Monday, January 31, 2011

Time to Hunker Down

My daughter, Kerry
I'm glad I got to see my daughter today...the weather is really going to turn crappy starting tomorrow. We won't feel like being outside, that's for sure! She's got to study for her classes for the next couple of days, so we'll get together again Thursday afternoon to do The Strand, a terrific shopping area in downtown Galveston. Antiques, boutiques, fun, fun, fun! We just hung out today, I visited her apartment and her Alaskan Husky--Domino, who has beautiful blue eyes. She's a sweetheart! (That's Kerry AND the dog!) We talked up a storm, then went to lunch at the Five Guys Burger and Fries....

She's laughing and then giving me THE LOOK after telling me, NO MORE PHOTOS! Guess I obsess a little sometimes on taking photos of EVERYTHING! I was taking a couple of photos where we ate lunch today, at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and she just had a fit! "MOM! You are being really ADD.  STOP TAKING SO MANY PHOTOS!"  Well, she just doesn't understand that I didn't take enough photos when she and her sister were little, so guess I'm trying to make up for that now...when you digital scrapbook AND blog, you tend to look at everything thru a photographer's eyes, and always the thought, "Oh, that would be good for the blog" or "Oh, that would make a great photo for a scrapbook page." Sometimes I get a little carried away with worrying about having something to write about. I shouldn't, I've already got two paragraphs written, and those days when I fuss about not having anything to say, I end up having plenty of thoughts to put down...OK, Kerry...truce on the photo taking until you come HERE and then Eldy is going to take some mother/daughter photos!

Ever notice how many bloggers are always talking about the weather? When you are in a 40 ft. home, you tend to worry more about the weather. You worry if you don't have heated bays because of the pipes and water, you worry if you DO have heated bays because of the water freezing coming INTO the coach. You worry about the engine block heater if you are going traveling the next day when it's cold. You worry about water freezing on the awnings and toppers. We worry about the wind doing some damage to the awning toppers. Eldy got some rope and some bungees to tie down the loosest one which is over our bedroom. That was an idea passed along to us by a friend--thanks, Gary! We may end up bungeying (darn you spell checker! I swear that is a new verb!) some more toppers...It was 73 degrees and sunny's the weather for the next 36 hours in Galveston--dense fog advisory till tomorrow morning, visibility less than 1/4 mile....hard freeze watch Tuesday night through Wed. morning, blustery northwest winds 25-35 miles an hour with occasional higher gusts will send wind chill temperatures into the single digits and teens...another possible hard freeze Wed. night..."Remember to take care of plants, pets, pipes, and people," says the Weather Channel. Now, lest someone think I'm complaining about the weather, NOT! I'm a former Chicago suburbs gal, northern Indiana lake effect snow gal, and I love snow, remember? Just thought it was interesting weather down here. My daughter says it's like that a lot...sunny and warm, then blustery and cold. Bet it's hard to grow stuff down here! We'll see what tomorrow brings...I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't talking tornado watch by tomorrow....see you later....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday in the Park

It's raining cats and dogs occasionally today. In between rain showers, I got out on my bike and went around to look for the parrots again. They're keeping dry which is smarter than I am today...out riding my bike with a sore knee and a wet butt from the wet bike seat, but I did find some. They really like these feeders that move in the wind. The office gal said she counted twenty of them the other day on one feeder! I guess these birds are really Monk parrots or parakeets. They are a smaller than parrots. The term parrots seems to be used interchangeably with parakeets. They are originally from South America, and have made their way here on ships and boats, and one story goes, from an elderly man who had quite a few of them and couldn't take care of them any more, so he set them free.  I like that story, just not sure it's the right one. At any rate, they have adapted well here. Apparently, they like to nest in the electrical towers and wires around Kemah and Dickinson! I sure am tempted to put out the birdseed for them, but would be feeding the hordes of grackles (?) as well. There's a lot of birding places down here on Galveston Island, we plan to check them out when the weather improves.
exit drive
Here are some more photos of the's raining today so it's very grey looking everywhere, but it's still a very pretty campground in comparison to  many of the other places we've looked at so far.

There are two fishing piers here...I wish they had some activities for the adults, but they don't other than a Super Bowl party next Sunday.....since we're going to be here for awhile, maybe I'll try to start a weekly activity of some a dock BBQ supper or something...hmmm, I'll have to think a little more about that...not ready to start a knitting club just yet, still tennis court so we can't do pickleball...don't know how to play cards, but game night is not a bad idea....everybody bring their favorite couples games! I like Taboo, personally. What is your favorite game if you were to bring one to a party?

