Puttering around in the South

From Galveston we drifted east bypassing Houston and stopping in Lafayette, LA at a KOA just off I 10. We set out to have dinner at PreJeans, famous for Cajun cooking and live music. It is considered one of the must restaurants in the area. The food was fine. The musicians looked as if they were some place else. They played fine, when they played, but they appeared to be totally bored with the whole show. Our Red Stick Ramblers CD is quite a bit better.

By now I had booked a flight back to Rochester to see my mother and we were drifting on a schedule so we headed for the Biloxi, MS area to see more of the destruction wrought by Katrina and Rita. We stayed at Magic River CG in Long Beach (MS not CA) and it was rustic. There were full hookups and everything worked, but the sense was that most of the people staying there were doing construction work in the vicinity and there was not a lot of “camping” being done. We drove all the way to Biloxi along the gulf and then tried to come back along the bay side, but military establishments kept getting in the way, so eventually we found our way back to Magic River CG and made dinner there as we had not seen any place we would consider stopping for dinner. Nothing was open except for seven of the twelve casinos and the other five had big construction crews working to get them reopened. Nothing else seemed to be progressing with any speed..

In the morning we set out for Gulf Shores, AL and the Gulf State Park campground. Our departure was marred by a series of fits from HAL, the GPS and my computer. They did not want to communicate. Carol was driving and I thought I had memorized the rather convoluted route to I 10 so we drove on while I did battle with the computer. Naturally the key turn was not where I expected and we wandered rather aimlessly as I rebooted this and screamed at that. Finally I got everything working together just as we both spotted the I 10 sign. That was only the second time in 6,000 miles and 2 months that we didn’t have the mapping software running when we needed it.

We found or way to Gulf State Park right on the Gulf in a twenty mile stretch of Alabama between Mobile Bay and the Florida line. We stayed in this park in 2004 before Hurricane Ivan devastated the area. We tried to return in 2005 but were told they were not open. There was a major change from the storm. Before it was not possibible to see how big the park was as the sightlines were blocked by masses of trees. Today there are almost no trees and many of the activities have not been resumed. We had two other reasons for going there. I had learned that I had a cousin living in Fair Hope, AL not more than 30 minutes from the park and we would be an hour from Pensacola which is a reasonable airport for me to get to Rochester for a couple of days. Besides, who can pass up a chance to eat at Lambert’s, the Home of Throw’d Rolls. I wrote about this place in’04.

We had Joy and Shaul Antar bring their children Simcha and Ariel out to the RV on Sunday, Purim. It was more exciting than we knew as Ariel is totally enamored with RV’s from the movie of the same name. I can now sign R V quite fluently. Carol went to Simcha’s school on Friday, while I was in Rochester, and enjoyed bing there when she was tapped for Junior Honor Society (she is almost 13). On Saturday we went to their home in Fair Hope and then out to dinner at the Marriott Grand where Shaul is emplyied.

My visit with my mother was reassuring. She seems to be content and rather more communicative than she was when we left. We continue to face challenges, but I guess that is just the way it will be for now. It turned out that my timing brought me into Rochester when the RPO would be playing, conducted by Pinchas Zuckerman. I thought to take my grandson Josh to the dinner and the concert and by the time we got it together there were 9 for dinner. After intermission Josh wanted to know if I had introduced him to everyone in the hall. We both enjoyed the concert. This is not the place for a full review. I especially enjoyed having the time with Josh. I know that the visit he had with his great grandmother had to be hard for him, but he said he wanted to visit more often with his mother.

My flights worked far better than I had hoped. My USAir connection in Charlotte, returning, was 30 minutes which leaves no leeway for anything. I was at the gate for the connection with time to spare and my luggage was in my hands!

On my return to Gulf Shores I learned that the Topfs had caught up with us and were on a nearby site. We have crossed paths with them three times this winter. Naturally we got together for activities during the day and had happy hour together. We were not in the mood to dine out so we dined on our own coaches and got together for dessert. They moved on to Montgomery, AL while we decided to stop in Seminole Lake SP in GA. You can find it on a GA map by looking at the south western corner where GA meets FL and AL.. We remembered stopping here two years ago and thought we could remember the campground. As we pulled in we agreed that it was the place we were thinking of. We are on a site on the water with room to spare and the inflatable kayak is inflated and sitting on the shore for the first time this winter. We were warmly welcomed by Anita and Larry, the campground hosts, who remembered us from two years ago. We have seen nesting Osprey and had a Blue Jay perch on our picnic table while we were sitting there.

