Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Rockport, Texas

Tonight is Christmas Eve.  I actually got here Friday, the 21st, but I have something to share with you about my trip from Kinder, Louisiana to Rockport, Texas.  The day I left Kinder it was pretty windy and I knew there was going to be some wind that day but it got worse.  I fought the wind until I got past Houston, Texas and then for safety reasons I just had to stop for the night.  I decided to pull into a WalMart parking lot and set it out.

I was doing fine until a couple of big trucks pulled in beside me and refused to shut off their engines.  I got frustrated and moved to the side of the parking lot where it was quieter.  The wind blowed like I have not seen and after dark a guy, I won't say more about him, started knocking on my door!  I was not about to open my door but he kept pounding so I hit the panic button on my tow vehicle and the alarm went off.  Well, he took off running so I think I called that one right.   I tried to get some sleep but the wind was frightening and I was a little shook up so I sat up most of the night hoping the trailer wouldn't turn over.  I did make it through the night and took off the next morning, still with wind but not as bad, and headed for Rockport.

So here I set on Christmas Eve feeling a little sorry for myself.  I really miss Pati and the boys.  In 46 years I have never had Christmas without Pati except for 1967 when I was in Viet Nam.  It is very difficult.  The RV park I am staying in is having a White Elephant thing tonight and I intended to go.  I even got a gift and wrapped it but I have decided not to go.  I just do not feel comfortable going alone.

I went to a little birthday thing last night for a one of the neighbors and one of the folks asked me where my wife was.  It really hit me hard and I know that person meant no hurt but it did make me very sad.  This is probably not a good decision but it is the one I made.  I am going to set here by myself and probably drink too much but that is the way it is for now.  I will go to Christmas lunch tomorrow with this group of RV park neighbors that I don't know.  I plan to make a sweet potato casserole to add to the meal and try hard to enjoy myself with some very nice folks.  I will tell you more after Christmas and share some initial pictures of the area.

Christmas Day, 2012

I actually didn't drink too much last night and went to bed early so got up early this morning and made a sweet potato casserole as my contribution to the RV Park's Christmas dinner today.  It turned out really good but was just one of many delicious items at our spread, including a turkey and a ham provided by the campground hosts, Pam and C.J.  They are super nice people and go out of their way to make sure everyone is happy and has everything they need.  I picked the right place to stay but I can only stay until Feb.1st and then I have to move to make room for someone else that reserved my space and there are no others available.  I put a deposit down on a space in a little park in town and it will do for the month of February but I would rather stay right where I am.  Maybe someone will cancel and I can stay here.

After dinner today, my neighbors invited me and some other folks to have drinks with them.  It was really nice and we let our dogs (we all have a dog) run around and have fun.  A storm was blowing in and the temperature, which reached 80 degrees today, quickly started dropping so we had to give it up about 6pm as it was getting too cold and windy.  As I am writing this the wind is really blowing out there and it is getting colder.  It will get near freezing tonight and around 55 tomorrow but it will warm back up in a few days.  I will download a few pictures here to show where I am etc.

My home until Feb 1, 2012

I am working on losing that gut!

This is how I spend most of my time, weather permitting.

Rockport Marina

Rockport in the city

Rockport Marina area

Free ferry going to Port Aransas on Padre Island

GPS on the ferry

Lots of beach on Port Aransas and you can drive on it.

Corpus Christi, Texas

My neighbors trailer.  They are from Arkansas.  Everyone is taking bets on how long they will last in this little guy!  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Christmas Gift

I have to share with those of you who have not seen this on Facebook.  My son, Jason, a graduate student in multimedia services in Portland, Oregon put this together in memory of his Mom, my wife, who died of  an inoperatable brain tumor June 16th of this year.  I know some of you don't know us but this is worth watching to see what a beautiful lady she was and what a wonderful life she lived.  I am very proud to put it on my blog and I am very proud of Jason for taking the time and effort to create it.  I think he did an excellent job and his Mom would be proud of him.  Click on the following link and then click on the screen  to view his montage and then click the little icon in the lower right hand corner to get full screen.  It will be worth your time.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coushatta RV Resort & Casino, Kinder, Louisiana

I made it to the resort and I am pleased with what I found.  This place is really big!  It is also first class.  I signed up for three nights and found a coupon on line that gave me an additional two nights for free so I am going to be here until next Wednesday, the 19th.   I have reservations in Rockport, Texas on the 20th so looks like Holidays on the Texas Gulf Coast.  Yahooooo!  That's Texas talk for something.  Up in the PNW we go Wohoooo!

