“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” -Isaiah 60:1
After losing my precious Mother on Monday, 02/15/2016, we proceeded with our already pre-planned trip.
The trip was planned with friends, John & Amy Coile, whom we met at Beaver’s Bend, Broken Bow, Oklahoma, in the Fall of 2015. We took 4-days (3 over night stays) to arrive to our destination in Ft. Lauderdale, leaving Allen, Tx. on Saturday, 02/27/2016, my birthday! We met up with John & Amy at Cracker Barrel in Allen for breakfast then hit the road at approximately 10:00 am.
West Monroe, Louisiana – Duck Commander of Duck Dynasty (Tourist Event)
Drove approximately 300 miles on Interstate 20 to West Monroe, touristy stop. Parker, our 8-year old grandson, requested a duck call and autograph. We were able to get the duck call (whistle), but no autograph. It was the actual warehouse and site seen in the show, however,
the retail store is the only area tourists are allowed. Retail store offering photo-ops. There is plenty of parking to accommodate RV’s. As seen in the signage behind us in the photo above, it is not very well-maintained and we were not impressed.
Vicksburg, MS – Ameristar RV Park, 725 Lucy Bryson Street (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove approximately 80 miles to Vicksburg, Mississippi where we spent the first night at Ameristar RV Park. Bill, John and Amy celebrated my birthday with a Seafood Buffet at the Ameristar Casino, a shuttle ride from our RV Park. It was Saturday night, and everyone in-town must enjoy this “all you can eat buffet” because there was a 45-minute wait in line. The “all you can eat crab” was well-worth the cost of $27.00 per person, it was a buffet with many other choices too. The RV park offers a shuttle ride to/from casino.
Vicksburg National Military Park (Tourist Event)
Visited the Vicksburg National Military Park, definitely recommend. It’s a 16-mile drive-through park with narrow roads, so you can not drive through with your camper/trailer. You can hike it and we actually met Rusty Dawson who was walking through the park as his walk for the Wounded Warrior project where he was walking 100 miles per state. A big shout-out for R. Rusty Dawson! A map is provided at the visitor’s center and will serve as a self-guided tour. Another very
interesting part of the drive is seeing the iron-clad gunboat “Cairo”
that was the first vessel ever sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo. The Cairo was recovered with artifacts and the remains are on display, kept under tent for preservation. The park is a beautiful drive with history of the Bayou Expeditions led by Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Robertson, Alabama – Riverside RV Resort, 25625 Water Rapids Road (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove approximately 233 miles to Riverside RV Resort. Our driving pattern changed while we were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale and after driving until we were tired, the Coile’s selected this park when we were approaching Mobile, Alabama. They gave us the name of Riverside, we googled what we thought was correct, entering the address into our GPS along with attempting to follow the Coil’s to this site. Unfortunately, we did not realize there were two Riverside RV’s (one is listed as a RV Resort, the other is listed as a RV Park) both showing up when googling the name as being located in Mobile, Alabama. We kept thinking they were missing turns that we were being directed to take, but just kept attempting to follow. It wasn’t until we made it to the turn off I-10 to get onto Water Rapids Road which is actually in Robertson, Alabama, outside of Mobile, that we realized the problem in trying to follow our GPS. Another issue was that it was dark and not knowing where we were going we got a little nervous when we read “dead-end” signage just entering onto Water Rapids, with not much chance of turning around with an RV if you were not on the right road. The “new” owners said that they have ordered highway signage, making it easier to find them, so it may not be a problem in the future.
The next morning we took Gabby for a walk around the park and to the river where the RV resort owners have built a nice little patio for their guests to sit by the river. It is a very nice park and with warmer weather would be a great location to river raft on the Styx River running behind the resort with easy access. We would recommend you staying at this nice, quaint park, however, you may want to arrive in day-light and be sure and enter the address of this particular park.
