Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Help has arrived...

The Lone Star State has brought us family and most importantly ... child care. My mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law have joined us for some R & R at the beach in Port Aransas, Texas (southeast part of Texas). The best part is that they're staying in their own RV so we can actually send the children over to grandma and grandpa's! Yesterday morning when the kids awoke at 7:00 am they wanted to go and see their grandparents. Now, who am I to stop such cute kids from spending quality time with their grandparents? I must admit it was a little weird eating breakfast at our trailer... it was so QUIET! Fortunately, I got over it.

We had a fantastic time in Lafayette, Louisiana and strongly recommend Fezzo's restaurant to anyone looking for some Louisiana crawfish. I gotta say - I'd tried crawfish before and thought it was OK but nothing special. Well, on our first night there we walk into this restaurant that is full of locals who have enormous platters of crawfish infront of them. The tables are even built extra large to accomodate these enormous platters. Recognizing that the locals must know something so we order 2 lbs of crawfish. Ha ha ha. Turns out the average per sitting per person is 5 lbs of crawfish. Not only did we order more now I'm trying to figure out how one would order these Louisiana 'mud bugs' in Canada.

Not sure what our next plans are. My sister, Cathy, and her husband, Vern, fly back to Canada on Saturday but my parents are going to spend another week or so with us and we'll all go to the San Antonio/Austin area. (Where Todd is talking about getting one of those enormous Texas bumpers installed on the truck. "OK", I said "As long as we can get a big set of Texas longhorns mounted on the top of them"... wouldn't that be cool?). After that, we're not so sure. It is still a little cold further north so we might try and stay in south Texas a little longer. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Hey, Can you throw me something, Mister?

Hey, Can you throw me something, Mister?

This is the war cry for Mardi Gras parade goers that line the street each day for one or more parades to pass them by. And what does one get in return for their pleas: 10 pounds of bead necklaces (seriously – 5 grocery bags full), 4 small stuffed animals, 5 souvenir blue doubloons, 8 plastic drinking cups, a nerf Mardi Gras football and one pair of huge toy sunglasses. This is what we received on Friday night from our first foray into the Mardi Gras celebration.

Yes, we’re in New Orleans now (I figure I am a native now that I’ve attended one parade so I can call it - N’Oleans). We have been here for 5 days and are moving tomorrow (Monday) to Lafayette, Louisiana where the Fat Tuesday celebrations are - apparently – much more family oriented. Did you know that this is a state-wide holiday? Heck, I’m thinking of moving here if I can get another day off. Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact that a bad hurricane could wipe the entire area out this would go onto my possible ‘move here’ locations. (Did you know that Bob Dylan has a house in N’Oleans?).

I loved meandering through the steamy French Quarter with the sweaty stenchy scent intermingling with the scent of the sweet smelling flowers that bloom on the upper balconies. I loved traveling up and down the mighty Mississippi River on the paddlewheel riverboat. (It wasn’t quite what I had in mind since I read Huck Finn as a child but it was great… in a different commercial shipping sort of way). I love the Cajun food. I love the fresh seafood that comes fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. The people in Louisiana have impressed us with their friendliness.

Let me take a few steps back in our travels and fill you in on the detail that brought us to N’Oleans: (I’m not sure when we last posted and I don’t have access to the ‘Net so if I’m repeating myself … oh well.)

We left Walt Disney World after a fantastic 2 week stay and began our journey west. We had reached not only the halfway point of our trip (3 months) but also the beginning of the west-ward journey. I don’t mind saying that I was a little sad.

It was quickly forgotten as we settled into St. George Island in the Florida panhandle. The Island is sand. That’s it. Sand. It still has vegetation but everywhere you look is sand. Not only that but back home if you have a yard display or whatever and you want to fill it in you use gravel or rocks. Not on St. George Island. They use oyster shells. Seriously! Oyster shells.

After a couple of days we continued onto Destin, Florida which was also great. It has an amazing beach and crystal blue water but unfortunately the weather went into a cold snap so we had to find some indoor things to do. One of which was visiting the United States Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

We left Destin, Florida the last day of January after a fond and memorable 6 weeks. We quickly drove through Alabama before arriving in M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. (Honestly, is there anyone who doesn’t look at the word Mississippi and think ‘how do you spell that?’)?

We spent a couple of nights in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where we stayed at the Casino Magic RV Park. What a place! We didn’t gamble but we happily took advantage of the Casino’s $16 all-you-can-eat buffet. We dined on the famous Louisiana Crawfish, Dungeness & Snow Crab, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, fresh-made-to-your-specifications pasta and a football field-sized table of desserts. [Tomas’ meal cost $7 and Victoria was free. He dined on French fries and ice cream. Toria somehow managed to eat nearly a pound of shrimp, 3 legs of Dungeness crab and finished it off with 3 bowls of maraschino cherries.]

It is amazing the natural beauty we have recently seen along the shore lines. There has been such a diverse variety in the scenery and vegetation. We left central Florida where we were surrounded by palm trees then in the Florida panhandle it was still mainly palm trees intermixed with a few evergreens. This is how it was arriving in Mobile, Alabama but when you drove out of the city (15 minutes later) it was like we were in a different part of the country. Palm trees were gone and were replaced by towering oak trees, enormous cypress trees, and bayous.

It has been over a month since we had internet at our campsite but we should have it at one of the campground in Texas. I hope to update the website with photos then. As for this ‘blog’ I hope Todd will be able to post it from the Starbucks hotspot next time he goes for a coffee.

In other exciting news my mom & dad, my sister and her husband are coming to meet us in Houston next weekend so that will be great. Then we’ll all go south to Corpus Christie where we hope to spend more time under the palm trees, at the beach and on the golf course.

Our current campsite backs onto a bayou (fancy name for an upscale swamp) where the cypress trees grow thick, the giant oak trees are draped in Spanish moss ($3/bag at home) the frogs are happily chirping, and the squirrels are knocking down the acorns. If you’ll excuse me I think I must take my wine and head outside.

Farewell from N’Oleans.