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The Happy Wanderers

Our adventures.

March 2005 Travel Log

3/30: The other day, we took another scenic drive along the Florida coast to Destin, FL. It's spring break time Maxwell Famcamp, ALfor the schools and the roads were crowded! It was a beautiful sunny, but windy day. We observed more damage from the hurricane, especially along the outer islands. We also saw a new water sport (for us). Did you ever hear of "kite surfing"? Don't get this confused with wind surfing. As this picture shows, the surfer is actually on a large ski controlling a large kite. He could have stayed out there surfing "skiing?" for hours. It was neat to watch him get lifted 20' - 30'Kite Surfing in the air at times. Yesterday was a travel day, moving north to Montgomery, Alabama. We're currently at the Maxwell AFB family campground. It's full and we ended up dry camping. But we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful parking spot. This picture was taken out our front door. We're loving listening to all of the song birds, as well as a nearby waterfall. Too bad the serenity is interrupted once and awhile by a nearby train or plane taking off.

3/26: The surrounding area around Pensacola, FL, was recently hit hard with a hurricane. We've seen many (hundreds) houses with blue plastic on their roof, waiting for a new roof. But yesterday, we drove along the coast at Perdido Key and saw some real destruction. Large hotels and resorts on the beach have been demolished and houses blown over. It seems 90% of the buildings are either destroyed or being repaired. This may have effected tourism this year, but it didn't stop many people from heading to the beaches. We found the brilliant white sands of the beach real appealing. We could just imagine everyone getting severe sunburns on this white sand.

At times, we find ourselves enjoying watching the "Travel Channel" on television. Last month, we watched a show about the best dining places to pig out in America. We're only 20 miles from one of the featured restaurants, Lambert's Cafe in Foley, Alabama. This is the home of the "throwed rolls". We skipped lunch and headed over there for an early dinner. They serve huge meal portions, along with all you can eat "pass arounds" and, of course, hot rolls thrown to you. Periodically, they come through the dining room passing out fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, black eyed peas, tossing hot rolls, and more. Luckily, we didn't stuff ourselves too much. A fun dining experience.

3/22: $276 later, and the Jeep's driveshaft has been completely rebuilt. Actually, I was lucky. Stan, at Stan's Drivetrains was able to squeeze me into his busy schedule. He took care of my problem after a couple hours of work. We left Gulfport, Mississippi this morning and arrived at the Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area outside of Pensacola, Florida this afternoon. Again driving the smaller "red" roads, we noticed how much this part of the country decorates for Easter. Many of the small towns and homes had tons of Easter decorations along the roads, at parks, and in their front yards.

When we started out this morning, the weather was dark and gray. It looked like we were in for a day of thunderstorms. Old Bronson FieldBy the time we stopped for the day, it was bright and sunny and very warm. This Naval Recreation area is at the site of the old Bronson Naval Air Station. Between 1942 and 1946, this field was used as a seaplane airbase (among other things). It's now a large recreationBlue Angel Naval Recreation Area area. Our RV spot is right next to tarmac where the seaplanes were parked. We're overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the parking area, the large ramps from the ocean are still here that the seaplanes used. We have 5 weeks until we start work camping in the Adirondack mountains of upper New York. We'll be staying here for the next week, exploring this part of Florida. Then we'll start heading North again.

3/20: A couple days ago, we moved 85 miles East to Gulfport, Mississippi. A pretty tourist town, located on the gulf. As usual, we took state and county roads (the red roads) to get here, staying away from the large Interstate freeway. We drove through many bayous and crossed many draw bridges. These narrow bridges were an experience, as our large motorhome barely fit down them. We drove down the center and had about 2 feet left on each side of us, hoping nobody would come at us head on. After settling down at the Navy Construction Battalion family campground in Gulfport, we took a drive to Biloxi, MS. But something was very wrong with the Jeep! We had been having a small vibration and I knew a lower control arm bushing needed to be replaced. But we now had a serious and strong vibration. We tracked down a 4WD shop and had the bushing replaced, but they also showed me where the driveshaft was real loose. Something was wrong internally with the CV joint ball (multiple joints because of the lift kit). The local driveshaft shop was closed until Monday, so we're extending our stay here for a couple more days. We plan to be at this shop first thing tomorrow morning and hope they can fix or replace our driveshaft the same day.

