Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Travel Review / 2009 Outlook

December 31st is our 526th day on the road. This year we stayed at 68 campgrounds in 23 states that you can locate by clicking on the 2008 map on the left. We put almost 11,000 miles on the motorhome and about 12,500 miles on the CRV while traveling from Florida to the Pacific Northwest back to PA and then south to Texas where we are wintering. This lifestyle continues to exceed all expectations with all the fantastic places we have seen, great new people we have met and the wonderful times we have spent with family and old friends while on the road. Because we now have more time, we make sure we exercise by walking or biking several days a week. Everyone asks, but it is still impossible to pick one thing that would qualify as "the best or our favorite." That said, the only place we have visited twice is Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA so it ranks right up there among the greatest places we have visited. A major change this year was spending the holidays away from family and old friends. We miss them dearly but in many cases we have gotten to see more of them than usual since being on the road. The biggest event of the year was selling the stix and brix which freed us of a major burden that we could not have handled without the help of our very good friends, Tom and Georgie Ridge. Another big deal was turning 62. I can't wait to get my first Social Security check in January and the Golden Access Pass for free admission and half price camping in most national parks.

To begin 2009 we are staying at the Watersedge RV Park in Rockport, Texas and will be here until the end of January. We will then move farther south to Port Isabel and the Rio Grande Valley for a few weeks. While we are starting the year with longer stays in each campground, our home on wheels will be ready to get rolling when spring arrives. We are planning to meet up with the Class of 2007 near San Antonio in March. Our general route for the remainder of the year includes Big Bend National Park, The Four Corners Area and the Grand Canyon where we will be meeting our friends Mike and Sherri Sharp. After that we plan to slowly head to the Northwest where we plan to spend more time exploring than we did in 08. We hope to try Arizona for the winter of 09/10. All that said, with modern computing these plans can easily be edited as we see fit. You never know where the wind might take us. We wish all a very Happy New Year and we hope that 2009 brings everyone good health and more prosperity then we had in 08.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Texas Coastal Bend

Happy Hour Group
The beach on Mustang Island.
Fishing boats in Fulton Harbor.
White Pelican
Christmas Eve gift exchange.
Bad Santa "took" this bottle of wine.
Christmas celebration!!
Lining up for a wonderful meal.

After leaving Betty's, we spent two days at the Palms RV Park near Baytown, Texas. We took a ride into Houston but did not do much else while there. We are now at the Watersedge RV Park in Fulton, Texas and will be here until January 25. The park is located right across a small road from Aransas Bay. Everyone we have met is very friendly. As we were setting up we were invited to happy hour and a fish fry with our new neighbors. The fish were caught by the happy hour group and were excellent. We also attended a covered dish dinner and got to meet more of the residents. Most of the people are snowbirds but a few are fulltimers who winter here. So far, the only down side has been the weather. We have had so many cloudy and foggy days we were beginning to think we were in PA. Even on the days it was in the 70's it was overcast and several nights were in the 40's. We also have had several very windy days. I know this is mild compared to the rest of the country but this is not what we have been searching for and everyone tells us this is not the norm. On one of the nicer days we drove out to Mustang Island where the sand is so compact you can drive on the beach without needing a 4x4. We checked out Corpus Christi and the area around Rockport/Fulton and found there is a lot to do here from fishing and birding to sightseeing. So we hope the weather will get a bit better so we can get out and about. The area reminds us of Hatteras Island with all the water, fishing boats, wind swept oaks and smaller homes along the bay. We have been getting in our daily walks even when it's been cold and we rode our bikes one day in a sprinkle. On Christmas Eve we attended the park's party and "Bad Santa" gift exchange and on Christmas we attended the dinner and had a great time. This is the first time we have spent Christmas without old friends or family and while we miss seeing everyone, we still had a nice relaxing time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays

Wishing all of our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the holiday season bring you joy and may your 2009 be prosperous.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


We have added two maps to the blog that show our 2007 / 2008 travels and the location of all the campgrounds. The sun represents where we are presently. The maps are interactive so you can move them around and if you click on view larger map, it will go to a full page google map. Clicking on a pinpoint will give you the campground name and address as well as other information such as what hook ups are available. FHU is full hookups (water, electric and sewer) and W, E, S is used when full hookups are not offered. Dry indicates a campground with no hookups and boondock means we were not in a campground. We have also given each park a letter grade which reflects our global opinion. A nice place that was expensive would get a lower grade while great location and scenery will trump no hook ups. We try to keep our campground expenses under $20.00 a day. We may add additional info and will have a 2009 map when we move on. You can also use the maps to get directions to the campgrounds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The dreaded snow palm.

