Our fifth wheel and the truck

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Alligators and other interesting events.

How can something so good keep getting better? Hi y'all. This is a question I have to keep asking myself at the moment. And do I have an answer? No, not yet and probably won't have either. And what has happened this week to raise such an issue? Well you will just have to read on to discover what I got so excited about! Enjoy!

The week started out with us firmly entrenched in New Orleans (NO) and thoroughly enjoying all that N'awlins as to offer.

As I mentioned last week, everyone has to have coffee and beignets at the Cafe Du Monde which has been around for 150 years. So off we went to further explore NO and to take a tour. We started out with the required coffee and doughnuts at the Cafe Du Monde however I have to admit that while the coffee (which contains chicory) was good the beignets were not as good as the ones we had before but eh - it is a requirement of all tourists, right?

We continued to explore NO on foot and made our way to the wharf where we were going to take a cruise on a paddle steamer on the Mississippi River - another essential experience for all tourists. The cruise took us past many Katrina ravaged areas that have still not been removed or repaired. The tour ended at a battlefield where the residents beat the British. Don't ask for more details, it was freezing standing out in the middle of the battlefield and I wasn't listening attentively. Sorry to those of you who wanted to know all the details!

We stopped off at a rather nice restaurant in NO before going back to the RV park. We had a lovely dinner and even had a taste of alligator. Two samples - one breaded and deep fried and one grilled with some spices. The deep fried one didn't have much taste and because of the spices, the other was difficult to taste and was a bit chewy so I will reserve my judgement on the alligator until I can taste some more.

The shuttle was supposed to pick us up at 8.00pm outside the restaurant and of course it was raining and cold and it didn't arrive. There were eight of us left standing on the side of the road - not happy campers at all. We waited till 8.30pm and then decided to get 2 taxis to take us back. Unfortunately for us, like in so many countries, the taxi driver couldn't speak very good English and didn't know where to go so we got lost!!! Driving through some very dicey areas, no street lighting with a taxi driver who doesn't know where he is going! Made for an interesting end to a lovely day.

The next day we all went back into NO and had breakfast before wandering around some more. There is just so much to see in the city. We discovered a street that was predominantly antiques and art galleries which of course Norm and I love browsing. Margaret and Murray you would just love it!

After wandering around for a while we went to a restaurant renown for their muffelettos! (Not sure of the spelling) What on earth is that I hear you say. Well it is a giant sandwich with pastrami, ham, salami and salad with fries on the side. When I say it was a giant - I am being generous - Norm and I ordered one between us and still couldn't eat it all. There was about two inches of meat slices in it!!!! Tasted wonderful but, oh boy, BIG!!!

From there we rolled ourselves up the street to the omni theatre to watch a documentary on Katrina. I didn't realise, but one of the main reasons for the damage to NO was the degradation of the bayous around the coast. Once a hurricane (like a cyclone in Australia) hits land it gradually loses its strength and ferocity and with the lose of bayous the coast line of Louisiana is considerably nearer NO than it used to be. Much of the damage to the bayous is as a result of the levy system built down the Mississippi to stop the flooding of farming areas which results in the draining of the bayou environments. A very interesting documentary and certainly raises some vital environmental issues for the people of Louisiana.

After the documentary we drove over the Pontchartrain Causeway. I have already said previously that the Americans do some things really well and their engineering feats with bridges down in the south is awe-inspiring.

The Pontchartrain Causeway crosses Lake Pontchartrain from north to south and is about 23.5 miles long!!!! And given that there is no rock on which to sit the footings of the bridge this is an amazing feat!

From the Causeway we headed back to our RV park but did a detour into the Fontainebleu State Park! Who would have thought that such a little detour would result in such an amazing experience?!!!

