Bourbon country!

CAMPGROUND: Blue Lick Battlefield State Park. Electricity and water. Firepit. So-so bathrooms. $26/night. No TV. 4 stars out of 5
LOCATION: An hour north of Lexington, Kentucky
WEATHER: Hot – 88 and mostly sunny.

We drove almost the entire width of Kentucky today – from the southwest to northeast corners. We drove only about 280 miles, as we lost an hour due to Eastern Time Zone and with a nice lunch-time stop. We stayed mostly off the major highways, following scenic byways. Our off-the-beaten-path route took us by Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, so we stopped. It is a national park, and very well-done. We watched a movie about Lincoln’s early days, then climbed the 56 steps (56 for his age at death) of the monument that houses a replica of the log cabin where he was born. Then, we had a nice picnic lunch in the parking lot!The countryside was beautiful, rolling hills with corn and hay. As we approached Lexington, we started seeing huge southern mansions with thoroughbreds romping in the fields. This campground was right off the highway, and we arrived here around 4:00, a perfect time to stop and call it a day.After we set up (nothing much to do as we are not unhooking), we saluted a successful day with a glass of Kentucky bourbon – of course!

DINNER: Pasta with a kale pesto cream sauce and chicken sausage.

Gliding Up the Natchez Trace Parkway

CAMPGROUND: Henry Horton State Park. Water and Electricity at each site. Picnic table and firepit. Nice bathrooms/showers. Woodsy. $32/night. 3 stars. On a river, but no view from campground.

LOCATION: Chapel Hill, Tennessee – a bit south of Nashville

WEATHER: Less humid. High 90. Nice in the evening

We are getting a pretty good routine – up early and on the road by 7:00. We drove about an hour to hectic Jackson, Mississippi, and gratefully got off the interstate to enter the Natchez Trace Parkway. What a change! The entire 450 miles is a national park. Trucks are not allowed and the speed limit is 50, so there is hardly any traffic. It was so peaceful and stressless that we drove about 300 miles on it northeast, and didn’t feel road-weary.

The history…..The Natchez Trace was a path that the fur sellers used back in the day. They would sail down the Mississsippi with their furs to sell to ships awaiting them in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, they walked back north with their purses full of coins, taking about 2 months to return to northern Tennessee. The parkway follows their path with historical markers along the way.

There are lovely picnic grounds and historic signage all along the parkway. We stopped for a picnic of gazpacho that I had made back in Texas. (A good way to use up vegetables – tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, onion, and garlic). Nice, cool, and refreshing lunch.

We left the parkway about 3:30 to look for a campground. We found this one on the map, and it did just fine. We drove a total of 440 miles today!

After getting set up (we are not unhooking on this rapid trip this week), we hiked one of the park’s trails. We are located on the Duck River, popular for canoeing and tubing. Very nice…

DINNER: One of the dishes I had prepared in Texas – a chicken/green bean combo in a tahini sauce. I served it over couscous. Side was cucumbers in Greek yogurt. All quite good….but unfortunately, we have leftovers and the freezer space is limited.

Yikes! Broken window!

CAMPGROUND: Percy Quin State Park. Unexpected gem! Full hook-ups, firepit, picnic table, stand-up grill, and gorgeous views of the lake. $16/night, but no one was there to take our money, so free! 5 stars out of 5
LOCATION: McComb, Mississippi, between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi
WEATHER: Muggy. High 92This was our route yesterday…We rocked and rolled in the Airstream at Galveston Island State Park all night long. Winds of 35 mph kept us awake most of the night. The air conditioner struggled to keep us cool with the high humidity. We were better off than the tenters all around us, whose tents fell apart and whose gear blew away.We got a nice, early start from Galveston Island. We crossed the bay on a free ferry. A really nice way to avoid the traffic of Galveston and HoustonWhen we disembarked from the ferry, we drove about 50 miles along the Bolivar Peninsula. It was high tide and the signs warning about water on the road were correct!We stopped for a bathroom break, and to my dismay, I found the shower door on the floor! How it didn’t break or gouge the floor is a miracle. And even worse……..George discovered that our side window was shattered and that the front window protector was half broken off. We think it must have happened when we ran over a piece of metal on the highway. It is strange, though, that it didn’t do anything to the aluminum side. We stopped at a hardware store, bought a tarp, removed all the glass shards, and lined the window frame with the tarp. Just hope we don’t run into rain. We callled the Airstream factory (where we are heading next week) to see if they can fit us in while we are there for the rally. Back on the road, we got on Interstate 10. How awful! Hundreds (seemingly thousands) of big semis barreling down the road. Lots of construction. Terrible bumpy conditions. We passed by lots of refineries. We had planned to avoid I-10 by going north, but changed our route as we needed to avoid the bad tornados and flooding in northern Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. So, we had to travel east first. We finally turned north in Baton Rouge. Much better!By this time, it was 4:30, and we had managed 350 miles for the day, even with our stops. We stumbled upon this beautiful state park right north of the Misssissippi/Louisiana state line. We found a site with a great view of the lake and settled in. Bliss!DINNER: I was planning another of my prepared dishes, but George was excited about the stand-up grill and the free charcoal that someone had left. So, we had grilled hamburgers and leftover potato salad. Very tasty!

And…….we’re off!

