Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 12, 2016 - Sulphur, LA to Montgomery, TX

Very cloudy morning.  Thank goodness it did not rain and that made it easier to get our Lil’ Home (LH) ready for road trip.  

After breakfast we left Hidden Ponds RV Park at 9:45 am.  Back on I-10 W to Beaumont, TX which took little more than an hour drive.

The weather started to get better, still lots of clouds, but we can see the blue sky, which is good. Not much traffic going on I-10 W.

We got to TX state line at 10:15 am, pulled into Texas Welcome Center to pick up brochures and maps. 

We took several selfies with TX state sign and Lone Star sculpture.  Judy, the rep, was very helpful, gave us many tips on places to visit that are more geared to our interests.  We left the center with a bag filled with brochures and maps.  There is a nice boardwalk to see the forested wetland. There are alligators and Great White Egret, named Henrietta (Judy mentioned that it has been frequenting the area for several years).  There were two bull frogs and one western cottonmouth snake in the water. We spent a good 30 minute strolling along the boardwalk. 

Goofing around!
We made it to TX!

Edith's bite was worse than the turtle's!


Texas Welcome Center
We got back on I-10 W from the Welcome Center and were on way to Beaumont, TX. Grey clouds started to build up.  Rained hard but by the time we reached Vidor, TX there was a sky break.

I-10 W Bridge Construction
There were few road constructions in Beaumont, TX. We arrived Super Walmart on Dowlen Road because it allows overnight stay at the parking area.  Before we unhooked the Jeep we wanted to go inside Walmart to check something out.  While walking by the salon there were two ladies outfitted in black aprons standing at the entrance.  Erwin asked Edith if she would like to get an haircut while here.  She pondered for a while, then asked how much it is for just haircut. $15.. Ok, fine... Brittany was assigned to cut her hair. She worked very fast and did a great job. Edith was pleased with how her hair turned out.  Leaving the store she did not feel like a sheepdog that had to peer through when the hair is long.

Before haircut
She looked tired?

Edith had a list of places to visit while staying in Beaumont.  We would need the Jeep to get around, so we unhooked it from the LH.  Edith pulled it back from the LH, steered it to go around, but noticed that something was not right.  It was rocking improperly.  Erwin checked it out and then decided that we should not drive it.  
We contacted our friends, Patty and Paul, about the Jeep's situation. Since Beaumont is less than 2 hours from where they live we decided to go to Conroe, TX, get a campsite at KOA.

We arrived Conroe KOA at 4:25 pm, got site #89. The campground is huge, has a large playground, indoor pool, entertainment hall.  We are staying here for 3 nights.  Since all automotive shops are closed on Sundays we had to wait until Monday to call and see if one of them can take our Jeep in for service.

Edith went out to take pictures of the setting sun, and about 15 minutes later Patty and Paul came over to meet us, took a tour of our LH. Then we went with them to their house, about a mile and half away.  

We spent the night chatting and catching up on news.  Not exactly a great day, but nothing too serious to ruin it.  Let's hope that there is nothing major wrong with the Jeep and that it can be repaired without costing us an arm and a leg.  We shall see!

March 11, 2016 - Sulphur, Cameron, Holly Beach & Hackberry, LA

A gloomy day!  Edith’s cousin, Dori, texted and told us to come visit her and her husband Paul after 9:30 am.  

Visited Dori and Paul and their three cute dogs.  Dori and Edith are first cousin (Dori’s momma and Edith’s daddy are brother and sister).   We helped unloaded Edith’s momma’s stuff from our Jeep and into their garage.  Dori told Edith that she would love to have them because she grew up remembering the dinners held at Edith’s parents’ house.  Edith did not want to keep them, would rather give them to someone who will cherish them, and Dori will.

We followed Dori and Paul to an Italian restaurant, Joe’s Pizza, in Sulphur, LA (exit #20 from I-10).  Their rolls are to die for, so soft and tasty.  Erwin got chicken Parmesan and Edith had eggplant Parmesan (on the menu eggplanD was spelt that way). The foods were delicious. Edith could not finish hers and had it boxed to go.  

The rolls were more delicious than our meals!
Dori and Paul wanted to see our home on wheels, so they followed us to the campground. 

Dori and Paul
After Dori and Paul left we checked the map to see how far it is from here to Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Pintail Wildlife Drive and Boardwalk is part of the refuge.   It is a 3 mile driving loop through moist soil wetlands that are managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  

We visited the refuge two years ago and saw lots of wildlife and enjoyed the auto loop. We wanted to drive around the loop again.  This time there were a lot less to see but we saw at least 30 alligators, few shorebirds, stilts, one spoonbill and lots or red-winged blackbirds. But, we still enjoyed the drive and Edith took lots of pictures.  The best time to view waterfowl populations for viewing and photography opportunities is in the fall and winter.

Roseate Spoonbill among ducks

Unlikely Friends??

