A Travellerspoint blog

May 2018

Decided to lay low

May 29, 2018

Watching the news/weather it seems Alberto is now considered a Depression. More than one person suggested we would be fine carrying on eastward but we decided not to. Early this morning there were power outages in Alabama, our next state, and a flash flood warning in effect in parts of the state until 11am. We didn't HAVE to move on so we didn't; besides Denis really wanted to seek out an oil change for Harvey today, being over 6,000 km now.

Armed with a bit of information about things to see in Meridian we headed out around 10am. We toured a bit of downtown, walking a bit of it then set our aim on seeing Merrehope ("one of Meridian's only remain Antebellum homes" according to the internet - another site suggested it was because Sherman had resided there) and another historic home next to it (which I later learned was the "Victorian F.W. Williams Home, circa 1886"). Both elegant and suggesting an amount of wealth. Both our open for tours but since this is not usually Denis' cup of tea and in this heat and humidity it might not be very comfortable I didn't do it either.

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We carried on in search of the Dentzel Carousel. The downtown core had a number of carousel horses around all beautifully painted. We finally came up a brown sign indicating the carousel which we found in Highland Park, an historic park which opened in 1909. The park has the carousel which is now enclosed in a building. It, too, opened in 1909. TheJimmie Rodgers Museum is in the park as well. All these historic landmarks are in a part of Meridian you wouldn't just come across if you weren't seeking them out. Out of the downtown core and on narrow streets. Quite interesting, though.

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At one point, Denis turned right on a red light after coming to a full stop and, almost immediately, a siren is heard right behind us. He is certain the authorities are coming after him but the patrol car zips by and turns into a parking lot where another patrol car is parked questioning a black man. Another siren coming from the other direction attends as well. Later when Denis sees a group of state patrol officers outside of Olive Garden (our lunch option) he questions if turning right on a red is acceptable here in Mississippi, just in case. It is.

A pleasant visit to Meridian, an oil change for Harvey, and a lovely lunch at Olive Garden before heading back to the same RV park to partake in the good wifi and some mindless tv alternating with weather updates. A great day.

I was about to publish this when I felt the need to mention something about the wonderful southern accent and polite, respectful nature of all the folks we have encountered while in Mississippi. I have touched on it some in an earlier post I believe but it is so wonderful. This afternoon as I stood in line in the office to pay for another night the children of the owner/office person came in and came over to hug me saying "I'm a hugger." She was 9.... I was a tad surprised but pleasantly surprised. Yes, ma'am.... no ma'am.... so proper and not only from the older generation. I like Mississippi.

Posted by BevH 14:34 Comments (0)

Still in Mississippi

May 28, 2018

Time for a map as I was a bit surprised at how far we were from home when I actually looked at a map of the USA, rather than just a state:

{{music in our heads and we sing}} We're going to Jackson and that's a fact...... We're going to Jackson ain't never going back. Song running through my brain and this morning out my mouth. Now, according to the internet the lyrics had no specific Jackson in mind, but just couldn't get it out of my brain as we left the lovely state park we stayed in last night.

Tonight we are still in Mississippi, having a fairly light travel day, partly not wanting to run into Alberto and also because it was time for some housekeeping (laundry, floor cleaning, etc.) Last night we had a fellow camper come by and had quite the chat. He is born and raised in Mississippi and offered some suggestions of places and things to see in some of the states we are planning to visit on this trip. He also offered his opinions on life in Mississippi, one of which was that Jackson wasn't really worth a visit - capital or not. I am glad we opted to form our own opinion as we could not have asked for a better day to go into the state capital. Well, except, as Denis said, for the building being open for us to go inside (if it would've been permitted). The city was virtually devoid of traffic. We walked all around the capitol building then a bit more of downtown and our fellow camper was correct about the state of some of the roads and yes, only a couple blocks from the capitol building it looked quite awful but we were very pleased we had gotten off Interstate 20 to visit Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. The significance of the magnolia photo is that this is the Magnolia State and we have seen some very large magnolia trees, bigger than any I've seen in the past, mostly the flowers are past their prime but a few remain.

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Back on the Interstate we headed east, not planning to go very far at all. Spontaneously and in unison Denis and I broke out in song some 30 miles along the Interstate 20..... Three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway.... why there's not four of them heaven only knows... It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you.... It's what you leave behind you when you go. Yes, there were three wooden crosses on the right side of the 20 but no pictures only memories.

