Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tammany Trace

We just LOVE riding our bikes.  It's so much fun and great exercise!  While we were at Fontainebleau SP,we rode a lot!  There are miles and miles of pavement in the park plus trails that are bicyclable (yep - that's a made up word!).  The Tammany Trace Rails-to-Trail also runs through the park.  All in all, we biked about 40+ miles of the "trace" (plus umpteen miles in the park!).

At the Mandeville Trailhead, there is a local farmer's market every Saturday.  It wasn't what Dan and I expected...we were thinking the traditional farmer's market with a plethora of fruits and veggies.  Out of the dozens of stands, there were only 2 selling fruits and veggies.  The rest were selling crafts and local food such as beans and rice, tamales, creole gumbo and the like.   The smells were enticing but we refrained from buying anything.  The trace runs thru several smaller towns including Mandeville, Covington, and Abita Springs. My sister Cathy and BIL Bruce also enjoy riding their bikes - they would have loved this trail.  Maybe someday!  :-)

Our week at Fontainebleau SP went by quickly.  We were going to head to Ft Pickens for a few days but pesky Tropical Storm Isaac was looming and, although we thought the weather would be nice for a few days, thoughts of a possible evacuation pulling a big rig made us change our plans at the last minute.  We ended up at Three Rivers SP in Sneads, FL.  It's a very small campground with only 30 sites....and two of those belong to volunteers!  It sits right on Lake Seminole which, despite the hydrila, is very pretty!      
View from our pull-thru, waterfront campsite!
And you sure can't beat the price....$16 a night for water and electric.   We decided not to get the kayak out  as the hydrila is so thick.  We've been enjoying relaxing....Dan has been tinkering and I have been reading my Kindle and working on some Christmas gifts.  We leave here tomorrow (Sunday) and head to Dave and June's farm for a few days.  They are NW of Gainesville and we should be out of the majority of the yuckiness that Isaac is going to bring.  It will be fun to catch up with them and as a bonus, I get to meet the calf that Dave named after me!  You know how much I love cows and calves!  I can't wait to see my namesake!

Monday, August 20, 2012

NOLA, N'awlins, Crescent City, or just plain New Orleans!

Anyway you say it, it's just a fun city that you have to visit once!  But before I get started on our day trip earlier this week, I wanted to give a shout out to my brother!

That's my baby brother on the left!  :-)
He's currently deployed - can't say where due to security reasons - and I'm super duper proud of him.  Not only is he a great brother, he's a great husband and father.  And...he's been serving our Country for so many years I have lost count!  I think it's something like 21 or so.  He doesn't like recognition for what he is doing but he did say I could post this picture on our blog.   Be safe, "Scrub" and I look forward to seeing you once you are back home (albeit next year!).

My sister, Barbara, works for US Airways.  One of the perks she has it that she can fly for long as there is space on the plane.  When I traveled for my job, she often met me to keep me company during my "down time".  She's flown to San Diego, Ft Lauderdale, Minneapolis, London and Milan just to name a few places.  Now that we are RVing, she can meet us on the road!  She was able to catch a flight Sunday night and spent 3 days with us.

Monday morning we were all up bright and early and headed to the city.  We crossed over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge....

all 23.83 miles of it!
 and headed to our destination....

We found public parking with no problem, gulped at the price and parked!  The day was beautiful...sunny and warm but not too hot!  We walked until we found what I wanted my first "taste" of New Orleans to be...

We grabbed a table and sat down to enjoy two servings of beignets...
Piping hot and yum!

Sharing beignets with my sister...

and Dan!  He wanted extra powdered sugar on his!

After our tummies were full, we walked down Decatur Street taking in the sights...
The owner of this buggy was dressed in a purple suit complete with purple shoes!
Beautiful balconies

Very quaint, old buildings

Me and my seeeeester!

So neat to hear the different musicians!

We also wanted to be sure we saw St Louis Cathedral....

It is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in continual use in the US.  It is absolutely gorgeous....we asked if we could take pictures inside and were encouraged to....
Inside the Cathedral

Stephen, the park ranger we had talked to at Fontainebleu SP, had told us to be sure to go around to the back of the Cathedral and look closely at the status of Jesus.  He said that the thumb and forefinger were broken off during hurricane Katrina. The locals believe that this happened when Jesus "flicked" the hurricane  away from New Orleans thereby avoiding a direct hit on the city.
Look at the left hand....

Thumb and forefinger are missing!
Interesting, isn't it?!!

We walked around some more and got some more pictures of our visit...
Barbara and the Irishman...note Dan over Barbara's right shoulder!

Playing around 
We split a Muffaletta three ways for lunch!

