Saturday, March 23, 2019

The road home to Asheville - 4 stops LA - MS - AL - GA

Duson, LA

On March 8, 2019 we said good-bye to the beaches in Crystal Beach, TX to start our trek home to Asheville.
Our first stop was at the Frog City RV Park in Duson, LA. It is right off of I-10 and we were a little worried about traffic noise but surprisingly we could hardly hear the traffic.
We spent two nights here but because Nancy hurt her back again while packing up we didn't venture out much. A morning walk to a nearby restaurant for breakfast was about all we managed. The park is well maintained. There is a pool and they have breakfast every Sunday. We were in Site 10, a gravel pull through with full hook ups. The WiFi was good, Verizon signal strong. We paid $37.00 a night with a military discount.

Pass Christian, MS

This was our third stay at the Pass Christian RV Park. The first time was in January 2018, the second time was December 2018. We arrived here on March 10, 2019.  It is a no frills park, but only a 1/4 mile from the beach and inexpensive. Site 2, a gravel pull through with full hook ups was once again home. We paid $15.00 a night with our Passport America discount. There is no WiFi but our Verizon signal was strong. We have met the best people in this park.

We hit some of our favorite haunts. Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St. Louis is a cozy little place for coffee and when it's too late in the day for Nancy to drink coffee, they have a nice selection of craft beer as well. Our absolute favorite breakfast place is Daddyz in the Pass, in Pass Christian. Heidi always takes great care of us when we go.

This crazy piano sits outside an art gallery that is next to the Mockingbird Cafe. 

Pirates Alley Nature Trail in the Buccaneer State Park was a little wet and muddy the day we hiked it. It was still a fun walk and so nice to be out hiking again.

The 1.8-mile trail takes you to the Mud Bayou Canal where you can rest at the gazebo while watching the birds feed. We tried to get a selfie with Mielikki but she was having none of it.

The park is in Waveland, MS. The land the park sits on has quite the history. The pirate Jean Lafitte lived in a house here in the late 1700's and Andrew Jackson had a military post here during the Battle of New Orleans. He later returned and built a house here. The most recent historical fact is that it was completely destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The final reconstruction was completed in November 2013. The park has a beautiful campground, hiking trails, disc golf course and a water park. All located right on the Gulf of Mexico.

We did find signs of spring and a doorway to what could only be a fairy house. If you are using the trail signs to guide you it's important to be paying attention as some have sunk into the ground - as evidenced in the bottom left picture.

We also found these interesting mud huts. Not sure what creatures have created them. Most where about 3-4" tall, a few closer to 6". There was no activity at all around any of them.

On our trip into Gulf Port we spotted our favorite Giraffe all decked out for Easter! We have gotten pictures of her and her friend the Elephant in the past. We missed the elephant this time. In December 2018 they were dressed for Christmas. In January 2018 they were celebrating Mardi Gras. Links to both blogs are above.

On this stay we visited the Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, MS.

The center is very nice with lots of hands on displays and exhibits that cover a wide range of topics.

The second floor is dedicated to Space Travel, with rockets and modules. They even have an Angry Birds in Space game to play!

Houston we have a problem! 

One area is all about the Apollo 13 flight. With a mock-up of the cabin and the space suits that were worn. They look a little worse for the wear!
There is also a piece of moon rock on display.

The screens show what Les looks like to a pit viper (top left) and a bee! You can also pretend to be an astronaut.

One hallway shows what the inside of the shuttle experiment area looked like. If you notice the arrows are pointing to bars that the astronauts used to move around in zero gravity and foot bars so they could stay in one place and have both hands to work with.

Outside the building are shuttles and engines on display.

Along with large container gardens for attracting butterflies and bees.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has facilitates at the Stennis Space Center.

Weather buoys are on display at the Science Center. The link takes you to the National Data Buoy Center with a map that shows where buoys are located. Pretty cool.
There are 39 Tsunami Buoys (bottom pictures) operated by the U.S. in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The Tao Buoy (top left picture) is used for detecting El Nino and La Nina activity. NOAA and the Japanese government maintain 70 permanent buoys that are moored along the equatorial pacific. The large buoy (top right picture) is a weather collecting station. It gathers data on climate, storms etc.

Your admission to the Science Center includes a bus tour of the grounds of  NASA's Stennis Space Center

The bus drives through the space center and past the two structures where they test the rocket engines. For obvious security reasons, you never leave the bus!

Hope Hull, AL

I-65 in Alabama 
On March 14. 2019 we headed to the Montgomery South RV Park, as the name suggests it is just south of Montgomery.
It is always so interesting driving across miles and miles of swamp. Construction of these roadways must have been interesting.

