4 states in a week! Considering we covered 4 states from Oct - Jan, that's movin for us.
We stayed in the quiet state park of Grand Isle in Louisiana through the weekend. The time there included school, fishing, school, fishing, and bike riding with free laundry thrown in.
Eventually we caught enough redfish to make a baked parmesan, lemon redfish.
Almost every building on the island is on stilts. Even the church.
On the last day, we heard the fish were hitting on a nearby pier. The no-see-ums were terrible and almost drove us off. But we endured and landed a few of the largest Gaftopsail catfish we've ever seen. There was also a 45 1/2" redfish landed just before we arrived. It was a diverse and interesting group gathered on the pier but all where helpful and appreciated when we were willing to give them our fish (those cats are SLIMY!)
OK, we try to document the entire experience of our journey. Almost all is good but there are a few down moments. Here is one....
Both Mommy and Daddy awoke with queasy stomachs Monday morning. Before Mommy could rise from bed to help pack the RV she was knocked down by a Louisiana flu which she later described as "worse than child birth". Daddy wasn't too far behind but was determined to get us to our next reserved spot in NOLA. We'd like to say he's tough, but we know his major motivation was the negative reinforcement around the idea of cleaning the inside of a 6' x 4' RV windshield!
[Insert 24 hours of mommy and daddy curled up in the fetal position while kids had a free for all in the RV].
Mardi Gras had started and we were extremely lucky to snag a spot at Bayou Segnette State Park which is only 10 miles from the French Quarter. The park was beautiful and quiet.
RVs throughout the park were decorated for the celebration
Tuesday we cooked a Louisiana Sausage and Chicken Gumbo. The great thing about Gumbo in an RV is that most of it can be cooked in one dutch oven (less to wash). There are many, many variations of this great dish. Here was ours:
Start by cooking a roux (oil and flour until browned, but DON'T burn)
Add chicken broth to create your base. Set aside.
Cook your chicken and then sausage. Set aside.
Then cook up your veggies, deglaze your pan with a little chicken stock, then add back in your meat and pour your base over.
Cook at 215 F for 7 hours (this can be done in a Crockpot on low). Take out your chicken, shred and add back before serving over rice with green onions.
While our Gumbo was slow cooking we took a trip into New Orleans where we started at the French Market
Took a trolly around town ($3 for a daily unlimited pass)
Had powdered sugar...eh, beignets at Cafe Du Monde
And walked through Jackson Square park.
That night, our severe weather alert went off. Welcome to Louisiana! This had also happened in Grand Isle, but this time we were parked in what is flood area, surrounded by flooded ponds that were already within 20 feet of either side of our RV (can't see them in the picture above). The rain came hard that night and we were up monitoring the situation, but we didn't float away.
The next day after school we headed back into New Orleans to visit the Louisiana State Museum in Jackson Square. There is an excellent exhibit called "Living with Hurricanes. Katrina and beyond" and a second one called simply "Mardi Gras".
Afterwards we headed towards the Uptown area. There were two parades taking place that evening. We had been told by a number of people NOT to take our children to the parades that are at night and we had planned to forgo those events. But upon arriving in uptown, we noticed many families setting out chairs, claiming their places for the evening. We parked and met a local family who explained more about the parade - we were suddenly parade bound!
The parades we saw were very much kid appropriate and the crowd was fun loving and of all ages. We were awed by the event. We can't image the mistake it would have been to miss it. That said, the amount of parade "throws" that you can accumulate in 2 hours is mind blowing and more dangerous than 2am on Bourbon street, when you live in an RV!
These guys were the most questionable characters in the parade and they were harmless and hilarious.
To give you an idea of the magnitude, we stayed around a bit to watch the clean-up. They come down the street with FRONT END LOADERS! It's like snow plowing in Minnesota but with beads!
Here is a picture of the jeep the next day - and this is with about 1/2 of the "stuff" taken out already!!!
The next day we drove from New Orleans to Mobile, AL. Along the way, we passed through Mississippi and saw our first white sand beaches. We can smell warm weather coming!
Then into Alabama
We shamelessly modeled our Mardi Gras goods once parked. Likely generating giggles from our fellow campers
The next day we went on a field trip to the USS Alabama. It's was impressive with it's 9, 16" guns.
With his beard and camo hat, Daddy thought he looked 1/20th as tough as his Navy Seal heros. Mommy thinks he looks homeless and would appear more natural with a "Need Work" sign than the 20 mm machine gun;)
We think we may adopt the Lucky Bag policy for the RV
There are numerous planes, boats and exhibits at the USS Alabama park (which btw is NOT state funded)
But the highlight was spending 15 minutes speaking with decorated Col. Glenn Frazier, a WWII POW and the author of the book, Hell's Guest. He talked to the kids about what had happened to him and they kept asking him "who are you talking about?" and he'd say "that was me, see me in this picture". It was hard for them to understand that the suffering and events that had earned him 5 purple stars were real and had happened to the man in front of them. We had many "why" questions on the drive home.
The next day was the girls 7th birthday!!! On birthdays, the kids get to pick their breakfast, lunch and dinner menu.
We started with Mommy's dutch baby!
We went into Mobile for another Mardi Gras Parade. Before the parade started, we visited the grave of Joe Cain. Joe is a local hero who is credited with re-invigorating the Mardi Gras tradition in Mobile after the low period that followed the civil war.
The floats of this parade were arguably better than those in New Orleans, but the parade length and intensity was less.
While there, we met a family who said we "MUST" come back that evening for the night parade. Each parade (and they are held daily during carnival season) is hosted by a specific Krewe and this Krewe was known for their dragon floats....So after Bday dinner of Homemade Deluxe Mac & Cheese...we headed back for a 4th Mardi Gras parade. Yes, we might have a parade addiction at this point.
While leaving our parking spot that night, Melissa's said "stop I know those people!" The Tweddell's are from Henderson, KY and were visiting their son. We happened to park in front of the house next door!
That night we celebrated our two princesses great day! JAK even opened up the beauty salon.
We'd had our Mardi Gras parade fill and it was time to move on. JAK's birthday is next week and the 3 of them all asked for a Wii as a combined gift. The RV now has a Wii mini. They finished school in record time and we headed down along the coast into Florida while they played Wii.
We have been told the Florida state parks are among the best in the country. Our first, Big Lagoon State Park lived up to the reputation.
One of the things about Big Country that we don't use often are the TVs. They have been great for the Olympics and family movie nights, but most of the time take up valuable space. Tonight however, the Oscars were on, the weather was perfect, and Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a peaceful outdoor living room while the kids played Wii!! Electronics overload.
Time to move again. The next day we headed to our second state park - Florida Caverns near Marianna, FL. We arrived at 3:30pm, just in time to rush to the last Cavern tour of the day at 4pm. We saw a bat and hugged the "touchable" column.
At one point, one of the state park workers accidentally shut off the lights in the cavern.
One last note, if you are looking for a unique coffee from the south, Community Coffee is a staple and has quickly become a favorite in our $20 Aero Press!
God bless to all!