Guadalupe Mountains


We settled into the campground at Guadalupe Mountains National Park which is really not much more than a parking lot.


After seeing the trailer at the camp host’s site pinned to the ground with heavy chains we moved so that we weren’t broadside to the prevailing winds. The wind eventually died down in the evening so that we weren’t rocking back and forth and could get a good night’s sleep.

After recovering from our treacherous trip up Guadalupe Pass we had time for a quick hike before dinner. The Devil’s Hall trail was a 3.8 mile round trip that brought us through a winding canyon.


We had to make a steep climb up these natural steps.


A little further on the trail passed through a narrow slot through the steep canyon walls.


It’s hard to believe that this area was once a massive inland sea and this mountain range was an underwater reef stretching more than 40 miles to the north but you can kind of picture it here if you use your imagination.



We stopped off on our way down into the valley the next day for another hike. The McKittrick Canyon Trail was about six miles round trip following a rocky stream bed. The water came to the surface in a few spots only to disappear underground into the dry rocky desert further upstream.  The Pratt Cabin was set in a nice little oasis trees. The shady porch with some nice rocking chairs was a great place to stop for lunch and enjoy the quiet of the towering canyon walls surrounding us. The cabin was built as a vacation getaway by Wallace Pratt, a rich Texas oilman. The only materials used for the cabin are wood and stone including the interesting stone laid roofs. Mr. Pratt donated over 5000 acres in McKittrick Canyon to the National Park Service.


On our way back to the trailhead we noticed this cave way up on the face of the cliff. The white inside the mouth of the larger cave resembled fangs and the two smaller depressions eyes of a panther or mountain lion.


We were finally back on flat ground but in the middle of hundreds of gas drilling sites with gas flares burning all around us. This was our first night of free camping at a Bureau of Land Management property.  Chosa Campground is close to both Guadalupe Mountains National Park which can be seen in the background and Carlsbad Caverns National Park which is a little further down the ridgeline to the right.





West Texas

Our path through west Texas started with a motorcycle ride on the Twisted Sisters. This is a route I saw online that was rated as the number 2 motorcycle route in the U.S. right behind the Tail of the Dragon. While it was a nice ride, it would struggle to make my Top 10 list. Anyway, it brought us through some pretty country.





The last leg of the ride brought us through Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World. There was a crowd at the local fairgounds so we pulled in to check it out. There was a beginners rodeo camp going on where kids as young as 10 learn to ride broncs and even do some bull riding. It became a little traumatic for us when the first kid out of the chute got his foot caught in the stirrup of his bronco and got dragged around the arena a couple times with his head flopping around inches from the metal railings. The parents in the stands seemed unfazed by it all.



We spent a week at Lone Star Corral, another Escapee’s Coop Park, in Hondo, TX. They give first time guests 50% off, so we had a week of camping for $55 plus electric. It was about an hour into downtown San Antonio from there.

The Riverwalk winds through downtown San Antonio, a cool and shady escape from the heat of the city with access to museums, shopping and restaurants.


Cathedral of San Fernando built in 1731, has an amazing light show on its front facade highlighting Texas history.



San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves and interprets Spanish colonization and conversion of the Native American population in the early 1700’s. The Spanish established a string of four separate missions just south of San Antonio.




The Alamo has some very interesting displays and explanation of its history and the battle that took place here.


We spent a few more days in Hondo than we wanted to when a simple three hour brake job on our truck turned into a weeklong ordeal but that’s another story. We were glad to finally get back onto U.S. 90 heading west again.


The landscape turns into some serious desert west of San Antonio – low scrub, treeless, hot and windy. We camped overnight in the wide open desert at Seminole Canyon State Park near Del Rio, TX.


Even though we were only there overnight we managed to get two good hikes in.


We didn’t see any snakes but did come upon a couple of these furry little guys. They were about the size of the palm of your hand.


Seminole Canyon snakes its way right down to the Rio Grande with Mexico just across the way. The border is protected at this point by towering cliffs and the swift currents of the river.



