From Joy to Joy

Skipping across the south.  We left Joe and the Audubon RV Park following US 90 to the east.  Our next stop was New Orleans.  We stayed at French Quarter RV Park, one block north of Rampart, leaving a two block walk to the French Quarter.  For entertainment we walked the French Quarter, again with a stop at Cafe du Monde

Begnet and Coffee
and then back to the coach to change for dinner eventually at Vacherie Restaurant in the hotel of the same name.  No food pics but we both enjoyed our meals and were satisfied to return to the coach and get some sleep.
Continuing on US 90, once we got out of the Louisiana, we retraced a route we took the year after Katrina along the Mississippi coast through Gulfport and Biloxi.  Although much has been cleaned up and there is new construction along the coast, it is clear that much remains to be rebuilt in the future.  There are still many empty foundations visible along the route.  Just before leaving Mississippi we stopped at Gulf Coast Gator Ranch, a very unusual Harvest Host member with plans to stay the night in their parking lot.  We took the airboat ride along with ten others and got thoroughly soaked and saw plenty of alligators.  
and we did indeed stay the night
Taken from the berm by US 90
It wasn’t the quietest night between the ‘gators calling, the cars whizzing by on 90 and the train not more than 200 yards beyond the house you see in the picture, but we slept nonetheless.
As to Joy: we decided to stay a few nights at Summerdale AL, Escapee Rainbow Plantations, to catch up on some cleaning, the outside, and other stuff, like getting some mail.  Of course we made connection with our cousin Joy and Shaul Antar who live in Fairhope and had a lovely, what might say joyful, dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  The pleasure was dampened by our memories of Joy’s dad, Ed Holtzman, who died after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer in March.   We are thinking of you Ellie.
Other news has also been troubling our friend and fellow RVer and RPO concert goer, Larry Humm took a terrible fall skiing in Vermont and will be spending the rest of April at Strong Memorial Hospital recovering from his injuries.  Be strong Dottie, we are thinking of both of you.
We hope to pick up our mail tomorrow morning and move on by noon, headed, the long way as usual, to Tampa and Lazy Days service bays.

Plans for Extended Non RV Travel in the Fall

Since we began RVing in 2001, Carol and I have traveled the length and breadth of the US and Canada even dipping into Mexico on foot.  We put off overseas travel, in part because my late mother’s health was precarious and in part because there is so much to see in the United States and Canada.  Last summer, as we were selling the townhouse we decided to travel someplace the RV couldn’t go and we went to Tanzania on a trip organized by Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT).  The blog and the pictures have been posted for 7 months now.

In February we decided to plan another trip.  We wanted to go to Southeast Asia, a part of the world we have never ventured to.  As we thought about it we realized that our time for big trips may be limited so had best do a couple of trips back to back to cover as much of the area as we could in one trip.  Somehow as we were putting this together the idea of adding some European destinations seemed reasonable (?).  Ultimately this has turned into an around the world in 90 days adventure.  We only have one US departure and return and one long intermediate flight – Moscow to Shanghai.  We even included a recovery day in Shanghai.  Our departure and return will be Dulles in hopes that we will not have to cope with a winter storm on our return.

All of this was put together with OAT.  Their staff have been magnificent to work with, again.  

Fall 2013 Extravaganza Travel
Depart 10/2/2013 

Trip 1:

Ukraine – Kiev
Lithuania – Vilnius/Klaipeda
Latvia – Riga
Estonia – Tallinn
           St Petersburg

Trip 2:
China –
         Donghan Community
         Chengdu – Panda Sanctuary
         Tibet – Lhasa
         Yangtze River Cruies (Chongqing)
          Hong Kong
Cambodia –  Angor Wat Siem Reap

Trip 3:
Burma – Nay Pyi Taw – Irrawady River
Thailand – Bangkok
Vietnam –
Bangkok to DC January 1/2/2014 ?

If you are so moved OAT may have some space on these trips and you could join us for part of the way.  We would love to have companions we know.  For details on the trips check out the OAT website

Unexpected Joy

As we prepared to leave Beaumont after the rains stopped and the water started to drain off, we had to decide where to stop next.  Checked all our resources, no Harvest Host within a hundred miles of the intended route, No Corp of Engineers, Passport America, yes, half off at Audubon RV Park, only four (4) sites.  That is strange, have never stayed in such a small RV park.  Well it is just south of Abbeville, LA and right in the middle of the area we want to visit so we decide to take a chance, how bad can it be for a night or two with full hookups and for only $10 a night, cash only as Joe says when we call to make a reservation and yes he does have a site that we can get into, and please don’t park on top of the lift pump when you set up.

