Catch Our RV Journey on YouTube!

The journey itself might be over, and our “A Year On The Road” RV adventure is officially in the books, but you can still catch up with all the excitement and intrigue on our YouTube channel, which now has almost 100 snapshot videos of different aspects of the trip in the bag.

Javelinas! Jevelinas! Finally, we get to see Javelinas!

From Pictured Rocks National Seashore in Michigan to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, plus dozens of fascinating places and experiences in between, this is our chance to wow you with the visuals of this epic RV journey across 23 states.

Our latest contribution is all about those elusive Javelinas in Texas, but you’ll also find recent videos that highlight the vibrant Historic Market Square in San Antonio, Big Bend National Park and a stunning tequila sunset in New Mexico.

Check it all out on this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP5dY0TcznDGkOY8BQUkpQg

The stunning Natural Bridge Caverns just north of San Antonio featured in a recent snapshot video

A Year On The Road – The Final Maps

Back in Orlando again, it’s time to tot up the final mileage and trace our entire route (in 2 maps) around the US. We reached West Glacier, Montana, at our furthest distance from Orlando at almost 2,700 miles away, albeit we reached there via a distinctly circuitous route that involved fully 12 states!

The first 7 months saw us take in by far the biggest ‘chunk’ of our year-long route, including side-trips into Colorado and Southern California by car, as well as parts of Northern Arizona and New Mexico

The “return journey” from there was also far from a straight line, taking in another 10 states before completing what was essentially a giant circle of the Midwest, the North, South West and Southern states. For much of the last 5 months we were close to the Gulf of Mexico before coming back into Florida via Pensacola and the Panhandle area, where we were definitely able to relax a bit (albeit keeping more than one eye on staying out of the way of some seriously stormy weather).

The final five months took us from the heart of New Mexico down to the far south-western corner of Texas, then right around the Gulf of Mexico via Galveston, New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulf Shores

So, with no further ado and a bit of a fanfare – “Ta RA!!!!!” – our final mileage comes to, wait for it…35,186 miles since we left home on May 14, 2023. In our RV, Fati, we traveled a total distance of 9,846 miles, while in our trusty little Ford Fiesta, Nippy, we added a whopping additional 25,840.

Somehow, we’re all still in one piece, albeit Fati has been in for several repairs and 2 full services, while Nippy is heading for a fourth service today and has needed new tires, windshield wipers and two air filters (!). Needless to say, we are immensely proud of our Ford-engined Winnebago RV, as well as our little Fiesta, and they both now deserve a good rest.

Finally back in Florida, we spent a quiet week in a beautiful little RV campground in Milton in the Panhandle before turning south for the last leg of the year-long trip

Will we have more travels to report anytime soon? The debate is now on at Chez Veness! We DO have a fair bit of work to catch up on first, but there is already talk of an East Coast RV tour, as well as a possible trip out West to the areas we missed this time, namely Washington, Oregon and Northern California, as well as more of Colorado.

So, stay tuned for further travel bulletins, and, if you have liked and enjoyed our blogs, please leave us a comment and be sure to check out our YouTube channel for a series of snapshot videos of the trip on this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP5dY0TcznDGkOY8BQUkpQg

Bye for now…!

What We Learned During Our Twelfth Month On The Road

Today marks one full year (plus two days) since we locked the door to our house in Florida for a year-long adventure in an RV. Here’s what we learned during the past month:

Humidity = sweat, and when you’re covered in sweat for three days because you don’t have sewer hookups so you can’t dump a gray tank full of shower water, air conditioning cannot penetrate the sweaty build-up. When you do have full hookups again and you take a shower, that layer of pure, unadulterated evil is wiped away, and you are once again kissed by the cooling breath of your sweet, sweet A/C. This is what bliss is made of.

But you’re in Florida now, so that feeling doesn’t last long.

At 50 weeks into a 52-week trip, Simon JUST discovered his laptop has a built-in editing program. All those videos he’s done that could use editing, but our expensive editing program is back on his computer at home? They could have been glorious viewing comparable to the stuff of Spielberg and Scorsese.

To be fair, he’s only had the laptop for a few months, but still.

We prefer not to be camped near unhappy tiny-humans who wile away their entire three-day vacation screaming things like, “I don’t WANT the sand washed off my feet!” and “I don’t WANT to go inside now!” Usually,we love kids. Adore them, even. We have discovered, however, we always love 55+ campgrounds where the only whines are spelled “wine,” and it’s a pleasure to hear your neighbors suggest you join them for some.

