Friday, September 6, 2013
On the road again. . .
Yes, we're on the road again with our Big Sky and Big Butt Truck. This time we're checking out Louisiana and Alabama, Gulf Coast of Mexico, to see if we can stand it during the "hot and humid" part of the year. Yes, it is HOT (mid 90s and up during the day) and humid, but. . . so far I'm loving it and as long as he can be near the water or inside Mr. C likes it okay.
Surprisingly, I'm getting really slack in my old age, at least as far as picture taking is concerned, so there are not a lot of pictures to go with every part of this RV report.
We left home on Monday, August 26, heading south. We decided to really take it easy on the driving time, this time around, for two reasons. The first, just because we have decided we don't like driving the truck for 6-8 hours a day while pulling a 40 ft trailer behind us. The second, we had plans to meet our daughter B and her family; husband M and 3 grand children A, K, and J and didn't want the grands to have to miss too much school. We planned it around Labor Day as they and their Dad (in the US AirForce) would have an extra day as a holiday. So we stretched the trip out into a 4 day drive, allowing us to arrive on the Thursday before Labor Day and giving us 3 1/2 days with the family. It was much nicer, to only drive 4 hours a day, and for once I didn't arrive at our location with a bad case of Vertigo, which started me wondering . . .
In all of our past trips, I've ended up with a HORRIBLE case of Vertigo that would last for months during and following the trip. I think we have finally discovered the reason (after 5 years. . . we've blamed it on everything from an earthquake we were "in" to illness to injury to medication to whatever.) After our Texas trip it was incredibly bad. I couldn't bend down, I couldn't look up, when I sat or laid (I'm not sure of the correct usage of the word laid in this case) down I would almost get sick I would get so dizzy. I thought maybe it was just motion sickness and took meclizine (motion sickness medication). It helped some, but didn't solve the problem, just made it tolerable. I finally looked on-line and came to the conclusion that I was showing classic symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. According to Wikipedia "Within the labyrinth of the inner ear lie collections of calcium crystals known as otoconia or otoliths. In patients with BPPV, the otoconia are dislodged from their usual position within the utricle and migrate over time into one of the semicircular canals(the posterior canal is most commonly affected due to its anatomical position). When the head is reoriented relative to gravity, the gravity-dependent movement of the heavier otoconial debris (colloquially "ear rocks") within the affected semicircular canal causes abnormal (pathological) fluid endolymph displacement and a resultant sensation of vertigo. This more common condition is known as canalithiasis." I started wondering what could have caused this and what I could do to counteract it, as it made the months following each trip we took miserable, and kind of undid all the good the Rest and Relaxation had done for us. Somewhere along the way I realized that when we were on a concrete road (rough bumping over the joints between sections) even in the car I would start to get car sick and like a light bulb, I realized what might be causing my vertigo problem. When we are on rough roads in the car it is bad enough, but when we're pulling a fifth wheel trailer, the back and forward motion of my head, and banging my head against the seat back (while on rough or concrete roads) was causing almost whiplash like effects probably disturbing those "calcium crystals" mentioned in the above definition, and thereby causing the Vertigo. So on this trip, every time we hit a rough patch of road I put a travel pillow (one of the horseshoe shaped ones) with the U part behind my neck and the "legs" of the pillow up alongside and slightly behind my head; thereby stabilizing my head and neck and lessening if not totally stopping that back and forward banging of my head on the seat back. I also continued to take meclizine to avoid motion sickness, just in case that was adding insult to injury. So far, so good. As mentioned, we have been "on the road" for almost a week now and I'm not having a problem with either motion sickness nor vertigo. Maybe the shorter drive days are also helping, I'll probably never know for sure.
Anyway. . . the first night we stayed in Marion, IL at the Marion Campground. This is a small, very basic park and great for a quick over night as we're traveling through. I can't say it is great, as it has very few amenities, but it is fairly inexpensive, is easy to get into and out of, easy to maneuver through, and has fairly large RV sites. There is also a Golden Corral in the area, LOL. We've stayed here before and will continue to do so, as we aren't looking for amenities on our "overnight" stops. The WiFi there works, which is very important to us.