The on board GPS tells us we have arrived and there is not an RV in sight.  The street address is a lot higher than the one in the book so we drive on, Carol at the wheel.  Eventually after avoiding a dead end street and taking a left turn to stay on Audubon Road we find the campground.  Four sites lined up parallel to the road.  The one closest to the road might accommodate a popup, but no trailer or coach would fit there.  On the far end is site 4, our assigned site, the others are all occupied, all 2 of them.  After a quick run to Walmart in Abbeyville we barely return to the coach when Joe, the owner, appears.  I part with cash for three nights and ask about the tour he mentions in the description of the park.

Ten minutes later we are in Joe’s truck headed for a tour of his holdings (and his brother’s).  I learned more about crawfish husbandry then I knew I wanted to know.  Also we learned that the same fields that produce crawfish in the winter, produce rice in the summer.  For that matter we have arrived the day after the last crawfish harvest of the year.  Tomorrow they will drain the fields from 18 inches of water to dry to be able to drill plant the rice, then when the rice comes up they will flood the field to 2-3 inches.  Joe is a multi talented guy.  He works for Chevron Gas managing over 154 miles of gas pipeline, farms his acreage for crawfish and rice and runs a small campground.

This is the wheel that drives the crawfish boat, it is driven by a hydraulic motor

Joe reached into a crawfish trap that had not been baited and…

Found one trapped bug

This is the boat underway in the crawfish field, the wheel pulls and the trailing disk keeps it stable

Why only four sites when he owns acres of land around the campground?  He planned on forty sites, but marriage slowed down his plans and he has had these 4 sites for at least ten years that I am aware of.  He likes to meet the people who he sees traveling the roads in RVs stopping to watch the work in the fields.  We enjoyed meeting him too.

Where has the time gone?

We were in Las Cruces NM until March 30 and it is now April 9 and we are in Beaumont Texas at mile post 845 (Anthony TX west of El Paso is mp 0).

The short story is Las Cruces to Fort Davis TX, a stop in Fredericksburg at Oakwood RV and on to Austin where we stayed at McKinney Falls State Park which we left this afternoon at 2 PM.  In Fort Davis our hiking was limited – non existent – as I had a sore on my foot that prevented anything more than minor hobbling around for a couple of days.  That has cleared up with treatment of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly – the old fashioned cure all for dry skin and squeaking hinges.  We puttered about and took some pleasant drives, nothing on primitive roads.  And moved on to Austin where we planned to meet Leigh and Pat again, two visits per cross country trip are better than one.  We also were in close communication with Anna Lee and Jerry Braunstein, fellow RVers who we have met up with in various places, the first time at a gathering of CHAI in Vermont (that’s Chavuarat Yehudim in case you wondered, not the tea).

We went to a music crawl on the UT campus with three live performances at different venues on the campus, LBJ Library, Visual Arts, and the H R Ransom Library.  There were three more performances at three more different venues we could not get to.  Among the performances the most intriguing to me was solo for dial phone and electronics.  We got stuck in an exhibit of Alfred Newman photography and work papers at the Ransom then after dinner at Maribeau Restaurant we went dancing at Donn’s Depot – good ole two step.  The next day started with lunch at Rubys BBQ pit which has the best brisket in Austin city limits.  Then more galleries and back to Leigh and Pat’s for dinner.  We had a call from Anna Lee and Jerry that they were settled in to a site just around the bend from us and we stopped there for cappuccino and conversation before retiring.

We agreed to an 11 K Volks March for the morning.  During the walk we added a tour of the Driskell  Hotel lobby and the entire Texas Capital Tour.  As planned we regrouped late afternoon (early evening) to drive back into town to see the Mexican Freetail bats swarm out from under the Congress Street Bridge – aka Ann Richards Bridge.  Swarm they did.  Jerry got an interesting picture of them, my photos were more black on black, no point posting them.  We moved on from there to dinner at Second, yummy on our second visit.

