Sunday, January 20, 2013

Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL, Jan 5th-6th 2013

We arrived at Henderson Beach State Park around 2:30 p.m. after a 242 mile trek from Louisiana. The park is fantastic! It is situated right on the beach. The campsites are large with lots of foliage between for plenty of privacy. Each site is either paved or has gravel that seems to be tamped down or smoothed out between each departure. The sites are very natural looking yet neat and tidy…very well maintained. Ours was site 44.

We got checked in, set up and out on the road to explore before it got dark. It was already after 3:00 and there was a store I wanted to check out before they closed at 5:00 since they would not be open the next day (Sunday). It was a really cute coastal gift shop/home décor store Kathleen's Kottage. The owner and his dog greeted us and were very friendly. The owner makes all the furniture in the store and sells at very reasonable prices. If you are in the area definitely check it out.

From there, we explored Scenic Hwy 30A which offers tons of coastal boutiques, cafes and leads to charming towns and beaches like Grayton Beach, Seaside, Seagrove Beach and Rosemary Beach. It was chilly and a little drizzly but we got out at a shopping area in Seaside and looked around a bit popping into a couple stores. I would definitely like to check it out in warmer weather.

We decided to eat while there and ended up at The Great Southern Cafe for some warm and cozy comfort food! We both got the beef which was like pot roast. The yummy beef was so tender and had tons of broth with it. Add black-eyed peas, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy and it was the classic southern meal! Yum! We actually somehow resisted dessert that night! Seriously need to go on a fast when we get home!

After dinner, we drove the rest of 30A then headed back to home base to turn in for the night.

Sunday morning was still very chilly but bright and clear. We got up and around fairly early and actually went to visit our neighbors in the next loop over. They are actually our neighbors from Apopka who happened to be there at the same time as us! We need to give them a big THANK YOU for giving us so many great RV travel tips…thanks guys!!

We headed back over to our site and logged into the The Xchange (Family Bible Church online service). So great to be able to still ‘go’ to our church even while traveling!

We needed to check out by 1:00 but wanted to explore a bit more so moved Winnie from our camp site to the public parking within the park. We took a walk on the was beautiful!

We hopped in the car and checked out some of the 30A towns and beaches and stopped for lunch at McGuire's Irish Pub. This is a place not to be missed if you are in the area!! It is fantastic!! I was on sensory overload though! I’ve been to little beach dives that have dollar bills taped to the walls, but here they are not only plastering the walls but hanging from the ceilings too. We were seated near the fireplace and also close to the musician who strummed his guitar and played relaxed classic songs. Tons of choices on the menu overwhelm and tempt you! We started with Senate Bean Soup...a local favorite for only 19 cents! It is patterned after the original soup which has been served in Washington D.C. since the early 1900s. Bean soup is on the menu in the Senate's restaurant every day! The Senate Bean Soup at McGuire's was delicious! Portions here are large and they seem to bring you tons of ‘extras’ that you didn’t order at no extra charge. Dave’s brunch came with a Baily’s Irish coffee, they brought us warm, fresh beignets that we did not order (twice) and on and on like that. Everything was fantastic!

With just a little time left before we had to pound the pavement back to Apopka, we drove the coastal roads and took photos and made notes of places to come back to in warmer weather.

Hated to only stay one night but we must get home to the kitties and I guess to reality, lol!! It has been an amazing trip and now we have 7 states on our map!!

Excited to see how many states we can get on our map by the end of 2013!

Until Next Time~


Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville, LA Jan. 2nd-5th 2013

It’s Wednesday morning and we are still at Sheppard State Park in MS, but will be heading out for LA shortly. We must do some work today. We are blessed to be able to work remotely so we can take these trips! We hung out in the RV today while working. Well, Dave didn’t have to work all day so he headed out for a bit to find a Mississippi pin for our hat before we leave the state.

Late afternoon we packed up and headed on to Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville, LA (on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain). I continued to work while Dave drove and we arrived at the Park just at quitting time. We were able to drive through the park and pick the site we wanted since it wasn’t crowded. It’s a great park. Again, some sites nearer the water had suffered some damage from different hurricanes, but where we stayed was fine. Site 85. It was cold and spitting light rain….I’m sure with the summer weather its even more lovely here! We don’t mind being here when its cold but you cannot enjoy the beach right now.