View from the clubhouse
Here is the resident duck...he is HUGE in comparison to the rest of the duck population swimming around the ponds and bayou. Wonder what kind this is?

We're going for a drive this afternoon. It sure is great to have the car with us. We can really explore the areas wherever we are which we love to do. We are going to check out another RV park on Galveston Island called Jamaica Beach RV Resort.  Galveston Island State Park is another place we are going to check out at another time. Tomorrow afternoon, I head to Spring, TX to see Kerry again. We're going antiquing!  I heard it's going to only be in the 40's Tuesday and Wednesday and in the 20's at night (!). That's great sleeping weather if one is having hot flashes! (Eldo has nothing to say on that subject, bless his heart) Looks like we'll have to wait till warmer weather to do some outside sightseeing ....After exploring today and finding out that Jamaica Beach is a very reasonably priced resort with a BIG pool, fitness room and some other amenities, we've decided to stay a few days at the end of February to see the first weekend of Mardi Gras here in Galveston. Sounds like a great time in town!

Our last event for today was to have a nice dinner with Greg and Jan White, who help Nick Russell (Nick's Blog) with his Gypsy Journal rallies...We really enjoyed talking to Greg and Jan, veterans of full timing for three years. They gave us lots of tips of places to stay out west in California, Oregon, and Washington.. We had a terrific steak dinner at T.Bone Tom's, a modest cafe style restaurant with fantastic steaks. I also got a tip for my aching knee joint...DRINK! says Jan. Well, I least one glass of wine a week..No, silly! She says drink "Joint Juice", a fruity flavored beverage with glucosamine and chondroitin in it, available at WalMart and Sam's Club. I've been thinking about taking those supplements for the past year, and now it's time to do something about it. I don't know what the heck I did to my knee other than ride my bike, which I've been doing since last June, but all of a sudden the pain is so bad, I can hardly walk after sitting for awhile. After I get going, the pain eases up a little, but it's keeping me awake some at night, so time to self-medicate! With our darned expensive, high deductible health insurance policy, I'm gonna stay away from the doctor and try and take care of it on my own for awhile. If that doesn't work, then I will go to the doctor. (I''ll buy you a case of that stuff! says E.) Ok, health experiment/diet regimen...I've already got a bottle of cherry juice in the fridge that I was going to try. Time to stop procrastinating!  Time to start drinking! JUICE!   That's all for today, folks!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Easy Up Means Easy Over!

Setting up for festival
A Kerry Sparks fan
Up and at 'em at 5:00 AM this morning to drive to Pearland for Winterfest. My daughter Kerry had a booth there today to sell her books. It was fun helping her set up and get ready. The weather was a little iffy today, but rain held off till late afternoon. We did have to battle wind gusts. In the middle of the day, somehow her little tent cover got caught by the wind. I'm sitting and knitting, minding my own business, while Kerry was trying to sell books--trying not to chime in to say what a great author my daughter is, or how much the grandma looking over the books would benefit by buying one or all of her books, and all of a sudden a great gust took the tent and keeled it over into the vendor stand behind us. We were lucky we didn't skewer the elderly couple running their toy booth in back of us! We got the tent back up and tried to tie it down better on the cement driveway, but we battled the wind the rest of the day and finally gave up a little early...just as a little rain fell. She sold six books, so she was a happy camper! (She can be seen on Kerry Sparks Facebook fans and has two books she's currently selling-Frostbites and Jen and the Frosted Friends--both for girls ages 8-13)

It was a great festival. The location had to be changed at the last minute due to soggy ground, but it appears that there was a great turnout. What was fun, was the organizers had an ice truck come and they made snow! A tubing run for the kids, and a place to have a snowball fight! The kids had a ball in there..some of them have never seen snow, I'm was 73 degrees today at the festival, so this was a great attraction for kids and parents alike. EVERYBODY was in a snowball fight in the snow pen!

They had a petting zoo and the cutest little miniature favorite was the Polish chicken. I'd never seen one and asked what it was. The farmer said, "Don't you watch Sesame Street?" I said, "Oh, yeah, for many years" and I meant it. Used to watch it with my girls. He says, "Well, Big Bird is a Polish chicken, dontcha know?" Ah-h-h-h, I see the resemblance now.....