The first thing I did when I got here was go over and check out the big casino and all the eating places.  I hate the smell of cigarette smoke but it comes with the territory.  I even played a few dollar machines just for fun and won ten dollars!  So I treated myself to a cold local beer, six grilled oysters in the half-shell and a basket of onion rings.  Very good.  I even got hit on by a lady that sat down next to me in the bar.  I acted like Forrest Gump and brushed it off as I have no interest except social friendship, and maybe that was the intent, but it seemed a little odd when she sat next to me and there were lots of other empty stools at the bar.  She inquired about my oysters!  Hmmmmmm.  If nothing else it boosted my ego for a moment even if I was wrong.  The next morning I decided to continue treating myself so I went back for breakfast and had biscuits and gravy. Also very good.

Yesterday, Saturday, Dexter and I drove around the area to see what is here and discovered quickly that there is not much here.  Small towns and that's about it.  There was a Cajun Christmas Festival going on in the little town north of us so I went.  It was a very small town affair but kind of neat too.  I sure had some looks from the locals but walked around all the booths and decided to take home dinner since the food looked and smelled so good and was home cooked.  I bought a bowl of Cajun Gumbo and a home made pickle which  was really big.  It was very good for dinner and very filling.  I need to learn how to make that gumbo.

Today it is raining very, very hard so I am sitting inside writing and piddling.  I always said I wanted a tin or metal roof so I could hear the rain falling but I don't think I want that anymore.  The rain hitting on the roof of  this travel trailer is almost deafening and I'm already hard of hearing.  I will settle for a front porch like we had in San Antonio so I can sit in a swing or rocking chair and see and hear it.  I really miss that porch and sitting on it with Pati.

I may watch a good movie later just for a change.  I've got some good ones that Jason made for me for these times.  Something happy to cheer me up.  I am feeling a little guilty because I didn't go to church this morning as planned.....just didn't feel up to it.  I should have gone and prayed with others for the children and teachers that were murdered in Connecticut.  I am sad enough as it is but that really added to my sadness.  God bless them and their families.  I never missed a chance to hug my Pati and my children and tell her and them how much I loved them. I hope we all take every opportunity to do the same with all our loved ones, especially the children.

There really is nothing here to show pictures of so I will sign off until I get settled in Rockport and let you know how things are there.  Adios.

I was looking for a way to say good-by in Cajun and I came across this site.  Very interesting and you should check it out if you have time.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leaving New Orleans

I had to extend myself for an additional day here near New Orleans because my mail did not come in until today.  That will give me a chance to do nothing again for another day.  Whoopee.  It is getting pretty boring around here.  My leg is still very tender so I can't even get in some good cardio exercise.

Yesterday, December 12th, I took Dexter with me (he was glad to go even if he had to stay in the car) and we drove about 60 miles to a plantation called Laura: A Creole Plantation.  It was very interesting and the tour was very informative.  This plantation, which dates back to 1804, was a 10,000 acre sugarcane plantation on the banks of the Mississippi River and had over 500 slave laborers.  It was owned and managed by the same family until sold in the 1930's with the women in total control of the business during it's time.  I must say I really enjoy seeing stuff like this that has so much history.

The main plantation house.  Not as pretty or elaborate as some others I have seen.

Slave quarters. Up to ten people slept lived here and there were over 50 on the plantation 
These are some of the home implements the slaves used.

