Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good Friends, Ocean Springs, Biloxi and the Beau Rivage

February 27, 2010.
Another beautiful day with bright sunshine and temps in the upper 50’s.  We got up early looking forward to visiting with our friends Rocky and Gloria whom would be driving over from Spanish Fort, Alabama.  Rocky and Gloria have been stationed at Keesler A.F.B. during Rocky’s military career and now during his civilian career off and on for about 10 years.  They are obviously familiar with the area before and after Katrina.  They offered to show us the town and take us to a casino.
I took Maggie and Rico out for an extended walk knowing that they would be spending the greater part of the day home alone.  I swear we worry too much about them.  After all, they are dogs and when we were working we had to leave them 8-10 hrs. a day alone without a potty break.  Now it’s a lot like having kids with us!

Rocky and Gloria arrived about 12:30 and after a light lunch, we headed out.  Rocky took us for a tour of old downtown Ocean Springs along the water.  We saw house lots where Hurricane Katrina had scoured away the houses and left shells of buildings in other places.

We took a ride over the new US90 bridge connecting Oceans Springs with Biloxi.  The old span had been destroyed in the storm.

From across the bay in Ocean Springs and especially after crossing the bridge into Biloxi, the predominant feature of the skyline was of course, the casinos.

Formerly the Isle of Capris, it was known locally as the "Pile of Debris" after Katrina!  Now it is just called the Isle and it's the first casino on the West end of the bridge.

The Hard Rock Casino with its trademark guitar.

We drove though the area noting the damage from Hurricane Katrina was still evident on the roof of the building across the street from the recently rebuilt gigantic casinos.

The historic Biloxi Light House situated on US90, survived the storm.  It's made of cast metal.  
The Biloxi Lighthouse built in 1848 is the only lighthouse in the United States to stand in the middle of a four-lane highway. The lighthouse survived Hurricane Katrina and is reported to be the most photographed landmark on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

After checking out a few local marinas and fishing piers, rebuilt 

and still damaged...

It was time to visit the premier casino.  The Beau Rivage!  A goliath amongst the giants. 

The interior was absolutely beautiful and decorated to impress.

But we were here for the buffet!  At about $25 a head, we were gonna make the best of it.

The food was very good and of course we over ate.  We were all so full we jokingly asked the 4 rather large ladies at the table next to us if we could have some of their Pepto Bismal.  We all had a good chuckle as they explained they are "professionals" and have been coming to the buffet for 10 years!  We waddled out of there and the girls decided to try their luck at the slot machines.

After losing $10, it was time for Joyce to give up her attempt at a gambling career!

We walked around and made our way up to the rooftop pool. 

The moon was nearly full and bright.

A few moments later and I was able to capture four full moons!

After leaving the Beau Rivage, Rocky drove us onto Keesler A.F.B.  We checked out the beautiful base marina facilities.  Afterwards Rocky and Gloria checked into there billeting on base.  It was getting late so Rocky and Gloria drove us back to our campground at Davis Bayou.  We sat around talking and eventually called it a night.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the guided tour of the area.  We said goodnight and planned to see Rocky and Gloria in the morning before they drive back home.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tandem Bike Tour of Davis Bayou

February 26, 2010.  We awoke to bright sunshine and temps in the upper 30’s.  However, with the bright sun, it warmed up quickly to the upper 50’s.
We started the day as usual with a walk for Maggie and Rico.  After breakfast, we decided to take our Cannondale Tandem road bike out for a spin around the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park, Davis Bayou.

We rode past the rental cabins which are on the road to the boat ramp.

We stopped and took some photos of the boat ramp.

A couple kayaking were making their way back to the boat ramp.  The wind was picking up from out of the South making it too rough and difficult to kayak.

We rode on through the park and over this bridge which crosses a small bayou on our way to the Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center is located at the Southeast end of the park.

There wasn’t much inside except for some cheesy ocean/ bayou displays and a small gift shop.  The building was very large but there just wasn’t anything of substance inside. 

There is a large boardwalk style porch on the back of the visitor center. 

Joyce decided to take a break in the bright warm sun.

The boardwalk looks out over the bayou.