There were so many things for kids to do at this festival! They had a huge game trailer truck come in and you could try out all the Wii and Kinect games for free, they had a rock climbing wall that was really tall, (I'd REALLY like to try that!) they had a dance group that was quite famous who have toured internationally...they were called Inertia and were anything but that---modern dance, spins, leaps, gymnastics and break dancing to heart pumping electronica beats. The face painting lady next door to us never stopped painting faces from 9:00 this morning till 4:00 this afternoon. She was very artistic as you can see by the photos of just a few of the things she's done.
Tomorrow the rain is heading our way it's supposed to be very windy tomorrow morning, possible hail...Then it's going to get pretty darn chilly around here in the next couple of days...forties maybe for high...we'll see what we can do to keep warm and out of some wind that's heading our way as well....It's time get out the rope and bungee cords to tie down the awning toppers! Hope we can get anchored before the worst of the wind hits.  See you later!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tree Sculpture Tour in Galveston

See the blue ceiling?
We drove into Galveston, about a half hour drive or less. We parked next to the Visitor's Center which is located in a HUGE mansion called Ashton Villa. It's just a sample of the amazing architecture that you will find among the many side streets and main street of Galveston. We brought our bikes with us to bike around the streets and to find a series of tree sculptures. This top photo shows the ceilings painted aqua. We've seen this in Mackinac Island houses, in Key West houses, and other Florida locations and now here in Texas. The idea is that bugs, mosquitoes and flies fly upward thinking it's the sky. (!) With the number of houses in different locations doing this, maybe there is something to it, I don't know. It's pretty, but I wouldn't think this would keep the bugs away from you on a summer evening!
Hurricane Ike damage

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the Galveston, covering most of the area in a tidal surge. Many beautiful old trees were uprooted. The salty water killed many others. The residents took lemons and made lemonade. The city's tree canopy is gone, but whimsical sculptures from the huge old oaks have been commissioned and carved. They are tucked away in gardens and yards. There are 19 of them so far, and more are coming. We managed to bike around, with Eldy navigating the map and finding them for me, and me finding more houses than sculptures to photograph. Eldy would be peddling merrily along, and all of sudden, no Sparky anywhere to be seen! I had slipped along to a side street to gawk and photograph some of the amazing houses. Many of them are being remodeled, repainted, and refurbished to the elegant style they were before the hurricane waters and winds damaged them. Seeing the houses was amazing! I would forget that I was biking on the street and stop to take a photo in the middle of the street. Heck, never mind the cars coming up behind me! I snapped 'em fast!  Take a look at these....
This was a GREAT bike ride, about a little over a mile...the best way to see all these homes and sculptures without worrying about parking, or getting off the street to take photos. Well, ok, you better be more careful than I was! The weather was perfect, in the mid sixties.....we had a little map on a brochure that led us to the different locations of the sculptures....a wonderful way to spend the day today...(Where are all those sculptures photos you took? says E.) Well, they didn't turn out as nicely as the houses did, hon!

A couple of people have asked about the parrots..they are wild here and hang out..they just come to the feeders if you put regular wild bird seed out for them! But the blackbirds come, too, by the bazillions, so I'm just going to let my neighbor continue to feed them and we get to enjoy them. I tend to cringe a little when the hordes of blackbirds fly over. It's just a matter of time until I get doodooed on. I told Eldy to wear a ball cap when he sits outside. I did put out a niger seed sock feeder (known to attract goldfinches) to see what would come to my feeder by the palm tree, but so far, nobirdy is checking it out that we can see (groan!)....  see you tomorrow at the Winterfest festival in Pearland, TX!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Exploring the Galveston Bay Area

Kemah Boardwalk and shopping area

Off we went this morning to see what's out and about in the area. We drove to the Galveston Bay area for breakfast. We had trouble finding something, so we stopped at the Kemah Boardwalk, a fun place for families. We found a little grill inside the boardwalk area and it was fine. The town of Kemah is a little fishing village along Galveston Bay. The boardwalk looks beautiful and is kept very clean. There are restaurants, shopping boutiques and amusement park rides for younger children. The landscaping is beautifully done and the very new looking boardwalk wraps around restaurants like Saltgrass Steakhouse, Landry's, the Red Japanese steakhouse, and also The Flying Dutchman Restaurant. There are great little stores all around the complex.  If it's a warm day, you can be "sittin' on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away..." (Otis Redding)

Later, we went looking at other RV campgrounds and came back thinking we've got one of the most reasonably priced, safe, and pretty spots to sit for a month. We looked at Marina Bay RV Resort, and although they had three small pools, and an adults only section, it felt like you were lined up in a parking trees, and a large apartment complex across the lot from the RV resort, plus trash dumpsters and a little dried up swamp on the other side. We checked out some more RV places, and they definitely were not safe nor in a nice place or there was zero views. Here, we have a great view of the bayou, we're right on it! And, we have wild parrots! Yep, you heard that right! Lots of green parrots which people are feeding here. Unfortunately, the blackbirds are equally competing for the bird seed people put out so there are more blackbirds than there are parrots. They seem to co-exist peacefully at the feeders.

