Monday, June 27, 2016

partied out

Camping in southern Louisiana is like no where we have ever been. The locals start trickling in on Thursday afternoon, and by Friday noon there is a line of RVs out the driveway waiting to check in. RVs pulling trailers of course with the camping essentials in tow - golf carts and coolers. 

The beach here at Lakeview is a local tradition going back to the 1960s, families that grew up swimming at this beach are bringing their kids and grandkids now. It is VERY popular, the only place around for swimming (without gators). 

The sand is trucked in, the palm trees and tiki bar and giant water floats make it fun. The campground office/store has a constant line of folks wanting to pay $ to swim, rent floats, get ice cream on a stick. 

They come for the day or the weekend or the week or the month. This is their little oasis in the big swamp of life.  

The park is full to overflowing every weekend in the summer, they come to get away from their working life, they come to get together with family and friends, they come to cruise around in their souped up 'camping buggies', they come to party. Big groups arrange their RVs of all sizes and shapes so that all the doors face a central location with all the tables in the middle, the golf carts are charged up, music playlist ready to blast. 

All of this is fun to watch, the parents teaching little kids to ride bikes, folks playing volleyball on the beach, dads and sons walking down to the lake with fishing poles in hand... it is all fun until dark.

Dark is when the grownups really get going, The decibel level of the whoops and hollers and booming music directly correlates to the amount of alcohol consumed, and all of it gets gradually louder and louder throughout the evening and usually goes until about 2 a.m. 

We finally learned to turn on the AC unit over our bed (the one that we don't usually use at night because it is so loud) and it works pretty well to drown out the noise just outside our camper door and windows. 

Kids learn from their parents, whether it be riding a bike, or fishing, or how to party. So if one were to come back here in 15-20 years, those little sunburned kids will be partying to all hours, blasting their music, staggering around and yelling, carrying on family traditions. 

Heaven help them if they ever go on vacation outside of Louisiana, there will be a rude awakening about camping in general, rules, and quiet time. I am reminded of the time we were reprimanded by the ranger at Glacier NP when we ran our diesel truck one morning a little before quiet time ended :)

Sunday is our favorite time here in the campground, our home away from home. Because that is when the party animals are all packing up and leaving out. We want to stand at the exit, direct traffic, and wave Bye Bye!

the party is over
the beer coolers are empty
the golf cart battery is dead
the kids are sunburned
the dogs are tired
time to go home
just another Sunday at the campground
the party is over

So is the circle of life here in LA, work all week, party all weekend, it works for them, and maybe there is a lesson in there for the rest of us. 

But we are about partied out and can't wait to get home to our quiet little cabin in the mountains, where sometimes the sounds of katydids through the open window is deafening, but oh what music it is to our ears. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

reading escape

In my quest to read all of Nevada Barr's books this summer - about Anna Pigeon, NPS ranger - in order, I am on #11 out of 19. And what a good time to be reading about the National Parks - in this centennial year. And what a good way to escape the oppressing summer heat in southern LA.

Although I have read a few of these books before, and each book is good even if read alone, it is so different reading them all at once in chronological order, getting to know the characters better, remembering their history and watching relationships grow and change. 

I am enjoying reading about all the different national parks, recognizing some of the places she describes, making a list of places to see in the future, and trying to help her solve the many mysteries she stumbles upon. Yes, the stories in these books are fiction, but the description of the parks is accurate and detailed, going places only park rangers have access to, as Ms. Barr was once a national park ranger herself.

11 - Flashback. This one is set in the Dry Tortugas National Park about 70 miles off the coast of Key West. We did not make the trek to see this park while we were in Key West, but the Fort Jefferson there is much the same design as Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West pictured here.

"The arches forced perspective, creating the illusion that the dimly lit vaults continued on to infinity." ~Nevada Barr - Flashback

9 - Blood Lure. Set in Glacier National Park, she joins a team of bear researchers and hikes along the Highline Trial (just like us!) to get to their backcountry habitat.

"For the first mile or so, she walked Highline, an improved trail that followed the ridge east of Flattop Mountain, winding back to the Going to the Sun Road where the trailhead was. At about seventy-two hundred feet in elevation, where Highline dog-legged south, Anna turned north, traveling cross-country toward the glacial cirque below Cathedral Peak’s south-southwestern slope." ~Nevada Barr - Blood Lure

6 - Blind Descent. Set in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, ranger Pigeon joins a rescue team traveling deep into a non-public area without marked trails. We have not been to Carlsbad, but this reminds me of our many trips to Mammoth Cave NP, and the unmarked trails, absolute darkness, and cool temperature described reminds me of the Wild Cave Tour there.

"The trail wound through enormous blocks of limestone studded with rough grayish-white formations called popcorn, then vanished in darkness beneath a low arch in the rock. Though impressive, and the size a relief to her fear-tightened mind, the cave had no life and no color. In a land devoid of sunlight, color was superfluous." ~Nevada Barr - Blind Descent

Thursday, June 16, 2016

retirement planning

retirement fantasy planning

Buddy has his countdown going on - 3 years 4 months - and is actively looking at retirement planning. There are online calculators from banks and AARP in which to plug your numbers (estimated bills, income from social security and/or 401-k accounts).

