Sunday, April 21, 2013

Emerald Coast and 8 states

Monday, and headed out to the gulf coast, which I learned is called the Emerald Coast -- how pretty.  We drove along the coast as soon as we could and stopped at South Walton Beach.  Walked on the white, squeaky sand.  We saw probably six little dolphins swimming and jumping up in the waves.  They were so cute and fun to watch.  I tried to take pictures, took about 25, got two where you can just see fins.  I loved watching them and it was thrilling.  Drove along the coast which is interesting.  I'd like to spend lots more time in this area.  Got to our room, laid down and really never left again.

South Walton Beach
Emerald Coast
 
Robert and John
 

Tuesday, drove I up to Gulf Breeze, about 25 miles from our place in Fort Walton Beach to meet our friends Henry and Margarita.  John isn't driving now, he gets some dizzy spells, so that is out.  Robert doesn't like driving in Florida, so that leaves it to me.  Hopefully Robert will like driving in other states.  We met our friends at Starbuck's, so had drinks and sat outside waiting and talking.  Once they arrived, I followed them over the bridge to Pensacola and had a wonderful lunch on the beach at Paradise Bar & Grill and good visiting.  I had a wonderful Shrimp Po'Boy.  Little pier at restaurant so walked out on that.  Super seeing our Cancun friends here to say good bye.  Hope we can catch up with them next year.  Pensacola Beach looks like a great place and I hope we can come back some day and spend more time.

Enjoying our visit
Margarita and Henry
 
Paradise Bar and Grill
Pensacola Beach, FL
 
Me and my guys
 
Back to the room and planning our route.  Looks like Slidell, LA tomorrow night, and then to Jackson (capitol of Mississippi) for a look, and spend the night in Memphis, TN.  I went online and made our hotel reservations.  Finally heading West and North, so our direction home will be established tomorrow.

Wednesday up for breakfast at hotel and then I drove us through 4 states -- how weird.  Start in Florida, next was Alabama (with a stop at Bass Pro Shop for John and Robert), Mississippi and then headed into Louisiana.  Along the way we drove down to the Mississippi Gulf to the Silver Slipper casino where John and I each gambled away one dollar each, joined their member's club and had buffet lunch for a total of $23.00 for the three of us.  It was "gals and pals" day, so we got a bargain.  Walked out onto the beach, picked up some oyster shells and then headed back to Slidell, Louisiana for the night.

Alabama would not be complete
without a stop here
 
Stopped at this casino for buffet lunch
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
 
Cold and windy
Gulf of Mexico
 
Many homes are on stilts in
this area
 
Roadside thistle
 
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Cemetery, above ground
 
 
Tonight I reviewed the map again to check our route and make another night's reservation.  I'm going to change our route from southerly moving up to Kansas, Colorado.  Looks more direct and getting from the south in NM up to SLC looks more difficult.  It is 3:00 a.m., I woke at 12:30 a.m. and tried for 2 hours to go back to sleep and said to heck with it and came on the computer.  Hope I can now get back to bed/sleep.  I will try because I have a long drive tomorrow.

Thursday up, breakfast and a longer day of driving since we're heading up to Memphis.  The guys dropped me off at the Mississippi State Capitol building and went to eat lunch and bring me a sandwich.  I took the 1:00 p.m. tour -- all by myself with the guide -- and I got to see one of the most beautiful capitols I've seen.  This was the second capitol built and it was finished in 1903.  Ever square inch of this building was ornate and mind boggling.  I took so many pictures that of course don't do it justice.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time seeing this architectural wonder.

Mississippi State Capitol
 
Main dome
 
Grand staircase
 
Mississippi stained glass
version of miss justice
 
Replica of Liberty Bell
Given to all states and territories by Federal
Reserve in 1950 to thank states for war bond efforts
 
Another lady justice with state flower
Magnolias behind her ears
 
Robert drove the rest of the way to Memphis.  We thought about going out for night life, but it started raining (pouring) so we went straight to hotel.  We all went in the hot tub (pool too for Robert and me) and we had a few drinks (except John who is being really good).  We then drove over two buildings to the Souths "famous" or at least on every corner Waffle House.  Had our dinner, a little TV and to bed for a good night's sleep.

Up usual time Friday, breakfast and out to pack car and it was so cold.  Temp was 42 degrees and I'm in my shorts and flip flops........yikes.  We were going to go down to Beale Street and look around, but with this temp it is hit the road.  Driving along interstate and saw a sign for the Louisiana Purchase State Park and thought that sounded interesting.  We drove 27 miles to get there, way out in the country.  Had to stop and ask for directions and met a great old man who we talked to for about 15 minutes.  His name is William Henderson and he is a farmer.  He has lived within one mile of where we met him for his entire 83 years.  He had a great Arkansas accent.  Finally got to park and it was a swamp with a boardwalk.  We walked out a little way and looked at the swamp which was interesting.  I looked around and saw the coolest owl in the tree.  I was so happy to see it.

William Henderson, 83
Farmer on Hwy 49, Arkansas
grows rice, soy beans
 
 
Swamp, dust on still water
looks like fog, very unusual
 
Beyond lucky to see this beauty
I was amazed
 

Rest of the day just drove.  Lots of road work on the way with one stretch that took over an hour to get through.  Finally arrived at Van Buren and checked into our hotel.  I did our wash since we were running out of our clothes (we each packed a backpack for 5 days so we didn't have to load, unload our suitcases each night).  Then we were going out for a nice dinner, a steak house, but they had a 45 minute wait for food, so we just went to the grocery store and got some food to cook in the room.  Have to be so careful with John's sodium and that makes it hard to eat out, pick meals.  Back to room, ate, a little TV -- with the good news they got the Boston bombers, and to bed.  I drove all day today, about 7 hours, so tomorrow Robert can drive all day.  I'm pooped.

Saturday we drove to the historic district in Van Buren.  Really old town, narrow street, brick buildings, very charming.  Went down by the Arkansas River to the city park.  Saw the old school house that was built in 1820.  We then drove over to Fort Smith to see the National Historic Site.  Several buildings were left and there was a nice visitor's center.  Went down to the Arkansas River and read about and saw the Trail of Tears that was so sad and a black mark on our history of screwing the Native American Tribes.

1820 one room schoolhouse
 
Fort Smith National Historic Site
 
So many broken treaties
 
Arkansas River
 
Trail of Tears Monument
 
Disappearing lands
 
Back in the car and headed for Wichita, Kansas.  No fun stops, just destination oriented.  We did have a wonderful dinner out (finally) at the Town & Country with great steaks/prime rib cooked over mesquite wood.  Entire meal was so good.  I wish we had a restaurant that good in Boise.  Watched Suzi Orman, who we have been missing, and then to sleep.
 
Sunday, another day of just traveling.  Wichita, KS to Goodland, KS.  Watching the weather.  High winds expected tomorrow, so we will get going early.  We are inching our way to Boise.  Probably one more blog to write after this one ........... yeah.  Probably yeah for readers who are probably tired of this trip.  I will gladly retire my writing even though it may seem a bit weird.