On our travels this morning, we saw what a beautiful town Galveston is...there is some incredible architecture here, some beautiful Victorian homes and mansions, and an area called The Strand...a street filled with boutiques and unique places to eat and shop. We'll be checking that out soon...that's a mother/daughter trip for sure!   See you later....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Galveston Bay, Here We Come!

Seven and half hours of driving thru LOTS of construction and cement barrier walls..Eldo is a little stressed out this evening...(I knitted a LOT today.) I even got rattled sometimes myself, and got lost in where I was in my knitting pattern so I had to unravel and start over. Sometimes there very little stress in driving long distances, sometimes there's a LOT. Today we tried to stop for diesel fuel at a place and the truck/car lane entrance and exits were not clear from the road. We took a chance, pulled in, and OH, CRAP! We went in the "NO TRUCKS" entrance. There was a reason for that. The lane to the back of the station was blocked. We got too far into the gas station to be able to turn around. So-o-o-o-o, while Eldy was about to do the Christmas Story movie father routine (when the dad is down in the basement trying to fix the furnace which is spewing black soot all over the house, and cussing up a storm but you can't tell what he's yelling, you just know he's saying every cuss word in the book), I tried to calm Eldy down..."It's ok, honey...we'll just unhook the car, you can back up and turn around. Besides, I needed to run the car a little anyway"...or run the risk of a dead battery upon our arrival. We unhooked, quickly, and we got turned around just's just stressful at the time it happens. And it didn't help that some idiot was parked right at the entrance of the gas station, engrossed in his cell phone and didn't see us trying to come in, which made our entrance all the more difficult...I told Eldy he should have leaned on his dual Hadley air horns (which sound like a huge semi's horn) which might have made the guy sit up, take notice and have to use the restroom, er, MOVE, but Eldy is a nice guy and he wouldn't do that. Hm-m-m-m, another reason for me to get in the driver's seat? I LIKE the sound of those dual horns--they're AWESOME!

We are here in TEXAS, at the Galveston Bay RV campground. And of course, after seven hours, the car battery was dead when we arrived...but now, we don't get out of shape about it..we just whip out our trusty battery charger and within two minutes, the car is up and running 69.95 we ever spent on accessories for the motor home!

This is a nice place, much prettier than where we stayed last in New Orleans...very informal check-in. No rules sheets, no instructions, no password for the wi-fi. We'll get all that tomorrow and get the info on everything near to here...can't wait to see my daughter, Kerry, who lives in Texas, about an hour from here. She's got all kinds of plans for mother /daughter time. She's a free lance writer, writing stories for preteen girls and going to school to become a teacher...we're going to spend all day Saturday at a festival to promote her books she's written. And we're going to YAK all day and catch up! I haven't seen her since her birthday in early September.

Our site is on a bayou. We are out in the open, no trees except for the lovely palm in front on the bank of the bayou....not much across the way to see, and not sure what lies on the other side, but we're looking forward to a great stay here...$450.00 for a whole month to be on the water--free wifi, no cable, water, sewer, electric is extra. This will be the longest we've stayed in any one place. The only thing we're worried about is the wind and our awning toppers. Eldy noticed some people have taken their awning toppers OFF. He's been reading reports about the wind here at this particular place and Texas in general, so we're going to have to watch and wait and see. The awning toppers make quite a racket when there's any wind over 20 mph. and it's really hard to sleep. It sounds like they are going to be ripped right off the coach, they bang and flap so much! We'll see what we need to do when the wind returns....we can always pull in the slides for the night...he's a worrier, that Eldo! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Big Easy

