Naval Live Oaks A 30 lb Red Fish On My Penultimate Day


Sunday May 6.

I’m on my way on my penultimate day leaving Slidell, Louisiana at 8.45 on a lovely sunny, blue skied morning and the temperature has already climbed to 76F (24.44C) and soon I join my old friend I-10 going east. About 45 minutes later I have crossed the state line into Mississippi and it must have been raining quite hard earlier on as the highway is pretty damp and spray is being kicked up by the vehicles ahead of me. However, the sky is clear and all is well as 75 miles later I cross over the Pascagoula river basin which is a large area that from the elevated highway spreads almost as far as the eye can see. To the south I can just see an industrial area of some kind with some shipping and to the north it’s swampland and near the horizon it appears to become forested. Eighty seven miles into my journey and I have left Mississippi and crossed into Alabama. One hundred and thirty miles and I see the impressive skyline of Mobile and shortly enjoy a view of the Battleship SS Alabama which I described earlier in my blog and you can view the photographs in my photostream on Flickr, please see the panel on the right hand side of this blog. Having passed Battleship Park I get a great view of the river flowing into the Gulf of Mexico which I did not see at the beginning of my journey as it can only be seen from this side of the highway! The Gulf is at peace, it’s an absolute flat calm without a ripple troubling the boaters out there enjoying the water. One hundred and fifty-four miles on and I have crossed the state line into Florida and I now recognise that this is my penultimate day of my road trip and I suddenly feel excited at the prospect of seeing Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) and arriving back in Lakewood Ranch tomorrow but now back on with the day. At Pensacola I leave the Interstate system and take the coastal road heading for todays destination of Panama City Beach. En route I pass through the small town of Gulf Breeze and I’m motoring on a two lane highway through the Naval Live Oak Reservation. This area was designated in 1828 by President Quincy Adams as the First Federal Tree Farm. This was an important area at that time as the Live Oak, which is a member of the beech family was used in the construction of tall ships. As many as two thousand Live Oaks were used to make one hull for a naval vessel!  As I continue along US 98 the landscape becomes a strip development of hotels and shops with an occasional view of the gulf.

A little further on I leave US98 and cross over a causeway bridge to Navarre and having parked the car I pay the princely sum of $1 for the privilege of walking along the lengthy fishing pier that was constructed in 2010. As I commence my $1 walk I view from the pier on my right hand side a bunch of not very attractive high-rise condominiums and to my left a brilliant white busy beach filled with the Sunday afternoon crowd relaxing, taking some rays! This part of the Gulf of Mexico is fed by a current that brings a prolific quantity of nutrients which colours the water a lovely shade of green which gives rise to the nickname for this part of the coast as “The Emerald Coast”. The throng of anglers on the pier are having a very busy time as they haul in what almost seems to be one fish after another and as I walk towards the end of the pier I find myself dodging anglers making their casts. The flying rods seem to be landing fish with a resounding thump at my feet as I continue to tread delicately over the writhing fish before they are scooped up by the anglers, de-hooked and returned to the ocean deep. I have just encountered an angler who has just returned a 35 pound Redfish to the sea as it was too big to keep! The angler would only be permitted to keep his catch of this variety provided the fish weighed not less than 18 pounds and not more that 27 pounds so, over the side of the pier this one went. Well, that not strictly true. This huge fish was gently lowered in a net to the ocean beneath the pier and then released from its captivity and some people think this is fun! All in all I think my $1 fee was good value. However, if I had been a fisherman I would have had to have paid $2! A little further on I break for lunch at Beasley Park in Ocaloosee Island and sit in a pavilion overlooking the beach. Having enjoyed my lunch I continue my journey and arrive at my destination at Panama City Beach for the night and tomorrow I start my final day of my journey and I’m now looking forward to returning to my American home.

For the techies out there mileage covered today was 290.1 at an average of 46.4 mpg and achieved 22.2 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

New Orleans


This morning I had a lazy lie in followed by a run and now at 9:45 I have left Slidell and on my way to New Orleans and the temperature is already 83F (28.33C).I enter New Orleans by crossing a very long bridge over Lake Portrain and stopped at The Basin Street Visitor Information Centre and as my time is limited I had a chat with a very nice lady who gave me the essential list to see and I managed to do most of it!

I have taken quite a lot of photographs today so below is just a sample and the rest can be viewed by clicking on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side.

My first stop is to walk across the street to the St. Louis Cemetery which was certainly unusual and I was particularly struck by a pyramid shaped tomb which was greatly admired! I returned to my car and drove through part of the French Quarter and parked down by the river.

It’s now really very hot as I start my walk through the French Quarter which has an interesting architecture and is full of bars, restaurants, tourist shops etc. However, this generally very attractive place is marred by an all pervading offensive odor of rotting waste which made me feel very queasy. The people who were eating and drinking there must have a stronger stomach than me! I made it back to the river in time to take a two hour cruise on the steam boat Natches that had a live Jazz band where I had an adequate lunch. The cruise took us down through the port of New Orleans which, according to the narrator was the largest in the world in terms of tonnage, Amsterdam in Holland being number 2 and New York number 3. It was certainly an industrial area but I’m not convinced that his figures may be entirely accurate. In any event it was a pleasant respite being able to sit in the shade with a glass of iced tea as the industrial scene slipped by. It was an interesting experience and not at all what I had expected.

