Monday, May 16, 2011

On the Move (Hattiesburg, MS, West Monroe, LA, Arlington, TX, Oklahoma City, OK)

Well Hi there!  We left the panhandle of Florida May1st and really started traveling.  You know we left our life with a house last June but haven't really traveled far.   We just kinda did NC, SC and FL.  So it feels good to start clocking a few miles. Once on the road we did about 200 miles and spent the night in Hattiesburg, MS.  It was just an overnight stop at another Passport America campground (Okatoma River RV Park).  We then did another couple hundred miles and spent the night in West Monroe, LA at the Pavilion RV Park, also Passport America..  Both of these campgrounds were okay for an overnight stay and we certainly couldn't complain about the price.

After another few hundred miles we arrived in Texas on May 3rd.  The mission there was to visit with our daughter Aubree and her roomie Linda who recently moved from Atlanta to Dallas.  We stayed in Arlington, TX just outside of Dallas at the Treetops RV Village for 5 nights.  A very nice campground and the weather was deeelightful!  75 - 85, low humidity and a gentle breeze!  Treetops accepts Passport America for some nights, but we ended up "upgrading" to a larger site that would allow us to use our rooftop satellite and they would not accept the discount for those sites.  Oh well, it was an enjoyable stay and they did accept Good Sam, so we still received a small discount.   We enjoyed lots of great food while hanging out in some really hip places. Aubree gave us a nice tour of downtown Dallas that even included a cable car ride.

We had the girls over to the camper for some poorly cooked (by me) steaks and also enjoyed a nice hike with Aubree at the Cedar Ridge Preserve, managed by the Audubon Society.  Hard to believe this place is right in Dallas.

We hiked about 5 miles and enjoyed our wildlife (snake, lizard, turtles and  butterfly)  and wildflower sightings. Sorry, no snake picture, Aubree scared it off with her ear piercing scream!

This lizard was hardly noticeable on the tree

Guess where we found this butterfly?

The view after a very steep climb up an observation tower was great too.

Going down was much scarier than climbing up!
Another Dallas highlight was visiting the Sixth Floor Museum, an exhibit depicting the life, assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.  Visiting the site of the shooting in Dealey Plaza, reading the multitude of displays and viewing the impactful pictures certainly brought back a lifetime of memories.  Few events of our lives' can be so vividly recalled.

The site is a National Historic Landmark

Reflective Pool in Dealey Plaza

An ''X'' painted on the pavement marks the spot where the president's car was passing when he was shot

Dealey Plaza area
Even though we thought the traffic was horrendous and we've never been lost so many times (even with the GPS), it was overall a great visit.  Love You Aubree!

From Texas we headed for Oklahoma City.  We have friends, Rich and Donna, who moved from Summerville, SC (our old hometown) to Oklahoma City a few years ago.  They may or may not read our blog but I must share with you the magnitude of their hospitality.  Upon our arrival at their home (we set up the camper at the Council Road RV Park a few miles away)  they greeted us with hugs and much more.  First there were gift bags.  Debbie and I both received OKLAHOMA t-shirts and Tervis glasses with our initials and a lid.   So unnecessary and so very nice!  Next, Donna set a table of hor'dourves.  This included boiled shrimp, ham, cheese crackers, fruit and cookies.  She's not done.  Donna topped this event off with champagne and, because she is sooo thoughtful, she also provided sparkling cider for me, the non-drinker.  And last, but far from least, Rich offered a very nice toast to our friendship and the opportunity to gather together!!   But the evening is only beginning.  As time passed Donna and Rich brought out huge T bones that were superbly grilled, home made crab cakes, fresh asparagus from the grill and, my favorite, carrot cake.  I believe we were finishing dinner around 1100pm, stuffed but oh what a wonderful greeting.   The next day we took an outstanding field trip to the National Weather Center (NWC)in Norman, Ok.

Rich and Donna at the National Weather Service
Now lets remember Oklahoma City is in the heart of "tornado alley" so there's lots of weather to talk about.  Every element of the tour was packed with interesting info.  Our tour guide was a young fellow who was delightfully impressive.  He was a Junior at the Oklahoma University School of Meteorology housed at the NWC.  He was way bright, motivated and personable.  It's such a pleasure to see young men and women who so clearly have their act together.

Our great tour guide
The tour included the Atrium,

Vehicle Bay,

Storm Prediction Center,

and Forecast Office.

We also took the elevator to the Observation Deck and a very cool view.

After our tour we went back to Rich and Donna's to enjoy her world famous salad, spaghetti and garlic bread.  If  it's not world famous, it should be!  We then played Hand and Foot (card game) until past midnight.  We started Tuesday, May 10th, with a visit to the wood processing plant where Rich is the Plant Manager.  I like this sort of stuff so I really appreciated the time Rich took to explain the processes to me.  Later that day we went to see the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, which consists of both outside and inside exhibits.

Gates of Time and the Reflective Pool

Field of Empty Chairs (one for each of the 168 victims)

The Survivor Tree (90+ years old)
The message below reads: The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated, our deeply rooted faith sustains us.
The entire site, inside and out, was presented with heartfelt emotion and dignity.  You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved to your core.  Aside from sadness, the overriding conclusion is what a SENSELESS crime!

That night we pigged out (we are now counting the pounds we're gaining daily) on roast beef and pork, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn and peas and more carrot cake.  All this was followed by another late night of Hand and Foot.  Please know that while we're playing cards we're "enjoying"  (now a term for pigging) unlimited snacks like we haven't eaten in days. We're ashamed!  The last day of our visit presented a new dilemma.  True to its reputation, there were severe thunderstorm warnings/watch in the area as well as prime conditions for tornadoes.  Consequently,  much of the day was spent watching the weather, discussing where we should have gone to avoid this weather and the fact that in the future we will leave an area, if possible, to avoid severe weather.  By 5pm the severe weather had departed the area so we could get on with our evening.  We dined on leftovers, poor us, and concluded our visit with another great evening of Hand and Foot.   Donna and Rich were award winning hosts!

Thursday morning, May 12th, we headed for Iowa.  Our plan was to travel our couple hundred miles and spend the night in Kansas.  Somewhere along the way we decided to drive on to Nebraska City, Nebraska.  The result was about an 8 hour driving day, but all that went quite well.  We arrived around 7pm, did a little Arby's and called it a night.  Friday morning I traveled solo, about a mile, to see the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center.  It was primarily an education center, well done and enjoyable.

We got on the road about 1pm and drove on to Lake Anita State Park in Anita, Iowa so we can spend several days with our son Ryan who lives in Atlantic. 

More on that visit to come.

Duane and Debbie


  1. You folks have covered some miles for sure. Enjoy reading where you've been. Continued safe travels to you.