Thursday, May 31, 2012

Houston Galleria

inside center of Galleria
Sparky is not a shopper, but while passing the time waiting for her first grandbaby to arrive, she decided to go with Eldy to check out the exclusive Galleria Mall at the Westheimer exit off I-610 in Houston. It's too hot to sit outside the rig in the heat, so what better way to avoid it than go to a beautiful indoor mall. Sparky wanted to get a couple of questions answered at the Apple Store there, so she made an appointment with the "Genius" staff at the Apple Store. Anybody who understands computers and their technical workings is a genius! That excludes Sparky! But that's's fun to go into an Apple Store and have the techies fix things quickly and efficiently and they did. Another terrific Apple Store that we've been to...No wonder those geniuses are beating the competition handily.

We saw a Microsoft Store at the Galleria Mall, the first time we've seen one. They weren't anywhere near as busy as the Apple Store. Not even close....They've copied the Apple Store layout, and the way the Microsoft tech guys stand ready to assist and answer questions in their orange shirts reminded us exactly of the Apple Store geniuses in their blue shirts.

The Galleria Mall is an amazing place...lots of levels, part of the Simon Company empire of 337 retail/real estate properties in N. America and Asia, headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. Over 375 stores and restaurants to shop and eat from here at the Galleria, set beneath beautiful glass atriums....

There is an impressive, really big ice skating rink on one of the levels.

We watched lots of kid learn how to skate today, some hanging onto the wall for dear life and some appeared to be getting lessons with skills well under way. Posture, young lady, posture! Head up, straighten up that spine!
A future Michelle Kwan?
There's public skating sessions, beginner skating lessons and beginner hockey lessons offered at the Ice at Galleria. There's even circles stamped on the ice so a beginner can practice skating backwards! Sparky wishes she had had that when she was this little girl's age. Maybe she wouldn't have fallen on the ice rink at the local elementary school that fateful day in second grade, and lost BOTH her front secondary teeth!

This is SOME MALL! It is the 4th largest mall in the nation and has nine types of stone, suspended glass balconies, three types of wood and plush leather seating. It also contains two hotels and three office towers. You could say this is a city within a city. It was a very busy, bustling place today. Apparently, it's the number one tourist and shopping attraction in Houston. We enjoyed our visit to the Galleria today, and we were good! We didn't buy one single item today! Just walked around and gawked at everything.....We'll see what tomorrow brings....maybe a baby??????

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's hot today, hotter than hot...mid nineties...whaddya gonna do on such a hot day!?  Stay inside till late in the day, and then venture out to find some HOT bodies...CAR bodies, that is...Sorry to disappoint you if you were looking for hot women...heh, heh, heh. Eldy is conspicuously silent tonight because he's watching the Indy 500 first and now the Coca Cola 600 Nascar Race.

But if you are into muscle cars, reproduction cars, and elegant cars from the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties and seventies, then this will probably almost be as good a visual treat. Come to Spring, TX, any Saturday night in the spring thru summer months and they are at the Kroger Signature shopping center on Spring Cypress Drive. Over 200 vintage cars usually, they said! Row after row after row in the big parking lot. They start lining up in late afternoon, and then into the evening, the parade into the parking lot continues.

Sparky doesn't know cars other than what cars she used to ride in in the fifties and sixties with friends, so you'll just have to look at all the photos today and do your own reminiscing! How about this beautiful blue mustang? I'm gonna guess it's a '65?

And she CERTAINLY doesn't know engines, but they sure looked purty under the hoods!

Sparky loves the grills...They are so elegant and classic. They kinda look like faces with character...

After looking at all the cars, she talked Eldy into visiting the local Tutti Fruitti nearby for some great frozen yogurt...yum!

And that was our day today...a visit to the car show late in the day and some frozen yogurt to try and cool down from the heat in Spring, TX....See you tomorrow.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We Made it To Spring With BUGS on Board!

