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Tricia and I have decided to change things up a little bit this Holiday Season and come off the road for a month.

We're spending the holidays visiting Tricia's brother just outside of Austin, TX and were lucky enough to score the campsite right next to his at the RV park where he is currently located.

The bad news is, YES that's a railroad track just 25-yards behind our campsites.
The good news is, it's a slow train that only goes by here once or twice a week, always in the early afternoon and there are no crossings within miles of here where they are required to blow the horn.

Several months ago Jim purchased his own Class A Motorhome to live in. With no immediate plans to hit the road himself, he elected to buy a 17-year old RV with only 20,000 miles on it. Other than being a little dated on the inside, and a little weathered on the outside, it's still in remarkably good shape.

He's already begun the process of making it roadworthy buy purchasing all new tires, new awning slide covers and a new water heater. Minor improvements like changing all the light bulbs over to LEDs, installing new toilets, along with a robust whole-house water filtration system were at the top of his list of things to tackle first.

We're already two weeks into our one month visit and we've taken full advantage of having a temporary mailing address to have numerous Amazon packages sent to us. Several trailer projects that we've been putting off will finally get taken care of while we're here...

...and Tricia will enjoy an extended visit with her brother for the first time in nearly 6 years.

TUESDAY - We haven't been getting out and doing much over the last two weeks, except tonight we made the drive down to Austin to check out the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar which included live music.

Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World". After looking at row after row of incredible mixed-media artwork we listened to a set performed by Ray Wylie Hubbard, a well known and well liked local Texas folk artist.

With twelve albums of original songs over the last 30-years he is quite an accomplished artist.

We had a great time looking at the artwork knowing we wouldn't purchase anything because we have no place to display it. The music was different than what we usually listen to, but with the audience participation doing sing alongs, it really brought out the pleasures of listening to "live music".

FRIDAY - Tonight we're staying a little closer to home and visiting the "Walkway of Lights" right here is Marble Falls.

The Walkway of Lights is in it's 33rd year! It displays 2 million lights in over 350+ lighted sculptures at Lakeside Park on the banks of the Colorado River in downtown Marble Falls.

It's completely FREE to the public, but they do have a donation box near the entrance.

I should mention that I didn't go out tonight as I wasn't feeling 100%. Don't worry I'm much better now as I write this post a few days later.

On the way home a planned stop was at the local VFW Post to partake in Karaoke Night. Tricia's brother was the only one in their small crowd to actually get up on stage and belt out a few tunes.

His selection of songs to perform were Brick House by the Commodores, followed with Fire and Rain by James Taylor. It was his first time up on this stage, and I do believe he is still welcome to come back anytime he feels the urge to sing.

The VFW Post is open to the public on Karaoke Nights, but if that policy ever changes he still gets an entry pass thanks to the time he served in the Marine Corps.

Christmas (which means "Christ's Mass") is a holiday that is celebrated on December 25. It is a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

Excerpted from Wikipedia

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THURSDAY - We had a relatively longer travel day than we're used to, a 206-mile trek across the backroads of central Texas.

We arrived at our destination, Jim Hogg Park on the Georgetown Lake, which is directly across the lake from where we stayed on our last visit here back in March of 2020 (just as COVID was blossoming into a pandemic).

They are both Army Corp of Engineers parks, so we're camping at half price, which comes to a budget busting fee of $15 a night for a waterfront site with electricity and water hookups. That's a $2 a night increase from the campground across the lake from nearly four years ago.

FRIDAY - You may have noticed that there have been fewer photos in the last couple of posts.

Several things factor into that, first being we just haven't been sightseeing as much. Secondly, after getting Tricia's cracked screen replaced on her cell phone it has stopped reacting to her finger touch. So no more of those magnificent cell phone photos can be shot. It still occasionally works with the special stylist pen that came with her phone, but even that has stopped working lately.

This all coincided with a system software update she did on her phone. We called the repair shop back in Alabama where the screen was replaced and after some research she explained there has been a recall on the screen that was used in her repair.

So today we visited a FedEx shipping location here in town and sent her phone back to Alabama to have yet another screen put it. It was $15 to ship it by ground, but $123 to ship it overnight. Guess what, her phone will arrive back in Alabama next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, don't expect to see many photos on this blog. Sure she still has her "big camera" with the 125x zoom, but I think her 10x zoom phone takes much nicer photos.

While out taking care of errands today we ate lunch at the Catfish Parlour Restaurant and I'm happy to report I finally got a "delicious" Grilled Catfish meal. They had an "All You Can Eat" fried catfish offering for $25, but I wanted mine grilled and blackened. I still got two large fillets for $19 and filled up on the "All You Can Eat" fixin's bar.

The restaurant is nothing fancy, you walk up to the cook and order your meat, whether it's catfish, shrimp, oysters, chicken or hamburger, then you take your plate to the "All You Can Eat" buffet table.

