An Opinion Piece on How Facebook Disrupts Lives and What You Can Do to Avoid Getting Sucked into Social Media Networks.
If you have a roof over your head, whether a hotel/motel, van, truck or car…you are NOT homeless! Take a look under the Interstates, around bridges…out in the open fields at those living/sleeping in cardboard boxes. THAT is homeless!
The government and society has the classification of ‘homeless’ all WRONG! But, I guess that’s just one more thing to add to the long list. I do believe!
June 29, 2011
Had breakfast and got ready for a nice day at St. George Island Beach. ‘Loaded up the bike trailer to the limit, and we were off! Fun…fun day! ‘Found a Pirate’s Booty of seashells! Yayahhhh!!!
Headed back to camp and started a campfire to grill Bratwurst sausages. While the fire was stoking, I headed out to buy ice from the camp-hosts and ended up meeting Rob’s wife Anne. Nice lady! We ended up chatting for over an hour and meeting other passersby out walking their dogs.
Later that night, Nico played guitar for Nixi and we settled in…after showers. It had been a good…good day. Lovin’ every minute of St. George Isle! No words to describe…
If ever you’re around someone who tries to make you feel less than beautiful…less than accepted…less than appreciated…less than happy–you need to keep better company.
You’re better off being in your own company than in the company of those who attempt to bring you down through jealous eyes or deceiving ways.
True friends are near-impossible to find in this day and age. But they are out there; few and far between.
You should be your own best friend and love yourself like no one else can.
Ching Ching to Self!
Met a nice couple from Gainesville, FL this morning who bought a copy of our CD (First one sold!! Yay!!!). Huck told us that he’s a native of New York State and his wife Leah is from Colorado. They had two sons, and they were there at Grayton Beach SP on a family camping trip. Nice people! I hope they keep in touch.
We finally hit the road at around 2 PM (Ugh!!), leaving Grayton Beach headed East on 98. It was a nice drive with no complications. Yay!! ‘Arrived at St. George Island State Park after passing over a three-mile-long bridge and snapping a few pics of the lighthouse there on St. George. While we were stopped at the Ice Machine, an older couple pulled up in a golf cart wanting to snap a pic of us; the Hippies in the VW Van. Too Kewl!
Arriving at SGI SP, we paid for a couple nights and set to work on camp. ‘Met camp-host Rob West from Pennsylvania while buying firewood for our campfire-to-be. Settled in for the night after setting up rig and cooked a bit on the fire. Turned in at a reasonable time…for a change, but didn’t get much sleep (for a good reason, this time). Nico and I made up for lost time. Yayah!
Not bad for a day’s work! We were lovin’ St. George Island so far.
Day 10 Continued:
…that some people are about as flaky as a really BAD case of dandruff! Hah! You know who you are!
Finally…time to sit still and enjoy the beach. We paid for 2 nights, and boy…was I ever glad we did. Nico loved it at Grayton as well. The beach was a wonder of white sand and perfect waves. We surfed as much as we possibly could on a surfboard with ‘no wax’! Whoooaaa! Slippery when wet! Lemme tell ya! But…even still, we had a blast being kids again! It seems having a little one in our forties has brought a bit more of the kid out in the both of us. Gotta love that!
Even though this particular day was rather a blur of fun, surfing, exploring, biking to the beach and around the park and such; even a bit of foraging for wild blackberries…growing beside the park road, it was just what the doc ordered. By day’s end, I actually felt fulfilled and rested…all in one. And while Nico had gone to take a shower, and baby slept soundly beside me, I found my Zen and wrote a song; singing the tune into my Zoom recorder…just so I wouldn’t forget what had come to me. It’s an upbeat…beachy…reggae-ish kind of islandy sound. I can hardly wait to get the music right on it so we can record. The day was a success…if only for that reason, though there were so many more reasons for a girl/Mom/Wife to feel blessed.
Happy…Happy Day at Grayton Beach State Park. A wonderful place to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I know we will visit again.
Up by 8 AM, I fed Nixi and put on a Dora DVD. Nico took down the drive-away tent while I made an Italian Omelet and some coffee. We enjoyed our breakfast, packed it all up and were on the road by noon. We’re getting better at this! I realized.
