The test of an adventure is that when you are in the middle of it, you say to yourself, "Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure. -Thornton Wilder

The nice thing about being confused is you get a chance to notice things a lot better than if you knew where you were going.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Kittyhawk, North Carolina

I was driving along in South Carolina and the car in front of us was from North Carolina. Looking at the license plate it read "First in flight".  I thought 'That's where I'll go, to where the Wright brothers first flew a power-driven plane'. It took a lot to get here but finally we made it on a cold blustery day with rain coming down. So happy to be here for I never planned on it.  It was the North Carolina license plate that did it.

We've had enough of following the coast ever since Corpus Christi Texas. We'll cross over into Virginia soon and stay inland from now on.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mosquitoes!


mos-qui-to (me sket' o) noun, pl. -toes or -tos
small biting insect that sucks blood from John in the matter of seconds once he steps out into the open

I had a few encounters with these little buggers while in the Everglades and that was to be expected. But good grief, the further north I go the more plentiful they are.  At this camp in south Georgia they were so bad I couldn't go outside for more than a minute before they swarmed me.  I sent Sinbad out on his own and he was happy to just sit there, without me.  A fur coat is good mosquito protection.

The next morning I stopped to see the ruins of an old sugar mill.  I didn't finish reading the first sentence on the historical marker sign before they were on me, but I was not to be denied.  I ran the 100 yards into the woods to see the ruins and they were even thicker there!  Hastily I snapped three pictures and sprinted back to the Little House on the Highway.  Score 3 bites for the mosquitoes.

Today in South Carolina I stopped at an old southern mansion.  It was raining with a slight breeze "I should be good here".  Nope!  They nailed me right away.  Back to the LHOH.  Score 2 bites for the mosquitoes.  Smashed one of the little bastards against the driver's window.  Score 1 for John.

Tomorrow the uniform of the day is long sleeve shirt and gloves (I am already wearing long pants)  with bug juice on face, ears and neck.  Maybe I'll put the bug juice on my hands instead of gloves.  No need to attract attention.  And the people here live with this day to day!  Unbelievable.   The interesting thing is that some of the areas we've been in are the same ones we were in this time last year and nary a skeeter was seen on that last trip.  As I drove away from the plantation I reflected on the 100 some slaves that worked the rice fields for the plantation owner and the misery they must have suffered from just the mosquitoes alone.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hey Lighten Up on Florida, Okay?


The Everglades was the redeeming part for Florida.  Going there made the long drive down through the state worth it.  We left the Everglades Saturday and made our way back north up the eastern half of the state staying inland from the coastal mayhem of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Daytona Beach, etc.  This portion of the state proved to be more scenic than the west side interior.  Here you could see things, faraway things too.  So Florida isn't all that bad, but I still probably will never come back.  The panhandle of the state is a whole other world and I'd have no problem touring through it again.

One of the "things" I wanted to see was Lake Okeechobee.  I got a fleeting glimpse of it while going up an overpass.  The lake is like a huge inland sea.  You can't see the shore on the other side it is so big.  The rest of the 46 mile drive along the shoreline the lake was hidden behind a tall levee.  But at least I got to see it...a little bit.  Just north of the lake is Orlando.  I stayed far away from it at Disney World.

This morning before leaving Florida behind I took a little drive through America's oldest city St. Augustine, founded in 1565.  I think that was what the sign read as I drove by.  There was no place I could park the Little House on the Highway.  That was okay, I just wanted to see it and say I've been there.  The downtown historical district was a little bit too touristy for my liking but that's just me.  If you are ever close by St. Augustine I'd suggest check it out.  A few miles further we were in Georgia (whew!) and pulled in to Crooked River State Park.  I ate lunch, cleaned up the house (and myself) and will take it easy before we begin the second half of our odyssey.

Meanwhile, as the case has been for the past week or so, no or very poor Internet connection.  So this photo is about all I can get downloaded for this post.  This what Florida weather does to your automobile.  Termites do about the same thing with your home.  The mosquitoes and little bitety things you can barely see do it to you.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Gators Galor



We are on Highway 41 that crosses Florida through the Everglades.  Alligators are on various spots all along this road and we're only a third of the way across staying at an Everglades National Park campground (only one other camper here).  Camping alongside of a lake I have two alligators along the shore less than 50 yards from camp.  Yes, I am keeping 'gatorbait' inside the motor home.  This photo above I was able to look right down upon him from the road.  At one stop I had to look around and reassure myself I wasn't in some sort of tourist alligator farm as they were lying around as if in captivity.  They weren't.  They are all free range alligators.

