Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hello Canada! Visits with Family and Friends

Well say the best laid plans...

It turns out that flooding in the Winnipeg area is basically an annual event.  And hence there were no campgrounds to stay in, and no exploring of the city for us.
We continued on to Portage la Prairie and our reserved site at Walmart.  Now this stop offered many pleasures which the Canadians will relate to - Tim Hortons and Boston Pizza!!
But the first colder days are intense after so many weeks in the warmth, and I didn't even have "long" pants with me!  My mistake I know.
We headed along to Darrell and Shirley Hueser's acreage near Yorkton, SK.  We had a blast visiting with these old friends.  Old in every way; Shirley and I were grade school buddies and Don and Darrell "drinking" friends through school.  Actually Darrell introduced Don and I to each other... so thanks Darrell!
Our plan was to pull through the old hometown, Tisdale, so we could visit with Don's family and show mom our new fifth wheel.  So thankful to Don's sister Kathy for finding us a parking spot.  NO Walmart and too early for a campground.  Again we had great visits, but please the snow was so rude and unnecessary!
We also had a nice surprise as Lindsay and the boys came to visit Grandma.  We really miss these kids when we are gone.
I rode home to Edmonton with Lindsay today, and we had a great time catching up.  I am sure the driver was a bit lonely, or perhaps he enjoyed the silence?
The next month will pass quickly, chock full of visiting, catching up, yard work, year end, etc.  I'm already exhausted.
But don't worry - we have already planned the next adventure.  Stay tuned...

I've Seen The World Through a Bus Windshield

So Kenny Chesney says, I say through the window of a Dodge Ram truck, but it doesn't match the tune as well.

This is where I take most of my photos, traveling down the highways, Nikon on my lap, just waiting for that perfect opportunity. In the same way that I wish my words could better say my thoughts, I wish my photos could better capture my views. Even the bugs and raindrops are beautiful, when what's before you is new, and will never be the same again, no matter if you come back or not. 

Here are some window pictures to enjoy. If you want more info on any just drop a line...  They take you through Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri (thus far). 

As always thanks for traveling with us!



















 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

Well not really blocking or breaking, but this is a post of signs. Some may be a stretch of the word sign, like the water towers, but too bad as this is my blog.  Ha ha

From all over our last adventure. I would think they're pretty self explanatory, but let me know if you need guidance, and I'll send you a sign. Hey I should have called this post Here's Your Sign. Sorry Bill!!

Don't forget to click on the photos to see the details...





 












 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Continuing On

I know boring title!
After leaving Lafayette we continued north, having our home radar on. But many stops to make still!
I must admit the blog will have less emphasis now on activities and more on the towns we passed through. But the amazing thing is we are still travelling through new territory and it is all so different than we expected, and beautiful.  Every community and every stop offers a small insight to the area, and we are enjoying every moment.
You could say we are taking a bit of a break  from the usual holiday routines.  We are staying in some "free" RV sites (aka Walmarts and Home Depots) and searching out some nicer restaurants as rewards at the end of long driving days.  And of course getting our walking in.
Our destination now is Winnipeg.  Yes Canada!  We hope to arrive there and see some of the city.  I have visited for various reasons throughout my life, and Don never has.
So back to the present.  We stayed one night in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The next morning after the traditional MacDonald's breakfast we headed out again.
We picked Kansas City as our next stop, and found a fabulous municipal campground on the edge of town, called Longview Lake County Park.  This was an amazing find, both the city and the campground.  We finally had the right weather for a campfire and sitting outside relaxing and enjoying the day.  No wind is finally a treat!
We spent the day exploring the city.  This is the type of city that I would go back to, with a group of shopping ladies.  The historic downtown offers all the high end store us ladies love, and in a unique setting.  Just a wonderful day walking the streets and driving a bit to see the sites.  I must say Don is an awesome travelling companion, not just the great driver you think!  ha ha
Sadly as time moves on so must we.  Our last stop in the U.S. was Wahpeton, North Dakota.  Again we lucked out with a comfortable and quiet stop at Walmart, and a great restaurant within a healthy walking distance.
Tomorrow we will cross the border and discover Winnipeg, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Apparently There is Nothing that Cannot Happen Today

That is an Mark Twain quote for those of you who don't recognize it, and could really be the title of the blog. Don is a fan of Mark Twain and I will often hear him with a quote or two. I think his favorite is "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco".  We've been there several times and I must admit, it's never been hot. 