When you hit I-75, an interstate you know so well you could drive it blind, tears will flow. When you remember your final four days of this grand, exciting, confounding, eye-opening adventure will be spent at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Campground, happiness will be restored.

We’ve learned we could happily live in the mountains if not for the snow. We could happily live in the desert if not for the sand storms. We would be thrilled to live along the Gulf coast if not for the hurricanes. There is so much we love about each state we’ve visited, but always there is “one thing” that doesn’t make them a strong contender for a move away from Florida. Florida has that “one thing” (two really; horrible humidity and…well…politics) that makes us want to move. Everything else – literally everything else – makes us want to stay. And we didn’t know that before this month, and this trip.

It’s true. Home is where the heart is. Over the course of a year, we came to feel that Fati is our home, and everywhere we have visited now holds a special place in our hearts. Connection, appreciation of differences, and a deeper understanding of yourself; these are the priceless gift of travel. We will treasure these lessons forever.

Thank you for making this journey with us!

Riding The Storm Out


There are times when getting from Point A to Point B is a functional undertaking, and the Interstate gets you there quickly. Then there are times when the scenery is so appealing, the slow roll along a small road is worth the effort. Our trip from Waveland to Biloxi was one such drive, and we ended up taking the road less traveled three times during our stay, twice with great pleasure and once as a torturous, screaming nightmare.

Highway 90, our old friend from previous drives, gave us a non-stop view of the Gulf of Mexico as we made our way to Biloxi in Fati, and, for a change, we planned ahead and had sandwiches ready for a beachside lunch.


With our windows open and a glorious sea-salt breeze blowing through the rig, we soaked up the bliss even as we ruled the Gulf coast out as a place we could live. One thing we’d hoped to discover during our Year on the Road was a place we could be happy settling down when we’re ready to leave Florida. We’d come so close a few times, but hadn’t yet found just the right fit.

Biloxi Bay RV Resort and Marina was certainly the right fit for the next week, situated right on the bay, with mature pine trees that give it the feel of a genuine “camping” experience. There’s something about pine trees that makes a campground feel…I dunno…cozy, I guess.


Our first day trip took us out to Davis Bayou for a hike along the trails, and while the man at the Visitor Center recommended two trails we could take Ruthie on, they proved to be hard going and didn’t lead to a big pay-off at the end (like a lake, or some other scenic “Wow!”).


Our little girl’s harness used to fit her. Now she’s shrinking.

As we were heading out of the park in Nippy after our walk, we detoured down a small road just beyond the Visitor Center and found a big inlet with kayakers and boats and guys fishing with rods and with nets, and a Blue Heron named Reggie. Score!




We chatted with the fishermen about their catches, how long they’d been fishing the inlet (forever), and any dining we shouldn’t miss while we were in the area. One of them mentioned TatoNuts, and the exchange between him and his cousin went like this:

Him: TatoNuts has the best donuts. They’re like no other donuts.

Cousin: That’s because they’re made with potatoes.

Him: No, they’re not.

Cousin: Yes, they are. That’s why they’re TatoNuts. It’s the “tato” part of TatoNuts.

So, of course, we got some. The line to get in was out the door, and while only a few of their donuts were made with ‘tatoes, we couldn’t taste the ‘tato in the nuts we bought, but still agreed they were yummy, made even better by the fact the owners seem to be Disney fans, if the photos on the wall were anything to go by.



We spent the next day at home, eager to see the event the whole country was talking about. We were forecast to have an 89% solar eclipse view, with just 3% cloud cover. What we got was a zero percent view with 100% cloud cover and pouring-down rain.


But it didn’t dampen our spirits. We turned on the TV and watched the coverage from all over the country, and were thrilled each time a massive cheer went up from those who did get a great view. We take our joy where we can find it!


But the weather wasn’t done with us yet. A massive, dangerous storm was rolling our way, with a forecast of tornadoes, golf-ball sized hail, and wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour or more. We’ve ridden out big storms before, but with the threat of flooding and tornadoes, we made a snap decision to get out of harm’s way, which was 300 miles and two states east, in Tallahassee, Florida.


