"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Louisiana, It's the FOOD!

Abbeville, Louisiana
Palmetto Island, State Park 

Time to leave Texas and the Houston Skyline and head into Louisiana.

Yes, we do!
We're in the lush, green of southern Louisiana where we'll meet up with Placerville friends, John and Tina, who we haven't seen in over a year.  Above is the one of the many rice fields with traps.  Not only do they get rice, but they trap those mudbugs/crayfish/crawdads! 
We're almost at Palmetto Island State Park and you notice more and more houses built up on stilts to protect from the flooding they often get.  We arrived Thursday after a 5 1/2 hr drive we arrived.
They've added a big alligator to the entrance of the campground.
John & Tina and their new (to them) 5th wheel.  It's very nice!
50/W/Dump.  Our usual spot, 1065.  We think it's the best!  They keep this campground super clean.  It's very tropical, lush green, private and sites are large and spaced out.  The free laundry is now $1.75.
We all set up and caught up a bit then headed right back into town to fill our freezers at Heberts.  
Heberts Specialty Meats (pronounced AYE bears) is the BEST!  They are home of the original Turducken, Deboned Stuffed Chicken, Andouille, Etoufee, Gumbo and Boudin!!  We filled up with our favorites, Jalapeno Mash Potatoe Stuffed Chicken, Alligator Sausage and Boudin Balls.  Oh So Yummy!  We spent over $100 and John & Tina had a nice haul too.  They cooked us up some fresh Boudin Balls and we ate those on the tailgate in the parking lot.  SO GOOD!  The next morning Steve and John went back for more!  This place is a MUST! 

Saturday morning Tina, John & I took a bike ride through the park and the Vermillion River that flows through it.  With all the heavy rain and flooding they've had lately, the river was muddy and full!
We were scrounging up firewood when we spotted a nice little bundle along the road, courtesy of the park cleaning up after the storms.  John became our Wood Sherpa.  Notice his beverage of choice.  I guess it's 5 O'clock somewhere even though it's only 10am here!!
After our bike ride we piddled around on our own for a few hours.  After Steve finished with work we took John and Tina to meet a friend of ours cousin.  Randy & June are super sweet, fun people that live in Abbeville.  Randy runs a huge, fancy machine shop.  Since John recently retired from machining, we figured he'd love to see Randy's place.  He has some VERY large machines they use to make parts for the petroleum industry among others.   It really is impressive and gave John a chance to 'talk shop' for a bit.
Then it was off to Shucks for dinner.  Abbeville is one of those places you EAT your way through!  Sure the campground has hiking, biking, kayaking, but first and foremost, it's all about the FOOD.  A couple of other places to eat at are Richard’s (pronounced REE shards) which specializes in crayfish and froglegs.  Poche has some great food too.
Shucks is known for their oysters and bread pudding.  Fresh oysters, charbroiled and stuffed, is a great starter.  Even Tina was a champ and tried one.  Are you having flashbacks Jim?  You make your own sauce from various items.  Tina chose to enjoy hers on a cracker.
Then we all chose various seafood dishes.  Above is Steve, Randy and June.  Sorry guys, it's the only picture I took.  After dinner you have to get their famous Bread Pudding in Warm Rum Sauce.  We always get one to freeze to enjoy later.  We also made a short visit to see our friends family while were there.
A visit with Angie, Bobby, Me Steve and Kim.  Kim is our good friend from back home, Mike's, Mom.
We saw this interesting looking RV parked next to us.  Anyone know what kind?

On Sunday we took a little day trip around the neighboring towns.  We stopped in a couple of places and then our main stop at the Parish Brewing Company.  They all commented how surprised they were that they loved all the beer.  And they sampled quite a few.

We took a nice tour through the spotless brewery.

On the way back we stopped in at the Old Masonic Cemetery to grab a geocache.  John used to be the Master of the Placerville Masonic Lodge in 2017. We all enjoyed the history of this old place.

They had some really unique gravesites.
That night we all sat around another fire and played with the color stuff that we had a packet of.

