How We Wrapped Up 2016

The month of December brings us to the end of another year. This year has had ups and downs. January started with me taking a part-time job as we sat in Tallahassee trying to decide if we were going back on the road or staying put. It didn’t take but about six months for us to decide that what we really wanted was to be on the road travelling, so off we went. Our first trip was only for a couple of weeks to Louisiana and back to Florida. Come July we began what was supposed to be a 4 month trip to the New England states and back along the eastern coastline.  This marks the second time we have tried to visit the eastern coastline and had to cancel and head back home. The first time being back in 2015 when we first began our full-time travel.  

Our journey north started out good and for the first couple months we really enjoyed all the places we got to visit. The most memorable being our trip to Niagara Falls, followed by all the covered bridge sightings. Our time in the North Carolina mountains brought us or at least me some scary moments on the trip up and down the mountain, but nothing that I wouldn’t attempt to do again as the sights were beautiful and seeing the elk was more than worth the drive.

Unfortunately in September we were hit with a big setback when Greg had to have emergency surgery. Thankfully he is doing good and we are hopeful that in February he will have a second surgery to reverse part of the first one and once recuperated we will be back on the road enjoying this beautiful country. After two attempts of trying to see the east coast, we are going to forego that area for now and head west. We want to view some annual lots around Lake Fork in Texas, where we hope to settle one day, before heading to Monterey, California.  

CHRISTMAS

While staying in Florida, I was able to see two of the grandkids at Christmas time. I visited the one who lives in Louisiana right before Thanksgiving and since his mom is expecting a little girl in April, I decided to forego a trip back there until closer to delivery time.

 

Greg and I spent Christmas day out on the lake as we have a great RV spot on Lake Talquin that is known for great bass fishing.  We try to go out in the boat at least once a week at a minimum.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas holiday and we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Our RV Journey to Louisiana

June 17th – 20th – Eastbank Campground, 153 Eastbank, Bainbridge, GA

We arrived at Eastbank Campground on the 17th a little before 5:00 pm. We had site A01 with a waterfront view. Unfortunately the place was covered with Mayflies, which attacked our rig and truck and would attack you when you got close to them. Despite the annoyance, we still enjoyed our view and gator watched every day we were there. I know most people prefer whale watching and when I finally get a chance to do that, I’m sure it will be more thrilling than watching gators. 

Mayflies

The first day we saw at least 4 different ones floating around going back and forth in front of our site. Being that we didn’t get up close and personal and because they were in the water the whole time, I can only guess how long they really were, but based on the size of their head and the length of the body that rose out of the water, I would say they were anywhere from 3 feet on the small size up to about 10 – 11 feet long. On the second day, we didn’t see as many, but there were still some floating about.

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Alligator floating at Eastbank Campground

Another shot of Mr. Alligator

Our stay ended on Monday when we headed for Fort Pickens, Florida to spend a few days on the beach.

June 20th – 24th – Fort Pickens Campgrounds, Fort Pickens, Florida

We left around 9:30 (CST) on the 20th heading for Fort Pickens. We arrived around 1:15 PM at the registration station, but had to wait until 1:30 for them to open up as they close for lunch every day. While waiting we got to see the Blue Angels practicing. Check-in was a breeze. Our rate here was only $13/night using our Access pass discount. Not sure going without sewer for several days is worth it, but we’re learning to use less water so we can make it through our stay without having to go dump. One thing we learned as soon as we got to our site is we really should have bought a shorter rig. This thing gets bigger when you try to put it on what they tell you is a big enough site, but when you have trees on both sides, a 38.6 ft. fifth wheel is not going into that space. Luckily they found us another site a little further down and we were set up in no time. We spotted a dog bark on the way in on day one and took the dogs by to walk in the sand. We found out real quick like that our dogs are not water lovers. They did not like the sand, nor the water. Can’t blame them, I don’t really like the sand and salt water either. I prefer pool water. With that being said, why did we come to the beach? I have no idea! My husband said he wanted to stay here, so I made it happen. 

We did spend one night down on the beach watching the sunset. It was quiet and serene. The pictures below really don’t do it justice. We saw several families having family portraits made. Being a photographer myself, I love to see families preserving their family memories.