After a long, hard drive today from Kinder, LA, (about 205 miles) through much traffic congestion on I-10, bad roadway, construction zones and heavy traffic through Texas towns, we were pretty whupped. (Uh, Sparky wasn't whupped, just Eldo, clarifies Eldo.) Well, when Eldy gets stressed, Sparky absorbs SOME of that, too! So we're both tired.

We were so tired, that when a GIANT beetle/bug was seen crawling across the captain's chair up front, Sparky didn't have time to take a photo, she just swatted at it, stunning it and knocking it into the wastebasket which just happened to be conveniently underneath the bug. What a shot! She was  hollerin' the whole time, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? WHAT KIND OF BUG IS THAT? It's HUGE!" She's shrieking practically at the top of her lungs for Eldy to take the bug outside which was now trapped inside TWO grocery bags with the wastebasket shrouded in a THIRD grocery bag on the outside.  "Eldy, GET THAT THING OUT OF HERE, it's not funny! TAKE THE TRASH OUT, PLEASE!" Since I said please, he did. That was the biggest beetle/ bug we have ever seen. Sparky didn't think anything more about the bug, once it was gone, UNTIL tonight.....

ANOTHER BUG, the same size and the same color came sauntering across the floor until Eldy calmly exclaimed in a rather loud voice, "THERE'S ANOTHER ONE JUST LIKE THE ONE FROM YESTERDAY!"  And then the bug/beetle/cockroached boogied across the floor, rapidly picking up his pace.  CRAP! Sparky grabbed the flyswatter, (actually, she grabbed the camera FIRST! Can you believe that? asks an incredulous E.) Well, yeah...I wanted to take a photo so I could identify it! She then grabs the flyswatter, SWAT!  Missed! Just as the cockroach scurried under the living room slide. GONE! for the moment. Hopefully, for a LOT of moments. Arrrrrgggghhhh! Great, now we have creepy crawlie thingies inside the house. How many? We don't know. But, these beetle/bugs are about TWO INCHES LONG! Sparky started investigating Mississippi beetles/bugs/cockroaches and found a photo that looks just like the ones we saw in the rig. To top it off, she remembered the conversation with the two fellows back in Mississippi at the casino, where they talked about the bugs, snakes and reptile problems home owners have been having since Hurricane Katrina wiped out a lot of the predators that eat these things. They actually asked, "Have you seen our cockroaches? They are HUGE!" Well, now we can say we actually HAVE SEEN THEM, and YES, they are HUGE! Two inches long, Sparky thinks three, actually! UGH! How to combat these, we don't know, and are open for suggestions. Naturally, having stayed in a bayou campground for several days, we're sure they hitchhiked along for our ride thru Louisiana and now here they are in Texas. Or maybe they are TEXAN cockroaches/beetles. We are not totally sure if they are cockroaches or not, but they sure look like the ones on the internet that identifies them as cockroaches. Everything is BIGGER in Texas, right?

Ok, back to the important stuff. There are two RV parks in Spring...Over the last week in our travels from South Carolina thru Alabama to Mississippi, we have met four sets of couples who have children in Spring, TX! Amazing to run across that many people in such a short period of time who all have adult children living in Spring.  Everybody says you can stay at Trinity Spring Oaks RV Park, or you can stay at Rayford Crossing. Of the two parks, Rayford Crossing is much nicer, but costs more. Here is the first park which we will be staying at for one week--Trinity Spring Oaks RV and Mobile Home Park off of Spring-Stuebner Road. That's the first clue that this is not going to be a "resort" type park, that it is a mobile home park and RV park. Which is fine...we just wish there were a few more amenities, that's the second clue this is a "no frills" park...There aren't any except for a small laundry.

This is a small park....It starts out with 30 sites at the front of the park by the office...15 back in, and 15 pull thrus. The pull thrus are short, barely enough room for a 40 foot motor home and tow car. Some sites have odd placements of nightime security lights on posts, so it was a little tight pulling into our site.

