Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday

All this sun, warm temperatures and nice breezes; where is the frigid wind, snow, ice and shush? Back home - that's where!

Today mostly revolved around the arrival of the Geezerettes at the New Orleans Airport. This morning we cleaned camp, sorted laundry and re-organized our confusion so the ladies could move into this male bastion.
So we ran into these two blondes at the airport...
After greeting them at the airport with Mardi Gras beads, we headed to Traceys, the restaurant in the Garden District recommended by Bryan Holt last night on the Ferry. En route, we encountered a Mardi Gras parade that probably went about 2 miles - great fun. The only problem is the parade route was between us and a good lunch! By twisting and turning in the back streets we finally found an alternate route to Traceys - thank God for the GPS to aid in steering!
An unexpected treat - one of the many Mardi Gras parades
Well, Bryan did not steer us wrong! The Roast Beef Po' Boys in a friendly pub atmosphere hit the spot for the travelers.
How can you go wrong with Irish flags out front?
Back at the campsite, we took a walk, a quick Whalen, then set about preparing a dinner of char-grilled pork shops and a veggie pasta. Tonight will be an early night - big day exploring Nola tomorrow afternoon and evening!

Saturday - Paddling, birds, good food, old friends & new friends

Another crappy day in paradise. High 70's-low 80's and lots of sun, as evidenced by Geezer Mike's arms & legs! After a little breakfast, we loaded the boats to paddle Bayou Segnette (pronounced locally as "S'nyet"). We went down along the levee, which is being rebuilt for hurricane protection. Saw lots of waterbirds, the coolest being a bunch of Black-necked Stilts.

Barataria Preserve - good paddling

Black-necked Stilts

Stopped for lunch along the levee and found out how sticky Mississippi delta clay can be. This stuff could cling to teflon! Thought we'd try a circle route, but the GPS maps were not up-to-date and the delta landscape seems to have been redesigned after Katrina. Since we were already 4+ miles from the launch site, we were tired from fighting the wind (OK, Al was fine - Mike was tired!) and unsure of our directions, we headed back on the route we came in on. After 8 miles on the trip, two muddy, sun bleached, hungry & thirsty Geezers loaded the boats, grabbed a shower, a Whelan and headed for the French Quarter.

Dinner was raw oysters and gumbo at Felix's. You just stand at the bar while the guy shucking oysters keeps them coming - right on the stone bar top. Who needs plates? Mix your own cocktail sauce with the hottest horseradish in the world and slurp them puppies down! Hog Heaven!

While walking along Bourbon St., we looked at the throngs of people stumbling along and spied Art Newell, a fellow we had both worked with at DEC! Had a nice chat with Art and Jackie and heard about their trip while we explained our travels. Small world!

Bourbon Street on a Saturday night a week before Mardi Gras was wild! People watching here is about the most fun you can have anywhere. We heard some great Jazz, some Cajun music and sampled some local beers and the beverage for which the street is named!

Revelers on Bourbon Street
We caught the last ferry back to the West Bank where we met a local guy, Bryan who gave us some great tips on places to go and restaurant recommendations. He urged us to spread the word about the Big Easy to our friends up north. If Bryan is an example of the local hospitality and friendliness, New Orleans is in good hands! Thanks, Bryan!

Today, Sunday, is dedicated to preparing to welcome the Geezerettes to share our adventures for the next 10 days.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Travels to Oil Country

Wanting to see some of the most southerly reaches of Louisiana, today we drove down to Grande Isle. This long and winding road goes through some of the southern parishes of the state, and past Exxon and Chevron operating bases for Gulf oil drilling. Even the old guys fishing along the bayous had shiny new pickup trucks. Driving by in the old Geezermobile with 130K on it, the oil influence was quite apparent.

Grande Isle State Park beach - note tracks from oil spill crews

How to jack up your single-wide - Grande Isle style

The only evidence of the BP oil spill was the closed beach at Grande Isle State Park. Truck tracks all along the shore were from oil patrols, we guessed. Dolphins were actively feeding in the tidal rips along the shore, as were flight formations of Brown Pelicans. We've heard reports of dead baby Dolphins washing up on the Gulf beaches, but overt signs of damage were hard to see.

Returning to Westwego, a stop at the nearby fish market netted us a pound of fresh wild-caught shrimp from Grande Isle. To this we added a little garlic, butter, EVOO, parseley, lime and penne. Not bad for Geezer chefs.

Starving on our own cooking again...

It's getting cool as we write at 10:00 PM and we're thinking of putting on some long pants. It sure beats the 10 inches of wet snow they got at home today.

Thursday - Paddling down Bourbon Street

Well we didn't actually paddle on Bourbon St, but we did finally get the boats wet. Yesterday morning we awoke to the dulcet tones of a bulldozer, soil compactor and a pile driver as crews continued work on the levee surrounding Bayou Segnette's campground.

Since we had an early start, we decided to capitalize on the day and head for the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park & Preserve just south of New Orleans. We settled on the Barataria Preserve section for a quick walk around one of the trails and then paddled the twin canals area. What a great location for a first paddle of the season! The canals are surrounded with natural vegetation and there were plenty of birds and alligators to watch. We saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, White Ibis and Little Blue Herons all within a few yards of each other. The winds were quite strong and blowing straight down one of the canals so the trip upwind was a challenge, but the ride back was great!