Beautiful sunset at Fort Pickens

Another shot of that beautiful sunset

June 24th – 29th – Bayou Segnette State Park, Westwego, LA (New Orleans)

Once we left Ft. Pickens, we headed towards New Orleans. This was my second trip to the city, but the first since Hurricane Katrina. The main place I wanted to go to was Café de Monde to taste some beignets. My husband had never tasted beignets before. I don’t think he was really that impressed with the place. I have to admit they weren’t as good as I remembered them the first time. The weather was extremely hot and humid during our entire stay, which made enjoying our time almost impossible. On Saturday, I drove to Baton Rouge to meet up with my daughter that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was great catching up and I hated to leave, but we will see each other again soon.

On Sunday, we made our way to New Orleans to see what we could. We were there during the heat of the day and it was miserably hot. We parked at Algiers and took the ferry across. We were able to see one of the Carnival Cruise lines, which was cool. Once we landed at Canal street we strolled to Café de Monde and ate our beignets, then strolled the streets some more. My husband wanted to drink a beer on Bourbon Street and he got his wish, but I have to say that street was so gross. The smell was absolutely disgusting. I could not get back to the ferry soon enough. I came to the conclusion that for me I have not lost anything in New Orleans and have no intentions of going back. 

On the ferry headed to New Orleans

On Monday we drove to Cabela’s about an hour’s drive away. This was our first time ever being in one and it was very interesting and entertaining with all the animals. I have no idea if all the Cabela’s are decked out this much with animals, but this one was very unique. In the evening a huge storm with thunder and lightning came and we lost power until the next day around noon. Lucky for us we have a generator, so we were able to have power. By the time power was restored on Tuesday, I was in no mood to get out, so we stayed at home. I was more than ready to leave on Wednesday headed for West Monroe. Some shots from our time in New Orleans.

St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

Dog on curb just sitting there. Owner wanted money if you took pic.

June 29th – July 2nd – Jimmie Davis State Park, Chatham, LA (West Monroe)

From New Orleans, we headed towards West Monroe. I had found another state park in the town of Chatham about 30 minutes south of West Monroe. Once we got off I-49, we were on back roads with miles and miles of nothing. We got our worse scare in trying to find diesel, so much so that by the time we got to the park, dropped the rig and found diesel, it was saying “0” miles left of fuel. I’m sure we had driven at least a mile with it saying “0”. I was doing some major praying hoping God would watch over us and thankfully he did and we got fuel before we ran out. 

Across the street was a mom and pop restaurant, J&H that we got dinner at. The food was decent and the sweet tea totally delicious. The atmosphere inside was that of an old-time diner with scriptures on the wall, family pics and many, many servicemen and women who have served our country for many years. 

On Thursday, we headed to West Monroe to find Duck Commander. It was easy to locate as it’s right off the main road. They have an area where you can make your own duck call and get a bobble head. We didn’t do that; we only got a picture made and viewed all the stuff in the store. From here, we went to Willie’s Diner for lunch. It was much bigger than what I expected. The food was good. We tried boudin for the first time. They talk about it on the show and we had no idea what it was. I have no idea what was in it and I probably don’t want to know, but it wasn’t bad. We also drove to the neighborhood that the boys all live in. Although you can’t get to their front door, we could see the back side of Jep and Jessica’s house. As for Si’s place, we drove right in front. I tried to get my husband to stop, but he wouldn’t. I told him I wasn’t scared to knock on their door. Maybe next time.

Duck Commander RV

Duck Commander 18-wheeler

Willie’s Diner, West Monroe, LA

Martin from Duck Commander

July 2nd – 5th Okatoma Resort & RV Park, Hattiesburg, MS

After West Monroe, we were headed back towards Florida, but we made two stops in Mississippi before getting there. Our first stop was at Okatoma Resort. It was an interesting place. They have several sites and at first wanted to put us in a back-in on the lake, but it was way too small for our rig, so we got a pull-thru, which is what we prefer. We were literally parked in what looked to be a dirt parking lot that they added extra sites to as an afterthought from the original park. It has a lake that you can fish in, a swimming pool and more, but even with all that we probably wouldn’t stay here again. The best part about this location was the farmers market located on the left side of the road when driving towards Hattiesburg. It was beautifully decorated with nostalgic decorations that reminded me of the good ole’ days and the fruit and veggies were delicious.

Okatoma Resort

July 5th – 7th – Davis Bayou Campground, Ocean Springs, MS

Our second Mississippi stop was in Ocean Springs which was just south of the bridge to Biloxi. We wanted to spend a little time at a casino, just for the sake of saying we had been. Luck was not on our side and it just made me think why do people spend hours and hours playing on slots losing money. It was crazy. The park we stayed at was the best place we had been in the past 3 weeks. We ventured out the first night for a good place to eat and found McElroy’s. I thought I was going to bust by the time I got through eating. I had shrimp and grits and they were the best I have ever eaten. The hubs had an oyster po’boy, which was not so good. He said the oysters should have been fried more for his taste. 