There are more RV sites located deeper into the park, we think there are about 70 total RV sites but we were not placed in the back of the park. Those RV sites must be for longer stays. When you come in, they assign you according to a site "suitable for your electric needs." Then they give you a written notice in big CAPITAL LETTERS that says, "WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR POWER SURGES OR SHORT CIRCUITING OF THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. Please make sure you have surge protection and internal breakers in your RV." (Use 50 amp service only) Hmm-m-m-m-mm...What do you make of that? That electrical service has been problematic in the past? That people have fried their electrical systems in their rigs due to not using surge protection? Well, at least they've informed us of our rights. :-) They've got some other rules that don't apply to us, as we don't have pets, but here's what they say about THAT:
       "No dogs or cats over 20 pounds, full grown weight...No labs, dobermans, chows, etc. "  (Wonder   what the etc. covers?) So if you have a furry kid over 20 pounds, this park is not for you....

This is a "no-frills" pool, no clubhouse, no place to hang out other than the tight space between your rig and your neighbor's....That's the neighbor's satellite dish, he must have had a little bit of a problem getting a signal because of how far he had to come out of his site to get out of the trees.
Some of the rigs are even closer, depending on what row you are in....
If you get lucky, and get a corner site, you have LOTS of room to spread out a bit and sit outside, although the sun is completely full blast all afternoon on the passenger side of the rig for most of the pull thru sites. This toy hauler has one of the nicer, more spacious sites of any of the RV sites in the front section of the park.

There is free wi-fi here, but it's sketchy...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it kicks you off at any moment, sometimes you can't get on after multiple tries, other times, no problem. It's kinda slow but we're grateful for the wi-fi to help us not zip through all of our allotted data for the month. (Too late--we're gonna be over...Eldo says as he heaves a big sigh.) Lots of bars for AtT & T and 4G on the cell, that's nice.

We are here for a week, waiting on the baby to come....Our weekly rate is 150.00, not too bad, but we've stayed in much nicer parks with a few more amenities for that price. But this is the big city and we're bracing for all the traffic, congestion and crazy drivers we're going to be encountering while we are here. We've already seen how Texans drive--CRAZY!

Did Sparky say it was HOT? And getting HOTTER, high of 93 today, it's hot all over the country, so there's no escaping the heat at the moment. And Sparky and Eldo are in a holding pattern, anyway, waiting for Sparky, JR., to have her baby. (Patience, Sparky, patience, soothes Eldo.) Patience is NOT one of my virtues. It's VERY difficult for Sparky to sit still, be calm, and wait....and read.....and knit....and not go anywhere and DO something! There's not a whole lot of nature around here to go off and hike, or kayak to pass the time, so it's QUIET time. Until Sparky sees another bug.....Bye for now.....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kinda Nice in Kinder, LA

courtesy of the internet
Kinda nice? Better than that! On our way today, we had picked out the Coushatta Casino in Kinder, Louisiana, because of the very high ratings in for their park, called Red Shoes RV park. Red Shoes was a Choctaw Indian chief.  However, the casino is owned by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. I'm not sure how these two are related, but there's a history lesson on how they are related, I'm sure. The casino is run by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and they are famous for their longleaf pine needle baskets. The baskets are beautiful!

We knew the casino was about 22 miles from I-10 and the town of Jennings, a little far, but it sounded like a very nice place to stay --VERY reasonably priced. How does 18.00 a night sound for a 40 acre park with a little lake, spacious, full hookups, a nice pool, a lodge with a fireplace, free shuttle to the casino, laundry, and a lovely atmosphere? We thought so, too!

On our way here, we took I-10 out of Ocean Springs, MS to I-12, back to I-10, then 26 north to 190 west, then to 165 north. We passed over the Baton Rouge Bridge and thought of Nick Russell (Gypsy Journal fame) and his nerves of steel...heh, heh, heh..(For those who don't know, Nick has a fear of heights on bridges)..

