Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Before I make my last trip (hopefully) to the grocery store, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  Bill and I are enjoying time with my mother, and tomorrow we will gather with the rest of the family at my sister and brother in law's for the big Thanksgiving dinner.  I am looking forward to seeing my three nephews, who I haven't seen in a few years.

After dinner, the family will relax around a fire at their place.  Is this not the coolest fire pit?  My bro in law is very handy with the tools.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Travel Day with a Little Detour

Today we made it into Georgia.  It is nice to be back in my home state where things look, well, familiar...tall pines, squawking crows, and a church on every corner.

We stopped for the night at Whitetail Ridge Campground, a Corp of Engineer park on West Point Lake just outside Lagrange, GA.  Just look at this huge site!  This is why we love COE parks.  We have water and 30 amp electric...not bad for $12.00.
 
On our way today we did a short detour to visit Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.  This site is very well done and worth a visit if you are in the area.  I'm sure you are familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in the United States armed forces, but if not, click here to read about them. 
 
This site is where the airmen received their flight training.  Today, there are two hangers that have been revamped into museums.  This is hanger #2, and you can see the airfield is located just beyond it.
This is hanger #1.  Due to staff reductions, this hanger was not open today.  We did tour hanger #2, and it was very good.  We watched a 20-minute movie that really explained the importance of what these men did during WWII.
In the center of hanger #2 is a replica of a P-51 Mustang with the famous red tail and nose. 
Visiting this historic site has been on my to-do list for a few years.  Back in 2006 and 2007, Bill and I wintered in Titusivlle, FL, and I worked at a nearby H&R Block during tax season.  In 2007, I had the privilege to meet a Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. Hiram Mann, a client of the tax office.  Lt. Col. Mann had just returned from Washington, DC, where he, along with 300 fellow Tuskegee Airmen, were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal.  He came by to say hello and and to show us the medal.  The conversation we had was brief, but I could tell he was a very kind and humble man.   This picture was on display in the museum:
 

Lt. Col. Mann died in May of this year at the age of 92.  Click here to read an article from the Titusville Paper with more details of his life.

It looks like tomorrow will be a wet travel day.  Rain is predicted to move in tonight and last throughout the day tomorrow.  Glad we have a short travel day!
 

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Walk on the Beach

After a couple of days of cooler than we like weather, we have enjoyed the warmer sunny weather Florida is famous for!

Although Henderson Beach State Park is located directly on the beach, the campsites are not.  However, there is a well maintained boardwalk that leads to the beach.
 There are great sand dunes we must go around...
 ...before getting a first glimpse of that beautiful emerald water.
Is there any wonder why this is called Florida's "emerald coast?"

And this time of year there are more birds than humans on the beach.  Just the way we like it.
 Yes, these past couple of days have been just perfect for walking on the beach.
All good things must to an end, and tomorrow is our day to leave.  We will begin our trek over the river and through the woods to my mother's for Thanksgiving.  We will do one overnight before arriving in the Atlanta area on Sunday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blackwater Heritage State Trail

 

After getting the oil changed in the truck and stopping by to pick up our mail at American Home Base, our mail forwarding company, we headed to Milton, FL to bike the Blackwater Heritage State Trail.

This is a 9-mile trail that goes from Milton, FL to the Whiting Field US Naval Air Station.  Before the terrorist attack on 9/11/01, the trail continued onto the navy base, but now it stops at the entrance.

This was a nice paved trail that has a small visitor center and, benches and restrooms along the way. 
I am pleased to say we did the entire trail with no flat tires and even saw a few deer.
My most exciting moment was when I almost took out a squirrel.  I was riding along, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a squirrel came running full blast onto the trail, right into my front wheel.  I didn't run him over, but I think my front tire ticked him.  He never slowed down but ran to the other side of the trail, stopped, and began to yell at me...like it was my fault!  Bill was up ahead and stopped when he heard all of the commotion.  I guess riding a bike is more hazardous that I first thought.  It was pretty funny, though.

Here we are taking a break on our way back to the trailhead.

On our way back, Bill spotted these plants along the trail.  At first glance we thought it was a Jack in the Pulpit.  Upon closer inspection, it saw that it wasn't, but it must belong to the same family.

So, our second attempt at riding a Rails to Trails was a huge success!  We are looking forward to our next outing.

We made it back to the rig just in time to get this shot of the sunset.  Nice way to end the day, don't you think? 
 One last thing...I've had a few folks ask about how we find Rails to Trails.  We use the Trail Link web page.  On this web page, you can search by city to find trails in the area.  Bill and I consider ourselves beginners but have enjoyed our bike riding so far.  I encourage you to give it a try!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Destin, Florida



We arrived on Sunday to the warm and humid Florida panhandle, just before an incoming cold front.  Henderson Beach State Park is another beautiful Florida state park.  We took a walk down to the beach right at dark, so I have no pictures to share.  We'll get back there once the weather cooperates.

The winds picked up overnight, and then the rain began.  Yesterday was one of those "hunker in" type days, with wind and rain.  We had our high temperature of 65 degrees at 7:00 a.m., and it dropped steadily from there.  We hung around the rig pretty much all day.

