Saturday, 3 March 2007

Short Trip to Mobile

This is the Richards DAR House Museum - note the cast iron facade which is quite popular in the older part of Mobile

Part of the Mobile skyline

Today was mostly sunny & breezy. It was 58F (14C) when I got up shortly after 7:00 a.m. I took what will probably be my last walk in the bird sanctuary at least for this trip.
We’re heading east tomorrow so will probably forego my walk as we’ll want to get on the road as early as possible.

Late this morning we left to go into Mobile. It was very crowded downtown. There was some kind of chili cook-off going on and it was wall to wall people. We took some photos of some of the antebellum mansions, one of which is the Richards DAR House Museum (Daughters of the American Revolution), drove around the downtown area, then headed for Walmart where I picked up some groceries before heading back to Dauphin Island.

Gordon went out to photograph the eclipse tonight and got a good photo To see it, click here.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Bellingrath Gardens

I was up shortly after 7:00 a.m. today. It was 55F (13C) and partly sunny with a bit of wind. I walked in the bird sanctuary and along the boardwalk to the beach. There were a few birds around this morning.

I took this photo at the beach this morning

Today was to be our day to go into Mobile and see the city. However Bellingrath Gardens was recommended to us by Gayle and Breland whom we met in Louisiana and a blogging RVer friend, Carolyn so we decided to go there on the way.

We arrived in time for the 12 noon cruise on the Fowl River. This is a 45 minute cruise that explains the importance of the river and the delta grasses that grow there with respect to the Gulf and fresh and salt water rivers. We saw a few osprey and the cruise commentary was interesting but the best was definitely the gardens, probably the prettiest was the oriental gardens. They had an oriental bridge and some buildings as well that really helped with the theme. They also had one lotus blossom tree. The rest of the gardens were very pretty as well. The azaleas were just coming into bloom and the camellias were just about finished but there were lots of flowering kale and cabbage and all sorts of spring flowers. You would need to spend a whole day there to see everything and take your time.

We left there around 2:30 p.m. and decided to come home as we were tired and hungry (Gordon couldn’t get anything at the cafeteria that he could eat) so we decided to go into Mobile tomorrow.

We reached a high of 65F (18C) and the afternoon turned sunny and beautiful, perfect for walking around the gardens.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Expenses, Housework & Touring Around

February Expenses

Campgrounds (incl Electricity) - $339.21

Groceries (includes wine) - $300.57

Laundry - $20.50

Entertainment/Parking/Restaurants - $155.97

Truck Fuel - $372.94

Propane - $0.00

Repairs/Service RV/Truck - $144.34 (includes labour for installation of microwave & truck service)

Internet/TV/Cell/Insurance - $351.52

Medical/Dental - $0.00

Gifts - $0.00

Misc - $343.78 – The largest items were my new hard drive and getting my hair done – other amounts just misc expenses

Total - $2,028.83

We did much better on groceries this month however since we started traveling at the end of the month our fuel expenses are higher. Our electric bill for Fulton Oaks was $85.50 which was rather high but we had quite a bit of cold weather so the electric heater was running 24 hr/day for several days as well as during the nights for a lot of days as well. It’s still cheaper than buying propane!

We were supposed to have rain and thunderstorms after midnight last night and continuing all day today and tonight. I woke up early as I’ve been getting up early the last few mornings because we were traveling so got up and Gordon and I went for a walk since it hadn’t started to rain yet. We found the beach which is accessible through the campground as is the Audubon bird sanctuary. The beach is not a ‘walking’ beach with mostly loose sand and the clouds were looking very heavy so we headed for the bird sanctuary and took the swamp trail when it started to rain a bit. We headed back to the RV. I made a stop to get some quarters for the laundry at the office and the rain stopped so I continued walking around the park. It was 65F (18C) and very humid.

This morning I did a couple of loads of laundry and vacuumed. Gordon went out to the bird sanctuary to take some photos but I decided to stay behind and rest my back for a while. Vacuuming and standing around always kills it and I stood for quite a while talking to a couple from Indiana when I was doing the laundry.

Around noon I checked the temperature and it was 80F( 27C). It was sunny but the skies were fairly dark. I had heard from someone this morning that the thunderstorms were passing north of us but with the humidity it feels like we might get some sort of action in that regard. We actually had the air conditioner on today. We had tornado watches for much of the day as well.

This afternoon we did some driving around and walked around another birding area but the birds haven’t arrived yet. This area is apparently a migratory stopoff for most birds and in a couple of weeks it will be teeming but unfortunately we can’t stay that long!

We also drove back to the west end of the island and saw the devastation that two hurricanes in less than ten years have caused the housing on the island. There are no trees or anything to shelter the houses. There’s a photo below of one of them.

We stopped at the local tourist office and obtained some information on the island. Behind the tourist bureau there are several camellia trees. Here’s a photo of one of the flowers. Very beautiful!

By the way for anyone watching the weather in this area, a tornado did hit Enterprise, AL but that’s about 300 miles from where we are – 13 people were killed including some kids in the local high school whose roof collapsed while the kids were inside. Devastating!