Piece of cake! The driving, that is....It's a great park--normal rate is 20.00 a night for all of the above, but there was a little discount which brought it down to 18.00. Terrific!
The grounds at Red Shoes RV Park
There is a nice pool...a d.j. was playing music poolside late today.....
Our site...plenty of room between us and the neighbor....
Here's a view of the RV spaces around us....The trees are young, so it will be a few years before every site has lots of shade.
We are just here for an overnight stay but we'll definitely come back when passing through the area on our way to and from Texas and points east or west. Tomorrow, we will be in Spring, TX, where we will be planted for the next five weeks. Until later.....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bye-Bye Mississippi Bayous

We said goodbye to the Davis Bayou Campground today.....Bye to the gators in the ponds by the boardwalks...
Bye to the turtles crossing the road.....
Bye to the beautiful scenery and picnic park areas down by the fishing pier at Davis Bayou campground....

Bye to the Hurricane Katrina chainsaw tree sculptures in Biloxi along highway 90....There's a wonderful story behind one of them, which is not pictured. One of the sculptures is a pair of angel wings...The story is that three people survived the hurricane by hanging onto an old oak tree for three hours while the storm raged over them. The angel wings were commissioned to be carved in gratitude as they felt there was a guardian angel watching over them that day as they survived the hurricane by hanging onto the tree. The tree died after the storm but the sculpture lives on in the town of Bay St. Louis.

Bye to the beautiful Hurricane Katrina Memorial in Biloxi close to these sculptures....

We heard some awful stories from residents sitting next to us at lunch one day, who had to leave the area when the hurricane hit...Thirty foot storm surge...Some homes surviving without a scratch, others totally gone...They had to stay out of their homes for a month before they could return to see what they had lost....

Bye to the weird and wacky tourist attraction bait---Sharkshead Souvenirs in Biloxi on that same highway 90...

Bye to Ocean Springs sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico....

We enjoyed our stay very much at the Davis Bayou Campground and would definitely come back here...There is lots more to see...But we have to move on...Texas, HO!

Until next time...see you on the road......

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cheeseburger in Paradise

"Cheeseburger is paradise.
Heaven on earth with an onion slice.
Not too particular, not too precise.
I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise."  Jimmy Buffett

That's what Eldy had at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino, that just opened up last night in Biloxi, MS, a cheeseburger--and it was great! Guess Jimmy, a Pascagoula, MS native, did a private concert for the bigwigs at the casino to promote the grand opening. But we waited till today till the crowd thinned out just a little from the intial crush and went over this afternoon to check things out and have a bite to eat at the Volcano bar and grill inside the casino. We had heard that he might be still there today but we didn't see any sign that he was.

It's a small casino, everything is on a smaller scale inside...the buffet, the restaurants, but not the view--floor to ceiling windows at the back of the casino give you a wonderful view out on the Back Bay and the Ocean Springs/Biloxi Bridge. Jimmy said in an interview last night on local TV that he wanted this to be an affordable place for the locals and visitors to town to come and have a good time. We thought this restaurant, the Volcano, was a little expensive..10.00 for a cheeseburger and fries, 11.00 for chicken quesadillas which was an appetizer. The buffet down at the other end was 10.95 a person, menu choice was very small, but that's a decent price for a buffet. But hey----the atmosphere....WOW!

These are dining seats inside a boat....
They had "booze in the blender" quote one of Jimmy's songs....
They had these guys and gals come around to entertain the folks while dining....
It was just a very enjoyable place to be for awhile....Sparky managed to make 5.00 go a long way for awhile on penny slots, and then--that's it! We were done! Time to go home. It's 5:00 here in Biloxi, MS....Tomorrow is a travel day to Louisiana...See you on the road!
cool van in the entrance to the casino--the back says, "It's 5:00 somewhere"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Exploring Ocean Springs, Mississippi

