March 23 - March 30 2016 California to Florida - Road Trip

March 30, 2016

Wednesday 23rd March – Yuma to Las Cruces – 501 miles

On the road before sun up this morning.

 

 

 

Continued east across desert country towards Tucson. Interstate 8 was quiet and it was nice to be back on wide smooth roads, much easier driving.

Passed through Citrus Valley where there are huge crop farms. Saw a light aircraft crop spraying.

 

Next was the Sonoran Desert National Monument area with the desert looking green and filled with flowering shrubs.

Once we got on the I-10 south of Phoenix we hit plenty of traffic.

Approaching New Mexico a strong wind developed across the desert,

 

blowing the sand and buffeting the RV. The topper on the living room slide out came loose and we had to stop to strap it down.

Reached Walmart in Las Cruces late afternoon.

 

Thursday 24th March - Las Cruces to San Antonio 610 miles

Left Las Cruces before daylight and continued on the I-10 east. Stopped at the Flying J truck stop in Anthony to get fuel and LPG, fill the fresh water tank and use the sani-dump to empty the grey and black tanks. The system of truck stops along the interstates provide all these facilities, plus somewhere to park overnight, a shop, somewhere to east, showers and a laundry. We also get discount on our fuel here as Good Sam members. When Tony went to pay the assistant asked if he was related to Benny Hill.

We were now in Texas and continued on through El Paso in the rush hour traffic, along the Mexican border and out into the grasslands of Edwards Plateau. Just before the town of Sierra Blanca we stopped at a border control point. We drove slowly past an officer with a dog, presumably a drug sniffer dog but it showed no interest in our vehicle. At the control point we were asked a few questions and then we were on our way.

Pulled in at a rest stop just south of Bakersfield for lunch. There was a small stone building,

 

a replica of the Tunis Creek overland stage coach stop that was originally about half a mile down the road. It was abandoned in 1881 after the railroad came through the area.

As we got near to San Antonio and Texas Hill Country the countryside got greener and tree lined.

East of San Antonio on the I-10 we stopped off again at a Flying J for fuel. Along this stretch of road where several truck stops, we had never seen so many parked trucks, it was like truck city. We decided Flying J was too busy to stay overnight and went off to find the local Walmart.

 

Friday 25th March – Happy Easter – San Antonio to Luling – 49 miles

Continued east on the I-10 this morning, fifty miles to Luling. We’re having a day off the road today and pulled in at the Riverbend RV Park.

 

It has been just over a year since we stayed here and Kate, the park manager was in the office. She is from the UK but has been in the US for over twenty years. The San Marcos River runs through the park and we went straight down there for a walk and to let Sandy off the leash for a run.

 

 

 

She has missed her runs on the beach with Sammie. There had been some rain overnight and everywhere was very green and smelt of freshly cut grass.

                                                                            Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's Sandy chasing a squirrel up a tree.

 

We had a good day in the sunshine around the camp and got the RV cleaned up after our long trip from Mexico. This evening we went into town and had dinner at Blakes a large café/restaurant near the rail tracks. This is a friendly no fuss place that serves good hearty Texan food. It was busy, full of families enjoying dinner and drinking large beakers of iced drinks. I had flounder served in batter (most of the fish and chicken seems to come in batter) and lots of nice veg. Tony had a steak – nobody does steak like Texas. Travelled back through the neat suburbs of Luling – small town Texas, we really felt like we had arrived back in our adopted state.

 

Saturday 26th March - Luling to Houston – 164 miles

Got on the road early this morning to make our way to Houston to see Peter and Suzan. They are staying west of the city in Pasadena and have been visiting with Suzy’s family since before Christmas. Luckily we were going through Houston on Saturday morning which meant the traffic was bearable and we made good time.

 

 

 

Peter had given us excellent directions and we arrived mid-morning. He was waiting for us at the gate to the compound where we would be staying.

