Absent

It’s been a while, I know (no Internet at campground and busy with travel arrangements). And it’ll be a while yet, for tonight I’ll head out to Texas for my aunt’s funeral.

There’s a lot to tell, because we’ve covered a lot of ground since my last real entry. Right now we’re at a lovely campground just outside Charleston, South Carolina, and David and Dane will stay here, while I’m in Texas. We’ve been through Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia in the meantime.

See pictures with commentary and send us a message. We miss hearing from y’all!!!!

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Sad

My sweet old aunt, Godmother and namesake in Texas died last night in her sleep. We’d been looking forward to seeing her again at Thanksgiving, but now there’s a funeral…

We’ll be changing our plans, but don’t quite know to what extent yet.

We’re at a campsite outside Savannah without Internet, so I’m writing this at a Starbucks café in a Savannah suburb, while David and Dane are out fishing in the Moon River. The campsite is in a state park and beautiful. We went on walk on a nature trail in the park this morning. It was beautiful and very exotic.

More later.

By the way, friends and family: We would like to hear from you too!

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What a wonderful place!

After having done our washing in a laundromat (yet another first), we drove to a new campsite in Baton Rouge where I have more family! They had long known to expect the crazy Europeans and when we announced our arrival, they were quick to invite us to dinner. And not only dinner, no, homemade Gumbo! Mmmm, that was good! And I must say – what nice family I have over here! Keep’m comin’!

The sweet and hospitable Bryan family (and us) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The next morning we got up and away early for our much anticipated tour of the swamp. We decided to splash out here and charter a boat rather than sharing a ride with other tourists. That turned out to be a very good idea. Searched around on the web for a while and fell completely for this guy here, who’s love for the Atchafalaya basin is unrivaled. On the way there, we didn’t get lost once and made it on schedule (more on getting lost later…). We let our RV stand on a deserted parking lot and took off in Dean’s little boat. Wauw, it was fast!

The swamp, the atmosphere, the sounds defy description. But it was breathtakingly beautiful and magic. Dean was a great guide – telling us about the history of the basin, the terribly many environmental issues that are facing the basin and wetlands generally and about the plants and animals that are invading the swamp and the ones who are extinct or threathened to be extinct. He knew the name of every bird, fish and insect we saw on the way. And – contrary to popular belief – there were no mosquitoes or horse flies or other despicable creatures – only insects we saw in the 2 1/2 hours we were on the water were – dragonflies. In all shapes and forms. We didn’t see any alligators – Dean was sure he saw one at one point, but it went under when we came near it in the boat. He did show us the tracks on the river bank, though! However, I found the ancient cypresses much more fascinating than any alligator could ever be!

 

 

More pictures here

After this fantastic experience, we drove on down towards New Orleans. Pronounced New ‘Orleans much to David’s dismay. And we got so, SO lost. The GPS wouldn’t accept the address given by the campsite, but we figured we could just follow their directions which seemed pretty straightforward. Well, guess what, they were’nt, or else (which is not totally unlikely…) we just got them all wrong. Downside was that we drove around New Orleans for hours. Upside was that we got to see with our own eyes, exactly what havoc Hurricane Kathrina really caused down here. In some of the poorer neighbourhoods we drove through, more than half the houses were left, empty. We probably wouldn’t have seen any of that, if we hadn’t got lost. Besides, we made people laugh. The people sitting in front of their little rickety houses knew that we were lost and grinned at us – but in a real friendly way!

Tomorrow we’ll spend the entire day in The Big Easy.

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Louisiana

You notice right away that you’re in another state. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s evident very quickly. Don’t know whether that’s going to be the case every time we cross a state border, but this time it was. For instance the casino billboards. None of those in Texas! And the condition of the roads. The I-10, which we’ve been on virtually all day, was absolutely awful for a good many miles. We could hardly communicate inside the RV, which  rattles quite a lot even at the best of times.

