Posted in Campgrounds, Music, RV Living, Travels

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

We said goodbye to our new friends from the Newmar Rally and headed just south to return to Bennett Springs for 2 weeks. This would give Barry some time to catch up on visits in southern Missouri and both of us to acclimate to Missouri after all our travels west. Hidden Valley Outfitters is our favorite campground in Missouri with full hookups and a lovely Niangua River setting for relaxing and fishing. After we were parked, he hurried to buy a Missouri fishing license and Niangua River tag and spent the evening fishing off the banks.

Every year, my family has a girls’ weekend somewhere not too far from St. Louis; this year would be at Eureka Springs, Arkansas the weekend after we arrived in Bennett Springs. My twin cousins, Mickie & Missey, picked me up on Friday and we turned our sights south. Our first stop was to get sandwiches at Schlotsky’s – a deli the girls just love, but no longer in St. Louis – for lunch. From there we took our time driving, stopping for them to geocache along the way. They stop in the funniest places looking for the cache hidden in trees or fence posts or on the ground under something!!

We arrived at the house our cousin, Joyce, had rented through VRBO.com ; a wonderful, large, log home right on Beaver Lake. Joyce and her daughter, Pam, had made us chicken Alfredo for dinner, we got hugs from my Mom, and cousin, Jill, and sat down to eat and relax.

The next morning, we got up to enjoy crepes, again made my Joyce and Pam :-)) , and made plans to drive into Eureka Springs for the day. All the roads here are curvy and change elevation quickly, probably not a good choice for our RV! Our first stop was Thornhill Chapel just outside Eureka Springs. It is a beautiful place to worship, reflect, and feel the presence of God amidst the trees in an architectural wonder.

Eureka Springs is a quaint little town built into hills and valleys with narrow streets and cramped parking. The streets do not follow a grid, but rather meander along with tight turns and steep climbs. After finally finding parking spots for our 2 cars, we began to explore. My mom wanted to sit at the town park/amphitheater to enjoy a Bluegrass Festival all day. We left her there and shopped along the way at cute shops with tea and coffee, eclectic souvenirs, children’s stuff, bath & body products, pet products, jewelry, and local wares. Close to lunch-time, I got in line to wait for a table for 9 at the Basin Park Hotel on the outdoor, 2nd floor balcony. By the time we were called, my Aunt Sis and her daughter, Kim, had arrived and we all began to catch up while we ate.

After lunch, some of us drove up to the Crescent Hotel to see the historic building, some went to geo-cache, and Mom & Aunt Sis sat down to hear more music. Weary and tired, we loaded back into our cars and headed back to the house for the night. I enjoyed a luxurious, wonderful bath in the claw-footed bathtub (not possible in an RV!). Girl talk, family history, and photos occupied us during the evening before we finally settled down for a good night’s sleep late in the night.

The next morning cousin Kim made us a delicious breakfast before we all headed back to home. A couple more geocaching stops and another visit to Schlotsky’s (those twins LOVE this place!) before they dropped me off back in Bennett Springs at the RV. We can’t wait to decide where to go next year on our trip!

SaveSave

Posted in Uncategorized

New Orleans, LouisianA part two

New Orleans is such a fun town to just relax and hang-out!  After all the fun of JazzFest, we relaxed the next day at the RV, Barry got to use his new Davey Crockett pellet grill to fix a huge dinner for all!  Pork loin, shrimp, and red fish along with a meatloaf to save for later were the grilled and smoked delights! I served fresh asparagus with a Béchamel sauce and yellow rice (a Zatarain’s favorite!).  We all enjoyed the time together to talk and reminisce about JazzFest.

IMG_0631
Relaxing before dinner!

On Monday, Barry, Mom, Alex & I decided to head to the Quarter for some fun.  Our first stop was (of course) Café du Monde for Cafe Au Lait and beignets and some good people watching.  On the way, we passed this MtF crossdresser street performer, photographs were for tips……seems like a lot of work on a hot day to me, but, maybe there is money to be made!

fullsizeoutput_4c93

We looked for a spot to grab lunch/dinner; Alex wanted to try a crawfish boil for the first time.  We stopped at a little speakeasy called Saints and Sinners for the crawfish; Mom always gets gumbo, and Barry & I had more seafood, but it was too early in the afternoon for live music.  Alex’s BucketList: Crawfish Boil √

Our next stop was Pat O’Brien’s for a cooling hurricane…….can’t go wrong here……just remember that they charge you for the glass when you get the drink, you have to return it for a $3 credit afterward!

IMG_0653
Even Duckie got into the fun!

Last stop of the day was for everyone’s (but especially my) BucketList:  Preservation Hall!  We have all been to many concerts and expected this to be a smaller version of a concert hall…….it is not!  Behind old doors and off a cool, dark hall, you are ushered into a small room, maybe 25’x40′, old wooden walls, with a band set up in front.  Nearest the band are floor cushions (not for us, thank you), behind them are about 5 rows of heavy log benches and there are 2 log benches along the wall on the right.  That’s it!  The front benches are reserved  for guests who bought tickets ahead of time, the rest of us sat toward the back and late comers were allowed to sit on the floor or stand in the very back.  A couple of ladies served as unfriendly ushers, one made sure everyone was ready and all phones & cameras were stowed away and then she introduced Darryl Adams and the PresHall Brass Band.  What followed was an hour of intimate, toe-tapping, sweet Jazz music without the conflict of flash lenses or clinking glasses or table conversations……just music.  My BucketList:  Preservation Hall Jazz concert √

IMG_0663

Alex left the next day, Mom & I got relaxing mani/pedi’s.  She flew out the next day and we waved goodbye to NOLA……..no, not goodbye,

au revoir…….

