Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11 - 17, 2015 TX, LA

Monday, May 11, TX, LA.  All night long, I pondered whether to get up early and go through Houston before rush hour or to leave later on and hope to miss it then.  Well, I was awake by 5:00, so made coffee, disconnected and headed out by 6:00.  That is a good thing since my destination, Betty's RV Park is expecting me before 2:00 (Betty has an evening at the casino planned).  Other than some very heavy traffic and slow going around Katy, I slipped right through and it was not nearly as bad as what I expected.  Yay!

I felt a real sense of relief when I finally crossed the state line into Louisiana.  It takes a long time to get through Texas, like 900 miles of long time.

I arrived at Betty's at noon and she wasn't there - guess she hadn't  listened to her messages.  I called and she told me to hold tight and she would return shortly.  I knocked on the door of Jim and Nancy's rig - a couple that we met back in 2008 at Watersedge RV in Rockport, TX.  They became friends with Alan and Sharon and we have connected a few times when they are traveling through Arizona.  We had a short chat and I learned that they were in on the Casino trip with Betty, so we will have to chat more tomorrow.  Betty got back, I got registered, and she guided me into my spot.  I got all hooked up just in time for a big storm to hit and now I have lakefront property.  I'm looking forward to happy hour, as that is one of Betty's claims to fame.

I showed up for happy hour and nobody was there, but later on I heard laughter and went over to join the group.  There, I met couples from San Diego, Miami, Knoxville, TN, and Minneapolis. We had a pretty lively conversation and then it was time to settle in for the night.  It rained and rained and rained most of the night, but I stayed dry, no leaks in the little Pipsqueak.

Tuesday, May 12, LA.  I used my shower for the first time this morning.  What a production that is!  Remove everything that can't get wet, put the shower curtain up, get the water heater running, and open the drain in the outside (the shower drain does not go into the gray water tank but drains directly to the outside).  I set a bucket under the drain, then emptied that into the sewer when I was all done.  The handheld shower worked well and then everything had to be put back where it belongs.  The good thing is that the entire bathroom got a good wipe down and clean up.  I will use the facility showers whenever I can, but Betty's doesn't have a public restroom, you have to be self contained.

I was running out of undies, so a trip to the laundromat was high on the list of things to do today.  And then I thought that I have to do some sightseeing, so I found my way to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens (you might have to copy and paste the link in your browser) in New Iberia.  The road leading to the gardens is lined with majestic live oaks and off to the left I could see blotches of white and pink in the trees - Snowy Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills.  I had to pull over and get a closer look.  I wasn't the only one who made the stop and a man greeted me and pointed out the very large alligator that was sunning himself on the shore of the lake.  The trees were alive with the movements of the birds.

I strolled the gardens, passing several peacocks and even a raccoon scurried past me.  The gardens brought back lots of memories of my master gardener days in Florida.  I saw lots of Bamboo, Ginger, Azalea, Jasmine, Ferns and even a huge patch of Elephant Ear.  I sat in the Jefferson Cafe and had a nice lunch of Shrimp Moulenade (fresh greens topped with a hard cooked egg, tomato, and seasoned shrimp and a Creole Horseradish dressing).  It was served with a yummy yeast roll fresh out of the oven.

    Snowy Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills. The gator is hidden by the tall grass.

    Elephant Ears - one if my all time favorite tropical plants - and Ginger

My view from the cafe.  Many of you won't understand this, but it was awkward for me - the first time that I have sat in a restaurant by myself since Mike died.  It is just something that I have chosen not to do, although today my choice was to have a nice meal alone or not at all.  It was enjoyable and hopefully, I am over that hump now and won't hesitate to do it again.  My salad was scrumptious and there was enough left over for another meal.

