Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Catching up....stops in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and into Illinois

We left the Valdosta, Ga area after the graduation and headed north to a COE park in northern Ga. We had a great site with a lake view. The park is very large so we were able to get our steps in every day. 

Our view under the awning

Wildlife as we walked in the morning

We had a short stop in northern Mississippi at Piney Grove COE. We've been here before but it was the off season and we had the  loop to ourselves. Not this time. Kids are out of school and it was a weekend. We only stayed 2 nights so we did our walks and got some laundry done at the laundry they have in the park. We couldn't get level in the site we reserved but got to the park early enough to change sites. Much more level and a little longer. There's hardly any internet in most areas of the park so we didn't communicate too much while there. Glad we weren't there longer.

Then we moved on into Kentucky and another COE park. Canal COE is in an area called Land between the Lakes. It's near Paducah, Ky. This area is huge for fishing but I don't fish. There are folks pulling boats everywhere. The area has seen better days. There are remnants of days gone by where tourism was big. Many roadside motels and places to eat. However things look run down.

We did come across a fairly new brew pub. The Dam Brewhaus is in an old home that was remodeled with tables, bar and of course beer taps. They have several different beers so I had a flight....a couple IPA's, a Porter and a Stout. It was early afternoon so we were the only people in the brewpub. However after about 30 minutes a few other guys came in and we started some conversation. It was nice to mingle with the locals.

Again the site we reserved would not accommodate us so Glenda quickly went back to the gate house and got our site changed. We were closer to the gate house and for some reason a family of deer would come walking or running by in the mornings and the afternoons. They were very tame and would only move along when someone got a little too close.

The deer really liked the grass on the other side of the road

We continued to get our walks in everyday and noticed some sites that only a van or very small camper get into. The driveway into the sites were very steep and angled.

Then on one of our walks we came across an area near a boat dock. Turns out it was a group camping area. There were a few other Class A's and trailers in the group area since there was no group occupying the sites. We wish we would have known this because we found a site we would have loved to have.
Site 106....We would be facing the water with no one in front of us. 

Looking back from the dock at #106

We had a nice stay there but probably would not return in the future. Then it was on to Illinois.

We had a reservation at Bo Wood COE about 3 miles south of Sullivan, IL. We have been here numerous times in the past and it's one of our favorite parks in IL. We would come here on weekends when we still worked in Bloomington, IL. It's only about 80 south of where we lived so a long weekend was always great. We didn't have to be off the site until 3 pm on departure days.

This trip we snagged #106....I think we like that number. IT was FHU and only $12/night with the Senior Pass for the NP's .

This was a perfect base for visiting family and friends in Bloomington/Normal. I was able to share some time with my brother at Destihl Brewpub and Catch up on his travels and ours. My brother has been very busy this winter with a trip to the British Virgin Islands to go sailing, a trip to the Netherlands and a sailing adventure from the BVI's to Bermuda and then on to Norfolk,VA and the Chesapeake Bay. He hooked up with some guys bringing their sailboats back to the states in what is called...a rally. There were about 30 boats in the rally. Not a race just everyone sailing together as they traveled back. He told me it was boring and exciting. Think about're surrounded by open seas for several days. I get it. The next day we had lunch at he and his girlfriends house. Nancy prepared some wonderful cheese and crackers, veggies and dip. For lunch we had a delicious salad.

Then we got together with our friends Richard and Brenda. We've known them for many years and we always make time to see them. They tried to get some other folks together however Betsy was the only one that could make it on short notice. Brenda served us some delicious cake and we had a wonderful conversation as we caught up. On a sad note...our friend Betsy had lost her husband recently and we hadn't had a chance to pay our respects. It was a bittersweet reunion.

Brenda, Richard, Glenda, Betsy and Me

After a week at Bo Wood COE we moved on to Indiana to see our daughter, Sommer, Todd and some of the grandkids. WE stopped for 3 nights at the Elkhart Campground and then moved over to the Elkhart Fairgrounds in Goshen, IN. We're making this our base for the next 3 weeks.

We had a graduation party for Brooklyne  but I didn't get photos. We went bowling and I didn't get photos. So I will give more of an update soon as I try to get some photos of the family to share. In a couple days we'll be driving to our daughter, Heather's home in Bartlett, IL for a few days to visit.

Again I'll share more soon as we continue our visiting here in the Midwest. Sorry for the brief synopsis but like I said.....I'm trying to catch up. Thanks for following along.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Granddaughter Brooklyne graduates High School in Georgia

Beach time is over and we have a graduation to attend. The temperatures in the SE have been brutal with highs near or at 100 degrees. Somewhat unusual for this time of year. We arrived the day before the graduation and got set up at the River Park RV Park in Valdosta, Ga. About 2 miles from the graduation venue.  Our daughter , Sommer, Brooklyne's mom and her family had a hotel room near the RV park. Brooklyne lives in Georgia with her father and Sommer and the other family members live in Indiana. Jasmyne, the oldest granddaughter and her friend Brenna also came from Henderson, NV to see Brooklyne graduate. We were only missing Heather and her family and Chris and Kendra.

