Sabine National Forest-Easter Camping

Redd came home  for Easter!  Wow, I couldn’t even believe it.  We had some things to take care of right after Easter, but on Tuesday, we decided to head out and do a little Yukon Nomading.  He finally was able to remove the middle seats of the Yukon and build the sleeping platform.  I really wanted to try it out.  We packed everything up and headed north to the Sabine National Forest, which is in Texas.  There is free camping near a boat launch called Haper’s Ferry near Toldeo Bend.  It was about 3.5 hours from home.  One speeding ticket later from the Robline, LA police department and we were there.

We picked a campsite with a great view of the water.   There was a well-worn path to the water that we could have easily launched a kayak from.  The dogs were in love with the proximity to the water.  Every time a boat would pass causing wake, Baylor would run down to the water’s edge to bark at the water.  Crazy dog.

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It was a little bit chilly but the sun felt so great.  We had planned to grill some steaks and have baked potatoes for dinner.  We broke out the old 10.00 Lowe’s bbq pit and fitted the giant steaks in place.

Both dogs were seriously interested in what was going on.  I don’t think they ever tried to snag a steak, but I’m sure if we had turned our back they would have attempted a little snitch.

Sunset was pretty glorious.  We played a little Lord of the Rings trivia and then it got a bit too cold to hang out, even though we had a fire.  Something about the minute the sky goes  completely dark, I can barely keep my eyes open.

We climbed into the newly larger-sized sleeping area.  Even though we removed the middle seats giving us 3 more feet of space, we still had no room.  Baylor is a big dog.  I don’t understand why he has to take up so much room.  He sleeps my bed at home every night and we never have any problem.  Add camping and he’s such a coward.  He’s attached to my hip and sleeping on top of me.  I had no room for my feet or my left leg.  I ended up pushing on him with my foot all night long.  It did no good.  If a 80lb dog does want to move, he ain’t moving.  I think next time I’m going to make him sleep in the front passenger’s seat.  I’ve been putting our dry foods up there, but now I’ve got a cargo carrier for the roof.  That should be safe enough storage to keep racoons out.

Speaking of trash pandas, apparently some came into our campsite to check out the bbq pit.  About midnight Baylor was doing that low, under the voice growl that indicates something is not right.  I couldn’t see anything, but he sure was alert.  Redd, of course, was passed out and not attuned to any of the dangers.  But he’s the one that’s always so worried about something bad happening while camping.  The moon was so bright, it literally was like the sun.  Needless to say, between Bay hogging the whole entire back of the Yukon, trash pandas, and the sun/moon thing, I didn’t get much sleep.  Oh, and my self-inflating sleeping pad had a hole in it.  It was brand new, never used.

Next morning we woke up at dawn because two fishermen in a boat DARED to pass near us in the water.  Baylor had to rush down and bark at them.  Sorry, dudes, no fish here.  I rustled us up the best breakfast evah, coffee, scrambled cheesy eggs, and potato hash with leftover steak from the night before.  De-lish!

Unfortunately, we were to stay two nights but it began raining and the forecast called for severe weather.  I really didn’t feel like dealing w/wet dogs inside of the Yukon just because.  We were too close to home to worry about that.  So we packed up late afternoon and headed home.

Again, each camping experience shows me what  I can do better or what I should think about purchasing before we head to Yellowstone.  The cargo carrier is going to make a world of difference in terms of what we can bring and how we can store it.

Less than 2 months before the most epic Yellowstone road trip!

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Carnival Fantasy-Mardi Gras February 10-15 (Day 2-Fun Day at Sea)

Day 2 on the Carnival Fantasy did not start bright and early.  Being in an interior room, you really have no idea what time it is.  There is no natural light to clue you in.  It felt like it was about 6:00am, but in reality it was closer to 8:30am.  The cruise director, Benjamin, would begin making daily announcements around 8:00am.  I’m unsure why they do this.  I guess they don’t want anyone to miss out on any of the fun activities of the day.  Honestly, it was annoying.