On the water - Barataria Preserve 

Ferocious gator - this one was almost 2 feet long!

We returned to the campsite late afternoon for a shower and a Whalen. Refreshed and not smelling so bad, we hopped into the Geezermobile for the short ride to the ferry landing that would give us a ride to the French Quarter. We found the best restaurant, the Crescent City Brewhouse where we dined on oysters, a phenomenal seafood cheesecake and salads with grilled shrimp - PLUS they brew their own beer!

Oysters and seafood cheesecake - Ymmm!

Since the cathedrals and art museums were closed, after dinner, we wandered up to Bourbon Street for some music and libation. What incredible sights and sounds! Every kind of music you can imagine pouring from each doorway - all of it free and VERY good! Of course, the bead tossing drunks lining the balconies ensured that the sights were free and VERY good, also!

Bead Magnet on Bourbon Street

We caught the last ferry across the mighty Mississippi and got back to the campground in time to beat a thunderstorm that rocked our world for a couple of hours.

New Orleans skyline from the ferry

Thank you for riding the Geezer Express - please remain seated till the ride comes to a complete stop - (In about 5 weeks!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hello NOLA!

Another day of driving - a little over 1700 miles so far since Monday morning. Today we went from the Florida Panhandle through Mississippi to darling NOLA, the Big Easy, New Orleans, LA!

After breakfast, we got on the road and hightailed it to Gautier, MS to investigate a kayak from Craigslist so that we could round out our cartop collection to a nice neat 4 boats. The kayak was a little long in the tooth and a bit worn, but the price was right and we loaded her up. Had a nice chat with the owner, Stacy, her son, her two granddaughters and their ferocious guard dog.

New Kayak (on left)

We did not catch the puppy's name - we'll call him "Killer"

We celebrated our acquisition with lunch in Ocean Springs, MS and took the coastal route into New Orleans. The scenery was great with lots of wildlife and interesting signs and people.

We got to Bayou Segnette State Park in time to set up camp before dark. Neat park with nice new facilities and free wireless internet throught the site. We could have take the opportunity to go into Bourbon Street, but instead chose a quiet dinner, some grocery shopping and a early night. For all you folks back home - it's 11PM and the temperature is still 68 degrees! Just sayin!

Superdome Out The Window

Geezers Get South

Hello from two Geezers who are seat-weary, but glad to have left the snow behind. Day 2 had us up moving early, considering our 2:30 AM bed time. After a delectable Days Inn continental breakfast (did you know that WonderBread makes bagels?), we hit the road at 8:45, going south on I95. Starving by noon, we tried the GPS search method for something sounding like a non-chain restaurant. We got off the exit for Yemassee, SC and struck out on two places – neither was open for lunch.

Then Mike spotted a tiny antique shop, also advertising sandwiches. A short time later, basking in the sun in our T-shirts at an outdoor table, we feasted on the special of the day, wonderful tuna melts and fruit cup. Paula Flowers, the shop owner and a vivacious, energetic entrepreneur, gave us a great commentary on the surrounding low-country area. She runs the combination shop, plus a bed & breakfast and seems to be the one-woman chamber of commerce! Now we have an invitation to return here on our way home in a few weeks.

Paula and Mike outside her shop - note the lace table cloths!

Later, we got tired of I95 and took a cut-off through the pine flats of Georgia, north of the Okefenokee Swamp. Finally reaching Tallahassee after dark, we picked up a kayak from friend Andy's house (he's away). We're afraid we scared his wife, who he neglected to tell about this. Now we've gotten him in trouble...

On the road again, we are headed across I10. Tomorrow we make a brief stop in Mississippi and go on to New Orleans. That will be the last of our long travel days for a while – yeah!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the way

Leaving Snow Country

OK folks, this is going to be short since this Geezer is a bit road weary.

Snow, sleet and rain delayed our departure this morning so we didn't actually hit the road till 10:15. We had our first Oh S%!# abour 20 miles down the road when we discovered that the hub covers we replaced on the trailer during preparation had fallen off! Luckily, we were at the Coxsackie entrance to the thruway where there was a huge RV dealer. $5 and a borrowed rubber mallet and we got on our way! We had flurries down the Thruway, then it cleared in NJ, changed to sleet in Delaware & Maryland, rain in Virginia then clearing just south of DC.

After 14 hours of driving, a thermos of coffee and a Mexican dinner we made it to 2:00AM and gave up the battle. We are holed up in a motel room in St. Paul, NC ready to hit the road again in the morning. I just checked the weather back home and saw that it was 9 degrees! Well, even at 2:00AM it is 64 here! Just wanted to rub it in a little.

Tomorrow, Talahasee FL then across the panhandle till we get sick of driving! Talk to y'all soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Packin' Up

Well, all the stuff seems to fit. Not that we can remember how we organized the junk last year. Once your mind goes to mush, every day is a completely new adventure! Anyhow, we are ready to flee the cold north, if only the latest storm will let us.

Here's the plan - we'll keep an eye on the weather tomorrow morning, and leave when we can get past Newburgh without worry of jack-knifing the rig. We'll keep you posted.