Monday, December 31, 2007
It was only for two nights so we prepared to tough it out in our home:) It turned out that the park is replacing the campground next year.
We enjoyed walking in the park and resupplied the house with a trip to home depot, to buy bolts for the damaged legs. A nice resting spot none the less. Clear skies.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The dolphins are ever present. Especially when you are fishing. One day I walked up to Batteria Pass and fished from shore. There were so many dolphins that when I caught a fish, one would swim over and splash with it's tail, saying go someplace else! Renita's favorite animal, by far, is the dolphin, so Grand Isle is special to her for this reason.
On our way to New Orleans, and while fishing with Pair of Dice Charter, we were unexpectedly treated to viewing three sea otters that were feeding and frolicking in the salt marsh. I didn't even know they had sea otters there and here I got to see three! They swam away, after we spotted them, and we left them alone, as it should be! The picture was taken along Palmetto Bay.
Finally, we were able to see Rosetta Spoonbills. It was our third trip to Grand Isle and the first time we spotted them. Connie said winter was the best time, and we spotted them both times we went up the bayou. I was also able to see one when we were fishing for redfish. The picture was taken along Highway 1.
Friday, December 28, 2007
out so the idea is to see them first and cast a little in front. It is amazing. Gary quickly hooked up with a big red which first ate his jig and then ate his bobbe! Hungry! Keith then put on a she dog top water plug, silver and black, cast it in front of the next red fish, which attacked it like a torpedo. It litterly came out of the water and ate the hard plastic lure! It was then Danny's turn. He put on a bull minnow and after a bit caught another, and another, and another. My turn now so I cast a plastic tailed jig ad bobber to a red. The fish hit and ran for the open water. It was all I could do to hold him an I was using 17 b test line on a speros 4000 reel. What a blast!
This continued for quite a while. His trolling motor used up the battery and so reluctantly we left and went back to fishing for specks. Keith took us to his final hot spot an it worked, as we put quite a few into the boat.
The day ended as we ran from a storm and after getting back, going to Keith's house to watch him clean the fish. Now I have to buy an electric knife. Ashe was cleaning the fish he left the skin and scales on four of the big reds and told us to grill them until the scale side was black, basting them with garlic powder, salt, and butter. We took them home and cooked them and it was as excellant as the day. Clear skies.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Going to Louisiana, without visiting New Orleans, is kind of like kissing your sister. So we loaded up, Danny and Janelle, Connie and Gary, our fearless tour guides, and left for a day of fun. Hearing all the reports of crime and seeing the damages from Katrina were two things that weighed on my mind, and while they remained, we managed to have a very enjoyable time.
We started on tour of New Orleans on the paddle wheeler Natchez, riding up and down the shoreline and listening to the guide speak about the City. It was cold and windy, but still enjoyable and I finally got into the spirit of things when the guide stopped talking and they started to play jazz on the ship. Renita was tapping on the deck and for the first time in a while I felt the calmness of the moment. Peace.
We left the ship and went to one of my favorite places, the Café Desmond. A hot latte and beignets hit the spot and warmed my hands and my heart. I remembered when we were last there, listening to street musicians playing jazz, in the hot and humid June sun.
Connie then took us to her favorite spot, the Southern Candy Company. Oh my! The candies were all we expected and we left with a large box of assorted chocolates and pralines. Life is good.
A short walk then took us to the trolley and we rode though the flood damaged areas to Vionnes, an Italian restaurant that had been rebuilt since the flood. AS we rode you could still see boarded and destroyed buildings, along with the water mark from the burst levee. However you could also see much has been rebuilt and signs that the City has rose from the waters.
The food was excellent; we had a great house salad and a thin crust pizza, recommended. After the meal we returned to Bourbon Street via the trolley and walked down the street passing urchins that were tapping, poorly, with shoes capped with cans. It was quite busy, as a Saints game had just been played and lost, so fans were commiserating in the quarter.