As I said earlier, I thought I heard thunder around 3:00am.  As we were lying around, I was thinking, “Why rush to the deck, it’s raining still.”  Redd turned on the TV.  There are web cams mounted on the front of the ship and the back where you can see a view of the pool area.  When he turned it on to see if the weather was raining, we were greeted with a beautiful, sunshine day!  I jumped out of bed and threw on some clothing.  We headed up to the Lido Deck to grab some breakfast burritos and some coffee.

The Blue Iguana Mexican Cantina is pretty good.  They make their tortillas from scratch.  You can get a breakfast burrito with your choice of toppings or you can get these little tacos al-carbon which were really good.  There’s a fresh salsa bar behind you, so feel free to add as much or as many different types of salsa that you care to.  In the middle of the Lido Deck buffet line, to the left of the Blue Iguana Cantina is a hot breakfast line.  This is the same food they are serving inside the “Windows to the Sea” cafeteria style dining room.  To the left of that is a double omelette station.  Redd didn’t know that at the time.  He loves to get omelettes for breakfast but hates waiting in that line.  Once discovered, he took advantage of it every day after that.

After breakfast, we decided to snag some lounge chairs near the pool.  We were going to go up to the second level of the Lido Deck, but the wind was blowing a steady 30mph.  It was just too windy and exposed up there.  We grabbed two chairs next to each other and near a pole so no one could sit near us.  We’re anti-social like that.  The sun was so warm and it felt so good to be outside in it.  I suffer with the seasonal sadness associated with no sunlight, rainy weather, and cold temps.  Since it felt like summer, it was time to act like it was summer.  We changed to our bathing suits.  We put on sunscreen.  We started ordering drinks.  We were listening to music, just hanging out.  We ended up staying put for the majority of the day.  We watched the “hairy chest” competetion and saw some of the mixologist competition.  While that was going on, we decided to give up our chairs and get some Guy’s Burgers and play some ’80s Music Trivia.

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80’s music trivia is something I live for.  Like, I know I can do so well with this.  It really was just too sad for any others who thought they might win.  Sorry, y’all, you never had a chance.  🙂

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All this winning and drinking and eating is wearing me out.  I’ve got to take another nap to get ready for tonight’s festivities.  It’s a Motown Dance Party in the atrium before dinner.

I had asked our room stewards for two extra pillows.  This was before I found four extra pillows in the closet.  Excessive pillows make me happy!

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After another glorious nap, we woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the evening.  We ended up going to the Main Dining Room much later than normal.  I think it was around 7:45 or so before we got in there.  I wasn’t really hungry since we had eaten those delicious Guy’s Burgers and ice cream, but you know, you have to just push through and eat the hot fudge cake.

One of our favorite things to do on a cruise is listen to people sing karaoke.  Most of the times, it’s painful.  But it’s all in good fun, so you just go with the flow and hope for  crowd pleasers.  I don’t understand why people pick such sucky music to sing.  Honestly, are you going to sing Come Monday by Jimmy Buffet when you could easily sing Margaritiville?

Anyway, this one gal was so horribly bad.  She choose Earl Had to Die by the Dixie Chicks.  You know that show, Haters Back Off?  That’s what this gal looked like and sounded like.  It was so painful, we had to document this moment in photo.

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Even the lady behind us is not impressed with that caterwauling!  I can’t remember what else we did this night.  I think we just listened to music and hung out.  We did go and see the second comedian’s adult’s only show at midnight.  Really funny stuff.  This guy made up parody songs to popular music.  I love clever stuff like that.

Time for bed with my excessive pillows.  Progresso, MX tomorrow.  We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do there except buy some cheap sunglasses and try to get a massage.  Progresso is not exactly our favorite port.  But maybe this time will be different?

 

 

Mardi Gras on the Carnival Fantasy (Feb 10-15, 2018) Day 1

When your husband works away for more than 6 weeks at a time and he ends up coming home early AND you’re off of school for Mardi Gras holidays AND it’s supposed to rain the entire time of the Mardi Gras weekend, canceling festivities…what should you do?  Stay home and mope?  No.  Take a cruise!