Yep - we are on Bourbon Street
Posing for the camera!
Although we thoroughly enjoyed our day in the city, both Dan and I agree that now that we have seen New Orleans, we don't need to go back.    It's a bit too "big" for us!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to Niagara Falls....

No....we are not going back!  We're having too much fun in Louisiana!  My son and DIL shared some of the pictures they took in Niagara Falls with their waterproof camera and I just had to post a few more.  :-)
Brandon and Amanda - Cave of the Winds

And here we are on the Hurricane Deck...
No zoom on the camera but Brandon and Amanda are right behind the sign!
So refreshing!
Great picture of our friends!
Me and my son :-)
MIL and DIL!
Girls just wanna have fun!

And a few shots from Maid of the Mist....
Dan, Tricia, Gin, Syl, Mo, and Mac...
Um...Gin - why do I have bunny ears?!!
Brandon looking Captain-y!

We look like drowned rats!
Amanda and Brandon
 Such great memories!  Thanks for sharing Brandon and Amanda!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville, LA August 16-???!!

We knew that we would have a long drive and hit the road in Hernando, MS early.  We were definitely breaking our 4-2-4 rule (no more than 4 hours or 200 miles of driving and be off the road by 4pm).  We were headed south to Louisiana to spend some time near New Orleans.  My birthday is coming up and I figured New Orleans would be a cool place to celebrate!

I knew that we wouldn't want to be too close to the French Quarter so decided on Fontainebleau State Park.  It's about 30 miles from New Orleans and sits right on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain.  We pulled in around 3pm and got a list of sites that were available.  The lady in the office was confident that we would like site 23.  We registered and headed to the site.  Ut-oh....big problem....there was no way that we could put our slides out!  The trees were too close to the parking pad.  One of the work -campers, Milton, came up on his John Deere gator to see if we needed any help.  He ended up driving us around the two loops so we could see which site we wanted.  We ended up at site 21 and got set up.  We took off on our pedal bikes to explore.

My favorite animal since childhood!
Deer are everywhere!

Fawns are so cute!

Great Horned Owl 
I heard the owl before I saw him.  I circled around until I spotted him and then listened to him hoot to another owl for quite awhile.  It was so neat!  We also heard (and then saw!) some wild boars but I did not get any pictures of them.

The park is absolutely beautiful....
Big trees with the moss and resurrection ferms

The skyline of New Orleans is visible from the beach area

Wonderful pier and shaded fishing/viewing area

Lovely Cypress trees

Gorgeous sunset!

We saw this vehicle during our bike ride and I just had to get a picture.  It made me chuckle!

We went to the Visitor's Center this afternoon and enjoyed looking at all of items and displays in it.  Stephen, one of the Park Rangers, was very friendly and helpful and told us quite a bit about the history of the State Park and the surrounding area.  He offered to let me borrow a few of his personal books about Hurricane Katrina as I had a few questions about the extent of the damage within the park.  He also gave us quite a few tips on visiting New Orleans.     Fontainebleau State Park is very high on my list of campgrounds with the "it" factor.  

There's so much to do here that I hope a week is enough!  There's a wonderful, paved Rails-to-Trails trail (Tammany Trace) that we want to pedal.  In addition to a Farmer's Market, there's also a brewery right off the trail that gives tours with "all the beer you can drink in an hour".  This is on my to-do list!  :-)   And, my sister Barbara is coming for a few days to celebrate my birthday with us.    It's going to be a fun, fun week!

Life is good!

Hernando Point COE, Hernando, MS

August 13-16, 2012

We rolled into Hernando Point COE mid-afternoon.  The campground sits off of Lake Arkabutla and has 80+ water/electric sites.  The lake was low, low, low.  As there were only about 5 other campers there, we had our choice of sites!  Although we could have had a waterfront site, we chose 75 as it was quite large and private.
It's a nice campground but one that does not appear to be utilized much.  It's a little off the beaten path and it is not near any attractions (which was fine with us).  It seems that this is one of the campgrounds that has suffered due to budget cuts.  It's a no frills type of park and, because of the lake level, swimming is currently banned.  It looks like it could be a great place to call home when the lake levels are up.

Water is supposed to be where all that green is!
Other than two guys operating heavy equipment, we never really ran into anyone (including rangers!) the three days we were there.  Speaking of heavy equipment...this is what we did one morning for entertainment....

There was an excavator and a bulldozer that were working on shoreline preservation.

It was pretty neat to watch.


One last note about the campground....the horse flies and mosquitos were large enough to carry you away!  As I am a mosquito magnet, I only ventured outside late morning/early afternoon.  Dan had to wear his long pant/long sleeve coveralls when he was doing some work outside!  They were something fierce!