Monthly Archives: March 2014

West Texas Town of Fort Stockton


After leaving San Antonio we were really excited to be getting to Robin’s birth State of New Mexico but we needed another stop off while traversing the massive State of Texas. The Hilltop RV park in Fort Stockton, Texas was dusty, windy and very West Texas. This was a simple parking lot style park with relatively tight pull-through’s on gravel. Everything worked and the spaces were level so no complaints and adequate for a few nights.

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We captured/experienced some wonderful West Texas sunsets, and got to play golf on a dry and crusty West Texas municipal golf course.

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All in all we are enjoying hitting the road again as we headed to our next destination, Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Stay tuned.

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The Hangover – San Antonio, Texas

Written by: Jeremy

Our next main stop-over after Sam Houston Jones State Park was San Antonio, Texas and back to a crowded KOA. The place was full due to an upcoming Miley Cyrus concert and a WWE wrestling event at the AT&T center across the street. Both events made for great people watching around camp. I never really understood Miley’s popularity, but after watching a week of local news coverage  of crusty Texas state legislators trying, frantically to pass a ridiculous new indecency laws aimed at preventing kids from seeing the show, her popularity is much clearer to me now.

This is the first park to date where I refused the first site offered to us. It was on the side of a hill with several deep trenches that I just did not feel like battling for the relatively expensive park fee.We were given a different site that was acceptable but tight. This was a typical crowded KOA full of kids. On the up side, there was a wonderful bike path along a river for dog walking and we were right next door to a reasonable municipal golf course where we played a couple of fun (and dry!) 9-hole rounds.

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The other main draw was the proximity to the bus stop right across the street from the campground.  Most of the negative reviews for this park were due to the “bad neighborhood”. We found that claim to be ridiculous. Obviously just people that are not comfortable with a city. The only shady people we encountered were registered campers. We happily took advantage of the public transportation for a very fun day on the San Antonio River walk on the Weekend before St. Patrick’s day. They dyed the river green and we did a little St. Patty’s day drinking, Tex-Mex style.

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All in all it was a great day. I had been to the San Antonio River walk before, and it is definitely a recommended destination if you haven’t been. The highlight for Robin was when one of the water-taxi drivers spotted me along the walk and announced to his full boat on PA speaker “Hey, look at that guy with the beard. He looks like the guy from the Hangover!”  I realize I put on a couple pounds eating Po Boy’s in Mississippi, but Zach Galifianakis? Ok, maybe a little.

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We also got a chance to meet some new friends in the San Antonio area. Gary and Michelle from Changing States 2013 recommended a great restaurant/bar called The Cove and we spent a fun evening conversing with a couple of new friends that are about to do what we did a little over six months ago. The Cove had an impressive selection of Texas craft beer, good locally sourced, veg friendly fare, and even a dog friendly porch where Gary and Michelle’s three big dogs got all kinds of attention. Good luck guys. Hope to see you down the road!

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Sam Houston Jones State Park, Louisiana

Written by: Jeremy

After all of the excitement of Mardi Gras and after a month long stint in Bay St. Louis we were both getting the travel bug again. Yes, we needed to slow down but after over a month stationery our wanderlust was kicking in as was our desire to get to some dry climates.

We knew we were headed to and through Texas but we weren’t really sure where. We thought about Austin, but the South By Southwest festivities were probably a little more than we were up for and we had not made any reservations in advance. We found zero availability when we finally looked but that was OK as neither one of us really had enough time off work to really enjoy such a festival. Maybe another year. We decided to head towards San Antonio. The drive all the way from Bay St. Louis was a little far and we also wanted a chance to notch Louisiana into our RV travel belt.

Sam Houston Jones State Park in Western Louisiana fit our needs perfectly and we reveled in a nice spacious State Park for a few days on our way to Texas.

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The park was nice with plenty of hiking for the boys. The nearby town of Lake Charles was a dump and the campground itself was a little full of yeah-hoe’s on the weekend. Apparently putting up a spot light and then dumping a giant bag of deer feed around your RV makes for a real fun weekend of camping for people in this neck of the woods. I can only imagine what would happen if someone dumped a bag of feed down for deer and raccoons in a Colorado park. They would probably be arrested on the spot. Similar to what would happen at Sam Houston Jones State Park if you were to light up a joint. Different people and priorities for sure.

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The river hike and marshland were a real treat and although the park was full, it didn’t seem like the people do much hiking here so we had the trails to ourselves.All in all, we enjoyed our stay and would recommend this park for anyone passing through western Louisiana.