Lots of wrought iron and cast iron work all over the city

interesting door panels
How do you cover New Orleans in one day? You can' we hit the highlights of the city during the day time...we're saving the nightlife for our next visit...It's CARNIVAL DAYS so the preliminary mardi gras festivities have started...the beads, the masks are out, the preparation for the country's biggest party is underway. But first, we rode the shuttle from our campground over to take the tour on the Greyliner--the Super City/Katrina tour. This gives you a great overview of the city. We drove thru the 9th ward and others, desolation and debris everywhere. Almost six years later and the city is still struggling...poverty has always been there but the hurricane damage just hits it home harder. I saw a beautiful snow white egret walking in a terribly blighted area, just walking thru someone's yard. We saw Brad Pitt's efforts to make a dent in the despair of the city...his modern homes are very unusual--solar panels, colorful, odd roof angles, but very interesting. They are modular and ultra modern in style and stick out like a sore thumb in some awful looking places. We went from desolation to ritz and glitz. After seeing the hurricane damage we visited the more beautiful parts of New Orleans--the museums, the botanical gardens, Esplanade Street where are the fantastic styles of architectural sit side by side, house after house. We saw the exclusive men's and women's clubs where you have to be a millionaire to join. We saw the most amazing mansions.
The city was not evenly flooded...I thought the entire city was under water when the levees broke but there are parts that were NOT flooded, some that were just a little flooded, and some majorly flooded. The city is approximately 50% high ground and 50% low ground, so different areas were affected differently depending on income level, and real estate location. Water control is the city's major concern--they are surrounded on three sides by water, it rains an average of 65" per year, so water control is ALWAYS a problem. I saw an article in a local newspaper where they are having problems with the water pipes and pumping systems continually breaking. It seemed like there was ground construction everywhere, crews working on streets and water lines.

Almost bought one of these!

Beads everywhere, hanging from street signs, trees, wires...lots of gold, green and purple banners, fleur de lis everywhere...wreaths on doors were all the shiny, metallic beads, foil colors of purple, green, silver, and gold...The fleur de lis symbol has been adopted by the city as a sign of hope and recovery..."We will never forget Hurricane Katrina..." You can take a tour of the making of Mardi Gras, which I bet would be very interesting! There are swamp tours, cemetery tours, dinner/jazz tours, ghost tours, French Quarter tours, and steamboat tours. I thought ours today was excellent. Thirty-two dollars a person for two and half hours combining the hurricane areas with the extensive downtown tour. Very nice bus....
We stopped at one of the 42 cemeteries that are in New Orleans. There are many, many interesting stories to cemeteries but we just had a quick rest break here to walk around and look for about ten minutes so we did not get to hear any. The one we saw was an above ground cemetery. People buy a family plot, and then everybody in the family shares that crypt. It was such a gloomy, rainy day that it added to the grave atmosphere...(insert groan) After the tour, we walked around for awhile, down Bourbon Street, Royal Street and a couple other ones. We ate lunch at O'Brien's, home of the famous Hurricane drink. Eldy had one, but I just took a sip. Rum is not one of my favorites! Delicious meal outside in the courtyard with was beautiful...New Orleans is a very old city but filled with history, architecture, interesting people, and interesting events, fabulous music. Because it was so windy and chilly today, we had five hours till the last shuttle would be able to pick us up. We decided to head back home and had to take a cab. Our last contact with New Orleans would be our cab driver, who told us he stayed during the hurricane, not realizing it wasn't going to be the hurricane that would do him in, but the levees breaking. He and his family were on the top of the roof of their house, water to the top of the roof before they finally got rescued. He said he learned his lesson--he rebuilt but he's never going to stay during another hurricane...he'll leave.....
Jackson Square
We saw at least three of these guys similarly dressed...they pose and remain motionless for long periods of time until someone takes a photo or goes up to talk to them...
Corner building architecture
We didn't have a beignet (French pastry/donut), we didn't have a po-boy (sandwich), we didn't hear the jazz, we didn't have gumbo...but we will next time!  On the road tomorrow for Texas...yee-haw! Here's one last glimpse of the "Big Easy" streets....

Monday, January 24, 2011

N'awlans (New Orleans)

Nice drive today...along we got into Alabama, specifically Mobile, we encountered our first was a shorty, but you still get a little nervous going through, seeing those curving walls seeming to hug the motor home...what if you got a flat tire in the tunnel? Then what? Well, the tunnel was not long at all, and it was a welcoming sight (as it is any time) to see the "light at the end of the tunnel"....[groan, says E. -- and everybody else reading this blog!]

