Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ft. Pickens at the Gulf Shores Nat'l Seashore, Pensacola FL

Our last stop before heading on home was 3 nights at Ft. Pickens in Pensacola, FL. What an awesome place! From Pensacola Beach, it's a nine mile drive down a 2 lane street with awesome white sand on both sides and the bluest, greenest water imaginable! The campground was well kept and quiet...except for the Blue Angels practicing every morning at 8:30...I loved it! Ed slept through it! After we set up, we took a walk along the beach...I don't think I've ever seen such soft, white sand! And the water was amazingly warm! The first morning, we woke up to the Blue Angels flying overhead...so of course, I ran outside with the camara. I should mention that photography is not one of my better talents. After several pictures, I gave up and took a few videos...much better! See a sample at the end of this blog! After breakfast, we hiked over to Ft. Pickens and took a self-guided tour of the fort...very interesting! It's named after the American Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens. The fort was completed in 1834 and remained in use until 1947. Here's a link for a little history of the fort: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Pickens. After our tour, we walked back to the RV along the bay side. We had a very relaxing day and evening...gearing up for a busy next day! The next morning, we were again serenaded by the Blue Angels...I never tire of watching them! Then we decided to head to the National Naval Aviation Museum, which is located at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. We could've spent 3 days visiting the place, but we had only a few hours so we took a trolley ride around the outside of the museum, with a very knowledgable guide, and then spent the remaining few hours browsing around the displays inside. On our way back to the RV we stopped at McGuire's Irish Pub where Ed had the largest Reuben he'd ever seen and I had a steak burger smothered with grilled vidalia onions...yumm! Ft. Pickens is definitely a must-see and we will be adding it to our regular stops to and from Texas!
video

Biloxi, MS

From New Orleans, we headed to Biloxi, Mississippi... only about 80 miles SE of NO. We had to stay over in Mississippi because we had mark this state on our map... :-) so we picked Biloxi because it's right on the Gulf. We stayed at a very nice RV park called the Majestic Oaks RV Park. It was very close to the water so we took a drive along the coast...beautiful beaches! There are several casinos in Biloxi, so we had to stop at the Hard Rock Casino...I went in with $20 and came out with $40...not bad! Ed won 50 cents! After our splurge at the casino, we took pictures of the sculptures that were carved out of the trees that were ravaged by Katrina...beautiful! We found a great little restaurant along the coast for dinner and then headed back to the RV for a good night's sleep before we headed out again in the morning.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Orleans...

After Palacios, we headed to New Orleans and stayed for 3 nights in Slidell at the New Orleans East Campground. We didn't realize it, but we discovered that the NO French Quarter Festival was going on, beginning the Thursday we arrived (we arrived Wed night)...what a stroke of luck! So Thursday we headed down to the French Quarter...first stop was the Cafe du Monde for a taste of their famous beignets and chicory coffee...yumm! I loved it so much that we went back the next day! I digress...after our beignets we decided to spend the day walking around the festival, which consisted of various artists with their art lined all along the streets and all kinds of musicians, both singular and bands, performing at stages set up all over the French Quarter. So we listened to amazing jazz all day...for free! The streets were packed with people...what a great way to spend the day! We managed to visit Bourbon Street and people-watch too.

One of our stops included a visit to the St. Louis Cathedral...it's origin dates back to 1727. Here's a link for more info on the cathedral: http://www.stlouiscathedral.org/early_history.html. I can't do it justice by giving a history lesson. It's a gorgeous cathedral, which sustained some damage during Hurricane Katrina. The guide in the cathedral told us that the organ, which was originally purchased for 1.5 mil, took 3 years and $750,000 to repair after the hurricane.

For lunch/dinner we found Dragos at the Hilton and Ed had the best charbroiled oysters he's ever tasted while I had a fabulous shrimp pasta dish. After our late lunch, we finished our day by strolling on the riverwalk, which was also alive with bands and food and art!

Our second day was spent mostly taking a buggy ride through the French Quarter as well as the St. Louis Cemetary #1. Our guide told us that because NO is built on swamp land, the people discovered that bodies that were buried underground eventually came to the surface. So they decided to bore holes in the coffins to keep them from floating up...but discovered that the odors from the decomposed bodies rose to the surface. Their solution was to bury the bodies in vaults above the ground. Most families were buried in one vault, because the vaults could fit 100s or 1000s of decomposed bodies.

After the buggie ride, we stopped at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, which was converted to a pub several decades ago, and is a favorite of the locals. From there we had dinner at Sammy's, another restaurant on Bourbon Street...it was delicious!

We had been very excited about visiting New Orleans and it surpassed our expectations! We will definitely make this a stop on our future treks to Texas.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time to head home from Harlingen, TX

Well, today we began our trip home after 5 beautiful months in Harlingen. We had such a great time that we've decided to return in November 2012!

The first pics are of our last party at Tropic Winds...it was sunny and hot and there was a ton of food and drink! We'll miss all of our new friends, especially Eldon and Betty, and John and Gloria! We'll also miss Dave and Louise, who we met at yoga and spent some very pleasant evenings enjoying dinner with them! Hopefully, we'll see all of them when we return!

Our first stop on our trek home is in Palacios, TX...a small coastal town about 240 miles north of Harlingen. We picked this place because we had to take back roads to get there, so we could see a little more of the countryside and the RV park had rave reviews. It's called Serendipity and it's nestled in between several shrimping companies. It should be fun watching all of the shrimp boats head out to sea tomorrow morning and return tomorrow night! One of our tasks tomorrow will be to buy some oysters and freeze them so we can have them when we get back to CT...yumm!! Tonight we went to a small Mexican restaurant that had fried shrimp and oysters...they came highly recommended by the managers at Serendipity...and they were right...the oysters and shrimp were delicious!


Palacios is a very quiet little town, which is fine with us because tonight is the women's Final Four basketball game and tomorrow night is the men's Championship game...so we're not planning on going out on the town anyway! Go UConn!! In between games tomorrow, we're going to walk the 3-mile boardwalk along the bay and maybe we'll even take Emma!

We leave here on Tuesday and will stop at a Flying J for the night. From there we'll head to New Orleans for 3 days...can't wait!

More later!