Monday, September 30, 2013

New Family; Demo Diva; Gulfport; Pensacola; Headed Home

It’s not often you get to meet new family members as an adult, other than youngsters. I had the good fortune to meet two half-brothers and a half-sister while in New Orleans. It’s a long story, but I was able to connect with Frank, Donna and Donald. We (and Frank’s Lovely Wife Julie and My Lovely Bride Suzanne) had lunch together at Drago’s (yes, more oysters) and I learned more about my father. He had been a Golden Gloves boxer, joined the Navy in WWII and served on the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga. His mother was a Guidry from St. Martinsville, Louisiana, so it turns out that I have Cajun blood that I never knew about. The stories kept coming, and I felt a real connection to my new siblings. They are very successful business people, and run two marine management and transportation companies in Houston and New Orleans. Each of them has four children. Donna had even flown in from Houston, and they made us feel really honored and part of the family. Donna and Suzanne also got to talk about spiritual subjects. It was a very special day.

Before leaving New Orleans, we took the puppies to Lafreniere Park in Metairie to look for squirrels. They treed a few, but it was very hot, and we had to walk from shady oak to shady oak, staying out of the brutally hot sun. This sign caught Suzanne’s eye… there aren’t many places in the country where “boiling seafood” is even considered, much less prohibited. (The salt and spices would presumably draw nasty bugs and other critters.)

 
 
 
One last stop, though, before we left… back to Morning Call for beignets and café au lait! Part of the fun is shaking powdered sugar all over your beignets, the table and your table-mates!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Outside, another unique sign on the side of an industrial-sized dumpster… Only in New Orleans would they have pink dumpsters.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On Saturday morning, we packed up our coaches and headed for Gulfport, Mississippi, where we had lunch with our good friends Joyce and Sharon from The Villages. They were working on Sharon’s aunt’s house in very quiet and quaint Gulfport, which had been hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. It was great seeing them and knowing that they too would be back in The Villages next week. I need Joyce’s photography expertise (she taught the subject) to improve my skills. Digital cameras are wonderful, but they are a lot more complex than my old Brownie…

On to Pensacola and our home state of Florida! We arrived at the Naval Air Station’s Oak Grove Campground to find two very hateful campsites within 50 yards of the beach. We use the term “hateful” to jokingly describe really beautiful places; this one is tucked away in an oak grove (gee, that was a surprise) mixed with pines. Of even greater import, the oaks were filled with…. SQUIRRELS! We stopped counting after the seventh little furry rodent, and Rudy and Gretchen were soon exhausted from chasing the critters up oak trees. We took a nice walk on the beach, which is typical of this area, very fine white sand, like sugar.  

Fort Barrancas, a Civil War brick fort, lies just offshore on a barrier island, and the historic Pensacola lighthouse is just 100 yards away from our campground. The large orange “day mark” is part of a visual range that helps mariners steer their ships into Pensacola Bay; the channel buoys are a few hundred yards off the beach.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

On Sunday, Suzanne gave the message at Unity of Pensacola, followed by her Making the Connection talk. Two women even drove all the way from New Orleans, a four hour trip, to attend. As always, Suzanne’s presentation was very well received.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 








After the Unity events, we were able to sightsee a bit in the historic section of downtown Pensacola. We ate grouper and shrimp dinners at the annual seafood festival, and admired the lovely restored 19th Century homes that are so typical of the Gulf Coast. This would be a delightful place to live (at least during the cooler months).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We are now only 30 hours or so from arriving home in The Villages. We will stop for the night at Suwanee River State Park, and roll back onto Little River Path on Tuesday afternoon, assuming that our neighbors Bob and Jan have moved their coach from in front of their house back into storage. We gave them a day’s head start because if we arrived together, we would completely block the street! It’s been a long, fun summer, but we will be very happy to get back home…


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