We wanted to check out another wildlife refuge: Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.  We went south on LA 27, then got on the ferry at Cameron, LA to get to the other side.  We did not wait very long before they called us to get on the ferry. As soon as we got in the ferry left the dock immediately. It operates 24 hours daily crossing the deepwater Calctsieu River/Ship Channel. It can transport up to 50 vehicles at a time. $1 fee

After getting off the ferry we hurriedly tried to get to Sabine National Wildlife Refuge before the sun went down.  We were lucky to find a pullout area and Edith immediately got out of the Jeep, ran down to the end of the dock to capture stunning shots.

On the ferry 

The drive back home was somewhat tiring and we started to get hungry again.  Edith did not feel like cooking because it was already past 6:30 pm.  We decided to go to Sulphur, LA to look for something to eat. We spotted a likely place, "Casa Ole" a Mexican restaurant, went in and got seated after a short wait. The food was OK, but the silverware was horrible, DIRTY!  We asked for another set, dirty also, got a third set, dirty as well, We complained to the manager that they needed to train the dishwasher to do a better job, She replied that we soak them in a tub with special dishwasher soap and rinse them off. Erwin told her that they needed to wash them individually with better soap! We will never eat at "Casa Ole" again!! We did not realize until later that Casa Ole is part of a restaurant chain.

We had an enjoyable day visiting with Dori and Paul and a ride to the refuges.  On top of that, the day was great and pleasant.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 10, 2016 - New Iberia, LA to Sulphur, LA

It was still very windy when we were up at 7 am.  It must have rained all night long.  It was very cloudy and the clouds were moving too fast.

We were nestled between one 18 wheeler semi and 20’ Roadtrek camper van. There is plenty of room for few more RVs. Not much noise here except for the rain pounding on the roof. 

Edith decided to check for forecasts on cities/towns west of New Iberia, LA after she saw weather alerts while reading USAToday e-newspapers.  The destination for tomorrow is Lake Charles, LA and there was a warning of coastal flooding there. We were skeptical about continuing our journey to Lake Charles this afternoon.  We checked weather channel app on IPhone and the weather doppler showed a large swath of heavy rain continuing to move between New Iberia and Lake Charles. Because of this we felt it best to stay put and wait until after the storm.

We were planning on visiting Konriko Rice and other attractions in New Iberia and Abbeville, but they are put on hold until another time because of the weather.

Numerous lightning strikes and thunders.  Finally there was a sky break in the distance around 12:45 pm. We waited until 1 pm before we left Walmart to hit the road to Lake Charles, LA.

Instead of staying on US 90 we elected to get on I-10 W because we felt it might be safer with the ongoing rainstorm. Wow, bad road condition to I-10 connector. The side roads (feeders) looked to be smoother. We should have stayed on the feeder :-(

We chose not to visit Lafayette this time because of the weather and time constraint. We needed to be in Lake Charles by tomorrow.  Got on I-10 W at 1:40 pm and the road condition was finally better.  The sky was still very grey, but it was not raining at all.

We had to get off I-10W due to traffic jam that went on for more than a mile. We detoured to US 90, went for several miles before getting back to I-10 at the next exit and there was clear sailing.

We arrived Lake Charles at 3:15 pm. The weather was sunny, but there were still plenty of clouds although not as grey. Lots of oil refineries along the interstate. 

Approaching Lake Charles, LA
We took Exit #21 to get on LA 27 to check into Hidden Ponds RV Park in Sulphur, LA for overnight camping. There were not many vacant sites left at Hidden Ponds RV Park and there was one site #53 for $26 a night (after Good Sam discount).  The concrete pad was in poor shape, but good enough to park the LH on.  After setting up the LH Erwin mentioned that the 50 amps was not set properly, so we went to the office to let the manager know.  Soon after two electricians showed up bringing a new circuit breaker.  It did not work the first time after replacing it and they needed to reverse the wirings.  Viola! It worked...

Mr and Mrs AFLAC
After the repair was done we left in the Jeep to go to Kroger Grocery store to get few items.  With the size of our refrigerator and what we consume we tend to shop for foods every 4-5 days.

Kroger is across I-10 from the campground.  A very nice and huge store.  Lots of produce and meats.  There were lots of Wasbai and Cajun stuff that we don’t normally see in Florida grocery stores.  After leaving Kroger with two bags we continued trekking to see what else is out there.  There is a Walmart and a Raising Cane’s by the interestate.

The sky after nightfall was eerie.  The colors reminded us like wildfire in the sky.  That is from oil refineries nearby.  The sky will never be dark unless the refineries are shut down and not in operation.  Impossible to get pictures of the Milky Way here!

A restful night was interrupted with two mysterious starts by the generator!  Each occurrence rocked the LH and it really scared us.  We just could not figure out how and why the generator started without us pushing a button.  We were afraid that it might start up again during our sleep, so Erwin manually shut down the generator. Whew! Erwin checked the electricity box and found no abnormalities that he could see.