We went into the park centre and had a look around and spotted an alligator in an aquarium. We got to talking to the ranger about him and he took him out and was standing holding him when he asked if I wanted to hold him!!!! And of course I said no!!! NOT! So he told me how to hold him and then I got him! Did you know that under an alligator's bottom jaw is the softest spot and even an adult gator keeps that really soft spot? It was just brilliant and Steven the ranger was excellent, until he tapped the gator on the end of its snout and I nearly lost it! Seriously though, Steven was probably one of the best rangers we have come across. He took us for a walk (with him carrying a telescope) to show us a Brown Eared Owl sitting on a nest in a dead Live Oak tree! You can see by the photos it was difficult to get a clear photo. Thank you Steven, you were awesome!

Thursday morning we said goodbye to Judy and Pete - AGAIN! But we know that we will meet up with them again in Alabama so it is really only, see you later!

Karen, Rick, Norm and I decided to have an easy day of it so we took a drive down to Venice which is one of the southern most tips of Louisiana. The land use down this peninsula was very varied. It included - cattle farming, oil refinery, orchards, vegetable gardens, shipping along the levy and of course the fishing. It was interesting but not very exciting but as we wanted a quiet day I guess I can't complain.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Louisiana but it is time to move on again so we headed for Mississippi. Karen and Rick are heading back to Texas so we wish them a sad farewell but know that somewhere, sometime we will meet again soon. Take care you guys - we have had a wonderful time and we will miss you both.

Not to get too philosophical but we are leaving NO just before Mardi Gras and while we are going to miss it I have come to the understanding that while we are going to miss things if we move, if we don't move we will miss things up ahead! I hope that makes sense to y'all!

On advice from Pete we stopped off at the Mississippi Welcome Centre and were just so pleased we did. The Centre is decorated in Mardi Gras colours with some gorgeous outfits.

Also at the Welcome Centre is the Stennis Launch Pad. This is the jump off point for a tour of the NASA Stennis Space Centre. This is the testing area for all the engines that are used in the space program. We had a great time and it was really interesting to see all the test towers and the museum. Check out the very different type of photo of Norm and I in the museum. Good for a giggle!

We took the scenic route along the Gulf Coast from the Welcome Centre to the RV park which was a bit of an eye opener. White sandy beaches (reminded me of home!), beautiful new homes overlooking the water and many vacant blocks for sale with sometimes nothing left or only a concrete pad left to indicate that pre-Katrina there were houses there. Apparently some insurance companies are refusing to provide hurricane cover, so many people can no longer afford to rebuild their homes. When I commented to one local that Gulfport, Mississippi seemed to have been more successful in the cleanup after Katrina than NO he replied that NO suffered most of their damage as a result of the levies being broken and the town being flooded. Gulfport on the other hand was hit by the hurricane and a 30ft wall of water that flooded the town, destroying so much in its wake and then receded, taking much of the debris with it out into the Gulf. He explained that bulldozers piled much of the rubbish into piles for burning and what couldn't be burnt was then removed, so the cleanup was relatively easy. There is still evidence of the damage with some buildings still boarded up and fenced off.

We went for a drive along the beach on Sunday and made a stop at an interesting site. We couldn't figure out what it was until another local explained that it had been a pretty exclusive casino with a marina full of cruisers and sailing boats. And what is left - nothing but some paving and a lighthouse. It is impossible to imagine the forces of nature that could cause such devastation unless you have lived through it.

As I type this, I know that perhaps the strongest cyclone in Australia's history is currently threatening Queensland and my heart goes out to everyone who is there or who has family or friends being threatened. As if Queenslanders haven't had enough problems with the recent floods now they are under a new threat. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

We only have a short stay in Mississippi as we are heading to Alabama on Monday. This is where we will again catch up (literally) to Pete and Judy at the Escapees Park in Summerdale.

Wow, it is only Tuesday and I have nearly finished this week's blog. Wonders will never cease! Just have to put up some photos and I will be done.

Please take care of you and yours our dear family and friends. You are always in our thoughts and prayers.

Until next week - adieu.

Our love and hugs to everyone.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Laissez les bon temp rouleur!