Lake City, Florida – Lake City Campground, 4743 N. US Hwy. 441 (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove approximately 345 miles to Lake City Campground. It was a nice park with good ratings, however, we were not close to town and restaurants. We drove to town to eat dinner and there was a nice RV park (In & Out) next door to Olive Garden and several other restaurants. There was a lake in town and shops that would have been nice to look around, but did not take the time on this trip.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (area) – Easterlin City Park, 1000 NW 38th Street, Oakland, FL (13-Night’s Stay)
Drove 351 miles to Easterlin City Park. We were really impressed by this pretty city park with lots of trees/wooded areas, a lake with ducks, trails, a disc golf course which was interesting to watch the game being played. This is a public park and opened for day usage with picnic areas, playground, etc. The campsites are protected in the back of the park with signage for overnight guests only. There is a guarded gate entrance that is activated after dark for overnight guests only. The gate was under construction when we were there, so a night guard was at the gate after dark and we were told it was guarded overnight.
The areas surrounding this park are industrial and driving to the park may cause hesitation, but we felt safe and enjoyed this park. The couple we were traveling with and are originally from Fort Lauderdale have stayed at this park many times and say it is the best RV campground in the area, other people we met camping shared their sentiment.
Jungle Queen River Boat – Ft. Lauderdale (Tourist Event)
Highly recommend this river boat tour with a few different options. We enjoyed it so much that we actually took it twice with two different options. The first time we went with the couple we were traveling with who recommended it and had previously taken it many times with friends/family. We took the first scheduled tour in the morning (departing at 11 am, a 90-minute), snack bar onboard. It is a guided river boat ride up the coastal way sight-seeing yachts, beautiful mansions, many owned by famous celebrities, with a tour-guide providing information as you go and highlighting several vocal points on the tour. Sonny & Cher’s one-story ranch style is still standing, once the largest home on the coastal-way, now next door is the Seagram’s 7 large beautiful mansion. Gloria Vanderbilt has a beautiful home located there and is where her son, Anderson Cooper (CNN news anchor), grew up spending much of their time.
The second time we took our son and granddaughter to the afternoon Island tour (departing at 1:30 pm, 3-hours), snack bar onboard, and stopping at their tropical isle where you see an alligator show, birds, monkeys and more. There is a snack bar on the Isle offering a wider selection than the onboard snack bar. Our son enjoyed seeing the yachts and mansions of the rich and famous, and our 9-year old granddaughter thoroughly enjoyed the stop on the Isle where she saw her most favorable owls, was able to hold an exotic bird for photos and she held a baby alligator (mouth-banded closed) for a photo. Suggest you look for a Groupon before purchasing your ticket, our son found us a big discount when we purchased our second trip’s tickets using a Groupon.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Hollywood, FL (Tourist Event)
We enjoyed walking around the shops surrounding the area of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and enjoyed lunch at the Hard Rock Café which is located in the Hotel lobby. We put our budgeted $20 into a few slot machines as we walked through the casino, then walked around their beautiful outdoor tropical pool area with cabanas. There is a theatre with live performances and a comedy club surrounding the walking area around this hotel as well as the nice shops.
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort (Tourist Event)
Drove 15 miles to Hollywood Beach and parked in the $20 per day covered parking offered by the Margaritaville Beach Resort Hotel. This is a beautiful resort inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffet, part-owner of the resort.
We thoroughly enjoyed walking through the lobby, gift shops, and tropical pool oasis overlooking the beach.
Key Biscayne Beach, Miami, FL (Tourist Event)
Drove 51 miles from Easterlin Park to Key Biscayne Beach. Our son found this beach through internet searches, as we were looking for a beach not as crowded and possibly shielded better from the high winds we experienced at both Hollywood Beach and South Miami beach, as it is located on the bay side. It is an island located south of Miami Beach, between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. This was a very nice, quant town with cute shops, restaurants and a lighthouse. The lighthouse is located in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Unfortunately, it was just mildly less windy than the other beaches we had visited, but less crowded.
