Category Archives: Mississippi

We’ve Arrived

We have arrived after one intermediate stop. While we could have made the journey from Vicksburg to Jasper, AL (300 miles) we were not in a hurry so we opted for an overnight spot. Looking at the map, we hunted for a spot the was mid way. That is when we found Lake Tiak O’Khata Resort. This is a family owned business that is rich in history dating back to the Civil War.  We recommend this place as an overnight or destination spot.

IMG_0831One advantage of stopping here is the onsite restaurant. Food was good – especially the Caramel Cream Pie.

Saturday morning, we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast and to use their free WiFi. After taking care of downloading updates and a relaxing breakfast, we headed out about 10ish. Sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the mid 40’s lead us to Columbus, MS. Traffic was very light and roads were pretty good. We crossed into Alabama around noon on MS50/AL96.

In Jasper, AL we parked at WalMart and walked to Johnny Brusco’s New York Style Pizza. They were a bit behind in cleaning up from the lunch crowd but the pizza made up for that. We will come back to this place. Best pizza in a long while. Carol went into WalMart to pick up a couple of items while I headed to Murphy Oil for a final fuel stop for Cramalot Inn.

Johnny Brusco

Twenty miles later, we pulled into Clear Creek Recreation Area. We were greeted by Jody from forestry service. He will be our go-to person. He led us to our temporary site where we will be until mid-week. As we were setting up, a contract worker came to us to tell us he heard rushing water near an area he was working. Since we are the only folks in the park, we took off to find the problem. We discovered a water spigot that was stuck on. Of course water was running everywhere. We got the spigot closed and made note of this site so we can get that fixed later.  Other workampers will begin to arrive on Friday March 1st. Then the real work begins. The park official opens to public on Friday March 15th. We will have two weeks to get this park and Corinth Rec Area (across Lake Lewis Smith) ready.

We drove Cramalot-Inn 915 miles. She drank up 138.5 gallons of gas that cost us $501.67 and averaged 6.6 mpg. We drove Queen’s White (our car) 1051 miles. She drank up 43.77 gallons of gas that cost us $158.33  and averaged 24 mpg. RV Park expenses came to $141.33 and eating out came to $284.12. Total trip expenses, $1,085.45 or $1.00 per mile. Donations are excepted.

Today is our day to take care of laundry, do a little grocery shopping and get oriented to our new home. If you are in the area, we invite you to come visit.

Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now.

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Stormy Weather

Today is storm day. Literally. We decided to visit Cracker Barrel for a casual breakfast and plan our day. Just as we finished breakfast, Carol heard a loud thunder-clap. Here is what my weather app reported. We will be staying put for about 30 minutes. More on our stay in Vicksburg at the end of this post.IMG_0829

So far our trip has been good. We left Ledbetter Monday morning around 9ish, stopped at Whataburger in Giddings for breakfast, then headed to Temple. We met up with Carol’s Aunt/Uncle, Glenda and Ron, for lunch at the Cotton Patch. From Temple, we headed Northeast for Kilgore. I made a directional mistake in Palestine which put us on a path for Tyler. By the time I figured that out, it was too late to backtrack. The only reason we wanted to stop in Kilgore instead of Tyler is because we stopped in Tyler back in September when we came back to Texas.

In Tyler, we pulled into a parking lot so I could look for a WalMart on the map for an overnight stop. Someone from the business came rushing out to let Carol know I could not park our motor home in their parking lot. He just would not listen to Carol as she explained we were only stopping for a few minutes to get oriented to our destination. Sheesh – some people. We found our WalMart but then could not figure where to park. I pulled up behind a couple of big trucks only to realize they were in a fire lane. When I called the store, the person I spoke to said we could not park in any WalMart period. OK, I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Next we headed to #1 RV Park on the other side of town. At least we will not be hassled by anyone there. After driving 300 miles, we were hungry and tired. Dinner at Sweet Sue’s was so-so. At least a warm shower felt good and we enjoyed a good night of sleep.