The extent of the storm’s reach meant we couldn’t get out of the way quickly enough in Fati. We’ve already described on our Facebook page the awfulness of leaving her – our home and our friend – so I won’t go over it again. We spent two nights in a hotel, got sandwiches and salads at Buc-Ee’s twice, and the reunion with Fati was sweet when we returned and found her totally undamaged.

After five visits to Buc Ee’s, what hasn’t he tried yet?

The next day dawned bright, so we visited Mississippi State Sandhill Crane Wildlife Preserve and did a one-mile hike. We didn’t see any Sandhill Cranes, but we have them in our yard in Orlando, so it wasn’t a loss. We did see tiny Spring flowers starting to bloom, and were reminded of the start of this big adventure, when those same flowers were our roadside companions.

The visitor center had a few bird displays, so we didn’t strike out completely.

As we drove back along Highway 90 toward Biloxi, the eastbound lane was funneled down to one lane with traffic cones, and every turn-off for several miles was blocked by police cars and barriers. Police and sheriffs from neighboring towns drove up and down the cordoned-off lanes. No one was getting off that road, and traffic was slowed to a crawl or less. What in the living hell was going on?


Our hour-long conversation progressed along the lines of A) This looks like they’re trying to find someone. Human trafficking, maybe? Or drug dealers? B) Is there a terrible accident ahead? Can’t be that, since the traffic cones and barriers were set up well in advance, and there are miles of it. C) Is this…an event? Why all the firetrucks and ambulances and police? Maybe a protest? What day is this? It is an anniversary of some terrible thing? D) It’s got to be a protest of some kind. Every single person we’ve seen for miles has been Black, and roughly the same age. What the hell has Biloxi done to them?



It was none of that. When we returned to Fati and looked it up on the news, we discovered it was Black Spring Break. Black Spring Break (a.k.a. Black Beach) draws Black college students from all over Mississippi to the Gulfport/Biloxi area, for the chance to have a fabulous few days of fun while also remembering the state’s dark days of segregation, and subsequent desegregation of Harrison County’s beaches spurred by the 1959-1963 “wade-ins” that took place right where Black Spring Break unfolded in front of us.


Why the massive amount of law enforcement and emergency medical services? In 2023, a shooter injured five people during the event, including a police officer. This year was not going to see a repeat of that violence. What we saw was thousands of college kids enjoying a gorgeous day at the beach. And while the roadblocks slowed us down immensely, we were thrilled to have seen it once we knew what it was, and what it meant.

During the rest of our stay in Biloxi, we poodled around with no particular plan, other than paying a visit to the local institution where everyone goes for barbeque, even though it’s freaky and jam-packed and it looks like it hasn’t had a good clean since Hector was a pup. Longer, even. Like, maybe, never.

Oh my lord gawd sweet baby Jesus!

The Shed is the sort of place Susan doesn’t even want to drive past. The kind of place where the likelihood of food poisoning appears to be high. But travel makes people brave, so in we went.


We were the only ones wearing masks (of course we were!), so we got suspicious looks, but who were these people to judge us? They stuck dollar bills to the ceiling with plastic forks, and most of the floor inside is just gravel, so nuh-uh! They don’t get to judge!



We split half of a Combo Platter of smoked turkey, bbq ribs, sweet potato casserole, and collard greens (with the odd but apparently obligatory slices of thick white bread on the side), and saved the rest for later. Every single bit was fantastic. Fall-off-the-bone ribs, moist and meaty turkey, the kind of sweet potato deliciousness you wish you could recreate at home, and collard greens that make your eyes roll back in your head and your mouth make “yummy” sounds.


It was all going so well until an employee brought out the bread pudding Simon forgot to grab at the pick-up window, and when we said how scrummy it all was, she said, “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never eaten here.”

It’s not what you want to hear when you’re sitting at a restaurant that appears not to put the slightest emphasis on hygiene, but since the number of days it takes to suffer from food poisoning has already passed as I type this, I’m just going to say she’s really missing out.

Let’s Do A Little FAQ


We’ve had several questions from readers about our trip, this lifestyle, and more, so we’ve put together a little FAQ, in case you’ve been wondering.

I love Ruthie! What’s her story?
We wanted to bring an older rescue dog into our family to give him or her the best final years possible, and Houndhaven had just the right girl for us. It was taking some time for her to get adopted, partly because, according to a Houndhaven volunteer, she “didn’t show well,” (she’s was not overly affectionate to people she didn’t know, at least to start with) but she fit into our family right from the start.