Or in English - Let the good times roll! This is the prevailing sentiment in Louisiana so I have discovered. And with good reason - you just have to love the food, the enthusiasm of the residents and the wonderful environment in which they live. As I said last week - I love Louisiana.

We have been so busy since my last post - hence the fact that this one is again, very late. What a wonderful couple of weeks we have had with our other partners in crime. And this week has been no exception with so many new and exciting experiences to share with them and with y'all!

My comment about visitors to Betty's RV Park extending their stays held true for us as well! There was just so much to see in and around Abbeville that we stayed an additional two days which, to be honest, still wasn't enough! But there is just so much to see in America that we really can't afford to stay in one place too long which makes for quite a conundrum. If we go we might miss something here and if we stay we will miss something somewhere else along the road! Oh what a difficult situation to be in!!! Yeah right!!

Vermillion Ville was one of the most interesting places that we have seen. It is a large park made up of old buildings that have been relocated from other areas and others that are replicas using traditional building methods. Just to show you where my brain was - one of the most interesting features in one house (where lived a family with 13 children) was the three seater, one door, outside loo! Interesting!!!! But seriously though it was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And we also enjoyed lunch at the cafe - wouldn't you know.

From the park we drove to Avery Island which is on a salt dome and was originally a salt mine but became the original home of the famous Tabasco sauce. The factory has always been on the island and although now the peppers are grown in other areas, all the seeds for these peppers come from the island. We took an interesting tour and sample some of the other sauces and salsas that Tabasco make. Very challenging and hot to say the least. Norm even tried the Tabasco icecream - can you believe they make icecream with jalapeno peppers? We would have enjoyed going to the jungle garden however the heaven's opened and it bucketed down so we had to cut short our visit.

Much to Norm's disgust on the way back to Abbeville we stopped at a cemetery. He thinks it is very ghoulish to take an interest in the graves and mausoleums. Obviously the Louisiana cemeteries are above ground due to all the very low lying areas. It was really interesting and some of the graves were over 150 years old. Some of them didn't even have bodies in them!! People had obviously bought their plot and had the headstone made with their names on just the details would have to be completed when they kicked the bucket. Now that is what I call organised!

The next day we visited an old plantation house which really surprised me. Did you know that many of these plantation homes, while they look enormous, are actually only one room deep? The disappointing thing I found, and I do understand why, is that you can't take photos inside these homes. There was so many interesting things that I would love to have been able to share but never mind, outside photos will have to be enough.

Our next stop was the Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island (another salt dome). Just check out the reception committee on the steps of the restaurant where we had lunch!! The gardens and buildings on the island were just beautiful however it has another claim to fame.

In the 1980's Jefferson Island was being mined for salt and Texaco (oil company) was drilling for oil just off the island. Long story short - it is believed that the drilling pierced the salt dome causing it to flood. The water in the river started flowing backwards as it filled in the salt dome, barges and the drilling rig were sucked into the whirlpool created and a house and a new reception centre on the island were also sucked under never to be seen again. In fact all that is left of the house is the chimney sticking out of the lake. The good news was that all the mine and oil workers were safe and no lives were lost. It took over two days for the lake to refill after the catastrophe.

This was to be our last excursion in the Abbeville area as the next day we bid Betty and her wonderful RV Park adieu, as we moved out to go to N'awlins (for those Australians read New Orleans!).

What to say about New Orleans? First impressions. Dirty, roads in great need of repair, buildings boarded up or needing to be bulldozed, footpaths that are in dire need of fixing. But oh boy is there so much more to this place!

There are some countries, cities etc on this earth that when you visit you just have to do the touristy thing. When in Paris you visit the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and the Louvre for example. When in New Orleans you have to visit the French Quarter! So that was our first destination.

