Top Ten Pictures of 2013

I’m not a fan of the year-end blog review where bloggers recap what they have done for the past year. I totally get why people do it, it is a nice record of your year, but I have read your blog all year so it’s nothing new. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write one, I am very happy to peruse the pictures, ignore the story and wait for your next blog 🙂

However I did enjoy a blog written by Adventure Dog where she posted her favorite pictures of the year. I commented that I loved the idea and thought I would do that with my blog as well, and she replied “You’re very welcome although I’m not sure if you’ll be thanking me once you try to pick photos”, and wow was she right! I have been going through our pictures since the beginning of our travels making sure they are named correctly and thinning them out. Since I was doing that, I thought I would choose my favorites at the same time.

I decided I would limit my choices to our top ten pictures for each year.  I really thought 2013 would be easy because we didn’t start traveling until November 21, 2013, but I manage to come up with twenty-two favorite pictures. So in comes hubby to help wheedle it down to ten … it still wasn’t easy, but here they are 🙂

Feel free to ignore this blog; I won’t be offended … although FYI the rest of the years will follow every Monday over the next four weeks!

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada. Taken 27 November 2013

River Walk, San Antonio, Texas. Picture taken 7 December 2013

Blue Heron, Poche’s Fish-n-Camp Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Picture taken 10 December 2013

Of course there has to be a sunset in the top ten! Poche’s Fish-n-Camp Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Picture taken 10 December 2013

Suwanee River, Suwanee County, Florida. Picture taken 16 December 2013

Bobcat, Homosassa State Park, Homosassa, Florida. Picture taken 17 December 2013

I’m not sure what type of owl this is and when I asked hubby his response was “sleeping”, yup no help at all! So … Sleeping owl, Homosassa State Park, Homosassa, Florida. Picture taken 17 December 2013

Squirrel, Homosassa State Park, Homosassa, Florida. Picture taken 17 December 2013

Waldo the alligator, Homosassa State Park, Homosassa, Florida. Picture taken 17 December 2013

Waldo the alligator, Homosassa State Park, Homosassa, Florida. Picture taken 17 December 2013

If I am still blogging in another ten years, and I hope I am, I will probably do our top ten photo’s of the decade for my own records. If you want to vote on your favorite for 2013, feel free to do so in the comments … it would sure help me out, since we can’t come to an agreement on our favorite.

Until next time …

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Five States in One Day!

Yesterday we traveled through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and into Texas … Wow!

In order to do all those miles we had to fill up twice, once when we entered Louisiana and again when we arrived for the night in Texas.  When we filled up in Texas we got our cheapest diesel yet.  So for us Canadians, with the exchange rate, this works out to $.866 per litre for gasoline and $1.017 per litre for diesel!

After filling up we headed off for dinner at the Black Eye Pea restaurant where we had some southern dishes; fried green tomatoes, Cajun catfish, red beans and rice, and black eye peas, which I thought were really yucky, but the rest of the meal was very good!

Today dawned overcast but warm as we headed out.  Hubby was anxious to get through Houston … if you remember, our trip through Houston on the way out was not fun and he was not looking forward to it.  This time we were taking I-10 right through which we hoped would allow us to avoid toll roads and overpasses.  The overpasses in Houston are actually a work of art and we think it must take some extreme engineering to build them!

I don’t think Houston really wants tourists to visit because in order to exit I-10 you need to pay a toll, however if you are heading straight through you do not need to pay a toll.  On the west side of Houston we did notice this sign …

So there is one road that you can exit on for free … or maybe not!

The exit for Texas 99 😦

In Luling, Texas we filled up the tank for $3.429 per gallon, which works out to $.996 Canadian per litre of diesel!!

We had a long drive today, almost ten hours, but we wanted to get the drive between San Antonio and Fort Stockton done today as the temperature is suppose to drop down to 32F, 0C tomorrow and rain in this area.  This was the section we had the most trouble with when we headed east because of low temperatures, freezing rain, and icy roads and neither one of us wanted to go through that again!  The weather is much better from Fort Stockton west tomorrow so we should have a good drive.

