Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fontaineblue State Park in Louisiana…

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It rained most of the night at Mcleod Park Campground in Kiln, MS but stopped early in the morning. Since we were right on the river I made my coffee and took it outside to enjoy while I fished right behind our RV. I had been craving some blackened catfish so I was bottom fishing hoping to catch some fresh filets. Well after several hours with no bites at all,  I put everything up and got the RV ready for departure.

It would be a longer drive in very cool temperatures and some drizzle on the roadways but we made our way westward into Louisiana and eventually pulled into Fontainebleau State Park. We are expecting more rain and much cooler temperatures in this area during our two night stay.

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We hiked on several of the park trails before the skies cut loose with the promised rains. There were some nice trails in the state park and a really nice little boardwalk trail that took us out into the swamp. It was closed due to hurricane damage the last time we were here so we took full advantage of the new construction.

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We really enjoyed these peaceful hikes and we found a couple of small alligators to photograph while on the boardwalk trail.  There was also a lot of evidence of feral hogs in the park as there were a lot of heavily disturbed areas due to their constant rutting in the soil for food.

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Another nice feature we enjoy in the  park is the long pier that juts out into Lake Pontchartrain. On the way to the pier we walked through several majestic Live Oaks each of which was draped in Spanish Moss. The Spanish Moss was dancing all along the oak’s branches in the blowing wind. Upon arriving waterside, we walked out to the end of the pier to take in the panoramic sights of the lake. It was nice to share some quiet time together before we move on to Betty’s RV park where there will be plenty of socializing, day tours and trips to music venues.  Let the fun begin!

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NOTE: We are now at Betty’s RV park for a month before continuing on toward Texas…

Monday, March 18, 2019

Quickly Traveling West, Avoiding Storms…

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Image may contain: bird, ocean, outdoor and waterWe packed up and left Eastbank Corps of Engineers Park just after 10:00 am and two minutes later we were back in Florida continuing our trek east across the panhandle. Three hours later we were in Alabama and pulled into a park we have stayed before called Wilderness RV Park. It is a no frills spot just fine for a one night stop over.

It was overcast but warm so we drove over to check out the town of Fairhope. We had heard good things about the town so we decided to check it out. It was a quaint little coastal town and we found a city park with a nice pier that we walked to the end of. While exploring the town and while driving through a neighborhood we stumbled upon a Hollywood film crew. A google search revealed it will be a movie called The Best Friend and will star Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson! It will be fun to look for the movie release knowing we were in town while they were filming it. Anyway, we ended our town tour at Fairhope Brewing Company and enjoyed a couple of nice brews.

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We drove back to the park and when morning came a cold front was about to come through so we pushed on westward. After several hours we pulled into a park called Mcleod Park Campground in Kiln, MS leaving us on 44 miles from our next stop. We stopped here so we could check out this interesting little county park and since rain was in the forecast, we wanted to be close to our next stop in case the skies were unfriendly to us…

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We checked with the attendant who told to pick any empty site then come back and pay. We found a fabulous one right on the water! We backed into the site and paid after setting up. It was overcast and threatening to rain. With the weather being very dicey we decided to spend the day checking out the new casino nearby.

As with most casinos the Scarlet Pearl Casino offered us $10. free play as new members. Not only that but we were also told we could have a free lunch buffet if we wanted but we had to hurry before it closed. Hurry, we did! The normally $19.95 per person buffet was really good and included items such as stuffed flounder, boiled shrimp, boiled clams, fried shrimp, roasted turkey and much much more…

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Needless to say we overate and then we remembered dessert!!! We rarely eat dessert but had to check out what they had. Wow, big mistake as we got a huge plate of tantalizing desserts and ate even more before we left. We rarely eat at buffets for the simple reason that we typical eat way too much but we would highly recommend this buffet if you like this sort of thing.

We gambled with our free play on their video poker machines and left with a little over $20. It was a great day at the casino for us… Our next stop will be at Fontaineblue State Park in Louisiana.

NOTE: We are now at Betty’s RV park for a month before continuing on toward Texas…

Saturday, March 16, 2019

We Walked Across Two States…

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We sure enjoyed our three night stay near The Villages but it was time hit the road. We will be moving a bit faster than normal since we have reservations at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana on March 16th. Therefore we drove over to Lamont Florida for just a one night stay.

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We found a nice little hike in the nearby town of Monticello Florida. The Monticello Ecological Park was a gem especially since spring is nearing as there were lots of plants in bloom. The short loop trail had a boardwalk which took us to the height of the tree canopy offering glimpses of what mostly just the birds see. It was a nice hike to end the day’s travel.

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The next day we drove to Eastbank Corps of Engineers Park just across the Georgia state line. This was a fabulous campground and we scored a beautiful site. We set up camp and took a stroll to the spillway a little over a mile away. Interestingly when we walked across the dam we crossed back into Florida meaning we walked from Georgia to Florida! Hah!

Spring was also emerging here as many early bloomers were on full display. It offered a sight of beauty in an otherwise woodland in total disarray after the hurricane blasted through last year. All around us there were many trees snapped in half  making the forest look as if it had been bombed from up above. The only reason we are camped this far north in the Florida panhandle was because our favorite campground in Mexico Beach was decimated by the hurricane as well.

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It was cloudy and threatening rain on our second day. We did however sneak another walk over to the spillway where angler’s were working hard to catch an elusive striper. The Ospreys and cormorants at the base of the dam were having much better luck catching shad and other fish than the anglers.