This is a beautiful area and Ocean Springs is a wonderful town...There are pretty shops and cute boutiques. There's a great old drugstore called Lovelace's Drugstore. It has an old fashioned soda fountain and cool booths, not much stock and inventory for anything else on the shelves, but there was a pharmacy there. Didn't have time for a soda, but it sure brought back memories of growing up in the fifties! We had a place near my childhood home called Mary's Cupboard. We'd go there as a special treat when we passed a swimming class "grade" and have cheeseburgers, fries, coleslaw and green rivers, a lime phosphate drink. We looked forward to that simple reward more than anything and worked hard to pass the "grades" in swim class at the local high school. With three brothers coming behind me, and all of us taking swim lessons, we got to go fairly often to Mary's Cupboard.
It's fun to see these places still in existence....
There are cool looking shops and restaurants lining the streets of Ocean Springs...
There's a great Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center in Ocean Springs that is an old railroad station depot. At one end, is a gift shop that sells the artist, Walter Anderson's creations. They are beautiful. There is a museum in the area celebrating his artwork and background. He suffered from major depression and struggled with it all his life. He left his understanding family and lived in solitude for many years on one of the area islands, living in all kinds of weather with minimal supplies and possessions, often sleeping under his boat. Quite a story behind this man....a sad existence but a remarkable artist.

On one list of ten things to do in Ocean Springs, there's not much mentioned as far as actual places to go see, but Biloxi is just over the bridge two miles from Ocean Springs and there's more going on there than you could possibly have enough time to do and see it all!  Hurricane Katrina damaged so much in this area, that much of it has been rebuilt and remodeled. Everything looks clean and new, but every once in awhile, you see the relics from the storm-- a partially sunk boat, the empty vacant lots between the new apartments and houses, the remains of someone's home. Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S., so they are struggling mightily state wide, but you can't tell in the Ocean Springs area.

Here is a sample suggestion from a local brochure of ten things to do while in Ocean Springs-- besides go to the beach, which is a given!

Pitcher plant
1. Enjoy the year round display of the pitcher plants, black eyed susans, daylilies and more...
2. Take a stroll under the magnificent live oaks...
3. Pick up a visitor's guide at the Chamber of Commerce on Main Street--then shop at over 150 shops and galleries.
4. Gig for flounder by moonlight..."Gig"...hmm-m-m..that sounds intriguing..I'm assuming it means go fishing!
5.Watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico
6. Visit the Walter Anderson Museum of Art
7. Take in a live performance at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education
8. Explore the bayous and river tributaries by kayak. Sparky has already checked that out and can see getting lost VERY easily. Not sure she is going unless it's a straight shot out and back. All the curves and inlets and marshes look the same out there!
9.  Pedal your way around the city's bike route. There are over 20 miles of cement path right in town plus lots more miles outside of town. But it's awfully hot for that this next couple of days, temps around 90.
10. Picnic at the beach at the beautiful Fort Maurepas Park or check out some cool mosaics right by the bay bridge to Biloxi--the Ocean Springs/Biloxi Bay Bridge. These were done by four local artists and artist, Elizabeth Veglia arranging the placement and installation. The mosaics are 550 square feet of beautiful tile designs of the Ocean Springs beach area. Gorgeous!

As Sparky is not much of a shopper, we spent more time down by the bridge and the waterfront park. There's a protected walker's lane on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Many people were out this evening walking the bridge for exercise. You could bike it, but the incline is steep and most people choose to walk. It's a beautiful, new bridge.
view from underneath the bridge
We explored the waterfront and marina by car.....What's with the pink dredging equipment? Don't know, but it's cool!
We liked this sign at the dock....In case you can't read it, it says, "Size Does Matter".....

We enjoyed our exploratory little trip around the town of Ocean Springs. It's truly a place to kick back and a vacation destination! The Mississippi Crane Wildlife Refuge is very close by and there are many other wonderful places to see and things to do. We could see spending a couple of weeks here and more, especially since our RV park is 8.00 a night, but we only have two and a half days. We'll definitely come back. And look what's across the water in Biloxi!..There are lots of casinos in the Biloxi area. Plenty of places to eat cheap, have a little fun, and the competition for the tourist dollar is tremendous along with lots of top notch entertainment begging for your buck.  As a matter of fact, tomorrow is the grand opening of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi...We're going to check it out! See you there!