3/4/06:  Left Sanderson yesterday morning and traveled a short distance to Marfa where we parked at the "Marfa Lights Viewing Area" along Highway 90.  This is the second time we stopped there in hopes of seeing the mysterious Marfa Lights.  Unfortunately, once again we did not see them.  They tell us there is only an 8% chance of seeing them on any given evening or morning.  If we keep stopping one day we will get lucky! 

From Marfa we continued on to El Paso this morning.  We are at the Fort Bliss campground just a few miles from downtown El Paso.  From here we plan to head north to the White Sands area of New Mexico.

3/2/06:  After nearly two weeks at the Escapee Park near Hondo we headed westward with an overnight stop at the Indian Casino at Eagle Pass.  Today it was on to the little town of Sanderson, Texas.  Sylvia did fairly well at the casino, leaving only a few dollars behind.  Len just could not get into the mood to throw money at the machines!


2/19/06:  We departed Palacios yesterday and traveled to the San Antonio area were we are once again at the Escapee's RV Park just west of Hondo (40 miles west of San Antonio).  Uneventful trip from Palacios with the exception of noticing something hanging down under the trailer when we stopped for lunch.  Closer inspection revealed the underbelly covering had came loose at one of the seams.  Easy fix this morning but points out the need to keep a close eye on everything when dragging your home all over the country!

Weather turned cool yesterday with high around 40 degrees.  At one point the temperature was 38 and raining - could have been snowing!  Again cold last night and today - even heavy frost on the windshield this morning.  And we come down here for the warm weather! 

Good seeing our friends here.  Dinner with them last night and then again tonight.  Expect we will stay here for a week or two and then continue on west.

2/15/06:  Made a short day trip to Matagorda today.  Quite a nice SMALL town right on the Intercoastal Canal and about 2-3 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.  Right at the end of the road there are several homes (mostly vacation homes) and a few condos.  Really a beautiful beach.  Had lunch at the Riverbend Restaurant on the way back.  Great gumbo!  The owner there keeps a cleared area across the river from the restaurant and takes leftovers over to feed the wild pigs, deer and alligators.  Only got to see a few pigs today and some Roseate Spoonbills. 


Intercoastal Canal


Matagorda Beach


Spoonbills



2/14/06:  Happy Valentines Day!!!  We are still sitting at the Bayside RV Park in Palacios, Texas.  We were going to spend only one week here but have found we like the place so decided to stay another week.  They are having a shrimp/oyster fest next week and they are booked solid or we would consider staying a while longer.  Quite a nice group of people here!  They (the park) sponsors several events including meals (for a small fee), potlucks and of course annual shrimp/oyster fest.  Tonight was a Valentines Day dinner for the whole park - quite a feed for five bucks!

Caught a nice 24" Redfish Sunday night.  Set the pole Sunday evening and reeled him in the next morning.  Talk about easy fishing (see catch).  Tonight I waded out about 100 yards to get my line into deeper water and found another line across my path.  Followed it back to one of the neighbors and she had a nice 16" drum on the line.  They didn't know what to do with it so I cleaned it for them.

As you have probably noticed, I have changed my web host provider and moved everything today.  Expect to be adding lots more "stuff" over the next few weeks.  Please let me know what you would/would not like to see more/less of.  I now have 5Gbytes so plenty of room.

2/6/06:  On south today to Palacios, Texas where we are camped right on the edge of the Matagorda Bay.  Had a great visit with Len's old school buddy - even managed to swing by and see his son and his family.  Made a trip to the Security flea market and picked up a few things we really didn't need but isn't that what you are supposed to do at flea markets! 

We will stay here for a week or so and will get a few photos and add them in a day or two.  Really nice little town here with loads of shrimp boats on the inland side of the RV park.  Should be able to get some nice blue water shrimp here if we want.

Matagorda Bay

Town of Palacios


2/3/06:  After nearly a week in the New Orleans area we moved on to Baton Rouge Monday where we spent four days camped at Farr Park adjacent to the Mississippi River just south of the city.  While there we had a great visit with our friends Kent & Jan whom we met at Grand Isle back in 2000.  Didn't do much of anything other than visit with them.  Today we headed on west into Texas where we found a small RV park owned by another Escapees Club member.  Located about six miles outside of Tomball, Texas in the countryside.  Seems to be a quite little park with only a dozen sites.  Will remain here until early next week and visit with Len's old school buddy (grade school & high school).  Also must find a welding shop and have some repairs done to the boat rack on the truck.

1/29/06:  We had a great visit with our friends from Baton Rouge yesterday.  They are volunteering with the Lutheran Rescue Operation here and are "camped" in the Lutheran Church in Metairie.  They have been going out into the community assisting in the cleanup efforts.  Typically they are ripping out sheetrock, carpets, removing mud (now dry) and generally stripping housed down to the studs so that they can be dried out and all the mold and mildew killed before any rebuilding begins.  They are now acting as cooks in the main camp where other volunteers stay while here for a few days or a few months.  Some photos below taken at the camp.


Camp


Mess Tent


The Cooks


Today we took a drive to the eastern parts of New Orleans (St. Bernard & Chalmette).  Virtually all of the homes in that area had extensive flooding and are not fit for habitation.  FEMA trailers throughout the area.  The sheer numbers of houses and apartments that are no longer available is astounding.  We drove by apartment complexes with thousands of vacant units in them - most with roof gone or damaged.  The damage goes on for literally miles and miles.  We took over 200 photos but individual photos just do not show the magnitude of the damage so I choose not to place any of them here on the web site.   Even a cemetery with concrete vaults uprooted from the ground - I understand after the storm there were caskets lying around also.