Quite a few hours and miles later, we decided to stop-short of our intended destination and camp for the night at Grayton Beach State Park. And while we weren’t quite sure we liked our spot when we pulled in, we settled in for the night in the very last spot they had (last-minute cancellation), right by the bathrooms/showers. We’d explore the next day, and see what discoveries lay in store.
The park was quiet, even with neighbors close-by. So far…at that point, it was looking like a good place. We started a campfire and cooked some ‘dogs’…sat back and relaxed. It had been a long…hot day, but a good one still.
Woke up to a quiet morning; the night before had extended into morning. Not feeling so ‘spry’ this particular day. On the up-side, Perdido Key is beautiful! I LOVE It! We had early visitors this morning: camp-hosts Ronnie and his wife Lonnie. They invited us to a barbecue at their site at around 3 pm today…Sunday.
We decided to ride bikes around Big Lagoon but somehow ended up walking them through the sandy swamps instead. I was scared…to say the least. Kinda like someone, rather some ‘thing‘, was looking at the buffet table and we were on it. Eeeeekkk! Not a good feeling! My gut-instinct hadn’t been too far off the truth, I realized around the bend…as we crossed over a ‘gator infested’ lake. Ugggg!
Finally, after we found our way back to camp, we readied for the barbecue and headed on over. It was fun meeting everyone; all sitting around in a circle…camp-fire style. I had a bite to eat (Nico and I took turns with baby, feeding her and ourselves) and washed it down with a ‘friendly’ debate with an old lady (Lonnie’s Mom ‘Oh my!’), about green vs. more rigs and refineries. No winner there!
On a lighter note, we later sang our songs for everyone in the circle, and I guess the family thing kinda tugged a little at my heart-strings, since I got all choked up thinking of my mom and how much I miss her everyday.
After telling everyone “thanks” and “see ya’ll later”, we headed on back to camp. We were tired, so a quiet evening of contemplating the next day’s travels was definitely in order. Lovely night…it was.
Had brekkie on Dauphin Island, picked up camp and was gone by noon. We had to catch the Ferry across the bay. Sitting in line to load the boat, we figured it would take forever, but were pleasantly surprised after waiting only 5 to 10 minutes. Lucky for us, we were the last one’s allowed onboard.
So, there we were…cutting through the waves on The Mobile Bay Ferry. I had decided to stand upfront to take pics while Nico sat in the van with baby. Little could I have known that I’d end up soaked all down the front from the splashes of the boat ripping through the tide. I loved it! Nice and refreshing; much-needed on such a hot day.
As we pulled off the ferry, my heart anticipated our next stop–we were closing in on Florida. I could hardly wait! A little while later and a few miles down the road, we crossed into Florabama (Party Town!! Jimmy Buffett style!) and over the state line. It was around 2 pm and we were ready to sink our toes in the Florida sand. After passing through Florabama, we stopped at Perdido Key State Park day use area, for some fun-in-the-sun, a pit-stop and a picnic (not necessarily in that order).
After munching down some lunch, we headed down to the lofty white-sand beach and played in the crystal clear…aqua green-blue water. Love it! We splashed around like children and never wanted to leave, though we knew we must. There was a campsite calling our names a little ways down the road at Big Lagoon State Rec Area. It was getting late…we were tired…Peniki was tired, so we parted with the lovely beach and headed out.
A short bit later, we were settling in at Big Lagoon and quickly making friends with the campground hosts Butch and Ronnie; brothers with great hospitality and a bucket of laughs. What wonderful people to know! We enjoyed every minute of conversation with our new friends. Super nice people!
At that point, we’d already decided to stay another night…having already been made to feel so welcome there. So…we settled in and relaxed to the music of Bob Marley on the player while I fried some yummy fish and enjoyed a bit of refreshment. I tell ya–It just doesn’t get much better than that! No siree!!!
‘Woke up early and got down to the matter at hand. Breakfast! While we were leisurely eating our grub, ‘decided to go for a nice ride around the island. I had seen miles of bike trails on the way in that night before, and I could hardly wait to venture out.
We headed in the direction we had yet to travel and soon discovered Historic Fort Gaines, right on the waters’ edge. Then…we rolled down to the beach nearby and saw Dolphins leaping and dancing in the water. What a sight! I only wish I had been able to snap the pic in time.
