Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More on New Orleans, February 22

On Wednesday, after the Mardi Gras, we headed back to the French Quarter and what a difference a day makes.  The French Quarter was crowded but nothing like it had been on Monday.  We walked some of the streets and stopped by Cafe du Monde for the traditional coffee and beignets. A few days ago the line went around the block, but today it was fairly short and we were seated within a few minutes.  With only coffee and beignets on the menu, ordering goes pretty fast as does the service.

There are all types of transportation available in the French Quarter and we took a short buggy tour complete with our guide's Cajun accent.  It was fun and informative.

  But there are other forms of transportation in the French Quarter:

One could spend weeks in the French Quarter and not see everything.  There is lots of entertainment and people watching. No, this guy is not walking his dog across the street.  He is a mime posing with a stuffed dog, hoping his bucket will be filled up with dollar bills, tips for allowing his picture to be taken. 

This belly dancer put on a great show
 Another Mime.  I had to look twice because I thought she was a real statue.

Next we took a drive over to the Garden District which is full of old southern style homes, with some unique features. Note the corn stock iron fence.

 Many of the homes had fancy corbels
Which way are we going next?

Tomorrow we will make a push towards the Dallas- Fort Worth area.  Joel is having some work done on the "Big House", so we will be there for a few days before heading west. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Uptown Parade and the French Quarter, February 20

Lundi Monday is the Monday before Fat Tuesday, and  several Krewes (Parades) were scheduled.  The first parade was scheduled for 3:00 so we headed for the French Quarter early to explore and eat lunch.  Parking is a real challenge but we managed to find pay parking near the Parade route and within a few blocks of the French Quarter...for a big price of course.

We headed down to the River Walk where several stages were set up and music was playing and many food stands were set up providing authentic Cajun fair.  Ymmmm. As I ate lunch, I people watched.,,and there is lots of people watching  at this venue. This is Mr. Big
This gal wore creative body paint and seemed to be having a good time, or was it the guy with her having a good time?.

 This guy danced his way through the parade crowds.
 This "nun" (she was not) was a street person.  We watched her for a long time...

We still had a few hours before the first parade started so we wandered around the French Quarter and of course Bourbon Street before heading back towards uptown. The crowds were big, but pretty manageable and mellow.

We were pretty early for the 3:00 parade, but again people watching occupied our time.  There were lots of street vendors selling beads, cotton candy, and Mardi Gras souvenirs, and face painting.
Carolyne was the first to go under the brush,

 and then Joel
 The results were pretty cool
 So I tried it out
 and now we were officially Mardi Gras goers!

Well, we waited, and waited for the first parade.  We were told the parade starts uptown and would take while to get to our viewing spot.  We waited some more and still no parade.  There are lots of security around and we were able to talk to one of the policemen only to find out the 3:00 parade route had changed and we missed it by only a few blocks! Amazing, no one figured that out.  At this point there were lots of people standing around waiting. Oh well, the next one would be by shortly..."shortly" in the south takes on many meanings and shortly translated into several hours later...and several pints beer..

The parade finally came.. By this time it was dark.  The floats were really colorful, but we were towards the end of the route so the Krewes were pretty stingy with the beads and other items they throw out to the crowds.

Some of the highlights:

Afterwards we headed back towards the French Quarter  to find dinner...something other  liquid food and then on to Bourbon street.  Bourbon street was teaming with people and all of the balconies and galleries were heavy with people throwing beads to the party goes below.  Its hard to describes the crowds..Insanity comes to mind.

Hoards of people stood below the balconies and galleries begging for trinkets and the people on the balconies decided who they wanted to throw the beads to. Obviously Joel was pretty successful. Hmmm, I wonder what he had to do to get all of those beads.

The next day was the final Mardi Gras celebration, with the first Krewe starting at 8:00 A.M. After the previous day of partying and crowds we decided to pass and watch the festivities on TV.  We have a few more days in the area so we all agreed we would go back and explore the French Quarter and the Garden District when it wasn't quite so crowed.  More on that in my next blog.

