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January 2011 - February 2011:


 

January 1, 2011:                    [Odometer 242917]    The start of a new year and more adventures. However, our first three months will probably be very quiet as we intend to stay put until early April when we will "meander" north again. Right now our plan is to stay in LeRoy for the summer and then travel again in the fall after kids have gone back to school. But, we have made plans before only to have them change, so only time will tell.

 

The campground put on a traditional southern New Year's Day Feast which everyone seemed to enjoy. We won't need supper.

 

Julie has found a couple of ladies here, one from Iowa and one from Missouri, who also enjoy beading so she has been getting involved with that again along with her stitching. I keep finding little projects to add storage or otherwise improve the trailer and the way we are set up for traveling. I have also been doing a number of leather-working projects and keep coming up with more before I get the first ones done so I don't have to worry about running out of things to do for awhile.

 

The nicest part of all this though is that there are no deadlines for any of it. I spend a lot of time reading and am really thankful we bought the electronic readers. Not only does it mean we do not have the weight of all the books to carry, but it has given me a chance to discover new authors and to revisit older classics. The only author I have not been able to find electronically is Thomas B. Costain, one of my favorite authors (The Silver Chalice, The Black Rose, Ride with Me, Below the Salt, and many others). Apparently his works are not current enough to be popular but not old enough to be out of copyright.

 

Speaking of out of copyright, a word of advice to anyone who likes electronic books. DO NOT BUY any of the really low priced books on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google or any other online book store until you first check for the book on the Gutenberg Project. (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page) Almost all of these inexpensive books are actually out of copyright and are free at Gutenberg Project. Plus, you can get them already converted to whatever format you need. They have about 40,000 books already published electronically and are constantly adding more. This is also the place to find almost all the classic books you could ever want.

 

January 7, 2011                     Yesterday I went to CJ's Meat Market and bought some Alligator Sausage, which I had for supper. Tonight I sliced up the leftovers and marinated them in teriyaki sauce, which I heated up along with some cabbage I fried. The Alligator was good, but it was really not that much different from other meats like pork. However, I really enjoy trying local foods as we travel. It is amazing how much diversity there is in just a few hundred miles. By they way, I bought the head of cabbage for $0.33, which is even cheaper than I can get it for in Wayne County, home of New York's Cabbages and it has provided four meals for us.

 

January 12, 2011                   It seems like much of our life here centers around finding the best places to eat at the lowest possible price. Yikes, I think I've become a Senior Citizen! Every Tuesday, the Silver Slipper Casino, which is just four miles south of us, has a senior special half price buffet so two of us can eat for $10.65 and that one meal is enough for the day. This whole campground empties out and just about all us snow birds takes advantage of it. I don't personally do any gambling, even though the casino gives you $5 worth of play, because I cannot tolerate the frequency of the sound in the casino. I swear they have done a study on which noise frequency most keeps you from thinking clearly and that is the noise all the machines make.

 

Another great buffet is at Kentucky Fried Chicken, for those of us that like KFC. For $5 each, you get an all you can eat KFC buffet. This is actually my favorite buffet because I have long been a fan of KFC original style chicken, but also like their new grilled chicken. On the buffet of course, you can have any style and as many sides as you want plus a dessert item and your drink. Ah, life is great!

 

But the best buffet of all we found today by accident. We went shopping in Gulfport this morning and wanted to have an early lunch so we stopped at a Chinese Buffet we found in one of the shopping malls. It was called Royal China Buffet and it really was the best Chinese buffet I have ever visited. The food was all good and the variety was the widest I have yet seen. They had all the things you expect to find on a Chinese Buffet plus things like stuffed mushrooms, whole crawfish, stuffed shrimp, crab, clams, and on and on.

 

Needless to say, I am not losing a whole lot of weight down here in the south, but I am enjoying the food and still have lots of local favorites to try. I am also getting plenty of walking exercise. JoJo has gotten very good at walking on a leash by my side with no tension on the leash. I can even walk both dogs at the same time on short leashes with both dogs on my left. They enjoy their daily walks and we often do a mile or more a day. The main walking loop measures out at just under half a mile so it's easy to keep track of the distance, but mostly I just walk because they need to and because I would get bored staying inside all day. Sometimes Julie walks them and sometimes we all go together so it is good exercise for all of us.

 

January 13, 2011                   Last night we had our usual Wednesday evening get together at the campground. We are in the heart of Carnival and Mardi Gras country and this was the first get together of the Carnival season which starts on Epiphany (January 6th) and goes through Fat Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Carnival is a big party time down here and there are parades and other activities extending through the entire season. One of the traditions is something called a King Cake. Inside the King Cake is hidden a small item, typically a little baby doll, and the person who finds the baby in their piece of cake gets to be king for the day (short day). You also get to supply the King Cake at the next party, in our case next Wednesday. Last night, I got the baby.

