12/29/08: From Baton Rouge we headed on to New Orleans (Bayou Segnette State Park) where we stayed for six days. While there we made a day trip down to Grand Isle looking for a place to park for a month or two. Unfortunately, the only places we could find looked a little risky getting our heavy truck and trailer parked - we would have had to maneuver in some soft and sandy ground and we just did not feel comfortable doing so. Had a good visit with friends while there.
We left New Orleans on the Friday before Christmas and traveled to Biloxi, MS where we checked into the Keesler Air Force Base FamCamp. Had hopped to get a long term (2-3 month) site but none were available so we only stayed two nights in one of their overflow sites and then moved back west about 40 miles to a small private park just outside Bay St. Louis. Actually enjoy this park much more than we would have the Keesler camp - close to a boat ramp for Len and casino for Sylvia!
Had a nice quiet Christmas day followed by a good buffet at the local casino. Took the boat out the day after Christmas and managed to catch a few fish. Only one keeper (flounder) but had fun. Sylvia even went with me for a change.
Unbelievable how much damage is still apparent from Katrina in this area. Actually had some damage from Gustav this year but there are many housed that were destroyed by Katrina that have not even begun to rebuild yet. All along the beach front where once stood large beautiful homes there are still many empty slabs of concrete or some posts sticking out of the ground. Of course the damage is throughout town but just most apparent along the water front.
They have rebuilt most of US 90 along the coast now, however there is still work in some areas. Down the median where once stood magnificent live oak trees, there stand only a few today. The ones that have actually died have been turned into works of chain saw art. Here are a few samples:
12/11/08: Landed in Baton Rouge yesterday after four days in Lake Charles. Woke up to this today!
Click for a larger view
They closed down Interstate 10 along with all the other major bridges around Baton Rouge. Talk about shutting down the city! The temperature dropped below freezing and all of the bridges began icing over and they really don't have the equipment to handle this kind of weather.
While in Lake Charles we took a day trip down through Cameron and Holy Beach. This area was hit hard by hurricane Rita back in 2005 and had started to recover some when Gustav hit this year. Things are a real mess down there once again. Sure convinces us that we do not want to live on the Gulf Coast!
On our way over here Tuesday there was a major truck accident about 15 miles west of Baton Rouge - four trucks and a car. Sat in the middle of Interstate 10 for two and a half hours while they cleared the road. Sat there longer than it took to drive from Lake Charles!
12/5/08: After two wonderful months at Matagorda we headed east this morning. Traveled through Houston mid morning traffic with no trouble and made it all the way to Lake Charles, LA where we will remain at Sam Houston Jones State Park until Tuesday.
The park at Matagorda was the site for a gathering (rally??) of small "egg shell" campers. Over 40 of them had arrived by the time we left this morning. Looking out across the campground, egg shells were all you could see! One wonders what they will be when they hatch!
Click for a larger imageHad a bit of excitement when we returned from dinner last night. Ambulance and police were parked near the campground and there was a small fire burning on the opposite side of the river. Seems two fishermen had ran into problems with their boat out in West Matagorda Bay and walked for six hours to the river bank across from the campground. The area across the river is an island (remember the cattle drive last week). Poor guys waited another couple of hours until we returned from dinner with Roy and Rita and Roy put his boat in and ferried a paramedic across only to find both fishermen in good shape and only needing a ride back across the river and to their vehicle parked in Matagorda. Sheriff's boat finally arrived and transported both of them to safety.
12/1/08: Found some more fish today - couple of nice reds! Click to enlarge. The big one was 37" and nearly 18 pounds and the smaller one was 29" and about 8 pounds. Roy also caught a sixteen incher.
Had a surprise over the Thanksgiving weekend. Received word that friends we had met in Palacios two years ago were back in Palacios - about 30 miles away. Needless to say, we headed over for lunch with them on Saturday. Great to see them again.
Had a nice quiet Thanksgiving here in the park with our new friends Roy and Rita. Followed up with a boat ride across the river to get no fish. Oh well, had fun regardless.
11/25/08: Had an unusual experience here today - guess it happens twice a year but unusual for us anyway. They brought about four hundred head of cattle down the road and swam them across the river. We have seen many a cattle drive before but never one that required the cows to swim a river. The Colorado River here is over 12 feet deep for most of the crossing. Here are a few photos and a video (click here for the video - 31MB) if interested.