Tuesday AM, we drove to The Diner for breakfast. We stopped at this place last time we had breakfast in Tyler. This is still a great place to eat.

IMG_0823Yep, you are looking at Cajun style fish and shrimp on top of my eggs. WOW, The Diner really knows how to do breakfast. I highly recommend making a trip to this place if you are anywhere close.

Since we had a long driving day on Monday, we decided to split the trip to Vicksburg, MS. Other than a rough 20 miles stretch through Shreveport, LA, I-20 was a great ride. Next time, I will take the loop around Shreveport. We stopped at Caney Lakes Recreation Complex in Kisatchie National Forrest just North of Minden, LA. We drove past some large, beautiful home just on the edge of Minden and wondered where these folks worked. Our campsite was very spacious. I am standing on the rock area of the site. The fire ring is to my right. Notice the driveway is very long.

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Wednesday AM we made the short 150 mile trip to Ameristar RV Park across the street from the Ameristar Vicksburg Casino in Vicksburg, MS. Thursday weather kept us indoors most of the day. We did venture out to drive through the historic area a Vicksburg. It is strange that mixed in with the old antebellum style homes there are several run down shacks so typical of houses in poverty-stricken areas.

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The last time we stopped there, we earned enough to pay for our trip from Blue Ridge to Texas. This time we made a deposit for our next trip.

AmeristarTomorrow we should land somewhere in Alabama and Saturday we should be at Clear Creek Recreation Area in Bankhead National Forrest.  The storm system has moved away from us so we should have a quiet evening and clear driving Friday.

Once again, thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now.

Saying See Ya Later

Friday Sept 21st was our last day at Windy Valley Llama Farm, Pam and Jerry hosted a dinner on their deck for us as we depart and for Tom and Vicky as they start their workamp gig. Grilled Rib-eyes, Potato Casserole, and Steamed Broccoli where on the menu – YUM. Jerry did a great job on those rib-eyes.

And no dinner can be complete with out an exquisite dessert provided by Tim and Karen.

We broke up early since we were all tired from the hay delivery a few days earlier. Tim and Karen said they would come by in the morning for farewell hugs. Tim and Karen are on the left – Pam and Jerry on the right. We will miss these fine folks. Both have told us we have a place to park or stay when we come back to Blue Ridge. Pam and Jerry have also invited us to come back for another workamp session whenever we are ready.

We pulled out just before 9:00AM and took a parting photo of Blue Ridge, GA looking to the east. We will miss the mountains and cool temperatures as well as the new friends we are leaving behind.

Our target for Saturday was Tuscaloosa, AL. We knew we were traveling with one weak battery. The other battery was a used battery I bought in December last year. Jerry told us about a large RV dealer in Alabama on I-20 so we decided to stop and replace both batteries. That would give us comfort in knowing we could get slides out and back in should we decide to stop at Camp Walmart. Dandy RV in Anniston, AL is indeed a large RV spot – kinda like Camping World. Finding 2 batteries was not a problem. The sales person installed the two batteries and took the bad ones away.  Pockets are now $200 lighter but we will rest easy tonight.

We pressed on to the West keeping our sights on Tuscaloosa. We found the Walmart conveniently located to I-20 and across the street from easy to get to restaurants. We actually parked in the Sam’s parking lot, next door to Walmart. First time I’ve seen a Sam’s and Walmart share a parking lot. We wanted to try a local place for diner but Chili’s was across the street from Walmart. That was the closest option since we were on foot. We kept the truck and RV hitched. We got what we expected at Chili’s, then walked across the parking lot to Books-A-Million thinking we could connect to free WiFi. My MacBook Pro connected just fine while Carol’s PC had issues. I spoke to a sales person who told me the WiFi was free only to Books-A-Million club members. OK, what does that take. $7.95 for 24 hours or $24.95 for 12 months. I said no thanks. It was getting late so we closed up shop and walked back to the RV. At least we got phones and computers charged for free.