The sad thing is gift shops and the tourist boat ride places have alligator heads of various sizes, skulls, teeth, alligator tooth necklaces, knives made from alligator bone, etc.  As much as I'd like to head or tooth, I'm not buying any and supporting the killing of these magnificent reptiles.  
I am happy with my pictures.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Not Liking Florida




People say driving across Texas is boring.  Well I say driving down through Florida is boring.  It was like this for hours upon miles yesterday.  The picture shows a more cleared view to the sides.  Some long stretches had tall trees on both sides.  It was like being in a green corridor. 
In Texas you can see for miles and miles.  In Florida you can see for feet and feet.

Today has been like driving in southern California's Los Angeles County.  I'd been driving for two hours when we first started this morning and covered only 30 miles.  It was maddening.  I gave up, headed inland for 25 miles just to get on Interstate 75 and leave the stop and go traffic behind us.  Once on the Interstate it was a slow crawl for miles and this was just approaching Tampa. 

Yep, so far Florida would rank at the top of my list of states I'd never return to.  It is too much like California.  The gas prices are the same.  The weather is the same but here you get humidity and hurricanes thrown in as a bonus.  The people drive like those in California.  But I have gone this far and I'll press on to see the Everglades.  The return trip north up the east coast does not look all that promising in any sort of improvement of my opinion of Florida.  
That drive may be entitled Escape from Florida.

The above was composed and posted when I stopped to eat breakfast (so much for that early start advantage I thought I had) and now, having stopped for the day I see the post never took so I can add this.  Things only became more dismal looking as the day went on.  I wanted to stay near Naples before heading east through the Everglades leaving that for a slow day's drive to enjoy the sights.  A check of camping: Two state parks nearby.  One closed under reconstruction (nice timing) and the other reserved out full (naturally), or so said the reservation site.  Private parks are all in the $50 range!!  You gotta be kidding me.  They obviously do not want riff-raff like Sinbad and I staying there.  There are some National Forest Campgrounds on the stretch of road across the Everglades but all are small or for tenting only.  There are 6 Walmarts in Naples and all have no overnight parking.  That's not Walmart  but some ordinance by the city of Naples.  I was gearing up for a long day, not getting to see the Everglades as I had hoped but instead as I drove madly on through the evening towards Miami.

We came upon the turn-off for the first State Park, the one that was reserved out full.  It was only 2 miles off the Interstate so I pulled off for just the heck of it.  Pulling up to the kiosk I asked the ranger if they had a spot for one night.  "Yes, we do.  Pull over there and park and come on inside."  I couldn't believe our good fortune.  Inside I told him how I had checked online and couldn't make much sense of it as it showed everything was reserved.   He said they can't make much sense of ReserveAmerica.com either.  So I get my leisurely drive across the Everglades tomorrow and maybe, with a little bit more luck may get to camp in one of the small National Forest campgrounds.
After that, it will be The Escape from Florida.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Got My Gator


Gulf Islands National Seashore
Davis Bayou near Biloxi Mississippi


We've had poor or no Internet for the last few days thus why no posts to the blog.  We'll probably stay here through the weekend before moving on into Alabama then Florida.  With Mississippi having only 72-75 miles of gulf coastline road to follow and Alabama even less at 67 miles we are taking it real slow, much like at an alligator crawl.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gator Huntin'



I went out for a couple of hours looking for an alligator.  I didn't see a one.  
They probably saw me though.  I did see a turtle...

and this heron.

I forgot my bird book back home so I cannot tell you what kind of heron it is.

And there were these vine flowers I saw in South Carolina last year but have forgotten their name.

Somebody makes these little mud castles.  They are all over.  
I am so out of my element here in Louisiana.  I don't know anything.

I do know though that for some people, living life along the bayou must be pretty darn nice.






Monday, March 31, 2014

Janis Joplin


One of the big ticket items for me on my to-do list for this trip was go to Port Arthur Texas, the birthplace and home of Janis Joplin, the lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company.  I am a huge fan of Janis and have all of her music.  People either like her or they don't.  I feel she was one of the greatest white blues singers there was.

Her home on 32nd street viewed from the Mexican church from across the street which wasn't there when she lived here.

Yep, behind that tangled mass of vegetation stands a run-down little while clapboard house where Janis and her family lived and now someone else does. 

Just so you know you are at the right place.  I've read where Janis did not like Port Arthur very much and couldn't get away from it soon enough.  I couldn't blame her one bit.  It is a dreary oil refinery town on the gulf coastline near Louisiana.  It really took a beating from hurricanes Ike and Rita in recent times.

I'd think her parents Dorothy and Seth took much better care of their home.  Her farther was a supervisor at one of the refinery plants.

Janis had a younger brother and sister.  Michael is an artist and Laura wrote a book about her sister.  They jointly watch over her estate.  To think the three of them ran and played on this porch.