The goal was finally reached as Gary led us to the Tropical Island bar where the Bourbon Street Cajuns were playing Josephine Est Pa Ma Femme and Jambalaya. We danced to the Cajun band and watched Santa Claus and an elf gets down and dirty. Before Christmas! We also watched as an old woman in red who walked in, put on her dance shoes, and proceeded to out dance everyone on the dance floor!
She also was dirty dancing with the band. We had a blast but regretfully had to leave and drive back to Grand Isle. A long but enjoyable day. Next time we are going to spend the whole day in the French Quarter, and spend a night. Clear skies.
It’s been a week here on Grand Isle and as always at Connie and Gary’s, a week of great food, company and fishing. Connie is simply the Martha Steward of the family and Gary simply is a red fishing pro!
We went out and Gary caught another huge red fish. This one was about as pretty as you can catch and about 30 inches. It was huge. He caught it on a shrimp at a point he calls the redfish point, aptly named. Luckily we had a new net and so we boated this one. Truly a trophy fish that Gary released!
We also cruised around and looked for gps hotspots, and caught a couple of catfish. So that was neat as I was able to lock in a bunch of oyster beds and other spots. The specks were not cooperating, so fishing wise it was slow, but any tie you put a trophy fish in the boat is a great day.
In the afternoon we picked up the ladies and went for a sight seeing adventure. First, we went t o the fort at Grand Terre. The fort was built in the 1830’s but never manned. We parked the boat and tried to walk the beach, to get inside, but we ran into an inlet that had mud at the bottom. I thought Connie was going to sink out of sight!
After that we returned to the boat and drove through the pass to see the fort. Gary pointed out a sunken shrimp boat and we were treated to another sight as the shrimp fleet was going out! Truly an amazing place.
Finally we boated along the waterfront of Grand Isle, the part which is full of the oil and gas terminals and the rest of the shrimp fleet. A long and tiring day, but a really fun one. Clear skies.
Grand Isle is a place that is still the way the Gulf Coast should be. No high rise condos, although there is a lot of money, but there are also a lot of normal people trying to make a living. In the past four days I have met a bunch of really neat people. I have gone fishing two days, walked on the beach, put out crab pots, and learned how to shuck oysters. As if this wasn’t enough, Connie has been trying to fatten Renita and me up with her usual quality food.
We got here on Tuesday the 12th, after spending the night at a beautiful state park called Fariview-Riverside. Connie and Gary were both surprised at how big our fifth wheel is but we still managed to park it along the neighbor’s camp and next to their house. We rested, talked, and made plans for the next day. We launched the boat, got fishing license, so it was uneventful, except that Connie made a shrimp boil!
On Wednesday, Gary and I got up and went to the marina, where he has his boat on a lift, and went out. We first cast at the marina and caught some white trout, Gary caught a nice speckled trout and I caught a pinfish. WE then went to Gran Tare and fished, caught some redfish and sting rays and then Gary caught a huge bull red, about 25 pounds. It was amazing! We had seen them tailing and had caught smaller ones but it was huge. So big in fact that when I put it in the net it broke right through and ended up getting away,(which was actually ok as the big ones are not good to eat and we just wanted it for pictures and to show the girls).
Thursday, we went out again. We first caught some white trout for the crab pots and then took them out and set them and then we went to a cut by Independence Island and caught 4 nice specs. We tried some other spots for specks and redfish. Gary caught one redfish and I caught a stingray. We got back to camp, ate venison stew,( I made it), and we were so tired that we rested for the rest of the day.
Friday was a rest day in which Gary took me to meet Flyod, who catches the oysters. Floyd asked me if I was going to become a “Cajun Coon Ass”, like Gary! I could easily! After returning to Connie and Garys, we shucked the oysters. I only cut myself one time. Reuban and Richard stopped by and and shucked some. Richard ate about half of what he shucked and I had some raw oysters. They were the best I have ever had! Connie got home from work and we had oyster stew and oyster po boys and grilled oysters in lime juice. Oh my! Clear skies.
