Monday, January 30, 2012

Spring Branch, Texas to Rio Frio, Texas

The 120 mile drive from Spring Branch to Rio Frio, Texas was short and pleasant. Good weather and little traffic. We arrived, set up and began to relax.

Spring Branch/San Antoio, Texas (Jan. 19, 2012-Jan. 30, 2012)

It had been a while since we visited my brother so we took this opportunity to do so. There had been a lot of changes in his family over the past few years for him and his family. Two of his children added a baby to their families. We were eager to meet them and catch up on everything. He had planned a family get together on Saturday to do just that.

After setting up and getting situated we all went to one of our favorite watering holes and eatery, The Shade Tree Saloon. The is a typical Texas roadhouse and the clientele are very diverse. They have the greatest burgers and the coldest beer in the Hill Country. We can attest to that.

Saturday we prepared for the afternoon's feast with the family and played with the dog's and drank beer; Shiner Boch, of course. Everyone started dribbling in after 1 PM and by 4 PM we had a house full, several grills full and a table full of food, hugs, laughter and lots of talk.  The babies were awesome and everyone enjoyed themselves.  By 8 PM everyone was exhausted, especially the Boys.  The next few days were spent visiting and relaxing.

Our last few days were spent trying to get prescriptions filled at the local Army hospital.  They had mixed up our order and instead of leaving on the Friday like we had planned, we had to wait until the next Monday.  No problem. We took the time to re-visit the San Antonio Riverwalk, the Alamo and have lunch with a dear friend of ours.

We had not seen Jean in several years.  In fact the last time we had seen her or my brother is when we rescued Rosco in June of 2010 (see September 3, 2010 post).  I had worked with Jean back in the late 80s and I and a fellow Signal Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduate convinced her to go to Air Force OCS.  From that time on we remained good friends and kept in touch.

We met her and her hubby, Alan, at a local joint in San Antonio.  We ate great burgers, drank good beer and caught up on old times.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with both of them.  Always look forward to our reunions.

On Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, we packed up and hit the road again.  Man, how we love hitting the road.  Our next destination was just a few hours from San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Orleans, LA to Spring Branch, TX

The 540 mile drive to Spring Branch, Texas was a bit longer than we liked to do in one day so we made it a two-day trip. On the first day we drove 375 miles to Brookshire, Texas and stayed at the Houston West RV Park just off of I-10. Leaving early we arrived at my brother's community RV Park around 11 AM. Was a good trip all the way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Orleans (Jan. 11, 2012-Jan. 18, 2012)

We had planned a week for visiting this area, but it was evident after the first several days more time was going to be needed to see and do everything on our list.  We made priorities on the list and worked from there.

First on our list was the famous French Quarter.  We devoted a full day (two four hour visits) to experience the Quarter.  Our first trip was on a late, cool, blustery morning and we walked all over the area taking lots of pictures and sampling a few of the many bars on Bourbon St.  This part of the city is devoted strictly to tourism and there certainly was not a shortage of that.  Even on a weekday and in the middle of January the place was packed.  We were told that in the evening, every evening, it is wall-to-wall people and they do tend to get rowdy as the night wears on.  That may have been our time years ago, but, alas, we decided not to put ourselves in that situation.  We'll stick to the daytime.

Next on our list was a driving tour of the old sugar plantations along the Mississippi river.  There are quite a few of these plantations that have been restored to some degree or another.  Our plan was to go up the east side of the river and return to our RV via the west side of the river.  We took the Boys with us because we did not intend to tour any of the plantations at this time.  This trip took the better part of a whole day and we were not as impressed as we thought we would be.  Many, save just a few, were in disrepair and were not open for tours.  We did, however, mark one for a tour: The Houmas House.

The Houmas House, described during its antebellum heyday as "The Sugar Palace.", is the "Crown Jewel" of the New Orleans area plantations.  Click here for a short history of this beautiful house.  The video shows only some of the awesome restoration that the current owner has made on this place.  If anyone wants to take a plantation tour, skip everything else, drive yourself to the Houmas House and take the tour.  Well worth the price and time.

Our last sightseeing day was back at the French Quarter.  We started early to miss the rush hour and had breakfast at the Cafe Du Monde.  This place should be on everyone's visit list.  Located in the market next to the river, it serves their famous Beignets (pronounced ben-YAYs) and coffee making it a perfect breakfast for walking around a city.

