Monday, March 30, 2015

The Cajun Beat Goes On with Birthday and Anniversary Celebrations.

We had another great week of food, music and fun at Betty's.  It all ended with her big birthday and anniversary celebration.  Many of the people who have been here for a while have started a new tradition, Oyster Thursday, that we were happy to join.  We plan to keep this tradition alive even after those regulars head out.
Here is the group at Dupuy's for Oyster Thursday.  It is not required that you have oysters, but if you like them this is the place to go in Abbeville.  Left are Tom, Ann, Peggy, Brenda, Rick and Nanc. Right are Richard, Tammy, Cookie, Cassandra, Jim, Keith, and Linda.  As you can tell by all the smiles, everyone loved their meals.
A few of Dupuy's best meals include raw and cooked oysters, great po-boys Abbeville pasta and eggplant both come covered with a wonderful crab meat sauce.  You can see why we will be going back.  You cannot try it all in one (s)eating.
We had a young visitor this week at Betty's, Jim and Cookie's granddaughter Cassandra who chose to spend spring break in Cajun country.  She had the full immersion experience from a swamp tour, to picking and cooking her own crawfish and ending with the Zydeco breakfast on Saturday.  She was a joy to be around and how proud Jim & Cookie were that she wanted to spend her break with them.     
If it is Saturday it must be time for the Cajun jam session.  This week it was at Touchet's.  We love the music and getting to see all our local friends at the jams. 
The week ended with a big birthday celebration for our wonderful hostess, Betty.
Betty knew there was going to be a party because her niece Monica told her she had to be away from home all afternoon.  She was really surprised when she entered the Louisiana Room and found it had been turned into a mini casino complete with table games. 
Monica and her husband Cordell in their casino outfits for the birthday celebration.
Here we are with the Happy Birthday girl.
Dan, Reid, Merlene, Marie, Jim, Rick and Brenda are all ready to celebrate.
Gerri, Rob, Stan,Jerri, Richard, Lynn and Nanc in all the casino finest.
On the left Cal and Sandy getting ready to play games with dealers Charles and Keith.  Right are Dan and Judy.
Betty with her sons Doug and Reid and her beautiful, wonderful, fabulous granddaughter Lucette and her mom Jamie. 
Betty was not the only one celebrating.  Jim's birthday was on Sunday and Tammy and Richard (who came to Betty's for two days and stayed a week) celebrated there anniversary.  Just more excuses to party, as if we need an excuse here.
As with all good times here there was plenty of food for all.  The bar for snacks is very high at Betty's.
The gaming went on into the night with Jean Paul showing Nanc and a few others a new dice game and Betty having a good time with all the scratch off tickets she got for her birthday.
As always, we had a fun celebration and we are looking forward to the good times continuing this week.  We were happy to learn that our WashPA friends Tim and Di we be coming to Cajun country for a visit after Easter and we can't wait to introduce them to the Cajun culture. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Back at Betty's

After being delayed in Livingston for a couple days because of a battery charging problem that turned out to be a bad sensor, we headed to Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA.  We have been to Betty's every year since we went on the road in 2007.  It really is like coming home.  In addition to the wonderful hostess, there are the many friends we have made here over the years.  That includes RVers and many locals we have come to know.  Starting the first day we all gathered at happy hour, then on Saturday we went to the Museum Cafe for the Cajun jam session.  We are looking forward to the next several weeks of fun times. 
A few of the musician at the Museum Cafe for the jam.  Center is Dave and on the accordion is Black.  Both have played at Betty's.  Black not only plays the accordion he makes them.
The first time we came here in 2007 we met Ollie and we make sure we see her on every visit.  Nanc calls her the mayor because she knows everyone. 
More jam session pictures.  Local musician Joe and our RV friend Celine.
Dan and Merlene who are now official California Cajuns.
Celine and Jean Paul hitting the dance floor at the Museum.
Rick, Lynn, Brenda, Linda, Sandy, Betty, Nanc and Richard, along with several others from the park, went to see In the Wake of Time, a local play performed by the Abbeville Players.  It was an original production featuring stories of local residents.
These pictures will give you a good idea of what we mean when we say it is like coming home when we come to Betty's.  Most of these people are friends we have met here over the years.  Left are Richard, Lynn and Merlene.  Right are Tammy and Richard who just started fulltiming and are Betty first timers.
Left Celine and Sandy, right Dan and Peggy.
Top are first timers Iris, Joe, Linda and Keith.  Bottom are Jean Paul and Wendell.
Left are Jim and Charles and right are Rick, Brenda, Irene and Ruth.
Left are Betty, Cookie and Nanc, right are Cal and Marie.
Left are Ann and Tom and right is first timer Chari with a Betty's regular Louie.  Of the thirty people who are here we already knew 23 of them from past visits.  How cool!!! 
This is the creed at Betty's hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
In addition to the Saturday jam sessions, there are always many talented musicians to entertain us at Betty's during happy hours.  We did all this in the first three days, so you can see why we are looking forward to more music, food, fun and friends the next several weeks in Cajun Country.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Friends in Texas, Healthcare and Obama Cares

Well, this past week it seemed like we were being punished for having a week of sun and fun in Mexico.  The weather here in Texas turned cool and rainy and we did not see the sun all week.  There were a couple of days when we did not even open the door. I guess it proves we are really spoiled by being able to travel to warm, sunny locales most of the time.  When we finally ventured out on Saturday it turns out we had some friends in the park that we did not know about because everyone had been staying inside.  We also decided to take advantage of the clear skies and get the road dirt off of Opus.  He just had a good cleaning in Florida last month but driving two days in the rain made it look like he had not been washed in months.  
Here is Nanc doing the windows and look who showed up to supervise, Marvin.  We had not seen him since last fall when we were at Betty's.  It was good to see him even if he immediately took a seat and began pointing out spots we had missed.  I always say every job needs a supervisor and Marvin is an expert. 
Marvin told us that John and Joyce, whom we also met at Betty's last fall, were in the park too so we all got together for lunch on Sunday and then came back to our place to catch up on every one's travels and soak up some sun.  As we always say, making and meeting friends is one the the best things about our life on the road.