We left Gulf Shores State park and drove about 200 miles to a state park on the north side of Lake Ponchatrian, (now we could have driven to Connie and Gary’s house but it was 350 miles which it too far for me to drive when we have the house attached). The reason we picked the park was because rvparkreviews said it was the second best in Louisianna.
It is beautiful! Cypress trees along the river, huge oaks covered with Spanish moss. We walked the park and boardwalk and made plans to return. We met a couple from Idaho that were doing our trip in reverse and discussed state parks. We also met a full timer who had been on the road for 6 years. When he heard that Renita drove the truck and fifth wheel, he was impressed. He said that she was a special rarity as few wives would drive something that big. Renita liked that!
The park contains a huge house, the Otis mansion, and a steam sawmill, that was used to lumber the cypress, long ago. It reminded me of the turpentine still on St Andrews, (which is also called a cracker, hence the name crackers for uneducated people).All in all an beautiful small park. Clear skies.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Another day in Alabama. Temperature is 75. It rained the other day so we stayed in and vacuumed and cleaned and ate....
So yesterday we went for a bike ride, to the beach, and saw the biggest gator we have seen so far. Renita spied it sunning itself on the bank. She's getting good at spotting critters! This is in the campground, just down from us, at campsite 475.
Beach was nice, as usual, its about three miles long and there were 4 other people. The surf was big. There were a lot more shells here so we looked for a while but only found one new shell, a mollusk.
Went golfing for the first time here and made some new discoveries about golfing in Alabama. Namely, don't hit into the water and when you do don't look for your ball. Need I say why? I also learned that it's hard to hit the ball if you lift your head, hmmmmm...... Anyway I shot a 95, so pretty usual game. I played Gulf Shores State Park Course. The greens were a really thick grass, and really slow. The cost was 31 bucks for 18 holes but you couldn't walk until 11am so I had to rent a cart to play. Golf was meant to be walked. It wasn't very busy but really humid. I was sore from swinging as it had been a while.
Met some nice people from Mobile yesterday. They were camping next to us. Maybe play some tennis today, but it is a pack day as we are leaving for Louisiana tomorrow! Clear skies.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Anyway we set up camp, facing the lake, and paid for a week. The campsite usual costs 30 bucks a night but the winter rates are in effect and it only costs 134 dollars for a week. Under budget,(Did I say I made a retirement budget?)! Monthly rates are 330 bucks which includes electricity, water, and sewer. Nice. We then rested for the day as towing the fiver makes me tired and we went to the grocery store to restock the pantry. A good day.
The next day we got up and went for a walk and then a long bike ride. We did see an alligator in the lake, There are warning signs everywhere. Amazing. In the afternoon we drove to the golf course and fueled up so we are good to go. Another resting day. Clear skies.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Everything was great except the pie. I had saw a show with Paula Dean, who showed placing pecans in the bottom of the pie and pouring the filling on top. So I did. Renita liked it, she will eat any pie, but I thought the nuts became soggy and imparted a bitter taste to the pie. I can't stand bitter tastes, like grapefruit, so maybe its because I am one of those genetically different people that have an unusual taste. Anyway I thought it was terrible.
Spent the rest of the day talking on the phone and watching football. We took a bike ride to Santa Rosa beach which is about four miles. All in all a pretty lazy day,(with the usual dog walks of course). You can cross off Santa Rosa beach as a place to live as the houses are all mansions, three and four stories tall. Not quite what a retired teacher can afford,(I did talk with a developer in Panama City who said the housing market was overpriced as a house that was selling for 50000 ten years ago was valued at 400000 today. He also said the market had slowed to nothing and prices were being reduced).
