November 13, 2004

Arkansas to Georgia

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:47 pm by diandy2004

Four states in a week. Only spending a night or two in each location. At this rate it looks like we’ll be in Orlando for Thanksgiving with Andy’s brother Joe and his family.

Our first stop after leaving OKC was Russellville, AR. We stayed at Lake Dardanelle State Park and paid an extra $2 per night for a lakeside site and a clear view of the nuclear plant’s cooling tower across the lake. That sounds bad, but it was still a beautiful view and we had some great sunsets here. It was very peaceful. Feels like forever since we were able to sit outside in short-sleeves and just relax.

Sunset View from Campsite

Sunset View from Campsite

We spent two nights here. Initially we thought about kayaking the lake, but we prefer narrow waterways to the large open lakes. So we drove up to Mt Nebo State Park for a view of the surrounding Ozark Mountains instead. At 1,350 ft elevation, it didn’t seem like much of a mountain in comparison to the 8,000 plus ft mountains we’ve seen but it was a nice side trip. The road up to the summit was a hoot. Vehicles over 24′ not permitted. The switchbacks were so sharp, short and steep they should’ve just put in a spiral staircase instead.

Crazy Road to Mt Nebo

Crazy Road to Mt Nebo

View from Mt Nebo

View from Mt Nebo

From Lake Dardanelle we moved on to Memphis. We had our mail delivered to a UPS store downtown so after setting up camp outside the city at T.O. Fuller State Park we drove into Memphis. We primarily stayed in “downtown” Memphis walking the streets, ate dinner out, and had a beer. On the way out of town we drove through Graceland but neither of us are enough of Elvis fans to feel the need to go in. Curious about the crime rate here in Memphis. Although downtown was neat and clean and the people were dressed to the nines, there were a lot of homes with bars on the windows. Even the state park’s registration office/visitor center rolled down hurricane shutters at night. Are they afraid someone is going to steal all their brochures? We decided to only stay the one night.

Beale Street, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

As we continue deeper into the southeast we are noticing that drivers tend to speed more. Birmingham, AL was an absolute mess with cars speeding and tailgating, usually at the same time. We stayed in a town south of Birmingham primarily because they allowed us to wash our RV. Most RV Parks won’t allow it either because of water shortages (in the desert) or they don’t want soap residue going into the ground, etc. And Spirit and Ele both desperately need a good washing. It’s an all-day affair washing the RV and car, so it was a good thing there wasn’t anything tempting to do in Jemison to distract us from our duty. We also wanted to spend a night in Alabama so that our state sticker on our travel-map would be legitimate. Jim and Chris had informed us that to be legitimate we had to sleep in the state. The first time through Alabama we had only driven through it, so now we are legit.

We then spent two nights at Seminole State Park near Donalsonville, GA. Down by the Florida border. Some of the first signs that we were almost home: a warning sign stating alligators were present; it was raining and sunny at the same time; it was warm enough to put on shorts; and the swimming beach actually had sand, not dirt.

Lake Seminole is actually in both Florida and Georgia. This was a great kayaking lake. Lots of fingers with marshy edges hiding hundreds of birds. Saw one of the largest Ospreys I’ve ever seen – close to a five foot wing span I’m sure. There were moor hens, egrets, and blue herons. But the most enjoyable were the hundreds of red-winged blackbirds that hid in the cattails until you kayaked too close and they would take off in waves of about 50 at a time. The pulsating whoosh of their flapping wings as each wave took off would vibrate in your body. The sky would become full of black dots as they would dart and dip into the next bunch of cattails.

Kayak Put-In

Kayak Put-In

Turtles

Turtles

Another great plus about this state park was that our super-sized campsite was lakeside and we were able to launch our kayaks right from our site. We never even had to detach the car. We kayaked for hours feeling the heat of the sun on our skin. It sure does feel like we’re almost home.

Our Campsite from Land

Our Campsite from Land

Our Campsite from the Lake

Our Campsite from the Lake

Tomorrow, we should be in our home state of Florida.  The end of our trip is near.

Advertisements

February 7, 2004

Alabama and Mississippi

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:19 am by diandy2004

Alabama – we stopped and had lunch outside of Mobile.  That has to count for “visiting” the state, right?

{editor’s note:  later we learned that RVers have different qualifications for what constitutes as a “visit” for the record.  And, if you have a map of the states you can only put a state sticker on the map when those qualifications are met.  So we had to decide on what our criteria would be – and we decided that we would have to spend the night in our RV to be classified as a “visit”.  So, Alabama didn’t count…yet.}

We were a little nervous driving through the Mobile tunnel.  This was our first tunnel in the RV.  “Hazardous Materials” were not allowed to be transported through the tunnel, and considering we had a propane tank, we weren’t sure how we were classified.

Mississippi – We stayed in Biloxi, MS for several nights to play at the casinos.  What we didn’t realize was that the railroad tracks ran right through the center of town.  Our campsite was literally 20 feet to the tracks.  After 2 nights (and days) of no sleep, we moved our RV to a spit of land that jutted out into the Gulf of Mexico.  It was our first night of “boondocking”, which means no hook-ups – no sewer, no electricity, no water connections.  But, it was as far away from trains as we could get!  The land was owned by Treasure Bay Casino, so of course we gambled there that night.  The players and the workers at these casinos really seemed relaxed and just had a good time.
Boondocking next to Treasure Bay's Pirate Ship

Boondocking next to Treasure Bay's Pirate Ship

Another casino we enjoyed was the Beau Rivage.  They have a microbrewery and it was Karaoke night.  Normally, we do not enjoy Karaoke, but last night we heard the Sugarbeets (a group of sugar beet growers in town for a convention) singing Jon BonJovi’s “It’s My Life”.  They were hysterical, and now “It’s My Life” has become my theme song and motto because “I want to live my life while I’m alive”.
During our visit we also toured Jefferson Davis’ home Beauvoir.  Beautiful views of the Gulf.
Sadly our pet parakeet, Nikki, passed away in Biloxi.  Nikki had been with us for 12 years and was a great little guy.  He’ll be missed terribly.  We wanted a place to bury Nikki that would be more ‘natural’, so we altered our plans to include a stop at a state park in LA.  I just couldn’t imagine him being in his eternal resting place next to casinos and railroad tracks.  He deserves more than that.