September 30, 2007

Sunset King Lake Resort, DeFuniak Springs, Florida

Today we left Jellystone Park in Robert, Louisiana and headed for Sunset King Lake Resort in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

We REALLY liked our site at this park. One thing that would have made it better would have been a concrete pad for the RV. Other than that it was great.

Nice, clean swimming pool.

Brand new fishing dock on King Lake.

This is where the resort shows movies on Friday Night. We saw Wild Hogs with Tim Allen and John Travolta.

After viewing the resort, we decided to lengthen our originally planned stay of 5 nights to 8 nights.

To see more pictures of Sunset King Lake Resort, go to
http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/sunset-king-lake-re/ .

To be continued...

September 29, 2007

Gulfport & Biloxi

Today we went to see the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. We stopped at a Mississippi Visitor Center near Bay St. Louis where NASA also has a visitor center called the Stennis Space Center. They offer tours but we were unaware of this attraction and will have to wait until next time.

But we did take a look at this Lunar Lander...

and we also took a look at the black cat that just showed up the week before at the Mississippi Visitor Center. It was curled up so still on the hay that it looked like a statue and most of the people who walked by didn't even notice it.

In Bay St. Louis, we began to see houses still showing signs of Katrina.

Here's the bridge connecting Bay St. Louis to Pass Christian. The southern half of the new bridge replacing the span destroyed by Katrina is now open to two-way traffic.

Near Gulfport, we found this swimming pool missing its house. Many of the streets nearest the Gulf were similar.

Here's a video Marlon took of the Gulfport area.

Waffle House (the yellow sign) was one of the first businesses to rebuild on the Gulf Coast. There is probably a new Waffle House every 2 miles for 25 miles...and ALMOST nothing else.

In Gulfport we located the site of Marine Life Oceanarium, one of the many casualties of Hurricane Katrina.

The Oceanarium was the home to dolphins, sea lions and exotic birds. Many of the animals were evacuated before the storm. However 8 dolphins and 19 sea lions were left to ride out the storm in what staff members believed were safe areas.

Unfortunately, Katrina proved more powerful than ever expected as she devastated the park and set the remaining animals free into the Gulf. Most were recovered but several did lose their lives.

These pictures are a far cry from when Marlon visited Marine Life Oceanarium in 1999 below.

Further on in Biloxi, we ran across the Sharkheads Souvenir Store. It appears work is being done on the building, but it is far from completion.

Here is a YouTube video of what Sharkheads used to look like...
The Isle of Debris (I mean Capri) has reopened in Biloxi.

While the smaller Casino Magic next to it probably will never reopen. Harrah's has, however, purchased the land it sits on.

For more pictures of the Marine Life Oceanarium and the Gulfport-Biloxi area, go to http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/gulf-coast-gulfport/ .

To be continued...

September 27, 2007

French Quarter & Super City Tour

Following the Hurricane Katrina Tour we had a couple of hours before we took our Super City Tour, so we walked around the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street.

New Orleans wants you to know that the French Quarter, and most everything tourists come to New Orleans for, is open for business.

Whoever owns this door wants you to know its lack of importance.

The Super City Tour was another bus tour which gave brief overviews of the City and its history...which included a brief view of another FEMA trailer park.

We also viewed several homes in The Garden District.

Marlon caught a little bit of footage as we drove through The Garden District.

Right outside one of the older St. Louis Cemeteries (there are 3), we viewed this school parade.

This is one of the St. Louis Cemeteries where whole families are encased in a monument. A detailed description of these "Cities of the Dead" can be found at http://www.experienceneworleans.com/deadcity.html .

We also viewed both the Loyola and Tulane University campuses on this tour.

Here's the bus we rode in. It was about twice the size of the Hurricane Katrina bus but had only half the passengers.

Back in The French Quarter, we waited for someone to toss us down some beads.

We found this guy, Hand Grenade, at one of the Tropical Isle bars on Bourbon Street. We decided we needed to try a couple of Hand Grenade drinks...not bad at all. When you're on Bourbon Street, try one or two.

Here, Hand Grenade shows us a trick.

It was now about 6:00 pm and Bourbon Street was still very subdued. That would change in a few hours.

The Cajun Country Store on Bourbon Street had this recommendation for future hurricanes.

Bourbon Street is populated by street performers such as these cowboy statues much the same way we have seen in both Key West and Honolulu.

A tall New Orleans building...