We forgot Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year. We went to town to buy milk and and got caught in a traffic jam as people were lined up at lights trying to turn into the mall. Thank goodness we were not going there. We also didn't go to bass pro although I aways need fishing gear. Got back and took a two mile walk to the beach. It's really neat as I don't know the names of any trees and plants here. There is so much to learn.
The waves have been too big to surf fish, a red flag was out today, so I am patiently waiting for some calmer conditions. Nothing really planned for Saturday or Sunday. The park is really crowded for the holiday.
Monday, November 19, 2007
We went to the beach and watched the sunset. The beach is about three miles of straight, white sand, backed by protected sand dunes. The sand dunes are off limits because they contain an endangered mouse, the dune mouse.
What a beach, no boats, no seashells, sterile environment, and only about 10 people so plenty of solitude. Rode back to our house and watched the Broncos beat Tennessee. Anyway I am getting tired so I will post pictures tomorrow.
We walked around the park and took images of the nine sites we liked, besides 002 where we are at, so when we come back we will have a better idea. Topsail is supposed to be the best state park, for rv's, in the nation, so we will see if it lives up to it's hype.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Well we finally saw a gator at Gator Lake! Went for a bike ride Sunday morning and a gator was cruising across the lake. Walked around the nature trail and got a closer view but it was still across the lake.
Went to the marsh overview and saw lots of blue herons and heard a giant splash nearby, which we assume was a big gator but didn't see it so we amused ourselves by watching a lizard Renita spotted . The park is really crowded as it's a three day weekend, Veterans Day.
Our flounder spot had 34 people fishing it with four boats. I am always amazed at the people that own boats and go fishing where you could walk and bother the shore fisherman. The boats that know what they are doing are catching spanish mackerel. Walked onto the Gulf side fishing pier and saw some fisherman casting to a big fish that swam within their range but no hit. I am wishing I had a boat.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Flounder are pretty easy to catch, as you just throw out a bull minnow, lip hooked, on a carolina rig and slowly drag it along the bottom. Oh and pause often. Circle hooks make hooking them easy so it's pretty simple. Oh and Renita is out fishing me every day.
I have tried throwing plastic grubs but we are catching them on bull minows. I did catch a black grouper, they fight well, an atlantic croaker, and a bunch of lizard fish which look ulgier than their name sounds.
Flounder taste really good, so there are lots of other flounder fisherman. The flounder migrate down the lagoon and go out into the gulf to spawn. The trick seems to be fishing where they are halted ad the high tide comes into the pass. Oh and the other trick is remembering the tides so you bait doesn't die.
The attached picture is from a bike ride around the park.
Yesterday we took a break and went to a crafts fair. They are equally bad here, but it was for charity so I talked with other husbands about paybacks. Today we are gong to take a break from flounder and go to the gulf side beach. There also happens to be a fishing jetty next to the beach, hmmmmm........
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The park is beautiful, our site is on the lagoon and we are staying put for two weeks. The park ranger told us we have one of the best spots in the park. I will post a couple of pics later today. Anyway we got set up took a walk and relaxed at our house on the seashore. Retirement is good.
Monday, November 5, 2007
The campground is rated five stars, the highest rating Woodalls gives and it deserves it's rating. It is older, but well maintained, roomy and the shower house and facilities are top notch. Plus the monthly rate is 410, so it is well under budget.
After walking the beack we finished the day bu having a pina colada at the pink pub and saw dolphins. Went back to or house, grilled burgers, and called it a day. Or as Renita said, "A very good day."
Lots of neat stores, fish markets, gulf courses, and of course the beach is ever present, about 2 miles away. Nice. This is definitely a come back to place.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Talked with Mike just before we toured and learned that Butler's,Grandmother Brackin/Miller's grandparent had brothers in the 38th Iowa that fought in the battle. Unfortunately they got malaria as they were camped in a swamp and the site of the 38th had the plaque stolen sooo..... anyway it was so neat. I had used the oxbow bend of the Mississippi river at Vicksburg in my classes as an example of man trying to change the river so it was really neat to actually be there.