Baby had fallen fast-asleep; soothed by the motion of the bicycle and the cool ocean breeze on her face. So…after enjoying the breeze and introducing our toes to Alabama sand, we headed back towards the campground…but didn’t stop there. Our destination? The Fish Market! I was gonna cook some shrimp on the Bar B later. Yum!!
A little while later, we were pullin’ out of the market with a couple ‘pounds of freshly caught shrimp, a few pounds of catfish, and some crab-stuffed jalapeno pepper-poppers. Needless to say, by the time we left the only grocery store on the island to pick up some other groceries and libations, I couldn’t pedal fast enough…just thinkin’ of getting back to cook those peppers.
Fast-forward a few hours later: In our efforts to work off the crab-peppers, we set out to explore Dauphin Island Campground and get to know our immediate surrounding a bit better. To our pleasant surprise, we discovered a shade riddled trail into the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Treasure!!! A long walk later, and a gazillion pics too, we made it back to camp to ready the skewers and get an early start on dinner.
Later that night, we sparked the campfire and grilled mango/chipotle marinated shrimp & pineapple skewers. Man…! I really out-did myself this time! *patting myself on the back* This….was what posh-camping was meant to be. Simple pleasures by the sea, and good company.
Priceless! : )
Woke up and cooked breakfast, had coffee, and watched Dora with Bop. Fun! I love our cartoon mornings. : ) And although I am still feeling rather exhausted, it’s a pretty day with calmer winds here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.
After a bit of a discussion, Nico and I decided we’d rest for another day here at Buccaneer SP; if not for our own sake…for that of the van. Peniki needs a bit of TLC, so…hopefully, Mr. Mechanic won’t dawdle too much and get down to the business of why Peniki keeps stalling out.
Fast forward to after noon: Peniki’s carburetor was aaaaaall clogged with rust…siphoned from the rusty old gas tank. The main problem, so it seems, is that the van was left to sit for years with only a piece of aluminum foil for a gas cap. Meanwhile, bugs…rain…muck muck of all kinds found a way into the tank. So…we continue with the saga of needing to replace (no VW Westy tanks in existence anywhere) the tank, or take it off completely (after removing the engine) to clean it thoroughly. For now…the carb cleaning will just have to suffice.
This day was more leisurely; while we weren’t working on the van, we were just relaxing or riding bikes, taking baby to the playground and all. Still, in order to make our next destination–Alabama–by tomorrow, we’ll have to start preparing tonight. Fun…fun….fun! Oh well, so they say: Anything worth having in life doesn’t come easily. I’ll Say!!
Woke up early and cooked breakfast…had coffee…the usual, and made tacos for later that day. Continued packing for our long stretch from the Mississippi Gulf to the Alabama Coast. Baby was fed, changed…and situated in her play-pen to tinker with her toys while we tied-up the loose ends before hitting the road for a long day’s drive. The day is calm…the sky is blue…and the van has been flushed of rust. We are ready to head on out!
Pulled out of Buccaneer at around 1:30 in the afternoon…with little incident. Baby fell asleep before we made it a mile down the road. The hum of the van and the voices of Mom and Dad soothe her to sleep in no time at all. It makes me happy to know she is comfortable and soundly sleeping right within an arms reach. It makes me miss my two older kids; wishing they too could be just within reach of a hug. I try to make a call to my kiddos back home, but no service out here. I’ll try again soon.
We stopped for a while at the beach as we were leaving Buccaneer–its beautiful…calm today–and Nico took a few pics of me picking up seashells. With baby still sleeping, Nico had to snap photos from the van, but I didn’t take too long…knowing we had to get going. I collected some small shells and some Mississippi Gulf sand in a little jar I had on hand. My bit of memory to take along-home and smell whenever I need to sense the salt air. Amazingly, it does smell of the fresh ocean breeze and MS sand I will always cherish.
I pray for a safe trip this stretch…once we get back on the road. I wish the past few days had been so lovely and calm. We’ll be travelling East on scenic Coastal Highway 90 all the way to the Alabama state line.
*Note to Self* Mississippi beach sand is much whiter and smoother than in Texas.