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Now at Dauphin Island, Alabama

Our site at Dauphin Island Campground

We left Hammond, LA this morning around 9:15 a.m. under mostly cloudy skies and 61F (16C). The temperature did make it to 77F (25C) on our travels.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island located three miles south of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Entry to the island is made by crossing a three mile long high rise bridge which was opened in July 1982 after the original draw bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Frederic in 1979. Many attractions are located on the east end of the island including Fort Gaines, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dauphin Island Campground (where we’re staying), Audubon Bird Sanctuary and numerous boat launch sites. There are beautiful beaches of white sand (but not as white as Mexico Beach, FL) public golf course and parks are added attractions located on the west end of the island.

Today after getting set up at our site, we did some exploring around the island and spent some time at the Audubon bird sanctuary. We didn’t see a lot of birds but it is a beautiful spot and below are a very few of the photos I took. Too bad it wasn’t sunny. Dauphin Island is the first landfall encountered by many birds as they migrate north from South America, and as a consequence many species can be found resting there before continuing their journey.

We also took some photos at the fishing pier at the western side of the island and had a bit of a sunset. This guy was out parasailing and I just happened to catch him as the sun was starting to set.

There are lots of places to explore on the island and plenty of things to see in Mobile itself including antebellum houses.

We are officially here until Friday but the weather is not supposed to be too good tomorrow so we may be staying here until Monday (yet to be decided).

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Tickfaw State Park

Wow, did I ever sleep last night. I don’t remember waking up at all until Gordon left this morning to go and shoot photos. That’s unusual for me. This morning when I got up it was foggy and 55F (13C). I did my walk around the park. This seems to be a typical country park, sites are rather haphazard, no pavement, grassy sites and sites on gravel. The ones that back on the lake would be nice. The bayou they claim to have is a ditch but the lake is pretty if it didn’t have power lines running across it. It’s adequate for our needs and only about $15/night with Passport America.

This is the lake in the campground taken in the morning fog

I napped for most of the morning. The last two days of getting up early has really gotten to me plus not sleeping well the night before we travel. However, this afternoon we went to Tickfaw State Park which isn’t far from Hammond and walked a couple of the trails. We didn’t see a lot but it was a beautiful day and it was nice to be out in nature.

This little fellow popped up over the side of the boardwalk railing to say hi

Me on one of the trails

Louisiana swamp

I think we’ll spend a relaxing night tonight and tomorrow head for Dauphin Island, Alabama where we’ll spend two days. There are supposed to be thunderstorms while we’re there and we’ll be right out on the point in the Gulf of Mexico!

Monday, 26 February 2007

From Beaumont, TX to Hammond, LA

What a beautiful day today. We left Beaumont, Texas at 9:00 a.m. under sunny skies and 65F (18C). The temperature rose to 77F (25C) on our travels and we arrived at Punkin Park near Hammond, Louisiana around 1:15 p.m. and were completely set up complete with both TV and internet satellite by 3:00 p.m. This trip we managed about 12.1 mpg as there was very little wind. Our trip west on I-10 in January 2005 led us to really not look forward to this trip through Louisiana but work has been done on the road although it still did have its very bumpy spots.

I was up this morning at 6:30 a.m. as I wanted to walk and have breakfast before we left. I walked all around the RV park. It was quite foggy but when the sun came up the fog soon burned off.

This RV park is right on I-12 which runs north of Lake Pontchartrain so the traffic is quite heavy and we’re very close to it. We’re here for two days. There doesn’t seem to be much around here as far as scenery goes although Louisiana itself is quite scenic with its bayous and Spanish moss hanging from the trees. The park has its own bayou and a lake so it should be nice to walk around in the morning. We’re about an hour from New Orleans but at this time we don’t have any thoughts about going to see it.

Henderson Swamp runs along I-10 just west of Baton Rouge

I-10 is basically a very long bridge between Lafayette and Baton Rouge

Here is our site at Punkin Park

Tonight we were met here at the park by photographer friends of Gordon’s, Gayle and Breland and we all went to Tope La, a French/American restaurant in Hammond for dinner. The food was excellent and I had to bring a doggie bag home. Thanks Gayle and Breland for dinner and it was great meeting you!

Gayle and Breland

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Overnighting in Beaumont, Texas

We left Fulton Oaks RV Park this morning at 9:00 a.m. and arrived at Gulf Coast RV Park in Beaumont, TX and were set up by about 2:50 p.m. Setup sure is a breeze when you don’t have to hook up the satellite dishes! They have free wifi and cable here so we’re using that as we’re only stopping for the night.

I had a short walk this morning but only down to the ranch to see if the steer was out and indeed it was and facing me for a change so I got some photos. Gordon had gone out for sunrise and got an excellent photo of the blue herons leaving the live oaks where they spend the night. The weather was rather cloudy and cool when I got up but it was early (before 7:00 a.m.) but it warmed up on our trip to 74F (23C) and was sunny most of the way. We had quite a strong wind from the north until we hit somewhere around Houston so we were lucky to get just over 10 mpg on this trip.

After set up I took a walk around the park but other than that we just relaxed.

I’ve made reservations for the next four nights – Monday and Tuesday we’re at Punkin Park in Hammond, Louisiana and are meeting up with some photographer friends of Gordon’s. She was in Cloudcroft, New Mexico when we were in Alamogordo last year but we never met up. She has recommended we stop at Dauphin Island, Alabama which is near Mobile so I’ve booked two nights there (Wednesday and Thursday). We’ll get to Florida eventually!

The photo is of our site at Gulf Coast RV Park.