The Sweet Life - Biloxi

M. I. crooked letter. crooked letter. I. crooked letter. crooked letter. I. Humpback. Humpback. I.
Six hours in a car from Grenada to Biloxi, and I began having teachers remorse.
We pulled into Keesler AFB Famcamp a little later than I would have liked but the wonderful camphosts stayed about 20 min. after closing to help get us in a great spot. We didn't waste any time before heading over to MaMa's and PaPa's house to surprise them (they didn't think we were coming for another 2 days). I poured me a big glass of sweet tea, and enjoyed a nice southern evening, while the kids enjoyed some new to them toys. One of the the best things about family is that no matter how long it has been since you last seen them, it seems like just yesterday.
The next day was a beautiful day, and the sun sparkled off the water, so I convenced John to let us go to the beach, which was only 4 blocks away. John is always reluctant to let us go because he grew up in Biloxi, and back in those days they use to dump in the Gulf. One can still see the ducting extending into the water at low tide. But since Katrina there has been a revamping of the beach area, and it is now a wonderful place to spend a warm October afternoon. The kids swam in the water, and we all enjoyed some tanlines.
It was exciting spending Halloween with the grandkids. I spent the better part of the day getting the kids ready with their Day of the Dead Sugarskulls, which turned out better than I imagined; although, the removal was not quite so fun. I think it took three days before the last trace of white could no longer be seen.
There is so much to see and do in Biloxi but we never seem to get any of it done; mainly because we spend so much time with the family.
We also took a break from school work, except for couple days. I never worry about taking time off because even though they aren't working from their curriculum, they are learning some really cool things - everyday life is FULL of teaching moments. The days at the beach were science days, learning about hermit crabs, jellyfish, and salt water buoyancy. We played disk golf one day for Phys. Ed., and Art/HomeEc was fullfilled when we made grapfruit birdfeeders.
Sweet Tea, Good Company, and the BEACH.
Life is Good!


LONG DAY - Getting to Lake Grenada

The day started out as any typical moving day.

Get dressed, eat breakfast, move all shifty items to safer ground, bring in slide-outs, empty holding tanks, do a walk around, hook-up the truck, un-plug from electric, do another walkaround . . . .

Not normal - "John, does this tire look low to you?" John replies, "Maybe a little. Let me get out the tire gauge". After finding three tire gauges that no longer work, John said those stomach wrentching words, "Why yes Christine, the tire is flat - 50 psi". "What is it suppose to be"? was my reply. "75 to 80". "@%*@#%$*@"!!!! I replied.

So much for our early start.

The good news was that we were still in our site, not on the side of the interstate, and the kids could go to the playground to play. The bad news was that someone reserved our spot for that day, and we had to be out of there ASAP. So I did what any girl does - I called my Mom and Dad. After being able to talk things out, we had a plan, so I put the slide outs back out, fixed lunch, and began rummaging through all the paperwork that came with the camper. Come to find out, we were covered by not just one but three different emergancy roadside policies. Talk about being over insured. We had our automobile/camper insurance ($100 deducable), we had the dealership insurance ($200 deductable), and the manufactures one year warranty (FREE), so you know which one I called first :) And I couldn't have been happier. The lady on the phone was so nice, and within an hour she had Goodyear tire and repair out to our camper, on a Sunday afternoon no less. The repairman was super nice and had our flat tire off, screw pulled out, tire patched, and back on the camper in less than 40 minutes. What a great experience for such a crappy start. I would definately recommend the Forest River Coachnet membership to anyone.

So, even though we were a little late getting started and had to stop four times (in just a 200 mile stretch) for potty breaks, we still arrived at Lake Grenada before dark. We have driven by this exit everytime we visited Biloxi but never had a reason to stop, which is too bad because the lake is a really neat area. Senic route 332 goes right over a beautiful Dam, which over looks an oak lowland.

We stayed at the North Abutment COE campground, and were not disappointed. They have beautiful full-service hook-ups right on the lake with nice bathhouses and a brand new playground area. We were actually camped over in the wooded area to the right in the pictures but decided the next time we stay we will be over in the water area.