Redd told me on Wednesday he had a confirmed flight home…go ahead and book a cruise.  Mobile, AL had a 5 night Western Carribean cruise to Progresso and Cozumel.  I booked this on Thursday before noon.  We were leaving on Saturday at 4:00pm.  What a whirlwind.  So exciting and no time to over think anything.  Just barely enough time to re-arrange my side-hustle gig, find boarding for the dogs, fix the boys up with some money to buy groceries and grab my passport.

We left straight after work on Friday.  We drove to Ocean Springs, MS and spent the night with my sister-in-law.  We had decided we wanted to arrive in Mobile around 11:00am even though our official check-in time was 2:00-2:30.  We’ve never gone out of this port and we weren’t sure what the parking options were going to be.  I’m glad we left early.  It was pouring down rain.  I mean, just buckets of rain pouring down.  We were able to snag one of the last spots under the roof cover.  We had pre-paid via online, but I guess that doesn’t guarantee you a covered spot.  We got all of the carry-on bags and headed down to get in line.

We wait in line under cover, but still outside (take note of this people who may be cruising out of Mobile in July) to go through security.  The TSA type security is really just over the top.  I’m glad they want us to be safe, but I wish they had more than 3 working scanners.  There may have been more, it just seemed like there were only 3.  We get through the process and get in line to check-in with Carnival.  They let us right on the ship even though it was only around 1:00pm or so.

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Lunch was being served at this time.  Guy’s Burgers was open as was the Blue Iguana Mexican Cantina and the deli and cafeteria style food.  I think we grabbed some taco salads first because the line was shorter than Guy’s.  As soon as we sat down on deck, it began raining.  We picked up our stuff and headed to the poolside bar.  After a few drinks of 8.95, we quickly decided to purchase the Cheers Package.  For those who don’t know, Cheers is a program that you purchase a flat rate for a drinking package.  You get 15 alcoholic drinks per day, anything under $50 but water, sodas, specialty coffees, milkshakes, smoothies, etc. are included and don’t count towards your drink limit.  We’ve done this in the past, but for this cruise, it was totally worth it.

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Once the cabins were open to bring luggage, the deck area cleared out and the line for Guy’s disappeared.  Time to grub.  Y’all, these burgers are so good.  And the fries …shut the front door.  We literally ate Guy’s every day we were on the ship.  I wish they stayed open past 6:00pm because I would eat them for dinner too.

Of course, we have to attend the abandon ship drill.  This takes us up to around 4:30.  We are so exhausted.  We didn’t sleep well the night before and poor Redd works so hard and traveled down in such a short period of time.  We went to our room and passed out.  I mean, coma nap.  Luckily we had set the alarm for around 7:30pm or so.  Even our cabin steward coming in our room to do the nightly turn-down didn’t really wake us up.  We wanted to try to get some dinner.  I didn’t know if we would be up to doing anything that night, but that nap totally revived us.

The main dining room has different options for dining.  We had chosen the “Anytime dining”, which meant we could go by anytime between 5:45 and 8:45 and be seated within a reasonable amount of time.  I wasn’t really hungry due to my Guy’s Burgers chow-down at 2:30.  But who am I to let a hot melting cake go to waste?  It would be a sin, right?

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Redd had sea scallops and risotto for an appetizer and roasted duck for his entree.  I had eggplant and zucchini lasagna with the hot melting cake for dessert.  Redd got the creme brulee.  He should have listened to me and got the hazelnut cake.

First night on the ship…what should we do?  How about listening to a band play some really great ’80s music, watch a drunk woman get the crowd really into it and up and dancing, hit the late night adult only comedian and try to get our groove on in the club but leave early because the music was not “crowd pleasers”.  🙂  I only like to dance to music I actually know. lol.

It was still raining when we went to sleep.  We were on the Riveria Deck, which is deck 1.  It’s way down the ship.  I swear I heard thunder around 3:00am, but Redd insists I couldn’t have heard that.

Tomorrow will be a great day…Fun Day at Sea.