Sunday AM, we opted for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. No reason to break our Not Normal Eating Places pattern. Getting into the parking lot required a bit of maneuvering. I drove past the entrance because I was pointed the wrong direction. I got off the highway, onto a side street and halfway up the driveway to a gas station when I though, this driveway is pretty steep. No way to back out, bad approach to the drive way so I just let the truck pull the trailer up the incline. We did not hear any scraping but I sure felt it. When we got parked at Cracker Barrel, I took a look a saw a chuck of asphalt on the badly mangled right rear stabilizer. The stabilizer prevent me from ripping off the back cap of the RV.

We can say that we will never stay at a Walmart or Sam’s or Flying J or any other public parking area again. With no electricity, we needed to keep the windows open. For me that was not a problem because I hear nothing when my hearing aids come out. For Carol that was a different story. Between the Parking Lot Zamboni, delivery trucks arriving before dawn and the drone of the generators from the other motor homes next to us, Carol did not get much sleep. Many of our RVing friends do it. I am happy for them. This type of overnight stop is just not for us.

After breakfast and a fresh load from Starbucks, we hit the road again. Next stop – Vicksburg, MS. As we made our approach to Vicksburg, Carol scouted for RV parks. She picked the Ameristar RV park across the street from the Ameristar Casino. Good choice. We were fortunate to get a site that was pretty flat and level side to side and front to rear. There are some sites that are way out of level. We had free shuttle to the Ameristar Casino where we found Bourbon’s BBQ and Steak. Food was a bit pricey but it was absolutely some of the best eating we’ve done in a long time.  After dinner, we decided to spend a little time playing penny slots. We agreed to play with $50 each and stop when we were out of play money or tired. At the end of the evening, we were both ahead. I hit a lucky slot that paid off $49 on a 20 cent bet. I cashed out of that machine and went to another.

We shuttled back to the Casino Monday morning for breakfast. After breakfast, Carol said she wanted one more go at the slots. By the time I caught up with her she was just sitting at her slot. When I asked her what was up she just smiled said “I hit a jackpot.” The number she pointed at reads 27040. That translated into $270.40. Not a bad return for less than $20 bet.

By the time we left Ameristar, we pretty much paid for over half our trip back to Texas. We will visit Ameristar again.

We left Vicksburg, made the trip across the Mississippi River and headed for Tyler, TX. The river was low but that did not keep barge traffic off the river. I was mesmerized by the power in those small tugs pushing the loaded barges up river.  It’s hard to see the individual barges here. There were 34 barges tied together being pushed by a single tug boat.

Once across the Mississippi River, we were on what I call ‘the flat and straight highway’. I can certainly say the drive on I-20 is significantly better than the drive on I-10, especially in Louisiana.

Then we finally hit the Texas state line about 1PM on Monday 9/24. We knew we were back home.

First thing we noticed was the smoothness of the roadway. Texas knows how to take care of its highways. If you think that is stretching things a bit, I challenge you to make the comparison. I know there are some rough patches but mile for mile, Texas does a super job in taking care of its highways. We stayed in a small RV park in Tyler, TX just off I-20 5-Star RV Park. The park is country living at its best. Away from the hustle of busy streets and very quiet at night. The park is owned and managed by an Englishman and his two sons.

We opted for TexMex for dinner Monday night and were disappointed.  Apparently we were not far enough south for the real deal. We drove to the south end of Tyler for breakfast Tuesday morning. The Diner made up for the marginal dinner. They certainly know how to do breakfast – Texas style.

Our friends Stephanie and Greg from RV There Yet were in Lindale, TX just north of I-20. Sure wished we had extra time on our schedule to pay them a visit. Maybe we can connect when they come back to Texas later in the winter.