Janis would be 70 now and one can only wonder the music she would have created in these 40 some years had she lived.

We've been in very poor Internet areas the last few days, that is why no postings.  We are now in a State Park in Louisiana with a swamp right outside our door.  Boy how much I would like to see an alligator but I doubt there are any right near us.  Sinbad is on the lookout for one while I write this.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yippee!


The fog lifted and I was able to see the Gulf of Mexico.


I'll find a quiet spot for Sinbad to get out an explore today.


Friday, March 28, 2014

We Made It!


We drove all the way from California to see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time ever.
It's out there...somewhere. 
At Mustang Island State Park near Corpus Christi, Texas


Judge Roy Bean, Langtry, Texas


I was in desperate need of milk.  Every little store in south Texas had only 2% and full on whole milk.  Non-fat milk is a rare commodity in these parts.  I missed another store in Langtry (darn near missed Langtry altogether) and turned off the highway to loop back around.  It was then I came upon Judge Roy Bean's Jersey Lilly Saloon.  This was on my list of things to see for this trip but ever since the breakdown I haven't been thinking too clearly.  I stopped, went in the the real nice tourist information center leaving my camera back with Sinbad.  
Remember, I'm not thinking straight.  So I used the iPhone for these.

Click on this picture so you can read it better if you wish. 
It was such a nice sign I didn't want to crop it out.

It kind of looks like something made up but it is the real deal, the rebuilt saloon after a fire destroyed the original one in 1896.
I guess I have in mind saloons like you see in the movies but you have to remember this was no big town, just a little railroad stopover in the vast southwest Texas wild lands. 

I suppose it was okay to cuss quietly.  The spitting on the floor part, just think about it.

 I was really expecting some sort of theater venue so was a bit disappointed to see it was in name only. On a side note, I have with me a 6 CD set of 100 of the best opera classics that I am listening to as we cross Texas.  It just seems so fitting.  So now you know a little bit more about me and are probably glad you don't have to ride along listening Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Mozart and more.

After reading that the few items inside were not original I didn't bother taking any pictures.
Remember, "not thinking clearly" plus I was on that quest for non-fat milk.


The little store didn't have milk of any type, but I did get some really cool "Don't Mess With Texas" stickers at the visitor center where one was promptly placed on the back of the RV.
I love Texas!

I spent two days at the previous blog post Seminole Canyon, rested up and am now back on track thinking clearly once again.  Oh yeah, found non-fat milk in Del Rio Texas.  All is good.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seminole Canyon, Texas


The snakes had better sense than I and stayed in their holes 
all snug and warm against the blowing the wind.

They weren't just a woofin' either!

See!  On the edge just to get this photo for you.

At trail's end

Looks like some people didn't read the sign.

 These snail shells were scattered all around the area.  I asked the ranger ladies back at camp about them.  One didn't seem to be aware of them and the other had to think about it some.  I guess people don't notice things like I do or ask questions.  She said they are a land snail and come out more so when it is wet.  Who would of thought snails lived in the desert?



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Everything is BIG in Texas


even the wind!


We've been driving headlong into the wind much longer than being any fun.  We're camped near the Pecos River and may stay a day or so.  If the Internet connection cooperates I may be able to get off a better post than this while here.


Nothing Remains the Same


Located between Marfa and Valentine Texas stands this "art piece" in the middle of the vast west Texas flatlands.  Since we were last here 3 years ago, it has fallen victim to vandals.  Both ends of the building had been marked with graffiti and then covered over.   Worse still some idiot had sliced the front edge of both awnings.  You can see my post from 2011 here.  

I say nothing remains the same but the inventory inside was the same.  
I guess sales are pretty slow in these parts of Texas. 



Monday, March 24, 2014

The Border


This is the border of Mexico and America in New Mexico.  The iron work stretched for mile upon mile seemingly endlessly.  I couldn't make sense of it.  What was the point?  Anyone could climb over it.  I did.  It would stop a vehicle.  Probably a tank too.

Here I had climbed over and was now standing in Mexico, unless I needed to be on the other side of the barbed wire fence to be officially in Mexico, I don't know.  Maybe I was on the border itself, neither in one country or the other.  Perhaps the iron work is the American barrier and the barbed wire is Mexican barrier.  America has a bigger budget for that sort of thing.

There was a vast expanse of desert on each side of the border as far as I could see, plus much more beyond the horizon.  I cannot imagine anyone walking all the distance.  It would take days if not weeks and with no water anywhere. Why just my standing to get this picture my socks got filled with stickers.
  


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sierra Blanca, Texas


Pretty much the general state of the entire business district of town.

Notice the movie characters in the display window.