We called Sommer and then drove over to the hotel to greet everyone. We haven't seen them since December so it was a great get together. We went out by the hotel pool and hung out catching up on what's been going on. Brooklyne came to the hotel from her dad's house in Hahira to greet us too.

Jasmyne, Ryleigh, Brooklyne and Caden

The next day we got together with everyone at Egg and I restaurant for breakfast. Brooklyne highly recommended the place and we were not disappointed. After breakfast we went to the hotel and hung out for a while then it was time to get ready for the graduation ceremony.

This year in the Southeast it's been very hot and humid and the graduation was outside at the Bazemore-Hyder Stadium at Valdosta State University. Unfortunately the temps at 7 pm were still around 100 degrees and there wasn't much wind. In addition the bleachers were completely full of families celebrating the graduation of their sons and daughter, nieces, nephews, grandsons and daughters.

Finally as the ceremony started the sun began to dip low enough that we were able to begin the drying out process.

The stadium was a great venue even with the heat and humidity. The graduating class of 2019 began to file into the seats on the field and the speakers began to speak on the futures of the graduates.

The gang down the row

Set up for the graduation

Brooklyne came up on the video screen as a finalist in a pageant

Brooklyne filing in

Got the diploma

Hello....I'm a High School Graduate now

Sommer and Brooklyne

Ryleigh, Brooklyne, Jasmyne and Caden

Proud Grandpa and Grandma with Brooklyne

Yes, as you can tell from the photo of Sommer and Brooklyne, she is a very tall young lady. She certainly is headed for higher places in her future.

Brooklyne graduated with honors and participated in numerous activities in school earning here additional credits. Brooklyne is planning on getting her bachelors degree and then going on to law school. She's a very bright young lady and has so much ambition. We couldn't be prouder.

The following day Brooklyne spent time with her dad and we hung out at the hotel by the pool for some time. We then had some dinner at a local steakhouse.

We got together on our last day by trying to get out of an escape room. It's harder than you think. 
They give you no real clues until after the first 15 minutes. You have to figure out different combinations to locks in the room on different items. When you unlock an item it gives you another clue to help you in opening the final lock to escape the room. We came close but in the hour they give you to succeed we were still about 3-4 clues away. It was great fun and would like to try another one someday. It's hard to get 9 people to work together sometimes. 

We finished our visit that day with some Cajun Snowballs at Snow-pocolyse. It's Italian shaved ice with syrup flavorings. Delicious. 

Well we made it to the graduate, we didn't melt in the heat and we got to see our second oldest granddaughter graduate high school. Always a great time with family and to celebrate an accomplishment like this. We have a couple more years until the next graduation....That's going to be Caden. 

Now we begin our trek northward to visit to see Heather, Paul and Aiden in Illinois and Sommer, Todd and the family again in Indiana. More on our trek northward soon. Thanks for following along. 

Mississippi, NOLA, Gulf Shores and seafood

We continued our travels into Mississippi and stopped for a few days in Waveland, MS. We stayed at Buccaneer SP. Seafood was the order of the day then and it was again this stop. . This is a park we've been to a couple times before. Our last time here was with our friends, Faye and Dave from The Wandering Camels. I enjoy crawfish as you have read but while in the area we had a craving for Royal Red Shrimp. Reds are found much further out in the Gulf and much deeper so they tend to be a little more expensive than Gulf Shrimp. The really great thing about them is they taste similar to lobster. Of course much smaller but still extremely tasty. Our first purchase was at The Blind Tiger restaurant in Bay St. Louis just down the road from the park. The Blind Tiger steams the Reds and you can order a pound with corn on the cob and potatoes. There is enough to share.

They put some seasoning on all the seafood and it really spices up the taste. Of course Glenda had her Diet Coke to go with it. And you know where she gets it.

Seafood was not the only thing we were looking forward to in Mississippi. The Gulf is right out the front of the park and they have a great walking/bike path along the shore. We enjoyed walking each day to get our steps in. The area was devastated several years ago by Hurricane Katrina but home along the gulf front are being rebuilt. These are home on stilts and worth between a half million to well over multimillion dollars.

We loved our beach time and had great weather while there. 

When we have been in this area of Mississippi we're also close to New Orleans, La. We never thought about stopping in NOLA because we thought it might be crowded, dirty, smelly or dangerous. 

Well this time we decided we're going to go and see what it really is like. Glenda did some research on what we might want to see and where we should go. We drove to the Basin Station Visitor Center and found easy parking for $20/day. We stopped at the Visitor Center for a map and some information and headed toward the French Quarter. 

As we started into the French Quarter we did get a  little whiff of urine however it was brief and we started to see the architecture of the area. We did come across a couple of homeless men on the sidewalk and we did happen to see a couple men share a needle. I'm sure this could be seen in a lot of other large cities in the country. We continued on and enjoyed seeing some buildings that we'd seen on TV or movies. Very unique. 

As we walked we came to Jackson Square where there were artists selling their paintings and crafts.