Although we only stayed two nights, this is definately a redo. We spent most of our time here repacking, cleaning, and crossing things off the honey-do list. We were just too anxious to get to Biloxi to really stay and enjoy the area (it's been two years since we have seen MawMaw, PawPaw, the Big Girls, and our grandsons).

Even though the day started out rough, alls well that ends well, and who could stay mad with a view like that.




The Best Days of Our Life - Memphis

Rock 'N Roll and Memphis - We really are living the best days of our lives. There are times when I feel guilty about the life we are leading beacause I know there are so many people in this world who are not having these kind of days. Life truely is a blessing no matter what road one is traveling but some roads are easier to enjoy than others. Memphis is a city that exemplifies this juxtaposition. There are beautiful townhomes right next to the homeless person on the corner. The sinners and the saints walk Beale street side by side. Memphis has so much to offer everyone in every walk of life. I told John I could spend a couple months here easy but alas, we only got 6 days.
We pulled into T.O. Fuller State park, which is located on the south side of Memphis around 2 p.m. after an easy drive from Poplar Bluff. The park was easy to get into, and John did another amazing job backing the beast into our spot.
Right out our back door was the playground, which made morning coffee extra easy for me.
As part of our Oak Meadow curriculm, the kids create a seasonal table, so they made a beautiful plate of autumn things, and have been adding their favorite findings. It is nice for me because now instead of them dragging all thier cool stuff inside they have a special place to put it, and the best part is the stuff stays outside.
The twins came from the playground holding hands and were soooo precious but you could just see the mischief in their eyes - Double Trouble!

The park itself has a lot to offer with wonderful hiking trails, and some ancient Native American mounds. One evening we set out about an hour before sunset on a short hike, and the fall forest was wonderfull. We also found the cutest little acrons to add to our nature tray, as you can tell by my fingers, they were teeny, tiny little things - perfect for making fairy caps.
We also spent one day on Mud Island, which was so much fun! We didn't even make it inside the actual museum because the Mississippi River replica was so fasinating to walk. This was better than any classroom or park we have ever been in and it was FREE. A definate must see for kids. We also took a lunch with us, and ate where the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.
Our real mission while in Memphis was to go the Juice Plus conference, which was a blast. The kids had a great time socializing in the family room with other healthy Juice Plus kids, and John and I learned so much more about how good nutrition really changes the body on a cellular level. Plus the kids got to say they seen Elvis :)
We also drove up to the Naval Air Base one day, and the camping up there is definately a try next time camp. The base is about 20 minutes North of Memphis, and an easy drive. And no trip to Memphis would be complete without a drive by Graceland, so not only did the kids get to say they seen Elvis but they got to see Graceland and his personal jet Lisa Marie.
Goodbye for now Memphis but we shall return.


Beautiful Fall Days - Lake Wappapello

The sunshine, the people, and the food - that is what makes life in the south so great, and I do believe we have crossed over.

We could not have asked for more beautiful weather, and after having such a cold drizzly time in St. Louis, we were ready for some sunshine. We spent everyday outside soaking up our Vitimin D, and energizing our metabolism. Lake Wappappello has a lot to offer. We played on the playgrounds - we got to three of them and know of two we didn't get to visit. We played volleyball at two of the three sand courts. We hiked two trails - both easy hiking, found two geochaches, lounged in our hammoucks, and hung out the laundry to dry. We even got in some S'mores, and sat out listening to the owls. It really was perfect weather.

We also met some really nice people. One of the nice things about camping during the off season, and during the week is that we get to meet the people who get things done. Our neighbors, Sam and Sherry, are volunteers here, and they made our stay extra special. One day Sherry even brought over goodies for the kids from a local bake sale - I am mean LOTS of them. Thank-you Sherry, they loved having Oreo pops for breakfast :) Typically we eat healthy breakfasts like smoothies, or steel-cut oats but it always special when we can add a bit of sugar with the smoothy. At the very kid friendly visitors center, there was a volunter who took an extra special interest in the kids and showed them around like they were royalty, and at the end each of the kids got a Junior Ranger COE badge. And people worry about our kids being socialized - REALLY???????!!!!!!!!

