We finally got away from Red Bay on November 15 and headed for Memphis. Before we left, because of the fridge leak, we had to go buy a huge styrofoam cooler and put all the freezer stuff in it. We had the fridge off during the drive and it seemed to stop leaking.
Julie and Roger from behind us in Red Bay are two sites down from us now in Memphis. At their suggestion we all went to Marlowe's for BBQ dinner. The ribs were excellent and our waiter was a little hyper! They sent a pink limo to the campground for a free ride there and back (except for driver tips). The dark clouds had been building all day and it rained a bit but none of the big rain they had been promising, until the middle of the night. When we woke up in the morning there had been a leak on the floor. We had the heat up and the dehumidifier on all day to dry it out. Larry will re-silicone around part of the bottom of the slide to try to fix it.
We were too early for Graceland so we drove downtown to Beale Street to see where all the action happens. The parts of Memphis we drove through seem a little sketchy, lots of empty businesses and people hanging about. Then we went over to the Graceland Ticket Office. $10 to park, $62 entry fee. A shuttle takes you across the street to the mansion for an audio tour. Pretty amazing place. All the Christmas decorations were up because it is light-up on Friday. You are able to go through all the rooms of the house on the main floor as well as down to the TV room in the basement. The upstairs is closed to the public, out of respect for Elvis. Elvis, his mother, father and grandmother are buried in a special garden area at the mansion. Elvis' twin brother who died at birth is buried in Tupelo MS but there is special marker here as well. There are a few different parts to the exhibits on the ticket office side of the street from the mansion and at the end of each is a gift shop.
Thursday, the 17th, we were on the road by 8 am to New Orleans. It was a much better drive than it had been in January! A beautiful sunny day. We are staying at Pontchartrain Landing RV Park in East New Orleans. We stayed here in January too. A lot of work has been done beautifying the park and they have created quite a nice little marina with water and electric. They also have a couple of cottages now and there are lots of palm trees and fresh gravel. We were watching TV in the evening and Larry happened to glance out the front window from his seat. There was a cat sitting on the top of the Jeep looking in the window!
Friday we went into the French Quarter for a while, checking out the French Market. We then went out to Metairie to Rotolo's Pizza for lunch. We then decided, since we were so close, to drive over Lake Pontchartrain on the Causeway. One side of the bridge opened in 1956. It cost $30.7 million to build. The second two lanes were opened in 1969 at a cost of $26 million. At 23.83 miles (38.35 km) it is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world (according to Guiness). It consists of 9500 pilings and the average depth of the lake (which is really an estuary) is 12 to 14 feet. It is the second largest inland saltwater body in the US (after Great Salt Lake, Utah). It is a toll bridge but only southbound into the city. We found a guy at the side of the road who was selling shrimp. We bought 2.5 pounds for $11. We then continued on our loop south and around back to the RV Park.
Saturday we went into the French Quarter, parked and did a bit of a walk on Bourbon Street. We ended up at Cafe du Monde for beignets. Yummy! Sunday we went up to the bar at the park for Hunt Brothers pizza for dinner. Excellent!
Monday we went on to Lake Charles, LA to Twelve Oaks RV Park. The park looks a little rough but it got good reviews and the people are very nice. They've only owned it for eight months and have done a lot of work. Even though there were quite a few mosquitoes out, Larry was able to BBQ dinner.
Tuesday the day started out very warm and humid. Even though we had been through one very heavy shower, we decided to drive part of the Creole Nature Trail. It goes west and then south from Lake Charles and looped around back to the RV Park. We saw lots of white herons, hawks and other birds. Along the first half of the loop we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway - starts in Brownsville TX and ends in New York City! We stopped at Holly Beach to eat our picnic lunch. There are 26 miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. This was a small part of that beach. You can see that there has been a lot of hurricane damage over the years here. We unexpectedly came to the Cameron Ferry - about a five minute run across the Port of Cameron Shipping Channel. After the ferry, you come to Cameron - a lot of hurricane damage here - apparently from Hurricane Ike in 2008. There are a lot of foundations left but with just a trailer parked where the house should be. We assume this is in case the trailer gets destroyed in the future, it's easy enough to replace. Cameron is one of the leading seafood and oil ports in the US. On the whole loop, the sky would get really black, then pour, then it would clear up a bit and sometimes the sun would come out.
Wednesday was driving day. Not too long of a jaunt. We dropped the coach at Wal-Mart in Kemah, TX and checked out several RV parks in the area, all the way down to Jamaica Beach past Galveston. None were better than the first one we looked at so we moved the coach to Marina Bay RV Park in Kemah. It's in a beautiful area with waterways and lakes (Clear Lakes), seafood stores and within walking distance from Target and Wal-Mart. It's clean (all cement pads and grass)! It's dry (at least so far)! No bugs (at least until the fire ants come out after it rains next)! For Thanksgiving on Thursday, the park provided a turkey, a ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied sweet potatoes, green beans and corn. There were supposed to be 25-30 people there but there were only 11 of us. Add another big dish of mashed potatoes and green beans. We brought a veggie tray. There was also an amazing peach cobbler and an apple pie. We certainly weren't short of food!
Black Friday was a non-event. We went to Costco, Target and Best Buy but didn't find much we needed and no crowds except that Larry bought a Hitachi Impact Driver that he has been eyeing for some time. We pretty much relaxed most of the rest of our stay in Kemah. The Grey Cup game was fantastic, we watched it in our coach via satellite, with appies. There are lots of birds in this area - ibis, egret, doves, grackles, pelicans - to mention a few. There are lots of oak trees and oil wells. We had a couple of very rainy days and some big wind but other than that it was sunny, up to 80 degrees, with a nice breeze from the Gulf. Maureen got the Christmas cards ready and mailed them, including pictures of us and the boys, which they sent to us via internet.
Tuesday the 29th there was pizza and wine provided by the park. It was a short event with only about 10 people. Wednesday we drove toward Houston on Hwy 146 looking for a special wire basket. No luck with that but we did come across the Battleship Texas which in 1948 became the first battleship memorial museum in the US. Nearby is the San Jacinto Monument which was built 100 years after the battle it honours. At 570 feet it stands in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest monument column in the world. It towers over the prairie where, in 1836, General Sam Houston and his army battled to "Remember the Alamo!," bringing an end to the revolution against Mexico's rule. Unlike the Washington Monument in DC, the reflecting pool was filled and very beautiful!
On the way back to the park we stopped at one of the fish markets in Seabrook. You would not believe the number of varieties of fresh and there were at least 8 types/sizes of shrimp from tiny to jumbo. We bought a bunch to freeze. There are currently five fish markets in this small area - four of them had been totally wiped out by Hurricane Ike, as well as a number of the houses in the area. They have rebuilt some very nice ones on stilts.
Thursday we moved on to Austin.