Catching up! 4.27.19

Thinking back…. We left the white sands of Fort Pickens and camped at Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs Mississippi where we had our fill of the best and cheepest crawfish. We paid something like $3.95 per pound and further along we saw it for more than $8.95 per pound. The campground where we stayed was very nice and the town of Ocean Springs a hidden gem. It was cute, clean, and enjoyable. . Just remember we only stayed there one night!

From Davis Bayou we drove to New Orleans. It was as we expected, crowded and interesting because there are few places like it. Many “joints” of all kinds filled the streets and the air. There are literally hundreds of places to eat, listen to musicians, and see colorful people. Despite the craziness, it is one place we should all see once, this was our second visit so only the requisite drive through was necessary.

By evening we made it to Lafayette. The KOA on a lake was our home for two nights. It was nice, just a bit noisey as it was located next to US Highway 10, the main east west corridor. Before we pulled in to our campsite we stopped at Don’s Specialty Meats where “the Boudins and Cracklins are the best.” Do you know what Boudin and Cracklins are? I didn’t! They are food of course, a Cajun speciality. It is basically a peculiar class of sausage. It comes in many varieties and there seems to be a competition happening along the highway to try to convince travelers who is the best sausage maker; who’s Boudin Balls, is the better of the best. Oh ya, cracklin’s are basically chopped pork meat left on the skin of a pig. They are deep fried with a tasty, spice batter. You can see how easy it would be for one maker to say, “Stop here, our Cajun Boudin and Cracklins are the Best!” The truth be told, one is not so much better than the other, I suppose they are just different. By the way both Boudin and Cracklin’s are very good. We also picked up some stuffed chicken (stuffed with crabmeat) at the recomendation of a local fellow I met in the parking lot taking pictures of our van, the van sent from God! It surely has introduced an abundance of opportunities to meet people and find gems along the road.

Another interesting tidbit that we learned in Lafayette was that people actually live at these “campgrounds,” for years. One lady two sites away from ours has lived on that lake, in the KOA, for 27 years, yep, 27 years! I guess she retired, bought a huge travel trailer pulled in the KOA and has been there ever since. Another family there retired young, but one of their family members got sick so after selling their house and buying a 33 fot Airstream they needed to return home to help out. He now works 3 days a week at the KOA which pays his site fee, and he lives on a lake! Just so you know, he said the monthly fee for staying there is under $400/mo. But he does pay for electricity. (No taxes, gets free water, sewage, garbage, laundry facilities, a swimming pool and the camp store sells ice cream sandwiches for .75 cents! Such a deal!) Think about that! Even the poorest of slobs can buy a big, used, camper and with only social security (and an EBT card if they are really poor) and live a quite comfortable retirement. Sure it’s not on the mansioned lined lake of their dreams or not on that twenty acres of heavenly ranch land, but it’s certainly an option for many, and we are meeting all kinds of people doing this. If you see a couple in their early sixties with a brand new turbo diesel Silverado dually and pulling a brand new Winnebago camper, they might have just sold their house and are searching for 70 degrees and sunny!

After Lafayette we took as many back roads as possible to Galveston, finally crossing over by ferry from the “High Island” into Galveston. The drive was long but nice.

We are learning that bird watching is a favorite hobby of retirees. We are not quite there yet, but I think they enjoy it very much and the “community” is large. As they travel about they plan meetups and long stays with each other enjoying their days and nights together.

Galveston was interesting because the streets are so wide and historic. Downtown was struggling a bit and the retail stores like everywhere were pitiful. The shops were full of trinkets and tee shirts, nothing anyone surely needs. The food scene from what we could tell was interesting, and a few higly recommended places we found in the most unusual locations. You’ll have to find them out for yourself, that’s part of the fun right?

The beachs on Galveston are just “ok.” East Beach had free parking and was almost uninhabited, we liked that! And it was also dog friendly! I said, “just ok” because the sand is brown, and at this time, there seemed to be a fair amount of garbage remnants mixed into the sand: Kinda yucky!

The campground we stayed at, Galveston Island State Park, was very nice and only $26. We stayed on the bay side which was marshy and had beautiful sunsets. We also visited the lower section of the island where we could drive out on to the beach. I liked that a lot, the van liked it too.

We left Galveston after two nights soggy and happy. Soggy because each morning the moisture in the air soaked us. Everything felt wet all the time (One vote for air conditioning). Happy because we were moving again and seeing new things.