When in the French Quarter everyone has to have beignets (French doughnuts) and coffee at Cafe du Monde. However, we didn't realise that on a Saturday not only is it inundated with tourists, all the locals head there as well, so rather than stand in a queue for ages, we walked down to Bourbon Street where we were told there was another restaurant that also served beignets and the chicory coffee that Cafe du Monde is famous for. I have to say eating the beignets is quite a challenge. Just don't breath in as you eat them as they have about 2cm of icing sugar on top and it is easy to choke. Also you have to be careful otherwise you end up with a lap full of icing sugar. Not easy to eat!

We strolled along Bourbon Street which was quiet at that time of the day however still very interesting - if you could call it that. It would be very different at night! We visited the St Louis Cathedral - just amazing but what struck me was the carnival type atmosphere out the front of the cathedral. All along the pavement there were palm readers, tarot readers and fortune tellers set up with their chairs and tables and were charging people for readings. I heard one woman say hers cost her $45. Hmmm. Seemed an unusual place to have fortune tellers!

We stopped a bit further on to watch some young guys who were street performers. They did some amazing rap type dance moves and had a really entertaining spiel as they went along. Unfortunately, it was freezing standing in the wind and cold so we had to move on before they had finished.

We ended our first trip to the city with a short stroll along the riverwalk before we headed back to catch the shuttle back to the RV park.

On Sunday the six of us left early for the Oak Alley and Laura Plantations. These were two extremely different plantation homes.

Oak Alley was built by whites and Laura by creoles and according to the guide - white people had white houses and creoles had coloured housing. While both houses were very beautiful I found Laura to be the most interesting with its convoluted history and the characters who lived there. Mind you the avenue of centuries old oaks going from the river to the house at Oak Alley was truly amazing.

While I won't pretend to know all the details, the construction of homes in this area is quite an engineering feat as the ground is mud and soil down one mile deep so the footings of these houses are unbelievable and when you consider that they were constructed in the 1800's and are still standing today despite hurricanes, fires, floods etc the builders certainly knew their business. Where were they when I wanted to build my house???? Laura was almost destroyed by fire and is currently in the final stages of being restored.

Both houses were sugar plantations but on Laura some of the slave houses have been retained, the old fruit trees and vegetable gardens are still there and you can take photos on the inside of the house! Oak Alley was very elegant with tall pillars and while, for a time, it was neglected and even had stray cattle inside the home it has been beautifully restored.

Wow! I have finally finished documenting this week and it is Saturday already! Maybe I should just go ahead and start my next blog! So much for getting it done earlier in the week. You can blame our partners in crime - the Bennetts and the Elams - as I am sure if they hadn't dragged us kicking and screaming around to all these wonderful places this blog would have been done a great deal sooner! Yeah right!!!!

Take care friends and family. Stay safe and healthy and if you can't work out how to leave a comment, please let me know (by email paula2gray@hotmail.com and I will try to help.

Bye for now and my next blog will be coming to you from Mississippi. Love and hugs from both of us.

PS. I do apologise if I have made grammatical or spelling errors in any of my previous posts, I have just learned that I haven't been editing them correctly. So there I guess we learn something new every day but having told you that now I have no excuse for any errors. Well maybe I will just be in such a hurry that any errors may just slip through. Haha

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Texas to Louisiana

Hey everyone, how's everything in your world? We hope all is well with you and yours. For us - life is wonderful and just such fun!

It has occurred to me that sometimes we met people and immediately we know that we are going to like them and are going to get along really well. We have been so fortunate throughout our time in America to have met and made friends with some of the most amazing people. Today, we farewelled Pete and Judy with whom we have developed a wonderful camaraderie. We have done so much with them over the last three weeks it was sad to see them drive off this morning. BUT the good thing about this travelling life is that you can be sure that somewhere down the road we will cross paths again. So Judy and Pete we will see you soon.

Never again!! Never again will we order anything big online! Something that was supposed to take two working days to reach us in Livingston, Tx, took ten working days and held us up in Texas and prevented us from moving on to Louisiana (LA). And while we enjoyed the time in Texas we were getting itchy feet.

