Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Monday, December 28, 2009

Alligator Alley

There's a whoooole lot of water in Florida, and you know what else? Alligators! Cammie and I took a drive down to the Alligator Alley area near Everglades National Park hoping to see some alligators, and boy did we hit the jackpot. We had heard that alligators could be readily seen at the H.P. Williams Roadside Park on Highway 41, and we did see some on the other side of the canal at this stop. But they were pretty far away and hidden in the trees and bushes. It was when we drove up Turner River Road that we found the really good photo ops. All of the photos here were taken from this road when we pulled over right next to the canal. Some of these creepy-looking guys were as close as eight feet away -- and no barriers.

The photo below looks like Siamese twins alligators, but it's just a really clear reflection.

These guys were everywhere, and some of them were pretty large. Cammie and I were both thrilled to see them. It was well worth the drive.

Rylie's Notes:

I don't like the water, and now I know why. But I DO like The Junior Staff, and boy was I happy to see her. She brought me treats and a frog that makes noise, but I would have been happy to see her even if she didn't. But don't tell her that.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All...

...and to all a good night. I hope you are enjoying your family, friends and feathered and furry loved ones. And for those that don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So Long Texas..Hellooooooo, Florida!

It was a sprint to the finish line, and I didn't get everything done that I wanted to before I left, but at least I finished my work before I had to make a dash for Florida. Only I didn't get to dash very far before I ran into problems and delays. I had an electrical problem and a broken tire valve stem, so that gummed up the works a bit. I still don't know the full extent of my electrical problem, but at least I made it to Florida so that I can pick Cammie up at the airport. I'm so excited to see her!

It's nice to be in warmer weather. I think I'm going to enjoy being in Florida for the winter. Anyway, I'll post more later -- I just wanted to let you all know that I'm still alive, and I made it.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff tells me that there are snakes and alligators in this park. Something tells me they won't be as fun to chase as squirrels.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Old Orange Cafe Christmas Tree

I had lunch with some friends at the Old Orange Cafe in Orange, Texas recently, and I was impressed by their Christmas tree. My photography skills could not do it justice, but it was the most unique Christmas tree I have seen in awhile. It was decorated with bird of paradise and orchids.

And now for a bit of movie nostalgia: Do you remember the old movie The Birds? I saw that movie when I was a kid, and it made quite an impact on me. Well, the other day when I was working, I stopped at a Beaumont business establishment to make one of my work calls, and I was reminded of that old movie. The photos below were all taken from one parking lot. You might have to double click on the photos to get the full impact.

These birds were everywhere! After my business call I was sitting in my car for a few minutes getting my next photo ready, and I could hear the birds starting to land on the roof and trunk of my car. I felt like I was in the movie. But I'm happy to report that they did not peck my eyes out and I was able to carry on with my work.

I figured I couldn't leave Texas without getting a photo of the Texas longhorns. These two beauties were sitting in front of one of the homes I had to visit while working:

Texas Longhorns

Rylie's Notes:

Now I'm pretty good at herding birds, but even I might need to call in reinforcements with all of those birds.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Profanity Is This?

As I have mentioned before, I have a severe allergy to the cold. That's right, I'm a weather wimp. Maybe it's because I spend so much time outdoors, walking Rylie for an hour almost every day, and then knocking on doors for work. I don't like to post four letter words on my blog, so I'll post a photo instead:

That was what was left on my car Saturday morning after our storm on Friday. It didn't last long, but it made for some chilly temperatures. Snow is not very common in these parts, and the temperatures are normally in the mid to high 60's at this time of year. Now before you call me a whiny baby, you should know that motorhomes just aren't insulated like homes or apartments are, and we had some days with highs only in the 40's.

I didn't want to run my furnace because I'm low on propane and they don't deliver it at this RV park. I was hoping I could make it last until I leave here in a couple of weeks, so that I don't have to unhook everything, pack everything away, bring the motorhome somewhere to get the tank filled, and then hook everything up and unpack again, only to do it all over again in a couple of weeks. It takes a lot of time. I have just been running the heat strip on the air conditioner and the little portable heater I picked up when I was in Duluth, because they run on electric. Even with running both of those, I couldn't get the temperature in the motorhome up to normal. But at least the power didn't go out.

