4/6 Update

Hi Folks,

24 Mar, Mon: Tides Inn RVP, Holly Beach, Louisiana We were awake early, up and at 'em, and on the road by 5:30 a.m. We've had four pleasant days here at Quintana Beach, but it's time to head north to Galveston. As we approached the ferry over to Port Bolivar, we were motioned right on - the ferry was moving before we had time to shut off the engine. What timing! Had to go north toward Port Arthur to get around the Gulf's inlets, and then south on Rt 82 to Holly Beach.

We were here at this little park four years ago and it's a good one. There's a narrow patch of grass between us and the beach which is clean and just the place for another long walk. Thanks to our early departure, we were here by lunchtime and that gave us the whole afternoon to enjoy the sun and surf. The water is warmer than it ever gets at York Beach, Maine!

25 Mar, Tue: Betty's RV, Abbeville, LA Navigation was easy today as we pulled out from Tides Inn to Rt. 82 and stayed with that route until we reached Abbeville where we made a sharp right, and there we were at Betty's RV.

It was a most interesting 106 miles along this two-lane road through bayou country. As long as we could see the Gulf, oil-drilling rigs were prevalent. There was water, water everywhere for the entire trip. The canals, swamps, and bayous, always on one side of the road and often on both sides, were full of water. There were some water birds and many little batches of cattle grazing. In Cameron we crossed a Gulf inlet on a small ferry and then there were four drawbridges along the route, but all of them happened to be closed. Dwellings in the little towns were mostly pretty tired looking, but occasionally lovely homes with beautiful lawns and shrubs were added to the mix.

It's always interesting to see the large flooded fields with crawfish traps sticking up randomly throughout. One or two fields had been drained and were ready for rice planting - we'd like to know how they navigate the mud to perform the planting task. We've heard that when the fields are drained, the crawfish burrow into the mud and wait it out till the fields are flooded for another season of crawfish harvesting.

You may remember that Betty is our favorite southern lady who has twelve RV sites around her house in a residential area on the Main St. of Abbeville. Interesting: Suppose we should try that in Strafford?! Anyway, Betty is a positive delight, and we joined her and the other RVers for Happy Hour as is the custom here. The folks were especially fun and interesting.

26 May, Wed: Davis Bayou, Ocean Springs, MS We left Betty's via Rt. 14 to US 90 and would have to say it was the least fun day of the trip: After getting on I-10 in New Orleans, it poured for hours. Add to that wind, heavy traffic, and poor road surface.

The bright spot happened at a Flying J gas station west of Ocean Springs. While filling the tank there, Cal was chatting with a native who recommended the shrimp boat tour in Biloxi and gave directions to Small Craft Harbor where it launches.

As soon as we were settled into this fine National Seashore Park on the Gulf, we drove on to Biloxi to get the skinny on the shrimp boat tour. The schedule fits perfectly for us as on Thursday morning there will be a tour at 9:00 and it's a 70-minute trip.

27 May, Thu: Northwest Florida CG, Chipley, FL We drove both vehicles to the Biloxi Harbor separately as parking would be easier if we were in two pieces.

Our Captain Corrie is a licensed shrimp fisherman but his Sailfish is not a commercial fishing trawler; however, it is licensed for tours which Corrie and wife Virginia have been conducting for many years. Although the boat is smaller than the commercial vessels, the equipment and procedure is exactly like the big rigs. We watched Corrie put the trawl overboard as he explained its parts and functions. While the net was dragging along the bottom as we put out to sea, he came up on the top deck to give us an excellent explanation of shrimping. Then we watched Corrie pull in the net; he described all the fish in his catch (which, happily, included some shrimp). The fish he didn't want to keep were thrown to the eagerly awaiting sea gulls. The tour is most interesting and a 'must do' the next time you're in Biloxi!

We connected the Honda to Kenzie and continuing on I-10, finished off Mississippi, crossed Alabama and anchored for the night in Chipley, Florida. It's a very acceptable Passport Park (50% off) and the surprising thing is that, although Chipley is a small town, they have a huge, lighted athletic field which young people were enjoying to its fullest well into the evening hours. We were delighted to find a campground here as it's so handy to Bonifay, the small town where Cal's cousin lives. Cal and Sarah haven't seen one another since they were kids so that's on the docket for tomorrow morning.

28 Mar, Fri: Lake Seminole RVP, Chatahoochee, FL We spent most of the morning getting reacquainted with Second-cousin Sarah and met her daughter who lives nearby. Daughter Harmony and her husband breed and sell small dogs and have over 100 adults. Needless to say, that keeps them down on the farm.

This Corp of Engineers (COE) park on Lake Seminole is a repeat for us. The address for the park is Florida, but the Lake is actually over the line in Georgia-it's a good one. We spent the day driving on US 90, which was perfect, as it was through residential areas. The azaleas are in full bloom and many yards were bursting with various colors of these beautiful shrubs-they grow big down here.