Onward toward New Orleans, February 19-20

Back in 1998 I had worked Hurricane Georges from the time it hit the Gulf Coast in September and didn't return back to my home in Truckee until December.  My operation center was located in Mobile, Alabama and I worked the area from Mobile, Alabama to Long Beach, Mississippi.  I was curious to see how things had changed since 1998 and for this reason I talked Joel into taking Highway 90 through all of the little towns in between Mobile and Long Beach following the shore line.

 There were a lot of changes due to Katrina in 2005, but there also  had been a lot of changes since 1998 and Katrina.  I certainly don't remember all of the high rise casinos and condominium in Biloxi and Gautier and Pascagula had grown hugely.  Well, it's been almost 15 years so I guess change is inevitable.  Anyway, thanks Joel,for indulging me for this little trip down memory lane. I know going 35 MPH with stop lights every few miles or so was a little frustrating and made for tough driving. And, I think I spotted the apartments I lived in Long Beach across the street from the white sandy beaches I walked on during my time off. As a side note,  the gulf area near Pensacola Beach was much prettier, in my opinion, then the scenic drive from Biloxi  and westward.

We got off Highway 90 near Pass Christian due to the congestion of weekend Mardi Gras parades and caught I-10 the rest of the way to Saint Bernard State Park about 15 miles south of New Orleans...our destination for the next few days.  I could tell I was getting closer to New Orleans by all the low water lands. 

Stay tuned for more on New Orleans and the Mardi Gras

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SKP Prk and more Gulf Island National Seashore

We left the Gulf Islands National Seashore on  Valentines Day and headed for the Plantation Escapee RV Park in Summerdale, Alabama, just a short hop from Pensacola.  We arrived early enough to do laundry and attend the SKP social hour held everyday at 4:00. Yes, I know its Valentines Day, but isn't everyday Valentines Day when you are an RVer and retired?

This SKP park is one of the nicest parks in the SKP system.  The sites are all on grass with enough space between sights to give a little privacy.  There are also lots of long term residents here and the sites are nicely appointed.  The club house has all kinds of activities and a Valentines Dinner was being served of Cordon bleu chicken, which was passed.  Fresh shrimp purchased from Joe Patti market in Pensacola was on our menu for the evening.

We had planned only to stay two nights at the SKP park, while Joel waited for a UPS package which was suppose to arrive early Wednesday afternoon and didn't arrive until much, much later in the day.  The plan was to receive the documents and then drop them off at the UPS store the same day and explore the area, but obviously that didn't happen until Thursday.  Instead we drove over to Fairhope, which was suppose to have  quaint little shopping "French Quarter" district.  The French Quarter had a myriad of speciality shops and eateries, but I don't think "quaint" describes this shopping district.  To me, "quaint" brings back memories of Carmel By the Sea in California.  The trees were all lit up in the shopping district making for easy walking at night even though it was drizzling rain, but by no means a quaint French Quarter. We stopped in a small Italian Bistro for dinner, which was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night and the food was OK.

Thursday, Joel discovered a leak in his HHO generator (a new add on that is suppose to increase fuel mileage...I'll blog about it sometime after he has put some more mileage on), so not only did we need to go to a UPS store Thursday morning, we  also had to track down  new fittings to fix the leak in the HHO system.  Oh well, we had a chance to explore some of this part of Alabama including Orange Beach, Foley, and part of the gulf....all very congested with high rises limiting beach access.  On our way back to the SKP park, Joel spotted a cinema theater so we stopped to see what was playing.  We were just in time to attend the new movie with Tom Hanks: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  (you gotta love this life style where you can be so spontaneous).  The movie is a very powerful movie with a very creative story take on 911.  I would highly recommend it.

Finally, Saturday we hitched up and headed for New Orleans with an over night stop at the Davis Bayou Campground which is part of the Mississippi Gulf Islands National Seashore, near Ocean Springs Mississippi.