A while down Hwy 90, we stopped in the little seaside town of Pass Christian, MS and played on the sugary white beach. Bop had woke-up from her nap, so we decided to have some fun-in-the-sun and play in the water. Beautiful Day!
We followed Highway 90 East all the way along the beach, with ocean views all the way. Surreal…completely unbelievable! Running parallel with Interstate 10 along the coast, it’s easy to see that Hwy 90 is a much more scenic route. Stopping to snap a few pics in Biloxi of the old Lighthouse, we decide to have a bite to eat before trudging onward to AL.
Crossed into Alabama at around 5: 50 pm. Yippee! I always celebrate with a little cheer and dance in my seat when we cross another state line. Our plan is to turn South on Hwy 188 and head down to Bayou La Batre of ‘Forrest Gump’ fame; one of our all-time favorite movies.
We wandered in to Bayou La Batre at 6:30 or so and stopped for libations and ice. Deciding to head to Dauphin Island this side of the Ferry boat to Fort Pierce, AL. We had initially planned on making it across the bay to the state park somewhere over there, but had to curb that plan because we were tired and it was getting late. Our passage to the other side will have to wait until another day.
No worries! Dauphin Island is a very Hamptonesque, bike-friendly place…with bike and pedestrian paths lining the ocean side streets. We really love it on Dauphin Isle so far. So…a bit down the road and almost to the end of the island, we stumble-upon Dauphin Island Campground. After paying for a night, we set to work on the drive-away tent and settle in for the evening. What a day! But at this point…it is sooo worth it. We have been Blessed! I look forward to exploring this new and exciting place tomorrow. I can hardly contain my excitement. Lovely!!!
Walked around Franklinton with Nixi; not straying too far from the Inn. Managed to check out the local discount grocery store just across the street from where we were staying. Caught a bit of relaxing between doing laundry and packing up for our next stretch of the journey. The next day, would be a busy one for sure!
Packed up van and checked out of Inn. At Auto Zone, we waited for our part to arrive while I did a bit of grocery shopping; buying items I knew we’d need out on the road. Nico went and checked out the discount store next to the grocer and came back with a brand new, pink fishing pole for me…complete with my very own tackle box. I love it! ‘Can’t wait to put it to good use. *jumping for joy*
Finally, at just after 1 pm, the part had arrived…so Nico quickly got started putting it on Peniki, right there in the parking lot. Did we really have another choice? We made do with the hand we’d been dealt and made it work.
Less than an hour later, we pulled out of Franklinton going East on Hwy 16; deciding to take an alternate route from the original one we’d intended. Take 2 on attempting to make it back over the state line to Mississippi and Buccaneer State Park on the Gulf Coast. Same day…different problem: the van stalled out a few times on the way to the S.P. Luckily, we weren’t on a bridge where there is no shoulder to pull over and tinker with the van…again. This time, the fuel lines were clogged. Nico quickly fixed and we were once again on our way to Miss.
Travelling South/East on Hwy 16 from Franklinton, down to Hwy 41 South was a scenic route indeed. We saw so many fascinating things along the way; scenic bridges and draw-bridges (I didn’t even know they existed these days), and snaking along Coastal Hwy 90 headed East was awe-inspiring; seeing the pines give-way to the palms and eventually the sugar-white sand of Mississippi’s Gulf Coastal Beaches. After fighting the traffic in Waveland, it was a welcome sight. I only wished the temperament of the ocean had co-operated.
After many miles and a few incidents with the van, we had finally arrived at Buccaneer. I think it was around 7 pm or so, but either way, we quickly found a spot right across from the Gulf and set-to-work on camp, only to have to tear it down a short time later. Being right across from the water on such a windy day proved to be very uncomfortable and attempting to put up the drive-away tent was useless. Forget it! The winds were gale-force and the weather rather cloudy. We knew it wouldn’t get better into the night.
We ended up setting up camp closer to the back, tucked within the tall trees of Buccaneer, where the wind was only a breeze. It was already dark by then, and so…we decided to call it a night. Unfortunately, sleep didn’t find any of us…baby had a tummy ache (thank goodness for Little Tummies), so we did what we always do to soothe her gassiness. It was not a good or restful night! I could only pray we would have a better tomorrow. I prayed for strength and patience.