3/17: Although the rain hasn't let up much, we spent most of yesterday touring the French QuarterJackson Square, New Orleans of New Orleans. It was still pretty busy and had the charm that we expected. We also bought day passes for the transit system and rode a couple trolleys all around town. We enjoyed lunch of 'Po Boy' sandwiches and a bowl 'Gumbo' along the Riverwalk and strolled through the French Market area. Of course, we had to take a walk down Bourbon Street. Larry wasn't New Orleansdisappointed, either. Even though Marde Gras has already passed, women were still flashing the guys to get some bead necklaces tossed down from the balconies. These bead necklaces were everywhere along the main streets! Obviously as a result of the recent parades, bead necklaces are caught in the trees, on stop signals, on power lines, on roofs, everywhere!

3/15: We've mostly been relaxing these past few days (actually, everyday is relaxing). We took a drive to go find the "Rip Van Winkle" gardens and have a picnic lunch. Never did find them, so returned to the Abbeville town center and had lunch there. Our highlight for the day was to go to a Cajun Jam session at a local bar. They were known for their afternoon jam sessions. Wow! The place was packed and the music loud. I don't know if we would ever learn to understand this unique Cajun language. We never could tell what the band was singing or talking about. We stuck around Betty's RV Park for an extra day, since we heard Boomer friends Jim Baker and Diane Fischer were coming in. We first met them at the October 2004 Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta when we started our full timing adventure. Since then, we've run into them numerous times.

During our stay ay Betty's RV Park, we saw hundreds of mud mound in people's yards. We found out the Crawfish live under ground because of the shallow water table. They create these mounds by pushing the mud up. Guess that's why crawfish are called "Mudbugs". Strange looking little holes. Yesterday, we drove to New Orleans, LA and we are staying at the Naval Support Station FamCamp. It's conveniently located near the ferry, directly across the river from the French Quarter. After arriving on base, we stopped for gas. We left the home door and screen open and a friendly/curious mocking bird hopped into the motorhome. That was exciting trying to get him out.

3/12: Friends had told us about a real friendly RV park in Cajun country. So we specifically headedBetty's RV Park to Abbeville, LA to visit Betty's RV Park. Betty has turned her yard into a small RV park, now room for about a dozen rigs. We arrived at happy hour and were made to feel right at home. Later, she provided Duck Gumbo for everyone, while we brought a salad. Being a small park, everyone instantly became friends. We spent yesterday touring around. We visited the small town of Rayne, Rayne Muralthe Frog capitol. This small town has frog murals painted everywhere, but we didn't see any frogs. We find the cemeteries here interesting. Because of the very damp ground, tombs are built above ground. The Christian cemetery in Rayne was alsoRayne Cemetery different, in that the tombs face North and South. Christian cemeteries normally follow a tradition to have graves face East. We stopped for lunch in Rayne and had some good 'ole Cajun food. Later, we drove down to Avery Island and toured the Tabasco factory. It was interesting, but not much of a tour. You watched some movies and saw a little bit of the factory. Since there was no charge, we really can't complain. But Larry felt it was more of a large Tabasco commercial than a tour.

3/9: We left Livingston, TX a few days ago and moved to Boosier City, LA. We're staying at Barksdale AFB, which is where Larry retired from in 1997. We had dinner with Connie's old boss the other night. Dr. Ike House and Robin treated us to a wonderful steak dinner at their lovely home. Larry met with some people he used to work with at the base, and last night, we had dinner with Connie's old co-workers, Jerry and Barbara Driskell. It seems it's rained every other day. The Air Force campground is nice, with a B52 bomber flying periodically overhead (the sound of freedom). We've also been taking care of our chores again (groceries and laundry). Larry's digital camera is over 4 years old and has been acting finicky lately. So we purchased a new, small digital camera. They sure can pack a lot of power into a small camera now, and for a fairly good price. Being around here has brought back some fond memories of our 5 years we lived here. Not much has changed in this southern town. In a couple days, we'll move further south into Cajun country near Lafayette, LA. No more water leaks in our home, the satellite dish is fixed, and we're free gypsies touring this wonderful nation on our terms. Life doesn't get much better than this.

