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 headed 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 park 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. 

Beautiful sunset at Fort Pickens

Another shot of that beautiful sunset

We did spend one night down on the beach watching the sunset. It was quiet and serene. The pictures above 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.

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……

Our Last Days in Tennessee

As I blogged about previously, we are leaving Tennessee bound for Florida. How long we will be in Florida is still debatable as we plan on taking it one day at a time. The two main reasons we chose Florida is because one, my kids live there and two, there will not be any snow this winter to deal with. The past few days have been a little chilly here in Tennessee and our furbabies are getting a little too cold as well. I think they will love the warmer temperatures.

The last three weeks have been spent between the Nashville and Knoxville areas with our final week being back at Shady Acres RV Park in Lebanon, TN. Lebanon is about a 10-15 minute drive to Nashville and it’s where it all began for us as a couple. When I met Greg back in November 2013, he was living in a Sundance trailer at Shady Acres RV Park. Soon after he moved in with me, we got married and the rest is history as they say or maybe not, especially with us. We ended up trading the Sundance for a Gateway in September 2014, put the house up for sale in November 2014, and closed on the house in December 2014. We had gone to Florida for Thanksgiving and had decided that when we came back we would continue to live in the fifth wheel full-time. The cheapest place in town was Shady Acres, so that’s where we ended up not thinking it would be a big deal to find a place to stay as they do not take reservations. Unfortunately we could only stay a couple weeks max and then we had to move on, but it’s where we started our full-timing lifestyle and where we are ending our travel days as we are back here for the last week of our time in the Nashville area.

There are many things I will miss about Tennessee, but I know I will be back here again many times over. I love the fact that you can tell one season from another as there is actually a fall, winter, spring and summer here. I love going to Cades Cove and catching a glimpse of the deer and bears. I love the waterfalls throughout the Smokies and other parts of Tennessee that I have visited since living here. I love the friends that I have made and will miss you more than you will ever know.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve actually been here almost 6 years. When I showed up in this town, I came with very little. I had no friends or family here, nor a job, but that all soon changed. I have met some wonderful people while on my journey here and I’m leaving with one of the best things I could of found and that is my husband, Greg. I will always be grateful and feel blessed to have him in my life as he has given me more than I deserve or ever thought possible. Although life takes us down many paths I firmly believe that there is a reason for everything that happens. Coming here alone was for a reason, what that reason was, I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe it was so I would meet Greg….maybe it was for me to learn to live on my own…..maybe it was so my grown kids would have to grow up even more, but this time without Mom being so close…..I really don’t know why, but I’m excited to be headed back to Florida….back to where my children and grandchildren are…..back to only being three hours from my aging parents instead of six hours and back to what is familiar to me.

Farewell Tennessee until we meet again…..

How We Remodeled Our RV

From the moment we bought our Gateway, I have contemplated making changes in order to make it more homey feeling. I’ve never been a fan of wallpaper walls and I hate carpet, especially with pets in the house all the time. However, when we first moved in back in November I was still working full-time and from there we were traveling full-time, so the opportunity to make drastic changes never presented itself. The only change I made right away was getting rid of the balloon valances that came with the RV. There was some differences in the furniture in what the stock photos show and what we actually had, but not much. We had two recliners with a console in between on the same side as the dining room table and then the other side had a couch that included a lounge chair on one end. All the seats had recliners, but wasn’t the most comfortable or well-built.

Being that we had to totally remodel our sticks and bricks before we could sell, you would think I would have had enough painting and redecorating, but I get bored easily and the best way to fill the boredom was to start a big remodel on our new home. After a little persuasion with my hubby, I got the go ahead to paint and install new flooring. It’s funny what a few coats of paint and a few personal touches can do to make a place feel like home.