Early in our trip we had determined a bit of a path to follow after our Texas experience was complete. Considering factors like days left, the weather around us, highways we discovered, and our general frame of mind, we still need to focus on the trip home and what is left we could or want to see, and the route that entails. Having perused some options, we decided that a short venture into Louisiana was due. Lafayette seemed like a great choice, as the highway we would eventually head north on ran through. I was on a business call with a client (yes I work, and no you don't hear much about it) when we pulled into Lafayette, and as we had agreed to the local KOA, Don pulled in, registered and set us up. Typically KOA is our last choice but in this case it just felt right. It was a lovely choice, as the wifi was strong, the laundry facilities were clean, and the city was central to a lot of adventure exploring!

So off to Baton Rouge we head!  I'm not the only one in this gig that has places on wish lists. Don wanted to see the Mississippi River, and so we did. Just off the interstate was a Riverwalk that gave us not only an excuse to walk, but also an opportunity to observe the ships on the river, and spend some time pondering the way it used to be, and still is, a port to sea. We also took time to sit and enjoy a local beverage and culinary delights. Meaning a cold Coors and some more deep fried seafood. The beer really deletes my desire for more walking, so we headed home for the day.



 










Something I've been meaning to talk about was the lack of oil industry, or what appeared to be. This stop and discovery tours around Lafayette has assuaged that concern. There are so many offices, industrial yards and references to both on shore and off shore drilling around here.  The familiar names of National Oilwell Services, Baker Hughes, etc were all around. And billboards seeking staff everywhere.  With billboards as an HR tactic,  please tell me unemployment figures in the trades aren't high. Besides these international companies, we also saw many pump jacks, containers, plants and drilling and service rigs. So yup - there is oil here!

The last few weeks have involved quite a heavy Yahtzee competition in our household, and I'm on a successful roll right now. I always feel Don ends up a bit further ahead of the game, but lately not so. Although if you recall last year I did a tally of the previous 2 years of scores and a win/loss summary, and we we were even. Some other non interesting facts about life?  I have kept up my weight training exercises throughout the holiday, and although I sometimes think I'm making no progress, I know better. Muscle growth doesn't lie. Our steps have been ok, not spectacular, but still on target. And poor Don has a case of gout. Only in one toe so far. We cut out the seafood and saw overnight improvement, so hopefully diet control will be the answer. In our estimation we ate fresh seafood 7 days in a row, so not the wise set choice!  I have a few client projects I'm working on as well. So daily life speeds by!

You would think Don gets a bit tired of a Driving Miss Donna, and every now and then I still get a surprise, or more than I expected or asked for. Of course he knew I would love to see New Orleans, and I didn't nag (honest), but as we set out on our adventure on Saturday, the GPS was set for there. I should not have been surprised as the previous day we had passed Illinois Central. That's a song reference for all the Willie fans out there. 
 


 








Never did I dream we would get there this trip, but Louisiana is a smaller state than expected, and a 2 hour drive is not far for us. We took the scenic route getting there, and the interstate back. 
 
Don saw what he hoped to (the Superdome where evacuees were sheltered during the hurricane), and we wandered the streets of the French Quarter including Bourbon Street, and I purchased my prized possession, a New Orleans Starbucks mug. That's 3 new ones this trip. We picked a photo of a quiet street, but trust me they were very busy, loud and frankly dirty. And you will see I picked out a new bike.  I wish I was more of an author, and could find the words to describe to vibrancy, yet despondency, of many areas we have observed. No different in many ways of other tourist locations in America, where you see wealth and materialism as neighbors to the economically disadvantaged.  And still, streets full of people like ourselves, fortunate to be living what was once a dream, exploring the everyday of others. 















It was an absolute day to treasure, and made this stop in Lafayette another chapter in our book of life...

I Still Hear Your Sea Winds Blowin'

So our next place to rest the trailer was Galveston Island State Park. There was a choice of bay side or beach side, and as we were growing a tad weary of the wind, choose the bay side. It was a good choice, as the sites were well spaced and still backed on to a large lake, so the views weren't compromised.

Our goals for exploring on this stop were the areas surrounding Galveston and Houston, and of course the cities themselves. The weather forecast for Monday was rain so that was a great day for a city visit. Our adventures in urban settings always start best with just driving down the yellow streets. If you have a GPS you will understand that the yellow streets are the more main ones. You can veer off them and always go back, and in the end you see a lot of the city and the people. I had a couple of stores I wanted to hit up (big surprise I know), Costco being one of them. Sorry I didn't take a picture, this Costco was a 2 story building in the heart of downtown Houston!  Was rather odd, but interior wise the  same old reliable Costco we all know and love. I had googled a mall to visit as well, and for a change rather than being on the other side of town, it was just 3 blocks away.  By the time we finished those 2 stops we were both ready to make our escape. I was tired of shopping and Don knows when a good thing has happened.