I am known for being wishy-washy so in trying to maintain that reputation, I made a decision to turn around and head back west towards Texas last night.  I am not comfortable down here and I fear it may get worse if I keep going east.  I have found myself feeling really sad since being here.....sad because it is so lonely without Pati, there are no people around in this rv park and the feeling of being alone in a new place with no friends or relatives close by.

A friend sent me an email today.  She lost her husband four years ago and relates well to my issue.  She sent me a quote that is quiet true.  Queen Elizabeth II said in a message to the US after 911, "grief is the price we pay for love".  How true is that?!  Loving someone or being in love is both the happiest and saddest times we will ever face.

So....tomorrow I am heading back west to a place called Coushatta Casino Resort in a small Louisiana town called Kinder, fairly close to the Texas state line.  I picked it because it is a five star resort with excellent reviews, has a first class rv park and numerous restaurants to partake in and a golf course so I can hit the driving range and the putting green a bit.   That plus the fact the daily rv rate is low ($20-25) and if I stay for three days I get two additional days free.   I am not a gambler so won't do more than play a few slot machines plus I hate the smell of cigarette smoke.  At least I will be around people for a change.

I plan to stay five days and then head down the Texas coast to Rockport, Texas before Christmas day. That was my original plan anyway and, although I consider Oregon my home state, I feel comfortable in Texas since Pati and I lived there for the last seven years of her life and I was born and raised in Texas.  I  intend to go back through San Antonio and visit some old friends and look at my options before I head back to the Northwest around June.  I grew really fond of the Hill Country around Boerne north of San Antonio where we built our dream home before our world crashed.  I may even look around that area for a small home or lot to build a small home on for a winter home.  It is pretty expensive and I doubt I can afford it now but worth checking out.  I plan to do the same thing next Summer in Bend because that is where I would really like to have a permanent home if I can do it.

More about me after I get settled in at Kinder, Louisiana.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Orleans

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I have been at the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, Louisiana since last Thursday.  It is located about 15 miles south of New Orleans.  I just did necessary housekeeping and laundry on Friday and relaxed.  Saturday I decided to drive south on Hwy 23 as far as it went into the Gulf of Mexico and see what was there.  Well, I drove 80 miles and this is what I saw at the end of that highway.

Not much down this way except a bunch of oil and gas refineries, oil rig support companies, the US Coast Guard and alligators.  I did not see any alligators to take a picture of.  I did see some pretty areas like these.  Notice the pelican. Right after I took the picture he dove into the water for lunch.

On the drive down and back I took a few pictures of the areas but there was not much to see.  The past hurricanes had pretty much eliminated most permanent structures and they were replaced with mobile homes, manufactured homes and travel trailers.  Pretty depressing.  I decided to take a few pictures of a pretty church and a cemetery, which shows how the deceased must be buried here since the whole area is actually below sea level.

This old fort was interesting but it was closed off to the public so I could not see much except the exterior.  It was built right off the Mississippi River, as you can see from the third picture.  One big river!

Fort Jackson

Mississippi River

Today is Tuesday, December 11th.  We had a big wind and rainstorm come through the area yesterday and the temperature dropped drastically.  It was in the mid to upper 70's prior to the storm and today it is in the low 50's.  I am cold!

Not much to do today so Dexter and I got out of the trailer to get some exercise.  I have been taking a mile walk around the RV park daily and Sunday I rode my bike for three miles so today I decided to walk two miles.  I know how far I walk because I have an app on my i-phone that tracks me via GPS.  Kinda neat.

Anyway, I was doing just fine until about a half  mile from returning to the trailer my right calf muscle started seizing up on me.  I stretched and whined and slowed way down and finally got home but that muscle is giving me a hard time now.  Iced it down with Icy Hot....good stuff and gave some relief but it is sure sore.  The big problem with this little glitch is that I was planning on going to the French Quarter tomorrow since it is supposed to be in the 60's and sunny.  I will make that decision in the morning.  If I can't do it this time due to my leg injury, I plan to leave here on Thursday or Friday and head over to the Pensacola area.  The Navy Blue Angels are based at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola and put on a show as they practice every Tuesday and Wednesday.  I would really enjoy seeing that.  The Navy Museum is also located there so lots to do and see if I can stay for a couple of weeks, which puts me past Christmas Day when I move on over to Panama Beach for New Year's.  I fear I may run into a problem finding a spot to camp due to the time of the year I am going into a resort area.

