Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Southern Fun

 Hi all,
Continuing our trek southward our next stop was Jimmie Davis State Park. It is located near Chatham, LA in north central Louisiana. The newer park built in 1996 on a peninsula along Caney Lake, one of the premiere bass fisheries in the state.
 The park is 300 acres and features 17 cabins plus 2 deluxe cabins and 4 dorm style units with a conference center.
 It also features 73 campsites with water and electric and 2 boat launches and a marina.
 We really enjoyed the heavily wooded park and spent a lot of time bike riding the roads throughout the park.

beach area

splash pad

boat dock for campers

splash pad by beach
 We had nice weather and decided to stay an extra day enjoying the mid week quiet.
 Thursday we landed at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville Louisiana just south of Lafayette. Betty's is a small 17 site private campground built around the owners house.
 Betty's RV is not your typical campground as you don't have much of a campsite- no picnic tables, no fire pits, and just enough decent room for your rv. But what makes Betty's unique and rated one of the best small rv campgrounds in America is her famous happy hours.
 Most everyone in the park meets at 4:30 in a her neat outdoor gathering room. In cooler temps everyone just fits inside an indoor patio.
 The happy hour consist of introductions and hors d'oeuvres sometimes a dinner is planned. Our first day here and Betty was making a big pot of her gumbo for all to partake in.
 The camping season here is just beginning as snowbirds are just beginning the migration. Not full here but looks like we should have a nice group for the weekend.
 This is our 3rd visit here and we just love the Cajun experience. We love the different spicy food that you don't get anywhere else and listening to the heavy accordion Cajun music just puts a smile on ya.
 I had been thinking about this trip for a while as I had learned they were having two festivals in the next two weeks that I really wanted to attend.

 Saturday is Cracklin fest held outside nearby Touchets bar.  Cracklins (pork rinds) are deep fried in huge black kettles with cooking beginning at 8 in the morning. Cracklins are just one of the fare going on potatoes, sweet potatoes, Bedouin, chicken and even some venison backstaps were offered up.
 We arrived  with Toni and Doug, a Canadian couple we just met, at about 9:30 the music already going, early arrivals are treated to free beer, well its noon or 5:00 somewhere.
 One thing that makes this all surprising is you don't pay anything for the food, it is all placed out on tables in cardboard boxes and you just take a paper towel and kind of graze along. We would sit and listen to some music then sneak over and snack some more.

 We danced a bit but only to slow songs, some of these Cajun dancers are as much of a show as the music and we just didn't have enough dancing fluid in us.)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

On to Toad Suck!

Hi all,

 So after a quick one week stop back in Wisconsin to see family and doctors we are on the road again. This is the start of year five of the full time lifestyle, we are definitely still loving it.
 We lit out Monday and although not the plan we drove pretty hard. We ended the day at just over 400 miles at Rend Lake near Benton IL. This is a big park with multiple campgrounds and a marina. It is a managed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. We are making a little more effort to use corp parks as we now have the golden age passport allowing us half price camping. So camping here was $9.00 what a deal.
 Day two not quite as long a drive we made it to Forrest City, Arkansas our first time staying in the Razorback State. This time the only thing close by was a private park named Delta Ridge. The road in was a little rough and I started to get a little skeptical of the area. As we pulled in the camping area didn't look to bad and most of the rigs were decent looking.
 We lucked out getting a site here as a entry sign said they were full tonight. Wendy called to double check and sure enough they had a site available.
 Our main destination is Florida to hang with the daughter and her husband this winter. Along the way we wanted to hit  Abbeville, LA where there are a couple festivals that we want to see. We have a little time before needing to be there so Wendy has been searching for a park to hang out for a few days. Well she comes across Toad Suck Park, a Corp of Engineering park along the Arkansas River.
 Toad Suck is not a city but a bend on the river with only the Park and a quick stop gas station there. Story goes that there was a bar along the river and the women said the men would drink until their bellies looked like swollen toads.
 Our plan was mostly to relax and unwind a bit, so this looked to be the perfect spot. We got a nice sight on the river and enjoyed watching barge traffic and the goings on at the lock and dam on the opposite shore.
 We did do a day drive one day to check out Petit Jean State Park. This was Arkansas first state park and is 2658 acres with the Petit Jean Mountain the main area. Named after a French girl who disguised herself as a boy and secretly accompanied her sweetheart to America.
View of Arkansas River

 We got a great day with cool temps but sunny blue skies, just a nice day to hike a bit and explore the park.
 It is quite a nice park offering camping, cabins, and a lodge with restaurant. It also features a small lake for non motorized boating and fishing.

Lake Bailey

View from CCC overlook

CCC shelter


Monday, October 17, 2016


Hi all,
Year 4 of this full time lifestyle is in the books, time to reflect on where we  have been and how well we have done with our budget.
  Travel highlights of the year included, 12 states, 15 national monuments or parks, and 11 state parks. Our trail ride into Bryce Canyon was the most memorable.
          RV MILES                        TRUCK MILES                     TOTAL
           5,848                                    12,754                                  18,602
 We spent 6 months volunteering( 4 mo. Roper Lake S.P. and 2 mo. Custer S.P.) and 1 month at Wendy's folks so our camp cost  remained low.