More rain today, and I guess tomorrow too. It sure does rain a lot here. I don't know how the folks in the Northwest handle it. I'm getting lonesome for the sun. I'm waiting for the motorhome to start floating away, with how flooded it gets around here. Rylie seems to be getting pretty tired of it too. He didn't want to perform on his evening walk because it was so wet and flooded.

Rylie's Notes:

I don't know what The Staff is complaining about. I'm the one trudging through the rain, sleet and snow without a raincoat or an umbrella. I'm not thrilled with the conditions of the outhouse lately.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Beating the Black Cloud

You know how you have those annoying days when lots of little things go wrong? Not the major tragedies that change your life, but just the doggy doo on your shoe kind of stuff that ratchets up your blood pressure a notch. Well, when I first got to Beaumont, I had about two weeks of those days. The following is a general accounting of my doggy doo days:

First, my work in Beaumont was delayed for about two weeks due to scheduling problems with the photographer, mistakes made by the office, and delays due to weather. The RV park where I am staying was flooded from all of the rain, including my campsite. Because it was so muddy and slippery, I slipped and fell when I was walking Rylie one morning and hit my head on the concrete, giving myself a royal headache. When I was washing my screens and wiping off my vent lids on the motorhome, my finger poked a hole in the plastic of one of the vent lids -- that's how much the plastic had deteriorated from the sun and other elements. Then my water heater wouldn't start any time it rained, my car had problems starting and required hundreds of dollars in repairs, I got a nail in my car tire, my GPS stopped working, a rock hit the motorhome windshield and damaged it in two places, I got the stomach flu, I stepped on an anthill and my foot was attacked by fire ants, and a dog snuck up behind me and bit me in the leg when I was working. Then I really did step in doggy doo. I could have gotten upset or depressed after this barrage of annoyances, but it got to the point where I just had to laugh about it all, it was so ridiculous. After all of that, things started going really well.

I met a couple of co-workers for lunch this week, and boy did we have fun. LaVerne and Bob are working in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area, and this is the first time we have met. It was almost a three hour lunch, and we ate at LaHacienda in Port Arthur. I had some really tasty seafood enchiladas. I know that it's a big no no to write about what you had for lunch on your blog, but I'm the boss of this blog.

I have to say, the weather in Beaumont is strange, and changes quite drastically. On Sunday the high temperatures were in the low 70's, and tomorrow they are forecasting rain, sleet, and snow. The highs were only in the 40's and low 50's this week. That's quite a bit below average for these parts, so I'm hoping it warms up again soon.

Rylie's Notes:

Dogs don't have bad days, or bad weeks. Even when our staff forgets to restock the liver treats, we still welcome her home with tail wags and kisses. Ahem.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Orleans - Presbytere Museum and St. Louis Cemetery

Seahorse Costume

The Presbytere Museum in New Orleans had an exhibit of the Zulu costumes from many years of Mardi Gras, so we went to check it out. Talk about elaborate! They must have spent all year creating some of those costumes with their bead work, feathers and humongous headdresses.

Now you can't celebrate Halloween in New Orleans without a trip to the cemetery, so off we went to St. Louis cemetery. Some of the graves, or vaults, are very grand:

And others could use a little attention:

Then there are the oven vaults, because they look like...:

Then there is the one that everyone was looking for, the grave of Marie Laveaux. Marie was known as the voodoo queen, which explains all of the x's and strange offerings at her gravesite:

I think I have posted just about everything I can about New Orleans for now. I have been busy with work in Beaumont, and sales have been great. My swing dance classes have been fun too. I can't believe it's almost December!

Rylie's Notes:

Less than one month until The Junior Staff comes to visit us in Florida, and I can hardly wait! She'll tease me by blowing in my face, and then I'll retaliate by jumping up and kissing her -- on the mouth. She'll squeal and furiously wipe her mouth off -- oh the fun we'll have!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Orleans and Gene Simmons

As I mentioned in my Halloween post on New Orleans, we spent some time at Pat O'Brien's, a well-known pub that has inhabited the French Quarter for many, many years. Although the main entrance is pretty unassuming, once you step inside you feel the history of the place, especially once you get a gander at the hundreds of beer steins hanging from the ceiling. They have a great courtyard out back for indulging in a hurricane drink -- you MUST have a hurricane drink if you go to New Orleans -- and it was a great place to spend Halloween.