As for the furniture, we exchanged the loveseat recliner and console for two Euro chairs and ottomans along with a side table with built-in charging ports for phones and computers. The couch was exchanged for a single chair, side table and an area for the doggy crate. I do not like clutter and needed a place for the furbabies to have their house as well. We left the dining room table as is. We removed all the carpet in the living room and installed Allure flooring from Home Depot in both our slides, living room, dining room and kitchen area. In addition, I painted all the walls in this area as well. I did not want to paint any of the wood as I like the dark wood. My idea was to paint a lighter color that would help brighten up the place. I chose Cafe Cream for all the rooms except the bathroom. The curtains I had changed out when we first moved in were also updated with sheers that include a color design that brings out all the colors in the home: brown, green and cream.The shears allow light to come in when the shades are raised. I’m not sure which was worse in this area: installing the floor or painting the walls.Living Room

In the bathroom I chose the color: Simply Sage. The Allure floor was also installed and I changed out the towels and rug to balance out all the changes.Bathroom

We kept the carpet on the steps that lead up to the bath and bedroom area, but the section outside the bath was painted and new floor installed.Other Pics

In addition to the paint and new flooring in the bedroom, I also purchased new bedding. I left the curtains that I had originally updated when we first moved in, but I’m not happy with them and will probably change these out to. I don’t think the blue in the bed cover matches the blue curtains.Bedroom

All of the changes took about two weeks to complete, but we are very pleased with the outcome and if I had to do it over again I would have done it sooner. I have added little touches here and there, with flowers that can be changed seasonally, as well as a few more photos than what was originally hanging. With all the changes, it really does feel more like home.

The biggest downside to removing the carpet is having to clean the floor more often, but with two puppies that are still being trained, removing carpet has been a life saver.

Please share your remodel tips and ideas as well as suggestions. If you want more information about our changes, please feel free to ask.

Until we meet down the road…

Our First Trip in the RV

We took “Homer” out for his first outing this weekend to a KOA campground in Hurricane Mills, TN about an hour or so from home. We wanted to make sure everything worked like it’s suppose to and set up the satellite and just get a feel for what life is going to be like when we can do this full-time.

It was fun trying to find out what the unmarked switches go to especially when you discover blown bulbs. Eventually we got all the switches figured out but one. Still not sure what the one that says, “entry” is for as it does not make the light in the entryway come on. That switch is right at the floor to the left of the door when you come in.  I had to call Direct TV to get help with the satellite, but now we will be ready for our next trip. Although we had planned to visit Loretta Lynn’s place, we never made it there as football won out and just taking time to relax. It was much-needed after the last few weeks we have had.

On Sunday, we hooked up and dumped on the way out and right as my husband pulled out on the main road, the trailer came unhooked and fell on the bed of the truck. We’re not sure how that happened as he had put the pin in it, but it wasn’t there when it came loose. Damage to the truck is pretty bad as the weight of the trailer smashed the side of the truck bed and the tailgate. Homer is scratched, but all is fixable. The checklist I’ve been reading about on other blogs will now be put to use EVERY TIME we take Homer out.

UPDATE: The pics below were not added until 2020 when I finally found them on an old disk. I knew I had pics documenting this unfortunate event, but could not for the life of me find them when I made this entry way back in 2014. The pics will show you all the damage done to the bed of the truck as well as the damage to the RV. I didn’t get a picture of the RV when it was sitting on the truck as when it all happened Greg was quick to jump out and get the legs down to pick it up off the bed of the truck while we figured out what to do next. Luckily the hitch was not damaged so we were able to hook up correctly and pull the RV to the repair shop. The bed of the truck was completely replaced as it was beyond repair. The front cap of the RV had to be replaced as it was too far damaged to patch. The cover for the hitch area was also replaced.

We Picked Up Our New RV

After weeks of stress and tears and feeling at times like this would never happen, we finally got to bring “Homer” home today. Who is Homer?  Homer is our 38′, 2014 Gateway (3500RE) 5th wheel that we will be living in full-time while traveling the open road.

We had looked at some other styles and brands, but we weren’t completely sold on them. When we walked into the 3500 we both knew that this was the one we wanted. We had a generator and satellite added so we can do some boondocking and parking lot stops. We are planning our first yard sale in October as well as taking stuff to my kids as we eliminate all the “extra” stuff that will not fit in our new home. I’m waiting for the realization to hit me that this is going to be my new home and that everything I have known and done up until now will be totally different as we embark on this new life.  I really don’t think that will happen until we actually hit the road.