Until next time …

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway & The French Quarter

Yesterday was a busy day, not only did I have to absorb all that history from the bridges we crossed, but then hubby added in another bridge, grocery shopping, and laundry (okay laundry was my idea).

After we did some grocery shopping we watched a movie at the RV Park on the devastation Hurricane Katrina has done to neighborhoods and wetlands around New Orleans … I really feel for what people here have gone through.  In 2003 we lived through a firestorm in our city but the damage, while significant, doesn’t come near to what Hurricane Katrina did to this area!  You can still see evidence of the damage as you drive through the city:-(

After the move we decided to go over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and have dinner at the north end of the bridge in Mandeville.  As I mentioned yesterday this causeway is the longest continuous bridge in the world!  When you take the causeway north you don’t pay a toll, you only pay the toll when you come south, so the round trip cost us $3.00 (without Maxx) which isn’t bad when you consider what fuel would cost if you drove around the lake.  Lake Pontchartrain covers 630 square miles and has an average depth of 12 to 14 feet and the causeway is just shy of 24 miles long!

It was interesting driving around the side streets of Mandeville.  There are some beautiful southern homes along Lakeshore Drive and a few had really nice Christmas lights (more about them in a minute).  We had dinner at Rips on the Lake and the seafood food, and service, was excellent.  The restaurant was decorated for Christmas and they were playing Christmas music, which was great since I have been starving for some acknowledgement of Christmas for the past few weeks.  So back to my comment about Christmas lights … I have noticed as we travel through different cities that very few cities, and houses within the cities, decorate for Christmas in the US and I wondered why.  In Canada most cities and neighbourhoods are decorated in Christmas lights by now.  At dinner tonight I asked our waitress about this and she thought it was probably because most people are working two jobs and either don’t have the time or the finances to do outdoor Christmas decorations:-(

After dinner we headed back over the causeway to our RV Park and spent the rest of the evening doing the laundry that we had been putting off since San Antonio, TX.

Visiting New Orleans has always been on my bucket list so I was excited to visit the French Quarter today and I wasn’t disappointed.  We took the shuttle from our RV Park and arrived in the French Quarter at 1030 hours.  It was pretty quite when we arrived so we had a chance to walk around and get a good look.  After an hour of walking we followed Bourbon Street down to Canal Street where we bought a day pass for the trolleys.

Trolley Car

Riding the trolley’s was a good way to see the city but we decided we needed to hear some of the history of the areas we were travelling through so we bought tickets for the “Hop on, Hop off” tour bus.  The tour took us down to the French Market, up Canal Street, past the Superdome, down Market & St. Charles Street, and through the Garden District.  Once we had our history lesson we decided to hop on a trolley and head down to the French Market for lunch.  We ended up back on Bourbon Street for a late lunch, and then we were off walking through the streets again.  We made a stop at Café du Monde for coffee and beignets (square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar) and then headed over to the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, a beautiful Catholic church built in 1850.  Around 1800 hours the streets started to fill up with people and music and by the time we headed home at 2000 hours the French Quarter was very busy and very entertaining!

Bourbon Street in the morning

Until next time …

Bridge over Swampy Waters!

Today was a short, three-hour, drive from Lafayette, LA to New Orleans, LA.  On our travels along Interstate 10 we went over the Atchafalaya (sure you try and pronounce that!) Basin Bridge which is 18.2 miles long … and no it’s not the longest bridge in the world, it the 14th longest.

The longest bridge in the world goes over Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans and our plan is to drive over that bridge tomorrow (because who could resist that opportunity).  We will go without Maxx since it is a toll bridge and Maxx is expensive on toll bridges/roads:-)

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

View from Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

As we entered Baton Rouge we drove over the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, which crosses over the Mississippi River, I was too busy looking and forgot to get a picture:-)

Closer to New Orleans we drove over the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which is 6 miles long and diverts floodwaters from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain.

