The End of the World – Antarctica!

6B506A13-F0B2-4410-98E0-E5D8C996398AWe have made it to “the end of the earth” and it is fabulous!   We have very intermittent and weak internet here, so my blog will be late and brief.  Next week will most likely be postponed altogether.
We have seen thousands of penguins, whales,  birds and a few other animals as well. The landscapes are breathtaking! And so is the cold!

We are loving our adventure in the White Continent and I will put up pictures in a couple of weeks.

Argentina!

Buenos Aires

We flew to Buenos Aires… a ten hour red-eye flight.  We’ve been spoiled by getting almost automatic upgrades to economy-plus seating, with its extra legroom, on most all flights with United.  But not this one! The flight was really overbooked.  They kept asking for two people booked in first class to give up their seats, in exchange for a first class the next day or economy ON THE SAME FLIGHT, and a $5,000 credit on future flights and 250,000 miles on their account!! And NOBODY wanted to step down. After trying to sleep all night in that cramped seat maybe I understand. If you could afford first in the first place 😎

Getting through immigration took forever, customs was no problem, changing money was even longer (1.5 hours?) and then to get official taxi was a wait too… from touchdown to leaving the airport was over 4 hours. Some kind of record for us!

We had a very nice little hotel in Buenos Aires, and the desk folks were very nice and helpful. We checked in and immediately checked out (as in a nap for 2-3 hours).  When we woke from our nap we walked around the neighborhood and ended up having a fabulous dinner at an Indian restaurant.

Iguazu Falls

The next morning we were back in a different airport, to fly to the Iguazu Falls.  This felt short, being only a 2 hour flight instead of the 10 the night before.

Here is the new airport in Iguazu- it looks like they haven’t bothered to remove the old tower yet.

IMG_1268

 

There are multiple walking trails leading over, under and around the falls.  I was prepared for amazing, but was not ready for HOW AMAZING these falls are!  “Best in the World” does not do them justice!  There are something like 275 separate falls, but all combine to make an effect that is stunning!  They extend so widely there is no way to see them all at the same time, let alone photograph them.  So you just take 350 or so photos and sort them all out later.

IMG_1307

IMG_1276

IMG_2717

IMG_2587

 

Some vantage points get you VERY close to the falls – with the result of getting pretty wet.

IMG_1284

 

We hiked over 7 miles of trails to see these magnificent falls from as many angles as possible.  Below is a very wide angle shot from a distance, but it still only gets 73.4% of the falls. (I measured)

IMG_1320

We were blessed by seeing lots of interesting birds and animals, too.

IMG_2594

 

IMG_2672

 

IMG_2701

 

There were many beautiful butterflies too…

 

IMG_2751

This one loved Cherryl’s backpack.

IMG_2660

IMG_2631

 

There were coati all over – they apparently get very aggressive and can do a lot of damage to a person trying to feed them.

 

IMG_2598

 

Wednesday we boarded the Zaandam – one of the “Dam Ships” in the Holland American line.  Just in case we hadn’t seen enough animals, we were greeted with a lobster on our bed!

IMG_1328

IMG_1329

 

Our balcony overlooks the busy commercial harbor – interesting to see the huge cranes shuffling containers around.

IMG_1330

 

More of Buenos Aires and beyond coming in the next blog…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plethora of Plantations

We spent a couple of days with good friends Jeff and Marilyn in Gulfport, Mississippi.  They have lived out of their RV for about 3 years now!  We had a great time with them – camped side by side: (OK, I was really taking a picture of our rig.  But theirs is next door!)

IMG_1094

 

I was really hoping we could dine in this elegant establishment, but the timing never worked out…

 

Jefferson Davis Home

We enjoyed a nice long walk 😉 to the last home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.

 

This carriage is the last he rode in… posthumously.  It is decorated with rifles and cannon.

IMG_1103

 

Inside the house is restored to as close as they could to the period.

IMG_1106

 

IMG_1109

IMG_1112

IMG_1114

 

A ways behind the house is the cemetery, complete with the tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier.

 

A sign announcing “Snake Crossing” got my attention!

IMG_1124

St Michael church

This church in Convent, Louisiana has been there a while… we were told many slaves and their babies were buried there.

IMG_1141

Poche Plantation

Just down the street from St Michael’s is the Poche Plantation, which just happens to have RV sites on the back of the property.  So now we have lived on a plantation! (for a couple of days…)

The “Big House” was built in the 1870’s, after the civil war, so no slaves toiled here.  It faces the Mississippi River, but there is a huge levee between it and the river.  In 1929, the government was going to build the levee to control the river, and told all the homeowners along the river that they would have to move their homes or demolish them… at the homeowners’ expense!  The owner of this home fought it because of the beauty of the home, and the government paid to have it moved back a safe distance from the new levee!

IMG_1160

Again, it is furnished to the period, with many original pieces still remaining.

IMG_1145

 

I enjoyed the kid’s rocking horse in the playroom.  (Enjoyed LOOKING at it… they wouldn’t let me try it out)

 

The crystal balls on the bottom of the chandeliers were very popular… ask me sometime for a couple funny stories regarding these.

IMG_1149

 

IMG_1155

 

The wallpaper in the dining room was very unique, and in bad shape.  The owner talked to manufacturers all over the states and Europe, looking for a similar pattern.  Finally a French company said they didn’t have a similar pattern; they had the original!  They had been the original supplier to the mansion!  They recreated the wallpaper, and that now adorns the walls. It is unusual in that the pattern does not repeat… and there are unique colorful birds here and there, but only one of each bird in the room.

IMG_1157

IMG_1151IMG_1158

 

Poche Plantation at night:

 

Oak Alley Plantation

This is a magnificent antebellum plantation on the other side of the Mississippi.  It is justly famous for many reasons, but most obvious is the namesake walkway through the oak trees to the entrance of the “Big House.”