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About 1:00 am I woke up because JoJo got off the bed and was out in the living area scratching and biting herself. We gave her some Benadryl but it only helped for a couple of hours. At 4:30 am, she was up again so we gave her some more Benadryl. Today we took her to the vet's. We were told that her Frontline, which has always worked fine for flea and tick control in New York, is not adequate here in the south. JoJo received a couple of shots which helped her current misery and both dogs are now on flea pills plus a tick collar in place of the Frontline. The problem probably became urgent now because it is time for her monthly dose, so we are at least able to start her on the new control medicines right away. Unfortunately, we are also going to have to spray the whole trailer to get out any fleas which are now present because they were not properly controlled. The vet speculated that the fleas might have been in the trailer when we first bought it and have just multiplied over time. JoJo is also going to have to take Doxycycline as a safety measure because of her recent tick bites. Having gone through a month of that one myself, I understand all about it.

 

January 16, 2011                   We took the dogs to the beach in Waveland today and let them explore. They had a great time running and sniffing and trying to catch the birds (they think they are bird dogs).


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January 18, 2011                   The weather was so nice today we even had a campfire this evening. I took some photos, but they did not come out good enough to post.

 

January 19, 2011                   Tonight was our second Carnival Wednesday Night Bingo Party. We went to Slidell, LA to buy the King Cake and, while we were there, we found a store that sells the Wellness dog food we use. We also went to a MardiGras Export shop and picked up some prizes for bingo. Julie also picked up a jester hat which she later passed on to the winner of tonight's King Cake. One of the other ladies found the baby and got to wear the hat as well.

 

For lunch we went to the Po Boy Factory and each had a shrimp Po Boy. A Po Boy is basically the southern version of a sub sandwich except using French Bread. Fried Shrimp in a sandwich was a new treat for both of us.


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The "Royal" King Cake. It has four different kinds of fillings.

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Jester Julie. Notice how the color of her chin compliments her outfit. She tripped on Monday while carrying some laundry and did a nasty job on both hands and her chin. She also smashed her nose, but did not break it. There are plenty of other bruises also that don't show.


 

January 21, 2011                   Back to the vet again today, this time for Taz. We went in worried about the fact she was licking her sister's tick collar and thought it might be affecting her stool. We came out with bigger worries as the vet found she has a heart murmur and is in mid stage congestive heart failure. Her heart is enlarged and pressing on her trachea and there is fluid in her lungs. She is now taking medicines which she will be on for the rest of her life, but the vet said she should be able to live a normal, long life.

 

January 23, 2011                   Cabin Fever Road Trip! Today was a gorgeous day so we decided we needed to get out of the trailer. We took a road trip West along Old US90 all the way to New Orleans, although we did not tour that city, and then took I10 back. When we got to Slidell, we got off the expressway and went to Outback Steak House for lunch. Then we drove back to Waveland and took the dogs to the beach so they got to have some play time also.


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All the new houses being built along the coast are being elevated. In many, many instances, the owners are still living in travel trailers during the construction process.

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One of the interesting things is the useful ways people are using the space under the houses. This homeowner stores two boats there. Many people are using the space for garages or enclosing them with lattice or something similar to create more storage spaces. I did notice that most of the houses on the water side of the road use up their extra space with lots of cross bracing to strengthen the stilts.

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We passed over several lift bridges. Not all of them appeared to be still in service based on a continuous pavement across the bridge.

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Route 90 passes through the Bayou Savage National Wildlife Refuge. There are several pull-offs along both sides of the road where visitors can get closer to the bayou and the wildlife.

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Oh goody! New smells. Check this out!

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Okay, who put the barricade here? You will be happy to know they just jumped over it to keep going.

 

January 26, 2011                   Yesterday was my day to visit the medical profession. I woke up at 4:00 am with severe chest pains. After inhaler puffs and nitro tablets had no effect, Julie bundled me into my pants and then the truck and took me to the Emergency Room. More nitro had no effect either but the Morphine took away the pain. By this point, the doctor was pretty sure we were not looking at a problem with my heart, but they did an echocardiogram and chemical stress test on me anyway along with an abdominal ultrasound. I was finally released today after the stress test with a follow-up appointment for the doctor along plus further testing to be done on my gall bladder after that visit. Time will tell, but I am doing fine for now.

 

January 27, 2011                   Today we went to New Orleans (actually Metairie) so Julie could get her hair done at the Cosmetology School there. We also located the Tandy leather store and I picked up a couple of pieces of upholstery leather that they had on sale and talked to them about their classes.


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The New Julie

 

February 1, 2011                   The severe winter storm pounding the nation gave us a dose of really heavy rain today. We stayed in and watched videos most of the day.


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When it rains really heavily like today, our campsite reverts to nature's intended us for the land – Swamp!

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JoJo likes "The Dog Hotel." She rates it 5 woofs!