3/5: In addition to our stubborn water leak being fixed, the Internet Satellite also appears to be working properly again. For the past few weeks, the 2-way Internet Satellite system would randomly drop the connection. While here in Livingston, TX, an installer came out and struggled to find the cause and fix it. It took a few hours and he never did find out the root cause of the problem. At one point, he thought it was fixed because it was working again. As soon as he packed up and reached for the door handle, it went out. He tried more fixes and swapping certain equipment. It started working again and he packed up and left. 5 minutes later, it went out again. When I called him, he turned around and came back. This time, he replaced the LNB on the dish itself. Either that fixed the problem, or I've been lucky. The system has remained operational now for over 36 hours. Let's hope it really is fixed. MotoSAT covered the labor and parts under warranty, but I had to pay for the service call since he drove 60 miles to get to me.

When we got our new Texas driver's licenses, there was a discrepancy between Connie's legal name. When we got married and she got a new Social Security card, she used her nickname of "Connie" on it. However, her legal name is "Constance", which everything else reflects. Mostly due to increased security in the nation, we were warned that Texas would send us a 'nasty letter' before she could get her final driver's license. They gave her a temporary license, but told us to get the Social Security records corrected ASAP. We drove 45 miles to Lufkin, TX to the nearest Social Security office to have this taken care of. Wow! We were shocked to walk into a government office and be the only people there. It was nice to go directly to the counter, and the people were extremely nice as well! The problem was fixed with no hassles. In Phoenix, this would have taken hours and been a frustrating experience.

Yesterday, we took a leisurely drive down to Houston to visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center. This unique glass structure is 3 stories high and contains a rainforest and waterfall with over a thousand butterflies. They fly around everywhere, including landing on us. There were some very pretty and unique butterflies and moths in the exhibit. The center also included displays of various other insects and a large entomology museum collection of thousands of insects. Some looked pretty intimidating. While in Houston, we also picked up the copied newsletters for our Boomer group. We're the 'publishers' for this group, which involves getting about 450 ten page newsletters copied, folded, addressed, stamped, and mailed out each month. We volunteered for this job as a way to get involved.

3/2: Yee-Haw! We're now legally Texans! Our main goal in coming here to Livingston, TX was to change our residence from Arizona to Texas. To establish our "domicile", we registered the motorhome and the Jeep here, got Texas driver's licenses, changed our insurance to Texas, and are registered to vote here. When (if) we get tired of traveling, we may settle down again in this area. There's a lot of information available on choosing your domicile. If you have any specific This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., we'll be glad to explain why we chose Texas.

The other reason we came here was to visit the Escapee RV Club headquarters. I've mentioned the Escapee's many times. We took a tour of the RV park, learned a lot about the history of Escapee's, met the founder of the club, the CEO, and the president. We also toured their huge private mailroom, with over 19,000 mail users. They move so much mail through here daily, the Escapees have their own zip code. We use the Escapee mail service, and saw our mailbox (actually a folder). We've also been trying to get on the daily tour of the Escapee CARE center. This is an assisted living center for RV'ers. CARE stands for Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees. Who knows, we may be living in CARE someday. But we've been so busy, we haven't had the time to make the tour. Hopefully we will soon.

I've been having some problems with my Internet satellite dish. Sporadically, it'll loose the receive signal, which causes the system to also loose the transmit. The problem can last only a few minutes, or a few hours. An installer is supposed to be out here tomorrow to review my problem. Connie also wants to go into Houston for a day to visit the Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science. We had originally planned to leave here on Sunday, but we may stick around a few days longer. Other than the rain we've had almost everyday. Oh yea, I think my hidden leak in the air conditioner is fixed. Yippee!!! We're enjoying the area. We even ran into some more Boomer friends we haven't seen since last October.

Location (Map)

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April 2005 Travel Log
February 2005 Travel Log
 

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

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