Rolling into “The Big Easy”

And so begins our next big adventure. We have a job in Alaska this summer but we have to get there first. I spent weeks planning our route. Where to stop, what to see, how long to stay…all while keeping in mind we have to be in Moose Pass as close to May 1st as possible. If we had chosen to drive straight there from Daddy’s house, it would have been 4773 miles. Instead we decided to go west, then north, making the trip 6110 miles.

Our first big stop was The Big Easy, The Birthplace of Jazz, Crescent City, New Orleans, NOLA, N’Awlins, whatever you chose to call it, it is a happening place with so much to see! We only had time to stay 3 nights with our somewhat rigid timeline so we wanted to make the best of it. You could stay there a week and never get to take it all in. We used  Pontchartrain Landing as our base camp, only 15 minutes from the French Quarter. With our Passport America discount, it was only $41 a night.

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The first thing we did was drive by the house my dad grew up in. I hadn’t been there since I was about 5 years old and it didn’t look anything like I remembered, but lets face it, that was many years and several hurricanes ago! We wanted to check out some of the plantation homes gracing the banks of the Mississippi River, so we headed towards Vacherie. It was a little further than I thought, but it was a nice ride. Just before we got to Oak Alley Plantation, we caught sight of the Queen of the Mississippi

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We found a place to park and walked up to the bank to admire her. The Mississippi River is a busy river! All types of ships and barges travel it’s waters…

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After watching the river traffic for a while, we got back to the original reason we were there. Plantations! We weren’t going to have time to tour any of them, but we wanted to drive by and see as many as we could. Oak Alley gets its name from the 28 evenly spaced live oak trees lining the front walkway. These massive trees are thought to be about 300 years old, man, if trees could talk!

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My picture really doesn’t do the scenery justice! A bit further, we saw a single live oak in the field, with no one standing near it, it is hard to give a sense of scale, but it was a beautiful tree…

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Not all the plantations have been restored, some are in the works and others are in pretty poor condition. Sugar cane is still grown in the area and we passed lots of freshly planted fields…

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I had to ask Steve to turn around so I could get a picture of this oak lined driveway…

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A quick stop at another plantation…

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Then back to New Orleans and the French Quarter! Parking is very pricey in the French Quarter but I found a neat app called Spot Hero . With the app, I was able to find parking right on the edge of the French Quarter ($17 for 12 hours on a Saturday!) We hit the streets and tried to take it all in…

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There were all kinds of street performers. each vying for your attention (and cash)…

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Then, there’s the people watching! A never ending stream of people from all walks of life…

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At night, Bourbon Street really comes alive with music, neon and people…

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We stopped in at Ticklers and listened to the house band for a bit. I noticed the neon board and paid my dollar to change the phrase of the night…

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This should be quite a year to visit New Orleans as it is celebrating it’s 300th birthday…

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I never gave it much thought, but apparently getting married and parading down Bourbon Street is in!

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The morning we left, I climbed up on top of Waldo to get a shot of the park…

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We will probably go back to New Orleans when we can stay a little longer. There is still so much to see!

Have you ever been to the Big Easy? What was your favorite thing to see?

Not nearly long enough!

You’ll have to forgive me as I go back in time a bit. I know I already did my 2017 in review post, but I have to tell you about the last weeks of 2017.

As you know from my Goodbye Wind Point Park post, we left Lone Oak, Texas, but I didn’t give any hint of where we were heading. Galveston! My parents really enjoyed staying at Galveston Island State Park (GISP) and since we were ready for a bit of down time that’s where we went. We arrived after hours and found our site number tacked to the bulletin board. Setting up in the dark isn’t my favorite thing to do, but we managed…

I was quite surprised when I woke up in the morning and realized we were right near the water’s edge…

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As you can see, the skies had cleared and the weather looked promising. I grabbed my camera and set off to explore a bit since Steve was still sleeping…

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Funny, our address in Lone Oak was State Park Road 55

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When I got back from my walk, Steve was up and about ready to roll. Since it was our first day, we figured we’d just drive around and make note of things we wanted to go back and explore. We stopped at the visitors to get a map and learn a little more about the island. Our friends had given us lots of suggestions of things to do and places to see, but no one told us about the Tree Sculpture Tour. Since we were already right near the beginning of it, we decided to do that first. The artistry is amazing. I’m not going to post pictures of all 24, but here are some of my favorites…

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Steve getting the shot
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This tree had 17 birds carved into it
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Getting into the holiday spirit
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Very cool mermaid
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The only one we found which was painted
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So much talent!
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Probably the most intricate of all and definitely my favorite.

