Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cycle 40 Miles Tammany Trace Trail to North of I-12

Monday, March 29, I'm up at 7:00 to a low of 50 degrees. It gets to 71 today. I walk, stretch and we have a hearty breakfast with slim pork chops. We load the bikes and hit the trail at 10:50. We cycle out 20 miles just past I-12 to the Trail Head at Caboose Kids Playground Connection.

This must be a popular spot to hold kids' birthday parties. This sign indicates more than one Mom tried to use the facility on the same day. It is crowded today and a big bunch of balloons hanging up by the caboose indicates someone is celebrating a birthday today. We take a brief rest and cycle back to Kickstand Cafe. A 'speed racer', as we call the guys on the racing bikes left his Roadway fancy bike in the stairwell. He must not have a lock to lock it up to the bike stand outside. It seems to be an expensive bike, all graphite construction. He is inside eating and is in excellent physical shape. Of course he's at least 30 years younger than we are. He has one of those camel backpacks for his water supply.

The Cafe has closed the grill already at 1:50. Seems early since they don't close until 3:00. I order the Koop Turkey sandwich on 7-grain bread (turkey, cream cheese, jellied cranberry and spinach.) Bob has the tuna salad sandwich. All of the sandwiches are huge here. It's cold inside so we don't linger.

At 2:30 we head back. We take extra rests on the way back. We made it out here to Mandeville in 1 hour and 35 minutes. It takes us almost two hours on the way back. We did take an extra stop just out of Mandeville so Bob could capture a shot of this wildflower. Our ride is 40.02 miles in 5 and 1/2 hours.

We drive home, cover the bikes and read the paper. We're both pretty darn tired. What a gorgeous day. It's 6:27 p.m. and 69 degrees with 21% humidity.

Spring Cleaning in Louisiana

Sunday, March 28, I'm up at 7:30 on a board. After breakfast, walk and a stretch we begin a whole-house cleaning including windows and sills. Bob defrosts the freezer which can really ice up in humidity like we had on the Texas Coast. Afterwards we clean ourselves up and go to Ruby Tuesdays for lunch so we can use our on-line half price entree coupon. We're kind of bummed you can get all of the chicken, ribs or steak entrees but no fish. An extended family seems to be having a baby christening celebration in the restaurant. A cute little girl in a very ruffly white chiffon dress with a matching bonnet is the center of attention.

After our chicken dinners we go home to read the paper. As we left the parking lot I snapped a picture of the car at the stoplight next to us. 'Who Dat' fever is still in full force here since the Saints won the Super Bowl. I take a walk and call my sister-in-law, Linda, to see how she liked her recent trip to Ireland. Sounds like the weather was great and she declared Killarney to be her favorite. It was nice to chat with her.

It's 7:25 p.m. and 64 degrees with 31% humidity. The high was 71 and the low was 62. This evening I try to call my friend Glenda in Elgin, TX, several times. She finally calls me back but my phone is charging in the bedroom and I didn't hear it ring. At last I call her and she says she was hobnobbing with the Pine Cone Lane bunch in Cedar Hills, our old neighborhood. Mike smoked a turkey and they all enjoyed it at Joyce and Dan's. Bill and Joanne were there too. Sure would have liked to join them.

I also talked to Marilynn this evening. All is well with her. She had a great day riding her horse, Cory, in this springlike weather. And I talked to Billie. Bud has been back from Sudan for a week. They are in Albuquerque for a bit longer while they get their truck worked on. Sounds like all is well. She was thinking of me too as they are in the RV Park in Albuquerque where we met them. Can it really be three years ago now?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Antiquing Picayune, MS and Speckled-T's Seafood

Saturday, March 27, I slept like a baby after cycling 35 miles yesterday. The ice on my knee after our ride last night worked. I have no pain jthis morning. The low is 54 degrees. The day is sunny and makes it up to 68. I read for a while, walk, stretch and have a light breakfast. It turns out Babs and Shirley's RVs were gone as we left to cycle yesterday.

Around 11:30 we head out to Picayune. But before we leave we discover the bikes are still on the rack on the back of Big Bertha. It seemed like a good idea last night when our knees were hurting just to cover them up. We hang them on the back of the RV and we're off up I-59 for 30 miles.

Our first stop is on Hwy 11 at an antique mall with 40 dealers. It is a great place with fun stuff to look at. Bob buys a used book and and I find a postcard and a dish towel from India. A flight attendant brought it back. The guy who checks out my purchases says she saw the bombing of the hotel that Delta Airlines uses as she watched TV here in the States on her day off. Some of her co-workers were there when it happened.

We go downtown on Canal Street and browse several shops. I find some Paris notecards and a t-shirt. A cute cafe Bob had scoped out on the Internet was closed on Saturday if you can imagine that. When we antique on Monday they are all closed on Monday. We stop at Don's Seafood on Hwy 11 "Best seafood in town." But it is order-at-the counter and all fried so we leave.

Love this shark over the A/C vent

Back to Slidell where we find Speckled-T's Seafood Specialties on Military Rd. When we pay they are using an old credit card sliding thingie and it prints Camellia's Cafe on our receipt! Interesting. Anyway, the food is great just like Camellia's. They even have Shrimp and Squash Casserole, which Bob gets along with a boiled shrimp salad with remolaude dressing. I can't resist a huge bowl of Oyster and Artichoke Chowder that turns out to be heavenly. I add the Fried Green Tomato with Crawfish Etoufee appetizer. We pick up a flier for Easter Brunch and head home to read the paper.

We get a burst of energy and make Stuffed Cabbage Soup this evening. It's 7:15 p.m. and 65 degrees with 64% humidity.

Cycle 35 Miles Slidell through Mandeville

Friday, March 26, the low was 53 degrees and the high gets to 76 which is more than they predict. When I walk I notice Babs and Shirley's RVs are still here. I thought they were leaving on Thursday. I return home to stretch and have a big breakfast so we can hit the trail at 10:55. We cycle est against a northwest breeze in record time to Mandeville Trail Head. Today we go past this next trail head for the first time, only by 2 1/2 miles so we can add five miles to our round trip and get in 35 miles today. There are some nice subdivisions with paths joining the trail.