This area was first inhabited over 7000 years ago. The first settlers of the area left pictographs in the caves and overhanging shelters that line the canyon.


It was just a few more miles to the Pecos River. This is the highest highway bridge in Texas, almost 300 feet high and spanning over 1300 feet bank to bank. If you look closely you can see a certain white motorhome on the center span of the bridge.


Here’s a closer look.


West of the river is Langtry, Texas and the saloon/courtroom of Judge Roy Bean, the self proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos”. Known as the hanging judge, there is no evidence that Roy Bean ever sentenced anyone to death. Judge Bean was more interested in imposing fines on offenders which went straight into his pocket. The amount of the fine usually matched the amount of money the guilty party happened to have in their own pocket at the time. There wasn’t much happening in Langtry except for the very informative visitors center and museum featuring the Jersey Lilly Saloon. It was pretty amazing that the original building, though much repaired and restored, still exists in its original location.



It’s easy to imagine how good a cold beer must have tasted while sitting in the shade of this porch after riding for miles on horseback through this parched country.


We continued west into a steady headwind. The problem when the tallest vegetation in sight is only about 30 inches high is that you can’t really tell how much wind is actually blowing or what direction the gusts are coming from. It makes for a challenging drive, trying to keep our 35 foot box that is basically a huge sail going down the road in a straight line.

The wind was howling by the time we pulled into the Marfa Lights Viewing Area for the night. We had to move the rig to face into the wind to keep it from rocking violently side to side. It kind of explains the round restroom building, anything else would have blown over in the wind.


The mysterious Marfa Lights were first reported in the 1880’s. Unexplainable lights appear far across the flat valley in the hills around the town of Marfa, TX. We saw what looked like distant headlights except they moved slowly, some were stationary and were located up in the hills where there are no roads. I don’t think they could have been car headlights when they were seen back in 1880.

We had one more day of driving to finish up our trek through Texas. We almost didn’t make it out on all four wheels.

We had one stop to make on the way out of Marfa.


Yep, luxury boutique shopping in the middle of nowhere.


Prada Marfa is actually a permanent contemporary art installation built in 2005 with the full blessing of the Prada company in Italy. It makes for an interesting stop and photo op along a pretty desolate stretch of highway.


We battled a heavy 30 mph headwind the whole day but it was a beautiful western landscape with towering canyon walls and a view of the Guadalupe Mountains way off in the distance. Guadalupe Mountains National Park was our planned stop for the night.



To get there we had to make it up Guadalupe Pass. It wasn’t much of a climb so I didn’t think much of it until we we saw the High Wind Warning just as we started up the grade.  But how bad could it be after the winds we had been fighting all day?

I soon found out as it really started to howl and the rig started to rock sideways. It hit the side of the motorhome just right and I could see out the mirror as our slide out awning started to unwind and billow in the wind. I let off the gas and it snapped back in place. Just then a gust of wind hit me broadside and I could feel the entire vehicle moving sideways, I thought it was going to blow me over. I let off the gas again and gripped the steering wheel as it settled back down.

I had lost all momentum by now and limped slowly on up the mountain at about 25 mph cringing with every new gust. I was never so happy to pull off the road as when we reached the campground entrance at the top of the pass.

Going through Texas was an amazing journey right to the end.

It Really is Bigger in Texas

Let’s just go ahead and say it. Texas is BIG.

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.11.58 PM_1024

We spent an entire month in the Lone Star State and though we saw a huge variety of landscapes, small towns and bigger cities I still feel like we only saw a very small sliver of the state. 

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 11.52.34 AM_1024

Our route across Texas

Entering Texas from the east, Houston is a huge obstacle. Instead of dealing with the outer loops of interstates and toll roads we took I-10 right through the center.

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 3.49.57 PM_1024

It was mid afternoon so the early stages of rush hour slowed the traffic just enough so it wasn’t total craziness. The traffic was heavy but still moving steadily at about 35 mph.

Once we made it through the urban jungle of Houston, Texas opened up for us with acres of fresh spring grass and wildflowers everywhere. We caught the tail end of the Texas Bluebonnets, it must be awesome to see them in full bloom.