As we approach Newton, a brown sign draws us to leave the interstate once again -- this time to visit a National Cemetery. A good choice on this Memorial Day 2018. Here, as I leave the motorhome to take a couple photos a gentleman, staying cool in his truck, while his driver strolls the rows of crosses, makes his way out with the assistance of a cane. He asks if the map is places we have been. When I respond yes, he says he's going to go look at the map and introduces himself as Dr. Langley. The nature of the people down here in the south is so polite. I tell him this is our first time in Mississippi and he welcomes us.

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Back on the 20 we find ourselves often thinking how similar to BC the terrain and vegetation is. As I mentioned at the start we didn't drive too long, getting off the road and set up by 1:22 pm, having been checked in by a very southern woman. I'm sure she thought I had an accent but hers was quite the drawl. I had to concentrate to catch everything but she was very polite and the park is nice and has everything we need.

Posted by BevH 20:49 Comments (1)

Finally a new state for our map

May 27, 2018 – approximately 6000 km since we left home and we finally add a new state to our map: We started our day taking a short tour around New Iberia. Some lovely historic buildings, beautiful old, large trees with moss dangling from them, and an opportunity to get up close to a bayou, along a boardwalk on Bayou Teche.
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I also wanted to see the rice mill, even though it was closed and we wouldn't be able to tour it. It's the oldest rice mill still operating in the United States.
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From there we had decided to by-pass the Tabasco tour (yep, Louisiana, and specifically Avery Island just outside of New Iberia, is where they make the hot sauce). Instead we opted to go to Jefferson Island and visit the free Rip's Rookery. Supposedly some 12 species live there. The trees across the water from us were quite full of mostly white and pink birds. I always thought birding would be interesting but have not gotten very far with that so I will leave the sign to suggest what we might've seen. This is an interesting island as it really doesn't look much like an island to us as we did not cross a bridge to get onto it; perhaps if we went further into the attraction than the Rookery we would have. From what we were told it was formed by them drilling down the center of a salt dome. Supposedly Avery Island was created the same way. Quite an interesting story that you should be able to google if you are so inclined.
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As we headed back to the 90 East Denis was heard bursting forth with French Canadian songs of his past, feeling the cajun spirit all around. From his distant ancestors who were forced to leave their homeland to the people of one of his fave reality tv shows, Swamp People. He swears one of them is family.

She shimmies, she shakes with the road surface on the 90 – not me, silly, our hula pig mounted on our dash, skirt faded from the sun of our travels, backside almost exposed from the deterioration of the glue.

We detour slightly to seek out our first Louisiana casino, Cypress Bayou. They offer a generous new member reward -- $15 free play AND $15 food money. We play. I win $18.32 and Denis loses $25 but neither of us is losers as we leave with $30 worth of food for our Louisiana feast – chicken gumbo with rice, shrimp po-boy, and 1/2 a muffuletta. We would partake in it a little down the road and Denis would proclaim both the po-boy and the muffuletta very tasty and better than what he tasted in New Orleans a few years back.

We exited the 90 for the LA 70, Bayou Teche Scenic Byway, and thoroughly enjoyed the route. So much bayou and I love the look of the bayou. I love how lush it is and how the plants thrive in the bayou despite the terribly muddy water. This area is riddled with bayou. We also crossed the mighty Mississippi River twice today over large bridges. We contemplated how many bridges there must be in the state of Louisiana – must be a lot with all the bayou areas. We ended up going right through Pierre Part on our way to Donaldsonville which was a destination for Denis in particular as it was a place some collateral lines of his maternal genealogy came there after the Expulsion.

