Monthly Archives: April 2015

Day 463 of Life on the Road as a Family, Tom Sawyer RV Park, Arkansas

We drove from Jackson to the edge of the Mississippi river on the Arkansa side, once again excited to be near this huge, historic, thriving river.  This will be one of the few RV parks we’ll tout, and it’s got less amenities than many. But who cares about a pool or playground when you’ve got the river right out your front window?  Another traveller had told Dan about this park months ago, and Dan quickly made the reservation only to be called two weeks ago and told that they were going to be flooding, so we couldn’t come.  They were so nice about it, and we felt bad for them because we knew they’d be losing a lot of the springtime travelers returning home to the colder northern states.  We made other reservations, and figured, oh well, just another detour.

Then they called a few days ago and said the river was to crest the night before our arrival, and would we like to come anyway? Would we?!  We cancelled the other reservations and headed up the road.

IMG_6465 After driving up and over the HUGE berm to get to the campground, this was the second building we encountered in the campground. The first one was the office, which was on wheels.  This is a restroom facility, with the nicest laundry room we’ve seen on the trip located upstairs.  We were a little apprehensive driving over the berm with our home, not sure what we would find.  We knew the campground was still 2/3 closed.  I was instantly glad that we weren’t here in 2011!

IMG_6449Here’s our view of the Mississippi River for a week!  It’s at flood stage, 30.6′.  We found out later that this campground’s location is used by the weather reporting on NOAA  because of it’s prime location to Memphis  – which is just a speck to the right of the tree.   Dan and I brought our chairs out here to sit and watch the barge traffic go by – it’s the coolest thing EVER.  We were supposed to run errands today and do some homework and cook a big dinner and, and , and… and we spent the afternoon right here instead.

IMG_6475This was the first barge we saw, and we were so happy!  Everyone from the campground comes to the edge of the water to watch them pass and we speculate on what they are carrying, where they’ve been, and where they will unload.  A few of them have open storage so you can see the coal and rocks, but most were covered like this one.  Sometimes the captain honks, but we usually can’t even see a human being anywhere on it.  We saw the American Queen riverboat go by later in the week, and it was even more magical. We tried to get Nate to read Tom Sawyer before we got here, so he could see the romance and mystery and commerce of the Mississippi, but he couldn’t get into it. His loss.

I probably took 20 barge pictures today, so you’re lucky I didn’t post all of them.  Another perfect day on the road.  Almost makes up for the debacle week of New Orleans.  Almost.

Day 462 of Life on the Road as a Family, Jackson, MS

IMG_6373After getting to our campground outside Jackson, Mississippi, Eliza and I went into town to explore.  This is the capitol, with repair work being done to protect it “from the elements”.  Dan and I had washed the dogs again before Eliza and I left, so I was still in my very grubby clothes, but I figured no big deal because we weren’t going to get out of the car…

IMG_6407We didn’t know that the capitol would be open! They were in session and voting on a bill, so there were people all over and the guard reluctantly let us in.  Did he hesitate because I looked so bad?!!  Gorgeous old capitol, great history, and we didn’t stay long; too embarrassing.

Eliza and I drove all over town, and other than the capitol, it was like a ghost town. No shopping, no restaurants, no people walking around. Cool old buildings.  My favorite was an old Greyhound bus station that an architect is using as his office.

We headed north on a street that looked fun, and boy was it. We stumbled right into a parade being set up, and the street was still open to traffic.  People were lining the streets, staking out their places, and many of the older women had on tiara’s and green or purple gloves.  WHAT?!  I wanted to roll my window down and wave to everyone, but like San Antonio, I didn’t want to embarrass Eliza.  (As if I didn’t do that already at the capitol?!)  I wanted to pull over and ask someone, but the music was too loud. We saw a sign on the side of a building that said “Sweet Potato Queens” and “Zippity do dah”, so I thought I’d look it up later.

I have very few regrets in life, but missing the Sweet Potato Queen parade is one of them… when I read about it the next day and downloaded her book to listen to, I couldn’t stop laughing.  Jill Connor Browne decided in the 1980’s that she was going to be the Sweet Potato Queen, and she’s been creating her hilarious legacy ever since.  She’s beyond bawdy, so don’t read it if you are easily offended.  There is more than one queen, and they wear outfits in the parade that have changed over the years. Their followers wear tiara’s now, but the queens don’t because they don’t stay on their huge red wigs.  I mean, I laughed so hard at one point that I couldn’t breathe.  I may fly back for the parade one day in my own “wanna be” costume!