This week has been the most gluttonous week I think we have had the whole time we have been in America. So many meals at restaurants! It would be very easy to put on lots of weight with all this eating out!!! Some time during the week we had chatted with Rick and Karen who were planning on going to the Rio Grande Valley after we left Texas and asked them if they would like to join us in LA. We were heading towards Lafayette, then Baton Rouge and New Orleans. After giving the matter serious consideration (haha) and reminding themselves that they are retired now and can go anywhere they want to, they made the decision to come to LA. We were so pleased. Judy and Pete were heading that way too and we all planned to meet up in Abbeville - the heart of Cajun country. All we had to do was wait for the parcel to arrive before we could move out! Monday was Mexican! We started the week by sharing a Mexican breakfast with friends and had a lovely morning. I had never considered what Mexican's eat for breakfast so it was quite a novelty. And yes, they do eat tacos for breakfast, they just have egg and bacon/ham in them instead of the usual stuffing! That evening Rick, Karen, Pete, Judy, Norm and I went to another Mexican restaurant for dinner. More food and of course the margaritas don't help either - love those things!

Tuesday, Pete took us to the most interesting restaurant (?), Florida's! Interesting decor - it looked like a shack with all these additional rooms tacked on but the food was fantastic. I had ribs which are just wonderful but you get so many, I finally gave in and for the first time got a doggy bag to take home what I couldn't eat.

Wednesday I had spent the day running around trying to fix a problem with the computer so Norm went out to get pizza for dinner.

At long last on Thursday, our parcel arrived with all the stuff for our pantry alteration and we made plans to leave Texas for Louisiana (LA) on Friday. But in the meantime, Karen, Rick, Norm and I went out to Buster McNutty's for dinner! Will be a good thing when this week is over!!!!!

Friday morning bright and early we set off down the road following Karen and Rick as we drove to Betty's RV in Abbeville, LA. What a surprise we were in for!!!

We arrived at Betty's RV in the afternoon (just in time for happy hour) and I must admit it is nothing like any of the rv parks we have stayed in before. It has been voted the best small rv park in America and has only got 17 sites. All crammed very close together and there is not much room between rigs, certainly not enough to put out awnings for some. We had a difficult site (for us) to get into, but after some frustrating maneuvering Norm managed to put the rig roughly in the right spot. The sites are so close Rick had to wait for us to be set before he could consider getting in to his spot. However!!!!

What this park lacks in space is certainly made up for by Betty, the owner, who is quite a lady. Her welcome and absolute joy in what she does is the reason so many people come to stay for a few days and then end up staying weeks and months. The happy hours each evening are just so much fun, the friendly people staying here and then, finding Pete and Judy here already were absolute bonuses. Betty is an amazing source of information and was able to tell us the best places to visit. And, as well as that, it is in the heart of Cajun country and that is the best!

Sometimes you go to places that immediately attract you and you know they will hold your interest and when you leave you will leave a piece of your heart. I felt this in Colorado, San Francisco and York in Connecticut and I have to say that I feel it here in Abbeville, LA. There is so much to attract you to this area - the culture, history, the landscape and of course the wonderful Cajun people and food.

On our arrival we went to the 'happy hour' and were told that the next morning we needed to go to 'Touchet's Cracklins Party'. Very ignorant as to what a 'cracklins party was we all set out the next morning for 'Touchet's Bar'. Now, to explain a 'cracklin party', people gather under gazebos with lots of locals cooking up 'cracklins' (pork crackle), boudan, chicken wings and sweet potato crisps in big barrels placed over gas cookers. There was also gumbo (yummy stuff) and you could buy alcohol as well - although it was a bit early in the morning for us!

There was no cost and everyone just wandered around tasting the different cracklins and other offerings. I tell you what - you wouldn't get away with it in Australia - you would have the Health Department jumping up and down having a dummy spit and Safety and Health would be shutting it down quick smart. But it was a great morning although as Norm would say, "I could feel my arteries hardening as I walked around". It was a great way to start our stay in Cajun country.