Through Glenda's research we were looking for Café du Monde. She read about the beignets which were brought to NOLA by the Acadians. Their a fired fritter sometimes filled with fruit. It's a square piece of dough deep fried and covered with powdered sugar. As you can see from the photo below(which still does not show how long the line really was) the line was long to get beignets and coffee.

As we hesitated in getting into the line we saw a sign for Monty's on the Square. A restaurant that had their version of a beignet which was a beignet fry. We went inside and got a table and ordered a late breakfast/early lunch. The beignet fry that they sell is fired dough in the shape of French fries. It's the same beignet only in strips not a square piece of dough.

Our meals with Beignet Fries

The food was delicious and the service was excellent. We took our time eating and enjoyed watching people pass by the restaurant. 

After our fantastic meal we took a walk around the square and relished the history and architecture. 

St. Louis Cathedral
 This link will take you to a site with more information on Jackson Square  and the history.

Then as we walked through the French Quarter we came across a shoe store with these shoes at 20% off.

Statues abound through out the town

Came across these young boys playing the bucket drums....they were very good. And looking for donations. 

Glenda also found the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture so we walked our way to the museum and paid $12 each for view the many and varied costumes that have been worn in the Mardi Gras parades. We even put a couple masks on for fun. 

The costumes were so elaborate and colorful. It was worth the price of admission for sure. 

Then we decided to take a ride on a bus that routes you through different areas of NOLA to see homes and where cruise ships dock. 

Many different characters through out the town.

We were having a wonderful time and with all the walking and riding it was time for an early dinner before heading back home to the park. 

Glenda and again used her magic phone and checked reviews for restaurants around the French Quarter. We had our choice of 2-3 places but the one that got the best reviews was Acme Oyster House. They actually have a few restaurants in Louisiana and Alabama. 

We got to the restaurant and there was a line of about 15-20 people standing outside. This was 4 pm in the afternoon. We knew it had to be good. 

It didn't take long to get in and to our table. Our waiter was a young man that we enjoyed chatting with and was very attentive with good suggestions on what items to order. 

We had both raw and charbroiled oysters as appetizers. Both were delicious. Glenda then ordered a seafood platter and I tried the Gumbo. Great choices and filled so up perfectly. 

As we left the restaurant and started back to our car we came across a parade. This is a tradition in NOLA where couples getting married will hire bands and have the wedding party and wedding goers parade down the street in celebration.

Enjoy this video

We're so happy we made the decision to make the trip to NOLA and experience the town and culture. It was a fun filled exhausting day and well worth it. Something we needed to do. 

Our last night in Waveland we drove over to Pass Christian Harbor and ate at Shaggy's Harbor Grill. It's outdoor seating with a view of the marina and pier. The waiter was very pleasant and we had good conversation. More oysters and a variety of seafood. 

Another wonderful visit to Waveland, MS and Buccaneer SP. Now it's on to Gulf Shores, AL and our stop at Gulf SP. 

This is another stop we've made on our only about 3-4 years ago and just a couple years ago with Faye and Dave, you know, The Wandering Camels. Anyway, since we're on our way to GA for the graduation this is a perfect stop to get some more seafood and beach time. 

The beaches there are pure white and the surf is nice for some easy body surfing. We had a FHU pull through site on the canal loop We had a site on that loop once before. Nice breeze off the water and morning sun on the awning side. 

Each day we would walk the loops in the park and on the numerous boardwalks that have been built to accommodate additional access to areas of the park. The only disappointing part is this time of year there are tons of biting flies that annoy you as walk in certain areas. 

The park is very large with over 800 sites and many loops to walk or ride your bike through. 

They also have a large laundry which is very convenient. Yes, we did some laundry while there. 

Of course we still hadn't gotten all our seafood fix so we found a market a couple miles away and bought some Royal Reds and Scallops. They steam them in the market for you and we bought some corn and potatoes to go with. Everything was very yummy. 

The market also had gumbo and crawfish etouffee' so we bought some to eat over rice. We went back and bought more before we left the area so we could freeze for another time. 

Well we were also there to get our beach fix and we only had 2 days to get it before moving on to Georgia and the graduation. 

Gulf SP has it's own beach access parking lot so if you're staying at the park you don't need to pay for parking. 

We found a spot and walked across the boardwalk access to the beach and set up our umbrella and chairs and took in all the beach had to offer. 

Of course I had to get wet and see if I could ride a few waves. The surf was rolling pretty well with the on shore winds and tides that day. Waves were about 3-4 feet high. Glenda had to get a few shots of me in action. 

So much fun and exhausting. The waves really beat you up as you fight the current and pounding into the beach.

I love the desert but sometimes you have to change things up a bit.

This is a wonderful place to spend some time if you like beaches and white sand and still be in the USA. 

Got a new beach hat...I like it

What a great view

We got our beach time in even as abbreviated as it was but we made the most of it.  Our last evening before moving on to Georgia we stopped for dinner at a place that got good reviews and was right on the water. Unfortunately the food wasn't what we expected but the views were good. 

We did our best to enjoy the places we visited and get the most out of them. Very happy we decided to make the trip to NOLA and that experience. The seafood was awesome and looking forward to getting back again some day. 

We have a graduation to attend and it's time to go. Thanks for following along.