The next day, I wanted to find some of the places where you can drive on the beach. We headed to the west end of the island and after a few dead ends we found a neat little place to do some birding…

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The pink bird is a roseate spoonbill, they are so cool!
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I saw this one later at the campground
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The sound was incredible when this flock of birds took off
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Heading out for some surf fishing

From here, we headed to Fort San Jacinto Historic Point on the east end of the island. It is a great place to watch the ships come into Houston Bay and do a little fishing…

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Then it was (literally) on to East Beach…

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I loved the designs in the sand made by the waves.

Since it was getting on toward dinner time, we looked through the coupons we had gotten at the visitor’s center and decided to do the totally touristy thing to do. We ate dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I my opinion, the meal was completely forgettable and over priced, but that what you get for being touristy!

One of the best things about staying at a state park in Texas is you don’t need a license to fish as long as you are on the property. We decided to take advantage of that and get in some fishing. I was first to pull in whopper…

Okay, not really a whopper

The next big catch wasn’t exactly a keeper either…

Perhaps Steve would have better luck…

Looks impressive until you put it in the larger picture…

One of the places everyone said we needed to go was Moody Gardens. I checked it out online and it looked amazing, but I wasn’t sure we could really swing the price.  I pretty much put it out of my mind until I called my dad. He mentioned that when he and mom were in Galveston, they visited Moody Gardens and really enjoyed it. Then he offered to get tickets for us as a Christmas gift! Woohoo! Thank you! Since quite a bit of it is inside, Steve and I picked the coldest upcoming day to go. We woke up bright and early, had a good breakfast then headed out. It was only about a 15 minute drive and we had 10am tickets for the Ice Land exhibit. I know, I hate the cold, but who could resist a rain forest made completely of ice? If you want to read about the history and the how, click here, it’s definitely interesting! Here are a few of my favorite sculptures…

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The kids were having a blast on the ice slide

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Doesn’t Steve look good in blue?!?

Moody Gardens has 3 pyramid structures and each one contains a different theme. We started at the Discovery pyramid and enjoyed the Da Vinci exhibit. I never realized just how many things he was into. I didn’t take any pictures because it was fairly dark inside, plus, sometimes it is just nice to enjoy something without thinking about images for the blog.  Next we headed to the rain forest pyramid. After the near freezing temps in Ice Land, the rain forest seemed downright comfy!

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But, my favorite pyramid was the aquarium. Again, I didn’t take a lot of pictures, I just enjoyed…Moody Gardens-4339

It was starting to get dark by the time we left the aquarium.  We had almost an hour before our “sail” around the harbor on the paddle boat, so we walked around and checked out the holiday lights.

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Just before it got totally dark, a zip-liner went right over our heads…

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From the paddle boat, we had a good view of the pyramids…

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As we were getting ready to head back to Waldo, we noticed the Chinese lanterns.(these were done in honor of the Chinese ice carving team who made Ice Land into a rain forest, here’s that story) …

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Now, how it I get the title of this post? The next thing we knew, it was Dec. 26th and time to leave. 7 days is “Not nearly long enough” to see everything in Galveston! But we will definitely go back!  And once again, we packed up in the rain…

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Have you ever been to Galveston? What did you enjoy most?

 

A Year in Review

With 2017 and Peterborough in the review mirror, I realize just how much our life changed last year. When 2017 began, we were still living in a stick and brick home, we owned a business and we were still making our plan to hit the road. Then, something happened and it all changed. Accelerating our plan to move into Waldo full time a year ahead of schedule required quite a lot of work. First, had to decide what we wanted to keep and what needed to go, then we had to get rid of all our belongings that weren’t going with us…

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One of our many yard sales

We had to get the house ready to sell. Clean, paint, new flooring…

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And, of course, the we had to wait for the weather to warm up…

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Sometimes, you just have to take a break!

Then, there was all the work we needed to do to Waldo before we could leave. My favorite “upgrade” was our new curtains…

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What do you do with family photos?
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You turn them into iron-ons and make curtains!

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We said goodbye to family and friends…

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Finally, Florida bound…

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By far, the biggest improvement we had to do was get a new roof. We decided Florida was where we should get that done. The benefit of being able to stay with my dad while the repair was done, made the decision an easy one…

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Steve began to adjust to not going to work every day…

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It was July before we truly ready to hit the road. We had a job waiting for us in Texas and it was time to go…

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Our first meal living full time in Waldo.

And then, our new temporary home in Texas…

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The next 5 months seemingly flew by, bringing us to December and the impending new year.

How things can change in 12 months! From this view…

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To this view…

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From using wood for winter heat…

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To using wood for camp fires…

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It’s been a year of major changes, all for the better. We’ve visited beautiful places and made some wonderful new friends. It means so much to me to have you along on our journey. Thank you.

May 2018 be your best year yet!

