Back to our tiny house

We took one last stroll on the beach at Galveston Island State Park, then headed south.

Again, we drove by thousands of beach houses raised high on stilts. If I lived in one, I would be worried about a storm all of the time.

It has really been raining here. Many roads are flooded. We couldn’t find any dry place to turn into for lunch, so stopped in this parking lot. The rain must have caused this sink hole…..

Our plan was to stop in Rockport, along the Gulf of Mexico and chill there for a few days, eating crab and shrimp, and hanging out at beach bars. However, when we arrived, it was raining so hard that we couldn’t see more than about a foot in front of us. We checked the weather forecast, and this same deluge was predicted for the next day or two. So, we thought we would just drive a bit south, until we ran out of the rain. When we finally did, we realized that we were only two hours from our tiny house in Mission, so we drove on home.

Our house seems to be in order. We have a lot of unpacking to do. Since we travel so much, I do not have 2 sets of everything – one for the Airstream and one for the tiny house. Instead, I keep things in bins in both places, and do not duplicate. Still, I need to give everything a good cleaning before I put things away in the house. That will keep me busy for awhile.

Although we are not traveling right now, I will continue to write the blog. We do have some adventures coming up…

– November – Daughter Alexis and her friend are coming down to visit us. We’ll take them to South Padre Island for a few days

– December – Two weeks of housesitting over Christmas in the hills outside of Asheville, North Carolina to include a visit with our daughter Meredith

– January – Some friends from Minnesota are coming down to visit us. Another trip to South Padre Island will probably be part of the plan

– Feb/March/April -hope to do both international as well as local (Texas) housesits

– May – Start our summer road trip with a one-week Airstream “Aluminumpalozza” rally at the Airstream factory in Ohio, followed by 5-6 months traveling around the US and Canada, hopefully reuniting with friends along the way

We are hoping that more people will come visit us. Contact me at reidkarm@gmail.com if you’d like a respite from the cold winter weather this winter!

DINNER: Arriving a bit late, I did a quick lentil and vegetable curry over rice.

The Texas Gulf

CAMPGROUND: Galveston Island State Park. Right on the Gulf of Mexico. Electricity and water at sites. Picnic tables and grills. So-so bathrooms. $31/night. 4 stars out of 5.

LOCATION: Galveston, Texas -next to Houston

WEATHER: Cloudy and windy. High 70

The state park campground in SW Louisiana where we spent last night also has free laundry services, so I used the dryer to dry up some of our damp towels this morning ……with so much rain lately, everything feels damp. This is a great service!

We drove on Interstate 10 west through the rest of Louisiana, into Texas with oil refineries everywhere. Not very scenic. We had a telephone interview along the way with a homeowner through Trusted Housesitters. They accepted us, so we will be spending two weeks around Christmas in Asheville, North Carolina, where our daughter lives, and not too far from George’s family. We are excited about the opportunity!

Soon, we were able to get off I-10, and took the road south to the Gulf. We saw a sign called “Redneck Riviera RV Park” and the area certainly seems redneck. Not very developed. We were amazed, though, to see thousands of houses, built high on spindly stilts. They look like they could be wiped out so easily with a windstorm.

At the end of the road, we took a free ferry across the Gulf to Galveston. Here is the route…

During the 15-minute crossing, we watched dolphins frolick in front of us.

We drove along the “Galveston Seawall” – the touristy strip along the beach with endless restaurants, bars, and surf shops. We arrived at our campground mid-afternoon. We were lucky to get a site on the beach, without reservations. After getting hooked up with electricity and water, we strolled on the beach. The “welcome” signs weren’t very welcoming! We had the long stretch of beach to ourselves. Very peaceful.

DINNER: Wanting to try the andouille sausage I had bought in Louisiana, I made a kind of gumbo…I sautéed the andouille with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. I added file’ gumbo and hot sauce for flavor. Splashed in a little red wine for juiciness. The andouille sausage is really good. Wish I had bought more. I served this over rice. Oooh-boy!

On the Gulf!

CAMPGROUND: Galveston Island State Park. Right on the Gulf of Mexico. Electricity and water at sites. Picnic tables and grills. So-so bathrooms. $31/night. 4 stars out of 5.

LOCATION: Galveston, Texas -next to Houston

WEATHER: Cloudy and windy. High 70

The state park campground in SW Louisiana where we spent last night also has free laundry services, so I used the dryer to dry up some of our damp towels this morning ……with so much rain lately, everything feels damp. This is a great service!

