Monday, October 31, 2011

Done with Doctors


We each had our last doctor’s appointments on Friday, so barring any unforeseen medical emergencies, our next two weeks in Pensacola will be spent visiting friends, doing a few things around the RV, and enjoying the beach.

For those of you not familiar with the Pensacola area, we are actually staying on Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. West of the last beach condos it’s about 5 miles to Fort Pickens. Being on such a narrow strip of land, the road frequently gets washed out by hurricanes and tropical storms. In fact, they considered not rebuilding it after Ivan in 2004, but eventually did.

The campground and fort are on the wider part of the island on the lower right. Pensacola NAS is directly across the sound from the west end of the island.

Gulf-Islands-National-Seashore -Fort-Pickens -Aerial_01

Being back in the area as tourists has been fun and interesting. Friday night we met Jimmy and Paula for pizza and beer downtown at Hopjacks . A few years ago it was never very crowded, but downtown Pensacola has changed for the better and is really hopping, at least on the weekends. We’re glad to see that happening. In fact, considering all the places we’ve been to the past few years, Pensacola is really quite nice. Except for the summer heat, humidity, bugs and hurricanes!

After all the running around we’ve done the past two weeks, we decided to spend the weekend just hanging around the campground. It was very windy, especially on Saturday, so we just took some long walks and experimented with the new camera. There is a nice couple mile trail that goes through the other campground and then on to the fort. Always something to see.






This camera has a cool feature where you can pick a color to highlight, which makes the rest of the shot black and white. Out near the fort we saw lots of yellow wildflowers, so Jim picked yellow. The center building is actually red brick. It’s an interesting effect.


Last night we were visiting with Harry and Mary, the Lazy Daze owners from Wyoming. We looked over and saw this.


Then it got even better. What a great way to end the day.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Camera



After our daily doctor’s appointments (today we both saw the dermatologist to get a few things removed), we picked up our mail and the new camera. It was getting late by the time we went for a walk this evening, but Jim played around and took a bunch of shots.


Turtle head in the water.




Fort Pickens.


The highrises of Pensacola Beach way off in the distance.


NAS Pensacola across the inracoastal waterway.


Different camera settings. Lots to learn.



Taken in the dark with the infrared setting. Pretty cool.


Not to keep everyone in suspense, but Jim’s colonoscopy went fine, and he is clear for another ten years. The prep was different this time and not quite as bad, and they used Propofol (the drug that killed Michael Jackson) for the procedure, which left him feeling pretty normal afterward and with no amnesia. In fact we went for a 12 mile bike ride yesterday afternoon and then over to Gary and Terrie’s for dinner. I figured he would sleep most of the afternoon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Friends and Food


It’s been great being back in Pensacola and meeting up with our old friends. Thursday night we met Gary and Terrie at Ozone, our old pizza haunt. Gary and Jim were roommates when we first met, and have been good friends for many years. Gary plays guitar in a Celtic band called Sweet Prospect.


Friday night we met Mike and Candy, Rick and Anne, and Jimmy and Paula for dinner at Carraba’s, then went downtown to Gallery Night. Gary’s band was playing at one of the galleries, so we looked in a few shops and listened to some nice music. Unfortunately Gallery Night has grown into a giant street party, with Palafox Street being closed off for the evening. It was about as crowded as Bourbon Street in New Orleans, which isn’t really a good thing.

Saturday our old recumbent bike friend Mark from Ft. Walton came over with his new wife Sheve. He brought Jim’s favorite bike, a Reynold’s Z-Bone, which Jim sold to Mark before we left. Jim was involved in a big crash in September ‘08, the last time we rode with our bike club, the Blackwater Cyclists. Luckily Jim wasn’t hurt but his bike was pretty broken up. Mark, being a machinist, bought it from Jim as is and repaired it so it was rideable again. He was nice enough to let Jim use it for a few weeks while we’re here.


Sunday Mike and Candy came out to the beach and we rode bikes, then that evening we went to dinner at Randy and Sunaree’s house for Randy’s birthday. They are excellent chefs and we had a wonderful Spanish meal of tapas, paella, and flan for desert, complete with candles.


Much to our surprise, two other Lazy Daze came into the campground this week, a couple from Wyoming and another from Germany, who just picked up their new LD from the factory in California the beginning of September. They are visiting friends and relatives around the country, plan to store the RV in Phoenix next month for the winter (their daughter lives in Flagstaff), and come back from Germany next May for 5 months of travel in the states.

Yesterday we met Jim’s brother, Travis, for lunch at the Florida Pizza Kitchen. When we got back and were getting out of the car, our neighbors across the street asked if we were Jim and Gayle. Turns out they read our blog and have recently been on a similar route as ours. Small world!

We’ve been trying to do long walks and bike rides in between all our going out to eat, and the weather has definitely cooperated. If you want to visit the Gulf Coast of Florida, Alabama, or Mississippi, October is definitely the month to come.

And the sunsets are spectacular.




The new camera is in but we didn’t pick up mail today. Jim’s been home prepping for his colonoscopy tomorrow. Glad it’s him and not me!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pensacola Beach



It’s been a whirlwind week, with multiple doctor’s appointments and visits with friends and former coworkers.

Dinner at Rick and Anne’s. From left, Jim, Jimmy, Paula, Anne, and Rick. We stayed out until midnight and haven’t laughed so hard in a long time!


We finally decided on a camera, which will arrive next week. We’ll be here at Fort Pickens Campground on Pensacola Beach at least until November 11, and may stay longer. With Jim’s senior pass it is only $10 a night, and at this time of year you can stay 44 days. Can’t beat that!

Just a few pictures from our walks. Hope they will look even better after we get the new camera, a Nikon Coolpix S9100.