She went through a period of extreme illness shortly after we got her, and during the process of trying to figure out what was going on, the specialist vet told us she appeared to be between the ages of seven and nine, which puts her between 16 and 18 now (we’re pretty sure she’s 16; there’s no way she’s 18). She’s 60% a sweetheart, 30% moody intellectual, 10% diva, and she makes us laugh a lot. Mostly.


Why are you doing a year on the road in an RV?
We’re at an age where, if we don’t see this wonderful country now, we’re not likely to ever see it. We’ve done most of Europe, we’ve been to Africa and South America, and while Asia and other locations are on our list, now was the time for the U.S.

We’ve also spent a lot of time on “other people’s schedule” for our work and in our personal lives, so this was a chance to decide where we wanted to go, when, and for how long.


How can you stand being together all the time in such a small space?
We’re used to it, and we thrive on it. We’re one of those couples who loves being together, and we feel “half-alive” when we’re apart. We have our moments, but they’re rare, and they’re moments. Not only do we love each other, we’re also best friends. It’s a pretty good combination.


How did you come up with those ridiculous names for your vehicles?
It’s a gift! Well, maybe not a gift, but the names did just come to us. Our RV got her name before we bought her, when we were talking about names other RVers have given their rigs, and Susan mentioned a couple and their young son who are doing 15 years traveling around the world in a small jeep they named Dauntless (check them out on YouTube under Hourless Life. They’re incredible!). Simon said, “Let’s call ours Indefatigable.” Susan said, “Yes! And we can call her Fati for short! Hahahahaha!” Perfection, isn’t it?

Nippy got her name when our next-door neighbors in Florida were telling us how much they liked their Ford Fiesta. They named theirs Zippy, and when we bought ours (because our Mazda can’t be flat-towed, and that was important to us), we named her Nippy in their honor. The comedic value of that moniker has been priceless (at least for us; we think we’re hilarious).


How do you choose where you’re going?
We had a “blue sky” itinerary when we started, the result of about four years of research. It covered most of the major highlights west of Florida and Michigan, such as National Parks, scenic spots, oddities, and fabulous cities. Part of our goal was to see how people really live across the country, and part was just to immerse in the areas we were traveling, to see what made them special.
We knew our blue-sky itinerary would change at some point, and when it did, we dropped Oregon and Washington and re-considered how we’d visit California. We referenced the original itinerary document, and re-worked that itinerary to keep the rest of the highlights we didn’t want to miss.

We also agreed at the start of this journey that, if either of us doesn’t want to do something, we won’t do it, no excuses or arguments needed. There is no pressure on either of us to be uncomfortable. Simon was happy to do Going-To-The-Sun Road on his own, and Susan was happy to let him do it alone. We skipped a place Susan really wanted to see because Simon wasn’t comfortable with the gravel road in Nippy. We did Chief Joseph Scenic Byway as a compromise for Simon’s desire to do Beartooth Highway and Susan’s desire not to do it. So far, we’ve found ways to work it out.


What’s it like to drive that big RV?
Simon says: It’s a challenging proposition, especially towing a car. We felt it was essential to take RV driving lessons right after we bought Fati, even though it’s not strictly necessary. You have to maintain 100% concentration at all times, but the view you get from the cab driving through the sites we’re seeing is just superlative. It’s not the most maneuverable vehicle you’ll ever drive, but, on the highway, it drives really well, and you just need to be aware not to get yourself into any places you can’t get out of, gas stations being the biggest case in point. If you aren’t positive about the route out, don’t go in.


What’s it like being a passenger in that big RV?
Susan says: Honestly? It can be magnificent and it can be terrifying. As the passenger, I have no steering wheel, no brakes, and zero control. My job is to be the co-pilot, and there are certainly times when those co-pilot eyes have been extremely useful. I keep constant watch on the GPS info and warnings, on the tire pressure monitoring system, and on Nippy, who I can see on our rear-view camera, and I report them to Simon.  That leaves him free to concentrate solely on the road. We both watch the road conditions, such as rises, descents, and camber, like hawks. Simon has the final say in where he’s comfortable driving and turning around, and I have a say on the smaller things, like “Slow the hell down,” and “Keep her between the lines!” But, ultimately, how the rig is driven is totally his call.


