Points West (July, 2019) (Part 1)

In July I travelled (without my sidekick and companion Stretch) to visit Kim, Aaron, Athena and Leander. The kids were on summer vacation. I got in on the 3rd of July. Kim and Aaron invited me to come along on their jam-packed, carefully planned vacation. Road trip!

My welcome.

July 5th, spent the afternoon searching the marine life in the tide pools around Alki in West Seattle. Saw some interesting creatures. Here are some:

No longer called Starfish (as they are not fish), this is a Purple Sea Star (I tell you, I learn new things everyday). I was impressed with my granddaughter Athena holding it and giving a lesson about this creature.
Sea Cucumber (I also held it, um…squeeshy)
Again, I cannot remember the name but it would blow water out of the tube
Water Penny larva
I cannot remember the name of this marine creature. I’ll correct this once I find out. Looks like floppy pottery.
Kelp (seaweed) everywhere. Lots of marine life hiding underneath.
Great Blue Heron feasting on smorgasbord.
Family working their way through the kelp on their way to shore. A bit shallow. Beautiful wooden boat.
I met a Basenji at the park and I had to stop and talk. Ruby, I was thinking about you. This basenji is a Grand Champion. Absolutely stunning guy.

July 6th, left for Oregon for the start of an exciting and fun-filled vacation. Stopped in Portland for lunch.

Playing hackey sack in front of Powell’s Bookstore (headquarters) in Portland, Oregon. I could have spent a whole day at Powell’s, known as the World’s Largest Independent Bookstore. Powell’s has a whole section set up to buy back used books. I was mesmerized by the clerk handling a long line of people selling their books. You could easily get lost. The bookstore takes up a whole city block or 68,000 square feet or 1.6 acres of retail floor space.
BrewCycle. They sure were having a great time. Loud music and drinking brews as they cycled down a main street in Portland.

Next update will be along the Columbia River, Hood River and Bingen, Washington.

Traveling through Louisiana

After leaving Sea Rim State Park in Texas, I took Patrick’s suggestion to drive along the Louisiana coastline. I took the bridge across the Sabine Lake and into Louisiana through Johnson Bayou. Lots of beef cattle farming in the Bayou. The drive along the coast is desolate and homes are few and far between. The only way to get to Cameron, Louisiana is on the ferry over the Calcasieu Ship Channel. I was heading to New Iberia and on to Lake Fausse State Park to camp for the next couple of nights.

New Iberia, Louisiana. What a nice little town with a lot of character.

Next I headed to my campsite at Lake Fausse State Park, Louisiana. Oh boy, talk about swampy water everywhere, right up to the campsites and mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes. The park rents kayaks and canoes, for those brave enough. After spending a couple of hours walking and driving around the park, I decided that it just wasn’t going to work for us. We would have to move on. The sites backed right up to the swamp which were teaming not just with the biting buzzers but also with unseen critters (read, snakes and gators here). We packed up and headed out (got my money back, no questions). My next stop along the way would be Morgan City and then on to Houma to spend the night.

Rental cabin at Lake Fausse State Park
A warning. I would probably have enjoyed it in the winter months.

Morgan City, Louisiana. Another cute town.

Bridge over Berwick Bay on the Atchafalaya River, Morgan City, Louisiana
Lots of boat traffic visible from the waterfront walkway above the river
City Hall and Courthouse, Morgan City, Louisiana
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Roman Catholic Church, Morgan City, Louisiana
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Roman Catholic Church, Morgan City, Louisiana

Next stop, Houma, Louisiana. I spent one night, enjoyed the hot shower after having spent 3 nights at Sea Rim. Tomorrow I head back to Mobile but will continue on US 90.

Stopped along the way to walk and stretch my legs at the Destrehan Plantation along the Mississippi River. Walked along the top of the levee which runs along River Road.

Per Wikipedia, Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented antebellum plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley and the closest to New Orleans.
Taken from the top of the levee running along the Mississippi
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (many of them)

US Highway 90 from Bay St. Louis to Mobile.

Our Lady of the Gulf, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Marina, Gulfport, Mississippi
Marina in Gulfport, Mississippi
Gulfport Marina, Mississippi
Fishing in Gulfport, Mississippi
Wedding on the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi
Pascagoula River, Mississippi
Nice shrimp boat
Great idea. A hand pump to use for cleaning fish along the river.
Pascagoula River Bridge
Shrimp boats on the Pascagoula River, Mississippi

Sea Rim State Park, Texas (April, 2019)

After visiting with Patrick, Kara and Duncan in Houston in late April, I made my way down to Port Arthur heading to Sabine Pass and then Sea Rim State Park. Everything I had read about Sea Rim was that it was a small park but most importantly, I should expect mosquitos. I felt prepared as I had bought some screening along with some magnets and just in case, I brought along some duct tape, for good measure. I was not terribly impressed with Port Arthur, in fact if I never go back there it would be too soon, but I had been warned. I drove through to Sabine Pass, which was kind of cute, reminded me of Belize a bit. I made a right turn at the only traffic light and headed down to Sea Rim. By the way, whenever I saw historical markers I would stop and read. More on that later.

