Texas Woods

Day one is in the books. I got away from G’Vine about 11am and headed south. Good trip. Tons of beautiful wildflowers along Interstate 45—yellows, pinks, reds, whites, blues. Really pretty stuff.

The trailer (she still needs a name I suppose) followed along pretty well. But I did coax her with a loving “c’mon B” a couple times when road conditions on the smaller state highway caused some unexpected sway action. I’ve moved my heavy tool boxes from the front storage bin to my truck bed to unload trailer tongue weight; we’ll see if that straightens B out some.

Martin Dies is a cool state park. Lotsa trees, lotsa water, lotsa lotsa lotsa skeeters. Grilled up some Trader Joe’s marinated chicken & zucchini and paired that with a Franciscan Merlot. And with that, the day is a wrap! Headed to the Big Easy tomorrow.

Wretched Road

I decided to get off the Interstate and see some Louisiana countryside. So in LaFayette I turned south on US90 to drive through the penisula-ish land southwest of New Orleans. The highway from LaFayette to Franklin was wretched. I’ve driven better dirt roads in our national forests. The speed limit was generally 65-70 MPH but I had to keep it at about 50 to keep from bouncing off the truck’s roof. Louisiana outta be ashamed.

Fortunately the road smoothed out after Franklin and was actually a pretty drive through the swamp forests of south Louisiana. After an even six hours of driving I was safe & sound and backed into a good site at the KOA in West New Orleans enjoying a cold brew.

NWWIIM & USSA

Pulled into a campground in the woods between Gulf Shores, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida about 4pm after an easy 204 miles drive from New Orleans and a 3-hour visit to the USS Alabama in Mobile. But first, lemme recap the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

What an awesome place! This is probably my favorite museum of all time. Dad would’ve loved it. It’s informative, creative, compelling. I learned a lot and gained even more respect  for the men & women who fought (and still fight)  for our nation’s values and freedom. I hope future generations continue to visit and soak up a core of what makes America great. I fear the leftist/snowflake/ineedmysafeplace generation we seem to be raising won’t care about museums like this some day. I fear it, but I pray I’m wrong. One  of the really cool things that bring the museum to life are the WWII veterans who share their stories, both on video and in real life. You can talk to them. Gain their insights. Appreciate them. I loved how Sgt. John  Emery, 16th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Division, put it:

When you talk about combat leadership under fire on the beach at Normandy, I don’t see how the credit can go to anyone other than the company-grade officers and senior NCOs who led the way, It is good to be reminded that there are such men, that there always have been, and always will be. We sometimes forget, I think, that you can manufacture weapons, and you can purchase ammunition, but you can’t buy valor and you can’t pull heroes off an assembly line.

Amen, sir.


Today I turned off the highway at the east side of the Mobile tunnel and visited the USS Alabama battleship. Another very cool tour opp. Dang those things are big—and it’s a small boat by today’s standards! Walking through the decks and compartments you can just about feel the war going on around you. Definitely worth stopping in for a few hours if you’re in the neighborhood.


Now I’m hanging at the KOA until Monday, just chillaxing and watching the Masters tomorrow. Then headed to Savannah, probably in a one-day drive. My volunteer gig with Samaritan’s Purse  in Jacksonville, AL got cancelled since they finished up their work early. So maybe I get points for my heart being in the right place? LOL. It’s time to throw a steak on the grill…

South Coast to East Coast

Having driven through the I-10 pine tree tunnel in Alabama and Florida years ago, I decided to take the gulf coast route to Ochnolockee River State Park in the Florida panhandle, even though I knew it’d be a couple hours longer. Other than in Pensacola, traffic flowed well and I arrived at the campground about 3pm. The park sits in a flat pine forest alongside a pretty lazy-lookin’ river. When checking in the ranger told me to, “watch out for those little white squirrels; they’re nothing but trouble. Don’t worry about the bears.”

Since it was just an overnight stop, setup was quick & easy (level spot, no stabilizers, no unhitching). I permanently hung a coat rack that kept falling off the 3M hangers and cleared out my email. Went down early ’cause I was making an early Interstate sprint to Brunswick, GA and up the coastal islands to Savannah–a longer (but probably faster) trip than Monday.

Ochnolocknee River State Park

 

Ochnolocknee River

 


 

My departure Tuesday was an hour later than I thought. I looked at the time on my iPad after spending some morning time with God. While He knew the time, the Apple-gods didn’t update their creation to eastern daylight time. When I got in the truck and set my nav app toward Savannah I noticed the difference. No worries; I had an easy day ahead. And it started really cool with a mother and her fawn greeting me as I drove out of the state park.

Drove through rain much of the day. When I turned north about noon out of Florida into Georgia the moderate rain stopped for the most part. In a short while I jumped off the big road and onto US 17 for a ride up Georgia’s easternmost thru road. Crossed over the super cool Sidney Laner Bridge (I might need to get a dash cam with snapshot capabilities!) and then by countless marshes, inlets and other waterways on this nice drive. Seemed like no time before I was winding my way through the southern outskirts  of Savannah toward Fort McAllister Historic State Park. I had tried to get a RV park closer to the city but am really glad I ended up here. It’s a beautiful place with history, which I’ll check out over the new few days. I’m here until Friday when they kick me out because the park was already fully booked.

Stay tuned for my take on Fort McAllister and Savannah over the new few days.