LOCATION: Galveston Island, not far from Houston
CAMPGROUND: Galveston Island State Park. We had reserved, so we luckily have a site on the beach. Those without reservations are inland around a mosquito-y swamp. Really nice new bathrooms/showers. Each site has a sun shelter with a picnic table and firepit. $20. Water and electricity at each site. 4 stars out of 5
WEATHER: Muggy. Windy. High 88

We left Mission at 7:00, right on schedule! We have to be in eastern Ohio by Friday, so really have to push it every day. We drove 385 miles today, much longer than we like to do.

About 1:00, we said we should look for a city park or somewhere with shade and picnic tables. Voila! Instantly, we saw a park with lovely live oak trees, with a pond, and picnic tables. A bunch of geese and ducks came out to great us.

As we ate our lunch (potato salad), the geese and ducks licked off bugs and dust from our truck. Very strange!

We passed a lot of oil refineries and followed mostly secondary roads. We pulled into the state park at about 3:30 – a long day!

After setting up, we took a nice walk on the beach.

PHOTO
We had a little disagreement. George hates the 50-amp cord which we call the Anaconda (it lives up to its name), so he tried just the 30-amp smaller cord. The 30-amp only can support one A/C, which just didn’t cut it. George gave in to my pouting and complaining, and we hooked up the 50-amp cord. I am now sitting in air-conditioned bliss!

DINNER: Before we left our tiny house in Mission, I cooked several meals as I didn’t know what to expect on this first leg. George did a beer-can chicken on the grill, and I used the cooked chicken to make several meals – chicken parmesan, North African chicken, chicken salad, chicken broth….you get my drift. Tonight I warmed up the chicken parmesan, which was pretty good.

Fishing Trip to South Padre Island

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Hot (97) and sunny

We took off early this AM for a fishing trip from South Padre Island. We almost missed the 8:00 AM boat, as we miscalculated the time to get there, considering school zones. We called and they held the boat for us for a few minutes. Then, off we went!

We saw Elon Musk’s SpaceEx in the near distance. We fished in one place for awhile, and George sadly didn’t catch anything while others caught a lot of redfish. Then, we went to another place and suddenly he and the others caught a lot of whiting. Back to the first place, he finally caught his redfish. Very nice!

I just went along for the ride. The boat trip ended at noon, when we were all ready to head in due to the sun and heat. The guides cleaned our fish for us. This was the total haul…

On our way home, we stopped at a nursery and bought some bushes. Interestingly, it is the end of the planting season here, so plants were on sale. We bought oleander to plant around our unsightly utility box and some jasmine to coax along our back fence, to help with privacy.

DINNER: Whiting, of course! I dredged it in a little flavored panko, then seared the filets in butter. At the end I added sliced ginger and a sprinkle of soy sauce. Sides were Asian vegetables and rice. You can’t get much fresher than this!

BOOK: I finished a very strange book today. Written by Swedish author Jonas Joanasson, “The Further Adventures of a 100-year-old-man” is quirky and politically very incorrect. He lambasts all politicians, especially Trump. I would rate it a 9 out of 10.

Back in the USA

LOCATION: Our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Yucky hot. 96

Our community, Retama Village, seems changed after only two months away. Everything is green, green, and lots of flowers and bushes are in full bloom. There are a few butterflies munching on their favorite bushes in front of our house.

The other big change is all the new construction and “Sold” signs around the village. Business must be good! It looks like they are building all types of houses – regular houses, the tall RV port homes, tiny houses, and cottages.

See http://www.bentsenpalmdevelopment.com for photos of home types.

We had a huge, strong rain one morning. More than 3 inches in less than 15 minutes. The streets flooded, a bit scary. A tree even fell down onto a houses.

We are busy packing up and tying up details here in the house. I am also back to exercise classes – chair yoga and water aerobics. It is good to do the classes again.

Another change is more WALL construction. This was an empty field before we left; it is now fencing materials for the you–know-what.

We took a drive down some country roads near our house and saw lots of this….


DINNER: We have been grilling quite a bit – hamburgers and hot dogs. I made a good side dish with lots of veggies in a light cheese sauce.

Back to the USA!

LOCATION: From Tlaquepaque, Mexico, back to Mission, Texas via Houston
WEATHER: Rain in Houston. Cloudy here. High 80

Today is Mothers’ Day in Mexico, a national holiday. Everyone is off work. After breakfast at our B&B, we strolled to the plaza to work off some of those refried beans. The streets were jammed – people everywhere. Traffic was at a standstill and people were looking for places to park. We walked down the pedestrian mall. In front of each restaurant were long lines of people waiting to take their mothers to breakfast.

We said “adios” to our B&B and took an Uber to the airport. After a quick 20-minute ride, we arrived at the airport.

We had lots of time to wait, and then we got an announcement that our plane was late. It had to come from Houston, where there was bad weather. I already had a tight connection, and now was worried that I wouldn’t make my connecting flight.

While at the Guadalajara airport, I saw this billboard……It says that this hospital in Guadalajara is now in collaboration with Mayo Clinic (my former employer), the #1 hospital in the USA. Go Mayo!

We did arrive late in Houston. Customs and Immigration were a breeze and then…….Security (again!) I just don’t understand why airports require a TSA check for a connecting flight, when one has not left the secured area. In any case, there was a long, slow-moving line, with only one TSA checkpoint of course. My carry-on was pulled out for a second review. (I was bringing some silverware to our homeowners which was suspicious, I guess). I had mere minutes to catch my flight. I ran to the gate and boarded the airplane, saying goodbye to Alexis while running.

George picked me up at the Harlingen airport, and all is well.

DINNER: Halibut sauteed just slightly in a butter sauce. Side salad with heirloom tomatoes. Yum!

Good to be back!