I loved Sea Rim instantly. There are only 15 campsites and you can dry camp on the beach. There were only a few campers in the camping area. There was a nice breeze blowing off the Gulf and I got a really great eyebrow camping spot next to the marsh with a clear view to the Gulf.

I was only going to stay a couple of nights. I checked in and Stretch and I began to set up for the night. I cut my screening, but them set up in case I was barraged with mosquitos early. The only comfort station is a vault toilet (sort of like an outhouse). I had never encountered a vault toilet before so this was new to me. There are no inside showers with hot or cold running water. My site had electricity and water. There is a shower on the dune boardwalk which takes you to the beach, so if you want a cold shower, that will do.

The view from my campsite #12
This big boy was hanging out pretty close. I had to keep an eye on Stretch.
Not a fan of Texas beaches, but it sure was relaxing.
Willet Watching
Mrs. Kildeer trying to protect her eggs.
Her eggs
This boy would sit next to the van and just be so noisy. Loved watching them.
So beautiful when they all lift off together.
Black-necked Stilts

As it turned out, there was a great gulf breeze and I never had to worry about mosquitos. I kept my screens on at night, cracked my windows about 8 inches and slept like a baby. I even spent one more night and would have stayed longer except they were all full for the rest of the weekend.

On the way out I took a drive through Sabine Pass I discovered the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site which honors the Civil War battlefield where Confederate soldiers stopped Union forces from entering Texas in 1863. It is a beautiful setting along the Sabine River and they have quite a large site to explore and lots of information. As I was walking through and reading all the information I kept thinking, I wonder if school children are brought here on field trips. What a great spot to learn some history.

Meaher State Park, Spanish Fort, Alabama (February, 2019)

My very first test of van camping was at the Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Stretch and I were able to get a tent site and I set up our sleeping arrangements for the night. The site came with water and electric. .

The tent camping area next to the boat ramp

Stretch and I spent 3 nights in all and were able to hike quite a bit around the campground area. There is lots of shade in the tent area. The boardwalk which is accessed through a dirt path to the south of the tent area, a fishing pier, kayak launch area and boat ramp area are all near the tent site area and the cabin area. There is an area for raising bees and some type of agricultural site set aside for private individuals which I guess give additional revenue to the Alabama State Park (good idea). I also noticed that they seem to have a storage facility for RVs.

Additional revenue for Alabama state parks

One thing that I noticed is that Meaher State Park doesn’t have receptacles for the disposal/recycling of monofilament fishing line. While walking along the fishing pier I picked up quite a bit of used, broken fishing line. It sure would make it easier for fishermen to dispose of their line if the Alabama State Parks would install bins like the ones I’ve seen in other states. Florida has a very active and great recycling program. Here is what I’ve seen in Mississippi. They are usually located at fishing piers, boat ramps and like areas. http://www.dmr.ms.gov/index.php/monofilament-recycling-program/9-monofilament/detail/99-monotube#

If you are a nature lover and photographer, I believe you will enjoy this state park, as much I did.

Sunrise taken from my campsite at Meaher State Park
One morning it was foggy and windy at Meaher State Park
Great Blue Heron fishing in the shallows off the boardwalk at Meaher State Park

The bathhouses were nice, clean and well lit. The park itself was clean and I felt safe in the area. The cost of the tent site was more expensive than I expected but for the peace of mind and for my first experience, I paid the fee. I would recommend this state park, I just wish Alabama would offer discounts to seniors. Oh well!!

Tired of Facebook and Instagram

I’m so tired of Facebook and although I like Instagram, it can be frustrating and not sufficient for my vision.

I wanted to have my own space so that my friends and family can share in what I love doing, my travel destinations and my photography.

If you have questions or want more information about my travels, feel free to reach out to me.

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I have to start somewhere

In February of this year, 2019, I purchased a 2011 Kia Sedona minivan with the intention of converting it to a camper van so that I can explore parts of this great country that I have never visited. My minivan will include a sleeping area, cooking area and as much comfort as I can manage by living in the minivan for an extended period of time (my plan 3 months, but it’s not set in stone should I find it more difficult than I can handle). I will be staying in city, county, state and national parks that have bathing, bathrooms and other facilities that will provide me with additional comfort and safety. I will not be boondocking or dry camping this time.

My 2011 Kia Sedona which will serve as my camper van.

My faithful companion a 12 year old rat terrier, Stretch will be by my side. I hope to be able to do some hiking, certainly walking, kayaking, exploring and, of course, photographing what is of interest to me.

My faithful companion, Stretch, my 12 year old rat terrier

My journey will begin at the end of August, 2019 when I travel to Houston to visit with my son, daughter in law, my grandson and the soon to arrive granddaughter. The plan is to then travel west and start my adventures.

I have tested out the Kia since February and I have camped in Alabama, Texas and visited Seattle and Oregon (not in the Kia). I will be organizing my photographs and identifying them over the next several weeks and hopefully catch up so that once I hit the road my past trips will be already posted.