How do you do the basics, like laundry, getting prescriptions, and getting your mail?
Laundry is relatively easy. We have a washer/dryer combo in the rig, and for heavy things like rugs and Ruthie’s bedding, we use campground laundry facilities.
Our prescriptions are through Walgreens, so we call our refills in at the closest one to our location. It’s proven difficult at times, since it has to be done quite a while in advance, and sometimes the refill order doesn’t get confirmed by the doctor until after we’ve left an area, or, in the most recent example, the pharmacist was “overwhelmed” and couldn’t “review it” (whatever the hell that means) even though he’d already filled it, it was just cholesterol medication, and all they had to do was hand it to us. We left town before he could be bothered to “review it.” It then took two weeks to be in a place long enough to call it in to another Walgreens and have a chance of getting it filled.
Ruthie’s medications are even more difficult. Sometimes it takes weeks to find a vet or a pet store that will honor her vet’s refill prescriptions. Thank goodness we discovered Costco pharmacy carries some pet meds!
Young Son deals with all our mail, but there are mail services full-time RVers use, too. We just didn’t need to go that route.


What is this “Wallydocking” you speak of?
It’s when you “boondock” (park your RV overnight on wherever land you can find that’s legal to park on), but in a Walmart parking lot. Entertainment value? Priceless!


Why are some of the photos in your blogs so wonky?
If we knew, we’d fix them! We do know the photos are formatted differently by WordPress, depending on whether you reach the blog from a link on Facebook, or have the blog delivered directly to your email (by being a subscriber, which we highly recommend), or by going directly to our website. We can only apologize!


Your trip is almost over. Are you going to keep going?
Yes! We’re both ready for a break, but we love this kind of travel so much, we’re going to find a way to keep doing it. But for a few months at a time rather than a full year!

Have a question for us? Leave it in the Comments and we’ll do our best to give you an answer!

The Month 11 Travel Map

As keen-eyed blog readers will know, we have just hit the 11 month mark in our grand “A Year On The Road” RV trek across the US. After Louisiana, we arrived in coastal Mississippi, our 23rd state in this epic voyage.

The story so far – 11 months on the road (NB: The pin-points are not our only stopping points – there are more than 60 of those so far!)

Since our last monthly update, we have covered another 181 miles – a totally sedate travel distance at this stage of our journey (especially when we covered more than 2,200 in the first month!).

In the last month we have moved from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Biloxi, Mississippi, and our traveling has been a lot more focused on the areas close by, rather than trying to cover vast distances quickly. Even including the last two months, we have only gone a total of 672 miles in our trusty Winnebago, Indefatigable (or Fati for short).

The last two full months of our journey, from Port Aransas in Texas all the way along the Gulf Coast to Biloxi via Louisiana

Mind you, we have still covered some territory in our trusty tow car, Nippy, putting an additional 2,534 miles on our little Ford Fiesta (and 3,991 in the past two months), which shows that we’ve completely changed the balance of our touring – going shorter distances in Fati but doing more exploration in Nippy.

Now, with just a month left of our travels (but still more than 550 miles from home), it definitely feels like the end of our grand adventure is firmly in sight, which is very hard to contemplate after such a prolonged – and intense – period of traveling.

In total, we have come 9,225 miles in Fati since leaving home, and another 24,604 in Nippy, for a grand total of 33,829 around this amazing country. Eat your heart out, Hardest Geezer!

What We Learned During Our Eleventh Month On The Road


Today marks eleven months since we locked the door to our house in Florida and set off for a year-long adventure in an RV. Here’s what we learned during the past month:

When you’re crouched down in front of the outdoor water spigot getting ready to do your final hand-wash, make sure you know whether the lever goes up or down to turn it on. If you get that wrong, you’re going to walk away with your shoes, your T-shirt, and the crotch of your jeans soaking wet. It’s way worse, too, when your neighbors are out there watching you.

There are times when the weather is forecast to be so dangerous that your only smart choice is to bug out and stay in a hotel until the threat passes. Sometimes, that means driving 300 miles to get past the storm’s reach, which is too far to get an RV out of the way in time. When that happens, you’ll get all teary as you say goodbye – out loud – to your rig, and assure her you’ll be back. It’s truly like leaving a friend, and you’ll worry about her until you get back and know she’s okay. It’s an awful feeling.

When you’re staying in that hotel overnight to ride out the storm in safety, don’t freak out the first time you turn on a water faucet. You haven’t seen that much water come out of a faucet for a long, long time, and it’ll look and sound like a fire hose in action. Remind yourself this is normal.

