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March 2011:


 

March 5, 2011:                       A new month and signs of spring in the south are everywhere. We had the first severe rain in several weeks last night (over 4 inches) and it is continuing into today so we are pretty well trapped in our trailer. Julie is making Betty Crocker's Blueberry Best Coffee Cake minus some of the sugar for breakfast. We have the Air Conditioning on, more to take away some of the humidity and the heat from the oven than because it is really hot enough to need it. It is about 66 outside which, were it not for the rain, would be very comfortable.

 

This is the last week of Carnival and there are parades all over the place this weekend. A few of the parades have been postponed due to rain. One parish north of New Orleans got 6 inches of rain in six hours yesterday. I have learned that the southern states, at least Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, sure know how to party. It's been one constant party since January 6 which culminates in Mardi Gras next Tuesday (Fat Tuesday). Then Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. We have been learning a lot more than I ever knew about the season, being immersed in it down here. One really interesting item was that they had to pass a law that you could only hand coconuts to the parade viewers; it's illegal to throw the the coconuts any longer. Check that out on the Internet.

 

Another interesting item about the south is the driving mores. At least in Mississippi, the turn signal is only used after the turn is completed, assuming it is used at all. It is never used for lane changes. We even followed a driving instructor in his driving school car for three turns and never once saw a turn signal. Obviously, they don't bother to teach that item.

 

The other game they play is called "perfect timing." The major routes here are divided four lane highways with speed limits of 55 to 65 mph depending on the housing density. These are local roads without stop lights or stop signs except in the more built up areas. All intersections cross through the median and usually have a left turn lane as well. The game is to time it at the intersection so you never have to slow down to make that left turn and cross the oncoming lane of traffic. It's even better if you can perfectly time a U-turn. For traffic coming out of the side street, the game is slightly different. The object is to find the smallest space your car will fit into as soon after reaching the intersection as possible and then pull out at 10 mph into the oncoming 65 mph traffic. Bonus points if the car coming up behind you has no room to go around you and has to slam on their brakes. Extra bonus points if it is an out of state license on the car. Super bonus points if it is a Texas or Florida license plate. The optimal game is when the driver on the side street is going to make a left hand turn and combines both games at once.


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Spring is a time when insects and other dormant things come to life. Taz eventually got this hole to half her size. We still do not know what she was looking for.

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Of course, JoJo had to check it out also.

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The crawfish mounds are getting bigger, just in time for lawn mowing.

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Trees and flowers are starting to bloom. These trees are in the Wal-mart parking lot.

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We are very close to the Stennis International Airport which serves NASA's Stennis test and engine rebuild facility. When the wind is out of the South, which it is frequently, our line of trailers is directly under the flight path to and from one of the runways. We have seen many of these big cargo planes flying very low as they pass over us either landing or trying to gain altitude. There have also been many other types of planes including AWACS, helicopters, jets, and some fancy winged planes I did not recognize.

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The only real problem with spring in the South is the little biting gnats, the size of what we call no-see-ums. It is hard to see in the picture but the back of my legs looks like I have the measles.

 

March 9, 2011:                       More thunderstorms last night and this morning. We survived another tornado warning this morning. There were a few that touched down in the Louisiana/Mississippi coast area, but none that hit near us.

 

March 11, 2011:                     Today we toured the Stennis Space Center, NASA's rocket testing facility. It was an interesting trip and we took lots of photographs.


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These rocket test stands are over 300 feet high. Note the 20 sets of stairs to get to the top.

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Rocket Engine

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In earlier years, this acoustic horn was used to test the acoustic characteristics of the surrounding areas. It was blown and the noise level was measured on sensors placed at various distances to see if it would be safe to test a real rocket engine.


The rocket tests can be heard all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama. There is a huge area of land surrounding the test facility that all residents have been moved out of to create a huge noise buffer zone.

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Astronaut Julie

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Shuttle Commander Jeff.

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Julie said this tour was a "guy thing" until she found the wall of patch reproductions done by the American Needlepoint Guild of which she is a member. All of a sudden the "guy thing" took on a whole new interest.

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After we left Stennis, we went to Slidel to buy some dog food. They are already selling plants for your garden.

 

March 12, 2011:                     Today we had a Miniature Schnauzer convention. Another couple from Louisiana was here with their two males who dwarfed our girls in size. They weighed 23-25 pounds each whereas the girls are 15-17 pounds. The daughter of the campground's owner was also here with their three month old puppy, "Mojo."


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Mojo does not have two tails. That's called a shadow making her look like Siamese twins.

 

March 18, 2011:                     Tonight we had a beautiful full moon. For those of you who do not follow this sort of thing, the moon was at the closest point to earth that it has been in 18 years.


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March 21, 2011:                     We are enjoying wonderful weather. Temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's and plenty of sunshine. Sorry kids, but we are definitely not in a hurry to bet back to the north where it is in the 20's and snowing still.

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One of the local residents of the campground.

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Another, much less appreciated local resident. For those who do not recognize this, it is a mid-range (but huge by New York standards) ant hill. They are everywhere and it is very easy to step on one if you are not watching where you are walking or if you happen to be a dog.

 

March 24, 2011:                     We took the dogs to the beach again today at low tide. They had a blast and we did okay also. Because of Taz's heart condition, we are being much more careful about when we take them to play and have not played ball in some time. This heat is very hard on her. We will be taking her back to the vet's this coming week. We will also be getting JoJo and Taz their annual checkups and necessary shots.


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Julie and Taz walk the edge of the water.

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Jeff with the girls. The Silver Slipper Casino is in the background.

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Hey, our peoples! Come check out the cool dead fish we found on the beach! (Actually, they found about six of them at different locations just below the high tide mark.)

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How come those birds won't stay and let us play with them?


 

March 28, 2011:                     The campground is really starting to empty out now. By next weekend, we will one of only four snowbird couples still in the park and one of those is the man who works here helping out during the winter season. We will be heading back north on April 10 and intend to be back in New York by May 1.


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Julie has been watching this thistle grow over the past few weeks. It goes through its life cycle much faster than up north. The owner has been mowing around this. I'm not sure if it is because he knew Julie was watching it grow or if it is because he thinks he needs a chain saw to chop it down rather than his mower.

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This picture was actually taken a couple of days ago when the main flower was still in bloom. Julie captured this photo of the bumblebee loading up on nectar.