After we left Touchet's we went to New Iberia to visit the Konriko Rice Factory. This is the oldest rice factory still in operation in the USA. What was really interesting about the factory is that much of the operation hasn't changed since it was started nearly a hundred years ago. The machine that removes the hulls from the rice is the same one with just the power changing from steam to electricity.

With the rain threatening on Sunday, the six of us drove out to take a 'swamp tour' in the hope of seeing an alligator. It was an awesome time! The swamp was originally part of a bayou but a levy has been built which has separated it from the bayou.

Our guide Brian was brilliant! He was so knowledgeable about the wildlife, vegetation and stories of the swamp that he kept us entertained and interested for the whole of the two hour tour. There was a French couple on our tour and everything Brian told us he repeated in French.

And while we didn't get to see an alligator we certainly saw lots of birds and these other animals called nutria (if that is how you spell it) that were not attractive at all. The swamp was just so quiet and peaceful but there is no way I would want to get stuck in the boat in there!

After the swamp tour we all went to lunch at 'Crazy for Crawfish'. I have fallen in love with Cajun food. It is so good. I have tried the crawfish etoufee, gumbo, po boys, catfish, jambalya, baudan and don't forget the cracklins. It will be hard to leave this area if only because of the yummy food.

We were only supposed to be staying in Abbeville until Tuesday morning but there is just so much to do around Lafayette and New Iberia that we have decided to stay an extra two days and then go on to Baton Rouge or New Orleans. I guess that is just one of the best things about this life - we can choose to stay or go and even change our destination - just because we feel like it. How awesome is that?

I apologise for the lateness of this post I have been told I have to be better organised and get it done as soon as possible on Mondays. The problem with this is that really I just get too busy enjoying myself and it becomes less important. In fact so much is happening each week that I have to go back to the camera (where all the photos are date stamped) to make sure I have things in the order that we did them. Either that or I am getting old timers!!!!!!

As always, our love to all our dear family and friends. We would love it if you could work out how to leave a comment for us. We miss you all and hope you are all well and happy. Take care of you and yours.

I will do my best to do this weeks blog as soon as possible - but no promises!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Hi family and friends

It was most remiss of me in my last blog not to remember that we have all moved on! That is, we have moved on from 2010 to 2011.

Norm and I wish each and every one of you an amazing new year. We hope that the year to come is all that you could wish for yourselves. We wish you joy, happiness, health and lots of laughter. It is going to be an amazing year for everyone - we just believe that this will be THE year.

Lots of love and hugs from both of us and see you next time you drop in to read the blog. And don't forget to leave a comment, please.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Mixed Bag!

G'day everyone

It is nearly three weeks since I last posted on here. Doesn't time fly when you are having fun????

So much has happened and I started thinking about writing this yesterday and found I needed to go back to my photos to remember where we had been and what we had done. And that took me most of the day just sorting, editing and saving all the photos. Over a thousand of them on the camera! Well they are all safely put away on the external hard drive and I can now download them onto the blog really easily.

The last time I wrote we were heading off to Connecticut for a white Christmas. Well be careful what you wish for because, while we didn't get a white Christmas, our Boxing Day (26th December - my dear Dad's birthday RIP) was as white as they can be with about 40cm (16") of snow falling. It was the most beautiful and amazing time as we watched the snow completely cover everything and gradually the scene changed from one full of colour to just white. Some of the photos I took are just so lovely they could have been postcards.

There was a down side to the blizzard however as we were supposed to leave CT on the 28th, however the weather caused absolute havoc at the airports and as a result we were not able to leave until the 30th. It was really tough having to stay an extra two days - NOT.

However I am getting ahead of myself. We flew to CT via Cincinatti. When we left Houston the weather was a delightful 70F and Cincinatti was covered in snow with fog and freezing rain so it was just as well we didn't have to leave the comfort of the terminal building to change planes!