Bob reloads odometer after lunch at Kickstand Cafe

We cycle back to Mandeville and have lunch at Kickstand Cafe. Today we lock our bikes in the rack so we can eat inside as the air is chilly. We both have Crawfish Pie special of the day after the cook describes it for us. It is an old-fashioned pot pie with its own aluminum pie plate, a crust like your grandmother's filled with crawfish and a heavenly creamy sauce. It comes with a spring salad and cornbread. But they must be out of cornbread as ours comes with garlic bread. Our waitress throws in an Easter cupcake with green grass coconut icing and two jelly beans on top. What a fun treat. This was my first crawfish pie (like the song) and now I know why they sing about it. We enjoy our nice break.

It would be tricky fishing over the high rail on this bridge in Fontainbleau State Park

Three gals on racing bikes come off the trail and into the cafe. We passed them earlier. Their car is downstairs (I figured it was as I saw their huge purses in the cafe--no way they had those on the back of their bikes) with three bikes on a rack on the back. Based on where their vehicle is parked I guess they did 30 miles; Mandeville to Slidell and back. One gal said "Now I think I'm ready for the road." So they must ride long-range on the streets.

There are a lot more people on the Trail today. A white pick-up truck with two guys sitting on the back tailgate with leaf blowers, blowing off the trail, is right in front of us for a ways going back to Slidell. They kick up a lot of dust that we have to eat but are going just fast enough that we can't pass therm. We have seen green dust collecting on our tires all day from the pine tree pollen. One of the three gals in the cafe said "It felt so good to take my contacts out-they were hurting so bad." I'm glad mine are okay. The pine pollen doesn't seem to bother me. We finally take a break in Fontainbleua State Park on the bridge over this bayou where an old boat is abandoned. On the railing I spy an anole, a small salamander who is brown like the post he's on.

I saw a baby nutria run in front of my tire on the way back. We held out for a bench to take a break and had to go 7.5 miles, our longest without a break since we started cycling here. Bob put my seat up 1/2 inch before we left today and my left knee hurts. It must have been too much of an adjustment at once. One-quarter inch adjustments at a time are better, especially if you're going to ride 35 miles! He said our tires were still at 70 psi this morning so he didn't add air. We make 35.01 miles in just under five hours, including lunch. It's 4:40 p.m. and 67 degrees with 45% humidity.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Basil Leaf Thai and Shopping Covington, LA

Thursday, March 25, I woke up at 8:00 a.m. on a board. Last night was the first time after cycling that I didn't pass out early. It rained during the night and is cloudy this morning. I walk before breakfast and stretch afterwards. We put the bikes in the garage as it looks like rain any time now. Bob surf the net early for antiques and restaurants in Covington/Mandeville. Or he tries to; the computer is sluggish. So he deletes all of our cookies and defrags the hard drive. I wash our Pearl Izumis.

At 12:30 we head towards Mandeville taking I-12 to Hwy 59 south. We cross the bike trail a bit west of the farthest point we've been on and intersect with Hwy 190. We find Basil Leaf Thai just west of Bus. 190. We're the only people in this upscale Thai place at 1:30. We start with Vege Rolls as an appetizer; their version of summer rolls. Dots of a very hot red sauce are circling the plate. I opt for Green Curry with shrimp. It is even better than Lana Thai's green curry dare I say it. Bob has Mussamen with shrimp. We both enjoy jasmine tea. What a great place. We probably won't be back as traffic is way too bad in this fastest growing Parish in Louisiana.

We take 190 to 22 west through town but never find the antique places. We give up in this horrible traffic and duck into a Dollar General to replenish our SoBe's and sundries. I find spring flowers for my soffet. we go back to 190 to Albertson's. What a great grocery store; $97 later we are heading home in 5 o'clock traffic. The high was 76 degrees and we find 84 degrees inside the RV. The low last night only got to 61. We stow the groceries and I take a few minutes to download pictures. I have an email from my friend Jean in Austin who is doing well after knee surgery and is cleared to drive again. It's 6:05 p.m. and 75 degrees with 33% humidity. It cleared off around noon and turned into a gorgeous day.

We have our door open and around 6:30 our curbside neighbor, Shane, knocks. He asks about our SteadyFast stabilizers. We chat for a bit. He is just moving here, works for Boy Scouts of America. His wife and two girls are following soon from Tennessee. This will put them closer to home, Hattiesburg, MS. Over 3,000 boy scouts are converging at camp here this weekend north of I-10 near the Space Center. He tells us a harrowing story about his Keystone 5th wheel coming loose from his Super Glide hitch and falling into the bed/tailgate of his pickup. Yikes! He said it was locked in and came out. I'll have nightmares about that now.

Cycle 30 Miles for Lunch at Kickstand Coffee House Cafe

Wednesday, March 24, I'm up at 7:00 after sleeping like a baby due to our cycling. It is cloudy and warm with a low of 53 degrees. The wind is out of the southeast so it feels much warmer. The high gets to 68 as the sun makes brief appearances. I nix breakfast at Sunrise on Second like we talked about. Instead we have Crispy Thingies at home and hit the trail at 11:25.

Bob at the Mandeville Trail Head

We go west, making it through the State Park all the way to Mandeville, LA. Just before the State Park I see a deer on the equestrian trail that follows the bike trail. We cycled out 15 miles one way. There we encounter the next trail head and the fanciest renovation of a depot that we have seen on the National Rails to Trails Network. After buying a Gatorade for $1.25 (it wouldn't take my crinkled dollar bill but I persevered and dug up five quarters out of my panniers) and climbing the stairs to the tower, we rode to the end where we thought the restrooms were located. I almost had a wall-eyed hissy fit when the doors were locked. I was ranting and raving about spending $1.5 Million on the freaking trail head train depot and then locking the facilities.

R2D2 rests on USA map at Mandeville trail head

We crossed the street to .Kickstand Coffeehouse Cafe and Bike Rental. The cafe is upstairs; two flights--they need to rethink that for us ancient cyclists. That was tough on the knees after 15 miles. The bike shop is downstairs but I was on a mission for a restroom.

Part of million dollar facility at Mandeville Trail Head

The lady behind the counter seemed thrown by our bike helmets. She thought we were looking for the repair shop downstairs. She seemed shocked that we wanted lunch. I know this place is fairly new but they must not get a lot of tourists riding the trail here like they do on the Paul Bunyan Trail in Minnesota.