 

Bogue Chitto State Park Gorge Run Trail

Happy New Year!  What a crazy Christmas break it was.  I was sick for the week of Christmas.  Redd came home, but only for 3 days over Christmas, then back to Ohio.   I went back to school for our faculty retreat and then we had two weather days due to low water pressure in town because of the extensive cold weather and frozen pipes.

Redd arrived home on Wednesday night.  We decided to take advantage of the two weather days and get some traveling in.  We couldn’t go too far away since I had to be back to school on Monday.  We decided to just do a hike in LA and go and visit my husband’s sisters on Saturday.  Two road trips in two days…okay!

Bogue Chitto State Park is in Franklinton, LA.  This is about 3 hours away from Lafayette.  We left very early in the morning.  We brought coffee from home and I had packed us a lunch.  I figured we’d get breakfast somewhere before we went into the park.  I was not counting on Franklinton being so small townish w/out any type of restaurants.  Well, there was a coffee shop, but it was PACKED.  Like, I think the entire population of the town was having coffee.  I had a Cliff bar and some trail mix in my truck console.  We ate that before we headed out on the trail.

This trail is rated as easy to moderate by Alltrails.com.  In comparison to other trails in LA I’ve hiked, I’d say this was on the easier side as it was not a rock foot bed, but rather leaf litter and dirt.  The weather had been dry, which was fortunate.  There is one water crossing.

When we got out of the truck, the temperature was 29 degrees.  It was only expected to warm up to 50 or so.  It was partly cloudy and when the sun did come out, there was no warmth to it.  I guess due to the fact that it was cold and it was a work/school day, we saw only 1 other couple on the entire 6.2 mile trail.  We did see a man putting a boat in the lake by the 1/2 way point rest area, but he was fishing, not hiking.

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We had brought along Baylor but not Chico.  I knew that it was too cold and the length was too long for his little fat self.  Even Baylor was tuckered out by mile #4.

Since we were so hungry, we stopped at the children’s splash pad/play area to have a snack of apples and peanutbutter.  Of course, Baylor was begging and always wanting a bite.

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There was one water crossing, which in warm weather would not have been a problem to take off my shoes and cross over.  But it was 30 degrees.  There were a few downed trees I could have crossed over.  Let’s face it, my balance sucks.  I am supposed to be doing yoga to increase my balance, but I shun yoga and focus on crossfit instead.  You’d think that would help, but it hasn’t yet.

My sweet husband went and found me some large enough tree branches that I could use like trekking poles to cross that tree and I finally made it across.  Of course, Baylor is having a ball the whole time I was trying to go across, playing in the water.  I was a bit worried about him being cold and wet, but it did not seem to affect him at all.

Baylor on the trail

At the 3.5 mile point, there is a rest area with a picnic table, a bathroom, and water.  We sat down and had our lunch in the sun.  I had brought some extra food for Baylor in addition to the food I had fed him for breakfast.  He expended so much energy running back and forth.  When we passed by the Bogue Chitto river, he went down the bank and was swimming around, dunking his head completely under.

The last two miles were pretty uneventful, but rather hilly.  Baylor was noticeably slowing down, as was I.

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The whole trail took us about 3.5 hours to complete and that was with the stalling I did at the water crossing and the lunch break.  For peach and quiet, this is the trail.  I’m sure it’s much busier in the spring and summer as the state park rents kayaks and canoes plus there is a splash pad for kids and a sandy beach access to the river.  I’d like to go back and camp.  I would recommend this state park and hiking trail.

We’re going to attempt to visit the majority of the Louisiana state parks this year, but not every state park has hiking.  Many of them focus on water activities.  We don’t have a boat…so, I don’t know.  I’d love to hike all of the trails in the parks that have one.  We’re also going to try to hike the trails in the National Forest in LA.  I read about a challenge called #52hikechallenge.  You hike once a week for the whole year.  I know for a fact I won’t make 52 weeks as I live in Louisiana and that’s just not going to happen in the summer.  But in good weather, I will try to get out and hike.