After visiting the Visitor Center, we took a ride along the roads within the park even riding back to US90 on Park Road.  However, US90 did not have any bike lanes and did not look at all bike friendly, so we returned riding back through the park.  It’s interesting that the main road, Park Road also leads to residential neighborhoods.  We ended up taking a route through one of these neighborhoods trying to head east.  However the wind was making it cold and we decided after a few miles to head home.
Later in the afternoon, we ventured out for a car ride to Biloxi.  We drove past a couple of casinos along US90 and marveled at the fact that they were building right on the beach!  I guess getting wiped out from a hurricane is just part of the cost of business.  I’m sure our friends Rocky and Gloria will have more to say on that topic when we see them tomorrow, Saturday.
We picked up a few things from Walmart just a mile or so from the park.  The rest of the evening we spent just hanging out and preparing for the forecasted rain.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Travel Day to Gulf Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou Campground

February 25, 2010 travel day.  The day started out sunny but cold with temps in the mid 30’s.  However, it was dry and the wind had died down, making it a much better day for traveling than the previous day.
We got busy packing up to get on the road.  I wanted to be out of the gate by 10:00.  I knew the campground we were headed to at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou would fill up quickly if it wasn’t already full.
We walked the dogs and said our final goodbyes to our neighbors and the managers of Avalon Landings RV Park, Jim and Wendy.  They are a terrific couple, and I enjoyed having long discussions with them in the office during inclement weather.  They offered to have us back as workampers in the future.  Something we might consider over the winter months in a year or so. 
Preparing to pull out of our site, 10 at Avalon Landings Rv Park.

Rico and Maggie in the back seat of the truck were ready to hit the road!

We got on the road about 10:30 a.m.  Joyce in her car and I pulling the rig with the truck. We traveled west on I-10 through Pensacola, Mobile and the George C. Wallace Tunnel.  We passed through Mobile around 11:30 a.m. so traffic wasn’t bad.  However, I could certainly see the potential for gridlock during rush hours.  Much of this area and the local bridges suffered damage from hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
We crossed into Mississippi and finally, we were more that one state away from Florida.  Our furthest trip out of Florida to date in our rig had been an incursion into Moultrie, Georgia last October for the Southeast Agricultural Expo.  Today as we crossed into Mississippi, we felt a little like a chick having flown from the nest after having lived in Florida for the past 30 plus years.
We arrived at the Gulf Shores National Seashore Park, Davis Bayou, in Ocean Springs, Ms. just east of Biloxi, Ms. at 12:30 hrs having traveled about 120 miles. 

About 2 miles inside the park is the entrance to the campground.  There were no fee stations coming into the park.

This park is a first come first serve park that does not take reservations.  That’s fine with me as I hate to make reservations! 

We had our self pick of about 10 sites. However, we could only fit into maybe half of the available sites. 

There were a couple of sites available with shade however, we chose a large site in the open field with full sun.  The temps only rose to 55 degrees today with more cold weather expected.  So a sunny site would fit the bill for us.

Our site was not big enough for two vehicles to be parked on the narrow asphalt.  So Joyce parked her car in a parking space a short distance from our rig.

Certainly not one of the prettiest or spacious sites we’ve had to date.  However, it does have 50 amps and water for only $16 a night.  There is no sewer hook-up, but the campground has a dump station.

The picture below is a shot down the center of the main loop.  The road circles around out of view.  Our rig is dead center between the two trees in the center of the photo.

The campground which is about 2 miles south of US98 on Park Road, appears to abut to a neighborhood that can be seen through the thin winter foliage. We decided to pay for a week. We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up and walking the dogs.  
I got the satellite dish set-up after a minor struggle.  However, there are about 15 channels available via the antennae.  We still had the local channels for the Milton area.  However, Joyce called to get the local channels on our Dish for our new site.  Dish erased our previous local channels and told us to wait for the new locals to appear in our channel guide.  Well after waiting, Joyce called back and after much discussion, learned that the only local channels for Dish in this are is a PBS channel, no national network channels.  We didn’t realize that some areas didn’t receive local network channels via Dish.  We since learned that on the Dish website you can plug in your address to learn what local network channels are available.  Something we will do next time before having them clear what we have.
I took a walk and took some pictures of the campground which is divided into two loops.  We are in the much larger loop.  The smaller loop is surrounded by trees.  Both loops quickly filled up. The bathhouse is old and needs updating.

Later in the afternoon, I watched as several RVs drove through looking for sites but there were no more RV size sights available.  I had suspected that this park would fill quickly as it is just outside of the casino strips in Biloxi and its cheap!  The entire park outside of the campground appears to be quite large and will demand some exploration later.
Later we spoke with our friends Rocky and Gloria whom live in Spanish Fort, Alabama.  Rocky was once stationed at Keesler A.F.B. right here in Biloxi, Ms.  They were able to get a room on Keesler A.F.B. (retired military).  So we plan to spend the day together Saturday as they show us around Biloxi.  We are looking forward to spending the day with them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Foul Weather Delay of Plans

February 24, 2010.  The day started off cold, windy and cloudy with rain expected all along the gulf coast.  We had planned to move west today towards Biloxi, Misssissippi.  However, the weather caused us to cancel our plans and extend another day at Avalon Landing RV Park.