 

 It was good to see them again, it had been about six months since we had last met in Jackson, Wyoming. Suzy’s sister Sally and partner John, own a CrossFit training centre with plenty of land for parking where Peter and Suzy have been staying in the RV, and where would also be parking for our stay.

Now that we were back in Texas we needed to get the RV and car re registered (pay road tax) and the car needed an inspection (MOT). The RV doesn’t need an inspection for two years from new. The RV also needed a service, Peter had bought the oil and filters and arranged for it to be done at the auto repair shop that was handily next door. The car failed its first inspection because there was an emissions light showing on the dash. The auto repair shop took care of the problem and it passed the second inspection. Both vehicles were then re-registered on line. We met Sally and John in-between training sessions. After the vehicle issues were taken care of we went out to a local bar

 

where there was an outside patio to sit with the dogs whilst we caught up with the news from the past six months. 

Back to the RV’s and Suzan cooked shrimp etouffee for dinner – delicious. Played Pegs and Jokers, the girls won.

 

Sunday 27th March

This morning we took a ride out towards Galveston to Trinity Bay which is part of the larger Galveston Bay.

Stopped off at a nice place overlooking the bay and went into Sam’s Boat where we had a pan of crawfish boil.

 

We called in at a place overlooking the river. A couple sitting near to us had a gorgeous mastiff puppy with them.

 

Next to Republic House where Trey and Sandy could have a run over the adjacent field and sit with us outside.

 

 

 

One of the staff made the dogs very happy by feeding them biscuits.

 

Lastly, to Mamaritas Mexican Restaurant for dinner.

 

Monday 28th March

Went out to do some shopping locally. Met Suzan’s youngest sister Holly and later their Mum and Dad came over.

Sandy has been obsessed with the squirrels that are running around.

 

Barbeque takeaway for dinner.

 

Tuesday 29th March - Houston to D’lberville – 414 miles

Said another sad goodbye to Peter and Suzan this morning. They are off to the UK next week for a month, we will catch up with them later in the year.

A very misty morning as we crossed the Hartman Bridge over the Houston Ship Canal, a rather striking suspension bridge and headed towards the I-10 east.

 

 We crossed over the Louisiana state line

 

and soon came to Lake Charles and the Calcasieu River Bridge which has a fairly steep incline and decline.

As we came past Lafayette and into the Atchafalaya Basin the area became wetlands and the interstate was built across stilts over the water.

 

 

 

At Port Allen the interstate crossed the Mississippi River just before Baton Rouge. All the counties in Louisiana are called Parishes – a fact I learnt from Suzy’s dad.

A few miles on we picked up the I-12 to skirt north of New Orleans and got back on the I-10 just before the Mississippi state line.

 

Stayed overnight at Walmart in D’lberville.

 

Wednesday 30th March Dlberville to Lake City – 411 miles

Continued east this morning on the I-10 across Mississippi and into Alabama.

Went through Mobile

 

and crossed over Mobile Bay, an inlet off the Gulf of Mexico.

Caught a glimpse of the USS Alabama, launched in 1942, now a museum ship.

 

Into Florida and our first stop was the Welcome Centre.

 

Now in eastern time zone, one hour forward. We have now gone through all the time zones in the last couple of weeks.

We topped up the fresh water tank here and made enquires in the Centre about purchasing a toll road card. There are numerous toll roads in Orlando and down to the south east but it is still possible to pay at a kiosk at entry. We have found ourselves on toll roads in other parts of the county where there is no opportunity to pay, if the car does not have a toll tag sticker the number plate is noted and a bill is sent for the cost of the toll. Unfortunately, we do not get our post quick enough to pay within the given time and have had fines from Houston and San Francisco for late payment.

Crossing Santa Rosa Sound.

Spoke to Tom and Ninette on the phone. Part of Ellie’s 18th birthday present was a skydive over the east coast of Florida. Her skydive session had been cancelled yesterday due weather and they were waiting for her to go today.

Stayed overnight at Walmart in Lake City.

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