This is another park that we have stayed at multiple times. First time was June 2016, and the second time was in January 2018 and again in November 2018.  It is conveniently located just off  I-65 and always on our way to Asheville.
Once again we were in Site 26, a gravel pull through with full hook ups. The WiFi is good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $38.00 a night with our Good Sam discount.
Our travel day was a long one. We had a 9 am appointment at Camping World in Biloxi, MS to have a new rocker recliner installed. This meant that the tow dolly and bike rack had to come off the RV, so they could back it up, and then we had to put it all back on again.
They removed the old chair and put in the new one. We were glad we didn't have to do that ourselves and then find someplace to dispose of the old one. It was worth all of it as it is so much more comfortable than the 19 year old one we had! Did we mention it also has a massage function and it was on sale half price!

Stone Mountain, GA

On March 16, 2018 we headed to Stone Mountain Park Campground. We stayed here for one night in November 2018 on our way south to Foley, AL. This time with two nights we had the opportunity to explore a bit more.
The park covers 3,200 acres just outside of Atlanta, GA. There are over 400 campsites, from primitive to full hook-up RV sites. Hiking trails that total 15-miles, including one that takes you to the top of the mountain. There is plenty of history and things to do for all ages.
We were in Site 393, same as last time. It is a gravel pull thru with water and electric hook-ups. You have a grill and picnic table to use in the private setting.

The original plan was to hike the one mile trail to the top of Stone Mountain, but Nancy's back was not cooperating so we took the Sky-ride to the top. We do have to say that they cram way too many people in the cable car! You are wedged in like sardines.
Great views on the way up and down on the Sky Ride

The sky ride lands at a pavilion where there is a gift shop and a snack area. The walls are lined with large plaques that give you information about the mountain and its development.

The views from the top are breathtaking. Atlanta from one side and the mountains of Tennessee off in the distance from the other side.

The mountain itself resembles the moons surface! There are plenty of Rock Pools, and areas where plants and trees have taken root in the cracks.

 There are a few places where people have carved their names into the surface. Or chiseled? The letters are pretty precise and they have weathered well, they are dated 1912 and 1917.

The selfie picture has the campground area in the background!

There is an old Grist Mill and a Covered Bridge in the park. You can drive to both of them or they are also located on one of the hiking trails.

Our neighbor treated us to a little bag pipe music. They were here to participate in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which unfortunately was the morning we were driving in. The Traveling Piper, plays at many venues and events and his group has entered to be chosen to play in the St. Patrick Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. We wish him luck.

Our next stop is Asheville, NC - home once again.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

~ Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Always organizing
While this isn't necessarily an RV tip it is helpful for those that do hand embroidery work or other hand sewing. 
Nancy has a gallon zip lock bag that she stores her embroidery floss in as it saves space. Well as you can tell from the picture the strands turn into a giant mess. Pawing through it to find the right color doesn't help. She saw this tip on Pinterest and thought she would give it a try. Each skein of floss is wrapped around the clothes pin and the loose end is held in the snap part of the pin. No tangling or knotting! It is a little time consuming to wrap them but it will save a ton of time when using them. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Texas - Crystal Beach - part two

Crystal Beach

It seems that we were not supposed to leave Crystal Beach. Our original plans were to leave on February 20, 2019. We planned to head north to Texarkana to get a picture of a Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian that we missed, and then head east through Little Rock, AK back to Asheville. Upon checking the weather for our route we discovered that the temperatures would be dropping down into the 20's. If you have followed us for any length of time you know that we avoid those temperatures whenever possible.
So, we decided to stay for another week, well that turned into two weeks. We were all set to leave on March 6th but Les woke up that morning with a terrible case of vertigo so we once again extended our stay two more days. While we were sad to leave on March 8th, and we will miss this place we are excited to start our journey home to Asheville.

Part one of this stop was posted a couple of weeks ago, you can find it here.
Our extended stay allowed us some more time on the beach. The sand, the waves, the birds and the sea salt smell are like heaven.
We had so much fun combing the beach for sea glass and shells. One outing was on a very chilly morning, but fun was had by all. While we gathered glass, Mielikki made a new friend. If you notice the golf cart in the background, that is the owners of the other dog. They were "walking" the dog. LOL. Apparently they are smarter than us.

We found these interesting jelly blobs, there were well over 30 of them along the stretch we walked. Still not exactly sure what they are, but it seems they are some type of Sea Salps.

Unfortunately we continued to find more trash. These two items made us chuckle.

A cassette tape, does anyone really listen to these anymore? The CD title is The Essential Clash, which is exactly what is seems humans and the beach are engaged in!
Mielikki was just happy to be running on the beach. By the way, she is a great trash collector. She finds all the empty water bottles, of course she thinks they are toys.