And I can't help but throw in a photo of the latest red fish. The big one was 30 inches, 9.5 pounds and the smaller one was 24" and 5 pounds.
11/21/08: Been here at Matagorda for nearly seven weeks now and thoroughly enjoying our stay. Took a drive through south Houston, Galveston, Bolivar Peninsula and back through Galveston and Freeport on the way back to Matagorda. What a mess things are in over there. On the Peninsula there used to be over 6000 houses - now there are less than 500 and most of them are uninhabitable! Essentially total destruction. Galveston was not much better. The seawall remained intact and most of the business located on the seawall are back in operation. We did not venture downtown Galveston due to the congestion but from what we could see it was not a pretty sight!
The road along Galveston Island is in good shape until you hit the bridge at San Luis Pass. The bridge is okay but the road west of the bridge is washed out in many places. You must drive nearly five miles on the beach to reach Freeport. Most of the houses on the west end of Galveston Island and west of San Luis Pass are in pretty bad shape. Makes one wonder why anyone would want to build a house on the beach!
Caught a few more fish from the jetty yesterday. That's me on the left and my fishing buddy Roy on the right. The redfish sure are good when cooked "on the half shell". Fillet them and leave the skin and scales on. Season with butter, lemon, garlic and whatever else you like and throw them on the BBQ for about an hour (indirect heat).
11/3/08: Finally found some nice fish today. One nice 22" redfish, two 22" Speckled trout and four 16-20" speckled trout. Nice fish fry sitting in the freezer! Plan to BBQ the redfish. Here is a photo of this afternoon's catch (that's Roy helping hold them up):
10/29/08: From Fall River we headed south to Oolagah Lake in Northeast Oklahoma. After two days we continued south to Lake Texoma near Dennison, TX. Stayed in an Oklahoma Corps of Engineers campground just across the Texas border. While there we visited the Eisenhower Birthplace in Dennison. I did not know that Eisenhower was a talented painter. They have several of his oil paintings on display there.
From Lake Texoma we headed on south to the Tyler, Texas area for a visit with friends Dennis and Mary. Dennis and I used to work together at Tektronix in another lifetime. Had a great visit with them and even found a good campground for future use.
From Tyler area we headed on south to Matagorda on the Texas Gulf Coast about 80 miles west of Galveston. They did not have very much damage from Ike so the campground here was opened within a few weeks of the storm. Friends from Hondo and Utopia came down for a week with us and we enjoyed several days of fishing (but not a whole lot of catching) with them. Did manage to connect with a couple of nice red fish and several trout and other fish.
Have met a couple who are hear as work campers (Roy and Rita) and have enjoyed their company on several occasions - at least two evenings to Palacios for $1.49 margaritas at Los Couscos Mexican restaurant on Tuesday nights. Roy and I have had several days of fishing together - all good but some not so good as others! Have decided to stay here another month and then head for Grand Isle. Unfortunately, the State Park there is closed due to storm damage so we will stay at a commercial park and pay a little more this year.
9/27/08: From Junction City we continued southward to Fall River, KS where we camped at the same Corps of Engineers campground we stayed at in 2005. Really nice campground just below Fall River Dam. They have been letting a lot of water out of the dam the entire time we have been here and the river below the dam is running pretty high.
Yesterday we took a drive over to the town of Ferdonia and visited the Old Iron Days event. A local group gets together every year and pulls out all of the OLD equipment and bring it to town and show everyone how it used to be done. Some stuff there over 100 years old and still working!
Today they had the Mountain Man Encampment at the Fall River State park. Not as interesting as the Old Iron event but worth the visit. Here are a few photos of both events:
9/20/08: From Hot Springs we headed east on US 18 (and a couple of others) to the Yankton, SD area. Spent one night in a small town of Winner, SD before landing in Yankton for four days. The day we arrived they were having their annual Ribfest downtown. Great lunch/dinner opportunity! We also spent a couple of days just driving around the countryside. We were very impressed with the area - clean and well maintained.