Balcony where we enjoyed lunch at Kickstand Coffee House & Cafe

We sat out on the balcony to keep an eye on the bikes downstairs in the bike rack. We didn't chain them up in our haste to find facilities. There are two tables of ladies playing cards inside. We browse the menu and decide to split and Egg Salad and Avocado Sandwich on 7-grain bread with spouts and spinach--it was heaven! We also each have a cup of White Bean and Cabbage Soup with corned beef, cheddar cheese and caraway seeds. I was eyeing Breakfast Banana Split for $5.69 on the breakfast menu but I restrained myself. This place is great and the prices are reasonable. I'm so glad we found civilization at last on the trail. We had to cycle out 15 miles to find anything. Most of the trail runs through bayous (a fancy word for swamp) and the State Park.

Bike in lobby of Kickstand Cafe

What a nice break. We filled our water bottles at the depot and at last found an unlocked restroom. It made me feel better about the local community's investment. At last we head back about 2:10 p.m. It is a real slog on the way back against the wind the entire way. We had to take a few more breaks than we did on the way here. We're not so tired that we can't take a wildflower picture on the way back however. Shortly after that we're taking a break and I sprawl out on the trail. A Trace Ranger comes by and I snap a picture of his little cart. He's an older gent and he pulls up next to us and asks if everything is okay. I said "Yes, I'm just resting." He says "Whew, I'm glad." Maybe we would have been his first emergency case.

We made it in five hours (including our lunch break) for a total of 29.9 miles. We're both tired and wonder how we ever made it over 70 miles in one day in Minnesota. Actually, upon further reflection we both know how we did it. By adding five miles per cycle for the entire summer!

Poster at restored depot City of Mandeville

We head home in the frightful traffic here in Tammany Parish. Tonight we park the truck in front of The Titanic and leave the bikes on the rack. I go for a walk so I can stretch. While I'm out I finally see Shirley and Tim from the laundry the other day. I tell her Bob and I found her sock. She laughs and is so happy. She runs right over to retrieve it. Babs and her husband come out to join them to grill burgers. We all chat for a bit. They tell me about their two days of sight-seeing in New Orleans; Haunted History Tour, Honey Island Swamp Tour, City tour and Natchez Steamboat. They ate at Huck Finn's and Babs really liked the Fried Oysters over spinach salad. They asked me about our hybrid bikes and how to find bike trails. I told them we rode 30 miles on the Tammany Trace Trail and Tim asked "TODAY?!"

Trace Ranger to the rescue!

I went home to stretch, read the paper, work puzzles and watch Human Target. We're both tired tonight after two days in a row of cycling a bit higher mileage. It's 8;20 p.m. and 62 degrees.

Sunrise on Second and Cycle 25 Miles on Tammany Trace Trail

...had a great fall!

Monday, March 22, I pickup the Flamingo puzzle so we can have breakfast like human beings on the table. On my morning walk I see no sign of Shirley to tell her about finding her sock in the laundry. But I do remember to take my camera and snap a picture of Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall at the putt-putt golf course here in the park. I also captured the jumbo chess pieces in disarray. Home to stretch and take down the St. Pat's decor and put up Easter stuff. Gertrude has a new outfit. The ladies at the office next door come by to pick up the loose big rocks on our site. I finish Ray Chandler's "The Big Sleep."

We put the bikes on the rack on back of Big Bertha and head to lunch at Sunrise on Second across from the Post Office downtown Slidell. We had to parellel park in the next block with the bikes on the back. Don't try this at home. The cafe is an old white clapboard house recently turned into an upscale restaurant.

I have Ahi Tuna with smashed sweet potatoes and Asian slaw. Bob has grilled tilapia, Bobos and broccoli. We split Turkey and Sausage Gumbo that has a very salty roue. The two ladies behind us get great looking, huge salads. We'll be back.

Bayou LaCombe Draw Bridge on the trail is open from sunrise to sundown

On to the trail. We set out going west on the Tammany Trace Trail at 1:43. We cycle out 12.5 miles in an hour and a half, finally making it inside Fontainbleau State Park. But to my chagrine we still find no restrooms. So we cycleback for a total of 25.25 miles. That's way too far without a restroom break. Especially since I drank one Gatorade, one bottle of water and one bottle of tea to keep from getting dehydrated. Today I brought grapes, an apple and trail mix to keep us going. Well, actually to keep me going. I didn't get loony today and I stayed up with Bob the whole way. It is a gorgeous, perfect daywith a high of 68 degrees. It felt warmer to me. The low was 51 this morning. It's 7:00 p.m. and 64 degrees with 48% humidity.

Bob rests at a 'shade structure' provided by The American Academy of Dermatology to reduce skin cancer

Monday, March 22, 2010

Laundry and Camellia's Cafe

Monday, March 22, I'm up just after the digital picture frame awakens (7:00 a.m.) The low was 43, no where near the 30's they predicted. It is overcast until around 11:00. We have breakfast on the pie table in the living room as the puzzle is on the dining room table. I take a walk, stretch and sort five loads of laundry. I walk over to check it out and find two ladies in there playing cards. They say the washing machines will be free in a few minutes. So I go back home, put in a few puzzle pieces and then walk back over with a load of clothes.

I chat with Babs and Shirley, two friends from Yale, located in the thumb of Michigan. Shirley and her husband Tom are trying RVing for the first time with a borrowed class A motorhome. They left Feb. 13th and can't believe how much they've done in such a short time. They have both lived in that part of Michigan their whole lives and most of their children (5 and 6) and grandchildren (17 and 18) live there. Babs has one child in Dallas and they head south to visit every year in their 5th wheel. They are going to the French Quarters for the next two days and then split up. Babs is going back to Michigan for her Dad's 100th birthday party! She said he faithfully took nutritional supplements all of his life. It was fun to talk to these great friends. Later Bob finds the sock Shirley was missing. We hang it in the laundry room. I'll tell her about it later when I see her.

We finish up around 2:00 and head to Camellia's Cafe for lunch. Bob has the Bisque again and Shrimp and Squash Casserole. I have Boiled Shrimp Muffalata Salad. Back home I go for a walk as the sun is out now. It's 5:31 p.m. and 60 degrees with 45 % humidity. I work on journal pages and get caught up for the first time in months! Well, I still have to reconstruct three quarters of 2009 that is not finished. Face it, I'll never be caught up really. Bob finishes his puzzle and we read the paper. Tomorrow the forecast looks good so we plan to cycle.