Shiner, Texas was our first stop. Shiner is the home of Shiner Beer and their signature beer, Shiner Bock. They were generous with the free samples following our brewery tour.




We had a really nice full hook-up campsite with a great view in a city park for only $20.00 per night.


Shiner was the first town we visited with the Old West cowtown feel to it.


We also surprised to learn about the huge and lasting influence that German, Czech and other eastern European immigrants have had on this part of Texas. The polka is alive and well in these parts which we learned while attending the Fiddler’s Frolic. The music was an interesting combination of country and polka but it sounded good. There was also a BBQ competition with dozens of BBQ teams and a huge concoction of different pits and cookers and offerings of all kinds of meat, sausage, stew and gumbo.



Smokin Hot All Female BBQ Team

Howard’s Convenience Store & Gas Station was on the way out of town as you go through Shiner. Passing by, you would never know that Howard’s was also a local watering hole with funky patio out back and plenty of Shiner beer on tap for $2.50 a pint.


Texas State University in San Marcos is home of the Wittliff Collection which features actual props, costumes, set designs and original photography from the filming of the Lonesome Dove TV mini-series. Let’s just say we are huge fans of Lonesome Dove. Robert Duvall’s portrayal of Gus McCrae has to be one of his all time best roles.


Blanco, Texas was our first home base for exploring the Texas Hill Country. The land up that way turned to rocky limestone with low brush, small oaks and juniper trees. We stayed at the state park alongside the Blanco River.


We took a ride to President Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home in Johnson City and his beloved Texas Whitehouse and LBJ Ranch along the Pedernales River in nearby Stonewall, Texas.


Boyhood home in Johnson City.


LBJ’s first school was this one room schoolhouse. His strong support of education during his presidency was inspired by lessons learned here.


The Texas White House. Many Cabinet meetings were held out under the shady oaks or around the pool.


LBJ Ranch prized Hereford cattle.


Small Presidential jet used to land on the airstrip at the ranch. LBJ called it Airforce 1-1/2.


Johnson family cemetery. Both LBJ and Ladybird are buried here. A very peaceful spot.


On our way back to camp in Blanco we swung by Luckenbach, Texas. A tiny town turned into a honky tonk music hall, bar, jam session type of place. Luckenbach was put on the map by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jenning’s song “Luckenbach, Texas”. Willie also hosted his annual 4th of July concert in Luckenbach for many years.



“Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach”
We relaxed with a cold beer and enjoyed the music.


Fredericksburg is pretty much the hub for the rest of the Texas Hill Country. It was a little too touristy for our tastes though. We did like the architectural style of the town, almost every home and business is built with sandy colored limestone blocks. We walked the main drag which is mostly high end shops, art galleries and souvenir type shops but it gets kind of boring if you’re not really in the market for anything they are offering.





Former Bank of Fredericksburg



Extra wide door and ramp for this former wagon and carriage shop



Catholic church

North of town is Enchanted Rock State Park, a 425 foot pink granite dome rising above the surrounding countryside. There are amazing views from the top and mini natural gardens sprouting out of small depressions in solid rock.



There is still so much of Texas to see, next post will be San Antonio and West Texas. Thanks for coming along!



Cajun Country

There are two main themes for most people who visit Cajun Country: food and music. The region, known as Acadiana for the original Acadian settlers who were forcibly relocated to Louisiana from Canada by the English, is rightfully famous for both.

We settled in for a week at Abbeville RV Park, a shady county campground about an hour south of Lafayette. John, our camp host, who oddly enough was from New Hampshire of all places, quickly gave us the low down on all the best restaurants and attractions in the area.

Our first stop was Avery Island, home of Tobasco hot sauce. They have a great museum explaining the history of McIlhenny Company, a fifth generation family owned business started in 1868. There is a great tour explaining the process used in growing the peppers and making the famous hot sauce.


The peppers are brined in a salt and vinegar mixture and aged in old Jack Daniels whisky barrels which are topped with salt to seal the barrels and keep out impurities. The salt is mined right on the property.