Already had my first introduction to the correct way to say things down here...went to get a pop at the clubhouse bar at Pontchartrain Landing, where we are stopping for two days, and I was instructed to NOT say, "What kind of pop do you have?" But "What kind of Coke do you have?" All pop is called Coke, no matter whether it's Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Coke, Sprite, etc. You say you want a Coke, and then they ask what kind!? I'm a Coke fiend, full bore, no diet on this one, so I already like New Orleans! OK, I better get my list out to understand what people are talking about down here...the list is just the tip of the iceberg, and I'll bet there are tons of things not on this introductory list of Louisiana talk.
our site at Pontchartrain Landing
view on one side of the channel
View on another side of the park, much better!
Pontchartrain Landing has a great looking website...but the park itself is very plain...all gravel roads and sites...decent little showerhouse/restrooms. It's on the Navigational Canal, but the view from many angles is of abandoned warehouses across the canal, and bridge construction. A few sites have views of the boat/shipyard which is a nicer view on the channel. This is a newer park and it's gated, making this a secure place to stay. The great thing is, it's only 11 minutes to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street and the rates are very reasonable to be this close to the city. Free wi-fi, (but it's not working!) free cable. With the Passport of America rate, it's 33.00 a night, and of course, more, if you were here during Mardi Gras. They even rent houseboats here. It looks to us as though they are continuing to make improvements and add things. The staff is really friendly and they offer discounts for the tours if you book through the campground office.
Pontchartrain Park on a rainy day
So tomorrow, we are going into New Orleans to take a combined Hurricane Katrina/Super City tour...should be VERY interesting! Even if it does rain all day, which it is supposed to do...We'll tell you all about it later.....until then......

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Sunday Drive

Let's see..we started at 9:30 this morning..on our way out of the Naples Motorcoach Resort, I took this photo of a Newell  RV. Looks like a really nice rig, doesn't it? This nice rig is a million dollar coach! Now figure the Hummer in with it with its custom paint job. Yikes! I've seen photos of these coaches in magazines...the interiors are quite glitzy. Wonder what you get inside for a million dollars? And my other question is, what do these people do for a living, or what did they used to do? You don't see these at RV shows, they are custom coaches and take months to build...Curiosity is one of my virtues (and curiosity killed the cat! says E.) I might have stopped and chatted with the owners had I seen them out and about.
But we never did see anybody there.

Staged photo, lol!
After knitting one dishcloth, one partial Easter egg (these are going to be really unique in color--they're from sock yarn), three magazines and  a nap during the day today while Eldy was driving, we stopped for the night. That's eight hours of driving for my Eldy and about 450 miles....what a guy! We picked a Passport America campground in Quincy, FL. for 20.00 a night...we could have stayed at Wally World, but Eldy really wanted to kick back and relax and be able to put the slides out. That's a no-no at Walmart. Uneventful drive today except for two sightings of deer, three or four of them several miles apart on I-10...on the WRONG side of the tall fence, on the highway shoulder just ready to run out and be whacked by a car or RV.  Eldo was nervous! We are spending one night at Beaver Creek Campground...where's the creek? We have no idea. This is a grassy field behind a BP gas station, exit 174. The campground is very close to the interstate so it's a one night stop, just electric, which is fine by us. It's 50 amp, and very few people are here so we shouldn't have any electrical problems. We just have car problems....nothing much, just another D.O.A. battery. Dang this car! It looks like I'm gonna have to crawl under the dash and look for the fuse I'm supposed to pull! Why me, you say? Isn't that a man's job? Nope! It goes to the person who has the better knees, and that would be me. (I would if I could! says E.) No problem, honey! I have to carry my weight around here since I don't drive...gonna work on that one when we get out to Arizona..need to get some driving under my belt in this Phaeton.

It's a cold, starry night out tonight..incredibly beautiful night sky because there's no light pollution. If it wasn't so cold, we'd be outside star gazing...but football is calling Eldy, so I'm gonna knit my little fingers off tonight while he watches the game.

We MIGHT be going to New Orleans! Woo-hoo! I've never been there! We've got a campground in mind, Pontchartrain Landing. It should be a doable drive for Monday, about 350 miles. We'll probably stay two nights so we can see the town Tuesday. There's a shuttle service for 4.00 a person that takes you to town and back. Sounds like a great deal! We've heard New Orleans can be a little dicey as far as crime goes, so we'll be careful....

You never know what Eldo has planned...we'll see what happens is certainly an adventure with Eldo around!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Do We Stay or Do We Go?