Monday, October 17, 2011

Fort Pickens Campground, Pensacola Beach, FL



We had reservations beginning today at Fort Pickens but after talking to our friend Candy the other night we decided to arrive in the Pensacola area a day early and spend the night in Mike and Candy’s driveway. They live in Milton, FL on Mulat Bayou, just across the I-10 bridge over Escambia Bay. We had a lovely spot to park, but had to go around back to see the water. Not that we were complaining given the price!




Mike’s 83 year old mom, whom we dearly love, even came from Crestview to see us. She still plays golf and travels and seems much younger. She is on the left talking with Candy. The indoor shots I took of everyone didn’t turn out.


They have a great location to watch the sunset over the bay.


This morning we went to pick up our mail at American Home Base. On the way there we drove by our old house. We are so glad we don’t have that yard to keep up anymore, and it looked like the new owners aren’t doing a very good job. It was a constant struggle to keep the grass growing.


Since Mike took a few days off work, he went for a bike ride with us when we got back, and we finally made our way out to Pensacola Beach later this afternoon. We got a very nice, shaded site, of which there aren’t many due to all the tree damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This is how much of the campground looks.


Jim’s brother Travis came by after we got set up and I went and did some laundry while they visited.


Tomorrow morning we each have a doctor’s appointment, then we’re visiting our former neighbors in the afternoon, and meeting some other friends for dinner. Looks like we’re going to be busy here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paul B. Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS



We drove another 100 miles yesterday to Hattiesburg and a stop at Paul B. Johnson State Park. This is familiar territory to us, as we’ve stayed here quite a few times over the years when we lived in Pensacola.

Since we were last here close to four years ago they have added sewer hookups to all the sites and it is only $20 a night. We are in the newest campground right across the street from the lake. Many of the sites have nice views of the water.


Today we went to Hattiesburg to ride bikes on the Longleaf Trace, a 41 mile Rails-To-Trails paved trail that starts at the University of Southern Mississippi and goes to Prentiss.


The first couple miles go over and under several bridges and underpasses, but then it becomes rural, wooded, and shady, with very few people. We rode 15 miles to Sumrall and decided we better turn around. When we had our recumbents we would come here and easily ride 50 miles, but on upright bikes we’re just not as comfortable so 30 is about our limit.

It was a beautiful day but no pictures. Too busy riding!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lefleur’s Bluff State Park, Jackson, MS



After another 140 mile drive yesterday we arrived at Lefleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson, MS, actually within the city limits about a mile from I-55. Consequently you can hear some traffic noise and a train but it’s tolerable. We got a site on the small lake for $18 a night with water and electric. The only downside is a 1.5 mile dusty gravel road into the campground.

Quincy’s enjoying the view.


There are lots of egrets and herons around the lake. We had never seen an egret in a tree before.


Yesterday afternoon we walked some of the trails. It’s very swampy and we had to walk fast because the mosquitoes were loving the taste of Jim.



The park is on the Pearl River, which had some nice sandy banks to pull up on if you were in a canoe or kayak. We had to walk even faster at this point as it was thundering and getting ready to storm. We got back just as the first drops were falling.


I saw that we were only five miles from Mellow Mushroom, so last night we went out for pizza to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary, which was Sunday, Jim’s upcoming birthday next Sunday, and our 3 year anniversary (Oct 6) of being homeless. We liked our spot and view at Maumell Park so much we didn’t want to go out on Sunday. Instead Alan and Marilyn brought their wood over and we had a great fire under the moonlight by the river. .

We decided to stay in Jackson so we could visit Ride South, a bicycle shop just 8 miles from the park. They have a huge selection of recumbents, which we miss riding, so we wanted to see what was new. After coffee and a bagel at the Beagle Bagel Cafe, each of us buying new walking/trail shoes at an very nice outdoor gear shop called Buffalo Peak Outfitters, which had some good bargains on shoes, and me getting a haircut, we then drooled over all the pretty new recumbents at Ride South. If and when we ever settle down somewhere in a bike friendly area, we will both be going back to recumbent bikes.

The owner told us about some paved bike trails near the store, so we took off on our bikes for a 10 mile ride. We rode through Timberland Campground on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. It is really nice, so we stopped by the office to check on rates for the long term sites. The woman told us there are 200 people on a waiting list for a site, so I guess we can scratch that idea!

Tomorrow we’re off to Hattiesburg for one more stop before we get to Pensacola.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lake Chicot State Park, AR



We left Maumelle Park this morning and drove 140 miles southeast to Lake Chicot State Park, near lake Village, AR in the middle of nowhere. It’s a nice enough park but the roads are in horrible condition and we were warned they have an ant problem. Maybe why there is hardly anyone here. We opted for a 30 amp water and electric site for $20 but could have had a lakefront full hookup site for $28, or $31 for a 50amp pull through. I wanted to wash some clothes so we took a site right behind the laundry building. Better than dragging everything to a laundromat.

Went for a walk around the park this evening. The sites on the water were angled so they all had nice views of the lake through the trees.


We saw this egret and lots of cypress trees.




We have a few more pictures from Maumelle Park. We really liked it there, and decided to stay another night. Our site was reserved for Monday so we moved to another one two sites over. It had an even better view and we didn’t want to leave, partly due to the great weather, getting to visit with Terry, and Alan and Marilyn, and the wonderful biking. Also the visits by raccoons and skunks!


We did another bike ride yesterday to Two Rivers Park and rode the trails in the park and across the first pedestrian/bike bridge on the Arkansas River trail.

We passed these really nice homes on the way that are right on the river.


Some scenes from Two Rivers Park.




And the moon over the river last night.


Tomorrow we’ll be in Mississippi.