Warren Perrin and the Royal Proclamation of apology from the Queen.
Joseph dit Beausoleil Broussard who lead the first Acadians (Cajuns) to Louisiana.
The story of Longfellow's Evangeline.

Marvin Broussard, a fulltime Cajun who was our neighbor at Betty's.

Maggie is a solo fulltimer.

Anita and Gary Heke, from Manitoba, just started fulltiming.

Jo and Fred Wishnie whose fulltime adventures you can read about on their blog The Wander Wishnies.

Wayne and Margie Berridge are snowbirds from Ontario who stopped on their way to Texas.

One serving of nice size crawfish.

We are truly caught in that web.

One encounter we had here that we did not enjoy was SNOW!!! While we only got a dusting, just 25 miles away they had 3 -5 inches. Livingston, Texas where we had planned to go before deciding to spend more time with Betty had several inches. We will be searching for warmer weather very soon. During our last week at Betty's we visited the Acadian Museum in Erath to learn about the history of the Cajun people and how they settled in Louisiana. The museum tells the story of the French Acadians who settled in Nova Scotia in 1604 and were driven from there homeland by the British 1n 1755 during the French and Indian War. All the French were expelled during the war to a number of locations. This is known as "le Grand de'rangement" or dispersal of the Acadians. A group of over 190, lead by Joseph dit Beausoleil Broussard, who had resisted the British to the end, are the root of all Cajuns in Louisiana. Museum chairman and lawyer, Warren A. Perrin, a descendant of Beausoleil, was at the museum when we visited and offered a lot of personal insight into the Cajun culture and the efforts to preserve it. (He is normally there on Fridays when he opens his law office for his local clients in the same building.) In 1990 Warren petitioned the British government to apologize for the dispersal and in 2003 Queen Elizabeth II finally offered an expression of regret in a Royal Proclamation that is displayed in the museum. The story of these Cajun people from Acadia in 1604 to the apology is told in Warren's book, Acadian Redemption: From Beausoliel Broussard to the Queen's Royal Proclamation. The museum and Warren are very active in the preservation and promotion of the Cajun culture. We have really enjoyed our time here meeting these people who are so proud of their culture. You taste it in the food, hear it in the music and language and see it with the many French names you encounter everywhere in the Acadian Triangle.

We met many new people while at Betty's and ate many great meals. On our last night we were glad to see that Cajun Claws, the local restaurant that opens only when good crawfish are available, was open. Several people from the campground went to dinner and we all stuffed ourselves with wonderfully tasty "mudbugs." We also dined on wonderful RAW oysters at Dupuy's which has been in business since 1869 and had great local seafood at the Riverfront. Betty's and Cajun Louisiana is definitely a place to which we will return. We ARE caught in Betty's web and loving it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Champagne Swamp Tour

Gliding down the bayou to the swamp.
An anhinga dries its feathers.
A turtle sunning itself.

A great blue heron takes flight.

A slab side crappie.

Duck blind with decoys

The one that got away.

Bryan Champagne

We went with two other couples from the RV park, Gary & Anita and Jim & Cookie on a Cajun swamp tour lead by a real authentic Louisiana Cajun, Bryan Champagne. Bryan has a 24 foot flat bottom boat that he can run in very shallow water so you can get up close and personal with ALL the creatures of the swamp. He told how the early Cajuns made a living hunting, trapping, fishing, and lumbering in the swamp. He showed us his duck blind with the decoys out in anticipation of the hunting season that opens this Saturday. His friends were using the blind to fish for crappies and they had a cooler full of fish that would have all been trophies in Pennsylvania. We saw hundreds of birds including egrets, herons, ducks, anhingas, cormorants, bald eagle, osprey and many others. This swamp is the largest nesting areas for wading birds in Louisiana and while part of the swamp is closed to tours when the birds are nesting, you can still see them from the boat. He explained how the cypress trees were harvested in the old days by cutting a circle around them so they would die and be light enough to float out. One of the cypress trees is believed to be over 500 years old. We even got up close but not to personal with an alligator that was near enough Bryan was able to grab it by the tail. We were all glad he was not able to hang on. He even explained the difference between a bayou and a swamp but you will have to take the tour to find out for yourself. We have been on several eco-tours and this was one of the best. You could tell Bryan not only loves showing people how the Cajuns live, but he loves being in the swamp and is very knowledgeable about its every aspect. We had a great time and highly recommend this tour which is only a few miles off I-10.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Paul and his boat with a mud runner motor for the shallow water.
Wendell prepares a trap.
Nanc wants those mudbugs so bad she is lending a hand.