Joyce went to a matinee movie with Ashley and I stayed home with Maggie and Rico and made preparations outside for our move tomorrow.  I checked the air in the fifth wheel tires getting a reading of 76 lbs. at @ 48 degrees F.  I aired them all up to 78 degrees and put the tire pressure sensor/ transmitters back on the wheels.  Max is 80 lbs. however, I chose to not go to 80 due to the cold temps.

I loaded the bikes on the rack on the kingpin and a stowed the satellite dish and stand. 

I also picked up our solar lights and other miscellaneous items in preparation for an early departure.  I had read on a Carriage RV forum of a potential problem with regard to the slide motors.  Apparently the mounting bolts for the slide motors may come loose over time causing slide retraction issue.  Based on that information, I check out the motor mount bolts on the door side slide and discovered they were each about a 1/4 to 1/2 turn loose.  So I snugged them up for piece of mind.  I'll be checking the other large off-door slide motor soon.  The bedroom slide motor is located under the bed and it's the smallest slide so likely not exposed to as much stress. 

That evening we took Ashley out to dinner.  Unfortunately, Andrew is now back in flight school and has a lot of studying to do for the next 6 weeks of this phase.  He decided to study instead.  When we got back we all said our good-byes.  I'm sure it will be a while before we see them again.

We plan to leave to no later than 10:00 tomorrow.   Destination is a Gulf Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou.  It's a first come first serve park, so we shall keep our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chillin and Truck Maintenance

February 21 and 22, 2010.
The last couple of days have been beautiful, with cool mornings, slightly overcast and moderate afternoons in the low to mid 60’s. 
Joyce took Ashley shopping on Sunday and I stayed home with Maggie and Rico, except for a short windy ride on my bike.  Not a whole lot going on!  Sometimes It’s nice to just chill.
Monday, February 22, I had an oil change scheduled for my truck.  I got out early and made a trip to Walmart to buy 3 gallons of Rotella T 15w-40 oil for my truck.  A good diesel mechanic at a Dodge dealership had recommended this oil.  
I got to my 10:00 appointment at Milton Dodge a little early. My truck’s manual says to change the oil every 6 months or no longer than 7500 miles.  The truck itself has a sensor that detects something in the oil, which will cause the “change oil” message to come on in the overhead.  I haven't seen that message yet!

I had the first oil change at 2500 miles.  Today’s oil change was at just over 6600 miles.  However, I’ve owned the truck for 11 months now.   Even though it's early, I wanted to get it done now since we will be traveling more frequently in the next few months.

Back home and after lunch, I set out for another bike ride of about 18 miles on my mountain bike.  It was a bit windy, but it felt good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Kayaking and Bowling?

February 20, 2010.  The day started out cool and sunny, but warmed to the lower 60's.  We did the usual walks with Maggie and Rico and then set them up outside in the warm sun.  Joyce wanted to do some laundry at the park. 

I unpacked our Sea Eagle 370 Kayak and pumped it up in about 20 minutes.  I then took it on a solo ride in the salt marsh behind us.  I wanted to have it ready to go when Ashley and Andrew visited with us in the afternoon.

I took a bike ride down to the north entrance of Garcon Point Trail.  I then rode the hike/ bike trail on my bike.  It was one of the wettest and bumpiest rides I've ever done.  The trail was riddled with lots of tree roots and small ditches.  I had to ride through water from 1 to 8 inches deep as there was no way to avoid it.  I made it to the south entrance without getting too awful wet and muddy.  I then rode the 6 miles back on the road.

Shortly after I returned, Ashley and Andrew arrived at our RV site.  Before long, Ashley and Andrew were taking a short cruise in the Kayak.

Ashley was not entirely comfortable with the idea of kayaking/ canoeing in the marsh as she has an exaggerated fear of alligators and sharks. 

Joyce and Maggie waiting on the dock for the safe return of Ashley and Andrew.

Andrew and I then took a ride in the kayak.

We went out as far as we could get into the salt marsh.  Eventually the saw grass became too narrow for us to go any further.

Afterwards we made an early dinner before deciding to go bowling on Whiting Field.  I had not bowled in over 25 years and it showed, I bowled a 102, 107 and 95.

Andrew was awesome he bowled a 230 on his first game, a personal best.  He won each of the three games with ease.  He didn't have to throw as many balls as the rest of us!

Even Ashley beat me on the last of the three games we played.  

Joyce played a consistent game and nearly beat me on the last game.  I guess I can forget about a second career as a professional bowler!

It was almost 9:00 by the time we got home.  We walked the dogs and called it a day.  A great day!