Unplanned is Best!
~Friday, February 3, 2023~
Day 965 (Travel Day)
4 states in 4 days…..and to our recollection, a first; from Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama to Florida. We seem to have hit an excellent weather window. Had we left one day sooner, we would have encountered high winds and pouring rain, not ideal when towing, especially.
As we say farewell to the Bayou State of Louisiana, we can’t believe how much we experienced in the 7 days we were there. It’s just one big microcosm of colorful culture…..delectable food, diverse music, varied religions, distinct language, and the friendliest people you’d ever want to meet. In some ways I think much of the state is underrated in terms of people visiting it (other than New Orleans). There is no other state with quite so much diversity in one place. And we were fortunate to experience so much of it, during a nice, quiet time.
On our way to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Hank turned over 83,000 miles. That’s 83,000 miles in 3 years. Boy that was quick! Seems like we just celebrated 75,000. The drive near New Orleans to get to Highway 10 was pretty stressful, with tons of traffic, and lanes that seemed to merge every mile.
Crossing Lake Pontchartrain was a highlight. There are four bridges that cross it and though we didn’t take the longest span (one is 23 miles and the longest in the world that runs continuously over water), we took the I-10 Twin Span Bridge which is a 5.5-mile causeway. Not the most beautiful lake, but huge!
We arrived at our Harvest Host location of Fort Bayou Brewing Company. So nice to arrive with plenty of daylight and more choices in where to lay down the rig for the night.
There was one RV behind us, also a Harvest Host guest. They were from Connecticut, heading toward Texas to visit their son and have been on the road for 1 year. They’re semi-retired like us and because Connecticut is evidently an expensive place to retire, they too are looking for a new location in either Tennessee or Virginia. So who knows, maybe we’ll cross paths again since we are interested in those states as well.
After we got settled in, we walked over to the taphouse to pay a visit to our Harvest Host. There was a lovely outdoor seating area which wasn’t too popular that evening because of the chilly weather. But where people WERE hanging out was the game area. What a great way to spend an evening playing a few rounds of cornhole while enjoying a cold one……they had ping pong, shuffleboard, pool, foosball, and air hockey. You name it, they had it. By 6:00, the place was hoppin’. We mozied up to the bar where we met mixologist Marie and owner Keith. Keith, about our age, welcomed us as Harvest Host guests and introduced us to the Mardi Gras specials. The food menu and drink list looked amazing. Marie claims her favorite cocktail is a blend of lavender, lemon and gin…..something I just had to try. Well, it has now become a favorite of mine too. Now I just need to learn how to make it as good as Marie does. She is one talented mixologist, who has learned from the best in the biz, where we all reap the benefits. Keith is originally from Alabama and bought the building in 2017 and opened a year later in 2018. COVID definitely affected his business in a hard way, but they managed to make it through with take-out orders, including blending drinks for customers in to-go mini jugs. They already had such a loyal following, the customers would do anything to help keep the business going. Even the string of Harvest Host visitors helped keep things afloat. I’m telling you, the Harvest Host concept is a win-win for both RV’er and business owners.
The food was fabulous. We started off with a Mardi Gras special……Hand Battered Dill Pickle and Jalapenos w/Ranch & Remoulade and a healthy Caprese Salad plate. But our evening became even more special after meeting Britny, and her husband Trey. We hit it off immediately. Living about 2 hours away, they also recently purchased a condo/townhouse in Ocean Springs that they rent out successfully as a VRBO. It sounds like they hit the jackpot in terms of its close proximity to downtown, all within walking distance from their rental. They mentioned they were staying at the condo for the weekend to watch Ocean Springs Mardi Gras parade which is tomorrow, urging us to stay and check it out. We just may do that! It really does sound like fun and it’s perfect timing that we happen to be here for the festivities. We also had the pleasure of meeting Britny’s best friend, Shanda and her husband Chris. Meeting these 2 couples surely was the highlight of our trip. Let’s hope that tomorrow works out in meeting them at the parade. We only have an hour drive to our next Harvest Host spot, so it should be doable.
After Britny, Shanda and the gang left, Jeff put a call in to his broham (brother-in-law) Tim in Oregon. I stayed back at the bar where I met another young couple out on a date night, Jennifer and Jeff. They live in Ocean Springs, he, a career Navy guy and she, a high school teacher. Our conversation ran the gamut from raising kids to all there is to see in the South, from food to festivals. It was so sweet of them to chat with me. After all, it was a date night for them. Before Jeff returned, I took it upon myself to order the house made king cake egg rolls filled with cream cheese. And of course everything is fried in the South. They came 3 to a plate in the colors of Mardi Gras….purple, yellow, and green. It even came complete with a gold, plastic baby Jesus on top. Traditionally, King Cake is a big thing during Mardi Gras. Evidently there is a porcelain baby Jesus inside the cake where whoever finds it, receives luck and prosperity. Anyway, since there’s no way we could eat all three, I offered ONE to Jennifer and her husband. Well, they EACH took one, leaving Jeff and I to split one. After trying it, we definitely could have eaten all 3. Those egg rolls were amazing! Now to find me that recipe.