DEEP in the South!

I keep thinking I’ll “catch up” and get you all closer to our actual time and place, but we are having so many exciting, unique and FUN experiences, that there’s just no time to blog, and I don’t want to leave stuff out, so it’s going pretty slow. Hope y’all don’t mind! (See how I sneaked in some Southern?) This is yet another really LONG one!

I was SO excited to get to Houston to visit my dear friend and college roommate, Kathy. I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years and we had a lot of catching up to do. As with some longstanding friendships, it was as though we had seen each other just last week! She and Brent relocated to Houston about 3 years ago (I think!) from the San Francisco Bay area, and they are loving it!

We “moochdocked” in front of their house (Moochdock: v. when you park your RV in front of a friend or family member’s house and use their power, water, laundry facilities, and/or in our case, their guest rooms!!) for 2 nights because the park where we were staying didn’t have any availability until the following Monday. I don’t know what Brent told their neighbors about the behemoth that was taking up half the street, but it must have been a great story because we never heard a peep from the neighbors or the local gendarmes! (Or maybe they just donate large amounts to the local Police benevolence fund.)

The 3 kitties stayed in the RV but Pongo made himself right at home! He loved having all the space to run up and down the stairs, and truth be told, I think Brent contemplated kidnapping him when it came time for us to leave! There’s just something about a boy and a dog!

We really didn’t do a whole lot of tourist things while we were here. We talked about doing things, but we were way too busy eating, drinking and catching up on 20 years’ worth of life! Plus, Kathy and I were plotting the Amazon Prime/Netflix movie we were going to write about some crazy experiences we had had! Amazing how creative you can get with the seeds of a good story and some excellent alcohol!

On Monday we moved the RV to the most amazing county park I’ve ever seen! It’s like what we would call a “regional park” at home, with baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, acres and acres of rolling green hills, hiking trails and a meandering creek. But the kicker is that this place has 8 full hookup RV sites (by full hookups I mean 50 amp electric, water and sewer), and all 8 sites are absolutely free of charge! We were only able to book 4 nights here because weekends tend to book up far in advance, but we felt so blessed to be able to stay that long! Next time we plan to be in Houston we’ll book much farther in advance.

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time taking advantage of the amenities here because our purpose was to visit Kathy & Brent, but it sure was a wonderful place to wake up to each morning! The first night we were there, Kathy & Brent came out and we cooked a yummy dinner on the barbecue. Just as we were finishing dinner, I noticed some sort of foreign object in my mouth, and lo & behold, I had lost a filling!! JUST what you want to deal with in a strange city! But, of course, Kathy had an awesome dentist and I was able to get in to see him 2 days later. Unfortunately it turned out I needed a crown. Fortunately this young whipper-snapper dentist had the new-fangled 3D printing technology, and I walked out the same day with a shiny new crown ($900 poorer, however!).

We did manage to sneak in a visit with my niece, Erin and her husband Michael who drove in from the ‘burbs to have lunch with us. . We had only seen each other a couple of times before and it was really fun to catch up.

All too soon, it was time to head off for parts East, and we bid a very fond farewell to our friends, but not before Kathy and I solidified our plans to write that TV murder series or Netflix film based on the crazy adventures of our lives and my former career! We ended up killing pretty much everyone off, however, so I’m not sure that will ever pan out! Who knows??? Stranger things have happened, and Kathy is one of the most creative folks I know, so it may really happen!

Our first stop on our eastward trek was at a Harvest Host location in Beaumont, TX. We had been warned that there’s nothing much in Beaumont, so we weren’t expecting much, but upon driving around we did discover some really beautiful architecture.

Our host location was right next to the Police station, so we felt very safe. I insisted to the owner of the Brewery that I do NOT like beer, and much to my shock, he found one that I actually LIKED! My kids will tell you that they’ve tried for years without success to find one I’d drink, but this one was truly great. Sadly, it was only available on tap, so I couldn’t take any with me!

There was a really interesting museum on the campus of Lamar University that commemorates the discovery of oil in the area. It’s called the Boomtown Spindletop, and it’s a re-created village with a working model of the Spindletop oil derrick. I say “working” but in fact it was broken while we were there, so we didn’t get to see it shoot off, but kind of like Old Faithful, normally it shoots a geyser of water way into the air, simulating the oil strike that went on for DAYS when they first discovered oil there. We were bummed not to see it go off, but it was kind of fun to see the little town. We love this sort of “living history” village, so we still had a good time!

Our next stop was at another Harvest Host location; this time at the Vermilionville Living History Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana. It was quite interesting to see the influences of both the Cajun and the Creoles in the area. The welcome sign was in both English and French, which was kind of fun for me, since I’ve been working on my Duolingo French for almost 2 years now! I was fascinated to learn that the kids were forbidden from speaking French in the schools!

We were parked in the parking lot between the swamp and the bayou. There were signs everywhere warning about alligators in the area, and we looked carefully but didn’t spot any. However, then next morning, David and Pongo were out for their morning walk when they came across a HUGE one right in the dirt road between the two bodies of water! They skedaddled back to the RV on the run and didn’t get a picture of the guy, but they sure became believers, let me tell you!

Finally we were on our way to New Orleans to see David’s sister Elaine, our niece, Amy, and great niece Natalie! We’d been waiting for SO long to get to NOLA and had heard such wonderful things about it we couldn’t wait to get there!! It was really a novel experience to drive there and realize that the Interstate is built right through the swampland!

With much of the city still under COVID restrictions, we really didn’t get to experience all that NOLA has to offer. No music festivals or other fun spectacles were going on while we were there. But we did get to see the famed French Quarter and have some delicious beignets from Cafe du Monde, which was truly a highlight!

About the 3rd night we were once again awakened by an alert on our phones; this time with a tornado warning!! We had NO idea what to do, but we kept picturing the stories on the news showing RV parks laid waste by tornadoes, so we decided to heed the advice we found online to get to a concrete building ASAP! It was pouring rain, and the wind was blowing a gale, so we made the agonized decision to not try to corral the animals and take them out in the storm. (We’ve since made a better plan to evacuate them, but we just weren’t prepared this time!) We packed into the jeep and drove over to the laundry room on the premises and hunkered down there. We were the ONLY ones there! A security guard came through and said that this was the right place to be, and that another couple was next door in the restrooms. I guess everyone else wasn’t worried. There never really was an “all clear,” so after about 45 minutes, the rain let up a bit and we headed back to the RV. Needless to say we didn’t sleep much that night!

On our last day, we decided to take a swamp tour. We were SO glad we did! It was such a unique experience, and we highly recommend it!!

We were surprised to see actual homes on the swamp. You can only access some of them by boat. I kept expecting to hear banjo music like in “Pirates of the Caribbean!”

Well, that’s plenty to share this time around! Next up: More Southern hospitality!

5 thoughts on “DEEP in the South!

  1. Great post! Love your friends’ adorable house in Houston…can I move right in?

    I could only see one snake in the photo, and that was one too many!

    Love, love, love ready about your adventure…


  2. What great fun! Glad you did the swamp tour ! Stay safe as you continue your travels through tornado alley!!!


  3. Hi Tracy.
    I so love what you and David are doing… and that you’re taking all of us along with you! Safe travels. Looking forward to your next report.

    Linda Leonard
    (David’s Classmate VHS ‘79)


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