After aging, the mixture is blended in huge vats for consistency of flavor and sent on to the bottling line.



Tobasco is a brand recognized all over the world and every single bottle originates here at Avery Island.


All of their products, including Tobasco Ice Cream, were available for tasting and there were plentiful free samples to take home. We like free!

We enjoyed riding around the area. There was extensive agricultural land and not as much swampland as you might expect. 


There were a lot of sugar cane fields and we learned about crayfish farming. The rice fields are flooded and then seeded with crayfish which are harvested in traps set out in rows in the fields.


Rice is replanted in the fields after crayfish season. We made sure to do our part to support local industry with our own homemade crayfish boil.


While riding around out in the country we stopped in at Suire’s Grocery for lunch. Suire’s is a local hangout and a popular lunch stop for farmers and other workers.


The menu is also listed on the outside of the building.


Its reputation for real deal Cajun food was enhanced by a visit from Anthony Bourdain for his Parts Unknown TV show. I had the Turtle Sauce Piquant, a slightly spicy turtle stew served with a piece of fried catfish, rice and gravy, potato salad and bread all for $13.99. It was a  huge portion for a plate lunch and was a delicious choice for my first time trying a turtle dish.


We pretty much had our goal of experiencing Cajun food covered but still needed to hear some good Cajun music. John, our New Hampshire camp host came to the rescue by inviting us along to the Saturday jam at Calvin Touchet’s bar, a local hangout in nearby  Maurice, LA. The mixture of accordion, fiddle and country with all the singing in French was just right. Young and old got their turn on stage with lots of encouragement for the younger group. There is a real dedication to keep the Cajun culture and tradition alive.


We headed out of Acadiana with a final drive along the Gulf coast.


Our last night was spent right on the water at Rutherford Beach with free camping at a county park. Did I mention we like free? One sunset and a beautiful sunrise later we were on our way.



It was just a quick ferry ride, a first for The Breeze, and then a short drive to the Texas state line.


River’s End

Whenever I look at a map of the Gulf Coast I can’t help but notice that little whisp of land dangling down off the coast of Louisiana below New Orleans.

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 4.09.53 PM_1024

A closer look reveals the Mississippi River winding down through the bayous before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 4.16.19 PM_1024

I can’t help wondering what is down there where the road ends and finding out made for a very interesting motorcycle ride.

We started with a short ferry ride across the Mississippi. The current was moving fast with huge logs and debris floating by. The wind was up raising big swells and whitecaps to the roiling current. You quickly realize that this stretch of river isn’t for the beginning boater or the faint of heart.





Route 23 follows the the west side of the Mississippi and even though you are never more than a few hundred yards from the river you can’t see it. The land is so close to sea level that the river must be contained in a continuous levee system to avoid constant flooding.


We stopped in a few spots, climbed up the levee to watch the river traffic go by.


Signs of civilization dwindled as we made our way south. The hurricanes had taken their toll on the area but a few small towns managed to hang on. We saw lots of industrial areas dealing with the offshore oil industry – small ports, ship repair and bases for the workers being shuttled out to the oil rigs by helicopter.


The difference between water and land soon becomes questionable as can be seen on the maps. The road ends at Venice with Pilottown and Port Eads only accessible by boat.

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 4.16.05 PM_1024

thumb_Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 5.30.45 PM_1024

We ended our trip at the Venice Marina, popular with charter fisherman. We even had to ride through a few sections of flooded road to reach the marina. The road continued on past with only towers and gas flares visible in the distance.



The trip back involved another ferry ride dodging heavy river traffic. The spray from breaking their wakes was splashing over the bow of the ferry making for a very exciting ride home.





New Orleans

We’ve been pretty busy with new places and experiences so it has been difficult to keep up sharing with you. I’ll try a few posts with more pictures than words in an attempt to catch up.

We spent about five days at St. Bernard State park just outside New Orleans. Unknowingly, our visit fell right in the middle of French Quarter Fest with tons of free music on various stages throughout the French Quarter and riverside area.  Notice the massive tanker heading down the Mississippi just behind the stage in one of the pictures.