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Mardi Gras 2014 – New Orleans, Louisiana

Written by: Jeremy

Well, it has been a couple of weeks since we visited New Orleans and Robin had promised to author this blog, but I don’t see it happening.  So in the interest of keeping things somewhat moving, I decided to knock this out.

We mentioned in our last blog that we decided to venture out to NOLA for Mardi Gras from our spot in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. We boarded the dogs, cashed in a few hotel points and got a room at a hotel in the French Quarter on the Sunday before Mardi Gras.

We showed up early so as to beat the traffic, dumped the F250 with the hotel Valet and headed out on foot for some eggs and Bloody Mary’s and to do a little sightseeing in town before the festivities got underway. This was a different place day versus night, that is for sure.

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Well, yada, yada, our day did not end until about 1 am on Monday as we strolled down Bourbon street in a surreal experience weaving between the drunks and druggies in an eye opening display that was about what you would expect. It was crazy but we never did feel unsafe. Sorry, both of our phones were dead by the end of the night so not many good late night photos to share.

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Although NOLA and the Mardi Gras parades were fun, this was a people watcher’s paradise. A once in a lifetime experience that we may or may not feel the need to repeat…ever. We partied, ate, drank, watched some parades, caught some beads, and even met some friends that were also in town for the festivities.

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All in all, we experienced exactly what we wanted for Mardi Gras 2014 and we almost escaped without injury. Robin caught an unusually heavy set of beads whipped at her and the tail end flung around and hit her square in the forehead. The swelling lasted most of the night but did not dampen her enthusiasm. All the drinks probably helped as did some repositioning of her bangs.

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I am not sure that I have anything really profound to say about our experience at Mardi Gras in New Orleans so I will just post some pictures of some floats and weirdo’s.

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Upon returning to our month long home in Bay St. Louis we were tired and kind of regretted agreeing to march in the Monday night Bay Saint Louis parade with our fellow snow birders in an evening when temperatures dropped into the 30’s. All in all, we completed our Mardi Gras Journey, if not in style, at least with a shred of dignity still intact.

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Drowning in a sea of gratitude (and rain) – Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Written By: Jeremy

As I spend yet another day inside on the computer instead of outside playing golf, it is hard not to get down at the unprecedented winter of poor weather on the southern gulf coast of the United States of America. It is hard not to grumble about how we should have wintered in the Southwest, or say we are never coming back here.

The truth is that we are disappointed in the weather, but I assume that is not something unique to us in the winter of 2014. In reality, we are having the time or our lives. We are seeing parts of the country we have never seen. Unlike most, we get to experience these places more as locals than as visitors. Realistically we are something between visitor and local and we are not the typical snow-birder either.

As I mentioned previously, we were looking to find a place to settle down for a month or so and away from the train noise. Well, we found our spot in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi at the charming Bay Hide Away RV resort.

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Yes, the rain has been extreme and as I write we are talking about whether or not to venture out to the first local Mardi Gras parade we had been looking forward to. Although understandably soggy, overall, the park has been quiet, down to earth, and exactly what we needed for a month. Robin has had a pretty busy couple of weeks of working and we even had a chance to do some interior painting of our trailer. Maybe we will share more pictures once we are done, but right now we still have some work to do. All in good time.

As I mentioned before this is our 20th place in 11 states in just under 5 months.  As I write it has just occurred to me that we have now spent the greatest majority of our time on the road in the State of Mississippi. As I think about that now, this seems somewhat of an odd choice for us. Besides being about the only state with a name over five letters that I know how to spell, I had never previously visited the state and mostly what I knew about the state is some less than flattering health and education statistics. Although I don’t have any hard statistics to support it, after spending a month here, I venture to guess that it may also lead the nation in the number of people that commute primarily shirtless and in the back bed of a pickup truck. To say that Mississippi was not at the top of our list of must visit states would be an understatement.

I would love to tell you that after spending a month and a half in this state that I was completely wrong about Mississippi and that all of those horrifying stereotypes and statistics must be wrong. To be honest, you don’t have to spend much time here at all to see how and why those statistics are what they are, but at the same time there is another Mississippi stereotype that we did not expect based on our experience in other southern areas. The people here absolutely do embody the stereotype that you think of when you hear about “southern hospitality”.