I am going to miss this RV park and base.  Only five of us here and there must be over 100  spaces and it is a really nice park and base.  I plan to come back here in February and stay for the Mardi Gras.

Nice sunsets down here.

The view from my chair outside the door to my trailer.  That is the laundry and restrooms  building and a good place to have close in case of a tornado.

My home sweet home for now.  No complaints!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lafayette, Louisiana

Today is Monday, December 3, 2012.  After two weeks of quiet and solitude I was feeling pretty good as I drove south on Hwy 67 heading for Louisiana.  It was a really nice drive to Lafayette, Louisiana, which is about 200 plus miles from San Augustine, Texas.

I found a pretty nice little campground in the middle of the city but, like my last campground, feels like you are in the county.  It is  called Acadiana Campground and is owned by the Parish and only charges $13.00 a night.  No septic at the sites but not a problem as I only plan to stay three nights and have a chance to eat some great Cajun food and visit the Acadian Cultural Center and Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park.   Pati and I visited here about ten years ago and really enjoyed the area.  It is the heart of Cajun country and the food was very good.  Pati did not like Cajun food at all but I sure made up for what she didn't eat......and I plan to do it again this time.

This evening I am going to eat at a place called Prejean's, the same place we ate previously.  They have an excellent menu of Cajun, gulf seafood, wild game, steaks and chicken.  Very good stuff but have to be careful of the spices.  They claim this is the perfect place to "Laissez Les Bons Temps Rroule" (let the good times roll).  We will see.  It has been raining since I got here but seems to have slacked off a bit so I plan an early dinner.

Big mistake!  I enjoyed my dinner somewhat but should have ordered the catfish. Instead I ordered fried oysters thinking of how much I liked them in Oregon on the coast.  Well....these were baby oysters and mostly breading so not so good.  I will learn by my mistakes but it sure is costly sometimes!  Catfish south, oysters north.

Second mistake....rain.  I mis-judged that too.  It is coming down in buckets with thunder and lightening.  Pretty scary and very loud on the roof of my travel trailer.  I checked on line and we have a flash flood warning in the area now....over two inches in the past hour and more to come.  I think I am ok as my site is elevated a bit.  I keep looking out the door to be sure.  No choice but to ride it out and see what tomorrow brings.  I actually feel bad for the young couple and their young son who are tent camping close by.  I noticed they put a large piece of plastic over their tent so I wish them well and will keep my eye on them.

Well it is Wednesday and I decided to stay another night and go see some of the history of this area.  The rain slacked off but it is cool and overcast.  My tent camping neighbors are fine so I guess they are used to this weather.

Today I visited the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center first and learned a lot about the Acadian people and how they ended up in Louisiana after being banished from their homeland in Nova Scochia.  Very interesting and sad but in the end they prevailed.  I then visited Vermilionville, a Cajun/Creole Heritage and Folklife Park.  It too was very interesting but mainly consisted of refurbished houses and buildings from 1765 through 1890.  The best part of my day was having lunch at their restaurant called La Cuisine de Maman's Cajun & Creole.  I had a bowl of Etouffee with shrimp and dirty rice, crawfish, sweet potato fries, coleslaw and bread pudding.  It was excellent and I had so much that I took half of it home and had it for supper again!  I can sure understand why everyone's "girth" is a bit bigger than average.

I took the picture about half way through the meal .
The meal was great but eating alone really sucks!

Tomorrow I head down along the Cajun Coast and on east to Belle Chase where I plan to stay a week or two at the Naval Air Station RV Park.  More to come.