Posted in Travels, Uncategorized

JazzFest 2017

I cannot tell you how much I love JazzFest!  The crowds of people are all hot and sweaty and happy and full of good food and music!  There is dancing near almost all the stages (there are 12 stages by the way), and you can just stand up and dance by yourself or with a friend (new or old!).  There is food, and I do mean, there is food!  And crafts for sale.  And, did I forget the music?  Let’s start from the very beginning!

We all try to ride together to pay for just one place to park; and it is usually in someone’s front/side yard near the fairgrounds.  Yep, we pull into the grass, pay about $20 cash, and hope the guy that parked us really owns the property and is there when we return.  Rosa gets an employee ticket from her friend at Smoothie King, Joey, and we can then get in the back entrance near the stables.  Once we enter the gate, Mom takes off at a trot for her favorite place, Preservation Hall Economy Tent.  The whole stage and seating area is under one ginormous canvas tent with chairs for sitting and a dance floor off to one side.  She claims about 4 seats in the middle section on an aisle and sits there all day long!  We use this as our base when we need shade or a chair or just want to hear the performers there.  It is mostly Dixieland jazz, heavy with brass instruments.  Here she can Second Line as much as she wants and knows some of the crowd that return every year for the same fun.


After she and Aunt Sis get their seats, the rest of us leave to find other music and fun!  Alex and Barry were both first-timers and went out to get their bearings; Rosa & Pat to the Smoothie King stand, and me to the Sheraton Fais Do Do (pronounced: Fay doe doe – family dance) stage.  They specialize in Zydeco & Cajun music here and I threw my blanket down and settled in to hear BeauSoleil and later, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr..  Barry & Alex joined me from time-to-time, we ate together and just relaxed and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day!


I also saw a Marci Gras Indian Parade and enjoyed the Cajun Combo: crayfish sack, oyster patty, and crawfish beignets….and got to hang out with Duckie Three!

Definition of the Mardi Gras Indians:

“Coming out of slavery, being African American wasn’t socially acceptable. By masking like Native Americans, it created an identity of strength. Native Americans under all the pressure and duress, would not concede. These people were almost driven into extinction, and the same kind of feeling came out of slavery, “You’re not going to give us a place here in society, we’ll create our own.” In masking, they paid respect and homage to the Native American by using their identity and making a social statement that despite the odds, they’re not going to stop.”

Ronald Lewis, former Council Chief of the Choctaw Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe he helped to start.        

Today, the Mardi Gras Indians parade everyday at JazzFest, throughout the grounds. They stop festival-goers in their tracks to enjoy the music, but much more, the fantastic beaded costumes each member makes by hand and wears!


At the end of the day, we all found our way back to the car (and surprise!  The parking guy did own that house and was still there to help us get out!) and headed home to shower after a great day!  JazzFest 2018…..can’t wait to meet you!

Posted in Campgrounds

New Orleans, LouisianA, part one

First, let me say that I have been visiting New Orleans and attending JazzFest for the last 14+ years with various family members; my mom, aunt, cousins……all girls!  I Love JazzFest.  No more really needs to be said, it is a long weekend of laughing and crying with music and food thrown in for fun.   We always invade my sister-in-law’s  (and my step-brother’s before he passed away) home and stay up long into the nights enjoying the time together.

This year was going to be different…….I was taking the RV and Barry.  How was that going to work out?  He is not a music-lover like me and lots of walking and standing are not for him.  Staying in the RV and not with the family?  What was I going to miss?

Good surprise:  we camped at Bayou Segnette State Park on the WestBank of New Orleans.  This was a great choice; quiet with so many frogs croaking, dark at night, wide sites with a bayou surrounding us.  No good WiFi though and no sewer hookups made it a long week, but we were just 10 minutes from my sister-in-law’s home and good food all around made up for that.  IMG_0554

My nephew had flown up from Key West to spend the week with us, another first, that gave us time to really get to know him as an adult, not a kid anymore.  I started off with a dinner of delicious soft-shelled crabs that had me ready for anything going forward! And that was not just plain potato salad — that was shrimp & red potato salad made from a Boil!

IMG_0582

Locally, Barry & I found a great breakfast diner, We Geaux Cafe, just 5 minutes from the park.  (Okay here’s the joke:  we were in Westwego, LA, named for the western access around southern Lake Pontchartrain.  Every word in NOLA is mangled with Creole/Cajun and and Geaux is pronounced Go, so it was “We Go Cafe in West We Go, LA!!)  Another first:  grilled biscuits!  Whaaat?  A hand-made biscuit baked until light and fluffy inside, then sliced and grilled on a flat-top griddle for perfection!  Oh my goodness, we had to go there almost every morning to satisfy our grilled biscuit craving!

We also had to stop at Morning Call and found this one in City Park near the Botanical Gardens.  This is my Favorite Place for cafe au lait and beignets in New Orleans….I know you are thinking what about Cafe Du Monde?  It’s good, but for the best, it has to be Morning Call.

IMG_0561

We strolled over to the Botanical Gardens to enjoy a beautiful day together, mom, aunt, nephew and me!  Lovely sculptures and plantings surrounded us as we walked and talked together.  Outside the walls, protestors were clashing with local police over the removal of Confederate statues; inside the walls, peace and quiet.   Sadly the protestors lost the battle and the historical statues were removed by the politicians.  Inside the Garden though, this lovely nymph continues to play her flute silently.  IMG_0566

Next:  JazzFest!