Sunrise the next morning, we were better-able to assess our campsite and realized we weren’t exactly secluded, but were in the middle of ‘padded sites’. Yikes! We hoped that baby hadn’t disturbed anyone nearby the night before. Hubby decided to go pay for our spot and see about another night. We wanted to be primitive, but somehow we’d ended up in the full hook-up section; always our last choice when we have a choice. While he was gone, I greeted a few friendly passersby and discovered a new bicycle seat that a lady had on the front of her bike for her grand-baby. It was secured just in front of her seat and behind the handle bars on the frame-structure of the bike. [Mental Note] I have to get one of those for Nixi.
So…a bit later, here comes Hubby back saying we have to pull-up camp…again! Okay, better get it done so we can relax and enjoy the rest of the day, I say to myself. A little while later, we are much happier in our primitive spot at Buccaneer, so we settle in and decide to go for a ride on our bikes. The day is beautiful! The wind is a bit calmer…and we are in no hurry. Today looks like a better day indeed! *Happy Happy Girl!*
That night, we light a campfire and roast (rather burn) some ears of corn. It was fun! I realized then that I have a lot to learn about camping. Even in my forties…I am still so naive about so much. Then it struck me: I will never be too old to learn something new. Peaceful dreams and some much-needed rest finally found me that night. Thank You dear Father. Thank You!
‘Relaxing for another day at the Inn in Franklinton, La…we decided to do family stuff with Nixi since it was Easter Sunday. In the meantime, I was taking advantage of the WiFi and catching up on my blog and writing….keeping up with friends. After heading to the Dollar Store to buy a few Easter things for Bop, we packed up a few necessities in baby’s bike trailer…jumped on our bikes and headed out into the unknown.
A little ways down the road, we happened upon a fish market where we stopped and picked up a few pounds of shrimp and a bit of fish to cook at next camp. This was a dream come to life: biking to the fish market…picking up fresh fish and shrimp. I had wanted so badly to do this very thing….and there we were. It was a happy Easter for me!
Leaving the fish market, we headed for the city park where we would hide the eggs for Bop and enjoy the day. That next day it would be time to hit the road again. We could only hope there would be no hold up on the part for our van. Enjoying the rest of our ride through rural LA, we returned to the Inn to plan the next day’s travels. It’d been a good Easter Sunday in Franklinton.
Left out of Homochitto National Forest at around 12:30 in the afternoon and headed east on El Camino towards 98 E…hoping to cross state line to Alabama by day’s end. It didn’t look promising at this point. Stopped just west of entering Hwy 98 in Bude, MS for ice and gas. A while later, were crossing back into LA from MS at around 2:30 or so and heading south to State Highway 90 and Buccaneer State Park on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. We decided we would try to head east to Alabama the next day.
But, most travelers know, things don’t always go as planned. Peniki started to stall out in LA after crossing from Miss, and we are getting a bit worried at what might be happening with our old van. Nico is becoming frustrated that nothing he has tried seems to work this time. ‘We just gotta make it back over to Mississippi today!’ Such were the thoughts crossing my mind.
In the end, we had barely made it through Franklinton, LA before the van went caput and didn’t want to go anymore. So…there we were, stranded outside of town, too far to walk, too far to ride our bikes. And what to do with Blanca? We didn’t know. So, Nico got back there and ‘MacGyvered’ it all up while I fed and changed Bop, who had no clue anything was other than normal as she played with Blanca and I played with her and we both played with a few of her toys we had brought along. It looked rather grim for a bit, but…just as always, my wonderful husband didn’t give up and he got Peniki going again.
He had found the problem–the fuel pump–and had taken it apart…done whatever it is he knows to do, put it back together again and informed me that we had to head back to Franklinton and find an auto parts store. So…on a wing and a prayer, we headed back, found an Auto Zone and were told it would be Tuesday (I believe it was Thursday that day), before the part would arrive. We decided to make the best of a ‘not as bad as it could have been’ situation and settle in at the local Inn since there were absolutely no campgrounds anywhere close.