View from Bonnet Carre Spillway

We arrived at our RV Park on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and were pleasantly surprised!  We are in a very nice spot overlooking the lake surrounded by tropical plants … and every once in awhile the sun peaks out:-)

 Until next time …

Sunglasses & Hot Stuff!

Funny

Last night it stopped raining but we had 30 mile an hour winds! We were sitting in bed this morning with a cup of coffee checking out RV Parks in Florida when our daughter sent us this picture:-)

Good on Florida, keep it up … we will arrive on Sunday and I can’t wait to get back into my shorts!

After breakfast we headed out to find a laundromat but after looking at a few we gave up and decided that was a job for New Orleans … so now what to do?  Well surely no visit to Louisiana would be complete without a visit to Avery Island and the Tabasco Factory, so off we went … and hence the “Hot Stuff” part of my title.  Visitors pay $1.00 per vehicle to enter Avery Island, the entrance fee supports conservation and security on the island.

View as you enter Avery Island

The Tabasco grounds are very attractive and a visit to the general store gives you the opportunity to sample all the Tabasco products, even Tabasco ice cream and Tabasco coke!  The ice cream was pretty good but hubby said he didn’t see much difference between regular coke and Tabasco coke … but by then he had tried every Tabasco sauce they had so I’m sure he had no taste buds left:-)

Interesting tree, look at the growth on the limbs … it is very pretty!

Gift Shop

Then it was off to the factory for the tour.

The tour itself consists of a brief introduction by a tour guide followed by a video, and ending with a walk by the bottling factory.  They were bottling when we went through but only on the far production line and we couldn’t see that from the observation window.  Not a great tour but then again we only paid .50 cents each to enter the island, and we walked away with four sample bottles each of various Tabasco sauces so all in all it was a good deal:-)

After some grocery shopping we headed back to the RV Park and spent some time walking around watching the birds and taking pictures.

I’m pretty sure this is a Blue Heron

RV park scenery

We had a great spot!

Here is some interesting Louisiana trivia for you; many houses have roofs that are taller than the actual house itself, I found out this is to help withstand hurricanes.  Other homes are built up on cement blocks to protect them from flooding.

House on blocks for flood protection

I never did see a house that had a tall roof and was up on cement blocks so I guess you have to pick which disaster you are going to try and save yourself from!

The day ended with a gorgeous sunset … I hope you enjoy!

Louisiana Sunset

Until next time …

Adios Texas, Here Comes Louisiana!

We didn’t do much in Houston yesterday; it is just too big and to stressful to drive in.  As I mentioned the population of Houston is 2.1 million and the population of Vancouver, British Columbia is 2.3 million but the difference in the roads is amazing.  According to Wikipedia, Houston’s freeway system includes 575.5 miles of freeways and expressways that are heavily traveled and often under construction to meet the demands of continuing growth … and we certainly witnessed this!  One thing that amazed us was driving over on and off ramps where we were often 90 to 100 feet up in the air with many ramps winding below us.  I tried to get a picture but they didn’t turn out.  Vancouver on the other hand has one freeway entering it, but that’s it.  I definitely find it much easier to get around Vancouver than Houston.

Before we left Houston we manage to get our Christmas reservation completed.  We will be spending December 20 to December 27th at an RV Resort in the Florida Keys, now we will pray for good weather!

On that upbeat note we left Houston and headed to Lafayette, Louisiana.  On our way out of town we drove through Kingwood, which was very lush, green, and pretty.  We also drove over a long bridge crossing a river that was full of white egrets … I later found out they are called Great Egrets.  Further on we drove through farmland and terrain very similar to British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

We had lunch at a rest stop just after we crossed into Louisiana; it was the nicest rest stop we have seen so far.  If it had been sunny and warm we would have spent some time walking around.

We arrived at our RV Park just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana and were impressed … it is a really nice park and only $18.00 a night with our Passport America discount.  Once we were set up in our site I had to take some pictures to show you.  I’m glad we decided to stay here for two days:-)

Awesome view from inside Maxx!

Great Egret … and he even posed for this picture:-)

Every time I looked out the window I could see a Great Egret either flying or walking by.

 

Until next time …