Hard Rock Cafe, Biloxi, MS

July 7th – 9th – My Parents

This journey was supposed to land us back in Molino, Florida at my parents to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. I won’t bore you with all the details that took place. I’ll just say that things didn’t go quite the way I had hoped. But I was able to see my two-year old grandson who I hadn’t seen in over a year. It made this trip worth all the bad we went through especially when that little man give his Nana much-needed hugs and kisses. He really knows how to make this Nana feel loved. On the 9th, we left my parents around 5:00 pm and found a little “hole in the wall” place about an hour away off exit 83 on I-65. It was perfect for an overnight. The pull-through was long enough we didn’t have to unhook and we could begin our 4 month journey the next day.

Let the journey begin……

Memorable Moments from 2015

March 2nd marked a year ago that we started our RV journey that would take us from Tennessee to Florida and back several times before setting down in Tallahassee back in October and to where we still are today. During those first few months we had some very memorable moments. Some of which we have been reminiscing about these past few days, so I decided I would share those moments with all of you.

1. March 15th. We drove all the way to Mississippi to pick up our eight week old fur baby, Oscar. He was born with beautiful blue eyes (they changed as he got older) and milk chocolate fur. I don’t know what we were thinking at the time in getting a dog, a puppy none the less when we were just starting our adventure. Looking back now, I’m glad we did, because he has been a big blessing for Greg. Pets are just like children in the fact that you make whatever sacrifices you need to make them happy and healthy.

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On the way home!

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2. March 27th – April 10th. We were staying in Moore Haven which was about a 15- 20 minute drive from Lake Okeechobee, which meant fishing. There’s just something about being on the water, the calmness and serenity of it makes life so much easier to deal with.

We spent several days on the lake in our kayaks. I only caught one or two a day, but always caught the biggest. On what would be our last day on the water, Greg spotted an alligator about 5-6 feet from his kayak. I was probably about 15-20 feet away. He was not having any of that and we were out of that water real quick. Had we been in a boat, it wouldn’t have been as scary, but in a kayak, the last thing you want to encounter is an alligator. Plus he was not a little one, he was a BIG one. 

Anna's bass

Anna’s bass

3. June 3rd- 6th.  A few days on Lake Guntersville in Alabama will help take all your worries away. This was absolutely the best place we have stayed at. Our site was right at the water’s edge and the sunsets and sunrises were beyond amazing. We were able to fish every morning and afternoon. Our Hobie kayaks were the paddle type so you just sit back paddle with your feet and use the steering handle to maneuver all around. It was amazing. Oscar loved sunning himself, looking over the edge or enjoying time in my lap. He loves the water. The amount of fish we caught were not enough to get excited about, but the fact that we were on the water enjoying the beauty of nature was what made our time here memorable.

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4. June 24-28th. We wanted to take our oldest grandson on a summer trip. We had originally wanted to go to Louisiana, but our plans had to be rearranged so TN it was. Our drive there included a flat tire which was a memory in itself that I don’t want to relive. The memorable moment was our trip to Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. Our grandson loves animals, especially sea life so we thought this place would be a great destination.

Because we have to have a way to carry the kayaks we had a rack on top of the truck. The rack adds height and can be a problem when you park in a garage parking lot. I’m the guilty party doing the driving that day and not thinking I pulled into the parking garage. Luckily I found a spot on the top floor, which meant I didn’t have to drive down into the garage…for now. Thinking ahead we knew we would have to remove the rack in order to get out at the end of the day, but for now we planned to enjoy the Aquarium. Once we viewed all the animals and enjoyed our visit, we heard down the strip to find lunch. Unbeknown to us the place we were headed for had closed so we had to find something else. By this time we had walked the entire strip. Now mind you my grandson is not athletic, never exercises and we are taking him way out of his comfort zone. We chose a place to eat, which was the worse place I’ve ever eaten at and the most expensive for what we ordered. The grandson wouldn’t even eat. While looking for a place to eat, we were also looking for a place that might sell a tool we could use to remove the rack, but had not spotted one, so I used my phone to search for an auto parts store.. The only thing we could find was Ace Hardware, which per the GPS was on our way back to where the truck was. So we walked and walked, but never saw ACE Hardware. I called them to confirm address, clerk confirmed and told me we were close so we kept walking. Eventually we were past where the truck was, so I called ACE again, spoke to another clerk and again was told they were just down from where we were. I guess what they didn’t understand was we were walking, not driving. After several more blocks we give up, went back to the garage we parked at and asked security for help. If only we had done that in the fist place we would have saved ourselves a lot of walking, but this memory wouldn’t have been as funny. Our grandson was so mad knowing that we could have saved all that walking and just gone back to the garage in the beginning. We thought it was funny and still laugh about it today.