Pat O'Brien's

Some of the Beer Steins at Pat O'Brien's

One of the restaurants where we had dinner was Jacques Imo's, a very popular Cajun and Creole place. You walk through the kitchen to get to your table, and the place is packed. While we were indulging in our tasty meal, the place was swarmed by Gene Simmons and his entourage, busy filming for his reality show. Gene Simmons is a member of the band Kiss, who was in town performing at the VooDoo Fest.

It was interesting to see how these reality shows are filmed. These so-called "reality" shows are not very real at all, since they do multiple takes. It was amusing to see Gene and his gang arrive, greet some of the fellow patrons as you see in the photo below, and then a few minutes later everyone got up and left, and then entered again -- a re-take. There were cameramen
and other staff all over the kitchen and blocking the walkways, and as we were leaving, we got a glimpse of the special cupcakes the restaurant had prepared with Gene's likeness in frosting.

Gene Simmons at Jacques Imo's

Another restaurant that provided a tasty meal was Palm Court, which also provided a great jazz band. The food was fantastic in New Orleans, the music plentiful, the architecture beautiful, and the people-watching was soooo very interesting.

Rylie's Notes:

Blackie and I got to pal around outside for quite some time while The Staff was chatting up her friends. I needed some canine contact. The Staff is fine, but she just doesn't get it like dogs do. Humans are a bit dense sometimes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Orleans

St. Louis Cathedral

New Orleans is a city filled with music, art, history, and beautiful architecture. It is also a city of survivors and perseverence, and maybe that's why. It has great character and is so very interesting, and maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. I really loved all of the beautiful buildings in the French Quarter and the Garden District. I don't have any photos of the Garden District, but I'm including some from the French Quarter.

The Court of Two Sisters

The Court of Two Sisters is the restaurant where we had a great jazz brunch out in the courtyard.

River's Edge Restaurant on Jackson Square

Former Jax Beer Brewery

Jackson Square

Carriages Along Jackson Square

Just an Interesting Building

The Mississippi River

Street Performers with a Pumpkin for Tips

There are plenty of great street performers all over the French Quarter, and live music everywhere you turn. There is no shortage of entertainment here.

As I was riding around the city I did also see a lot of damage still remaining from Hurricane Katrina in the less affluent areas, but I chose to focus on the beauty and strength of the city on this trip. The damage in the more affluent areas appears to have already been repaired.

I'm not done with New Orleans yet. I still have a few more photos to post. I also plan to stop in New Orleans again on my way to Florida. I barely scratched the surface.

Rylie's Notes:

While The Staff was off whooping it up with her friends, I invited Blackie and Sambo over for a night of fun. Normally I don't include cats, since they are on the other team, but Sambo is more like a dog. First I suggested that we chase the nine stray cats and the opossum that had taken up residence at the RV park, but Sambo wasn't very interested in that idea. We finally settled on raiding the fridge and cupboards and tearing around the motorhome to fling as much dog and cat hair as we could around the premises. Our work was done.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Fire Fountain at Pat O'Briens

I met up with some friends from all over the country in New Orleans and spent four days, including Halloween. I can't imagine a more fun and crazy place to be for Halloween. It was like Mardi Gras. They even had a parade, beads, and the streets of the French Quarter were packed with people in costume, especially on Bourbon Street. We just stood on a corner on Bourbon Street for awhile and watched the people go by. I have tons of photos, although not always of the best quality. Most of the photos were taken of people as they walked by, although quite a few stopped to pose for photo ops. Remember that you can double click on the photos to see them better.

Eventually we got a little thirsty, and decided to go to Pat O'Brien's, an old, famous bar in the Quarter, for a hurricane drink. They were having a costume contest there, and we were lucky enough to get a primo table in the courtyard right by the fountain, which is where everyone stopped to pose for photos. I had sooooo much fun!

Rylie's Notes:

All I want to know is, what happened to the trick-or-treat bag?