We’re at a campground just outside Lafayette. It was late when we arrived, so we don’t really know what it’s like. Right now we’re planning the next few days and trying to get an idea of what this is costing us pr. day in gas and other utilities. Won’t let you in on that just yet ;-)

We’ve been half eating out, half self-catering since we came here. Allthough I just love a real American breakfast with sausages, pancakes etc., I’m so happy that we have a fair sized fridge and freezer, and that the supermarkets have such a fantastic selection of ripe and yummy fruit and veg, some of it even ready peeled and cut. Because otherwise I really don’t think I could avoid putting on weight! We discuss this every time we’re in a grocery store or in a restaurant or fastfood place. It’s almost impossible to buy things that are good for you! Take the above mentioned cut fruit in the supermarket. Half of it is sold with a bowl of caramel sauce or the like. Or the bread section – 3/4 of the bread isn’t really bread, it’s cake! Same with yoghurt – there are about 200 kinds with “fruit” (=more than 15% sugar) and 2-3 kinds of natural yoghurt – and one that’s also fat free. And in fastfood places, you’re punished if you want a bottle of water instead of a soft drink. The socalled Combos (Supersize Me!) include only huge glasses of coke, sprite or the like. Water is extra. Lots of things are sold with FAT FREE on the label. Fine, but it doesn’t say that it contains 40% sugar – and the reverse – things are sold as SUGAR FREE, and you have to read the small print to see how much fat there’s in it.

It’s a really hard job to not put on weight here! Small wonder that it’s the poor and the uneducated who (mainly) suffer from obesity and all the related illnesses – it’s almost a science to shop healthy food that’s also affordable in the big grocery stores – particularly if you can’t, won’t or are unable to cook your own food and must rely on ready-made.

If you’re new to my blog, you don’t yet know that this is one of my pet subjects. But be prepared! It won’t be the last time you’ll find a mention of this or related subjects – not only am I obsessed with what’s in the food we eat and the politics that influence it, I’m also what the Americans call a Foodie

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Doing good, Houston!

This is a not very good picture from the old control room at Space Center Houston. It’s just one of those historic places, which gives you that special thrill when you think about what happened there, or rather what the people in that room witnessed at first hand.

Right now I’m alone in the RV while Dane and David are out fishing with some really nice people we met at dinner last night. It is downright unbelieable how nice and forthcoming Texans are! We had lovely seafood (oysters and crab) at The Captain’s Table just across the road from our RV camp, which sits directly on the beach. I trotted down the beach this morning just as the sun was coming up. Despite a strong wind, it would have been too hot just an hour later, but at that time it was perfect. Absolutely lovely!

Yesterday was one of those days where everything just seems to be right. We left the campsite in good time and headed for Nasa space center south of Houston

(first time we didn’t make a single wrong turn!), where we spent most of the day. It was a great experience for all three of us, even if Dane at one point expressed his disapointment because he hadn’t seen any rocket launch or landing… We must follow the next launch on TV, when it takes place in October.

Mock-up of space shuttle for astronaut practice. It really is very big, Dane thought it had room for millions of astronauts and was quite astounded when I told him that usually only 7 people get to fly it.

With Dane in front of Space Center tram after having seen the above mentioned control center.

The trip down to Galveston also went without any problems and we reached the site in fine time and set up camp in five minutes flat. (You attach yourself (or rather, the RV) to electricity, water and sewer and you’re all set). Then we went directly into the ocean. The waves were moderate, but very big for Dane. Also seing the mullets flying around almost within touching distance was a fantastic experience for him.

This afternoon we’ll drive into downtown Galveston and have a look at the sights. And then it’s off to dinner (hopefully the fish they’ve just caught this morning) with our nice new Texan friends, who’s house we just cannot wait to see irl (in real life). While in the US, must abb(reviate)…

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A lovely night without the aircondition

There’s much to be said for the RV. But the aircon makes an awful lot of noise and it bothers both David and myself. Dane sleeps happily no matter what. We have to turn it off at night to sleep, but it gets awfully hot and stuffy after a few hours. Yesterday, however, a coldfront came to Texas and has grace us with lovely cool weather. Cool being 28 at day and 21 at night. I could even trot around the campsite this morning without problems, it was so lovely and cool. The locals tell us that it’s the first coldfront in four months!

Yesterday was spent with the family. My other cousin Mickey and her husband Ken has arrived from Floriday with my aunt/Godmother Néné (90 years and in a wheelchair) to settle here in the hill country not far from Bruce and Nancy. This is the first time in many many years, that brother and sister are in the same state. We had a lovely family get-together at Bruce’s house, which has the most lovely patio (deck, the Americans call it) in four levels. I have absolutely no idea why I didn’t think to bring out the camera at this rare gathering, but I guess I can only blame one person for that… The extended family (including us) will be together for Thanksgiving, so I’ll just have to remember to bring out the camera then!

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