When you return to your rig after the storm passes, and you find she’s okay, there is a sense of euphoria that reminds you how precious your traveling home and this lifestyle really are.

PJ’s Coffee. Specifically, their Strawberry Rose White Chocolate Latte. This is what coffee should be, and from this moment on Starbucks should be ashamed of themselves.

There are towns where some roads are called “historic,” but what it really means is, the road itself is history. Drive it at your peril.

If there’s a beach road you can take instead of an interstate, and your GPS doesn’t have an almighty conniption about some terrible fate that will befall you if you take it, take it (we’re looking at you, glorious Highway 90 between Waveland and Biloxi!).

We’ve reached the point in our adventure where our Florida license plate isn’t the furthest state away. It feels weird and sad and just a little bit exciting to realize we’re getting so close to home.

Equally, it is impossible to believe we have one month left in this incredible journey. How? How is that possible? (Insert loud crying here.)

The moment may come when you meet brand-new RVers who are trying to find their way back to sanity, having endured one setback after another. Now is your moment. You’ve been there, you understand, you got through it, and you can talk them off the ledge and assure them it’s normal and it’s going to get so much better. Your reward is the relief on their faces. Their reward is, they don’t feel so alone anymore. How perfect is that?

The Bayous Beckon


Hello, Louisiana! Home to vast acres of rice fields and crawfish farms, and weird, sticky-uppy stalks that we discovered were sugar cane, one of the state’s primary crops. Hello, Covid, too, which put a major damper on our touring, with its ferocious exhaustion and coughing that had Susan bedridden for four days straight.

These fields are everywhere. Some are rice fields, some are crawfish ponds, and some are both.

The virus’s nasty symptoms hit the night before we moved from Beaumont, Texas to the peaceful oasis of Parkside RV Resort in Broussard, Louisiana, but at that point we thought it was a bad cold, or maybe allergies. We’d been so careful; didn’t dine in restaurants, our touring was all outside and just the two of us (plus Ruthie), so Covid wasn’t at the top of our minds. It was only two days later, when Susan said, “I’d better test to rule it out,” that we knew the awful truth.

Dammit.

During our pre-test time of innocence we took a little drive around Broussard, exploring the downtown area by car. It’s a cute city center, very compact and approachable, and we liked the small-town feel in a place we thought would be much, much bigger. It also offered a hint at the transition Lafayette seems to be going through.

The historic area is going through a change, but certainly retains its small-town charm.

Two features really stood out for us as we drove around: the Giant Live Oak trees and the above-ground cemeteries. We’d seen this sort of cemetery during a visit to New Orleans years ago, but they still stand out as curiosities, especially as so many of them seem to be in the back end of nowhere, or smack in the middle of the city.

The Live Oaks are so dramatic, and incredibly beautiful.


Susan had a little rally five days into it, so, with her fully masked up in an N95, we hit the road for the Bayou Teche National Byway to Morgan City. We had been wondering exactly what “bayou” meant, since we thought it meant a big, swampy waterway with cypress trees in and around it, but very back-woodsy, dark, and mysterious due to all the trees. The kind of place Huckleberry Finn would have been born and grown up, where ‘possum and squirrel were always on the menu.

Instead, it’s a French version of the Choctaw word “bayuk,” meaning (roughly) a creek or small river, which was what we were seeing every time we saw a marker for a bayou, including Bayou Teche (literally, river snake, or “snaking river”), which was once the original course of the mighty Mississippi River a few thousand years ago.

Bayou Teche

There may be those among you who have unexpectedly encountered the transfer of illegal goods from one car to another, as we have seen on occasion, but only in Louisiana would that transfer of goods involve crawfish and shrimp. And that’s exactly what we saw while waiting to gas up Fati at a Walmart. These two fellas negotiated the sale of crustation packages tucked in a cooler full of ice for quite some time, while holding up everyone in line behind them waiting to get gas.


The next day, Susan was free from the feeling of having been kicked in the face by a donkey, but still coughing and incredibly tired, so we opted for a drive along the Cajun Corridor Byway that runs between Delcambre and Kaplan, south of Lafayette.

This is how Susan did most of our touring, when she wasn’t flat-out asleep in the rig.

