watching how delicately the little girls carried theirs up to the ring.  Then they'd put their frogs on the green X and at "go" they'd stomp their feet or do anything they could think of to make the frog jump.  (Not allowed to touch them.) 
Vicki and I thought the tiaras and the frogs were a wonderful juxtaposition!

 Before leaving, Vikki had to try the fried Oreos, as she is a chocoholic, too.  She shared with all of us and we agreed it was a delightful, sinful dessert. 
 After leaving the fairgrounds, we searched out eye-feasts around town.  This one was really colorful.
And this one was just downright fun!

We appreciated the thoughts on the sign  next to Monsieur Jacques - a wonderful way to express our oneness with each other. 

The day couldn't end yet, although that would have been plenty.  We had to stop at the Cajun Jam at Touchet's in Maurice, LA.  Several other couples from Betty's RV Park were also there, so we had a table for 8. Although the bar scene isn't one we generally do, we had heard so much about Cajun music, we just had to sample it.  Touchet's is a wonderful example of encouraging young people.  This bar is the site of the Cajun Culture Association meetings and the accordian player in the photo below is being supported in his musical education by the association.  This 15 year old has only been playing for a year but is already very accomplished.

Here's a photo of some of the players.  As it was a "jam", various musicians took the stage...there were three guitar players, two drummers and three accordian players.  Several of the musicians played several of the instruments.  The music was all in their own special language, but you didn't have to understand the lyrics to enjoy.  Several couples danced to some of the numbers, and they reminded me of how much my parents liked to dance.  One older gentleman offered to get me out onto the floor when I commented how much fun they were having.  I declined...but it was sure great to watch them.  Calvin served free food about 5 pm and we feasted on red beans and rice, cole slaw and bread pudding.  He does this every-other Saturday...another reason to visit Abbeville and it's varied activities.

What a wonderful day of enjoying and learning about another culture and new friends.  We are so blessed!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What it's all about - the friends

It started on Thursday when Vicki and Ian pulled their 17' burro into the parking spot next to our rig at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville.  Visited with them a bit and then a bit more and before you know it, they were climbing into our pickemup to go see the Palmetto state Park on Friday afternoon.  We thought we knew where it was, but after driving a bit we had to (horrors) ask directions.  It is a brand new state park and has beautiful facilities.  The little boys had a lot of fun at the splash park!

Later at happy hour at Betty's we enjoyed visiting with several couples and watched the ever present bean bag tournament.

 We later, spur of the moment, joined Ian and Vicki for dinner and got better acquainted!  A really fun day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tues, Nov. 9 through Thurs. Nov. 11

Tuesday was a relaxing day at home.  After a short journey Wednesday morning, found Deano's in Lafayette, LA.  It is a gourmet pizza place and is undeniably the best pizza we've ever had.  (Had eaten here on our winter trip 00-01).  Jerry's half was the T-Rex ( meatlovers) and my half was carmelized onions, peppers and mushrooms and grilled shrimp.  Awesome.  After that feast it's a good thing we only had a half hour to travel to Betty's RV Park in Abbeville.  Met fun people at happy hour and generally relaxed. 
Wednesday was sight-seeing day.  Traveled to Avery Island about 20 miles away for the Tabasco Factory Tour.  It was interesting and we received small sample bottles.  It's the only Tabasco factory in the world.  They get most of their peppers from South and Central America now but it has been in the McIlhenny family since it's inception.  They also have a wildlife refuge and jungle garden area which we didn't visit. 
After our tour we sampled the various hot sauces and jellies along with sweet and hot ice cream and jalopena ice cream - both yummy.  Jerry bought some red beans and rice and I shared his boudin (sausage) for a mid-morning snack.  Yummy!  Prepared and served by a lady who's Grandmother worked for the company and lived on the island.  Full-time employees can petition to rent a home on the island for $100/mo. 

This is a view of the bayou which you cross to go to Avery Island.  We saw a small alligator swimming in it along the road after leaving the Island.

We then drove a few miles to New Iberia and drove around the town viewing the awesome architecture of the homes and the live oak trees.

Took a tour of the Conrad Rice Mill.  Margaret (a Cajun) was a great tour director, talking of her own experiences living on a bayou and of working in the mill.  The rice is grown locally and has been in business for many years.  The factor is a Registered Historic Site and much of the machinery has been in use for about 85 years.  We checked out the company store and bought some Pecan rice.  

