Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Back to Betty’s Web in Abbeville Louisiana…


No trip through Louisiana would be complete without our annual stop at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville. Leaving New Orleans we took highway 90 to State Route 14 to avoid Interstate 10 all together. I love driving the back roads so much more than the boring truck infested interstate highways. With only the minor inconveniences of a few traffic lights and some small towns we pulled into Betty’s shortly after lunch.

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Because we arrived on a weekend we hit the ground running and drove up with several other RV’ers to the town of Breaux Bridge for an early morning at Buck and Johnny’s Zydeco breakfast. We have been to a Zydeco breakfast in Breaux Bridge before but it was at Café Des Amis which we discovered had closed down.  Apparently soon afterward Buck and Johnny’s began offering their own Zydeco breakfast. While the breakfast wasn't really anything special the Zydeco music and the energy in the place was definitely top notch!

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I mentioned we come here annually but actually we didn’t come through last year because of unexpected RV repairs we had to have done in Red Bay Alabama after some framing fell out. Anyway we were very happy to be able to return and get caught up again in Betty’s Web. For those who don’t know Betty’s RV Park is a small RV park that Betty built around her home in Abbeville. It can be a little stressful maneuvering into a site but those cares are tossed away at 4:30 when everyone in the park gathers (with snacks) for Happy Hour on Betty's patio. We are so excited to reconnect with Betty and so many of our Betty’s RV friends!


After breakfast a group of us walked over to the Jam Session held weekly at the Joie de Vivre Café. Locals and travelers alike can be found rotating in and out of a Jam Session featuring lots of Cajun Music and Swamp Pop. We stayed for a while enjoying some warm Beignets (a classic Louisiana pastry) and some music before moving on down the road.


Our next stop was at the La Poussiere to listen to several bands who were performing that day. As is typical of anyplace visited in the Acadian Region of Louisiana we met some friendly Cajuns and spent a great afternoon listening to some wonderful Cajun Music. Afterward we all hurried back to Betty’s for our daily ritual…. Happy Hour! It's so great to be back!!!!!

NOTE: We are still at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville LA and will move on into Texas in April…

Thursday, March 22, 2018

NOLA and Meeting up with Friends…

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New Orleans Louisiana is one of our favorite cities. Nearly every time we make the switch to the East or West coast we schedule a stay at Bayou Segnette State Park. This state park offers spacious sites, clean restrooms and free laundry! How rare is that??? Because our park is across the river from the city and along a swamp, it really has an out in the country feel. We love it.

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Anyway, we were afraid the fiasco with our windshield would prevent a trip to the city but thankfully the insurance adjuster finally came through with a visit to assess our damage and begin the process of issuing us a check. Finally! 

With the insurance adjuster visit behind us we had one full day left to see the city We made the short drive over to Algiers Point Ferry, paid $5 for parking and the $2 per person ferry fee. We went straight out to the outer deck where we could see the beautiful panorama of the city as we made our way across.


We had a city tour picked out to see some historic sites from the 1700's in the French Quarter. We only made it through four stops on this little tour before the energy of the city pulled us off task. At Jackson Square there was an Art Walk and a wonderful New Orleans brass band which drew us in. After a while we wandered further into the quarter where we were treated to several impromptu musicians playing for large crowds. The city was full of people arriving early to participate in St Patrick's Day festivities. One musical group was very interesting. They were playing what sounded like 1930's to 40's music with a guitar, a fiddle and what looked to be like a butter churning stick on an old washboard. It was lively and entertaining as the female singer had a happy booming voice. Fun!


Years ago we stayed in a quaint and cozy hotel in the city called the Marie Antoinette. We wanted to see it but sadly it has been taken over, completely remodeled and renamed so we didn't venture inside preferring instead to remember it as it was. We moved on to wander all throughout the quarter hearing various forms of live music wafting outside of the many crowded bars on this beautiful sunny afternoon. A cold front had come through the night before so we were treated to cool temperatures and little or no humidity which was perfect for our walk.