Southside Cafe and Chat with Blair

Sunday, March 21, it rained all night. There was no high wind or hail like they predicted and I'm thankful for that. The low is 42 degrees this morning so Bob tries to put the furnace on and warm this place up. When I get up he informs me that the furnace is not working again. What a downer! This is the first time we've tried to use it for heat. On the Texas Coast we fired it up 3 or 4 times to test it and make sure it worked after they put in a new circuit board and it worked perfectly. Bob thinks it is doing something different so it may be the other circuit board is faulty now. Oh brother.

It is so chilly outside that I skip my walk this morning. After breakfast I clean house for exercise. The sun is out now but it is windy and chilly. Around 1:30 Bob and I go to Southside Cafe, stopping for a Sunday paper at Kangaroo gas station first. A local Cajun guy is complaining about the price of gas going up. He's getting a 4-cylinder he says. A young couple in line in front of me gets carded for cigarettes. The gal is mad. She says "That's over doing it." The sales clerk says "It's the law."

At Southside we both try the 4 Bean Turkey Soup. It is a winner. Bob has Tuna Steak and I have Soft Shelled Crab. There is a birthday celebration at the table behind us that gets kind of loud, especially when the waitress brings an apple cobbler-looking thing with a candle on it.

We go home to read the paper on BIG Paper Day. I work on journal pages and am about to get caught up after our busy month in Aranasas Pass. Blair calls from St. Louis. How fun to chat with her. She shares sad news about the trees being harvested on the way out to Angler's Isle in Minnesota. She doesn't even know when she'll be able to go up to the resort as the road is impassible. On the bright side, she is making a deal on a new Explorer. I'm happy for her that she's found one. I know she has been looking for a while.

Bob starts a flamingo puzzle. We have leftovers for dinner. It's 7:30 p.m. and 46 degrees with 45% humidity. More RVs are pouring in tonight. Bob reads in the paper that this coming week is Spring Break for ElHi here in Louisiana. Just when we thought it was safe!

Cycle 20 Miles in Some Rain

Saturday, March 20, I'm up at 6:30 after crashing at 10:30 last night. Cycling makes me tired. This morning I'm reading The Big Sleep. Then I check email and discover Tom and Shirley, our Iowa RV friends, are first-time grandparents! Congratulations on little Carter who made is appearance yesterday and weighed in around 7 lbs. What a cutie!

We have a light breakfast and I take a walk. A younger gal is going around and around in the opposite direction that I am. She has earphones on barely says hi as we pass. How sad. We could be walking together. The Shelties two sites over with clipped vocal cords are rasping at me. That's sad too. It is sunny and warmer with a low of 57 degrees. The high only gets to 67 as it clouds up and gets windy. A front is predicted tonight.

I go home to stretch and work on journal pages. We leave for lunch around 12:00 and head to Ruby Tuesday's to use our $4.00 coupon we got last time for the salad bar and Crab Cake minis. We like them better than the salmon minis. Traffic is a nightmare; Spring Break I guess. We head to Tammany Trace Trail. About 1:14 we shove off and go west for 10 miles. There are lots of Saturday riders.

On the way back, just as we turn around it starts raining. It never comes down too hard but we are cycling right into the wind so we get pretty wet on the front. I put on a jacket and put my camera in a plastic bag. Bob puts his long sleeved shirt back on. I run out of gas on the way back. I'm flagging way behind and feel like I'm dehydrated again. A swig of Gatorade helps. I'm going to have to figure out why this keeps happening. This is the first time I've cycled this hard AND tried to limit my calorie intake for the day. I may have to rethink this. Usually when we cycle hard I just use it as a license to eat anything I want. At any rate, we get back to the truck in two and a half hours. The rain quit about three quarters of the way back. I saw a bunny hop across the trail.

We get the Times-Picayune at the gas station next door before we take off and head home in heavy traffic. We have to put the bikes on the back of the RV ladder since a cold front is coming in and we won't ride for a few days. We get it all put away before the rain hits here. Then we read the paper and clean up. A warm shower feels great after getting wet in the rain. We have leftovers, work the puzzles and listen to the rain as it starts up at 7:00. It's 7:46 p.m. and 62 degrees with 80% humidity.

Camellia's Cafe and Cycle 16 Miles Tammany Trace Trail

Friday, March 19, I slept the sleep of the dead after all of our cycling and got up at 7:15. The low was 48 degrees last night and we get to a high of 70 today. It is sunny and perfect. I take a walk and stop by the office this morning and chat with Cathy about the free shuttle to the French Quarters. She drives it every day, leaving at 8:30 and returning at 4:30 unless we're the only ones then she'll adjust the time to suit us. She does a short tour 'orientation.' She says she always recommends The Gumbo Shop. How fun! Bob and I went there years ago and loved it. We were hoping it survived the hurricane. She says we can take a streetcar to Jackson and then only have to walk six blocks to Magazine St. Then we chatted about Slidell restaurants. She likes Southside Cafe (where we ate yesterday) and Camellia's Cafe and Jocko's.

I go home to stretch, check email, reconcile bank statements and browse Facebook. Nan sent an email about finding three ladies who took her off for a shopping trip from San Antonio to Fredericksburg, Boerne and Luckenbach. Tomorrow they are off to Ft. Stockton, TX. Bob and I leave for lunch around 12:30 all ready for cycling. The bikes are still on the rack on the back of the truck so it is easy to pack up today. Per Cathy's recommendation we try Camellia's Cafe on Grause. What a great place.

Bob tries a heavenly Shrimp and Squash casserole that is nothing like I've ever had. Think of the best dressing and bread crumb casserole you've ever had and add fresh shrimp. He also has a creamy Corn, Shrimp and Crab Bisque. I have a grilled shrimp Caesar wrap that is without a doubt the best wrap I've ever had. And I try the Crawfish Etouffee Soup. You don't usually see Etouffee in a soup. It was good but not as heavenly as Bob's bisque. They served my side of sweet potato fries with powdered sugar-what a treat. I'm in heaven.

We fight heavy traffic to get out of the parking lot and have an impatient honker behind us. Not too far west we park at the same Slidell trailhead as yesterday. Today we go east 1/4 mile and discover the trail is not finished in that direction like the Internet claims it is. They are missing a bet as that would carry all of the cyclers, joggers, skateborders, etc. right into downtown Slidell at Heritage Park near the depot. The depot has been renovated and has a beignet coffee shop.