There you'll find French Fries, Fried Okra and Hushpuppie Fingers. Also there are pinto beans, cole slaw, green beans with bacon, steamed cabbage with bacon, seasoned rice and homestyle mashed potatoes with sausage gravy. There is also a Caesar Salad bar with all the extras.

We learned this is how they serve their Express Lunch on Monday-Friday from 11am-3pm. They also serve beer and wine, plus all kinds of soda and tea.

After lunch we made a quick visit to Costco to fillup with 30+ gallons of gasoline and a rotisserie chicken so I can prepare to make another batch of my CCCC (Chipolte Chicken Corn Chowder) in the next few days.

We then headed to the local H-E-B grocery store to finish getting all the other ingredients needed for the chowder. If you're interested you can find my recipe HERE.

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MONDAY - We hung around our campsite here at Bayou Segnette State Park until noontime in an effort to avoid most of the traffic in and around New Orleans as we made our way back onto Interstate 10 West.

It worked out pretty well with no major hassles while traveling through town.

I didn't mention it, but at the last stop we developed a small hole in our "good" sewer hose, the one we use all the time to drain our waste tanks. We discarded it into the trash bin and started using our cheaper "back-up" hose today to empty the tanks. Just as we finished emptying the tanks the hose end broke off and it too found it's way into a trash bin.

Now we're kind of stuck. No sewer hose to empty our tanks.

It was a pretty uneventful 179-mile drive across Louisiana to another "overnight visit" with a Walmart in Jennings, LA.

Our only choices for eating dinner out within walking distance, because proper etiquette says you don't unhitch your trailer and leave it unattended while at Walmart, was either the Walmart deli inside or Burger King next door.

We opted for Burger King, mainly because we've eaten plenty of Walmart chicken tenders over the last 5-years while on the road and I don't remember eating at a Burger King even once. We're both McDonald's fans when it comes to fast food burger joints.

I got a chuckle out of the fact that this particular Walmart has signs at every entrance stating "No Trucks" and "No Overnight Parking". I called before arriving at the store and was informed that overnight parking was in fact allowed. After arriving I entered the store and double checked with the Customer Service Desk personnel just to be sure.

They also go one extra step to make sure there are no truckers spending the night here by erecting overhead gates with a 12-foot clearance to keep the truckers out. THE POD is only 10'6" tall so we fit under just fine.

Then later in the evening we began seeing 18-wheelers sharing the parking lot with us? We watched as they came in the rear entrance where the store takes deliveries and then circled around the back of the store to find their way into the front parking lot.

I guess where there's a will, there's a way!

While in the store we checked out their options for purchasing a new sewer hose. They only had the "cheap" hoses in stock, so I scheduled three more Walmart visits along our route tomorrow. Hopefully one of those stores should have the "good" hoses in stock.

TUESDAY - Jennings, LA is only 65-miles from the Texas state border. The last 20-miles of Interstate-10 in LA and the first 20-miles of Interstate-10 in TX are some of the worst road conditions we've traveled upon, and that includes the roads going to Alaska.

There were times when I slowed to 45MPH to keep from tearing up ROVER and THE POD's suspension. There are potholes and just plain worn out asphalt everywhere.

They appear to be currently working to expand the roadway from two-lane to three or four-lane, but I seem to remember they were already doing that back in January of 2020 when we traveled this section before.

If you're going to travel through the area, do yourself a favor, and head 20-miles north and take US-190 and SR-12 to avoid Interstate-10 when crossing the Texas/Louisiana border.

The very first Walmart we stopped at today had the "good" sewer hoses, but not in the length we desire. They only had the 15-foot long hoses and even when they are compressed down they just don't fit well into our 8½-foot wide bumper storage compartment. We bought one anyway to have in case of emergency, but we'll order the correct 10-foot size on Amazon and have it delivered to the location we're stopping at early next week.

We should be good until then and won't have to open the Walmart hose, that way we can then return it unused to get our $70 refunded to our card.

Our destination today is the Double Lake Recreation Area on the eastern edge of the Sam Houston National Forest.

This is our second visit to this particular National Forest. Last time in January of 2022 we were on the western edge of the forest at the Cagle Recreation Area, which is about 30-miles west of here. Both of these Recreation Areas are about 55-miles north of Houston, TX.

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THURSDAY - We were awake bright and early this morning and were among the first breakfast patrons of the Cracker Barrel Store when they opened at 7:00AM.

I opted for breakfast from the Seasonal Favorites menu, it's called the "Cinnamon Roll Pie Breakfast". I asked for my eggs scrambled, substituded smoked sausage for the bacon and substitued the loaded hash brown casserole for the fried apples. Oh yeah, and most importantly, a slice of Cinnamon Roll Pie.

I skipped the Hot Chocolate and washed it all down with a large Orange Juice.

Photo courtesy of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store website.

We only have 47-miles to travel to our State Park campsite reservation and since we had last night reserved we could arrive as early as we want today.