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As our bodies became tired we wandered over to the French Market to sit awhile for people watching, rest and some water. Again there were big crowds at the market but the energy was so upbeat and happy that though we were tired, we felt really happy to be there. While perusing our social media on our phone we realized some friends from back home in College Station Texas were in town. We messaged them and they were on their way to one of our favorite bars, the Chart Room, so we hurried over to meet them. What a treat it was to hang out with Larry and Elaine.

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We talked, laughed and took several selfies before moving on to the Finnegan’s Easy, another of Larry's favorite bars. To our amazement two other friends, Beth and Eduardo joined us there. After more drinks and lively conversation, the afternoon whisked away. We tore ourselves away to take our tired happy selves back to the ferry and our home. Back at home I could not believe my Fitbit that said we walked 8.5 miles that day! No wonder we were tired. Tired but joyful....what a great day. Thank you NOLA...we WILL be back!

NOTE: We left Bayou Segnette State Park for a 15 night stay at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville LA where we are now…

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hiking in the Batavaria Preserve, Louisiana


Leaving Mississippi we headed to Bayou Segnette State Park which we have visited several times in the past. It is by far our favorite park to stay at to visit New Orleans. While we were hoping to explore the city we were still in limbo as we have to wait for our insurance adjuster to meet us to look over our RV for our claim. Since we have some cracking in what appears to me only involving the clear coat we were told they wouldn’t approve a windshield replacement until it was determined that there wasn’t any fiberglass damage near the windshield.

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We finally got a call from the adjuster and he would be able to meet us on our last day in New Orleans. Fortunately he wanted to meet us in the morning so that left the afternoon to play. Having the appointment also meant we would be free the day before so we drove over to the Batavaria Preserve after lunch.

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The Batavaria Preserve is part of the larger Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. This section of Jean Lafitte comprises over 23,000 acres of Louisiana's wild and scenic wetlands. The trails we chose to hike would give us a glimpse of its bayous, swamps, marshes, and forests. Trails  in this area are a mix of boardwalks and dirt trails that snake their way through the preserve. Of course these wetlands, like many in Louisiana, were created by deposits from the Mississippi River.


There are some nice boardwalks there that had us floating above the swamps giving us a rare glimpse into the wetlands preserve. While we didn't see many critters we did some some interesting things. Most notable was seeing  North America's largest moth, the Cecropia moth. These giant silk moths have wingspans of up to six inches!


Their larvae mostly feed on Maple trees and are nocturnal so it was a real treat to see our first ever Cecropia moth. An interesting fact about them is that the nocturnal adult cecropia moths lack functional mouthparts or digestive system and like mayflies emerge only to reproduce As a result they only survive a maximum of about two weeks By the way my go to book for identifying butterflies is the Kaufman Field Guide To Insects of North America.

Our last day we will be so happy to finally have the adjuster to come by and look over our rig. After that we will go to the French Quarter to explore the city…

NOTE: We left Bayou Segnette State Park for a 15 night stay at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville LA where we are now…

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Slowly Moving West and a Mississippi Hike…

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It took us a while to get over the fact that we murdered a poor turkey and in return will have to pay a $1,000 dollar penance (deductible for our insurance). However,after taping up the inside of our windshield we made our way slowly on the back roads of Florida to Robertsdale Alabama for an overnight stay at a Passport America Park.

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Wilderness RV Park is a modest park but at the low passport America rate it was the perfect stop for a one night stay. We didn’t really do anything while staying there and the next morning we hit the road again for another drive on mostly back roads to Ocean Springs Mississippi.


I snagged two nights at Davis Bayou Campground in the the Gulf Islands National Park in Mississippi. Somebody cancelled and we got lucky securing a site using our senior pass. This was a great location to visit the sights in this area but with rain coming through the area we didn’t really do much the first day.


Before the rain we did walk around some of the smaller trails in the park and found a neat little boardwalk pull-out where we saw a few baby alligators. We were unable to explore further as the clouds started rolling in so we headed back to the RV. We did go out for a hamburger and a cold beer while it rained so the day wasn’t a total loss.