Today, we awoke to blue skies, wind, and cold temperatures, with a forecasted high of 49 degrees.  With the cold temps, I thought a big batch of gumbo would be appropriate for dinner.  We headed out to a local seafood market to get fresh shrimp, and then we drove around a little to check out Destin.

All I can say is I cannot imagine what this place is like during the summer with the families vacationing here.  The restaurants are HUGE...at least two stories.  And talk about condos!  We did walk along the wharf to look at all of the fishing boats.  Although we never dealt with boats this large, it brought back lots of memories of when we worked and lived in the Florida Keys.  However, it was never this cold in the Florida Keys!

It was just too cold and windy to hang around outside, so we headed back to the rig.  Henderson Beach State Park has HUGE sites.  We are in a big pull-thru with water and 50 amp electric.  No joke...there is enough room on our site for two or three more vehicles.  The site is nicely graveled and has picnic table and fire ring.  Once the wind lies down, we hope to have a campfire one night.

As fulltimers, we are always tweaking things, especially our access to the internet.  With the demise of Millenicom and the limited bandwidth in Yellowstone, we knew we had to make some adjustments.  So, we are back where we started when the hit the road in 2005...satellite internet.  It's slow, but it works...no matter where we are.
Things should start warming up tomorrow.  Bill has found a nearby Rails to Trails, so we hope to give that a shot..and this time, we'll have a repair kit on hand, just in case.




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mandeville, Louisiana

 
We are wrapping up our visit to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA.  What a beautiful park!  Our main purpose for this stop was to visit with friends, Willie and Vera.  We met them in 2006, the first year we worked in Yellowstone.  In fact, Bill and I were mid-season hires and began working on July 4.  Not knowing what to expect, we were nervous.  Coming in mid-season had us wondering if we would fit in, if the group would accept us.

I'll never forget walking into the registration office that first day.  Vera was the supervisor on duty.  As we walked in, she smiled and said, "Welcome, Bill and Cathy" and made us feel right at home.  That was the start of a great experience, and as the old saying goes, "the rest is history."  That was a great learning experience that I've carried with me throughout the years.  

Willie and Vera no longer work in Yellowstone, and, although we have kept in touch, we hadn't seen them in a few years, so it was terrific to spend time with them.  Willie was born and raised in Slidell, LA, and we were treated to a fantastic historical tour of the area.  Of course, we had to to the obligatory group shot:
While I was researching where to stay while in the area, I read about the Tammany Trace, a Rails to Trails that goes right by Fountainebleau State Park.  We have friends who do a lot of bike riding on Rails to Trails, and reading about their adventures had piqued our interest.  So, Bill and I cleaned up our bikes and brought them with us, intending to ride the Tammany Trace.

This is where we picked up the Tammany Trace.  It was a perfect trail for bike riding...asphalt and level.  We went across several bridges and through interesting residential areas.
 
After about 3 miles, we came upon this cemetery, and I had to stop for a few pictures.
 

I had a big surprise when I got back on my bike...a flat front tire!  Dang!  Bill and I were so disappointed.  With no other option, we pushed our bikes back to the campground.  I told Bill he could ride ahead, but being the gentleman that he is, he walked right along with me, pushing my bike with the flat most of the way.

Needless to say, a trip to the nearby bike shop was in order.  We now have extra tubes, an air pump, and a repair kit.  With the repair made, we took a ride around the campground.  

This state park is situated on the north short of Lake Pontchartrain, so of course, we had to ride down and take a look.
 


There are lots of interesting trees in the park.
 I love the huge oak trees with the Spanish moss.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit to bayou country and highly recommend Fontainebleau State Park.  Tomorrow we continue eastward to Destin, Florida, where we will explore and relax for a week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Georgetown, TX

First, I want to say Happy Veteran's Day, and thank you to all of the veterans out there.  We've all heard the saying, "Freedom isn't free," and that is so true.  If not for the men and women who were (and are) willing to fight for our freedom, America would look look very different today.

Bill's father was a WWII vet and landed at Normandy D-Day +3.  He walked across Europe, and here is a picture taken of him while in Germany.  And that's really all we know about what he did in Europe, except the story he told about shooting pigeons in a French cathedral on behalf of the parish priest.
Bill and I have been Georgetown, TX the past few days, visiting friends, Mike and Lee.  We first met them working in Yellowstone 2007.  Last year they decided to "really" retire and are enjoying playing tourist around the country.  It has been fun seeing them and catching up.

While in Georgetown, Bill and I are staying a nice Corp of Engineer Park on Georgetown Lake.  We have a huge site with water and electric, and with Bill's "old fart" card, we saved 50%.  Just one of the benefits of being married to an "older" gentleman.
 
Yesterday morning we went out for a walk, and ended up going farther than either of us expected.  Before we knew it, we came upon mile marker 23. 
 (Nobody has to know we started out at mile marker 20.)  It was a nice trail that started at the campground and actually goes 26 miles around the entire lake.  Of course, we didn't go that far.  We ended up doing about 8 miles total through forest and grassland.  See that white speck across the lake?  That's our rig.
Yesterday was windy but warm, a perfect day for a hike.  We were hoping to do a bike ride today, but that wind is bringing in a cold front, so we opted to hang out in the warmth of the rig instead.  Tomorrow we will continue our eastward trek.