We got to revisit some of favorites from a past vacation to the city. The Gumbo Shop has tables in a cozy little interior courtyard with great Cajun and Creole food at reasonable prices. The bread pudding was delicious!



Cafe du Monde is a required stop in New Orleans with sugary sweet, freshly made beignets along with a cup of cafe au lait.


Walking around the Quarter is always a treat with all kinds of free street musicians and beautiful buildings.


We drove into the city three days, managing to find free parking every time with just a bit of a walk from the outlying neighborhoods. New Orleans is a city where you return time after time and count on always finding something new.



Beach to Biloxi

We spent a few more days in Florida, camping in a great location at the Ft. Walton Beach Elks Lodge. The beach was right across the road within easy walking distance. I caught a nice sunset one evening and we had some nice long walks on the beach.


We took a ride along the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores National Seashore on our way to Pensacola to see the National Naval Aviation Museum. The museum has a dizzying array of all kinds of naval aircraft from the early 1900’s up to present day. The Pensacola Naval Air Station is also home to the Blue Angels.


The day we left Ft. Walton Beach we caught a glimpse of the Blue Angels practice session with their contrails arching and looping across the sky as we drove along I-10.


We arrived in Biloxi by crossing the scenic Biloxi Bay Bridge on U.S. 90. The beautiful bridge we were driving on had been totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, along with a good portion of the city. Pictures of the damage show sections of roadway stacked up like a deck of cards after being lifted off the pilings by the powerful  tides. The after effects of Katrina were evident all the way to New Orleans, almost 100 miles farther down the coast.


Our destination for the night was the Golden Nugget Casino which is just over the bridge in a nice spot next to a city park and marina. This would be our first experience with casino camping. Just like Walmart, many casinos encourage overnight camping in hopes that you’ll go on and drop a few, or more than a few, bucks in the slot machines.

They don’t know us very well because we didn’t spend a dime on the one armed bandits. We did enjoy the free parking though – at least until 9 a.m. the next morning when we were visited by the Biloxi Police Department. The officer was very friendly but told us that the parking lot was part of the adjoining park and therefore on city property and overnight parking was not allowed. Apparently there has been a lack of communication between the city and casino management and the Golden Nugget should not be encouraging overnight parking. It really didn’t matter at that point because we were just about ready to leave anyway.

We stopped at the Biloxi Visitors Center on our way out of town. They have a cool little lighthouse that survived the hurricane out front along the water that actually sits in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of U.S. 90.


The beach in front of the lighthouse was the site of the 1960 Wade-In protest, an attempt by black protesters to integrate the public beach where they were not allowed. The counter protest led to a bloody riot while police stood by doing little to stop the violence. The beaches of Biloxi weren’t legally integrated until 1968.

There was also a nearby display of Katrina Sculptures. More than 20 of these creative sculptures were crafted from the remains of stately old live oaks that were devastated and killed by the winds and saltwater surge of Hurricane Katrina. All sorts of birds and sea life native to the area were integrated into the natural twists and curves of the remaining tree branches, creating something beautiful from the devastation left by the storm.


Many of the old historic homes along the waterfront have disappeared. The businesses and casinos have been rebuilt but few homes. There are still long stretches of open lots along the waterfront running all the way into Gulfport and beyond.

We continued on U.S. 90 into Louisiana where the natural marshes and bayous began. There were a few small towns but this stretch of road was pretty isolated and uninhabited except for some fishing camps. The road conditions on U.S. 90 turned into about the worst we have encountered so far.

The pavement was rough, broken up and patched. Everything in the motorhome, including my teeth, seemed to rattle and shake with every bump in the road. The lanes were narrow with no shoulder to speak of and we just squeaked by on some rusty old drawbridges with low weight signs.

Screen Shot 2019-05-08

The gusty winds made it even more interesting but luckily the road was mostly straight and there was very little traffic to contend with. Nonetheless, it was a relief to pull into St. Bernard State Park on the outskirts of New Orleans where we would spend the next few days.