Sunday had the best weather so we saved that for our kayak outing.  The water was high so we could get back much further than previous years.

Steve spotted this very young Alligator sunning himself.  He never budged as we paddled past.

It was a tunnel of green!

With the current pulling us along we lined up and it felt like we were on a Disneyland ride.  If you can't see the kayak video above, click HERE.

Duck, John!

If you don't see our encounter with Mr. Gator above, click HERE.
(he really isn't that close as it seems)
This medium sized guy just swam on by.  They really don't let you get too close and we wouldn't want to anyway.  It was a great paddle and we spent hours on the river.  It started to get hot and humid so we returned to clean up and then head back over to Randy and June's as they invited us over for a BBQ on our last evening.  He grilled up some Sticky Chicken and Tina and I each brought a dish to share.  More laughter and fun before heading back to camp.
Thanks Randy and June for another great visit!

Monday morning we were all up early.  We're heading east to Florida and they are heading west back to California for a bit.  Sorry to see them go but we had so much fun with them!  They really enjoyed getting to see some of the "real" Louisiana.
It was a foggy morning driving out of Abbeville.  Until next time!

Springfield, LA
Tickfaw State Park

It was a short drive to the other side of Louisiana where we had 5 days to just relax and digest all that wonderful food.
Passing Baton Rouge.  I have to say they are finally getting I-10 into a smoother highway.
Tickfaw State Park is really out of the way and not much around here. We had hoped to do some kayaking but with recent floods the river was a bit dangerous and a fallen tree blocked the marina put-in.  It was just as well as the temps were in the low 90s and the humidity matched that.  The only time we could spend outside was briefly in the late morning and early evening when the mosquitos weren't out yet.  We mostly stayed indoors in the A/C.
W/50/dump, site #23.  The campground is small, very well kept and quiet.  Long back-in sites with decks and tables.  $1.75 laundry room that was very new and clean.

We cooked one of our Dirty Rice Stuffed Chickens from Heberts for dinner.
We tried a short hike but those mosquitos were hungry!
These crazy Cardinals are so territorial.  They are always trying to attack their reflections in the windows of the truck and trailer.
One very short evening enjoying the beautiful and loud sounds of Louisiana before the skeeters chased us back indoors.  Listen to their beautiful song HERE.

Are you ready for us Mississippi?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Texas with Friends

Fort Stockton, Texas
Centex RV Park

After leaving New Mexico early, it was a long 6 hour drive to get to our next stop in time to have dinner with our nephew who was in town for business.

Goodbye New Mexico, Hello Texas!
We arrived, set up, then headed an hour north to the small, dusty town of Monahans.  There wasn't too much to pick from so we ended up at a place called Pho & Italian Restaurant.  What a combo!  Our nephew, Michael, and I had the spicy Pho and Steve had Italian.  I have to say it was all very good!  The service was very, very slow, but the food was delicious!  Funny thing, they don't sell alcohol but we were told by the owner we could go across the street and buy what we wanted and bring it in. They call it BYOB.  Apparently it's a thing.  It was a short dinner visit but we were so happy to see him again by chance!
We rarely stay at private parks but there isn't much to choose from in Fort Stockton.  It was too hot to stay at the Walmart so we chose Westex.  It's a fairly new private park far enough away from I-10 to be quiet.  Very simple and very clean.  There are a lot of small campgrounds around here to house workers from the oilfields.  The park was mostly empty.  The owner was nice.  We had FHU for $25.  The sites were large.  We were in #3.  They have a nice dog park separated for small and large dogs.
We filled up the tank in town and left early in the morning.
It was only 2 or 3 years previous that you'd get little to no cell before and after Junction but now they have added more and more towers and I had reception the entire way.  Nice. Originally we were headed to Junction for a stop-over to see Red & Pam after leaving Fort Stockton.  Then I  heard from Pam that they were leaving early from Junction and driving straight over to Greg & Cori's where we were headed the next day.  They wanted us to skip Junction and come straight to Spring Branch so we could all have dinner together and celebrate Red's birthday that night.  So we did.
Another long day of driving and here we are, at The Center for Mental Wellness, as they jokingly call their place.
Red & Pam on the left, us on the right.
They built their "Barndo" on 11 acres which also has a barn, and RV parking (with FHUs)!  When we get ready to do something similar, this is exactly how I picture it.  Great job guys!
Happy Birthday Red!!
Red, Steve, Pam, Cori & Greg.
We arrived just in time for dinner.  Fillet Mignon & Scallops, loaded potatoes and salad.
Enjoying a little Peach Moonshine :-)