Simon’s appetite made up for Susan having none at all, so a visit to Suire’s Cajun Restaurant and Grocery Store for lunch was in order, being somewhat of a local institution. We knew before we even started the trip that Louisiana would be a non-starter for Susan, food-wise, due to a rather nasty shellfish allergy, so having no desire to eat was a blessing in disguise.

Some of the best food we’ve had has come from some of the humblest places.

He’s got the goods!

Simon had no such restrictions, and went for the Boudin Plate, a homey assemblage of Boudin sausage, rice, gravy, a dinner roll, slaw, beans, and a brownie. Delicious perfection!

The kind of food you scarf down, then sop up the tattered remains with a biscuit.

We detoured further south for a drive along the White Lake Birding Trail after lunch, and while we couldn’t do any of the walking trails, the road through it rewarded us with wildlife sightings and reminded us of our beloved Apopka Wildlife Drive in Florida. We saw lots of gators, some deer, hundreds of birds, and a mammal that was either a muskrat, a beaver, or a woodchuck. Probably a beaver, possibly a woodchuck, but we’ll never know for sure.

This is definitely a gator.

Cooking dinner was out of the question, so we made a quick stop at Hebert’s Meats for pre-made Etouffee and sausages, which Simon could dine on for the next couple of days. Somehow, we only have one photo of the outside of the store, and none of the fine offerings within.


Susan’s rally was short-lived. The next morning her oximeter was showing some worrying numbers, so it was off to Urgent Care, just a quarter-mile from our campground. Two chest X-rays later (mercifully, both clear), we were sent home with a six-day course of steroids, an antibiotic for a brewing secondary infection, and a coupon from the doctor to help us afford a $500 inhaler.

While Susan slept the rest of the day away, Simon went back to St. Martinville to see the Evangeline Monument and the Acadian Museum. The monument is a plaque in front of a massive Live Oak tree, the fourth representative of the original tree made famous in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s tragic poem, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie about the exile of Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755.


When we set out on this year-long adventure, our perception of Louisiana was that it was a less prosperous state, but as we drove around we began to see a pattern. Big houses and mini-mansions were rising up right next door to the most humble of homes, mobile homes, and RVs being used as homes, both in the towns and perhaps especially in the more rural areas. Something was clearly happening (gentrification; it’s gentrification), and when we arrived in Baton Rouge a week later, our curiosity about this trend kicked into high gear.


Our week in Broussard and Lafayette was far too short, especially given the days “wasted” by sleep, but we thoroughly enjoyed what we did see. Louisiana’s southern coast had definitely impressed us so far, as did the Southern kindness and generosity we’d encountered, and we were eager to see more.

That Time We Didn’t Get Eaten


Simon’s problem is that he rarely sees the problematic side of anything. Susan’s problem is that she sees the problematic side of most things, but hates to squash Simon’s natural enthusiasm. It gets us into trouble sometimes, and our visit to Cattail Marsh in Beaumont, Texas was one of those times.

It all started so well. A lovely little boardwalk led out to viewings of interesting waterfowl, and we’d become exceptionally good at identifying birds, meaning, we could see them and say, “There’s a bird! There’s another bird!”



But we were up for a longer wander, and there were two gravel paths along the marsh-front to choose from. Our walk began with the following conversation:

Simon: Let’s head over to the far side and see what’s there.

Susan: You know it’s at least an hour to make the full circuit, probably more, right?

Simon: Nah, it’s not an hour.

Susan: Well…okay. It is, but, okay.

That tree line in the background is the boundary of the reserve. Less than an hour, or more? You decide.

One-quarter of the way around, it occurred to Simon it was at least an hour to make the full circuit, probably more, and it wasn’t easy to pull Ruthie in her wagon over the gravely path. What happened next was this:

Simon: Let’s take the short-cut through the middle.

Susan: You know that isn’t a walking path, right?

Simon: Sure it is! See? It’s flat and grassy.

Susan: It isn’t. It’s a maintenance road. But, okay.

Now, those among you who have ever been in a wetland in the South know what’s going to happen next. And sure enough, not quite half-way into it, we were met by a 10-foot-long alligator sunbathing on the bank. Even Ruthie could see the “problematic” situation we were in, so she sat quietly in her wagon as we slowly, non-threateningly walked past the gator, with the wagon between it and us.

There’s a great big gator in this photo, laying just in front of that small mound of reeds in the center of the photo. You probably can’t see it, just as we couldn’t really see it until we were nearly on it.

Here. This actual blow-up of said gator will help.