We left Cross Creek on April 2nd and set out for the Gulf Coast along the Panhandle. We have experienced a large portion of our new home state during our three winters in Florida with the exception of the Panhandle.

Our first stop was in the small town of Panacea. We spent two nights at Panacea RV Park, an older pretty basic campground. The next day we set out for a motorcycle ride along the coast to Apalachicola. A visit to this small town at the mouth of the Apalachicola River had long been on our radar mostly because it’s such a fun word to say.

Apalachicola has a small downtown area with shops and restaurants along the riverfront. One of our destinations, the Apalachicola Maritime Museum ended up being closed due to severe damage from Hurricane Michael last October. The lasting effects of hurricanes turned out to be a theme as we made our way along the Gulf Coast.


We also visited two small state parks in town. The Orman House Historic State Park features the 1838 home of Thomas Orman who helped establish Apalachicola as a major cotton port in the mid-1800’s. Cotton would be transported down the river from the interior of Georgia so it could be shipped out to the rest of the world.


Railroads doomed its long term use as a port and Apalachicola evolved into a fishing village and a major source of delicious oysters found in Apalachicola Bay.


The John Gorrie museum details the efforts of Dr. Gorrie in developing the first viable ice making machine in 1851. Gorrie’s motivation was to alleviate the effects of yellow fever epidemics common in the area. At the time it wasn’t understood that yellow fever was a mosquito borne disease. Instead it was thought to be carried in the foul, tropical, humid air. Dr. Gorrie reasoned that providing his patients with clean, cool air might prevent infection and ease the symptoms of those already infected.

His theory worked indirectly without really knowing why. The cooler air did make controlling the fever easier and made patients more comfortable at the same time isolating them from reinfection because they were in closed rooms away from the swarms of mosquitoes. Little did Dr. Gorrie know that the basic design of his ice machine would later give birth to the modern air conditioner that we now take for granted.

We managed to get the last walk in site at St. George Island State Park which is way out on the barrier island protecting Apalachicola Bay. The island has huge dunes of pure white sand and miles of natural beach on the Gulf of Mexico.



The St. George Island Lighthouse is the centerpiece of the commercial district on the island. This is the third lighthouse on the island, two previous lights have been swept away by hurricanes. The current lighthouse, built in 1853, almost suffered a similar fate.


The lighthouse did indeed collapse in 2005 after storms and erosion washed the beach out from under it. Residents salvaged whatever bricks and ironwork they could, manually chipped away and cleaned mortar from the bricks and rebuilt the lighthouse on its new site within three years using only private donations and fundraisers. The woman at the small museum said that it represented a lot of bake sales!


Salvaged remains of the collapsed lighthouse

The salvaged bricks line the interior of the lighthouse and molds were made of the old ironwork to recast new pieces. 

Our route took us west on U.S. 90 through Mexico Beach, Florida. This small beach town was the epicenter of Hurricane Michael’s path. The damage was devastating and still very evident six months later. Almost every remaining structure showed signs of damage and piles of demolition debris and torn up pavement lined the roadway.


Many homes looked as though they hadn’t even been touched since the storm with their sides or roofs ripped away and still open to the weather with furniture and fixtures visible through the gaping holes. Some were totally swept off their foundations and there were many, many empty lots where homes were just gone, totally destroyed by the wind and water. It was a depressing landscape as we drove through on a dark, rainy day. It is easy to see that it will be years before the area recovers.

Catastrophic damage was still visible as we passed through Tyndall Air Force Base and into the outskirts of Panama City. Things hadn’t progressed much here even with the full resources available to our military. Large hangars, maintenance buildings and base housing still showed major signs of damage. Business signs in the area were blown out or knocked over; blue tarps were everywhere on homes and businesses to protect structures from the weather until repairs can be made.


The damage eased as we drove west through Panama City and crossed onto Panama City Beach. Our mood improved in the morning when we pulled into a beachside parking lot for breakfast with a new view of blue sky, white sand and gentle waves.


We would again be reminded of the damage hurricanes can cause as we approached Biloxi, Mississippi a few days later.