Much like the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, Robin and I don’t exactly blend in seamlessly with the society here in Mississippi. Maybe it is our northern accents, our lack of appreciation of Nascar, Robin’s somewhat amusing lack of ability to decipher southern dialect, or our crazy belief that chicken is still “meat”. Regardless, wherever we go, we get funny looks and sometimes funny service when we venture out amongst the locals and quiz waiters about the content of the food.

Yes, the food and language can be a challenge, and if I get served one more food item in a giant Styrofoam container, I may scream, but that aside, the people of Mississippi are absolutely the most friendly, welcoming, and even entertaining people that we have come across in our travels to date.   Wherever we go, smiling faces, and a friendly and sincere “Y’all come back now” is boomed as we make our way to the exit.

The local workers, waiters and town folks that we have encountered are friendly, talkative and curious but, regardless of how many eyebrows we raise, I don’t think I have seen a single roll-of-the-eyes like I kept seeing over and over again in some other southern towns as we make futile requests for menu substitutions or directions to recommended and non existent places to walk dogs.  Yes, we have found that people here are just generally friendly and happy! It could be the fact that this is the Mardi Gras season but more realistically, I think this is just a friendly place with a genuine good sense of humor.

There is no such thing as a quick trip in and out of a store as someone is bound to want to converse. Sure, a lot of times the conversation is unusually loud and uni-directional, but that is part of the charm. We like the energy and vibe.

Michelle and Joe at the Bay Hide Away, could not be nicer and we have really been made to feel at home and included with the snow-birder crowd at the RV park. Unlike other snow-birder havens, we have been invited to all of the community clubhouse activities like Bingo and the chili cook-off.

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Not only were we invited people seem genuinely disappointed if we don’t show up. Sure our two-bean sweet potato chili didn’t stand a chance against the winning no-bean, two-meat chili but nonetheless, we had a good time sharing a meal and some laughs with our fellow travelers.

The little town of Bay Saint Louis is a quiet and charming, artsy town and we enjoyed some good meals and a “second Saturday” event where we visited a bunch of art galleries and antique shops and listened to some music being played in the streets.

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The nearby dog friendly beach has become a favorite afternoon destination about ten minutes from the park.

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We have even gotten to visit a couple of decent, well-priced, albeit soggy golf courses in between rain storms. I played a round where at least 6 of 18 holes were played in a complete fog with visibility less than 100 yards. Interesting golf experience, I will leave it at that.

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We were able to entice a couple of our new nomad friends to join us at the Bay Hide Away as they make their way west. We love the fact that we are developing an actual community, even though it is a rolling group.  Very strange, fun, and not something we necessarily expected. Even though we all live in RV’s and travel full time, they feel very much like the friends and neighbors we have had in any other place we have lived. We plan to meet up with them again in NOLA for Mardi Gras and probably other places as we all continue on in divergent yet somewhat consistent directions across the US.

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We also had a chance to visit a great local microbrewery called Lazy Magnolia located in Kiln, the hometown of Brett Favre. Our brewery tour guide Ginger, was stand up comic funny and just as quick to make fun of us northerners as she was to make light of her own home state. They make great beer and they are most known for their “Southern Pecan” Nut Brown Ale. If you are a hop-head like us, you might like our favorite flavor, “Southern Hopspitality” IPA. Even if you are not a beer drinker this was a funky and interesting operation to visit for sure. We have been to quite a few brewery tours over the years and this one one of the more entertaining experiences but probably not the most informative. I have a feeling that Lazy Magnolia brew is going to become more well known in the upcoming months and years as their distribution spreads around the country and picky microbrew connoisseurs catch on.

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As we are getting closer to Mardi Gras we have scrapped our original plan to move to the NOLA area and we are going to instead venture out from here for our visit to Bourbon Street. I think a second “Mardi Gras” themed blog will be in order and believe it or not, it looks like Robin and I will also be joining our fellow snow-birders at the Bay Hide Away as we get the opportunity to March in an actual Mardi Gras parade here in Bay St. Louis. Normally this would be the kind of activity that I would avoid like the plague, but here in Mississippi, this seems to be the kind of experiential opportunity that should not be wasted. Even if just for a day, I am going to do my best to be like a true Mississippian and not take myself too seriously. Who knows, by the end of the night, I might be the one catching a ride shirtless in the back of a pickup truck.

As yet another month on the road rolls by, we are still pretty much under water and completely over the rain but we are also drowning in gratitude for everything we are getting to experience in this new lifestyle. Although it can be difficult to remember in the rain, or  when other challenges arise overall, we have to pinch ourselves every day and with every new adventure.  

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