There is a lot of research to do on Medicare, when to sign up, which plan to pick, whether to get a secondary insurance. A lot of work.

But we have also been watching shows on television like Log Cabin Living and Fixer Upper… saying things like 'that would be nice' and 'we could do that to our house'

Our house is 40 this year! There have been a few minor remodels over the years, and some major projects like the new roof, deck, and the kitchen redo a few years ago. The joys of home ownership (JOHO) is ongoing, always something to fix or add or replace. 

So far we have a list of several things that we will/might do to the house at some point. Things that should have been done long ago like replacing the 1970s orange shag carpet upstairs, and replacing the paneling in our bedroom, and something that would just be nice - moving the laundry room out of the basement to the main level.

So we have to work to pay for these remodels. Always something.

Anyone have any retirement planning advice? 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Alexandria LA Zoo

Memorial Day Weekend - 3 days off! So what to do? We have not found much to do around here. So Saturday morning started off the 3 day weekend, sitting around in our PJs watching TV. We found some interesting animal shows which prompted a visit to the zoo.

Alexandria Zoo is about an hour and a half north of here, it is good to drive up out of the swamps and bayous, we actually got excited to see rolling hills and even a couple of curves in the road!

The zoo has been there since 1926. The exhibits are built in and around old oak trees. The trails/walkways meander through the shade from one area to another.

There are the usual wild animals, tigers, bears, snakes that you can see in most zoos, but I liked the Louisiana Habitat best. In the Louisiana section you walk on shells by the 'bayou', there is an actual shrimp boat, oil derrick, lots of turtles, and of course some gators.

more pictures HERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


When you get up in the morning you have a decision, 
to have a good day or a bad day.

This thought comes from a news story this morning about a local school principal who greets the car drop off line every morning with his karaoke, singing and dancing as he opens the car doors, the kids' faces light up at this sight.

You can avoid the lake for fear of snakes
 or watch the beauty of a bird in flight.

You can look out and see the cloudy sky
 or look closer and see the sunrise peeking through.

You can look out and see weeds growing up through your junk yard, 
or look a little closer and see roses and lilies.

 I choose to have a good day!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


cattails at the little creek (this is where I see the 2 snakes sunning sometimes) eek!

the old dance barn is just so darn photogenic

and the back lot looks a lot like ours at home, 
stuff saved forever in case you might need it someday

My morning stroll around the campground, lots to see. It is nice and quiet here Mondays through Thursdays, then there is the weekend... these Cajun folks really like to party! They have a great attitude on life and what is important. 

Even though we are full-timers here at the campground, we have had to move a couple of times. The weekenders have priority, a lot of return business and they like to reserve certain sites for their big families. And their golf carts... 

It is fun to just sit out and watch the campground fill up starting on Thursday afternoon. Last week there was this huge motorhome pulling a jeep pulling a trailer. A lot of times there will be a truck pulling a camper pulling a trailer (for the golf cart). These folks cannot live without their golf carts, used to cruise around the campground, used to drive up to the beach for swimming. This is the only place we have ever experienced this phenomenon. You never see anyone walking, just riding, too funny :)

Monday, May 16, 2016


Some folks binge watch whole seasons of television shows on Netflix.

I am binge reading all of the books of Nevada Barr, starting at the beginning, about Anna Pigeon - National Park Ranger. Over the years I have read a few of her books here and there, not in any order, but reading them in order one after the other adds a lot to the story, it is easier to remember the back stories and people she meets along the way and how they all intertwine throughout her series.

These books combine my love of the national parks and mystery and reading. Of course my favorite part is the very detailed descriptions of the parks themselves, it is like you are there with her. 

We recently saw Ms. Barr, former park ranger, interviewed on the PBS special, The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

1. Track of the Cat (1993) - Guadaloupe Mountains National Park.
2. A Superior Death (1994) - Isle Royale National Park
3. Ill Wind (1995) - Mesa Verde National Park
4. Firestorm (1996) - Lassen Volcanic National Park            
5. Endangered Species (1997) - Cumberland Island
6. Blind Descent (1998) - Carlsbad Cavern
7. Liberty Falling (1999) - Gateways Park - Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty
8. Deep South (2000) - Natchez Trace Parkway
9. Blood Lure (2001) - Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
10. Hunting Season (2002) - Natchez Trace National Park
11. Flashback (2003) - Dry Tortugas National Park  
12. High Country (2004) - Yosemite National Park
13. Hard Truth (2005) - Rocky Mountain National Park
14. Winter Study (2008) - Isle Royale National Park
15. Borderline (2009) - Big Bend National Park
16. Burn (2010) - Jazz National Heritage Park                      
17. The Rope (2012) - Glen Canyon National Recreational Area
18. Destroyer Angel (2014) - Minnesota’s Iron Mountains
19. Boar Island (2016) - Acadia National Park

Friday, May 13, 2016

road warriors

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