Our next and final stopover would be in Killeen, TX. Carol’s Aunt and Uncle live in Copperas Cove near by. We stopped at Cicada Springs RV Park, This is an older mobile home park that is being converted to an RV park. We enjoyed dinner with Ron and Glenda at Olive Garden and had a chance to share with them our story of how we got to where we are. Thank you Ron and Glenda for driving over to Killeen to have dinner with us. Hope to see you guys in May next year at South Forty RV Park in Giddings, TX.

After we got back to the park, we took the doggies for a walk. That is when Carol took a tumble onto the cement pad. She bruised her left wrist, right thumb and banged up her knee a bit. It did not take long for the park staff to hear about the tumble. They sent one of their residents who just happens to be an EMT to check up on Carol. He determined she did not break anything. We were fortunate. Dosed up on ibuprofen and wrist wrapped she appears to be on the mend.

We opted for TexMex tacos for breakfast and were pleased. We finally made it far enough south.

For readers who are contemplating driving down I-35 from Waco towards San Antonio. I would highly recommend heading a bit east to pick up US 281 which goes directly into San Antonio and connects with I-37 to Corpus Christi and the valley. It appears I-35 is undergoing a major expansion to widen it North and South of Waco. When we lived in Corpus Christi, it was always faster and less congested to take US 77 from Waco to Corpus Christi or US 281 from Waco to San Antonio. And always take the toll road around Austin. The cost is worth the drive. If you have to go to Austin, well, all I can say is, be prepare for stress and congestion.

From Killeen, we headed West to Lampases then turned South on US 281 for a beautiful drive through Burnet, Marble Falls, and Blanco. Ended up in Boerne (pronounced burny) going west on TX 46 to TX 16, then north for a few short miles to Pipe Creek, TX. Our home for the next six months.

If you travel near Bandera, or Boerne, TX, please plan to stop by. We are about 6 miles south of Bandera, and about 15 miles West of Boerne.

That is it for this post. Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now. Next post, I’ll tell you a bit about the area and our work.

On With The Adventure

Continuing from our last post where we arrived at South Forty RV Park in Giddings. Jacquy/Raye, my brother and sis-in-law, came up from their farm in Burton on Saturday 2/18. While the weather was wet and dreary, their visit perked things up a bit. We also had a visit from our eldest daughter Michele and her son Jayson. We enjoyed Murhpy’s Steak House so much on Friday, we went back for lunch. After a long leisurely lunch, we headed back to South Forty RV Park. Weather was just too drizzly to enjoy the outdoors. After saying, “See ya later.” to my brother, we settled down for the evening. Michele and Jayson were planning to stay the night. Four hundred square feet of living space plus an active 2 y.o. whose napping schedule has been turned upside down makes for a big challenge for Mommy. No matter how hard Mommy an d G’Mee tried to get that boy to go to sleep, Jayson was just not cooperating. So, around 11PM, Michele and Jayson headed back to their home in Houston. About 10 minutes after they left, Jayson was playing with Mr. Sandman.

Sunday the sun broke through the clouds. What a relief and what a beautiful day. We met Jimmie/Ollie, Carol’s aunt/uncle, at FBC. Following the worship service, we enjoyed lunch and chat at Subway. We got caught up on family happenings and had a chance to share a bit more about our adventure. Back at our home again, we saw signs that the Cedar Creek RV Owner folks (Harold, Ray, John, Jerry, Pete and their wives) were congregating around the fire ring. We were invited to join them for an impromptu brown bag supper so we did. After eating and cleaning up, we sat around the fire contemplating solutions to all the world problems. I am sure our elected officials would be interested in a transcript of that conversation. No, Carol is not scolding them here.