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5. July 9th. Having one furbaby wasn’t enough, as daddy Greg thought Oscar needed a playmate, so on this day we drove to Mississippi again, different breeder to pick up our baby girl, Harley. She is Hershey chocolate and a tubby tail now. Hard to believe considering how tiny she was the day we picked her up. It took a while for the two of them to get use to each other, but now they are inseparable.

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There were many moments that were special to us, but these 5 ring out on top. We long to add to these memories and in time we will. Feel free to share a memorable moment you have had on your adventures in the comments below.

What Living in Nashville Meant to Me

This morning I woke up to a massive downpour. Not the kind of weather I like to drive in. On the way to work I thought I was back in Nashville on an icy frozen morning when I passed someone in the ditch. I thought to myself, it’s only raining people it’s not frozen ice…surely you can drive better than that! I always hated those icy mornings and I remember having a lot of those this time last year when I was preparing to work out my final days. All of this reminiscing made me start thinking about all the things I left in Tennessee.

When I moved to Nashville in late 2009, I moved there with very little. All I had was an apartment to move into and stuff to furnish it with. I had no family, friends or even a job when I landed there in December 2009. Ok maybe I had one acquaintance, but I had only known this person for about three months and had only seen them twice prior to my arrival. We became better friends once I arrived and he was able to show me around Nashville and help get me acquainted with my new surroundings.

It took till March 1st for me to start work and it was there that I made some of the best friends I had ever had. My co-workers soon became my friends and we shared many stories throughout my tenure at Vanderbilt. I miss them all very much, but especially Cheryl, who was not only my supervisor, but a person who became a great friend to me. A person I miss more than she probably realizes and someone I will never forget. I will always remember our trip to Mississippi to the casino to see Wanda Sykes in concert. We laughed more than I thought possible. We also gambled…well Cheryl did anyway. I’m a cheapskate and I didn’t want to lose my money.

As the years went on, I met many more people, each touching my life in one way or the other. Every one from my karaoke crew to my photography partner and more. However, my hardest departure was leaving my co-workers from Franklin American Mortgage, which is where I was working when we started traveling. The girls there meant more to me than I think any of them realized and I will always be appreciative of the times they listened and supported me.

I accomplished a lot during my years in Nashville. I went from being jobless to earning an MBA degree. Even bought a house and after meeting a lot of toads, finally met, fell in love with and married my prince. I guess you could say I accomplished a lot and as such it was time to move on, which we did in March 2015. However, with all that I accomplished and all that I have done, I will always remember my time in the big city and will always miss, not only the city, but the people I met while there.

To all of you that I met along the way, thank you for being a part of my life, in one way or the other.

How We Celebrated a Twelve Year Old’s Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

I can’t believe that 12 years ago today I was spending my morning in a hospital waiting for my first grandchild to be born. We already knew we were having a boy and we’re looking forward to this day for a long time. We had hoped for a normal delivery, but our little guy didn’t want to come and after two weeks past the due date, the doctor agreed to a c-section. So January 6th we were welcoming a new baby into the world. We had had it all worked out that I would be in the delivery room and was afraid that the doctor wouldn’t allow me in on a c-section delivery, but who was I kidding, my daughter wasn’t taken no for an answer. She was nineteen, her first child and scared to death and it didn’t matter that her husband would be with her, she wanted her mom too. Thank God I was able to go in and see the miraculous birth of my first grandchild.

I always thought giving birth was great, but getting to be on the other side of the screen was the most awesome experience I have ever had. Fast forward to today where we are celebrating that handsome baby boy turning 12 and I have to ask myself where has the time gone? I can’t wait for Saturday when he gets a surprise birthday party at his favorite restaurant that his Nana took him to on our first lunch date after we moved back to Tallahassee in October (pic above is from that day). He loves hot wings and come Saturday, he will get to eat as many as he wants.