Food - Oh how we love the food. On Friday, the town of Poplar Bluff has their farmers market, so we slid in and got fresh green beans, turnups, pumpkins, and jalopino peppers, and boy were they all good. It was nice getting fresh produce, since we hadn't had any for a while. When we left Iowa, we dontated our Tower Gardens to the local school because the gardens were just too big to take traveling with us :( So I have been going through produce withdrawls. The greenbeans cooked up so nice in my new Insta Pot, and I wish we would have gotten twice as much. We also drove into a Sonic for a Cherry Limeade and Onion-rings, which is our special southern treat.

I leave you with this video.



St. Louis - The Magic House

St. Louis was a bit of a disapointment for us this time around. The weather turned into typical fall weather, which was rainy, cold, and not much for outdoor activities unless you are a seal.

We actually pulled up into the parking garage for the Gateway Arch, got out, put all our rain gear on (it is about a 3 block walk from the parking garage to the Arch), stepped out to the edge of the overhang, watched the rain coming down sidewys for about 5 minutes, and decided the national monument wasn't worth our own personal discomfort, so we loaded a couple screaming, and disappointed kids into the Tahoe and pressed on.

The Magic House (St. Louis Children's Museum) was next on our list, and once we got there I think the kids completely forgot about The Arch. The Magic House lives up to its name. We spent 3 hours in kiddy Valhalla.
Lexi enjoyed applying one of her studies - the tangram. She just finished a story "Loawnu and the Fallen Ssky", which is about a women who put the sky back together - like a tangram. At home, Lexi had even made her own paper tangram to play with. So, it was a wonderful surprise to see, and play with, the tangram display at the museum.
The little ones enjoyed the water play - they stayed there for over 30 minutes. Maia figured out how to make a dam and spent hours rearranging the water.
There was also this amazing construction area where the kids could actually build and dig.
We finally wrapped up our visit in the magnetic area - we all took turns getting electrified.
I know the kids could have stayed a lot longer; however, the adults were EXHAUSTED! At least we all slept good that night.


Slowing Down

One of my problems while on the road is settling in. I always feel like we might be missing out on some great cultural or educational opportunity we might never see again. I want to jam as much adventure in as possible.

Last night we got into St. Louis (Scott AFB), and before I even drank my coffee this morning, I got on my Ipad to see what the hours were for the Gateway Arch, The Childrens Museum, The Cahoka Mounds, and The Zoo. But what I kept thinking was how nice it would be to have a down day. A lazy Sunday. After several hours of hem-hawing, we decided to forget the sightseeing and enjoy the beauty of US. I lounged on the couch - for the first time ever - watching Sunday afternoon football, and enjoying my view.

Maybe it is because it is a drizzly day or maybe it is because I realize this is our home (not just a vacation camper) that allowed me to slow down and relax. I am not going to feel guilty about letting the kids play in their room, or letting the dishes pile up, or ordering out.

And look what happened when I just let the kids do whatever

Maia drew a picture of our campsite - the road, grass, shower-house, and the camper.

I became to subject of a hair clip fashion show,

and now,

I am going to finish enjoying my snuggling and lounging.



Wapello Fairgrounds

Southeast Iowa has so many great things about it. Having grown-up here, I take a lot of them for granted, and only now as we are beginning our southward migration, do I really appriciate them. One of them is the small rural town in the fall. The bake sales and fall colors are my favorites right now.

Before finally leaving Iowa, we have decided to stop and stay in the little town on Wapello, which sits right on Highway 61. We are staying at the local fairgrounds - full hook-up on a cement pad for only $10 a night. Gotta love these small town rates. Not only is it a great little find but they have a free dump station, and a playground for the kids right out our door.

John enjoyed playing ball and disk golf in the crisp autunm evenings with the kids at the wide open field to the west. In it's prime, the field was home to one of the few horse harness racing tracks in Iowa.

With-in walking distance there is a Casey's General Store, a local Mexican restaurant, a tavern with food, a Dollar Store, and great views of the Iowa river - all of which we would visit again.

These kinds of days make it harder and harder to leave the Midwest; however, John does not own a pair of pants, only shorts, and he says, "If I can't wear my shorts because I'm too cold, then it is time to move further south". AND since he is the driver, I guess our stay here will be over soon.


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