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Monday we packed up, hitched up and headed out with Carol at the wheel. We waved to all as we drove off. Followed US Highway 290 to Brenham. Drove through town to connect with TX Highway 105 north to Navasota. From there, we took TX Highway 90 to Roans Prairie, then TX Highway 30 to Huntsville. Time for a lunch break so we parked next to J.C. Penney’s in a shopping mall. Connected to US Highway 190 in Huntsville and headed for Livingston, then took TX Highway 146 south to Rainbow’s End – an Escapee RV park on the south end of Livingston. This is where we have our permanent address. We got set up and went to town to get supplies to build the penthouse floor for Patches. No comments about dinner because it was not worth talking about. Behind the glass window is our mailbox.
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Tuesday we packed up again. (We are getting good at packing up). The Escapee’s park was conducting a trailer weigh-in from 8-10AM. We had no idea how much our new home weighs and that is something all RVer’s need to know. So, we got on the scales. Randy and Chris were the official weighers.

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First we weighed the truck with no trailer attached, then with trailer attached, we weighted the truck and trailer. I will get our numbers posted later. We are OK on the weight. Just need to do a little rearranging to redistribute the weight better. Got away from Rainbow’s End around 11:30M. Weather was sunny and temperature at 60 degrees. GPS took us through some nice quiet back roads away from the congestion and traffic.

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Stopped in Vidor, TX for lunch at What-A-Burger. Tricky part was parking. What-A-Burger does not have any RV parking. So I found a large lot behind FBC Vidor that had hook ups for 10 RVs.
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After walking the fur babies we walked a few blocks to What-A-Burger. After a short break, we continued on I-10. Crossed into Louisiana at 1:45PM. Pulled into Frog City RV Park a short while later.
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After getting nested, we hunted for cheap fuel. (If you have not used Gas Buddy on your smart phone, you should because it works.) Next on the agenda was finding a restaurant that served Alligator Po-boys. We found a place close (Fezzo’s) but they were closed due to Fat Tuesday celebrations. So was Chief Roy’s. We ended up at Randol’s in south Lafayette. Of course they were in party mode due to Fat Tuesday. Sadly, the food and service was not at all what we had expected.

Wednesday we hit the road about 10:20 with cloudy skies with temperature at 67 degrees. Carol is driving the 200+ miles today. Other than cloudy skies with a light drizzle, and a very bumpy interstate that felt like driving on a washboard, nothing exciting was going on. Then we hit the Atchafalaya Swamp.  Interstate 10 crosses the swamp on elevated pillars on a continuous 18.2 mile bridge from Grosse Tete, Louisiana, to Henderson, Louisiana, near at the Whiskey River Pilot Channel.
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Next came the granddaddy of all rivers. the might Mississippi. Of course traffic was getting heavy as we approached the bridge to cross the river. Carol does not like driving in this kind of traffic at all. She did fine and kept her cool.

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Sorry for the blurry images. It is hard to take a decent photo when the vehicle is moving and bucking at the same time. Next Carol has to get in the correct lane to be sure we are in position to make the switch to I-12. She made it with nerves intact.
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Of course I am helping with my super navigational skills.
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Time for potty break so Carol pulled off at I-65 into Petro Truck Stop and parked next to another traveler.

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Cody and Qianna took a little walk as well. Here they are nestled back in their spaces with Patches in the penthouse.

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Shortly after that, we crossed one more state line and are now in Mississippi.
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Twenty-eight miles into Mississippi, we are ready to head for our destination, Magic River Resort near Long Beach.  I made the mistake of programming the GPS incorrectly and had to do a little fancy navigation to get our RV out of a tight spot. Yes, the stress level kick up a notch. We got parked and nested quickly. This is our first 30A connection which works just fine.
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We hit a home run for dinner. The original plan was for Fried Shrimp in Gulf Port. I searched for restaurants featured on Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We selected Darwell’s Cafe in Long Beach. We shared a Crab Cake Entrée with sides of Crawfish Étouffée and Shrimp Creole. For dessert, we had an Apple Bottom Brownie and a Peanut Brownie. This place had the best food since Murphy’s in Giddings. Take a look.
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Thursday we have a short drive to Rainbow Plantation. This is another Escapee park in Summerdale, AL. Here we are going to meet Darrell and Judy Patterson from Wandering America . We have been following them on their travel blog for over 5 years now. We planing on spending two nights there.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as we are.