Happy hour was fun tonight.  I think it is so cool how you can meet someone for the first time and just get right into having some good conversation and lots of laughs.  Most everyone left happy hour to watch The Voice to see how the local 17 year old did.  She is in the top 5 contestants and all of Abbeville was casting their vote for her.  I didn't watch - couldn't get that channel, so I don't know the outcome,

Betty and I at Happy Hour - thanks Jim, for the photo.

Wednesday, May 13 - LA, MS, AL - 315 miles.  Happy Birthday to my brother, Rick, who turned 61 years old today.

Jim and Nancy saw me off this morning and I was on the road by 8:30.  Before leaving Abbeville, I stopped to have my tires checked and a couple on the car were a little low, but the trailer was fine.  Just east of Abita Springs, LA, the trailer brakes locked up and I came to a rapid stop alongside I-10.  None of the alarm indicators on my car went off, so the trouble had to be with the trailer.  I was a little freaked and afraid to get out of the car.  You know that you are supposed to pull into a left lane when you see an emergency or distressed vehicle on the road - well, not many people know that rule and very few of them went around me.  I called AAA and that was a disappointment - it would be 1.5-2 hours before a tow truck could get to me and all I wanted was for someone to check things out. I guess that isn't what AAA is for and I'm not sure I will renew it next year, since I have roadside assistance on my auto and trailer insurance.  While I had a woman on the phone, I got out the passenger side of the car and found both tires ok but the brake cutoff had gotten caught in the chains and told the trailer to stop.  I fixed that and was back on the road again.  I learned something here - that cable needs to be added to the checklist before taking off.

I arrived at the Azalea Acres RV Park in Robertsfsy, AL for the night.  The park is brand new and I got a nice pull through site for the night for $16.00 with my Passport America discount.  I'm going to have something to eat, take a shower, and veg out for the night.  Getting to Jonnie's house tomorrow will be about 100 miles longer than today - a long stretch.

Thursday, May 14, AL, FL -   It was a long day on the road, as I traveled 100 miles longer than what I had been driving most days.  I got to Jonnie's about 4:30 and my odometer reads 2,240 miles since leaving Mesa.  I'm feeling very fortunate that I have had no car troubles or trailer troubles along the way - knock on wood.

I got settled in and plugged in and I think the trailer will have to be my room since Frisco is all keyed up knowing that there is a kitty here.  I will have to keep him tethered because I know he won't be nice to the kitty.  Jonnie got home from work and we picked up where we left off and talked through the night while watching HGTV.

Just as I thought, there is no wifi here, so I may have to go to the ATT store to see what my options are.  Signal strength on my phone is pretty good, so I may just have to use it as a hotspot.

Got the road grime cleaned off the car and trailer.  Did I ever tell you how well dryer sheets work for removing bugs and road grime? Try it sometime - just enough texture for scrubbing and leaves a thin layer of softener so it all comes off easy the next time. 

Sunday, May 18.  I did go to the AT&T store on Saturday and bought a Velocity Hot Spot.  Mike would be upset that I relinquished my unlimited data plan for this, but looking back, I don't use very much at all, so I think I will be fine.  Like the salesman said, "You are paying for the buffet but only eating the salad".  I know, they would say anything to make a sale.  This will replace my cable internet at home, so shouldn't be a problem for me.

We went to the flea market and grocery store on Saturday and I grilled us some pork chops for dinner. Mike, Val, and Amber stopped by for a chat that evening - they are neighbors that we became friends with while living here.

We've gotten in some good walks.  Yesterday, we saw Bluebirds, a beautiful hawk, and lots of squirrels and geckos.

Today, I got together with Mike's sister, Patty and Hobe and we took a drive through Oak Run so I could see my old house.  Not much has changed in the neighborhood.  In fact, one of my neighbors was doing some pruning in her yard, so I had a nice chat with her and may try to connect one more time before I leave.  Then we went to the square in Ocala and had lunch and Harry's, a local landmark and a favorite place that Mike and I used to go to.  We also strolled the Shalom Gardens that is near their home.