We drove on Interstate 10 west through the rest of Louisiana, into Texas with oil refineries everywhere. Not very scenic. We had a telephone interview along the way with a homeowner through Trusted Housesitters. They accepted us, so we will be spending two weeks around Christmas in Asheville, North Carolina, where our daughter lives, and not too far from George’s family. We are excited about the opportunity!

Soon, we were able to get off I-10, and took the road south to the Gulf. We saw a sign called “Redneck Riviera RV Park” and the area certainly seems redneck. Not very developed. We were amazed, though, to see thousands of houses, built high on spindly stilts. They look like they could be wiped out so easily with a windstorm.

At the end of the road, we took a free ferry across the Gulf to Galveston. Here is the route…

It was a great way to avoid Houston and the city of Galveston.

During the 15-minute crossing, we watched dolphins frolick in front of us.

We drove along the “Galveston Seawall” – the touristy strip along the beach with endless restaurants, bars, and surf shops. We arrived at our campground mid-afternoon. We were lucky to get a site on the beach, without reservations. After getting hooked up with electricity and water, we strolled on the beach. The “welcome” signs weren’t very welcoming! We had the long stretch of beach to ourselves. Very peaceful.

DINNER: Wanting to try the andouille sausage I had bought in Louisiana, I made a kind of gumbo…I sautéed the andouille with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. I added file’ gumbo and hot sauce for flavor. Splashed in a little red wine for juiciness. The andouille sausage is really good. Wish I had bought more. I served this over rice. Oooh-boy!

In Cajun food heaven

CAMPGROUND: Sam Houston Jones State Park. Very woodsy. Electricity and water; some sites have sewer. Very nice bathrooms. Paved sites with campfire rings and picnic tables. Free laundry. $20 / night. 4 stars out of 5

LOCATION: Lake Charles, Louisiana. In SW part of state

WEATHER: More rain. High 60s

Our host at the Harvest Host brewery invited us over for fresh-roasted coffee. The neighbor who roasts the coffee is such a fresh fanatic that he does not sell the coffee pre-packaged. You must order it from him, then he roasts the beans for you. It was very good….and free.

We spent the day in Lafayette, where George saw some doctors about the wound on his leg – the incision to remove a vein from his open heart surgery.

Between appointments, we stopped at a local Cajun “joint” for lunch. It is a combination meat store, smoke shop, and restaurant. Nothing fancy at all.

The typical Louisiana cafes serve “plate lunches”. This means an entree, and 2 sides. The menu changes daily. It is cafeteria-style. The portions are enormous, and even though we shared the meal, we were uncomfortably full afterwards.

Our lunch was delicious sausage/chicken gumbo with macaroni/cheese and cole slaw as sides. We also tried some boudin (a mix of meat, cheese, and rice rolled in a ball, covered with crumbs and fried). Not health food!!!

Then, we shopped in their meat area. I bought some andouille sausage for future meals as well as file’ gumbo. I wanted to buy some frozen etoufee, but it was sold in huge buckets. Also available were:

Grillades – not sure what they are

Stuffed chaurice – a kind of Cajun sausage

Stuffed beef tongue

Tasso – smoked Cajun sausage

Boudin – like what we had for lunch

Chicken stuffed with crawfish dressing.

Crawfish

Alligator fillet

Chauride – stuffed hog stomach!!!

Gator patties

Alligator and pork sausage

After the appointments, we headed west toward Texas. Unfortunately, the rain followed us. We drove a few hours until we found this state park campground.

DINNER: Leftover chicken wings (purchased from the Harvest Host brewery a few nights ago) and a side of vegetables with lentils.

Down on the Bayou

“CAMPGROUND”: Another Harvest Host – Bayou Teche Brewery. Great find! Big, gravel parking lot all to ourselves.

LOCATION: In south central Louisiana. In the small town of Arnaudville outside of Lafayette – deep in Cajun country

WEATHER: Downpour most of the day

It poured all night. The trails had all become rivers in our state park campground in northern Louisiana. Tree limbs bloated with water were falling down all over.

For some reason, most of the campgrounds in Louisiana State Parks have free laundry. Since I’m so frugal (some would call cheap), I couldn’t pass up free laundry, so I lugged our dirty clothes through the pouring rain to the laundry room.