Anyway, we turn around and go west for eight miles. My wheels are spinning freely today and I have a lot more fun. We go 16.1 miles in two hours and make way better time. I forgot my watch today and Bob has our only odometer so I was clueless about our trek today and just rambled along. Maybe that is better! I walk to the gas station next door and get a paper out of the vending machine. We head home where I stretch, read the paper, work the puzzles and crash. It's 5:35 p.m. and 66 degrees with 37% humidity. The weather doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cycle 12 Miles on Tammany Trace Trail

Broken treetops from Hurricane Katrina
Thursday, March 18, I slept a grand total of 2.5 hours on a board. I get up and walk and stretch. The low is 47 degrees and it is sunny. Three couples are waiting for the New Orleans shuttle. It leaves at 9:00 today. I go home for a light breakfast. The rest of the morning we vege out and chat. We're so tired after moving. Or maybe it's the time change. Whatever. I took a picture of the broken off tops of the trees here in the RV Park. All of the trees in the area look like this from Hurricane Katrina.

I send an email to our Ohio friends that we're supposed to meet in May. Bob Googles restaurants for lunch. We go to Southside Cafe where Bob has Ahi Tuna Sandwich and I have Ahi Tuna Salad. Wow, a half pound of perfectly grilled tuna with a Shrimp Remoulade dressing (spicy horseradish in theirs!) The place is crowded with 95% of the clientele consisting of men. Our waiter is not a good one; he only told us about one of the soups and didn't seem to know about the others.

30-mile Tammany Trace Trail from Slidell to Abita Springs

We get a paper next door at "Not Just Donuts." Then we head home to don our bike pants, air up the tires, load the bikes and hit the trail. We take I-10 to I-12 west to exit 80 south to Gause, west to Slidell/Carollo Trailhead. The trail has Trace Rangers on motorscooters and little golf carts. We cycle west six miles, past the Bayou Lacombe Bridge. The bridge closes 7:30 p.m. thru 7:30 a.m. and is locked so you have to make it past there before sundown.

Cyclepath and R2D2 on The Tammany Trace Trail

The trail is a nice, paved trail. It is the first Louisiana trail that is part of the National Rails to Trails Network. There is a parallel equestrian trail. And there are 31 railroad bridges. St. Tammany Parish acquired the railroad right of way in 1992. There are 270,000 riders a year; plus two this year! Bob enjoys capturing some pictures of the wildflowers along the trail.

Spanish Moss at a residence along the Trail

We cycle six miles back and it is not until we're about half way back that I discover my brake is sticking. Bob looks at it and loosens it up. Wow! What a difference. I have been a quarter of a mile behind him the whole way thinking "How can I be this far out of shape in only four months of not riding." One adjustment and I'm like a bat out of hell on this thing.

We started at 2:20 and after 12.25 miles it's 4:10. We go home via the Interstate to avoid the traffic on Gause. We park behind the Titanic, leave the bikes on the truck and cover them as we plan to use them again tomorrow. I stretch and take a shower. My stomach starts feeling queasy. I have bowl of chicken soup and lay down for 45 minutes. I decide I'm dehydrated and have a Gatorade. That revives me and I feel much better. We watch a two-hour episode of Flash Forward. It's 8:40 p.m. and 59 degrees with 45% humidity. The high was 64. It was chilly and we wore long sleeves and long pants on our bikes.

Antiquing Slidell

Wednesday, March 17, at 7:00 when I got up I reset the Daylight Savings Time on the digital picture frame. I missed it coming on automatically in time for me to enjoy my morning coffee and rediscover of all the places we've been. It rained all night and big puddles are everywhere. That was not predicted! I get on-line and set our map coordinates and update our location on my Earthlink homepage. I took a walk and stretched before breakfast. It sure feels good not to be moving for a whole month. At 8:30 the free shuttle from the campground leaves for New Orleans' French Quarters. One couple gets on it.

After breakfast I wash the bugs off the RV and clean the dust off the windows. It is overcast today with a low of 52 and a high of 66 degrees. I clean myself up after all of that work and we go to Ruby Tuesday's. We love their salad bar and today we add Salmon Minis. Their Waldorf Salad on the salad bar is one of the best I've ever had (I love to try Waldorf Salads wherever I go.) Today, in one of those great culinary accidents, I dropped a pile of very sharp crumbled bleu cheese off the salad bar onto my Waldorf Salad. Yumm! Elvis and his peanut butter and banana sandwiches got nothing on me! The manager gives us some freebie coupons for next time. We get fuel and a Times-Picayune newspaper. Then we find the Slidell post office to mail a package and get stamps.

While we're downtown we browse three or four antique stores. Bob finds a lure. We hunt down the Chamber of Commerce but they have no idea where the trail head is even though "somebody just came in and asked that yesterday." Duh. We check out the used bookstore next door. The lady is all excited about the St. Pat's Parade on Sunday. We fight the horrible traffic on Gause and head home to read the paper and snack on the last of our shrimp from the shrimp boil at Southern Oaks. I take a walk around 6:00 and meet Rodney and Janet in a Grand Junction (37QSL) who are two site over streetside from us. They are from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. They are working on a levee down here for most of 2010 and into 2011. The company flies them home every two weeks. This is their first year in their Grand Junction RV. He says the 1993 flooding in Ste. Genevieve got him the levee experience.

I walk back home to have leftover salmon from Texas Roadhouse and watch Human Target. It's 7:29 p.m. and 68 degrees with 44% humidity.

Movin' On to Slidell, LA

Tuesday, March 16, I woke up at 7:00 on a board, behind the bikes. The digital picture frame is not on, not even unpacked. I get it out with the heater and figure out it is still on daylight savings time. It's always something. I stare at it and drink my coffee. Bob get up. We stretch, clean up yesterday's dishes, have a light breakfast, pack up and leave by 10:10 a.m.

We travel 175 miles east on I-10 through Lafayette and Baton Rouge to I-12. The rest area/travel center they promised is not at Mandeville so we have no break. We finally stop after that about 30 miles from our final destination at a Chevron. We use our own restroom as we are in a 15-minute zone and some guy is hogging the only diesel pump. We get back on the Interstate and eat our leftover muffalata sandwiches on the road.