For more pictures of The French Quarter and our Super City Tour, go to http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/french-quarter--sup/ .

To be continued...

New Orleans & The Hurricane Katrina Tour

The most direct route to New Orleans from our campground in Robert was to travel across The Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. At almost 24 miles in length, the parallel bridges which form the causeway are the longest bridges in the world.

For the privilege of crossing the longest bridge in the world, you must pay $3 going into New Orleans. In 1999 the toll was eliminated for the trip across the bridge FROM New Orleans (it was $1.50 each way before that).

Here is one of the Historic New Orleans Streetcars available to transport you through the city.

We went on a 9 am Gray Line "Hurricane Katrina tour". The four hour tour gave us fairly up close and personal looks at the remains of the devastation that happened two years ago.

The tour guide kept us informed with details of her personal experience with Katrina, as well as updating us on the progress of the neighborhoods which we drove through.

Here was one of the first items of interest the tour passed...the Louisiana Superdome as it appeared after Katrina...

and the Superdome as it appears today.

This was the first of many houses which provided an illustration of the rescue attempts during the Katrina aftermath.

Each time rescue workers approached a house, they marked it with an X (or one diagonal of an X). In the top, they wrote the date. An indication of who searched the house was put on the left. This would often be initials of a state such as AZ for Arizona National Guard. On the bottom, they would indicate the number of bodies found...in this case, 0. In the right hand side of the X they would put any hazards anyone else coming to the house should be aware of such as missing staircases, etc. When they left the house, they would mark the other diagonal of the X to indicate that they were not still inside. On the right hand door you can see "ho" which is the beginning of the word "hole". This apparently means people in the house were rescued through a hole in the roof.

Many of the neighborhoods were filled with street after street of houses still unoccupied. Some streets would have work being done on about every other house...other streets would have work being done on about 1 house in 10. Still other streets appeared to be totally abandoned.

On the tour, places were pointed out where the flood wall around the city broke.

The still damaged abandoned homes ranged from very small shotgun style houses to houses worth over $500,000 pre-Katrina.

In most neighborhoods almost all stores are still closed. Whole strip malls for miles going down major streets are abandoned.

These are some of the FEMA trailers provided to those who are working on restoring their homes.

Many house structures are still sound, but have to gutted from the inside out and completely redone.

The Botanical Gardens was a brief stop on The Katrina Tour.

Another less-horrific casualty of Hurricane Katrina was Six Flags Over New Orleans. Six Flags has decided that the New Orleans proper population, which was 460,000 and is now estimated to be 250,000, is not enough to support a park. All useful rides have already been moved to other locations around the country. What remains is considered scrap metal.

This is an example of a Katrina Cottage costing about $75,000 which is about the amount the federal government is paying for the FEMA trailers, which in our opinion probably retail for $20,000! To our understanding, because of governmental red tape, it proved more difficult to get a Katrina Cottage than a trailer even though they were costing the government the same amount of money.

Marlon captured part of Katrina Tour on video below.

For more pictures of the Katrina Tour, go to http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/neworleanshurricane/ .

To be continued...

September 26, 2007

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park, Love Bugs & A Leaky Window

Today we headed south from St. Joseph to Robert, Louisiana. We would be staying at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park.

Here was our pull-thru site.

The park had ponds where you could paddleboat.

It had Yogi Bear who allowed Marlon to sniff his underarm.

It had 2 pools as well as a fountain area for kids or kids at heart.

Jellystone, as well as Shiloh, was also well-attended by the wonderful Love Bug.

The front of your car or rv will be plastered in love bugs if you drive during the day in Louisiana or Florida during May or September.

These bugs are mating by the force of the female (the bigger of the two) and travel hooked together. Their splat on your car will ruin your paint if not removed within a couple of days.

Our second day at Jellystone provided us with a huge downpour of rain for about 30 minutes and allowed us to note the RV's leaky window by the passenger seat first hand.

Luckily for us, Dixie RV Super Stores (largest RV dealer in Louisiana) was just 12 miles away. They made room in their schedule for us to come in and have our "loose window" diagnosed. After 3 hours at the service center, our window was fixed. We hope.

After delaying our day-trip to New Orleans one day because of a leaky window, we were ready to head for The Big Easy.

For more pictures of Jellystone or Dixie RV, go to http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/jellystone-campgrou/ and http://public.fotki.com/Marlonfleenor/1/2007/september/dixie-rv-supercente/ .

To be continued...