29, 30 Mar, Sat and Sun: Old Town CG 'n Retreat, Old Town, FL We enjoyed more of US90 until west of Tallahassee where we got on I-10. In Quincy we made some young folks happy by patronizing their car wash. Cal had cleaned the Honda since driving in the rain, but Kenzie was greatly improved by this stop.

>From I-10 we got on US 19S and declare this to be the best highway of the trip-it's a two-lane divided highway with good road surface and very light traffic. That's it for an easterly direction right now - we're heading down the Gulf coast.

This 34-space park in Old Town is a keeper -it's a quiet spot in the trees with a wonderful host, and Passport price is $9.53. The Light House restaurant in town was recommended to us for excellent seafood, and we agree with that evaluation.

When the rain, which was forecast for Sunday, became a reality, we decided to stay right here for another day. The rain ceased by late-morning and the temperature dropped just as predicted. We were cozy and happy, though, and busied ourselves with computer projects.

31 Mar, Mon: Winter Paradise RVP, Hudson, FL The sun shone brightly all day, wind made driving testy, but we had a another good day on Rt. 19 which we are still saying is a fine route when not in a hurry. Since we weren't trying to click off too many miles today, we stopped at a large mall in Crystal River and enjoyed lunch at the Steak 'n Shake on down the highway.

This park in Hudson just meets the minimum requirements but is another Passport park and good enough for a one-night stand.

April Fool's Day, Tue: San Carlos RVP, Fort Myers Beach, FL RVs are tightly packed in this park which is surrounded by water on three sides, and there was a spot open for us to back in. That meant the osprey nest, complete with chicks, was in full view of the kitchen window. Fun to watch daddy osprey bringing fish to mom and babies.

We just learned that there's a RV park on Sanibel Island so went to check it out; we were able to make reservations for three nights.

Then it was off to find the BlueDolphin and the reasons we've made this very significant southern detour. Sure enough, Connie's sisters and brothers-in-law, Carolyn, John, Edie and Jack, were there to greet us. They've rented two super units right on the beach for a week -what a gorgeous spot and how good it is to see family.

2 Apr, Wed: Periwinkle Park & CG, Sanibel, FL We have one of the best sites in this park - it's a corner lot so open on two sides and the folks before us left a large wooden deck.

As soon as we had settled in, we departed for the Blue Dolphin and lunch with our family. Cal is coming down with a cold so elected to return to Kenzie so he could lay low and take cold fighters.

The remaining five of us drove to the light house on end of island and strolled to the fishing pier and over nature trails through the woods - a glorious day to leisurely take in all the natural beauty.

3 Apr, Thu: Today we five visited the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and took the narrated tram trip through the refuge. It's home to more than 230 species of birds, 50 types of reptiles and amphibians, and 32 flavors of mammals. The weather was perfect, and our guide was most informative and enthusiastic. This refuge is among the top ten most frequently visited in the US.

4 Apr, Fri: Cal's cold is slightly better but he's still taking it easy so Connie joined her family at the Blue Dolphin. After a walk on the beach, we were off to Captiva Island where we had reservations for a cruise to Cabbage Key. The 1-* hour cruise was totally enjoyable but made more fun by the antics of three dolphins that were having a blast cavorting in the wake of our boat. The more we clapped and hooted, the more they jumped, sometimes in unison. We could see their smiles! Our tour narrator explained the formation of the islands we were passing, the history of the islands' habitation, fishing in the area, etc.-nicely done and very interesting.

We had a two-hour layover on Cabbage Key so our first item of interest was lunch in the lodge-it was delicious. We walked to the water tower, along the trails behind the lodge and then just relaxed in the shade until our boat returned. The return trip was again enhanced by the precious dolphins--four this time and they swam and leaped along beside us even longer than they had on our way out-they truly were a highlight of the day.

Tomorrow we'll be moving on but this family time has truly been a highlight for Connie.

5, 6 Apr, Sat, Sun: Ortona Lock CG, (Corp of Engineers (COE) park) Moore Haven, FL It was a short hop today to this wonderful park on the Okeechobee Waterway 30 miles west of Fort Myers. Cal says, "It's pretty slick, million dollar boats on one side and cows on the other."

The temperature reached 90 degrees both days so we were happy to have A/C, but truly wish we could share it with folks back in NH who are enduring another foot of snow. Daffodils were up and things were finally looking promising, but there seems to be no end to this winter.

Soon we'll be leisurely moving north through the center of Florida.

>From "Granite Staters"

"Morris, an 82-year old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young lady on his arm. A couple of days later the doctor spoke to Morris and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?" Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.' The doctor said, "I didn't say that. I said, 'You got a heart murmur. Be careful.'"

Cheers - Cal and Connie