Greg and Cori added a new member to the family.
Meet Trip.  He's a cutie pie!
Trip and Hurley palled around.  Hurley was happy to have another 4 legged companion.
And this cute gal is Sadie.  New family member of Pam & Red.  She's adorable too!
Me, Steve, Red & Pam
Trip, Greg & Cori.
Pam & Red left after a couple days to head over to Arizona to visit with her Dad and we still had a few days left.  Cori planned out some distillery tours.
First up was Ben Milan Whiskey in Blanco.
I loved this tin(?) kayak beside the entrance.  Very cool.  Nice design on top too.

The guys had a sampler and Cori and I chose cocktails.

Then we had a small tour of Andalusia Whiskey Company.

Another afternoon once Steve was off of work was dinner at Gristmill River.  What a beautiful place above the river in the cute town of Gruene.

Built in 1878 on the old gristmill and cotton gin.  Beautiful gardens and seating inside and outside.
The best and biggest Onion Rings for an appetizer.  So tasty!
After dinner we walked next door to listen to some country music at Gruene Hall.  Such character!
Back home the pooches relaxed.  Hurley was overcome by the sheer number of toys Trip had.  He kept going back to the basket to check out more.

Our last day we were in search of some Goat Milk soap for me.  Usually you can find it at any cute little downtown store.  So many were closed when we stopped by, including the Fischer Store.
On the way back we stopped in at Buc-ee's.  It's a Texas staple.  If you haven't had the chance and you see one, you must stop in.  It's the biggest gas station/snackers heaven/multi-purpose place you'll ever see!  There are over 100 gas pumps and they are all used.  This place is HUGE!  And BONUS, I found some great Goat Milk soap to stock up on!
It might be hard to tell but that's two very long islands of gas pumps!

We sure enjoyed our time with our RV friends that we made when we all attended the RV Dreams Seminar 7 years ago.  As a matter of fact, right now, this very minute, the final Seminar is going on as Howard and Linda (the founders) will be moving on to their next phase of life without an RV.  Thank you Greg & Cori for the hospitality!!  
We sure loved our time at the "Center for Mental Wellness" and your place!
Thanks for celebrating my birthday with us again!

Our third and final stop in Texas would be closer to the eastern side of Texas before we enter Louisiana.
We saw this while driving.  Not too sure if I'd feel good about skydiving here.
I talked to my folks on the way and was glad to see they were having a great time back in California Striper fishing with Brennan and his wife, Alex, and her parents at their duck club.  

San Felipe, Texas
Stephen F Austin State Park
This park is small and very well kept.  It had a lot of flood damage a couple years ago but all fixed back up.  The sites are huge and well spaced out.  It's so green here!  We love all the moss hanging from the huge trees.
$28, FHUs.  We had site #23.
More RV friends!  This time we are joined by Craig & Jo.  This is their nice class A.  We just had 3 days together but we shared nice dinners and a lot of catching up.  It's been about 3 years since we've seen them last.
More pictures of our site.

We went out to dinner at Repka's Grocery Cafe for some uh dem mudbugs!  The 3 of them ate 8 lbs! I had the catfish.
Lovely sunset on the way home.  The weather is getting more and more humid.  We know the rest of the trip will continue this way.
The Brazos River
We took a couple short hikes while we were here.

There is a nice memorial and information center just outside of the park with the area history.

Another nice visit with friends and now we're on our way out of Texas and into Louisiana.
More friends and more food!