We said good night to Leigh and Patrick and returned to the coaches and said goodbye to Anna Lee and Jerry.  I had made a fuss about avoiding going through Houston while headed east from Austin.  This requires a 150 mile detour and it is something we have done frequently.  For some reason, having decided to move east on Tuesday to avoid a forecast storm after shopping in the morning, we found ourselves on course to pass right through Houston on 290 to 610 to 10 between 4:30 and 5:30.  It was not awful.  I would not recommend it as a steady diet.  We continued on at speeds varying between a crawl and 62 mph (our self imposed speed limit) and only lost about 20 minutes in the process.  I suspect we are just a 100 miles or so behind the Braunsteins at this point and we will overtake and pass them on their caravan some time this week.  We may stop in New Orleans, or not.  We are staying in Beaumont for at least a couple of nights to explore this area a bit and get some laundry done.

Tucson to Las Cruces with a stop in Benson – This one is Loong

I guess it has been a few days since I have written anything on this blog – like a week.  We wrapped up our stay in Tucson by going to the opening night of the national touring company of Wicked.  We had decent seats well back in the hall and enjoyed the show a lot.  It has been some time since we have attended a big Broadway type musical and I guess I had forgotten how much fun they can be.  The performances were wonderful and the effects were grand.  I guess I wrote about this in a brief post on Google+ but did not distribute it beyond that media.  Apologies to those of you who have already read this.

We moved on first to Saguaro SKP Coop in Benson for three nights and then on to Las Cruces.  In Benson we took a couple of drives.  One day we made several stops along the San Pedro Riparian Reserve including a stop at Fairbanks town site, the Hereford Bridge and San Pedro House.  this is excellent birding territory and we saw many birds of many species.  AT San Pedro House they were all around the house and grounds and it was fun to eat our lunch while observing Gila Woodpeckers and Pyrrhuloxia among the doves and other birds.  We returned by way of Bisbee.  We have not been there in some time, but after a brief stop in old Bisbee and at the copper pit mines we drove on through back to Benson.

The next day I found an off road track for my new Garmin eTrek and we set out to Parker Canyon Lake to see what we could do on our own on this designated beginner level track.  Once we found the entry point it was a lot of fun for the first half of the track, but somewhere way back “there” the course on the GPS did not agree with any visible jeep track we could see.  We were almost a quarter mile off the track when Carol and I agreed that it was time to turn back and retrace our entry.  At this point we came a cross a lady hiker on the trail along.  I am not sure who was more startled.  I guess did not appear threatening and she walked over and chatted with us confirming our decision to turn back.  The return was as much fun as the entry climbing the steep rocky descents and ascending the steep rocky descents.  Our collection of off road pin striping is growing.  The rest of the track was a paved road through fort Huachuca – boring.

Las Cruces became our Pesach stop.  Monday night, first Seder, we were along on the coach.  Carol worked really hard to put out a beautiful table and meal and we spent a couple of hours following the “order” through to the end.  It is much easier with only two and no children getting tired, bored or as they grew asking way too many questions.  Second night we were invited to Leora Zeitlin and Stuart Kelter’s home along with many others and a broad age range from 10 to 8x.  We sang, we told stories, we covered most of the points of the Seder in some fashion and by midnight we were wrapping up.  I think Carol and I got back to the coach about 12:30.  It was indeed a grand Seder and we thank Leora and Stuart for including us in their family gathering.

All this time I had been following Rick Morgan on Google+ and reading his blogs.  As we arrived in Las Cruces I read that he and JoAnne, his wife, were near Alamogordo, about and hours drive.  I have always said, once I’m on the road what’s a couple of hundred miles. After an exchange of messages on Google+ and emails and then phone calls, we agree to meet at the White Sands Monument Visitor Center on Wednesday.  And it was so.  We watched the National parks film and since our Jeep is more spacious then their car and we have driven the road many times.  We all piled into the Jeep with lunches and cameras and other necessities and had a tour of the road, lunch way out in the dunes and a walk on the boardwalk and bit of a hike on the nature trail.  It was really grand for us to meet fellow RVers who have a similar lifestyle to ours.  I hope we will run into them on the road as we both stay healthy and have safe travels.

I have held back posting waiting to work on some pictures, but given the poor service we have here in Davis Mountain State Park, here are the words, the pics will follow.