This was a very nice cozy campground with some hookups.  Our timing was perfect, because shortly after we arrived the skies opened up and poured rain and the the sky lit up with lightening and thunder....very, very, close.  In fact, the power went out.  The next morning I observed our neighbor who was tent camping and driving a little Miata hanging out her worldly possessions to dry. Hmm., I wondered if she spent the night in the rest room.  Been there, Done that.  Happy to be in the Big House! We walked the short nature trail not far from the camp sites.  There aren't any beaches here, but lots of bayous home to alligators and water fowl. The campground has been rebuilt since Katrina and we visited the very nice  rebuilt visitor center before leaving.

Onward to New Orleans tomorrow (Sunday)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More on the Gulf Islands and Pensacola February 11-14

 The next few days on Santa Rosa Island were spent trying to keep warm.  The temperatures dipped to the mid 20's one night and the heaters were running continuously.  As I walked and biked  around the campground I couldn't help but feel sorry for all of those tent campers, but was I was also feeling a little smug that I had  a nice cozy warm coach to retreat to.

Friends, Carolyn and Pete ,joined us for a quick tour of Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island.  We wandered around the stores which were pretty empty of people and merchandise.  The busy seasons starts with Spring Break in March, so merchants were stocking inventory, but not much else was going on. These stores were pricey and way out of my league.  It is obvious they don't cater to full time RVers! Too much glitz and glitter! We also stopped in at the local Elks Lodge and contributed to their bar.  The Margaritas were pretty good!LOL.

Monday we had some errands to take care of in Pensacola so we headed over there to check it out.  Pensacola is a very old town (established in the 1500's) and there is a nice historical area and Seville Village.   The village was closed on Mondays, but we were able to walk around and peer in windows. Many of the smaller cottage homes had been converted to small businesses housing attorneys, accountants, and boutiques.

The downtown area of Pensacola was also interesting. Some of the buildings were decorated for Mardi Gras:

 There were lots of eateries and small shops to explore, along with Pelican Sculptures.  The local newspaper sponsored a Pelican Sculpture contest, so there were lots of decorated pelicans in front of stores and on street corners.

These pelicans greeted us at the entrance to the down town area representing out military:

 This pelican was decorated with bumper stickers.

This large clock caught my eye. All four  clocks keep accurate time with a series of cogs, wheels, and weights.

This building house the museum.   I don't know the the history behind it, but the building was interesting.

On the way back to camp we stopped at Joe Patti's.  This is a fish market like not other, except maybe Pikes Market in Seattle.  There is fresh seafood from all over the world including Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, as well as very fresh local seafood. The place was busy..a good sign...and nothing smelled fishy.

Our time is up in this area and we started meandering west again on Valentines Day toward the Escapee Park in Summerdale, Alabama where we will stay for a day or so.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Naval Aviation Museum and more, February 10

If you like airplanes, the National Museum of Naval  Aviation is one museum that is a must see and it is FREE except for the IMAX movies. There are airplanes from every era and in every size and shape.  The museum is located at the Pensacola, Naval Air Station.  Docent led tours are available, but we chose to wander through the hangers on our own schedule and also take in one of the three IMAX movies.  There is also a trolley car tour which takes you out to the field.  All of the restoration work is performed on site. Some my favorite pictures are :

 The aircraft below specialized in detecting submarines.

Below are conflict ribbons flown from Coast Guard Ships for every conflict they participated in.

 The Pensacola Lighthouse was just around the corner from the aviation museum.

 Fort Barrancas is also located on base but is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see the inside because it closes early during the winter season.  It is the most finished and in the best shape of the forts in the area.
 This gives you an idea of where the various forts were located to protect the Pensacola Bay

On another day we did visit the Naval Live Oaks district visitor center for the Gulf Islands located in Gulf Breeze. Its a small section of the national seashore but is unique in that it is considered the first tree farm in the US.  It was developed for the purpose of supplying live oak timber for shipbuilding in the 1800's.  Live oak is renowned for resistance to disease, incredible density, and durable wood for ship building.  Below is a section of the park, but a lot of the live oaks are missing and only pine trees can be seen.

We have a few more days left to explore the beaches, but the weather is starting to turn cold.