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Earlier in the morning the fog was thick and offered up some fun for the photographer in me as I snapped some photos of another angler trying his luck in the wee hours. I love how the grey of the fog melds with the greys in the lake to make things appear to float. Surreal….

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NOTE: We are leaving Fontainebleau State Park today and will head west to Betty’s RV park for a month before continuing on towards Texas…

Monday, March 11, 2019

Exploring The Villages in Florida…

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Moving northward we were heading toward the Villages, a well known retirement community in north central Florida. We will be there for three nights and we plan to visit two RV’ing couples we met on the road who now have homes in the Villages. One lives there fulltime while the other couple are snowbirds from Illinois.

We pulled into Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood Florida near The Villages and set up camp. We walked over  to visit our friend Jill (who had penned a blog called Two Tools and a Dream when she was RV’ing) and her new partner Roy. They had just purchased a Class B which they were trying out for the first time at Three Flags in a site near us. They invited us over to their home the next day to spend the night to give us the “insiders” view of The Villages. Awesome!

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For those that don’t know The Villages is a master-planned age-restricted community which currently spans nearly 25 miles with over 115,000 people living there. The Villages is one of the most well-known and fastest-growing retirement communities. The Villages offers numerous forms of recreation with the majority of the costs paid  via the monthly amenities fee of around $175.00.

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The Villages operates 50 golf courses with the majority (38) of them being 9-hole courses only. They also have numerous recreation centers offering pools along with bocce, horseshoe, and shuffleboard courts, billiards,  meeting rooms  tennis and pickleball courts as well as theatrical and musical productions. The Villages operates 11 parks, dog parks, and fitness trails. It also offers over 2700 social clubs for residents of the area. They even have a softball complex and a Polo field.

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The Villages brings in big name entertainment such as Willie Nelson and the Beach Boys. They even have nightly bands playing in each of their three town squares seven nights a week, 365 days a year. This place actually has its own TV station, newspaper, radio station and Town Centers.

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Jill and Roy showed us all around taking us on a golf cart tour as well. Amazingly there are  tunnels for the golf carts to go under busy roadways. That evening Jill and Roy treated us to dinner and then we checked out the rock and roll band playing in the town square where there was a big crowd enjoying dancing and libations. How great it was to experience the Villages with Jill and Roy as our guides.

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Our last day we used the passes Jill got for us to take our own self guided tour. First we took a stroll at the Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve in The Villages.  This is a nice short boardwalk hike which offers a nice relaxing stroll with lots of bird activity in and along the water. Afterward we stopped in for a short visit to say hi to our friends the Parhams who just moved into The Villages this winter. Sadly Steve was out of town but we still had a great chat with Diane who gave us a tour of her new 3 bedroom villa with a glassed-in lanai.  She said she and Steve were loving it there.

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Our last evening we checked out another square for the nightly entertainment and happy hour. Sharon could easily see herself living in this place and while I admit it is  pretty incredible it still isn’t for me. Lacking mountains and/or a beach nearby are pretty much deal breakers to me, but who knows what our future will be on the road of retirement…

NOTE: We are at Eastbank Corp of Engineer park on the Georgia/Florida border and moving west to Robertsdale Alabama for one or two nights depending upon the weather…

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Lake Louisa State Park in Florida…

Once again it was time to leave so we hit the road and headed inland toward Orlando where our next stop would be at Lake Louisa State Park. We were only able to get two nights but we were happy to be able to check out this new, to us, area. We pulled into site 60 and set things up.

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Lake Louisa SP is another large Florida state park with lots of trails. While the campground is not actually on Lake Louisa there are numerous smaller lakes within the borders of the state park and we checked several of them out.

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We also drove over to the nature trail along the banks of Lake Louisa. The few miles we hiked were pleasant but we were a bit disappointed that we were unable to see the lake from the trail. Spring is just beginning here and even though we drove just a short distance we could see the difference in the vegetation and its response to spring. There was much less greenery and fewer wildflowers blooming.

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A cold front blew throughout the area overnight and we woke up to some very chilly temperatures at around 40 degree F. We decided not to do any walking in the morning until it warmed up a bit. With unfavorable weather we decided to drive over to Lakeland Florida to check out the town and a small local brewery.

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Before going to Lakeland we stopped at the Aldi grocery store in Clermont Fl. to get some last minute staples. Lakeland is a neat little town that appears to growing and the downtown area seemed to have great potential.We strolled around town a bit and discovered a few pieces of art scattered around. Then we ended up at the Swan Brewery. We ordered a flight of beers to sample before deciding upon a pint of our favorite.

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As we were enjoying our beers we struck up a conversation with the people sitting around us, a few locals and a really nice couple from Chicago. We really enjoyed chatting with the couple from Chicago and told them a bit about our nomadic lives.

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Even funnier after we left the brewery and went back home Lizabeth tagged Sharon on her Facebook post of pictures she took at a Craft Coffee Shop where on display was a book called Living the RV Life and beside it was a display of Angel’s Landing Trail at Zion which she told us is on her bucket list.  Since we had just been talking about RV’ing and about Angel’s trail in Utah, she figured these displays must have been a sign… I have to admit it was a little weird they came across those items right after taking to us…  it must  truly be a sign of their future…

NOTE: We left Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood Florida on Saturday and spending one night near Tallahassee…