We finished up what we wanted to see in the Quarter and made it back to the Boys by noon.  The rest of the day was spent preparing to depart for Spring Branch, Texas, near San Antonio, the next morning.   Spring Barnch is where my brother lives and we planned to spend a few days with him and his growing family before heading on further west.

Our next visit to New Orleans will have more time devoted for seeing and doing what we missed.  At least another week, possibly more.  For now, though, we are happy to have seen and done what we had the time for.  It exhausted us, though, and we are looking forward to some down time.  Not sure when that will be though.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hattiesburg, MS to New Orelans, LA

Driving from our RV park near Hattiesburg, Mississippi to the Kampground of America RV Park in New Orleans, Louisiana was very pleasant. The 135 mile journey took a bit over two hours and with light traffic we arrived with nerves intact. Set up was easy and we settled into the evening planning the next day of sightseeing. We'll be here for a week so we are going to be able to see mostly everything we have on our list. Our walking shoes are ready.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Hattiesburg, MS?

We've been asked why we wanted to visit Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Well, at first we did not plan on it, but because the Sugar Bowl and the Bowl Championship Series  playoffs were both being played in New Orleans the week we planned on being all the RV parks were filled. Not wanting to remain in Pensacola we decided to go to the Hattiesburg area and explore that part of the country.  It is also, relatively, close to New Orleans so we did not go too far from our original destination.

Hattiesburg is a fairly new city, founded in 1884, but is steeped in a lot of history. Click here for a short history of the city.  It is quickly becoming a favorite area for retirement due to its climate and tax relief for seniors.  We found the people here are very congenial and polite, more so. it seems, than other areas we have visited.

The downtown area's historic district is under renovation, but like so many downtown areas across the country,  most businesses have closed or relocated to the malls on the outskirts of the city.  The city is home of Southern Mississippi University and depends upon the college activity for much of its business.  It is obvious the area is not economically challenged.  There is lots of residence and business construction.  The rural land outside of the city is mainly farm land.  The rolling hills are perfect for the many dairy and cattle farms as well as the big cash crop of peanut farming.

One of our roaming journeys brought us to a working farm that also hosts festivals throughout the year.  The Mitchell Farm is not only a farm, but a history lesson complete with a museum.  I was able to speak with one of the Mitchell family and we discussed the possibility of there being a link to our Mitchell heritage since many migrated through this part of Mississippi.  There may be a link very far back, but I could not find one before 1745.

We both agreed this part of the country is beautiful and would not shy away from settling here.  But alas, there is so much more of this country to see.  We'll keep this place in mind.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pensacola, FL to Hattiesburg, MS

Okatoma Resort and RV Park near Hattiesburg, Mississippi was our destination on Wednesday. The 200 mile journey took about four hours and was very enjoyable. The weather was outstanding (up to 65F) and the traffic was light. We will be here for a week while we explore this part of the Magnolia State. From what we have seen so far it is a beautiful area.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pensacola, Florida ( Dec. 21, 2011- Jan.4, 2012)

These past 3 weeks have, literally, flown by for us. It always does when we are here. The Oak Grove RV Park on the Pensacola Naval Air Station is one of our favorite places. This is the reason we chose to spend our holidays here. We have done it in the past and, hopefully, we can do again in the future.

Having been here several times we know the area fairly well and have seen all of the sights more than once so we took this opportunity to kick back, relax and eat some good seafood. Good strategy and it paid off.

As mentioned before the park is almost on the beach and is teeming with many different kinds of birds. I was fortunate to get some great pictures of many of them. The most elusive was a pair of great horned owls. Usually by the time they came out it was too dark to photograph them. One day, however, they started hooting before the sun went down and I was able to catch one of them perched in a tree close to us. They, along with a great blue heron, were among the park's "permanent" residents.

Within walking distance from the RV park is the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Always a great place to spend the day rambling through the exhibits. It is one of the most visited places in Pensacola and is open to the public.  There is no admission. Close by is Ft. Barrancus. It is quite well preserved and is, also, free.  Another free attraction next to the museum is the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum.  All of these sights are within a half mile of each other.  If you are ever in the Pensacola area make sure you spend at least a day to see these great places.  Note: they are all on the Pensacola Naval Air Station so proper identification will be required to enter the base.

So the Holiday Season is now over and it is time to move on.  Next stop is the Okatoma RV Park and Resort in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Looking forward to the change in scenery.