Day 461 of Life on the Road as a Family, New Orleans

IMG_6318We did a 3 hour walking history tour of the Garden District and had to go see the house with the cornstalk fence. One of the stories is that the lady of the house was from Iowa and missed the fields of corn. Another story is that she picked out the fence because it was the most expensive in the catalog.  In either case, it’s the only cornstalk fence we’ve ever seen!  Not as good as the real thing at Grandma’s, but still fun to see.  The houses are huge and beautiful and everyone’s gardens are just waking up.  Smelled great.

We spent the rest of the day back at our rig washing our dogs, washing all our bedding, and washing their bedding – our dogs have fleas, argh.  We cannot do a bug bomb, because there is nowhere for us to go.  The owner of the RV park has 11 cats roaming all over, and there are dogs on either side of us. So we don’t know where the dogs picked the fleas up, but wow, what a pain for all of us.  Lady is going nuts and starting to lick off her hair. so we had to find a pet store and buy her a cone of shame today, which is tough on all of us.  We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on flea remedies.  Just adds to our displeasure of our stay here.  Darn.  Our expectations were so high.

Day 457 of Life on the Road as a Family, We saw Selma

IMG_6270It was raining too hard today to do anything outside, so we found a theatre playing Selma and I am so glad we did.  I really wanted the kids to see it while we were in the south.  It’s the first movie I’ve been to at a theatre in years because  I haven’t thought anything was good enough/interesting enough to want to pay through the nose for, but this one was.

INCREDIBLE. Go see it.  Take your kids.

Day 456 of Life on the Road as a Family, New Orleans, LA

Into every life a little rain must fall, right?!  Ooh, we were so excited for our RV park in New Orleans – looked really good online: pool, hot tub, locks us in at night, close to town.  We know better than to get excited and yet we were and here we are the next day, trying to figure out if we should leave and find another one even though we already paid for the week.  I could list all the things wrong, but that’s boring.  Just know that we are bummed and can’t decide if we are going to make the best of it or run.

So today was exploring New Orleans!  Dan and I had spent a few days here in 1998,  (the campground we stayed at was worse than ours now) and we remember it fondly.  The food, the smells, the gardens, and the history of the city itself.

IMG_6136We started the day at Morning Call and had beignets and alligator sausage.  We all tried Dan’s coffee – smelled great and had the consistency of sludge!  Our waiter thought he’d rip us off by not giving us change, but I stuck out my hand and smiled.  We’re not dumb tourists anymore and being overly polite went away a long time ago.  The cafe is in the middle of City Park, and it was high on our list for exploring. There are old oak trees, as in 600 years old, and we wanted to see them.  The park is a busy place, so it was a good hike. We were bummed to see all the litter, but happy to see that some trees survived Hurricane Katrina and that they’ve planted 1,000’s more.

IMG_6171Jackson Square in the middle of the French Quarter – and I got one picture without people in it!  The whole area was packed because of the conventions in town and spring break.  Dan and I couldn’t believe how small the Quarter has gotten since our last visit, man, it is weird to be and older adult!

IMG_6199This was after it rained and at the end of our walking tour.  The kids weren’t as impressed as we were hoping they would be, but they did see and understand how Hurricane Katrina affected the city and how much work it took the residents to recover.  We had lunch at the French Market and tried 4 different dishes – hot to bland and all were good.  Eliza and I loved the  spicy rice, but the dark brown gumbo was a little too thick for us.  We had hoped to do some gift shopping here, but there weren’t that many small businesses open, unless we wanted to buy a t-shirt from a bar!  We ended up doing 11 things on my list – which we thought would take days – so not sure what we’ll do for the rest of the week!

Day 455 of Life on the Road as a Family! Big Lagoon State Park, FL

IMG_6087One last morning walk with the dogs around the lagoon.  Just beautiful and so peaceful. There’s a huge boardwalk path that goes from the campground to the beach area, and it passes this spot.  Every morning I look for birds and fish and anything else moving – never saw a thing in two weeks!  Still beautiful.

Today is a FOUR STATE DAY!  I love these days.  We leave Florida, quickly through Alabama, through Mississippi, and then on to our campground outside New Orleans, LA.  We are so excited to show the kids the city!!!