It did not take long to get deep into east Texas. We did our best to avoid Houston, not because we know what’s there, I guess we just wanted to avoid traffic. “Turn left, turn right, into one small town then the next we went. The landscapes were green and lush.

An hour and an half or so into our drive to San Antonio I spotted a run down shack with faint signage that said breakfast, lunch and dinner. I passed it by but something said, “turn around.” I hit the brakes, flipped a U’ey” and pulled into a wonderfully unique dive. We like dives.

We entered cautiously! Cautiously because the place was very run down and there was brown paper covering the glass door. All was good once we opened the door. Inside there were two cowboy’s eating, a waitress, and a black man cooking. We nodded to the gentlemen and the waitress asked if we were going to eat. That was not a strange question although it apeated so at the time. I quickly figured out this place was not frequented by travelers. It was the local’s restaurant and surviving by a shoestring. Still, on the walls were photos of fallen soldiers from past wars, a picture of John Wayne and a sketch of Humphrey Bogart and several photos of older regulars sitting at the main table in the middle of the very same restaurant years earlier. Elsewhere within there were other sorts of needed supplies and a cooler of drinks. The ceilings were low and the place had not seen paint since the early 1960’s.

The men proceeded with their conversation and the waitress was well known and fully engaged.

We ordered and ate our food as we listened to their conversation. There were only a few tables, mayber enough for 15 customers. The men were conservatives for sure. Their conversation included disparaging statements of democrat leaders critisms of “idiotic news personalities,” and music to my ears. These were unashamed and ordinarily sane men, men who seemed born in another era. They were totally unsympathetic critics of the current Democrat leadership in congress, and the totally biased liberal media.

After a few minutes another regular entered the building, joined the two others and the fun of listening to these old guys was hilarious; they paid no attention to us, we apparently didn’t matter, it was their space. Finally, I chimed in, encouraging them, and we had a few good laughs.

We all left at the same time and they had fun seeing and taking pictures of our van. They wished us safe travels and one asked if there were more people like us in Montana! We replied, “Not many, sadly we are being invaded by the left coast.” They felt sympathetic, and said the same was happening in San Antonio and Austin. With big grins we all departed.

We eat at all sorts of eating establishments. Most have a young, secular, vibe. You know, the healthy, uniquely fun and “different” food presentations. The gastronomic creations at this place were uniquely old fashioned, in their own way refreshing!

We then drove on and visited my brother in San Antonio and had a very nice time. The Alamo was beautiful and interesting. So was the Riverwalk.

From Antonio we headed to see some friends west of Austin. They had guests staying with them but invited us anyway, “The more the merrier,” they said. We arrived just before dinner and unbeknownst to us our friends had planned a fantastic jambalaya dinner with fresh conversation. Steve, a British chap and his wife Donna are super fun. They too are retired, love to camp and travel. We saw them a few years back in Montana at their campsite near Glacier Park. (Steve, I love your regular guy aptitude, you’re an inspiration, and Donna you’re fun to be around, thank you for having us and please come visit us again!)

Finally, we’re in Waco. We are camping at Lake Waco. Earlier in the day we joined hoards of people to visit Magnolia Market Silos area downtown. It’s all part of the empire the TV couple have made for themselves.

Honestly, I never go to these places. We avoid them like the plague. But this time it was a pleasure to support them by visiting. Almost immediately it was strongly impressed on us that the quality and faith of the people visiting Magnolia was different. It felt like we were at church with likeminded friends. The feeling was was sort of strange. We confirmed our suspicions on our way out when we met another couple gawking at our van (see it’s a conversation magnet). We all agreed the reason we came was to share in the joy Chip and Joanna have given to their fans. And it is especially true and apparent that their faith is formost in all they do. They believe in doing things well and they glorify God in how they live. They are not showboats. They live in a 1,700 sq foot house. And the contribution they have made in jobs and the development of Waco is large and obvious. The kids and the people working at Magnolia likewise had an unusual joy. I know where it comes from, the world may not see it, but for those of us who know the disposition of true faith, we understand. I highly recommend a visit. It’s a superior, well run operation. The quality of the products are excellent and reasonsble; and the management is outstanding. Nothing is like it!

So, that’s it. Your up to date. Today we are going to try and eat at Magnolia Table, then head to Brownwood Texas to see more friends. More eating, more laughing, and fishing!