Two years ago we traveled through the Mississippi Delta area of Arkansas and fell in love with the area. So naturally when we began planning our trip to Oxford we decided to cross the Mississippi River into Arkansas and return to two of the places we enjoyed back then. When we told our friends we were going to Mississippi by way of Arkansas they looked at us like we were crazy.
Our first stop in Arkansas was Lake Chicot State Park. I posted about our first visit here. After a long day driving through part of Alabama and all across the state of Mississippi, we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and arrived at the campground hot and tired.
We got set up in time to watch a beautiful sunset over Lake Chicot.
The lake was beautiful in the early mornings.
Lake Chicot is the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. It is a popular fishing destination and many varieties of birds can be seen here.
On our first visit here we had our first taste of delicious Mississippi Delta hot tamales so of course getting some more was on the top of our to do list. One day we took a drive back across the Mississippi River to Greenville, Mississippi to pick up three dozen hot tamales to go from Doe’s Eat Place. We were in heaven as we ate some of those spicy tamales for dinner. The rest are in our freezer to take home. I posted about our first visit to Doe’s Eat Place here.
One day we took a self guided driving tour along the levee which runs along the Mississippi River to protect the area from flooding. A gravel road runs on top of the levee and the scenery changes from borrow pits to farms to woods as you go along.
Cotton is the number one crop in this part of the Mississippi Delta and we passed many fields on both sides of the river. Soybeans and sorghum are also big crops in the area.
Next up: A return to another favorite Arkansas State Park in the Mississippi Delta with some scenic drives, a museum, and award winning barbecue.
Last week two of my girlfriends and I made a road trip to a resort in Orlando near Disney World. Our goal was to hang around by the pool, do some shopping, go out to eat, and have a few umbrella drinks.
One night we arrived at The Whiskey during happy hour. We were the only tourists at this hip locals hangout and also the oldest people there! The wait staff was great, the food was good, and we enjoyed watching the young crowd.
There is no Trader Joe’s near where I live so I am always happy to find one when I am on the road.
To celebrate my birthday on Friday we spent the afternoon at Disney Springs. This used to be called Downtown Disney and since my last visit seven years ago it has totally changed. Parking lots have been replaced with new upscale shops and parking garages have been added.
There is no fee to go to Disney Springs and parking is free. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. Although we didn’t give ourselves enough time to really enjoy it all I was able to find gifts for my grand children that can only be purchased in the shops there or in one of the theme parks.
On the way back home we stopped at Skipper’s Fish Camp in Darien, Georgia for some delicious fried shrimp and a great view of the shrimp boats.
Shrimp boats in Darien, Georgia
Shrimp boat Grave Digger
Shrimp boat Miss Jackie
After three days of laughter and fun, I returned home exhausted but with happy memories of a great adventure with my friends.
Our week at Fort Pickens Campground in the Gulf Islands National Seashore sped by. When we weren’t walking on the pure white sand at the beach, exploring Fort Pickens and the batteries, or visiting the National Naval Aviation Museum we were wandering around the Florida Gulf Coast.
One day we took Blondie outside of the National Seashore to go to the Pensacola Beach Dog Beach. A small section of beach has been set aside to allow dogs on a leash to enjoy the beach.
A Legendary Beach Bar
One day we took a drive along the Gulf to the Florida-Alabama state line to visit the famous Flora-Bama Bar. The bar has been called the “Last Great American Roadhouse” and ranks among the “Best Beach Bars” in the world. The wooden building is located on the beach between high rises and we almost missed it as we drove along the Gulf road. Originally built in 1964, it has survived fires and hurricanes. After suffering a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the building was restored.
It was quiet the day we went. Their busy season starts with spring break. Their “Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party” brings huge crowds in April.
Besides the famous beach bar, there are two restaurants, a liquor store, a marina, and plenty of parking across the road on the bay. We enjoyed a lunch of shrimp po’boys at their Old River Bar and Grill overlooking the bay before heading back to our campground.
Gulf Coast Good Eats
For us, no trip to the Gulf Coast would be complete without a trip to a seafood market. In our quest for Stone Crab Claws we stopped at Joe Patti’s Seafood Market in Pensacola. The huge seafood market has been in business in Pensacola for many years and sells every kind of fresh seafood and related items you can imagine. Iced down in the display cases were fresh grouper, redfish, snapper, other fish, gulf shrimp, scallops, stone crab claws, oysters, and seafood of every kind. Also available are made in house shrimp and other salads, smoked mullet dip, seafood spreads, seafood chowder and other specialty items. Then there were smoked sausages and other specialty meats along with many Cajun specialties. In another room were sauces, condiments, and kitchen items to help prepare and eat the seafood.