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, Hallandale, FL (Tourist Event)
Drove 15 miles to Hallandale, Florida to visit the Gulfstream Park Horse Racing Track and Casino. There is a 110-foot-tall (11-stories) bronzed Pegasus, costing $30 million to be put together as it was shipped in pieces from China and Germany. The Pegasus was not completed when we visited and the planned park around the Pegasus was still under-construction. The Pegasus will have a musical fountain, a ferris wheel, pony rides and other park-themed attractions. We enjoyed lunch at Cantina Laredo restaurant, walked around the shops, took photos of the Pegasus, watched a little of the horse races viewable from the casino, and put a little money in the slot machines.
Sawgrass Mills Mall, Sunrise City, FL (Tourist event)
Drove approximately 7 miles to shop at the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall. This outlet mall has many of the big brand-name retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Armani and many others along with restaurants. Parking here was very difficult, as there was new construction going on all around the mall with portions of the parking lot blocked off.
Rustic Inn Crabhouse – 4331 Anglers Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Tourist Event/Meal)
A must-to-see and eat is at Rustic Inn Crabhouse, delicious with a wide variety of seafood choices, the crab is the best. The parking lot was full and we thought it may take some time getting parked and getting a table with no reservation, but as luck would find us . . . the guys got a parking spot within minutes and met up with us ladies; with our name being called for a table all in approximately 10-15 minutes after arrival.
Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida (Tourist Event)
Drove 75 miles to visit Everglades National Park. It was primarily a driving tour through the park with specific points of interest pull-overs. It was something we were glad we did at least this once, but not a place we will likely visit again.
It is a protected habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile and the Florida panther, however, the only crocodiles we saw were around the tourist/gift store. It got a little boring driving throughout the park after several hours and not seeing much but the swamp land.
Navarre, Florida – Emerald Beach RV Park, 8885 Navarre Parkway (1-Night’s Stay/Return Trip Home)
Drove 643 miles to Emerald Beach RV Park which was a really nice park on the Gulf of Mexico side of the ocean with a nice fishing pier, a sitting area over-looking the ocean for guest, an event center, laundry mat. We highly recommend and we will probably return for a longer visit. We only stayed one-night because we had plans to go through Louisiana and visit a cousin.
St. Francisville, Louisiana – Peaceful Pines RV Park & Campground, 11907 LA-965 (3-Night’s Stay/Return Trip Home)
Drove 313 miles to St. Francisville, Louisiana finding Peaceful Pines RV park which was located almost next door to Bill’s cousin, Pat Vince. We didn’t realize when reserving that we going to be staying that close to his residence and we learned later that this park was developed/previously owned by a brother-in-law of Pat’s. We had dinner with Pat and Nan (his long-term girlfriend) the evening we arrived at a newly opened restaurant, The Francis. We were invited to Pat’s grand daughter’s wedding which was being held on his 280 acres of property on Saturday, March 19, although we were only planning to stay 1-night, March 17 and ended up staying 3-nights.
Visited Lori Parmelee, Bill’s cousin, and her family on Friday night, March 18, meeting them for dinner at Sammy’s Grill in Zachary, La.
There are many tourist attractions in St. Francisville that we would like to go back when we have more time to visit. We did visit the Audubon State Historic site, the Myrtles (haunted house) and the Oakley’s both of which are part of the Audubon trails. There were cute, quaint shops around the area of the Audubon State park that we did not take the time to stop and visit.
We left St. Francisville and drove 418 miles, arriving home in Allen, Texas.
Another wonderful, adventurous road trip with my beloved husband, Bill and Gabby, our adorable Toy Fox Terrier.
God has blessed our lives in so many ways, we are thankful to Him that He gives us the opportunity to travel across this beautiful country meeting new wonderful people and seeing His wonderful creations. We are blessed with family and friends. Thank You Jesus.