It is weird to pass all of the little RV Parks and towns we stayed in with the Casita. It seems like another lifetime ago. At Slidell (we called it Slimedell when we were here back in the 1980's with our St. Louis friends, Jim and Donna, because the water was so smelly--high sulphur content) we took I-10 west four miles to Hwy 433 to our destination today,.New Orleans East Kampground, 56009 Hwy 433, Slidell, LA 70461 (985) 643-3850, St. Tammany Parish.

We pass Pine Creek RV Park on the way and it looks better from out front. A lady in the office, Cathy, leads Bob to site #23 while I sign us in. I'm not sure I like that. We like to do this setting up thing together with the two-way radios. Our site seems to be nestled amidst the worker bees here. They just graded the gravel on the site and she comes over to rake some loose rocks for us. We are set up by 1:50.

I put up the decor, we move the bikes outside and Voila! It seems like home again. Cathy brings over a wooden platform to put in front of our door in case it rains since they just graded the site. We take a short walk. It clouds up after our sunny drive today. The high was 72 degrees after a low of 50 in Egan. It's 3:54 p.m. and 64 degrees with 34% humidity. Bob Googles for Rouse's, an upscale grocery here, on Gause Lane at exit 266. We head up there and find a great store. We'll have to come back as we're too tired to browse. I snapped a picture of this in-store promotion to win a Smart Car. Thought Nan-Marie and Tom would get a kick out of it.

Back home for leftovers. I walk once around the campground for a half of a mile. This is not our most scenic place but we've been in worse (e.g. Ft. Stuckin!) It is a cool 60 degrees at 6:12 p.m.

The Ides of March in Egan

We are definitely in Louisiana now!
Monday, March 15, I got up at 5:30 a.m. after being awake for an hour. The time change has me befuddled. I unpacked the space heater and had to move the digital picture frame so I plugged that in too and stared at photos and drank my hazelnut coffee as the heater did its thing. I got on-line to check email. I'm so glad we heard from Nan and Tom--I sure do miss them after our fun month together. Had a ice note from Tom and Shirley too. I sent them all pictures of the fish I caught last night. Then I worked on my journal pages. Bob got up sometime after it was light--I don't know when. I finished my Oysterfest photos and journal page and the two of us had breakfast after I vacated the kitchen table and we moved the bikes over so we could eat like human beings.

We decided to stay here one more day. We're both just too tired to move again. Besides the fishing is great. After breakfast I walk and then stretch. Bob works on digital pictures after researching Ohio sites. I call Fontainbleau State Park and discover they are full on weekends through the summer and have a 14-day stay limit. So I call New Orleans East Kampground and get a site for a month in Slidell, LA.

I go outside to call my niece, Megan, as the cell connection is scratchy inside the RV here. Megan had a Facebook posting about making her first trip to the grocery store since Ethan was born. So I thought there might be a chance that she was answering the phone too. It was great to chat with her. All is going well. She says her Mom is in Ireland until Thursday.

I also call my brother Mike to tell him I got his text message last week about "All Jimmy LaFave; all the time!" He's at Lake Texoma until Wednesday when he returns to Dallas. He will see Ethan, his new grand baby, and pick Linda up from her Ireland trip on Thursday. Friday he drives to Memphis for my nephew Travis's bachelor party, then to Travis's place in Jackson, then to see our folks near St. Louis and finally a fishing spree at Bennett Springs in Missouri. What a whirlwind trip. He says he has a big garden this year; turnips and snow peas are new for him in 2010.

Fishing pond at Cajun Haven RV Park

I tried to pay the office for one more night but it is locked up. It's 1:15 p.m. and 63 degrees with 44$ humidity and windy. Today we are able to have lunch at Fezzo's Seafood, Steakhouse and Oyster Bar in Crowley, LA. I have Eggplant Medallions over grilled tilapia with a creamy shrimp sauce. Bob has Crab Cakes with Tasso sauce which seemed to be some kind of cheese. It was very good but prices. I loved their sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. A super-polite older Cajun gent held my door in the parking lot so I didn't get a picture of the sign out front. But I did snap this coffee shop down the street. We get a Baton Rouge paper at the Conoco on the way home.

Back home I work on journal pages, read the paper and we head out fishing at 4:15. First we stop in the office and finally pay the guy for another night here. We had our rods with us and one of the RV park permanent residents who saw us catch fish last night asked if we caught any. He saw Bob's plastic frog on his rod and had to make a weird comment. Geez.

It is windier and cooler tonight and the fish are not hitting as much. I finally caught one nice bass and then promptly lost my black buzz bait in a tree a few casts later. We called it quits around 6:20. On the way back to our RV an older Cajun in a travel trailer across the road from us said "I was impressed with your fishing out there ma'am. I can tell you're real serious about it." Okay, I guess I have arrived in the sporting world if a Cajun is impressed by my fishing! Too bad he maam'd me.

Bob and I have leftover Pepito's red snapper and watch House and a Human Target we recorded. Castle is a repeat. It's 8:10 p.m. and 61 degrees with 50% humidity.

Movin' On to Egan, LA

Reet catches a 'nice one' at Cajun Haven RV Park

Sunday, March 14, the time changed last night. We had forgotten until we read it in the paper last night. It didn't work well with our plan to get up early and get through Houston before the traffic got bad. So we went to bed at 10:15 (internal clock time--very early for me) and got up at 5:30 (6:30 DST). We ate breakfast on the pie table in the living room and packed up and left by 8:45. That's pretty early for us to pull out. There is dew on the truck windows and we can't see out. I hopped out in the driveway of the RV Park exit to wipe them off with a towel. All it did was smear around the dust from the road. Oh well.

We take 59 north through Houston and quickly get inside the loop. Traffic is heavier that we hoped for but it is six lanes most of the way so there is plenty of room for error. It turns out Hwy 59 is pretty easy to follow. You just stay in the 2nd or 3rd lane from the right the whole way. What a relief to be through there in 55 minutes. The sun rising in the east would have been worse if we'd left any earlier. For my part, when we finally quit RVing it will be due to towing 14,000 lbs. through big city traffic.