Goodbye Wind Point Park

When we first arrived at Wind Point Park, we had no idea what to expect. We had a basic idea of our job descriptions but we were stepping into unknown territory. Our initial commitment was 3 months. We said, “Beyond that, we’ll stay as long as it is mutually beneficial.” Time passed quickly. We made new friends. People who truly impacted our lives. To be quite honest, we also met some people we weren’t terribly fond of, but, let’s face it that happens everywhere. Our overall experience was a happy one.

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And we got to see some really cool things…

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Our daily visitors
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The Texas Eiffel Tower
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The Salt Palace in Grand Saline
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The wine festival in Grapevine
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The Texas State Fair
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The Grapeland Safari
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A night with the Marcus Linsdsey Band
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Turkey Drag 2017

When we set out on this new adventure, it was never our intent to find a happy place and call it home (at least not yet). Each place we stay is meant to be a visit. There are far too many places to see to put down new roots.

We decided to leave on Dec. 19th, a little over 5 months after we arrived. The week before we left, was filled with evenings with our new friends.  Dinner with Ivan and Josie…Dinner with Jerry and Janelle…Dinner with Scott and Reja…Dinner with Nancy…Hugs and well wishes from so many people…and our final campfire…

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Before we left, we walked over to see Meda. She is a long term lease holder who moved in a few months ago. She had just gotten her smoker and we wanted to see it…

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Is that cool or what!

Nancy gave us an early Christmas present…

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In case you are wondering, the “dog butt” is a leash holder. The “Where’s Waldo” candy bar was perfect!

The morning of the 19th was rainy and miserable for packing up…

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Thank you Josie for taking the picture

Despite the rain, lots of people stopped by for a final farewell…

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My apologies to Jerry and Janelle, we didn’t get a picture with you, but your homemade road snacks were awesome!

I haven’t come close to mentioning everyone who made our time at Wind Point Park so memorable.

A part of us will stay in Lone Oak with all of you…

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And I painted a reminder, in case you do start to forget us…

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A special “Thank you” to the park owner, Ryan, for giving us our workamping start.

Next stop…Galveston!

Day Tripping

Striking a balance between work and play is something everyone strives for. And when it’s time to play, lots of things factor into how that time should be spent. I know I’ve repeatedly said how much I like free things to do. We’ve found, if you plan it right, you can get LOTS of fun for free. Our last 3 day trips are great examples of frugal fun!

DAY TRIP #1 – The Salt Palace – Grand Saline, Texas

Grand Saline, Texas is home to one of the largest salt mines in the US. The underground salt dome is 1 1/2 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, yes, I said MILES. In the late 1890’s, there were several salt producing companies. Around 1920 The Grand Saline Salt Company acquired them all and later became known as Morton Salt. By 1930, they were mining over 500 tons of salt daily. The building which houses the salt museum has the distinction of being the only building in the world built entirely of salt blocks…

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Inside is a neat collection of Morton Salt memorabilia…

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Morton stopped doing mine tours in the 1960’s. but there was a 20 minute movie showing some of the history and the mining operation. The cost to visit – nada! But donations are accepted.

DAY TRIP #2 – Grapefest, Grapevine, Texas

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We chose to head over to Grapevine on Thursday because…wait for it…it was free admission day!  Score!! There was free parking and a free shuttle. Every year Grapefest highlights different regions. This year it was wines from the Finger Lakes Region of New York and Canadian ice wines. Several years ago, Steve and I did the Seneca Lake wine tour, so we were already familiar with a few of the wineries. Of course that didn’t prevent me from sampling their goods.

Historic downtown Grapevine would have been worth the visit even without Grapefest, from the train depot…

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To the arts…

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But, it really was about the wine…

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DAY TRIP #3 – The Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

You don’t have to travel to France to see the Eiffel Tower. You do, however, have to go to Paris. In our case, Paris, Texas. This was another cool Atlas Obscura find.

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Right next to the tower is the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial…

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The memorial is only partially completed, but it is really well done.

So, what are we gong to do with all the money we saved by finding free day trips? Well, you’ll find out next week!

How do you find free things to do?

Settling In

We left my dad’s around noon on Monday, July 3rd. According to the GPS, it would take us about 15 hours to reach our destination in Lone Oak, Texas. We were hoping for an uneventful trip, after all, Waldo had a nice new roof and Steve had replaced the surge tank and both thermostats. We thought our overheating problems were behind us. We didn’t even make it out of Florida before Waldo’s engine temp began to climb…ugh! My aunt and granny live about 40 minutes north of the route we were taking, so we spent our first night “on the road” at their house. It should have only taken us about 5 1/2 hours to get there, but, thanks to Waldo’s overheating, it took us nearly 7 hours. My aunt had a wonderful dinner waiting for us, fall off the bone ribs, fried corn bread cakes, peas & beans, roasted potatoes and fresh tomatoes. After stuffing ourselves and catching up a bit, we called it a night. The next morning, breakfast was waiting for us! Bacon, sausage, fresh eggs (she has her own chickens), straight out of the oven biscuits and homemade preserves. Thank you Aunt Frances! My cousin came over to see us before we continued on our way. And he came bearing gifts…probably one of the biggest watermelons I had ever seen. We gathered on the back porch, while he cut it into mouth watering chunks. Between the 5 of us, we managed to eat almost 1/2 of it. Then he cut a huge chunk to take with us. Bonus!