After touring the battlefield we went to the old town and ate unhealthy fried catfish and saw the place where Coke Cola was invented and then tried to find dog food to no avail so that was frustrating so we went back to camp and planned our next day drive.
The picture is of the Iowa Monument on the left and I am in a line of Union Cannons on the right.
After two days at Lake Texoma, we had to leave. However of all the places we have been, this is a neat place and worth an extended stay. So we left and planned on a normal drive and ended up driving 300 miles, a normal day is 200. Why, because we could not find a campground in Arkansas. Now there are lots of campgrounds but few along 82, the road we were driving and the one we were looking for had closed for good. So we ended up driving till we got to El Dorado ad ended up in the Wal-Mart parking lot. What a place to overnight on Halloween! Teenagers driving by with loud music booming from their vehicles, knowing that they were planning mayhem…….. I worried so much I stayed up till 10 pm before falling asleep and having a good night’s sleep, with no problems whatsoever.
We got up and decided to drive to Vicksburg. Took 82 east to Mississippi and Leetown and then south to Vicksburg. Found a campground without any trouble. What a drive! Between the huge cotton fields and the swamps, and bayou’s and we drove across the Yahoo River by Yahoo City! I taught about yahoo rivers for 30 years! Got to watch the cotton harvest with cotton pickers and huge bales, topped by plastic that comes out of the pickers. Oh my. WE stopped and Renita picked some cotton along the road!
Resting now for a busy day tomorrow as we age going to the Vicksburg National Battlefield Park and plan on spending a day here absorbing the history.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I didn't want to drive though the city it just happened, so I took it easy and it was fine. We went east and the and south at Shawnee and ended up at Lake Texoma Resort and State Park, oh my! What a pretty place! The internet is slow so I couldn't upload a picture yet, but this is why we are traveling.
We are on Catfish Bay, across from the Marina at spot 541. not the best spot here as it is in the middle but it's the biggest and We fit with lots of room. I actually measured several other spots after we parked and we could have fit there also. Anyway the place is called Ben's Campground and it's full of fisherman and retiree's. What a place. Listened to one guy who was complaining he couldn't catch anything while we saw another cleaning a big mess of fish.
Had a nice walk, although the dog got stickers again so we spent time cleaning her fur. Her and me both need haircuts, maybe today? Grill worked fine and I made pork chops and filet migon so we would have left overs. I also heated up soup and didn't cover it so this morning I will clean the microwave.
Think we will stay another day and run into town for groceries, maybe take the bikes out and go for a ride.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Drove to Hinton which is just outside of Oklahoma City and spent the night at a KOA. Now I normally don't like KOA's but this was really nice. I mean we parked in a parking lot but they have trees with a little lake.
Walked up to the restaurant for desert and visited a souvenir shop. They had mounted giant western diamondback rattlesnakes, so of course that's what I dreamt about! Haven't dreamed about snakes since I quit drinking:)
All in all pretty scenery and traveled 240 more miles toward Florida. Renita drove over 100 miles as the conditions were nice with no wind! She did a good job! We ended up on Interstate 40, from Clinton as we came down 83, and talk about trucks. Don't want to travel much on this road!
Camping World today, so we should be finished up with outfitting our new home. Maybe we can actually live on the budget now!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Dodge City, Kansas. Boothill and the Long Branch Saloon,Gunsmoke,Wyap Earp, and Bat Masterson. I had to go there, not just to see what it was like, but as a tribute to my dad and Renita's dad who were both western buffs. Remembering our childhood and the cowboy mystic we grew up with. Fiction and fact, what a fun day.
We traveled for only 160 miles from Colby,Kansas to Garden City and Dodge City. The first 100 miles was some of the flattest country I have ever seen, the classic image of Kansas. As we traveled you simply can not believe the harvest taking place and the unbelievable piles of grain at every elevator.