To many Pierre Part may not mean anything but I often hear in my house “Meanwhile down in Pierre Part” or “out in Benoit Bayou” exclaimed at the strangest of times from the mouth of my husband. It is from that fave tv show I mentioned earlier. He was so excited to go right through the town. We stopped on the outskirts to have that Louisiana feast I mentioned before carrying on to Donaldsonville along LA 1, Louisiana Scenic Byway (also posted as Hurricane Evacuation Route) then LA 18. A brief tour of the town then onward – direction: Jackson, Mississippi.
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Didn't go as far as Jackson but Mississippi is where we find ourselves tonight – in Percy Quinn State Park near McComb, Mississippi about 80 miles south of Jackson just off the Highway 55. We secured what she said was the last site. Don't know what I expected Mississippi would be like but not this – it seems pretty similar to our provincial parks with the vegetation. I found myself missing the bayou areas of Louisiana but this makes new state #1 of this trip.
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Today had some rain showers but no where's near as intense as yesterday. We have heard from another camper that the storm, Alberto, appears to be veering most eastward. We shall see. For tonight all is good, the smell of campfires permeates Harvey and sleep should come easily as it is a little cooler and less humid than it has been. This has, however, been the busiest park this trip but then it is Memorial Day long weekend and there is a lake in this park for water activities and fishing.

Posted by BevH 20:04 Comments (0)

Eastward to Louisiana -- "laissez les bons temps roulez"

May 26, 2018 : More humid to start the day in Shady Oaks RV Park, east of Columbus, Texas, just off the Interstate 10. Conscious of the tropical storm Alberto's projected course/timeframe we adjusted our course slightly hoping to avoid the worst. Neither of us having specific places or sites on our list in the southern part of the next few states, moving eastward. What is on our list: Memphis and Nashville (TN) ; Talladega (AL) ; Tupelo (MS) ; Branson (MO) ; GA & KY (no specifics there -- not yet anyway).

We had decided we would stop at the highly advertised Buc-ees some 40 or so miles east of where we stayed -- the Katy one. I'd read Trip Advisor reviews that said they always stop and others that said they always avoid it. We figured we'd best see it. Oh my!! Biggest ever travel center we've been at!! I could not even imagine one so big and it was so busy. We bought gas but nothing in the "Convenience store" just wandered around a bit in awe and it was crazy busy -- could not believe it.
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Next was to just get through Houston. We didn't care to stop. It actually was smooth sailing through Katy and Houston. Traffic was not horrible and the highway well marked. I snapped a few photos as we rolled through. We had changed our thoughts about the day's route slightly as we both felt it was important to finish off Interstate 10 in Texas as wikipedia touted it as the longest mileposted highway in North America I believe with the final milepost being 880 -- California has 799 on the I-5. We did it and entered Louisiana, having been in bayou country from before you cross into Louisiana. Though we count Louisiana as a state we've already been to it is new to Harvey and we have only been to Metarie and New Orleans (before and after a cruise). I noticed signs regarding new homes from the $200,000s between Baytown & Beaumont in Texas, much more reasonable compared to the ones I saw approaching San Antonio offering homes from the $400,00 - $2,000,000!!!!
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Heavy casino advertising as we entered Louisiana. In Texas, we had googled and found one casino and it was not anywhere near where we would be. As of tonight we still have not visited a casino in Louisiana. Our first stop inside Louisiana was Exit 29 - Lake Charles, the Chamber of Commerce. Two ladies at the desk were most helpful. I had my concerns about the best route with the approaching tropical storm. The one dismissed my concerns saying ma'am we play football in that kind of weather and then she asked where we were from. In the end, we decided not to head north as was our first plan and we even opted to head a little more south, meaning closer to the Gulf, to explore parts of the state that factor into some of Denis' history way back when the great expulsion of the Acadiens from the Maritimes. The ladies in the Chamber of Commerce recommended the route. We also asked them about recommendations for cajun food -- their suggestion Billy's and Don's -- I took it as one place with the two names but we saw billboards for Billy's and then saw Don's; we decided that whichever we found first would get our business. As we left the Chamber of Commerce we spied lightning in the distance. A quick visit next door to the Chamber and we saw our first captive gators this trip.
DSCF1588.JPGDSCF1595.JPGDSCF1587.JPGDSCF1590.JPGDSCF1592.JPGOn down the 10 we headed and the clouds darkened and we hit awful rain. Traffic slowed appropriately and most would put on their four-way flashers. Eventually we were at the exit for Billy's and Don's. Billy's it was, as we saw it first. It is known for its boudin, and by the amount of customers it is well-known. This was another experience... a non-descript industrial looking building, not restaurant looking and with a drive-thru. We secured a parking spot at the back and entered. Nope, definitely not a restaurant, just a couple tables and chairs and one whole side was the serving area with 4 or 5 cashiers/servers, the back wall had frozen product, and the other side beverages and fresh products. The menu consisted of boudin, boudin balls in various flavours, crawfish pie, and cracklin. And, there was a line up that created a horseshoe with I would estimate some 40-50 people all patiently waiting their turn and then buying, and buying lots..... wow!!! Denis said it was about 25 minutes from the time we entered till we walked out with our goods-- a bit over a pound of hot Billy's boudin, about $3 worth of salted cracklin and about $2 worth of spicy cracklin. Now, in case y'all don't know what boudin or cracklin are I'll educate you. Boudin is not the boudin that Denis grew up with in Quebec; in Louisiana, as he learned during our visit to New Orleans, it is a mixture of pork and rice and spices, made into a sausage or balls. He opted for the sausage. In Quebec, boudin used to be made with pork blood and rice and spices. Cracklin I had never heard of but it was basically pork rind lightly-coated and deep-fried. Tasty indeed but not very healthy...lol.... The spicy was a little too spicy for me but I did manage a few pieces.