Seventy-two degrees or twenty-two degrees?  It's a NO-BRAINER!  72 degrees wins every time! We are staying another day at Naples Motorcoach Resort after reading about the temperatures in the twenties in northern Florida and Mississippi. One more day here in Naples gives us a little more wiggle room for a warming trend starting Sunday in the northern parts of the state. We are definitely acting more like snowbirds, deciding not to move until it warms up. HOWEVER, let it be known that I actually don't mind mind heading out, I'm ready for cooler temperatures. ("What am I going to do with you? Ship you on a plane to Minnesota?" says E.) It's actually only in the mid fifties today, a cold front came through. Wonder how long it would take us to be like Floridians to get acclimated to southern temperatures and then find that 60 degrees is COLD?  You can tell who the northerners are by what people wear down here when it gets to the 60's.  People who have lived here for a long time don sweaters, jackets and hats when it's in the low 60's and they are shivering! People from up north might wear a long sleeve tee shirt, still have shorts on and be very comfortable.

Eldy in hot water, lol! 
What's funny is, last night we were sitting in the clubhouse with two other couples and we were all talking about how we check our cell phones every day for the weather "back home", and how we text our kids on a daily basis what the temperatures are here! And sometimes, just to tease a bit more, we send photos of what we are doing along with the latest temperature report...We sent this photo to Eldy's kids to tease them. It was -6 degrees back home when we sent it. That's pretty darn cold for Indiana!

Yesterday we enjoyed ourselves at the RV show in Fort Myers. We signed up for every possible free RV resort stay we could find!
While we were signing up for freebies, we got to spin the wheel on a couple of vendor booths. Eldy won a month's stay at a certain campgrounds in Texas for 179.00. We will definitely check that out when we are down there as to the facilities. There were a choice of three places down at the very southern tip of Texas or some in Florida. While walking around, we ran  into two vendors that were at Nick's Rally last summer in August in Elkhart. It was like meeting old friends... We chatted for awhile. It was really great to catch up with them on where they had been and where they were going. We saw this enterprising gentleman who had a great voice and serenaded the visitors at the show. He had his chair decorated really terrifically in true Florida style!

Later in the evening, we went to the clubhouse to check out the entertainment and chatted with two couples who are "neighbors" on lots nearby to ours. There was music so we even did a little dancing. A couple who came out on the dance floor with us happened to ask where Eldy was from. He says, Elkhart, and they went crazy with questions..REALLY? Where at? We're from Elkhart, too! And that was fun for Eldy to have a little hometown chat with people who know your hometown area as well as you do...There are all kinds of neighbors when you RV..neighbors beside you at your site or anybody on your row at the campground but also we consider anybody "neighbors" to be someone who has lived in your hometown. It's just another way to feel more connected in the traveling world of RVers. The other day we even traveled down the road a few extra miles to leave a note at the campground site of fellow bloggers, Howard and Linda Payne.  We met them this summer in Michigan and Eldy had been following their blog, RV Dreams for a couple of years. They weren't home, so we let them know we were in town and in the same area and just gave them a friendly hello note. They are staying at a campground called Midway, in the Everglades, for 19.00 a night, right on 41. Fifty amp hookup but no water or sewer hookup.

By following blogs, we learn lots of great information-- tips and traveling destinations are just the tip of the iceberg. I would say RVers tend to make friendships quickly. By reading each other's blogs, we become a part of their lives and when we finally do meet up with them, it's like meeting old friends and we feel like we've known them for a long time.

We are really going to miss Naples when we leave....this is one of the most beautiful, clean cities we have ever seen in our 60 plus years of are minutes from the Everglades, boating, islands, wonderful restaurants, the wildlife is incredible, and the beauty of nature is endless...
Roseate spoonbill flying in 10,000 Islands Preserve

Wish I could get little videos back into the blog now and then..having trouble with learning imovie and sharing little videos in the proper size. Had a funny little video of my jackhammering ibis bird friends in a feeding frenzy outside our motor home today, but just couldn't get it loaded properly! I was able to do it more easily when I had a PC for some reason. Stay tuned, one of these days, I'll have it figured out... We'll be on the road DEFINITELY Sunday morning early, heading for northern Florida. See you on the road!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

We ventured a little farther east on 41 yesterday....past 10,000 Islands Preserve, about another 25 miles east to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve which sits on a gently sloping limestone plain. This is a very unique preserve in southern Florida and it's part of the Big Cypress Swamp. Channels have been formed over millions of years from the limestone dissolving. The local term for the channels or sloughs is called "strand". You see this word "strand" used a lot in this part of Florida. There are cypress forests and open plains and grasslands, which make for some unique habitat for flowers and trees and animals. The strand is 20 miles long and 3-5 miles wide. It contains the largest stand of native royal palm trees and the largest concentration of orchids in North America. There are some endangered animals here as well--the Everglades mink, the Florida panther, woodstorks, and others.