When we retired and went on the road in 2007 we knew health care insurance would be our biggest expense.  I was a year and a half from Social Security and four and a half years from Medicare.  Nanc is four years younger so we knew it would be four more years before she began to receive these wonderful government programs.  I did have a nice lump sum retirement payment that we thought would get me to Medicare, but it soon became apparent that it was not going to be enough as health care costs soared.  We were able to purchase our health insurance through my old employer until I went on Medicare and after that, Nanc was able to continue in the same plan for three more years. The last three years the rates had gone up very little so, even though it was expensive, Nanc was able to keep the same insurance we had had for more than thirty years. 

Last November the three years Nanc was able to get insurance through my former employer was up, so we had to go to the health care marketplace to purchase coverage for her for one year, as she will get Medicare this November.  We went on line and registered our names and were quickly inundated with calls and emails from insurance brokers.  There was also an issue with the two largest health care and health insurance providers in Pittsburgh, so we knew we would have to insure with a different company that would cover Nanc's doctors and provide nationwide coverage while we traveled.  While I have a pretty good understanding of the whole health insurance thing based on being a negotiator for four contracts, it was still a bit overwhelming.  We finally found a broker in Florida that we were comfortable with and purchased a bronze policy that cost about the same as our old policy with only slightly higher co-pays.  We are not eligible for any subsidies but overall we were happy with the coverage.  

Then we got the bill for the new 2015 rates and we were appalled that the cost of the policy was going to increase by $136 a month.  After a couple of days ranting about the evils of Obamacare (a surprise to those who know me), we decided to call the broker in Florida to see if we had any other options.  It turns out that Aetna, the plan we bought in November, had sharply increased their rates but there were other options available.  The broker did a search and found a silver United Healthcare policy (better than the bronze we had) that was not only less expensive than the Aetna policy for 2015, but it was less than we paid in 2014.  While it was a hassle and did require a lot of time on the phone, the new, better policy is going to cost us $1500 less for the ten months until Nanc goes on Medicare.  Overall, the experience was a bit of a hassle, but in the end we were able to purchase a policy that meets our needs until Nanc is enrolled in the great American socialist program Medicare in November.  From our personal experience we have to say, Obama Cares. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Secrets Silversands

WOW, it has been two weeks since our last post.  We went on vacation and decided to take a break from the blog also.  We are back with a report on our wonderful week of sun and warmth in Cancun at the Secrets Silversands.  
This was the view from our room for the week overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  Every day was sunny and warm.
We really enjoyed the warm weather.  We know our winter weather has not been bad by WashPA standards, but it has been cooler than we like.
Secrets always has many activities that Nanc loves.  She started the day with yoga in the beach gazebo, then did water aerobics and/or zumba. 
I also found daily activities to keep me busy, soaking up the sun, hanging in the pool and reading.
Of course, food is a big part of the stay.  They have seven restaurants to choose from, each offering meals from different areas around the world.  One afternoon the chefs delivered appetizers to everyone around the pool.  We did a kitchen tour for an inside look at how they produce so many great dishes.  We had a wonderful tableside prepared meal at Himitsu.
One thing we learned on the tour was if you have any special requests or needs just ask and they will accommodate you.  The Himitsu meal was a special reward for those who took the kitchen tour and they made sure there was extra seafood for Nanc.  We have been to other Secrets and they have all had good food, but Silverands was by far the best.  
The drinks came with both ice and fire.  Very neat.
The beach had beautiful white sand but the sea was not great for swimming because it was so shallow.  Not a big deal, we just used any one of the eight pools, a couple of which were salt water.
This is the main pool where we spent most of our time.  As someone who now spends most of my time in RV parks with "older" people, I must say while here I thought of my father who would always say, "I love my wife, but OH you kids" when he saw a good looking girl:)
Secrets is an adults only resort and the evening dress code for dinner is slacks and collared shirts for men; dresses, skirts, slacks and blouses for ladies.  That said, day dress is bathing suit required with cover ups and t-shirts in the restaurants.
Every evening there was different entertainment.  From Mexican, to dance, to incredible circus acts.  This was all coordinated by the wonderful entertainment team. 
There was also live music everyday.  From jazz, to rock, to a mariachi band playing by the pool.
In 2011, after a few years on the road, we decided we would start taking vacations to destinations we couldn't drive to in our house. In 2012 will bought into Unlimited Vacation Club which gives us better rates at the Secrets resorts.  This is our third trip to Secrets and we decided to upgrade our membership.  Here we are with Brent and Esteban after we signed up.   
A must do anytime we go on vacation is to get massages.  Secrets always have a water cycle area you can use at the spa.  It includes steam room, sauna, and several different water stops.  Very relaxing!!
And a great time was had by all, FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!!!
We can't wait to go back and are already planning our next trip.  The only down side was one of our suitcases did not arrive back in Houston with us.  That meant we had to drive to the airport the next day to pick it up.  The good news is we have a $100 travel voucher to use on our next trip.