Our time in CT was really busy with the few days before Christmas given over to shopping for presents and food. The house was full of teenagers but the best thing was the tall Aussie kid that was there! It was so lovely to have our youngest son Bryce there with us for Christmas as we hadn't seen him since we left Australia in July. I have the utmost admiration for the Wright family who have filled their hearts and home with adopted children, foster children and exchange students and then have such a warm welcome three Aussie travellers. They are truly amazing people. And Greg is the best travel guide!!!

Christmas was so nice with all the kids, presents and a fabulous hot dinner. I did give some thought to our family back home in Perth who had sat down to a lovely cold Christmas dinner in temperatures around the 41C mark (105.8F).

Greg and Pam took us for a couple of drives over the next few days that were just gorgeous. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the first village we visited (an hour later - it was Litchfield) but it was beautiful with homes which were anywhere up to 300 years old. The houses had the year of their construction on a plaque on the house. In the snow, with the sun shining it was extraordinarily beautiful. I could probably put a hundred photos on here they were all so gorgeous.

The other drive we took saw us pass through some beautiful villages and I really loved Kent and New Preston. I told Norm I could live in Kent in the summer. We saw our first covered bridge and our first frozen waterfall - now that was interesting! Who would have thought you could grow wine grapes in an area where the ground is covered in snow for several months of the year? Yes they do have wineries in CT.

As we were leaving CT early Tuesday morning Pam and Greg took us out for a farewell dinner on Monday night and as we were sitting there enjoying ourselves the phone rings and Bryce tells us that the airline has rung and that our flight has been cancelled! Humph! Thursday is the earliest we can get a flight! But every dark cloud has a silver lining!

Tuesday, Greg took us down to New York City which was fabulous. We got a look at the Bronx where Greg grew up, we rode on the Staten Island Ferry and got fairly up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty, visited Wall Street and the site of the disaster of 9/11 where the building of the 'Freedom Tower' is well under way and even had a hot dog from one of the famous street vendors. We got to see the beautiful crystal star on Fifth Avenue and the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Centre as well as the Empire State Building. For such a quick visit we certainly got to see a great deal. Have a look at the photos with all the snow because NYC had a blizzard just prior to us going there and the streets were chaotic with snow, vehicles stuck and snow ploughs trying to get through! It was quite amusing. I love the snow but don't think I would want to live in it for a whole winter!

Thursday saw us return to Texas via Minneapolis where we were stuck in the airport for about four hours waiting for our delayed flight! I guess we were lucky to get back really although by the time we drove from Houston to Livingston (where we left the RV) it was about 8.00pm and we were both exhausted!

Since we have been back in Livingston we have had a great time. Karen and Rick, a couple that we met in Goshen, IN. back in September, are staying at the RV park. We spent New Year's Eve with them (although I didn't make it till 12.00) and have been out to lunch and dinner with them quite a few times over the last week or so. Their park neighbours, Pete and Judy, have also joined us and as we will be heading east in a couple of days and they are heading west it will be really sad to have to say goodbye as we have all got along so well and had so much fun.

The highlight of our return to Livingston was the other day when Rick and I went fishing in Lake Livingston in his boat. The six of us headed out to the lake early in the morning and Rick and I went fishing while the others sat on the grass and chatted. We returned empty handed for lunch and then went back out again. While Rick and I didn't catch anything it was a really lovely time - at least for me. Rick had to teach me how to fish - US style. It was just so peaceful and quiet out on the boat. A beautiful sunny day and no need to rush anywhere. It was wonderful.

My next blog will be coming to you from Louisiana as we will be leaving Texas in the middle of next week after Norm does a little bit of woodwork on the rig. No nothing serious he is just going to modify the pantry a bit!!!!!! Should be interesting!

In the meantime my dear family and friends, take care of yourselves and we think of you often. Lots of hugs from both of us.