Having left the ferry it was the end of my day in New Orleans and I decided to return to my hotel in Slidell rather than spend the evening in New Orleans in order to be away from the smell of the French Quarter.

For the techies out there mileage today was 67.9 miles at an average speed of 31.6 mph and achieved 21.3 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleloo!

Slidell Sweet Potato Stuffed With Cinnamon Butter With Melted Roast Marshmallows.


Friday 4 May.

Today was my second longest drive of the trip and unfortunately, the most uneventful. I left Dallas just after 9 am with the temperature at 73F in heavy traffic. After 175 miles I’ve crossed over from Texas to Louisiana and shortly afterwards I stop at a Louisiana rest area and information centre. Louisiana takes tourism seriously and every centre I’ve visited has been well presented with helpful staff and always free, freshly brewed, excellent coffee. This state is much greener that the parts of Texas that I’ve driven through and much prettier. For a more detailed description of this part of my route please refer to my earlier post “Houston, We have a problem!” Finally I reached my destination Slidell after a very long drive. At the hotel I decided to dine at the restaurant next door but we had a power outage that affected the entire block. So, by accident I ended up dining at The Texas Roadhouse. I sat at the bar having walked across thousands of peanut shells on the floor and was greeted by Steve the barman who must have been an ex marine. He was certainly built like one and at the end of every sentence, conducted at parade ground volume he would finish off with a very loud “Yes Suh!” However, my steak was excellent and the sweet potato stuffed with cinnamon butter and then covered in melted roasted marshmallows (Steve’s recommendation) was indescribable and I left the restaurant several pounds heavier.

For the techies out there the mileage covered today was 541.8 at an average of 62.9 mph and achieved 23.7mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Houston, We have a problem!


Well not exactly but more of that later. I awoke this morning bright and early and had a short run (nearly two miles) around Battleship Park in Mobile, Alabama. A lovely way to start the day, the sun was up and after showering I enjoyed a some Eggs Benedict and off in the car with my destination being Houston.

Just twenty-nine miles later I crossed over the state line from Alabama to Mississippi. Almost immediately the scenery changed from the majestic oaks of Alabama to that of a wetlands area similar to the Everglades in Florida but not as flat!

I decided to take a break at about 100 miles of driving and at 104 miles I found myself at The NASA facility in Hancock County. So, I thought that I would take a look. I was exceptionally disappointed, not because of the quality of the exhibit but because I was denied entry to the tour because I did not have my UK passport with me! I have never been asked for it at Space Kennedy Centre in Florida and I telephoned and checked with the NASA facility in Houston and they do not require me to show my passport. Bizarre! Oh, well!

Just down the road I stopped at a road side rest area and it was one of the finest buildings I have seen. It was just like an antebellum house, beautifully presented. Have a look at the photograph at the end of this post.

Fourteen miles later and I’ve crossed the state line into Louisiana. The countryside has changed again to a vast collection of swamp like waterways. If you have ever watched Swamp People on the History Channel you will get the idea. Having gone through Baton Rouge I went over an incredibly long piece of suspended roadway above the Atchafalaya river basin (the largest river basin in the USA covering nearly a million acres) and stopped at its visitor centre. This looks like a fascinating area and one that I would like to spend some time in at some point in the near future to view the enormous array of wildlife.

After traveling a total of 280 miles the swampland completely disappears and becomes cultivated farmland which extends a considerable distance. Eighty miles further on and I have started to run into some ominous looking very dark clouds. Seven miles further on and I cross the state line into Texas. Traveling on the Interstate through Beaumont you can smell the petrochemical plants as well as see them. It’s an alien, industrial, ugly landscape.Having left the city limits it started to lightly rain. By 4.15 pm the sky is nearly black and I have seen forked lightning on the horizon.

I decided to answer the call of nature and stopped at a road side rest area near Orange. Just as I was about to leave a family arrived in their open truck and started carrying in their golf apparel into the rest area building. They had heard a severe weather warning on the wireless, 60 mph winds, hail, thunder etc and it was about to arrive. I felt it prudent to wait with them and indeed the storm blew in with boiling clouds, strong winds, thunder, lightning and heavy rain but no hail stones. The good thing was that the storm washed all the bugs off the front of my Corvette! Soon, the rain had eased and I was able to continue my journey.

The last 45 minutes of my journey on T146 South, which is a regular four lane highway, was fairly difficult due to the levels of surface water and the quantity of traffic so, I was really pleased to arrive at my hotel. A quick wash & brush up and I walked across to a local restaurant and dined on stuffed Jalapeños and a platter of grilled mixed fish.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the forecast promises to be good. For the techies out there I have covered today 475.10 miles at an average speed of 63.4 mph and achieved an average of 22.3 mpg.

To my next post, toodleloo!