On the bright side, we get good mileage during our 209 mile trip today; 10.95 miles per gallon. We stop at a picnic area before Beaumont, TX, and a Visitor Center area in Louisiana where we have lunch on a picnic table under a pavilion. We pick up some brochures at the Center while we're here. It is sunny and 67 degrees. It feels warmer as the sun is hot. There is no wind. Traffic picks up by noon due too Spring Break I guess.

We arrive at 1:00 at Cajun Haven RV Park, 434 Trumps Rd., Egan, LA 70531. (337) 783-7330, at exit 72 off I-10. The guy who is supposed to be in the office is watching TV in his rig. His boss called him to say we were out front--Busted! He's a nice Cajun fellow, very friendly and polite. We pay $20.00 for one night and he leads us to our site, a long gravel pull-through with full hookups.

Bob wets a line at Cajun Haven, Egan, LA

They have a nice pond here. The wall in the office has a big crappie and bass mounted that were caught here. Bob and I set up quickly and have no issues. We try to call Fezzo's Seafood in Crowley at exit 80 off I-10. We call at 1:30 and they close at 2:00 today. Bob had found their brochure at the Visitor Center and thought they looked good. Oh well. We get fuel and a Sunday Lafayette paper. We end up eating at P & J's Hamburger Grill. We have a whole Muffalata Sandwich that turns out to be two whole round ones each the size of a 45 rpm record if you're old enough to remember how big that is!

We go home to check Fontainbleau State Park reservations on-line. They are full due to Spring Break. I will call in the morning and see if I can get anywhere on the phone. There is a cute wire-haired dog running around the campground. It's 4:50 p.m. and 77 degrees with 19% humidity, just a perfect day. The high was 81 degrees after a low of 52 in Richmond. At 5:00 Bob and I go out to fish the pond. I caught two really nice ones; 2 lb. and a 3 lb. bass. Caught a few eight-inch bass and lost pretty good strike. Bob caught some too and we had a fun evening.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movin' On to Richmond, TX

Saturday, March 13, I was up at 7:00 to a sunny day for travelling with a low of 57. No walk today with Nan; how sad. Dan next door packs up and leaves at 7:45. We stretch, have a light breakfast, pack up, hitch up and are ready to go by 9:30. It was the first time we had to raise up our new stabilizers but it was easy to do. We made sure it cleared the slides underneath the first time before we put them in. No problem. We walk to the office and settle our $59.00 electric bill and give them $100 deposit for next Jan. 2nd since we like it here so much.

Beverly and Bob, from Michigan, are in the office finalizing their deal on site #44. Heather is glad Tex the cocker spaniel found a good home. She says they find strays here all the time that people have abandoned. How sad.

We walk back to chat and say goodbye to Tom and Nan (Roscoe and Roxy too!) We sure hate to leave those guys behind. What fun month! By 10:30 we're heading north on 35 to Tivoli where we take 239 to 59 around Victoria. We never do see Terri and Jerry who should be heading back to Southern Oaks from Houston today.

It brought back memories of our cruise last year as we passed Praseck's Smokehouse in Hillje where we ate on the bus to Galveston. Shortly after that we stopped at a nice rest area on 59; after travelling about 80 miles from Arnasas Pass or hallway to our destination. Traffic picks up as we near Houston. We exit at 762 and go south 1 1/2 miles following a train that is running parallel to the road. Not a good sign. We pass River View RV Park where Terri and Jerry were staying and find Shiloh RV Park after a drive of 165 miles. Shiloh RV Park, 5539 FM 762, Richmond, TX 77469, Fort Bend County (281-344-2888.

We sign in at the office. I thought it was closed but the door was just stuck. A guy comes out and we pay him $20.00 for one night. The place is kind of run down with lots of worker bees. We get site #5, a pull through and are set up by 2;30. I have a small heart palpitation when I see a voice message from my brother Mark. But all is well; he just called to chat.

I call Tom and Shirley, our Iowa RV friends, who are nearby in Dickinson, TX (well, an hour and a half away.) They say they'll meet us between 4:30 and 5:00. Bob and I clean up and he leaves to get fuel and a newspaper. It's a good thing we got a paper to remind us the time changes tonight. Great, we'll have to get up even earlier to get through Houston in the morning.

As we read the paper a horrible odor comes in the back windows. A leach field is spraying effluent on the field behind us. We have to close up the windows in spite of 80 degree temps. On top of that, every time a vehicle drives by on the road a big cloud of white dust covers our truck and RV. This is the campground from hell.

I try to call our friend Glenda and end up leaving a voice message. I brave a walk around the park but the smell and the dust do me in after one round. There are mostly permanent workers here. How they can stand the smell on a full-time basis is beyond me.

Shirley calls to say they are a half an hour to 45 minutes away around 4:00. At 4:45 they pull up out front. We don't think it's them because the truck looks like it has motorcycles in the back. But it turns out to be their bikes. They went riding today--twice! It's great to see them. We all pile in their truck and head towards Texas Roadhouse out on 59 at the 762 exit. First Tom is nice enough to drive through River View RV Park just up the road from us. This is where we thought Terri and Jerry were. But they send an email a week later and say they saw us going north on 35 towards Tivoli last Saturday. We didn't see them. Anyway, they actually stayed at Riverbend about four miles past Shiloh where we're staying.

At the Texas Roadhouse there is no wait, unusual for a Saturday evening. I have the grilled salmon which is one of my favorites here. Shirley has the Pulled Pork that Bob always likes so much. Bob has beef tips and Tom has grilled BBQ chicken. And of course we enjoy those great rolls they have. The wait staff do a two-step to the music but not in our section so we can't see them. It is fun to chat with these guys. They just got their truck back out of the shop after eight days. They had to take the cab off to fix the security wiring that left them stranded and unable to start it. They also had to replace their refrigerator that they had worked on twice recently. What a bummer.

Back at our RV Park they check out our new SteadyFast stabilizers. We have a visit in the living room for a bit in spite of the bikes being inside. They hit the road for their long drive back around 7:00. It sure was nice of them to come all this way to meet us. They have no grand baby to report yet. Their daughter-in-law is due March 20th.

It's 8:44 p.m. and 66 degrees with 31% humidity.