                                    2016 ACTUAL                            BUDGET
Total Spending             33,479                                          35,306

Camping                        3,487                                            7,200

Fuel                                3,183                                            5,400

Grocery                          3,741                                             4140

Dining out                      2,846                                             2,520

Entertainment                1,229                                              1,044

Truck                             1,641                                               600

RV                                 1,129                                                600

Most of these cost are variables others that are fixed like insurances and registrations are not shown.
Need to readjust higher cost for RV and Truck upgrades and repairs. Mostly offsetting this with lower fuel cost.
 Wendy's health insurance remains a big question mark again this year. She has been on a short term plan this year. For that reason plans are for us to change residency from South Dakota to Florida using the daughters physical address.            
 Other 2016 highlights was time spent with family and friends. Family time included two weddings and a grandsons graduation.
 We had visitors each month while at Roper, how cool was that. We had Wendy's brother visit us at Custer and finally met fellow bloggers Laurel and George. We had fun traveling with Tim and Renee and spending time with Rick and Rita while near LasVegas. Boy, how did we squeeze this all in??lol.
 So what does 2017 look like, so far we will spend the winter in Florida at Amanda's, after that explore some of the east coast.
 A BIG THANKS to you all for following along and being part of our adventure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Back to Wisconsin

Hi all,
Monday we made the quick exit out of Custer as the forecast was rain and dropping temperatures. After just perfect weather this past week we got up Monday to a cool light drizzle. Our trek east was into a pretty stiff wind and we just didn't have the time to pull off and wait for it to ease up. I sure won't do any bragging on the gas mileage we got.
 We made one stop just short of Sioux Falls and pressed on the next day to Wisconsin. We pulled into Wendy's parents yard for two nights, they are doing well but still nice to get in visits when possible.
  Onward south we went, good friends from high school John and Judy were building their retirement home just 20 miles south so we figured a good time to drop in. Turns out they had just moved in and we were the first guests. Wow, what a nice place they got, they made quite a few upgrades and John was on site assuring things were getting done right.
 We are so happy for them getting the chance to live their dream.( but we just don't understand anyone's dream of retiring and moving north??? haha).
 Next we made a one night driveway stay by Wendy's sister Patsy, getting in a nice dinner and chat with her and hubby Sonny.
 Finally we pulled into Mukwonago at Country View Campground home for the next week. While here we will get in some quick quality family time and a couple doctor appointments for me.
Add caption
Colleen and Wendy
 As far as plans after that Wendy and I are torn between Louisiana and a couple festivals or beach time before heading to Amanda's, we better decide soon.

Pumpkin farm near Delavan, WI 

Isaiah, Lukas, and Manuel

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Custer Round Up

Hi all,
Yahoo!! We survived the famous Custer State Park Buffalo round up. This was the 51st annual event. The buffalo are rounded up and driven to corrals where the new calves get branded and vaccinated, cows are checked for pregnancy, and they begin sorting for the auction that goes on in November. This is done to maintain the herd at the 1,300 level they desire.
  What a week it was,  beginning on Tuesday with a full day of training on how this all gets pulled off. Training began with a talk from the park superintendent then a movie from a previous round up to get us in the mood. We then loaded up into vans and drove out the wildlife loop to the round up location to get a better visualization of parking areas and where the buffalo action would be going on. Not done yet we had more training on our duties for the Arts Festival that coinsides with the round up weekend.
 It takes a ton of volunteers and staff to put this on. There are two viewing and parking areas for the expected 14,000 spectators.
 We were assigned to a small team for crowd control, our main focus keeping the crowd off the wildlife loop road and in a roped designated area. We began to realize our team of 5 was going to be spread pretty thin we only hoped the crowd would behave and not overtake us.)
 We got a nice surprise earlier in the week as Wendy's brother Rich called and said he would be driving from Wisconsin for the event. We were a bit worried we wouldn't be able to spend much time with him and traveling alone it might be lonely waiting for the action. Well Wendy had a great idea, we got a waiver for Rich to volunteer and aide us in crowd control. Boy, how thoughtful are we??.lol
 Friday is the big day, we met at the old visitor center at 4:45 am to caravan with a police escort to our respective areas. As we drove along we passed a long line of cars (close to 200) already waiting for the 6:15 parking lot opening.
 As we awaited for the opening of parking and the crowd we were greeted with a awesome sunrise. Our weather ended up being slightly overcast which may have been a blessing not having to bake for hours in the sun.
 The roundup was to begin at 9:30 but it took until almost 10:30 before we spied the first of the buffalo. After that it goes pretty fast, they come in driven fast by riders some riding and cracking their bullwhips. They also use a number of pick up trucks to assure the herd doesn't veer off course.
  It all went pretty good although the herd did make a charge off the intended course up a hill but didn't take riders to long to circle  around and bring them on in.

North viewing area

view from south viewing area

Into the corral

All in!
 Overall we had a great experience and were glad we changed to our summer schedule to include this.
 Our day was not near over, as Wendy and I had duties to assist at the Arts Festival. Wendy was manning a registration booth while I was monitoring an entrance gate. We did this from noon til 5 and then scooted back to our campground for our host duties.

 Yes, definetly a long day we zombied through and laughed as we said we were going to bed on Richards Wisconsin time zone.
 Saturday Wendy found someone to take her registration hours so she could spend some time with her brother. They got in a nice hike on the Little Devils Tower Trail while I slaved away at the gate.(
Mountain goat

Black Elk Peak (Harney Peak) in background

Great fall colors

 One perk during the roundup is that the park volunteers were given a place at the Art Festival to sell their treasures. Wendy did great with her pine needle baskets, me not so much as I had put out some diamond willow hiking sticks but there was to much competition, oh well.
 Our next plans are to leave here on Monday and travel to Wisconsin for a quick stop before heading south. Our winter plans are to work camp at Amanda's place in Live Oak, Fla.