Winter Workamping in Cross Creek

Mary Ann stayed in Virginia after Christmas to take on daycare duties for Hawthorne while his usual provider went to visit family back in Europe. I returned to Florida just before New Years and got started on our next Workamping assignment. When we were in Ocala last March we had arranged a three month stay volunteering at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek, Fl.

We had visited the park during our first winter in Florida and fell in love with the place so jumped at the chance to have an extended stay actually living right there on the property. See our post from that visit here: Cross Creek

Marjorie Rawlings is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling, among other works. Her book Cross Creek is a memoir of her life in this tiny, isolated village from 1938 until her death in 1953.

This was our first opportunity volunteering for the Florida State Park system. Most of their parks require 20 hours of work in exchange for a campsite with full hookups. Our site was awesome, tucked back into the jungle, very quiet and private.

We had a three day work week with four days in a row off to explore the area. We usually worked from 8:30 until 4:00 or so in the afternoon. We were scheduled for more than 20 hours but it all worked out. We enjoyed a nice long lunch out on the front porch of the house and took plentiful water breaks to rest from the heat or just to sit around chatting with our coworkers to learn more about Marjorie’s life, work and experiences here at the Creek.

There was plenty of time to walk around sampling the many different varieties of oranges. Some trees had tastier fruit than others and it was important to be able to point our visitors to the better trees. I must have eaten ten oranges a day working on this important research. I’m surprised I didn’t overdose on vitamin C. There were also tangerines, grapefruit and one kumquat tree to keep me busy.

The tenant house porch was great place to take a break

We would get started each morning with taking care of the small flock of chickens and ducks. We would clean the pens, gather eggs and clean and refill feeders and water cans. The small pond in the duck pen also had to be drained and cleaned each morning. 

After that our main responsibility was caring for the vegetable and flower garden. The previous volunteers had done a great job getting the garden started so it was just a matter of maintenance for us. Weeding and watering through the winter kept the garden looking really nice.

The orange grove was what originally brought Marjorie Rawlings to Cross Creek so we also spent some time maintaining the small grove that remains at the park. That consisted of scuffle hoeing around the base of the trees to control weeds and picking up fallen fruit. We had an early bloom on the orange trees so once that started we had to pull last years fruit off of the trees. We also did the spring fertilizing just before we left.

The farmhouse was open for tours Thursday through Sunday and it wasn’t long before Mary Ann was leading tours through the house while dressed in her 1930’s era dress and apron. Sometimes we would have large groups and I would help with the tours, usually stationed in the guest bedroom. There were interesting and humorous stories to tell in each room.

Our three months there flew by with no complaints except for the multitude of mosquitoes that would invade every night at dusk. It became our bedtime ritual to hunt down all the skeeters that had found their way inside.We got some kayaking in and a bit of fishing on Cross Creek, the River Styx and Orange Lake.

We made day trips to some of the surrounding State Parks such as Silver Spring, Payne’s Prairie, Dudley Farm and Ravine Gardens. We even got to see an old time cattle drive through downtown Ocala for their Cowboy Roundup festival

Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park
Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Cracker Cattle Drive through downtown Ocala

We met with our friends Mark and Monika a couple times for lunch and made it to Daytona Bike Week for a day. Right before we left Scott and Sandy, our friends from Massachusetts, came down and spent a couple days with us and then we joined them and Scott’s parents for a beach day at Caledesi Island near Dunedin, Florida.

The season started to turn towards spring and as we helped to get the summer garden started it was time for us to move on, having made some good friends and many good memories at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.

We didn’t have any future job obligations so started on a slow journey westward to explore new territory.

We’ll keep you posted!

Classic RV’s

Here are a couple recent additions to the Classic RV page on this blog

Serro Scotty seen at Silver Spring State Park, FL

GMC Motorhome, rest area on I-75 near Ocala, Fl

These were made and sold by GMC between 1973 and 1978. They still have a futuristic look 40 years later. They were front wheel drive, built with aluminum frames and fiberglass body panels.. There are a surprising number of these still on the road but not in the amazing condition this one was.