Railroad Seafood Station and One Last Movie Night

Dry out the awning before we hit the road
Friday, March 12, slept like a rock and got up at 7:00. Started the day by working yesterday's crossword puzzle. The sun is streaming in our back picture window. I love the view here at Southern Oaks-makes me glad for our rear living area. It is chilly with a low of 41 degrees this morning. After a light breakfast I walk at 9:30 with Nan. We both just knew to go back to our normal time even though we never said it last night. Those guys are going to Wal-Mart and HEB. We agree to meet between 12:30 and 1:00 for lunch.

Sadly, I go home to pack up the decor. I can't believe we're moving tomorrow. I told Nan to try to never be the last ones to leave after you've been camped next to good friends. Bob is working on the digital picture frame. I call Shiloh RV Park on Hwy 59 southwest of Houston's outer loop and get a site for tomorrow night. Then I clean up and we head out to lunch around 12:30. Today I put my new contact in for the first time (that's one of the main reasons we got our mail.) It seems to fit great and I end up wearing it for twelve hours today with no problem. We give Nan and Tom our latest Escapee's magazine that came in the mail.

Love the live oak trees here at Southern Oaks

What a gorgeous day. The temperature says 74but a chilly north wind has blown in and has blown the humidity out of here. We have a sunny drive over the Corpus bridge affording a great seaside view. At Railroad Seafood Station Tom, Nan and Bob split a half order of their onion rings; even a half order is a mound of them. I have seafood chowder that is tasty. Nan and I go for the grilled black drum. Tom has Snapper Pontchartrain. Bob has red snapper fish tacos. It was all great as usual.

We get fuel and a paper in Aransas Pass on the way home. We agree to walk at 5:00 and have happy hour afterwards. Back home I check my email and am relieved to hear from our friend Glenda in Elgin that her son Dan is out of surgery this morning and doing well. I also have a Facebook message from my friend Patti in Austin. Her and her daughter Jessica will be in Aransas Pass Monday through Wednesday of next week for Spring Break. What a bummer we're leaving tomorrow.

Bob and I read the paper, put away the lawn chairs and bring in the bikes. Bob airs up the tires and checks the oil. I guess we're really leaving. Dan next door has been all packed up and hitched up since last night. He leaves early tomorrow morning, hoping to be in San Antonio by the time we pull out. Bob saw Steve and Debbie who came by to take Dan out to dinner one last time. Around 3:00 I feel a migraine coming on and take a magic pill which chases it away by early evening.

At 5:00 Nan, Bob, Roxy and I walk. We see Ann and Jerry and get to tell them goodbye. I give them an old Union Oil postcard of a falls near Seattle. They are out talking to Beverly and her husband from Michigan whose kids live in San Antonio. They are thinking about purchasing lot #44 here, two site over from Ann and Jerry. Bob takes Roxy home after the first round and Nan and I go around once more.

Roxy is sad when she sees Terri and Jerry's empty site!

I go home to get nachos, chips, strawberries and yogurt pretzels and we head over to Nan and Tom's for happy hour. Nan has a great HEB Pina Colada Cheeseball. We Google for the recipe but can't find it. Tom got his new phone today and is charging it up. He hasn't recovered his contact list yet.

It's movie night again. This time we watch Julie and Julia. What a great movie. I've been wanting to see it. "Almost a chick flick" according to Bob. We get to chatting after that and don't realize it's 11:15. Yikes! We head home and hit the sack. Big moving day tomorrow. Hope we didn't keep those guys up too late. It is a chilly evening with bright stars on our last night on the Texas Coast.

Arnasas Pass Shrimp Boil

It doesn't get any better than this!

Thursday, March 11, I only got three hours of sleep but I don't feel too bad considering. Nan and I walk at 8:30 so we can go to Joanne's Fabric in Corpus at 9:30. Tom is up when I go over there so he can go get shrimp with Bob for our big boil this afternoon. Bob thought they were leaving at 9:30 when Nan and I head to Corpus.

As we walk we run into Lois and Richard and their friends from Maryland who are visiting. By some odd coincidence their friends were looking for a puppy so they are now the proud owners of Tex, the stray cocker spaniel. Heather had just dropped him off and they were all bonding. The lady said her sister called from back home and said "I had a dream you brought a dog home from Texas!" Kind of eerie since the dog was named Tex by the guy across the road who found him wandering in Texas.

The bad news from the Graham household is that Tom put his phone through the wash in his pants pocket. What a bummer. It is drowned. He has insurance and can get one delivered Fed Ex tomorrow.

Nan and I leave for Corpus at 9:45. Bob and Tom are already gone to get the shrimp. We find Joanne's at SPID and Staples without Nan's Gabby Garmin. I find plastic wine glasses for all of these Social Hours for 30% off. Nan replaces hers too. She finds her embroidering floss that she came for. I also find a table runner so I don't have to always use my plastic postcard placemats if I want to have a little classier spread. At the last minute I spot Specs liquor store next door and get smaller bottles to replace my butter nipple supply. We pass on the Three Olives Root Beer Vodka at $24.99 per litre.

Tom takes the first batch of shrimp out of the big kettle

The Smart car pulls a wild maneuver to cross Staples to Target where I find a colorful plastic pinwheel plate. Nan finds her stuff and we head home by noon so Tom can go to Verizon and sort out his drowned phone. He's hoping someone can retrieve his contacts list.

Bob and I go to get mail, miss the FM road to the post office and end up taking the long way. Our mail is there. When I ask for a general delivery for Monat the guy says "Where you been?" I was so shocked by a postal employee with a sense of humor that I forgot to mail the package and correspondence I had stuck in my purse early this morning.

Back home Tom calls on Nan's phone around 3:00 to say the water is boiling for shrimp. We head over to supervise the operation. The shrimp is great, the weather is perfect and Bob and Tom take turns doing batches in the big pot Nan and Tom have. Tom got two potato salads at HEB, I add Corn & Pea Salad and my veges and we top it off with Ritz Almond Bark PB Cookies that Tom made in his spare time. We eat outside with the KOA plastic tablecloth.

Nan and Bob are ready for the next batch of shrimp

Afterwards I'm so stuffed that Nan and I take a walk. The air is chilly and drives us inside when we return. We chat at their place until 9:00. Next door Dan is all packed up and ready to go. It is getting foggy again. Another fun day on the Texas Coast with our new friends.

Classy KOA plastic tablecloth that Tom says cost him a fortune in campground fees

Ritz Almond Bark PB Cookies--the dark chocolate square in the center is for me!