Two yards away!
We did not go into the swamps to see the orchids. I would have loved to have seen some of them....but it's 60.00 a person for a three to four hour walk with a naturalist, and only available on certain Saturdays and other arranged times. We did take a drive however, on the Janes Memorial Scenic drive, an 11 mile limestone, washboard road for some of it. Saw about 8 gators....a large doe ran across the road, and an imagined panther WA-A-A-A-Y down the road, actually couldn't tell what it was! (just some wishful thinking!) The gators were right at the side of the road, like TWO YARDS from the door. I stayed in the gal! (You're finally getting the message, woman! says E.) We saw some hawks, a big turtle, and the usual egrets and ibis. The preserve looks just like a tropical jungle with mangled trees and swamps mixed in along both sides of the road and most of the road is very narrow and rough...the park ranger told us that a photographer had seen a female panther with two cubs on Janes scenic drive at 10:30 in the morning about two weeks ago. He showed me her photos on the computer. They were wonderful! Of course she had a 1500.00 camera with an additional 1500.00 lens so the shots were terrific! With our little camera, the panthers would have looked like little tan fuzzballs, probably

Then, on the way back, we watched for gators on 41 again...gater after gater after gater, and really big ones! These were much easier to see from the highway this further east. There's a welcome center on 41 east, about 45 miles from's called the Oasis Center. There's a boardwalk there with a canal FULL of huge alligators..we stopped to watch them. One of them had gotten a bird and two others were trying to take it away from him...There was lots of thrashing going on in the water, but most of it underneath...couldn't get any photos of that, they were a little too far down the canal to view. Right at the entrance of the welcome center on the other side of it, the UNPROTECTED SIDE just over the guardrail, were two humongous alligators. People kept stopping on foot walking from the parking lot over to them to take their photos right in front of them, just a few feet away, yours truly, included. The park ranger had to come out and announce thru a loudspeaker to GET AWAY FROM THE ALLIGATORS!!!! IT'S NOT SAFE TO BE SO CLOSE! I had already left by then....(You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days! says E.)

One last stop today...boardwalk at Fakahatchee Strand....this is not at the park itself but back on 41 heading west towards Naples, near Indian Village....this boardwalk takes you back into the swamp. We saw this egret and people said there was an alligator that had just snatched a bird and went underwater with it, we missed it!  Little signs along the way tell you about plants and what you are seeing...I learned that the gambusia is a kind of fish that eats mosquitoes and it bears its young ALIVE, it doesn't lay eggs! You see lots of "air plants" here...those are called epiphytes (eppy-fights)...they look like they are separate plants growing right out of the trees. They are! They just use the trees for support and get all their food from the rain, sun, and air. Spanish moss is an epiphyte and so are bromeliads and onion orchids.  We saw a bald eagles nest. Man, those nests are HUGE! I think someone told me they just keep adding to them every year and that they can eventually weigh over 1,000 pounds? On the way out of the park, close to the parking lot, I smelled something really really nice...I thought, hmmmm, orchids? gardenias?  It was the portable toilets at the entrance to the park walk! I'm glad nobody heard me comment about the nice smell and what was that wonderful flower I was smelling!?

It's almost time to leave for Texas...we'll be leaving early Saturday morning...not sure how far we will get in one day, but we will be sad to leave Naples...there's so much here, and it's so beautiful...there are many RV parks and places to stay here..we explored a couple of campgrounds yesterday that had just electric and that's would cost us about 10.00 a night to stay there...we'll definitely be back and want to stay there for part of our visit next year....we're heading to Fort Myers today to see the RV show vendors....see you later!

PS. Just a quick note about the RV show...we signed up for Thousand Trails membership for one zone. They are offering any one zone membership for a fee of $199.99 as opposed to 499.00. If anybody is interested in signing up for that rate, they are offering the same deal as the Tampa show. If you contact me and I refer you, you can get that same rate even if you weren't at either show. There's a limited number of memberships available and it expires Sunday, January 23. Leave a comment on the blog if you are interested and I'll get back with you asap.