Got to Dodge City, found our campground and disconected from the fifth wheel for the first time! If this seems suprising, we had problems disconecting once before and broke a cotter pin and anyway we disconected correctly!
Tried to take a nap but I couldn't sleep as I was too excited about Boothill! Went there paid our seven bucks and realy had a nice time viewing their museum, the remnants of the cemetary, the locomotive, and the period antiques. I would recommend this! It, as always makes a place special once you see it and can relate it to books you have read. How I love traveling.
A fun day but I am tired, and watching the Rockies lose so time for bed.
We passed near the battle site of Beecher's Island, named for Lt Beecher who was killed there by Roman Nose. Didn't stop as I couldn't find the spot,(the area of the Arikee river is covered with big cottonwood trees from the flood of the 30's. I doubt the trees were there for the battle), and it was too far off the road to search, so no bullets, bones, or buttons for Mike.(I had to laugh as my brother who at age 12 in 1958 collected a piece of Wild Bill Hickock's headstone, which has been replaced and is now protected).
Got on the interstate and drove to Colby, Kansas where we are spending the night. Another private campground but it is right next to a Walmart so we feel at home!
We will drive to Dodge City, if all works out.
On another note it is so nice to be retired from teaching. I am somewhat amazed at how I don't miss it at all. I heard a bunch of my friends are retiring. I am sure they are nervous, but they shouldn't be.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Speaking of relaxing, we drove on 80 and had horrible winds along the way at Elk Mountian. Matt had warned us about the possibility and he was right. The truck handled the winds and the pass fine but I sure don't lke driving in those conditions. I was white knucking it for a while.
Ate lunch and took a break at Cheyenne and decided to drive to Sidney Nebraska and Cabelas for the night. While they do have free camping we stayed at their campground, for 24.08 and watched the Rockies get beat again:(.
Think we will head down to Kansas, maybe towards Dodge City, but we will see where the road takes us.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Enjoyed our second night and then traveled another 250 miles to Red Haw State Park. Along the way we were on the Great River Road in Illinois, and I thought of Carol's favorite place abd my promise to send her a postcard if we got there,(I sure hope she signed up for retirement). At a quandry as no postcards where we stopped, hmmmmm.......... Need to come back and travel the length of the road.
Flat, for most of the drive. We did pass through Galesburg, Carl Sandburg's birthplace, and also went through Peoria,(nice looking place), and Burlington, Iowa, a really neat river town with a beautiful suspension bridge over the Mississippi River.
Finally, we got to our destination, Red Haw State Park, in Iowa. Drove through the campground and thought the spots were too small but the campground host talked with us and helped me back into a spot that fit. What a nice couple! Eleven dollars a night with electricty.
Took a walk and saw deer, including an unforgetable sight as a fawn peeked at us around it's mom. Of course we didn't have the camera. Did take a lot of pictures after that. Also heard turkeys in the distance.
We liked it there so much we stayed an extra day to enjoy the deer, red headed woodpeckers,
and squirrels right outside the camper. Also gave us a chance to rest up before heading to Wyoming. We must get back to license the vehicle, take the last load to Rock Springs, load and head south before winter sets in,(I keep remembering the Donner party).
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Earlier, I didn't mean to be too harsh on the people here. They are nice and friendly and polite, but you don't see anyone walking or biking. Probably because there are few sidewalks and bikepaths, Gillette really is way ahead of a lot of places, (with that in mind pictured is a walkway bridge and path in South Bend, near the dam and fish ladder).
There are some pretty neat things here. The fishing alone is impressive. The flea market is supposed to be the worlds largest and it was too much for me as I went back to the truck and took a nap. Renita was able to tough it out and see it all:)
The good news is that we are getting or fifth wheel tomrrow and heading back to Gillette and Rock Springs on Saturday. Yeah! I hope I don't have to stay in a motel for a long while. I am also looking forward to healthy foods and home cooking!
Too say we are excited is an understatement!