The second night, we stopped overnight at a Jelly Stone Campground just south of Memphis. It was supposed to have WiFi, but it was so poor and slow that we ended up using Mr. C's phone as a Hot Spot. This campground had the usual Jelly Stone amenities which are good, but we don't take time to use them when we are just overnighting. This was a large campground and was well laid out and we were given a campsite that we pulled straight into from the road and the next morning pulled out right to the exit from the campground.
The third night, we stopped just south of Jackson, MS at the Swinging Bridge Campground. They did not offer WiFi at all. There was nothing worth taking pictures of, the main thing this campground had going for it was it was fairly easy in and easy out. Last time we stayed in this area we ended up in a Mobile Home park in which it was incredibly hard to maneuver and we said we would never go there again. This was an old campground with many old "permanent" campers/trailers in it. Their sewage system was obviously not up to snuff as it stunk, but as long as we were inside we didn't notice it. We would do another overnight there, but definitely would NOT consider it for a destination campground where we stayed several days.Finally, on Thursday, August 29, we arrived at Sulpher, LA. We chose to stay at the A+ Campground and Motel. Since we were meeting the "kids" there and they do not have camping equipment of any kind we needed some place we could camp, they could have a room or cabin AND where they could have their dogs. There are a couple other campgrounds in the area with cabins (such as a Jelly Stone one that seemed to have great amenities, especially for the kids) but they couldn't have the dogs and would have to bring all their own bedding and use the campground restrooms, showers etc. and for a family with young children in this day and age we wanted something with "facilities" IN the room or cabin. The room for the kids had 2 queen sized beds (the kids both big and small said they were very comfortable beds). They had no carpeting, so tracking in sand, water, etc. was not really a problem and the dogs were welcome as well. Since they only had sleeping space for 4, the kids took turns, one at a time, staying the night with us in the trailer.
When we got there on Thursday, it was not crowded and we were given a great pull-through site with iron, raised bbq grill and picnic table. We would have liked to have had a bigger picnic table since we had the family with us for most meals, and perhaps we could have asked to have another brought to our site, but we just made do.
They have a pond where we could fish or crab without a license, since it was on private property. It was supposed to have a fountain in it, but it was broken and they were waiting for a part, so it was a bit scummy with algae.
They have a wonderful, warm pool with an 8" deep area with fountain type spouts spraying around it for small children (although the big kids and adults enjoyed it too). The pool was a bit on the small side for the number of people using it once the weekend hit, but on Friday afternoon, we almost had it to ourselves. The kids loved it.
By Friday night, the campground was nearly full with only 2 sites not taken, not counting the newer section they are adding. They are adding on though and are in the midst of many improvements. They are adding about 40 additional camp sites (all back-ins), an adult only, heated, saltwater swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center and additional bath house, showers, bathrooms etc are also being added to support the additional campsites.
We stood by the fish cleaning table and looked out over the bayou and saw a few turtles (very large red eared sliders, I believe). As we stood there watching and looking for those elusive alligators, it was as if the turtles were calling each other to say there were people at the fish cleaning station, and as we watched, more and more came swimming up each minute. We also saw several gar swimming with the turtles. Every time we moved some of the turtles would dive to the bottom, so there were really many more there than the photos show.
You can barely see the gar in this last picture. Some of the turtles had such beautiful shells I took a few pictures for some eventual polymer clay cane ideas.
By the time we all arrived on Thursday evening, we were tired and went to Ryan's Buffet in Lake Charles for dinner. I have to tell you, I was really surprised to find that South Louisiana has some very, very tall bridges, although I didn't get my camera out fast enough to catch the worst one which reminded me of going up, up, and up for a roller coaster. They also had fairly short sides and I really did NOT like going over them with the trailer. Here is the one I did get a picture of on the way from Sulpher to Lake Charles.
We did have a great dinner at Ryan's, in fact it was actually the best and nicest Ryan's we've ever been to. Ryan's is usually our buffet of last choice, but this one was nice and had well prepared food.
We all returned to the campground and went to bed. The next morning, the fun began. . .
This is long enough with all those turtle pictures, so I'll continue tomorrow. Thanks for coming along. Smiles, Sue C