We headed south on US 81 traveling to Stromsburg, NE where we found a city park with water and electric hookups. No charge to stay for two nights - donations gladly accepted! Very nice park! Made a day trip into the town of York, NE and toured the local museum.
From Stromsburg it was on south to Kansas where we landed at Milford Lake near Junction City. Initially went to the Curtis Creek campground and got all set up only to discover the site we were in was reserved. They had made no effort to identify reserved sites like "normal" campgrounds do. Needless to say, we were a little PISSED OFF and told the couple in charge what was on our minds. Their response? "I am not paid to do that" We packed up and went to a different campground! Needless to say, there will be a formal complaint filed!
Went into town for dinner after that fiasco. Used my new GPS to locate the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Made it easy to locate. Unfortunately, I had not properly changed the "home" setting and when we headed back to the campground it got us all messed up trying to route us back to Yankton, SD! Now I know how to reset "home" properly!!
Went back into town today and toured the museums at Fort Riley and the county museum. They had an 1800s re-enactment going on at the county museum also. Interesting but rather small scale - museums were more interesting. Fort Riley has one of the old Army Officer housing units set up as a "Custer House" museum. While it is not the actual house Custer lived in, it is a duplicate from the same vintage. Interesting tour.
9/12/08: From Ashland, MT we headed on southeast to the Rapid City, SD area where we stayed at Ellsworth AFB Famcamp for one night. Brief commissary run and then on south to Hot Springs, SD where we spent a few days with my cousin whom I had not seen for over fifty years. Needless to say, we have both changed just a little - still have our good looks though! They have a 700 acre spread with the Cheyenne river running through. Caught a few fish - although did not really try very hard. Spent more time visiting than fishing! Great to get acquainted again! Lots of blue gill in the river but very small. Tom said there was bass in the river as well but we didn't see any.
9/5/08: From Great Falls we headed east the day after Labor Day stopping in
Roundup, MT in a small county park that welcomes overnight campers (for
a donation only). Ended up staying for three nights as it was so
peaceful. Made a day trip into Billings for a visit with an old
neighbor from Metolius where I grew up. Some of you may know Sybil
Walker, a very good friend of my mom. Sybil just celebrated her 90th
birthday and is still doing really well even after breaking a hip a few
years ago. Her daughter (Ginger) lives there and she shares a nice
home with her mom. Had a really nice visit and a got a tour of the new
Four Square Church where Ginger's husband Stan is the senior pastor.
We left Roundup this morning and continued eastward to a small Forest Service campground (Red Shale) just east of Ashland, MT. Plan to stay here for 2 or 3 nights then on to South Dakota. Two other campers in here tonight - one nice couple from the Spokane area and another VERY noisy couple from California. If the California couple stays another day, we may be heading on tomorrow! Nice campground here with a great view of the mountains and valley from our site.
8/30/08: We spent three days near Essex and finally got tired of the cool weather and headed on eastward to Great Falls, MT where we are staying at the Malmstrom AFB Famcamp. We did manage to make a day trip through Glacier National Park on Thursday. Very cold, wet and windy but still Glacier is always a place of beauty. They are doing a lot of work on the Going to the Sun Highway which causes several delays especially on the west side. Saw a small herd of Dall sheep just below the summit on the east side. It was not a great day for photos but here are a few:
Today we took a drive down the Missouri River from Great Falls to view four of the remaining falls (one has been covered by water from a dam). All are very beautiful. Also took in the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This is the area where Lewis & Clark spent nearly a month portaging around all of the falls. Below Ryan Dam/Great Falls there is an island with a foot bridge leading over the river. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the island. Here are a few photos of the Great Falls area:
8/26/08: We continued east from the Troy area to a small Forest Service campground east of Essex, MT, just a few miles from the Continental Divide). We are about 50 miles from the east entrance to Glacier National Park so may have to venture over there when we get a good weather day. Temperature forecast for the 60s and low 70 for the next week here with night time lows down into the 30s! Sure can't complain about the heat now! Expect we will remain here through Labor Day and then on to Great Falls. We took Highway 2 following the Kootenai River, Fisher River and the Flathead River making it and easy drive and quite scenic.