We also have witnessed the stupidest piece of human behavior by campground management we can remember. Some complaint was registered against the hosts, apparently by another volunteer couple and Anita and Larry, who have been here several years, were fired on the spot leaving only a first time volunteer couple who are leaving for the FMCA rally tomorrow. There will be no hosts here for the weekend when the park will be full. Anita and Larry were so hurt that they pulled out within a couple of hours. I guess their biggest sin was working too hard to keep the place nice and make people welcome. Money cannot be an issue as they were volunteers, receiving nothing but their campsite and hookups in return for their effort.

We will continue to retrace our steps on Saturday when we move to Paradise Lake Campground in Tifton, GA. This is 80 miles from Perry where we will enter the fairgrounds on Sunday for five days of togetherness with more than 5,000 other coaches and Carol will present her Seminar on Wednesday at 1:30 and her workshop on Thursday. Then we are off to who knows where on route to Charlottesville, VA.

A New Expression and Other Thoughts

The first day we were at Mustang Island State Park February 25, we had taken a drive south to Padre Island National Seashore to see what that is all about. The area is gorgeous seashore with plenty of birds and miles of hard beach to drive on to camp on and to just sit on.  npadrebeach Here is Carol dining by the car. The next time we come this way we will camp out on the beach.

A quick correction. The Ploessers had gone on home to Kentucky. Shelley and Norm Topf joined us mid day on February 27 as the stock market was headed for one of its deepest point slides ever. Fortunately, in percentage terms, it was just awful not disastrous.

We sat around the coaches and caught up with each other and our thoughts on many things. The women decided we would get together for dinner on the coaches rather than try to find a decent restaurant. Since Shelley was definitely not able to do any work, Carol volunteered host onboard G2. We prepared fajitas with chicken for three of us and lots of grilled veggies so Carol had plenty to eat as well. The food and wine enabled us to forget the market and go on to other things.


Later when I checked email, it turned out that the Hoggs had driven right by Mustang Island SP in the early afternoon while we were in Port Aransas birding. They had thought about stopping to see how the park looked for future reference, but decided to drive on. They were staying at a campground on route 35 and we planned to drive that way on our way. Can’t say on our way where as we had no clue where we planned to stop, but we are sort of headed for Gulf Shores, AL eventually. Anyhow we agreed to pull up on the wide shoulder of TX 35 outside their resort and have a get together right there. As it turns out the local highway department had other plans and they created a work zone for a mile either side of the entrance and there was no place left to stop. When Pat called with this news they said they would stand in the entrance to their campground and wave as we went by. We checked in by phone as we cleared the ferry at Aransas Pass and 20 minutes later we slowed on the shoulder of the road, now serving as the main right-of-way and waved and honked to the Hoggs as they returned the waves. Thus we now have a new kind of get together a “Wave By.” We hope to see the Hoggs next a year from now as we crisscross our wanderings in the southwest of the US. We also have a tentative plan to meet them in Calgary in the summer of 2008 as we head for Alaska and they join up with us on the way.

We left Shelley and Norm in Mustang Island SP and made tentative plans to see them in Gulf State Park, AL. For sure we will see them in Perry, GA at the rally in mid March.

At some point I looked at Carol and saw she had a passenger:  grasshopper

We are getting very comfortable making friends and meeting them in the middle of no place as we all seem to circulate in the same region. In our case, if there is someone we want to spend time with, it is not difficult to modify our driving schedule to make it possible. We can always vamp for a day or drive an extra couple of hours if it will enable us to meet up with someone. We have even been known to go 200 miles in a different direction for the same reason.

Just for a refresher; we seldom want to drive more than 250 miles in a day. Six hours of driving is more than enough and although that sounds like over 300 miles it usually will take us that long to cover 250 miles. We almost never go faster than 64. We stop every two hours at least to change drivers. Anything that looks interesting can initiate additional stops. Oh yes, some fuel stops can take 30 to 45 minutes if there is a line at the RV Island or other errands that need to completed while stopped. The other thing that slows us down is the use of many lesser highways. Since we don’t choose to roll at 70 MPH, we are much happier off the interstates. Also there are many more interesting things to see on the old Federal and State routes.

Given those parameters it is easy to see that we can extend our range from the normal plan rather easily by sticking to Interstates and limiting our stops. Books on tape or CD are the greatest way to extend range. If the reader is great, who wants to spend time stopped with the story off?

At the moment we are in Galveston Island State Park (19 consecutive nights in Texas State Parks) getting ready to move on in the morning. We have eaten well, toured well and gotten to see Galveston. We will be back