Back in Abbeville, met new neighbors from BC and enjoyed happy hour with many couples.  Treated ourselves to dinner at the Riverfront on the banks of Bayou Vermillion.  Sue got her crab fix and Jerry had the shrimp special.  Beautiful church right across the bayou which chimed on the quarter hour.  The restaurant was right next to the drawbridge where it is a busy daytime waterway with shrimp boats, etc. traveling in and out. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday through Monday evening, 11/8

Went to a small church Sunday morning in Newellton, LA - very, very friendly people - about 20 came up to greet us.  Very nice feeling.  Headed south and about 4 PM decided it was time to stop.  Found the St. Landry Parish Ag Arena and asked permission to park in their field.  Large grassy, level area and quiet!  No one around.  Made pasta with left-over chicken and carmelized onions and red/orange peppers.  Yummmy!

Today, had a lazy morning, ate roast beef Po-Boys at Joe's Sandwich Shop right down the road (also yummy), then took a ride to the Sherberne Wildlife Management Area near Krotz Springs, LA.  Had camped here on our 2001-02 trip and decided to check it out again.  Huge area next to the Big Alabama Bayou.  This is the campground area.  Very pretty!

 Also went for a walk on the Nature Trail - about a mile through dense hardwood forest.  Scared up a barred owl and I was able to go right up to it and take its pix just like it was posing.  Also spotted a beautiful monarch butterfly on the walk.  Mother nature provides such wonderful camophlage - when the owl was sitting on the tree, it looked just like the bark...and the butterflies coloring seemed to change to the color of the leaves on the forest floor.

Along the way, we spotted a church with an old cemetery on one side (burials around 1924) and the new one on the other side with the above-ground burial vaults.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thurs. Nov. 4 - Sunday, Nov. 5 morning

Traveled to Clarksdale, MS - "Home of the Blues".  Toured the Delta Blues Museum, a fascinating place full of blues paraphalia and snippets of those who created this phenomenon.  Muddy Water's original home is there along with a wonderful video about his life and a great wax sculpture.  Listened in on a snippet of a group blues guitar lesson.  Stopped in the Ground Zero Blues Club across the street and encountered several friendly folk who let us park overnight in their parking lot next to the club.  The free wifi was a plus and we even plugged in at night when it got down to 33 degrees.  The whole area has been in a cold snap but is to warm up to near 80 by mid-week.  Yippee! 

Jerry enjoyed two nights of the blues and Sue took advantage of the wifi to do some genealogy.  Walked around town on Friday afternoon and checked out a couple of folk art shops.  Clarksdale is a very depressed area, but we're told is making a comeback.???
Left there on Saturday about 10 am and slowly drive down the Great River Road (US1).  Spotted a Church Choir Fundraiser in Rosedale, MS so stopped to get lunch...
Jerry needed a nap right after we got into LA, so got off the main highway and drove a mile or so - found the Cariola Landing - very much off the beaten track.  In the 1800's - 1900's was a busy port for shipping cotton from the southland. 

Wandered down Highway 65 and decided it was time to stop so about 4:30, got off the highway and drove into Newellton (a "Mayberry town" as described to us by the preacher) and found a wonderful spot to boondock...back right into a vacant lot on the banks of St. Joseph Lake.  Wandered around town, checked in with the pharmacist (a councilman who said it'd probably be ok to park owned by the Chamber of Commerce).  We got the impression that we were the first people to do that, as there's three campgrounds on nearby lakes.  Met the preacher and found out what time church is on Sunday, ate at the local restaurant where we took pix of the egret and heron feeding.

 The lake is very low due to the severe drought they've had.  Remembered to change our clocks before retiring. 
It is a beautiful sunny day after a low of 33 last night....supposed to be mid-60's today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beale Street 11-3

Rick and his friend, Tae took us to Beale Street in downtown Memphis last night to eat BBQ and hear Blind Mississippi Morris and his band, the Pocket Rockets, who are known as the "real deal from Beale". Morris has a talented lineage. He lost his sight at age 4 but that didn't stop his love of the blues. "Morris is the very embodiment of the Delta bluesman. He has been called a new disciple of the Delta blues, he was rated one of the 10 best harmonica players in the world by Bluzharp magazine."  We ate messy ribs and all the fixin's. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The beginning

After leaving home on Thursday, Oct. 28 we spent 4 days in IL/MO with mechanical challenges.  But we managed to make lemonade with sightseeing, a picnic, and meeting lots of wonderful people who helped us get back on the road finally on Monday, Nov. 1 about 4 PM.  Traveled to Sikeston, MO for an overnight and had wonderful Lambert's brunch on Tuesday before traveling to Jerry's cuz Rick's home northeast of Memphis.  Spent Tues. evening catching up and eating pizza.  He has done an awesome job fixing up his home - very comfortable.