We quickly set up camp and headed out to explore. On our way through the park we saw lots of deer. We explored Mandeville which had a cute, mostly historic residential section with a few quaint shops and cafes mixed in. Not far away was a busy, vibrant town with tons of unique restaurants as well as all the big chain restaurants and stores such as Carrabas and Barnes and Noble and anything else you could think of! We chose a little Italian restaurant that had pretty good lasagna (not near as good as my sister in law Gina Cameron’s though!!) We stopped for gas and also grabbed some (not so good for us) snacks for later.

The rest of the evening we chilled by the fireplace and read. Cozy!!

Thursday, Jan. 3rd is a work day again. Dave didn’t have to work so he explored the park a bit, fixed a few little things in the RV and waited for me to finish working, lol. I scrambled to get myself ready as quick as I could after finishing work at 5:00. We hopped in the car and headed over the 24 mile Lake Pontchartrain bridge and on into the Garden District of New Orleans. I did not know what to expect having never been before. I oooh’d and ahhh’d over all the wonderful architecture! It was so cool that Christmas lights were still up!!

We found our Brother-in-Law Lee on a bagel shop sign!

We parked and walked around a bit and stopped to eat at a funky looking restaurant called The Rum House. It was hoppin’ and was definitely a ‘locals’ favorite. Dave says it was the best meal on the whole trip…and we had a lot of good food!! We both got the same thing and it was amazing!! Jerk chicken with mango ginger glaze served with black beans, rice and plantains. We got an appetizer of homemade sweet potato chips which were still warm and absolutely addicting!! Dave somehow found room for key lime pie…he likes to try it almost everywhere we go!

We then headed over to the French Quarter, parked and walked around. I was blown away by how much is there! The architecture is amazing!! What a cool ‘vibe’ in this town! Every nook and cranny has a quaint little courtyard or unique café! With the exception of a few tacky businesses on Bourbon St, it really is a town you must visit!! We cannot wait to go back!

We don't know why they did it, but the cops were opening the fire hydrants.

Well, we finally headed back to the park. We were amazed at how much exploring we packed in considering we didn’t leave until after work!

We got a good night’s sleep so we could get up early and see more of New Orleans.

Jan. 4th at 9:30 am and we are in the Garden District again. Dave downloaded a walking tour on his phone of some of the historic homes here. About 25 homes, a cemetery and a restaurant in total. It started off cold and windy!! So many sweaters and jackets I own have a hood on them and I’ve often thought, ‘this jacket/sweater would be perfect if it just didn’t have this hood on it!’ They bug me because my long hair gets all bunched up in it! Today, however, the hood became my best friend!! Now I realize they CAN be useful! I did not care if I looked like a dork….I wore that hood and loved it! It’s amazing how much warmer you are overall when your ears are not freezing, lol!!

Anyways, back to the tour…..we saw some beautiful homes and learned some local history. We saw the house where Jefferson Davis died, and noteable in quite a different way, we saw a home Sandra Bullock owns and also the one John Goodman lives in. It was so funny….we were listening to our tour and it said, ‘this is the home of actor John Goodman….if you keep your eyes open, you are likely to see him walking his dogs on this street.’ Well, right then, we saw the shadow of a larger man lumbering to the door with two dogs (it was a cut glass door). We both felt silly just standing there waiting for him to open the door so we stepped over a bit. The door opened and he let the dogs out but did not come out. We feel confident it was him though from what we could see through the front door!

John Goodman's Home
After the tour we checked out a few antique shops…what breathtaking crystal chandeliers they have!! We grabbed panini sandwiches and soup at a café then headed over to the French Quarter. We checked out Jackson Square and got some coffee and beignets which were incredible! We explored a ton of the quaint shops and heard several different amazingly talented musicians who were performing on the streets. 

We struck up a conversation with a guy who was working in one of the little shops. He was very helpful and gave us some great suggestions. First he told us about a luxury RV resort right in the French Quarter (right off I-10) and then he told us about a cool area to check out for live music. He said that Frenchman’s Street (a few blocks past the French Market) is a local’s place that is how New Orleans used to be. He said there are no fancy signs, but good music and clubs. We were pooped and even went back to the car for a few minutes. We decided to check it out though and we’re so glad we did! We went to the Spotted Cat and the Blue Nile and they were both amazing!! Now I grew up never having gone to any clubs or bars and I did not know what to expect… was awesome though! Two very different clubs but both with amazingly talented musicians! I’m going to post some video of both so you can hear how good they were!

Jayna Morgan's Band performing at The Spotted Cat

Kermit Ruffins and The BBQ Swingers

We must leave early in the morning (5th) to head back home. We will be stopping in Destin for one night on the way back.

Misi and Dave