The problem is that it's on the other side of New Orleans from where the Cracker Barrel is and we are going to run into morning rush hour traffic at this time of day. I just have to keep reminding myself to "keep it slow and steady" and we'll do just fine.

By 9:00AM we were at the office checking in and soon after were all set up on our campsite.

Once inside of the State Park, and on our way to the campground, we passed by this rather ominious wall stretching the length of the southern boundary of the park.

Living behind the protection of a levy is just an everyday fact of life if you live in or around the New Orleans area, but for us visitors, it's rather daunting.

The good news is that the current water levels are no where near approaching the base of the wall on the other side, unless we get a late season tropical storm or hurricane this weekend.

This 10-12 foot tall levy protects the entire southern boundary of the park.

There are gates like this one that give access to the boat ramp and the 16 cabins.

The canal side of the levy is where you find 16 floating cabins for rent.

With storm clouds like these I hope someone is keeping a close eye on the water levels!

FRIDAY - Our first morning here and we're heading into town to take care of a couple of errands.

First up is finding somewhere to refill 2 of our 30lb. propane tanks, we're down to the last bottle and it's currently only half full.

A local U-Haul was able to take care of that task for us and surprisingly at a very competitive price. U-Haul is usually as much as $.50 a gallon or more higher than places like Tractor Supply.

Now that we have enough propane to last us quite a while we're headed for the Riverfront in New Orleans. We spent a full week in January of 2020 exploring the sights and sounds of New Orleans and felt we did a pretty thorough job back then.

Today we're mostly here to find a "new to us" lunch destination. On our previous visit we ate meals at numerous locations all around town and enjoyed each and every one.

Today we're going to check out the food at the Voodoo Tavern and PoBoys. It's a small corner tavern, maybe six 4-seater tables and a 4-seater bar, centrally located just a block away from the French Market and Jackson Square.

We walked in and found two others sitting at a table with sodas who were presumably waiting for their food order. There were two girls sitting at the bar and the bartender was giving them his full attention. The only other person around was the cook in the kitchen.

After sitting at the table for maybe five minutes the bartender waved me over to the waitress station at the bar with a pair of menus. He then informed me that when I was ready to order to come back up to the bar and he would take our order. We should have left right then, Coop's Place was right across the street and we had a delicious meal there nearly four years ago.

Instead we ordered food and began "The Long Wait". Fifteen minutes later I saw food in the kitchen window and hoped the other couple hadn't order food, yet when the cook yelled out "Order #2 Up!", I slumped in my seat because we had "Order #3".

Another 15-minutes went by before I saw food once again in the window and thankfully it was ours. I went up to the window to grab our food and return to our table.

While we were waiting for our food a group of 10 young men came into the Tavern and took up almost all of the remaining tables in the place. They all ordered food and I thought, I sure hope they don't have anything else planned until after sunset!

What did we order that took so long? Simple food, like French Fries topped with Queso and Chorizo for Tricia and French Fries topped with Crawfish Etouffee for me. I also order an extra cup of Crawfish Etouffee to fill me up.

In all fairness the food was good, not great, but reasonably tasty and fairly priced. However, I still obviously don't recommend visiting this place.

The topper was when I heard the bartender explain to the group of guys that the trash cans inside the front door was for their use when they were finished eating. I've experienced better service at McDonald's. I was regretting giving a 20% tip when I paid my tab just after ordering the food. There was also a "tip jar" in the kitchen window, so I don't suspect the bartender shares the cash register's receipts with her.

After enduring our first unsatifactory dining experience in New Orleans we headed over to the French Market to see if there was anything of interest and fortunately we didn't find anything.

Tricia then walked several blocks down to Café Beignet to purchase a Café au Laits and an order of seasonally offered Peppermint/Chocolate Beignets.

The parking downtown was $5 per hour and our time was running out so we headed out in search of gasoline. Once again the Walmart outside of New Orleans in Westego had the lowest price in the area, plus it was on the way back to the campground. Walmart's gas price, $2.43 a gallon. The Shell Station inside of New Orleans on the other side of the Mississippi River just a few miles away, $3.29 a gallon.

SUNDAY - When most people hear the words New Orleans, they think about Mardi Gras, so here's just a little FYI about that subject.

Mardi Gras began, in what would later become the United States, in 1703. It began near Mobile, AL and not New Orleans, LA as most people think.

The first Mardi Gras Parade wasn't until 1837 and it occurred in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras is not just one single day, it's an entire season. It's season always begins on January 6th, which is King's Day (Feast of the Epiphany). The ending day is always on Fat Tuesday, which can be any day between February 3rd and March 9th.

Why is that? I'm glad you asked.

Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is always 46 days before Easter. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25, with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon, following a spring equinox. Got it?

So as you can see it all depends on where Easter Sunday falls on the calendar.

I'm glad we're not here during those times! The crowds were bad enough this weekend.

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