8/22/08: We had a great time in Kettle Falls visiting with Al & Jeanie. Weather was way too HOT to get out and do much of anything but visit so that is what we did and enjoyed it! Over the weekend the temperature got over 100 so all one wanted to do was sit in the air conditioned comfort. They took us over to the small town of Republic on Monday and then on to some of the local lakes (Swan, Ferry and Curlew). Very nice area!
We departed Kettle Falls yesterday and traveled to a small Forest Service Campground near Troy, MT where we will remain until early next week. Took a ride down to Troy and Libby today. The Kootenai River runs right along highway 2 through this area making for a very scenic drive. Stopped a few miles south of Troy and hiked out to the Kootenai Falls. One of the many wonders of nature.
8/14/08: We left Barton Park Monday morning and traveled north to the Iron Creek Forest Service campground about ten miles south of Randle, Washington. Could not get a satellite dish set up due to the VERY tall trees all around. Beautiful campground along the Cispus River. Had hoped to travel up to Windy Ridge and view the Mount St. Helens crater but, unfortunately, the road was washed out and you can only get to within about 10 miles of the crater. Here are a few photos of the area:
Cispus River from the campground loop trail
Iron Creek Falls Cispus River
From Iron Creek we headed eastward to Grand Coulee where we will remain for two days and then on to Kettle Falls for a visit with our friends Al & Jeanie.
8/10/08: From Winchester Bay we traveled east to Lebanon for a short (two days) visit with our son and family and then on over the Cascades to Sisters for a family gathering. Good to see everyone again. From Sisters it was back to Lebanon for another visit with son and family. He has recently bought a boat so we took the kids up to Green Peter Lake for an afternoon of tubing. Very pretty setting and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
While in Lebanon I had an chance to meet with the "gang" for breakfast a couple of times. Always good to visit with them!
We left Lebanon on the 6th and traveled to the Portland area where we are camped at Barton Park, a Clackamas County park a few miles from Boring. Had my eyes looked at Wednesday afternoon and have spent the remainder of our time visiting with friends and family here. Even got together with old Navy friends who were here in town for a convention. Hadn't seen them in nearly 15 years. Had a BBQ here in the park yesterday with nephews and sister.
Plan to head into Washington somewhere around Mt. St. Helens tomorrow and then on to Kettle Falls later in the week.
7/21/08: We left Madras last Monday and traveled to Hyatt Lake just east of Ashland, Oregon. Spent a week there with many visits with our daughter and her family. We kidnapped our grand daughter for two days and nights at the lake. It was her first "sleep over" and she seemed to enjoy herself. AND we got to spend some quality time with the new baby who is growing rapidly! Expect she will be walking and talking when we see here again! Here are a couple of photos:
Went fishing with son-in-laws grand father at Howard Prairie Lake and managed to catch our limits in just over two hours. Initially, it looked like it was going to be a bust but then they started hitting quite rapidly. Also took our grand daughter out in my boat one evening and caught a couple small bass.
Had new tires installed on the trailer before we left Central Oregon. Hard to believe we wore a set out in less than 10,000 miles! Also took the truck in to have the fan clutch assembly replaced. Over $3000 in maintenance in one week!!! Can't handle much of that!
We left Hyatt Lake this morning and traveled over to Winchester Bay near Reedsport on the Oregon coast. Had hopped to catch a few crabs while here but it sounds like crabbing has been poor. Here is a beautiful view of the South Umpqua River near Dillard, Oregon:
We have put together a tentative schedule of our plans for the rest of 2008. If interested you can check it here. I will try to keep it up to date as the year progresses.
7/12/08: We are still sitting at our house near Madras but are ready to roll out for Medford on Monday. Had planned to leave earlier but doctors appointments held us up and then I discovered there was going to be a reunion for the grade school I attended in Metolius. Was worth the wait to see old friends again - some who I have not seen in forty years or more.
The organizer of the event since it's inception, Rachel (Henske) McIntosh, brought an old photo of the great town of Metolius dated 1912 - about the time the railroad arrived. Even though it was a thriving town in 1912, by the time I arrived in the mid 1940s, it had been almost completely destroyed by fire. I think the population when I grew up there was about 75 people (and that may have included cats and dogs).
Metolius, Oregon 1912
And here are a few more recent photos
And the whole gang
7/6/08: The 2008 Fall trip begins at our house in Madras, OR