Initial Insights

It’s been a week since I set out. So what’ve I learned? I’ve got a few takeaways…

  • Lighten up the forward gear locker. Simply moving a couple heavy toolboxes to the truck bed settled B down quite a bit.
  • The sway bars aren’t that big a hassle—although the starboard one could be less obstinate.
  • Know the length of thy cables & hoses. It’s just a good life practice; it’ll also keep you from moving B after you start setting up.
  • Plug power in first ‘cause it takes a while for the fault detecter to run its tests.
  • Small positioning moves can make a big difference in lateral leveling (another good life practice).
  • When it’s cold, run the fireplace at night, all night. Bottom line: save ur propane and burn the park’s electricity instead.
  • Always always always put the bath soap bottle in the sink before driving away. Or spend several minutes trying to find which nook/cranny it found its way to.
  • Make sure the damn traction weight doesn’t get stuck between the slide and the stationary wall or be prepared to fix the sidewall moulding.
  • Take really wide swings around the tree at the tight corner near the park office at the KOA in Gulf Shores. (Fortunately, it was early and I saved my dignity with a quick reverse and reset. Nobuddy saw me).
  • When near the coasts leave your shoes by the door, or sleep with sand in your bed.
  • Never rely on memory for how much bourbon is left. Check and visit the local refill station before it’s too late.

 

Service Brewing

When I searched out breweries in Savannah and found these guys I knew I had to visit. There are a few brew houses in town but I suppose ya can’t hit em all. (Yeah… mebbe I need to rethink that…) Anyway, I love these guys’ mission:

dedicated to honoring those that have put their lives at risk and their country and community first.”

Not surprising, everyone is super friendly at this veteran-owned brewery. The beers are solid. I enjoyed the Rally Point Pilsner and Compass Rose IPA. Tasted & got a crowler of the Battlewagon DIPA to go. It’ll pour pretty nicely with some smoked chicken thighs tomorrow evening at the campsite.

If you find your fortunate self in Savannah be sure to report to Service Brewing Company. They’re geared up for tasty brews, patio games & good times.

Fish Tales – A Closer Look

It’s the best place in miles. It’s also the only place in miles. And I’ve stopped in every day I’ve been here. Love the place. Cool, local, friendly pub paired with a typical dockside restaurant and tiki bar (need a few more degrees for that!). Good food, reasonably priced beverages, craft beers. Great local color as most of the bar patrons are regulars stopping in on their way home on this outcropping of land amid lots of water. It’s one of those “less traveled” places I’m glad I found!

Savage Island & Thereabouts

My campsite on Savage Island was perfect: level,  a pull-through, and looking into the woods. I had passed a cool looking restaurant on the river just outside the state park entrance so after making sure B was settled in I headed back out to Fish Tales for dinner. As soon as I walked in and everyone in this small local pub greeted me, I knew I’d found my spot for the next few days. While they only had a couple craft brews on tap, it was still more than I expected. I chose the Gangway IPA from Red Hare Brewing Company and rated it a 3.5 on Untappd. Paired well with the blacked Mahi, cole slaw & a few hush puppies.

In the morning (the 11th) I headed up to Savannah, about 30 miles north. Kicked around town. Savannah is cool but didn’t knock my socks off. Maybe better with a group to enjoy the countless pubs… The historic houses are great, the park squares are nice; all-in-all I certainly can’t dis the town but one day was enough. I will say, southern friendliness was in play. Great people. I wrote about Service Brewing there a couple days ago, so …  moving on to Fort McAllister! (Oh yeah, I had an appetizer dinner snack at… Fish Tales!)

Next day. LOL, I guess I was just clueless. I thought forts had walls. I knew maybe they didn’t have to have moats (I think castles have to have those) but I really thought forts had walls. Even the cardboard box forts I made when I was a kid had walls. Whatever. Fort McAllister was an earthen berm fort on the Ogeechee River—and it was an effective barrier to enemies. Very cool to experience. Georgia has done a fine job preserving and presenting Fort McAllister. I fully enjoyed walking through the fortress: it’s magazines, palisades, parade grounds and museum. Interesting how walking through history brings history to life. I get annoyed when my wireless hotspot gets cranky; I can’t imagine what life was like as a Civil War soldier sleeping on cots (if lucky) and spending every waking (and sleeping?) moment batting away the incessant flies. (What the hell do they eat when people aren’t around?!)

 

After enjoying the fort I tracked down a FedEx package which I’d rerouted to the local Walgreens when FedEx failed to figure out that they were supposed to hold it at their own FedEx Office store in Savannah. No problem (as everyone seems to say here); it worked out better this way. Business done, I returned to (yep!) Fish Tales for din-din! Then back to the campsite for a morning departure to Charleston.

Marshes & Mellowing

From Savannah I side-tripped to Hilton Head Island to see what all the fuss was about. Looks like a fine right place to chase the little obnoxious white ball but I was a little surprised how congested it was on a Friday morning. Ahhh… the RBC Heritage tournament was on their second round. And then at lunchtime after weaving my truck & B through a shopping center parking lot I found the World of Beer restaurant was closed. Screw it; I opted for a pack of almonds for lunch. On to Charleston…

The drive through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (well before arriving in Hilton Head) was nice. I’m blown back by all the marshes on the southeast coast. I’d heard about them but the scope & scale is impressive. The wildlife diversity sure points to an awesome Creator.

Leaving Hilton Head I left a half-inch of trailer tire rubber on the road somewhere near Okatie when a light changed and I was caught a lil’ off-guard. Smokin’ B handled it well—yet I adjusted the trailer brake controller gain down a notch. (“B” and I are still getting to know each other. I’ve lovingly nicknamed her B ’cause shes usually a babe—but occasionally a bit of a bitch)! Anyway … another easy 90 minutes and I was backing B into space L12 next to the water at Lake Aire RV Park. We were settling in for four laid back nights.