Ironically, the owners were told they would have to cut away many of the oaks when the levee was to be built.  Power or Prestige prevailed, however… they moved the bank of the river so the Oak Alley would remain undisturbed!

IMG_1199

 

IMG_1200

IMG_1211

 

Photography is not allowed in the house, but this is from the front balcony looking out through the Oak Alley.

IMG_1179

 

All along the levee were preparations for bonfires, a Christmas tradition along the river.  This one is just opposite the gate to Oak Alley.

IMG_1188

IMG_1192

 

There used to be 20 slave cabins… now there are 6 that have been reconstructed and furnished.

IMG_1168

A tour guide said that the half-moon cutout on the outhouse door indicated it was for the women.  A complete circle, a full-moon, was for the men.  I’d never heard that before.

Lake Charles

A nice lakefront walk houses a small marina and a large park, including a kid’s playground with a climbing house that looked three stories tall!

This represents Captain Johannes Goos, who settled here in 1855 with his wife and seven children.  He was a lumber miller and shipbuilder, and used some of his ships to run the Union blockades during the Civil War.  He built a hospital, and took care of both the Confederate and Union soldiers.  A very good guy, so he gets his statue in the park.

IMG_1229

 

A walk further along the lake revealed many beautiful homes… maybe today’s version of the plantation “Big Houses.”

IMG_1236

 

Just in case you think all homes in this part of the world look like plantation “Big Houses”, here are a couple of structures near our Poche Plantation grounds, complete with “ladies room”…

IMG_1218

IMG_1219

 

OK, here is the second picture I’ve posted from inside a Wal*Mart.  This little robot thing was slowly sliding down the isle, with a bright light shining on the rack adjacent it.  It must have been recording shelf content for restocking or inventory purposes.  So what would happen if it approached a person? (Me). It stopped, and turned around and headed elsewhere.  Funny thing; it encountered me again!  I had the poor thing moving all around trying to avoid me.  If this Wal*Mart is poorly stocked, it’s my fault.

IMG_1243

 

Houston, Texas

So here we are in Houston.  We have a nice site, with the nose pointed right at a little lake.  From inside the motorhome you can’t see any land in front of us – just water.  We can pretend we are still living on a boat.

We’ve seen a heron, many coots, and a couple of turtles enjoying the lake.

IMG_2544

IMG_2524

 

You may notice we have sun covers over the wheels and tires, and over the windshield and front windows.  We are planning on leaving Fudge Ripple here for a bit, while we explore some places we’ve never been before.  We have a huge adventure planned, starting Sunday evening.  I’m hoping we will have sufficient internet coverage to keep posting at least a few pictures for the next few weeks.  So come back next week to see where a ten hour flight south can get us!

 

(The sunsets on our little lake have been fabulous!)

IMG_2513

IMG_2547

 

Being Thankful!

St Louis

 

The year Karen and Loren lived in St Louis, Ashlyn was 2 and Bryan was born.  They thought it would be fun to check the area out again, so we met them there.

This is a park near where they lived:

IMG_0852

IMG_0847

 

And of course, if in St Louis, you need to check out the arch!

IMG_0872

 

 

IMG_0888

 

The view from the top at sunset was really awesome!  Which is good, because it involves lots of long lines and  crowds to get up there!

IMG_0897

IMG_0911

 

 

 

Monday was a quick trip to the zoo – and a bit of “King of the Turtle!”

IMG_0935

 

We did see a few animals in the zoo, including this Takin.  Funny looking guy I don’t remember seeing before.

 

IMG_0950

 

The high point of the zoo when Ashlyn was two, was the Carousel.  So we had to pose by it now.

 

 

In addition to animals, there are many beautiful buildings in the zoo.

IMG_0966

IMG_0947

 

Here is Cherryl trying to look like Beauty, the “Gruff Grandma!”

IMG_0948

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branson

 

Then it was on to Branson, where we took in a concert by “Six,” an a cappella group that we really love. (I think this is the fourth time we’ve heard them!)

 

Becky, Kevin, Dayna and Peter joined us at the campground for Silver Dollar City.  Becky brought some yummy food, and we all cooked and added to it.  We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner with ten of us in our motorhome!  It was great!

IMG_1004

 

Silver Dollar City is a huge park now, themed in the 1880’s.  They have craft demonstrations, many little shops (!), lots of food, and some of the best roller coasters anywhere!

SDC actually grew up around the Marvel Caves, as a way to entertain folks waiting for a cave tour.  The caves are really fascinating, and have a bit of history.  In the early 1800’s someone thought there was marble in the caves, so he called them Marble Caves, sold shares as a mining outfit, and built a little town near the cave to facilitate extracting all that marble.  During the Grand Opening of the establishment, a geologist descended into the cave, and announced that there was no trace of marble there!  The promoter then decided all the minors could extract bat guano, as there were some deposits 40 feet deep!  It took years to “mine” all that *%#@* guano out, and then the town was deserted.  Eventually the name became Marvel Caves, and it became a tourist attraction.

IMG_1021

 

So Thanksgiving week in Silver Dollar City was lots of fun, but we definitely had some cold and rainy days!

IMG_1024

IMG_0983

IMG_1032

 

They claim to have over 6,500,000 lights up!

IMG_0996

IMG_1064

IMG_1059

IMG_1063

IMG_1057

 

Friday night was our own little sing-along, with ukuleles, a dulcimer, and happy voices.

 

And we must include the shot of everyone in their Christmas PJ’s!

IMG_2466

IMG_2468

 

And maybe an “Old Time” photo just for fun:

Sepia

 

And one where we let the “women folk” smile a bit…

Old Color