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The next day we went over to a trail called the Fontainebleau Trail in the Sandhill Crane National Park. The trail meandered through the typical pine/hardwood forest found in the southeast but it was great seeing all the signs of spring budding out. Most spectacular were the wild azaleas blooming like mad in the forest.


There were other plants blooming including the lyre sage, thistle, blackberries,  black titi, flowering dogwood and other early bloomers. We were fascinated by the yellow galls on the sweetbay magnolias. We found one that pointed us in the right direction and another that had an uncanney face (thanks to some midge flies that landed to make the eyes). I love this time of the year when trees and bushes begin budding while the wildflowers and the brilliant greens of early spring also peek out.

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It was a great hike but our two days ended forcing us to decide where to head next. After scouring the maps we decided that we would go to Bayou Segnette State Park south of New Orleans Louisiana and visit the city one more time. We will be there three nights and although the weather will be a little chilly, we are still looking forward to our stay there.

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We are still dealing with insurance for the windshield repair and it is not moving as fast as I would have hoped… but such is life on our road of retirement…

NOTE: We are now at Bayou Segnette State Park and will leave here on Friday for a 15 night stay at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville LA.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

You’re Not Going to Believe What Happened to us…

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The time came for us to leave our sunset paradise in Keaton Beach so we readied the RV and hit the road about 10:00 am. All was going well on the drive as we passed through the town of Perry Florida. However, heading west on a nice two lane road,something caught my eye.

NOTE: What occurred next  felt like it happened in slow motion –  almost as if I was in a Sam Peckinpah slow motion movie scene.

So what was it that caught my eye? It soon became obvious what it was… a wild turkey! How cool was that? As it started in flight I could see it was a large,beautiful wild bird. Its wings were beating slowly as it lifted its mass off the ground and became airborne. Oddly this turkey was flying toward the road instead of toward the woods as most do. I was watching it take flight and was in wonder of it when I suddenly realized that if the turkey didn’t fly a bit higher I might hit it. With no time for action (only thoughts) the bird suddenly struck the top of our RV on the windshield !

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Back at real time…. we heard a BOOOM! The loud noise startled Sharon as she was looking down at her phone. The sound was similar to hearing two cars hitting each other. A shower of very small glass particles littered our dash board and the windshield itself was shattered with cracks going from the top tot the bottom. Less than 40% of the windshield had no cracks after striking the bird.

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Being on a two-lane road gave us no choice but to continue down the road until we could find a suitable space to pull over. Before pulling over we called our insurance company to start a claim. Sharon searched the internet to see if we should worry about the windshield caving in on us if we drove any further with it as cracked as it was. Feeling as if we could safely drive it I put duct tape over the cracks on the top and bottom of the glass to hopefully secure it. We also put in a call to Tiffin Motorhomes who suggested we use clear packing tape to tape all the cracks as soon as we could.

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We drove slowly over to Mexico Beach and checked into our park. I immediately went and bought a roll of packing tape to tape all the cracks to keep it intact in case we had to drive any further. It took the whole roll! Meanwhile, we have heard tentatively from the insurance company and it looks like we will have to drive on down the road to have it repaired.

It certainly was not an exiting way to spend the day but alas, it is all part of the experience of life. We aren’t particular happy about this event and its future inconvenience.  The thousand dollar deductible will hurt the budget a bit but we came out unharmed so we have simply chalked this one up to bad luck. However, we both can’t help but wonder if this was an omen and if it was we have no idea what it means…

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In the meantime life goes on and we have spent our time here in Mexico Beach solving insurance and logistics stuff. Each afternoon we took a walk to the beach and would end the day at our favorite local hangout (Lookout Bar) where there is always another stunning sunset over the ocean for us to forget about that eventful day…

NOTE: We will leave Mexico Beach Florida today and head east to Robertsdale Alabama for a night before continuing on towards Louisiana in hopes of getting our windshield repaired...