After our cajun indulgence and a gas and grocery stop we sought out a place for the night. We found ourselves a nice RV park in New Iberia - Koc RV Park, in Iberia Parish, which is the southwestern part of the state known as Acadiana. Another day on our trek eastward is in the books so they say.

Oh, and, in case anyone is wondering -- yes, we still play the usual three games of crib nightly and currently Denis is in the lead, 31, to my 30 (as of last night)

Posted by BevH 20:13 Comments (0)

Some days don't go quite as planned

May 25, 2018

We made a somewhat leisurely departure from our lovely RV park in San Antonio and got on the 10 heading east. Our plan was to try to get around Beaumont, the other side of Houston. Don't think either of us had much desire to be in another big city so soon. Things changed about 40 miles east, give or take a few miles, milepost 634 a couple miles east of the turn off for Luling, Texas. A noise and then a smell -- a tire, one of our tires. Denis pulled Harvey off the road as far as he could. We've been here before, in this situation I mean, but the details were significantly different -- we were NOT miles away from big civilization, traffic on the divided interstate was not few and far between, and we DID have cell coverage. Phone call made to our insurer and a quick response that they would dispatch and should be there within the hour. That was 11:02 am when Denis was first on the phone with them.

Harvey certainly rolled with the displacement of air by passing vehicles and there were many as this is a Friday, start of a long weekend down here, and approaching noon. The vehicles, especially the big rigs, were very considerate for the most part wherever they could be in that they would move to the passing lane to not zip passed us so closely. You see, the speed limit is 75 mph on that stretch of I-10!!!

D&T Wrecker Services arrived on the scene in less than the one hour's time and set to work. Twice Harvey went up but not enough to get the tires off to put the spare on. Denis provided some blocks and -- third time lucky. Harvey has a bit of an interesting set-up of its back dualies (sp?) and I believe the fellow from the Wrecker Services learned some from Denis. When all was done we headed back west to Luling at the recommendation of the wrecker to get a new tire and put the spare back at the back of Harvey. Turned out the spare was flat and had a small hole. Smileys Tire Service didn't recommend replacing the spare, just fixing it. One new tire put on, spare fixed and set in place at the back and we were off to eat lunch. Remember I said it was 11:02 when Denis first called in to the insurer? It was 1:53 pm, only about 3 hours later, even lunch was done and we were back heading to the I-10 East. Our only thought was we don't want to drive too long.

We drove about 65 miles and secured a site in another Passport America RV park just east of Columbus, Texas n the I-10. Certainly not the calibre of the park last night but has most of what we require and some trees (a bonus) but a terrible bathroom. Still, we were just happy to be off the road (barely, I might add, as the park is not much more than 200 feet from the interstate).

Not quite as planned but could've been much, much worse. Denis did suggest perhaps his inner guide was talking with him as he said he had noticed briefly this morning that the one tire appeared a little flat. We both believe in such assistance; we just don't always act on it.DSCF1548.JPGd43aea50-6093-11e8-b136-af5584ff02b5.JPGDSCF1559.JPG09724470-6094-11e8-8b61-05acaa4b9786.JPG

Posted by BevH 20:23 Comments (0)

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