Adding water to the field.

Paul placing stakes for the traps.

Lines of traps in a nearby field.

Nanc in April getting ready to chow down.

A large crawfish we had in April.

We went with Wendell from Betty's to a see a South Louisiana aquaculture project. Paul Broussard raises crawfish near the RV park. The farming starts in April or May when the water is drained from the fields which causes the crawfish to burrow into the mud. He then plants grain to grow during the summer. Many farmers plant rice in their fields but Paul prefers not to. In November or December he floods the field with about a foot of water. The crawfish then come out of the ground and eat the grain. When they are big enough for harvesting he places stakes in the water and places the baited traps on the stakes. There are two stakes for each trap so as he goes down a row he places a new baited one on the first stake, takes the trap off the second one, empties and rebaits it, then places it on the first stake of the next trap. He goes up and down the rows harvesting the crawfish. The harvest goes on into April or May when the fields are once again drained. Many of the fields here have been damaged by the intrusion of salt water from the hurricane surge. Paul's lower field was damaged by salt water so he must wait until it washes out before he can use it again. He is 20 miles from the gulf but he found a large stingray and a drum on his property after the last storm. As I said in the previous post, the crawfish we ate last week were small but tasty. When we had them in April near the end of the season they were MUCH BIGGER.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Cajun Culture

Jim, Cookie, Ruth and Betty enjoy a GREAT meal at the casino.
Dave and Priscilla
Ollie, who we met at Touchet's last spring, and Nanc.

A boat in the Delcambre Christmas parade.

"FREE" -- The first time I get to take advantage of being old.

Maison Olivier

The bed's removable rolling pin was used to smooth out the Spanish moss in the mattress.

Did you know loofah was a plant? We didn't.

St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church


We truly are caught in Betty's web as we have decided to stay one more week to enjoy her hospitality and this part of the country. We went to the Cypress Bayou Casino with Betty and others from the RV park and, not surprisingly, Betty knew the boss and was able to get us a great lunch with enough food for two meals. Since we were all winners before spending a dollar, it eased the pain of putting money into the one arm bandits. Actually, Nanc broke even on the day and a good time was had by all. On another night we got to eat craw fish and although very tasty, they are still very small this early in the season. Jim and Cookie Grigware, who we met here in the spring, arrived this week for a two month stay while another spring couple, Dave and Priscilla Pinckard, stopped for a visit. We continue to enjoy the local culture at the Cafe Museum listening to French Cajun music and talking with new friends we have made in the area. In Delcambre we watched the Christmas boat parade.

Another day we visited the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historical Site that shows how the arriving French Acadians, who were expelled from Nova Scotia, interacted with the Creoles, those of French descent who already lived along the Bayou Teche. The Acadians' story was portrayed in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 poem, "Evangeline." In many cases the established aristocratic Creoles looked down on the Acadians or Cajuns. The Creoles lived on larger plantations like the Maison Olivier and the Cajuns became small farmers living in small cabins. The pictures show a couple of things we learned about how the people in the area lived. We also walked around St. Martinville and toured the oldest Catholic church in Louisiana.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


As of today our blog is listed on If you are interested in RV adventures, there are several pages of blogs mostly about full timing. Listed below are a few of our Hitchitch favorites:

The Adventures of Tioga and George -- The solo travels of George, who rarely stays in a campground, are updated daily.

Nick's Blog -- Nick, who writes the Gypsy Journal and has a couple of rallies each year, offers a daily, interesting insight into full timing.

Geeks On Tour -- Chris and Jim have a travelogue and offer extensive technical advise. We purchased their tutorial videos and they are very easy for non-geeks to follow.

Living Our RV Dream -- Follow the RV travels of Jackie and Tony and their trips back to South Africa.

See Ya' Down the Road -- I used this site more than any other as we prepared to go full time. Norm provides excellent information on every aspect of the RV lifestyle.