The place was packed but we were served quickly and left happy with Jumbo Stone Crab Claws, shrimp salad and smoked mullet dip for dinner. Best meal we had on the entire trip.
Located just a short drive from the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Peg Leg Pete’s in Pensacola Beach was recommended to us by several of our friends so of course we had to give it a try. Our friends didn’t steer us wrong. The Cajun fried shrimp appetizer and Grouper Sandwiches were excellent.
Wildlife and Sunset Vewing
Even sitting in our own campsite we were entertained. One day an armidillo walked into our campsite driving Blondie wild.
We walked out on the fishing pier at Fort Pickens to see what the fishermen were catching. One fisherman was reeling in a stingray as we arrived and we saw another catching Drum in a cast net. As we walked along the pier a Great Blue Heron walked right in front of me before hopping up on the railing to put on a show. There were actually two herons on the pier and when the first one flew off, another took his place on the railing.
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
We enjoyed more beautiful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
Evacuating the Campground
As the week went on the winds picked up and the waves got bigger.
When you check into the campground at Fort Pickens, you are taking a chance that you may have to leave early because of the road flooding. There is a low section of the road between the campground and the entrance to the park that is subject to flooding. During big storms, the campground has been known to flood. The winds had been picking up all week and storms were forecast starting on Thursday, March 10, our departure date.
On Wednesday afternoon we returned from our wanderings to find a notice on the door to our RV that the campground was closing at noon on Thursday. Several campers left that afternoon while everyone else (like us) started packing up and getting ready for an early morning departure. The luck of the Irish was with us since we were scheduled to leave anyway.
After leaving the campground we drove through a section of the Fort Pickens Road that was underwater.
After two days of elk watching in Cataloochee Valley we packed a lunch and set out from our campground in Waynesville for a 40 mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of fall colors.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile scenic parkway through the southern Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. The northernmost point of the parkway is Mile 0 in Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia. The southernmost point is Mile 469 near Cherokee, North Carolina. There are scenic overlooks, picnic areas, hiking trails, and campgrounds all along the way.
Although we have traversed several sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the past we had never been on the area in North Carolina north of the Highest Point at Mile 431. On our journey this time we traveled south from Mile 408 at Mount Pisgah to Maggie Valley at about Mile 455.
The first order of business was a picnic at the Mount Pisgah picnic area at the top of a short paved trail. After lunch under the trees we started our journey south, stopping at several of the scenic overlooks. It was too early in the year for the peak autumn colors but a few of the leaves were beginning to change.
Looking Glass Rock got it’s name because sunlight will reflect off the granite when there is water collected on it.
There was beautiful scenery every where we looked.
We found a few more fall colors.
There are many folktales surrounding the Devil’s Courthouse. It was getting late and we decided to skip the trail to the top.
The picture on the left was taken 8 years ago when we first stopped at the Highest Point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 431. The one on the right from this visit.
Highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Highest Point on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The photo below is the view from the Highest Point.
A few clouds rolled in as we continued south,
Our home base for exploring Cataloochee Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway was Creekwood RV Park a few miles north of Waynesville and Maggie Valley. Our site backed up to a beautiful creek. It was a perfect place to relax after a day of wandering.
Beautiful Creek behind our campsite
Sitting by the creek was a great way to end each day
Duck in the creek behind our RV
Of course we had to try some North Carolina barbeque while were were there. The Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville was recommended and the spareribs, chicken, and brisket were done to perfection. And it turns out the owners are originally from Georgia!
Beautiful fall weather, bugling elk, scenic drives, camping beside a creek, and delicious barbeque. It doesn’t get much better than that.
We’ve had a wonderful summer at home in Georgia but the fifth wheel hasn’t moved in four months. It’s time to hit the road and do a little wandering in the RV.
We are heading to Virginia to spend a few days visiting our daughter’s family. We’ve made this trip several times before and although we could make it in one day we like to stop somewhere in North or South Carolina to break up the trip.
I love staying in new places so after I read a good review of the Little Cedar Creek Campground I decided we would check it out. The campground is clean and well maintained with friendly and helpful camp hosts. The sites are wooded, spacious and quiet. There are trails through the woods and at the bottom of a hill is a little pond and a creek. We decided to stay two nights so we could explore the nearby town of Ridgeway.
Downtown Ridgeway has some interesting old buildings, shops and a wonderful restaurant in the old town hall. We strolled around downtown and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Old Town Hall Restaurant.
Old Police Station in Ridgeway, South Carolina
Right next to the old police station is the Ridgeway Police Department Today
Old Town Hall in Ridgeway, South Carolina
Ruff & Company Hardware Store since 1840
Old Ruff Hardware store on the left of the new store