Then, we had to unhook our electricity and water and got absolutely drenched, even with raincoats and umbrellas. Mud puddles had become small ponds. It was incredible. It has been raining here for several days, so the water was not absorbing in the land.

We were almost out of gas as we left the campground, and asked the park ranger for the nearest gas station. I was so nervous that we would run out of gas, as there was no shoulder on the narrow road we were on, and the nearby ditches were like roaring rivers. So, I was so relieved when we approached a gas station. BUT — George drove on!!! I was so angry. He thought it was too expensive. The gas gauge showed we had 10 miles left in the tank, and the GPS said the next gas station was 12 miles. I was envisioning one of us trudging through the rain to the gas station. Miraculously, we made it to the next town and bought gas. (Not all that much cheaper, I might add).

We drove all day through the rain. We stopped at a McDonalds for wifi, and we had to wade through a small lake to get to the entrance. Some of the roads only had one lane open. Finally, in late afternoon, we ran out of the rain.

We arrived at our next Harvest Host site. We were a bit wary, since there was no signage and it is down a lonely road. However, we were astounded at the large, prosperous operation. The owner/brewmaster was very nice, and chatted with us as we tasted a few of their 24 beers, all really tasty.

He gave us a tour and told us how he got set up.

On the weekends, the brewery has Cajun music and food on the patio.

The brewery is located on the Bayou Teche, one of the largest bayous in the area.

Kayakers can dock and come taste beers.

The brewery is next to this little house, that looks so much like Louisiana.

This big oak tree is also very typical of Louisiana.

This small building was the original brewery and is now a coffee roasting place. We are hoping to try their coffee in the AM.

We listened to public radio that played Cajun music between news stories.

DINNER: Japanese soba noodles with a broth of sautéed veg and chicken.

Time to head South….fast!

CAMPGROUND: Lake Claiborne State Park. Beautiful pull-through sites. Right on water, and most sites have their own boat ramp. Woodsy. Free laundry! Electricity and water hook-ups. Very nice bathroom. $22/night. 5 stars out of 5

LOCATION: Northcentral Louisiana, out in the middle of nowhere

WEATHER: WET! And cold!

We awoke at the Harvest Host brewery with 37 degree temps. We knew a cold front was coming this way. So, we jumped in the truck and started south. We drove through rain all day long. We drove until the thermostat hit 50 and it stopped raining – here in northern Louisiana.

The campground is super nice. I was going to start a fire, but it was too windy. Then, in the evening it started to rain. And it rained, and rained and rained. It rained all night. The trails are now rivers. It has been raining here a lot, so the rain is not soaking in – just making puddles all over the place. This is what the park looks like when it is nice (photo compliments of the internet)

DINNER: Rigatoni with basil sauce, meatballs, onions and mushrooms. Cabbage salad with a cilantro/lime dressing.

Through the Ozarks

“CAMPGROUND”: Another Harvest Host site. This time a brewery. Saddlebrook Brewery.

LOCATION: The brewery is out in the boonies – outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas, in NE corner of state.

WEATHER: Cloudy in the AM; some sun in PM. High 70

Knowing that our drive today would be short, we stayed around the state park where we camped last night. Since it stopped raining, we took a walk around the campground. There were lots of fishermen trying to catch trout. Really idyllic.

Our drive was through the mountains with scenic views of the lakes below. The hillbilly reputation that Arkansas has proved itself today. We drove by lots and lots of shacks with junk strewn all over the front yards. Some people don’t throw anything away!

We arrived at our Harvest Host brewery and got parked in their pasture.

We sampled some beers and spoke with the owner. The sun came out and we moved out to one of the decks on the brewery’s barn. Wanting to support the brewery, we bought some chicken wings to go — they will be lunch tomorrow, and probably for several more days.

DINNER: I buy a rotisserie chicken occasionally when shopping. One chicken can provide about 5 meals for us, so it is a good deal. When I first buy it, I trim off the legs and wings for dinner #1. Then, I cook up the bones and skin to make chicken broth to use in soups and/or in making rice, grits, etc. Then, I freeze up about 4 portions of the chicken meat. Tonight, I used one of those portions for a Mexican rice-type dinner. I sautéed some onion and garlic, then added diced chicken. To get our vegetables in, I added some small diced carrot pieces. Over all of that, I sprinkled some taco seasoning and cumin, added a bit of water and cooked rice, and let it simmer. I served it with some tiny bits of shredded cheddar cheese. Pretty darn good!