 

February 2, 2011                   36 degrees with occasional sleet! For this I could have stayed in New York! If we're told the groundhog saw its shadow today, I know those people in Pennsylvania are Lying! (I also know we'll have six more weeks of winter no matter what they say.)



 

February 9, 2011                   Today was Julie's turn to visit a health care facility. She has had a bad cough and trouble breathing plus other cold/flu symptoms. She went to the urgent care facility in town and was then sent to Gulfport for a chest X-ray. The diagnoses came back as bronchitis, no pneumonia and she was put on antibiotics and a cough pill plus nighttime cough medicine.

 

February 14, 2011                 Valentine's Day! Three beautiful days of sun and warmth in a row. Now this is what winter in the South is supposed to be about. The birds are all out and singing including a flock of Robins, several Cardinals, a Blue Bird, and many other small birds. I also got some beautiful photographs of the Great White Egret that inhabits the pond and marshy area just north of the campground.


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Great White Egret


 

We bought five pounds of Louisiana shrimp from a little Vietnamese Lady who sells the shrimp out of the back of her van. By the time we got them de-headed, deveined, and peeled though, we lost a little over 50% of their weight. We originally planned to have them for supper tonight but were invited to a cookout and camp fire two trailers down, so will put off the shrimp feast for tomorrow.

 

February 15, 2011                 We went to Gulfport today to do some shopping at Sam's Club. We especially needed more bottled water for the dogs. On the way back, we traveled along the Gulf Coast of Route 90, which is the way we normally come back. We stopped along the beach at Long Beach and took the dogs for a romp on the beach. It was low tide and they had a blast.


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Walking in the water!

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Running ON the water!

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Running on the sand!

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Flying OVER the sand!

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Oops! Went swimming!

 

February 16, 2011                 At bingo tonight, I got the baby in the king cake for the second time this season.

 

February 19, 2011                 We had a Chili and Stew cook-off today for supper. There was tons of food. I contributed a large dutch oven full of my Crejun Stew. It was a big hit. There was nothing left but a little juice that I was going to throw out. I was stopped and the juice was saved and put in a bag. I guess they liked it.

 

JEFF'S CREJUN STEW


1/2 lb              Thick Cut Bacon

1 lb                 Hot Italian Sausage Links

1 lb                 Andouille Sausage Links (or 1/2 lb ea Andouille & Chorizo)

2 lb                 Boneless, Skinless Chicken (Breasts & Thighs)

1-2 lb              Cleaned, De-veined, & Peeled Med-Large Shrimp

2 lg                 Yellow Onions

2 lg                 Green Peppers

3                     Jalapeno Peppers

3 lg                 Stalks Celery

1                     15 oz Can Diced Tomatoes

2                     15 oz Can Diced Tomatoes w/ Green Chiles

2 Tbs              Minced Garlic

1-1/2 Qts        Chicken Stock

1/2 tsp            Multi-pepper blend seasoning


Food Preparation (Complete before starting to cook):

Cut the bacon into 1/2" Wide pieces. Cut the Italian Sausage into 3/8" rounds (best done frozen as the sausage tends to fall apart). Cut the Andouille Sausage into 1/4" rounds. Cut the chicken into small cubes. Put the onions, peppers, and celery through a food processor. DO NOT LIQUIFY!


Cooking (approx 1-1/2 hrs):

Cook the bacon in a large Dutch Oven until about half cooked making sure all the pieces are separate. Add the sausage and thoroughly cook all. Remove the meat from the pot and pour off the excess grease. Add the chicken seasoning with the multi-pepper blend seasoning and cook thoroughly. Remove the chicken from the pot. Add the onions, pepers, and celery to the pot and cook until the onions are somewhat translucent. Add the garlic about half way through cooking the vegetables. Add the cooked meat back to the pot. Add the canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes prior to serving, add the shrimp stirring until it is thoroughly mixed into the stew. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and carry to the clubhouse.


Serve over rice or pasta.

 

February 20, 2011                 The weather this week has finally matched our expectations for a winter in the south.



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Walking the dogs on a southern winter's day. The girls have a spring look having gotten their first grooming of the year from Julie. Jeff's got his spring look also. Note the attire and the tan line.


(Note: This picture taken especially to satisfy Monica's request.)


 

February 25, 2011                 We decided to take a ride on Route 90 to Biloxi, which is East of Gulf Port.


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Crews check the beach daily for signs of oil contamination.

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It's a great day for playing in the water.

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The train will have to wait while the boats go through.

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Hard Rock Cafe and Casino in Biloxi.

 

February 27, 2011                 The weather has been in the high 70s the past few days and the pool has warmed up, so today Julie and I took a swim just so we could say we had been swimming in February.


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Note the tan! In February no less!

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Jeff took the first plunge!

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Julie really enjoyed getting wet all over!