Even though we still had plenty of cash in the ‘kitty’, we knew this little set-back would take a heavy toll on our budget. But our Father works in mysterious ways, I always say, and it just-so-happened that the owner of the Inn–upon discovering that Nico has ‘skills’ under the hood–needed his AC fixed. What luck that Nico bargained with ‘Bob’ and got half our room rent for free! Wow! What luck! I was so proud that my husband had that Bob’s AC blowing cold again in less than an hour. Our budget might just be saved after all.
We settled in to enjoy an air-conditioned room with all amenities, and a ‘much appreciated’ WiFi signal so I could actually get some writing done and update my blog. The day had ended nicely after all. I knew we had been blessed that day. Amen!
Pulled out of Kisatchie National Forest at around 11:30 am; earlier than usual. Stopped for gas in Winnfield, LA…and to check weird vibration on camper-top which turned out to be the straps and tie-downs.
Nixi was a bit fussy this morning as we were readying to leave Kisatchie N F, but fell fast-asleep just before we hit Winnfield for our first pit-stop of the day. I pray we have safe and easy travels today; lots of wind but a beautiful day. Still in Winnfield, we stopped at a little old-fashioned store called Mac’s Fresh Market and I found myself wishing we had a market like this back home. All in all, we bought bread, mayo, tomatoes, and numerous other items; filling three bags for only twenty-three dollars. Not bad…not bad indeed! I’m sold on Mac’s Market!!
Bought spare fuel line, just in case, at Napa in Winnfield before heading on down the road. Miles down scenic El Camino East/West Corridor, we passed through Jena, LA. What a lovely little town, I think to myself as I snap photo after photo. Made another pit-stop in Jonestown for some beverages: nice people and lots of looks and comments on Peniki. Vidalia, LA was our last stop before crossing over the Mississippi River to Natchez…around 3:00 in the afternoon.
Beautiful! Different! Better!! Mississippi Pine Forests are Spectacular! We found our way a while later to Homochitto National Forest for one night of camping. The going rate? A total of $7.00 for a primitive site. Awe-inspiring pines reaching a mile into the sky encircled our secluded campsite; a bit of earth perched high above a steep slope of ferns, and lush foliage down a narrow path…hidden from the rest of the campsites. The feeling that I was being protected by the Grandfather Pines kept coming into my thoughts. Grandfather. Serenity. Faith. Love. Hope. Inspiration. Spirituality. I felt like I was being watched-over by one of my forefathers. Perhaps someone I never knew. Maybe a distant loved one who has been watching over me since my first existence. A feeling…a belief. I never wanted to leave such a sense of ‘safe’.
I plan on researching this area, Homochitto National Forest. I know…I feel, it must be sacred ground. I pray for a path to follow to know more of this place. I know, Grandfather Pines, we will meet again.
Kisatchie National Forest:
“Woke up around midnight freezing from the sudden drop in temperature; a cold front and rain had blown through parts of LA and around Kisatchie NF area. Nico found us a warmer blanket and we fell snuggly back to sleep until Bop (Nixi’s nickname) woke us up at the crack of dawn. We secured her in the seat, gave her a morning snack of fruit and turned on Dora; hoping for a little ‘Mommy/Daddy’ time.
But when you have a toddler, most parents know, couples’ time is rare…and this day was no different. My laptop went dead before we had hoped and so…it was time to get up, fix breakfast and start mapping out the day’s plans. In the end, because the place was so peaceful and quiet and because Kisatchie was only $3.00 a day on the honor system for a primitive site with water near by and bathrooms you might (or might not) want to use, we decided to stay another day.
After we pulled up camp just to move to a better spot farther from the highway and closer to the trail and the lake, we decided to have some fun on the bikes. The time was ours for the enjoying, and enjoy…we did. Kisatchie was definitely worth the money and the trip. Beautiful, sacred land. …Just lovely! I would recommend it to anyone who can sustain their camp w/o electricity. We have several solar or generator charged battery back-ups, a sink with pump water on board, an ice box, and solar shower/toilet arrangement. We were all set to sit tight for as long as two weeks.
What a fun day it was! A memory I will never forget of primitive family fun in the wilderness. I thought of my older kids and wished they could be there too. Which brought me back to the realization that nothing in life is ever perfect, but this was darn close.