Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Crossing the Gulf States

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crossing the Gulf States

First stop back in the US was San Antonio. April, my youngest daughter, went with us to check out the lifestyle. We stayed at Medina Lake, a large Thousand Trails campground, where going to the bathhouse/pool/spa and the clubhouse/activity center were both quite a jaunt…1 mile each to the left and to the right of our site. But, in our first morning there, we were greeted by 25 or so deer that were waiting to be fed! April had the time of her life!

Bill was coughing a lot but we decided to head on out to San Antonio, about 45 minutes away. We had fun taking photos of the colorful Christmas décor and sights at the River Walk and the historic nooks and corners of the Alamo. I found out that April had not seen the movie The Alamo and so she found out about the story of those brave 300 men and the birth of the Texas Republic. At the end of the day, we chose an English Pub where the yuppie and I delighted on giant treat of appetizers while Bill feasted on shepherd’s pie, a traditional dish he had missed. But Bill was also feeling tired by the time we left.

The following day we chose to go straight on down to Houston where we were to meet the Mackies (Jack was a member of the DUs, Damned Unbearables, Bill’s high school gang). Jack immediately brought Bill to his doctor and that was where they diagnosed him with pneumonia. When they recommended an MRI because of a suspicious spot they found after an Xray of his lungs was taken. I cried at the agony of not knowing. It was a long one week later when we found out, after anxiously following up almost every day, that they were futile tears.

Then Joy made us a wonderful dinner of beef pasta, salad, and wine. We all decided to stay another night because Bill needed a lot of rest so Jack and I bought a Thai dinner of red curry, pad thai, and veggies with peanut sauce. We stayed another night to give Bill more rest (by the way, I do not drive and the reason is another story!) so I cooked chicken tinola with substitute veggies. The next morning, before our departure, Joy treated us to a wonderful new idea in breakfasts: harvest pancakes, sausage patties, and the ‘Joy’ scrambled eggs. The Mackies were very gracious hosts.

In no time we were in New Orleans, The Big Easy. And what delight we had when we found out that our RV Park was just right around the corner of The French Quarter! To top it all, it was only 5 years old and the amenities and facilities were top-class. Of course, the camping fees were also top dollar ($69 per night) but since we were CCUSA members we only paid half! It was all well worth it.

Katrina must have really taken a toll on New Orleans because I remember the French Quarter as a little cleaner, smelling better than this. But the revelry was the same and I actually got to know the place better. The last time I was there was for a conference and, aside from coffee at Café du monde and a private party at a pub, I had not really walked around. Now, with our cruising lifestyle, we had the time to visit the Cathedral, the alleys, Café du Monde, the French Market, the Creole Shop, Pat O’Brien’s and sample treats such as gumbo, hurricane, and pralines, etc. But we were sad to see April go at the end of this leg. She will be spending Christmas with sisters Trisha and Claudine in Seattle.

Our next stop was Styx River Resort in Robertsdale, Alabama. It had the best spa we ever had thus far. It was indoor, together with a heated pool, and it was small enough so we could put up our feet on the other side and truly relax. It was more of a family resort for the weekend. We could not use the spa the day we arrived because some teenagers were not careful the night before (we never found out what they really did).

But the best part of this stop was discovering Fair Hope, Alabama, a quaint little town where we found a Writers’ Cottage behind the public library where writers could take temporary refuge, had raw oysters for $3 a dozen at a pub on the waterfront (Mobile Bay), and tons of Christmas lights on all the trees that lined the streets.

There were also many quaint shops so Bill and I agreed to part and look for our stocking stuffers ($20 budget: for each other). I found a leather passport holder that they engraved in silver the letters, ‘William R. Colborn’ for free. Bill found a cute cheese slicer and a petite umbrella for me. We also shopped for the small Christmas Eve dinner we wanted to prepare for ourselves. We found a 3-pound turkey roast, cranberry jelly, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, candied yams, green beans for a casserole, and whipped cream for the bread pudding I was going to make.

And we headed on to Florida for the holidays and the long winter!