This guy (or gal) was easier to see.

And another.

And this one. And on and on….

Long, “problematic” story made short, after several huge gators, lots of sweat, plenty of bugs, a horrible sewage smell, and more than an hour pulling that damned wagon over gravely ground we stumbled back to the car, where Simon grudgingly admitted we “probably shouldn’t have done that.”

The rest of our time in Beaumont was tame and enjoyable. We had taken the ferry over from Galveston, which in itself is a novel adventure, and were camped out at the wonderful Grand Pines of Texas, with a lovely pond, nature walk, and (unbelievably!) free laundry. Clean and quiet, it was the perfect base for Fati while we toured the area.

Simon’s view. Susan was further up, in Nippy.

This is the kind of ferry we were on.

We had such good sunsets in Texas!

There was a big Mural Fest going on, so we headed into downtown Beaumont for a look. Some of the murals had been created previously, but many were being worked on, and it was nice to see how many locals came out to support the artists.

This guy was working on his mural.

This one had been done for some time.

There were quite a few artists contributing to the mural count on four-sided blocks like this one.

In the same park as the four-sided blocks (and a bunch of vendors, bounce-houses, food trucks, etc), one big building was getting a make-over, with three massive paintings. This is one of them.

Downtown Beaumont also boasts the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant, and even if we didn’t have a dog with us, that’s something we had to see. Honoring firefighters everywhere, the park includes a memorial to the heroes who lost their lives trying to save others during the horrendous September 11 tragedy.

Intimidating!

Much more my size.


Another local event we stumbled on was a cowgirl pageant at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens. Girls of all ages could sign up for the pageant, which isn’t based on anything particularly “cowgirly,” and certainly isn’t a typical “beauty contest,” but is meant to build self-confidence and, I think, offers some sort of scholarship to winners.

Ruthie wishing she could join the cowgirl pageant. Instead, she did a butt-scoot on the grass right in front of these potential cowgirl queens. We’re so proud (no, we’re not).

Getting ready to face the judges.

We also took a day-trip down to Port Arthur, aiming for the McFadden National Wildlife Refuge, which sounds like a big deal, and maybe it is at other, better times of year, but we only saw a small handful of standard-issue birds, and not a whole lot else.

Look! A bird!

On the way back we detoured off the main road, where massive amounts of construction were going on, having to do with some sort of refinery. Drawn in by the sight of a structure we couldn’t quite work out, we discovered the Sabine Pass Area Artificial Reefs program, where sunken structures were being turned into reefs.

The main road went right through a processing plant.

Whatever this is, it’s becoming a reef.

A day or two later, Big Thicket National Preserve offered the chance for a walk in the woods to a genuine cypress slough, with a paved path and boardwalks that would make pulling Ruthie in her wagon quite easy. And it did, for the first few minutes. Once we were committed to the journey, though, the path turned to off-roading.


The slough reminded us a little bit of Florida.

But we persisted, which was a good thing since it would be the last exercise we’d have for the next few weeks. Unbeknownst to either of us, and after four years of diligently avoiding it, Susan was brewing up a hefty case of Covid. Little did we know her face would really look like this a couple of days from now:

A Year On The Road – Month 6 in The Independent

The latest instalment of our exclusive series for The Independent newspaper in the UK is now online, highlighting our travels through Nevada and Southern California, including the Mojave National Preserve, Valley of Fire State Park, and Greater Palm Springs.

This section of our Year On The road adventure took us deep into desert territory – both the Mojave Desert of much of Nevada and the Sonoran Desert that runs from Mexico up into Arizona, including part of SoCal.

Our view of the Hoover Dam from our travels around Las vegas

We spent much of the month in Nevada, either from our base in North Las Vegas (the fab Hitchin’ Post RV park) or further south in Laughlin, where Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort & RV Park provided the perfect base to explore along Route 66 and down into California, where Joshua Tree National Park was another highlight.

There were scenic wonders aplenty, and a chance to see why both one of the Star Trek movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall were filmed here and, for as bright as it shines, we honestly felt the scenery around Las Vegas actually glittered brighter than the city itself.

Read all about it here: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/north-america/usa/great-american-road-trip-nevada-southern-california-b2503940.html

The superb Joshua Tree National Park

We also want to offer our sincere thanks to both Travel Nevada and Greater Palm Springs for their help in ensuring we saw the best of their areas, as there was a LOT to see!