We also took advantage of the weather to explore the streets of Galveston. This was one place where you could really see the effects of the 2008 hurricane. There would be rows of homes, some new, some renovated  and repaired, but amongst them would also be lots with driveways, sidewalks, and existing home pilings or stilts with the buildings all gone, and sale signs up. Or in the more dense downtown areas, boarded up, failing homes between newer reconstructed ones. Sadly some of the delicate ones had some windows uncovered, and people living in them. So as I say, from afar a community that appeared to have survived unscathed, but looking in and seeing that the ravages were still being felt. 

Another day led us to more rural exploring. A ferry ride led us to wandering country highways, and a glimpse into some industrial areas. Look what was crossing the road:












He popped his head out a bit, and as we were leaving we saw him extend it and continue his journey to the other side. You would think I could find a joke about a turtle crossing the road, but I can't.

We also found the houses and buildings interesting.  For most of the Gulf of Mexico coastline we followed, the buildings were typically built on stilts.

 













We took a day and did really nothing as well. The beach was wonderful for walking, and again achieving our steps was easy. We took advantage of a less windy day to sit outside with a beverage, and chat with the neighbors, which led to a late night visit. I was excited about company and made cupcakes for our tea time, but the icing was unique! Love to cook but that baking drives me nuts!

So that's our stop in Galveston. Glen Campbell was right about sea winds blowing, but not a stop we would want to miss. And also our last ocean walk this trip.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Surrounded by Water

Well I must say I'm in love all over again with the ocean. If I don't return I'll be living on South Padre Island. 

Is it just me or does the entrance sign project a feeling you want to hold on to?




And it wasn't the houses, although I took a lot of house pics. I don't even like houses that much. But again something about this whole place just gets me. Look at the sand on the roads... And the cool sand blowing in the tire picture. Just like our snow on the road was my point!




Does anyone know about my compulsion to own a VW van?  Well I found one!  Who knew you could mount one on the top of a school bus. Must be the penthouse suite.




So more about our time here. We spent a week in the area. Five nights at Mustang Island State Park and a couple of nights at Serendipity RV Park in Palacios.  This far one of the best stops so far. Taking the time here to walk on the beach every morning and night, slow long days, great food (cooking and eating out), warm ocean water lapping at your feet, nothing was wrong, everything was right.

Mustang Island is part of Padre Island. We also took a day trip and drove to South Padre Island, and the city of Donna, Texas (for obvious reasons). 


There was quite a difference between the south and north parts of Padre Island. For starters, the south appeared to be more affluent, the houses along the north were large, the south ones larger. Yards, acreages to us, even larger. Weekend homes, summer homes or some time escapes?  Or do they live there?  Let your imagination decide. 


The sand on the south was unexplainable. This is a picture of me on FaceTime with Emerson. I just had to show her the sand. 



And what was to be a filler stop at Palacios turned into a great stop.  Probably the friendliest group do winter Texans yet, happy to share their group happy hour with us, proud of the park they spend their winter in, and as much in love with being on the water as us. If only I was a quilter and Don was a fisherman, we could be here!



The wind has been following us across Texas, but I think it has helped us deal with the heat better. 

Anyway today we are moving to a new island and a new experience. Galveston Island, the city of Houston and who knows what else!  Talk soon...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

San Antonio Rose

Two of my favorite country stars recorded San Antonio Rose – Willy Nelson and Patsy Cline.  Listen to it some day seriously!  What voices.
So to the trip…
San Antonio is an amazing city.  I really do like cities as much as wide open spaces without people.  In all honesty I may like cities more, but each day and each place changes that.  Cities are full of so many different types of people, not only demographics wise, but in every other way.  Add to that mix a city like this with so many tourists and history and wow!
We think the best way to discover any place is a random drive.  We just pick a street and see where it goes.  The tourist books are one traditional usually material view, but they don’t always consider character, etc.  But, in the case of San Antonio, we were attracted to traditional sites. So on our discovery tour where did we find ourselves but the Alamo – one of the biggest tourist places in the city.  Without even paying a fee you can wander within the walls of the fort/mission site, and with some imagination begin to understand a bit of what may have been experienced during the siege.  Just amazing. 





The second place we wanted to be sure to visit was the Riverwalk.  We saved this adventure for a warm afternoon when we just knew we would appreciate the breeze blowing in off the water, and hopefully early enough in the day it wasn't too ran over by visitors. Do not visit this area without visiting the Riverwalk!  Absolute beauty!




It was a perfect afternoon!

The rest of our time in this area we spent pretty close to the trailer. We were in a great regional campground operated by the city of Castroville. The campground is adjacent to trails and walking paths, so it easy to spend time there and relax. We even had an evening happy hour or two with some other folks. 

We are onward to Padre Islands by Corpus Christi, and are so excited to be by the ocean again.

Talk soon!