Staying longer also meant we were here for the Bolivar Peninsula Mardi Gras Parade. They close Hwy 87, the only main road on the peninsula and the route came right past our campground.

It was great fun, most of the stores in the area had a float and there were a number of decorated golf carts and jeeps.

We came away with close to 150 strands of beads. No, we did not have to flash anyone to get them.
Most of the people on the floats were so happy to see Santa, aka Les, that they threw a ton of beads at him. They all kept yelling out Hey Santa!!

Two little girls in Michigan will be thrilled when they receive all of these beads.

We also spotted Elvis! He's looking pretty good.

Nancy found a painted rock outside one of the stores. She left one of her own in its place. She plans to hide this one along the way back to Asheville.

Being in desperate need of bath towels we made a trip north to Beaumont, TX to a Bed, Bath and Beyond. We also found a Goofy Muffler Man.

Of course we headed back to Galveston, again it was a chilly and foggy day. We found some wonderful Murals and Roadside Oddities.

These are all on one wall and the murals extended out onto the sidewalk.

We loved the interactive ones. Nancy turned into a Butterfly.

You even get to become a Super Hero.

The Balloon and Umbrella were equally fun!

We found a few others while driving through the rest of the Historic Strand District. 

Giant Sea Turtles are waiting for you, along with a Dalmatian. That Fire Hydrant looks big enough for him to do his business! The Giant Trumpet might be a little hard to play, but think of the sound that would come out of it. The Archway looks like a Mardi Gras display but it has been welcoming people for many years.

Port Arthur, TX is about an hour away and is the hometown of Janis Joplin and a number of interesting Roadside Oddities.

This Conch Shell Wall is claimed to be the only one outside of the Caribbean. It is at the entrance to what is now abandoned apartments. Even as it deteriorates you can see that it was beautiful in its day. It was built in 1929, the shells were imported from the Caymen Islands.

The replica of the Statue of Liberty was a Boy Scout project and she stands on the campus of Lamar State College.

The largest oddity we found was at the Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church. They have a beautiful garden full of sculptures.
The 20-foot tall Mary is standing on a globe in the center of the garden. There are statues of St. Peter, St Joseph and Vietnamese Martyrs. 

The outer wall is lined with carvings depicting various stages of Jesus's life and the crucifixion.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is a really interesting place. Filled with local and regional history dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. We were greeted like old friends and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The first thing you notice when you start your tour of the museum is the giant mural that depicts the region from dinosaurs to oil rigs.

There are plenty of hands on activities for kids of all ages. Les tried his hand at archaeology and Nancy had fun playing with the seashells. The display of wildlife was beautiful, those are alligator eggs in the grass mound. Their nests can measure 7 to 10-feet in diameter and 2 to 3-feet high. The females generally lay 35 to 50 eggs, although some have laid as many as 90. The eggs are covered in vegetation and hatch after a 65-day incubation period.

Their Music Hall of Fame is what brought us here. The room is filled with information about Texas artists. There is a jukebox so you can listen to their music while reading all about them.
You can't miss the large sculpture of Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970) when you enter the room, or the replica of her funky painted Porsche. (The original one is at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame)

Showcases are filled with memorabilia from her childhood through her short but successful career.

A birthday note to her mom inviting her to dinner and a college of pictures throughout her life were just two of the items.

We never knew that she was also a talented visual artist. The Scarecrow and Jack-O-Lantern drawings were done when she was just 10 years old, the portrait is of a friend when he received his draft notice in in the late 1960's.

 She grew up in this house. There is a historical sign on the front lawn telling the story of her life. The current owners have planted shrubs and trees for a little privacy. 
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway comes through Port Arthur.
It is a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway that stretches approximately 1,050-miles from Carrabelle, Fl to Brownsville, TX. It was busy the day we were here with barges and tugboats.

We'll leave you with a few of the sunsets we enjoyed while here.

Next up is our travels back to Asheville, NC.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Storage space or the lack there of.
As you know we have very little storage space so anything that helps give us a little more space and to be a little more organized always gets our attention.
We came across these bags one day while shopping and figured we would give them a try. We have a small cubbyhole in our bedroom. Actually there was a TV in it originally, but we got rid of that when we realized how much storage the space gave us. We store our extra sheets and blankets along with off season clothing. Which for us is generally cold weather clothes. We were using one of our mesh laundry baskets which worked but took up space.

These bags are easy to use and come in a variety of sizes. You simply fill the bag, seal the end and then vacuum the air out. This one started out at 15" high and ended up 4" high. In a tight space that is a lot of extra room.