With hugs and a promise to visit longer next time, we headed west. Waldo only overheated a little, so we made pretty good time. Aound 4 pm, Steve asked me to start looking for a place to spend the night. Armed with my Allstays phone app, I chose a park in Monroe, LA called Ouachita RV Park. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to find a spot because of the holiday. Even though the office was closed, they answered the phone. Yes, they had sites available. We were told which ones to pick from and to just come into the office in the morning to pay. Despite being so close to I-20, the park was quiet and peaceful. I took Diesel for a nice long walk after his day riding and came across a strange sight. Dozens of what I’m going to call mud chimneys. They ranged in size from 2-3 inches tall to over 10 inches tall. Thanks to Google, I learned they were crawfish mounds. Who knew…

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I awoke Wednesday morning happy in the knowledge, we would reach our destination by early afternoon. I was excited and ready to be there! It was a little after 1 pm when we pulled into Wind Point Park, our new “home for now”. We were warmly welcomed and shown to site B2, a beautiful shady spot to call home.

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As we were setting up, one of the park’s herd of deer came through as though welcoming us…

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The park manager and her husband stopped by later that evening and offered us a tour of the park. We climbed onto the back of their golf cart and off we went. What a slice of heaven!! Beautiful scenery, friendly faces and lots of wildlife.

We’re gonna love it here~

 

 

 

 

Doing It Florida Style

So here we are in Florida. After the “adventure” of our trip down here, I was definitely ready for some down time. I knew we had to get Waldo over to the repair shop for an estimate on the roof, but first we had to unload the belongings staying in Florida. I’m sure Waldo was quite happy to shed a few pounds!

On Thursday, we brought Waldo to Nature Coast RV, handed over the keys and hoped for the best. It would be a few days before we got the estimate so we set our sights on some relaxation time.

It had been quite a long time since Steve had enough spare time to get out in the kayak. While water sports aren’t his favorite activity, he does enjoy kayaking on calm waters. My first thought was to head down to the Gulf of Mexico (only about 10 minutes from my dad’s house). We made a quick stop at the store to pick up some sunscreen. Steve has two colors of summer – Casper white or lobster red. Not wanting him to spend his first week in sunburned pain, we opted for spf50! I thought better of the gulf because the waters can be choppy and there is no shade. I decide a trip on the Rainbow River would be better. The Rainbow River is a busy river with boaters, tubers, kayakers and paddle boarders. Since it was father’s day weekend, the river was crowded, but not so much to make it unenjoyable. Steve seemed to have a good time…

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We promised my dad a trip to his favorite restaurant for father’s day. I dislike eating out on holidays due to the crowds, so we waited until later in the week. Peck’s Old Port Cove serves steamed blue crabs. Daddy and I split 1 1/2 dozen crabs while Steve had their fried fisherman’s platter…

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A great meal – as always!

Before we left New Hampshire, I had been looking for a place to workamp. Work Camping is when you work at a campground in exchange for your RV site. Sometimes there is an opportunity for extra hours for pay, but not always. We had committed to a park in Texas, but didn’t leave NH in time to make it when they needed us. I was very happy when the manager of  Wind Point Park in Lone Oak, Texas emailed me and said we were still welcome to come work for the summer! Their website shows a beautiful park and conjures visions of lovely sunsets and quiet evenings by the campfire. I can’t wait to get there and settle into our new life as workampers!

We had received the estimate for Waldo’s roof…gasp! Between $7000 and $9000! Double what it cost to put a roof on the stick and brick house in NH! But, it has to be done! Steve checked in on their progress this week and it’s getting there…

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They are hoping to have it done by the 30th so we can be on our way.

While Steve was checking on the roof, I decided to take my kayak out to the gulf. I drove to the end of Ozella Trail. There is a great park there with a  boat launch. A few other kayakers were out. I parked next to them, unloaded and hit the waters. As I suspected, the water was choppy, but it was a gorgeous summer day and I made my way around the mangrove islands and headed back. I hadn’t checked the tide report before I went out and I won’t do that again! When I got back to Trouble, the tide had come in enough I could paddle right up to it…

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It was still over an hour before high tide, so I’m glad I headed in when I did.

Hoping my next post is about an uneventful 14 hour trip to Texas and our arrival at Wind Point Park!!!!