1/25/06:  A trip into the French Quarter today.  There are still many stores and restaurants that are closed and no where near the number of people around.  Jackson Square only had two Tarot Card readers!  Really sad to see such an economic downturn to a city so vibrant a few short months ago. 

The French Quarter does not show the massive destruction as other areas but there is still some evidence of broken windows and roof damage.  Lots of workers all over the place.  I am sure the Quarter will come back much as it was before.  While we have not been there yet, I understand the Uptown section is much the same with little damage.  The eastern part of town I am sure is another story all together - not sure I even want to go see that area.

Where we are here in Algiers also fared well with only wind and rain damage - no flooding to speak of.  There are a lot of blue tarps on roofs and plenty of FEMA trailers parked in front yards. 

1/24/06:  After what seemed like a short two months with Butch & Betty we bid a sad farewell this morning and traveled to the New Orleans area where we are camped on the Naval Support Activity base just across the river from the French Quarter.  The two months at Grand strengthened the friendship between us to a level far beyond anything we could imagine.  Helping someone on a one-on-one basis is a very satisfying experience.  Much more than helping a complete stranger.  While this winter did not provide the bountiful fishing that years past have, we would like to think we leave Grand Isle a little better place this year! 


1/18/06:  Nearly finished with all the work here at Butch & Betty's.  A very gratifying two months we have spent here helping.  Thought a couple of before and after photos might be appropriate at this point.  Nearly completed with the rebuilding now.  About all the big jobs left is rebuilding the pier which will wait for warmer weather. 


East Side before


East Side After


West Side Before


West Side After


We ventured to Houma for the annual Boat & RV show last weekend.  Didn't find anything we were interested in at this time but still nice to look at what is out there.  Seems most of the RVs there are not meant for full time living as they (at least the fifth wheels) do not have very much carrying capacity.  Butch & Betty joined us and we made a full day out of the trip by including the local Lowes building supply for some more building materials. 

Had a surprise last week when the Grand Isle Chief of Police stopped by with some fresh venison he had shot over in Mississippi.  What a treat that was - Betty did a great job of cooking it. 


1/7/05:  Here we are a week into 2006 already.  We had a VERY quite New Years Eve here (I think we were in bed by 10 PM.  Guess Butch & I worked a little too hard that day.  We have had a great week here getting more and more accomplished.  

Made a trip to Lowes in Houma yesterday and picked up enough material (we hope) to enclose the downstairs portion of the house.  The house is built on ten foot pilings and the local building codes do not allow living quarters on the ground floor but they can be enclosed for storage.  The walls have to be constructed as "break away" in the event of a flood, thus preventing the whole house from being swept away.  Needless to say, this can be a bit of a pain in the rear.  Hope to get started on the walls tomorrow.

Butch & I took a day off earlier in the week and went fishing.  Unfortunately, not even a nibble the whole time we were out.  Weather was great so we ventured into the Gulf of Mexico and fished our way from Grand Isle to Port Fourchon and out to a few of the oil rigs off shore a few miles.  Had fun regardless of the finicky fish!  Will try another place or two next week.


12/30/05:  Once again an update on the tremendous efforts of people from far away places helping out those in need here in Grand Isle.  We now have a group of teenagers from Syracuse, New York here for their Christmas break.  This is a group of high school students and their Principle volunteering their time and money to travel all the way down here for a few days of cleanup activity.  The Grand Isle Rotary had a seafood feed for them Wednesday evening and we were invited to partake in some great food.  Some photos of the feast can be found at:  Feast


The thumbnail at right shows the results of ONE day of work by the current group of Mennonites that are here from as far away as Ontario
and Wisconsin.  In a single day they hauled all this debris off of one homeowners property.  FEMA crews will now haul it to the local dump.  They (the Mennonites) have been keeping about two dozen adults here since the beginning of October.  They continue to volunteer their time to the local people who are in need.

We continue to keep busy helping our hosts (Butch & Betty) in their efforts.  Finished the railing around the deck and down the stairs this morning.  Not sure what the next project(s) will be.

Happy New Year!



Debris from One Home (granted, this guy was a pack rat)

12/27/05:  A nice quite Christmas we did enjoy.  Butch & Betty went to New Orleans to spend the holiday with their daughter and grandkids.  They returned Monday with the two grandkids.  Weather turned nice for Santa and even nicer the next two days.  Did have one heck of a rainstorm Christmas Eve with high wind and 2-3 inches of rain. 

Things have slowed down a little on repairs around Butch & Betty's.  A combination of cold weather and the majority of the major work being done.  Have a little more vinyl trim on the back porch and then railings for the front porch (water side) and the majority of the work will be done.   

Have managed to get in a little fishing over the weekend.  Caught a medium sized flounder and a sheephead.  Let them both go to grow some more - next years catch!  Monday Sylvia and I took a drive down the island and rode our bikes down the beach to the State Park (they won't let anyone in the front gate).  One of the bath houses (western most one) was completely destroyed along with the fishing pier.  Other than that the only damage is to the levy between the beach and the campground which suffered a lot of erosion.  In reality the storm cleaned things up quite a bit along the beach but it took a tremendous amount of the vegetation and bushes all along the park.  I will post a few of the pictures of the park here:  Park Damage 12_26.htm

I spent a few days last week cleaning up the debris from the old fishing pier across the street from Butch & Betty's.  I understand the old Cigars Restaurant actually landed across the entrance to the new bridge and the old fishing bridge leaving LOTS of debris.  I must have hauled at least two pickup loads of junk off of the pier.  The Mennonite crowd had cleaned up to the pier but had not touched the actual pier (probably out of concern for their safety).