Poor me, with just leftovers for dinner

We had leftovers for dinner tonight.  Of course, in Randy's house that means prime rib, garden green beans and mashed sweet potatoes.  What a life!

A very long, bad night that ended OK

Monday evening started normal.  We put the dogs into their sleeping kennels around 9pm because that is as late as Julienne is willing to wait for her evening treat, then watched TV.  Around 11:30 Randy went into the bedroom to unmake the bed, and suddenly called out to me.  He had Julienne's kennel on the bed and was trying to get her out of it because she was having a very bad seizure.  Her little body was so stiff that he quickly realized he needed to take the top off the kennel to get to her.  She had vomited all over and was in a full-body seizure, with her back fully arched, her legs out stiff and scrambling, and her head pulled back as far as it would go.

Julienne started having seizures in Alaska, shortly after snacking out of the litter box.  On that night she had seizures for about 30 minutes.  Since then she has occasionally started to have a seizure, but we have always been able to get to her just as it starts.  We found that if we turn off all the lights and TV and Randy holds her quietly in the dark, it doesn't get out of hand.

But this one got out of hand before we knew about it.  We tried the usual techniques but although the seizure stopped, about 1 minute later she went right into another one, and it just kept happening.  Randy held her while I looked up treatments on the internet.  I learned these are called "cluster" seizures and I only found 2 ideas for treatment - cool washcloths to reduce the dangerous increase in body heat, and Valium suppositories to stop the muscle spasms.  Since we don't have Valium, I started putting wet washcloths on her back and on her little head.  We kept thinking the worst was over, and then it would start again.  She was never panicky or angry - she was just waiting for it to stop.  We don't know any vets here and did not know where to take her after midnight.  Randy kept her from hurting herself during the seizure, and sweet-talking and cuddling her afterwards.  When she seized, her back legs would scramble wildly and she would have scratched herself badly if it wasn't for Randy.  He got scratched a good bit, but she didn't.  I decided to give her some Rescue Remedy that I got from Heather in Arizona.  It's not specifically for seizures, it's just supposed to calm down a pet, but I was out of ideas.  I'm not sure if the seizures were ready to stop or if that helped, but about 20 minutes later the seizures slowed down to about every 5 minutes.  By then she was trying to sleep between the seizures.  So we took her to bed with us, and she settled down immediately and went to sleep.  The poor little girl was so tired and no wonder - we realized this had been going on for 3 hours!  We didn't get much sleep because, although she was snuggled in next to us and we would have woken up instantly if she had jerked even a little, we kept checking her all night.

The next morning Julienne was relaxed, happy and ready to go!  I cannot say the same for us - we were so tired.  I took her to the vet to get a complete checkup.  She got a clean bill of health and the vet agrees that she probably has epilepsy.  The problem with Valium in any form is that it doesn't keep well, and since Julienne has had 2 bad seizures in 3 years, it probably is not the answer.  There are anti-seizure medicines but they all have side-effects, especially to the liver.  The vet gave me literature on the medications so we can decide what we want to do, and an emergency number to call if we get another night like that.  May we NEVER have another night like that!

But for now, all is well, thank God!

Really Good Eating on Hilton Head Island

Oh, dear...we have been at Hilton Head Island for over a week and I haven’t written anything.  The problem is that I’ve been cleaning, goofing off, organizing, eating, working and goofing off some more (when in doubt, tell the truth).  I have to start before I get too far behind and forget everything, so I’m going to break the events down into sections.  The first section will be - - - FOOD!   Since I can suddenly really taste food, I'm having a pretty good time.  

When you get to Hilton Head Island, find the Sea Shack for lunch or dinner.  Finding the place is the hard part - our GPS took us to the wrong location, and when we asked directions, they also sent us to the wrong place.  But eventually Randy found it.  We ordered the fried calamari appetizer and blackened Mahi Mahi.  That calamari was excellent.  This was the only time I’ve had calamari that rivals the calamari at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.  I had given up on finding anything that good, but here it was!  For dinner we shared the Mahi Mahi with slaw, fries and hush puppies.  I had also given up on finding good hush puppies, but here they were!  It was worth the trouble it took to find this place and I marked it on our GPS because we will definitely be back.  My thanks go out to the guest in the office who suggested this one, because we probably would not have found it on our own.

One Hot Mama - there was a big line when we went there but we decided to wait it out.  We met Neal and his buddy in line.  Neal had a coupon book for some of the local restaurants and since he was scheduled to leave the island soon, he let us use it to get a break on our meal, then gave it to us.  They’ve been at this restaurant before and said it would be worth the wait.  And it was!  The pulled pork was luscious, and when you add the cheese grits, custom-made omelets, biscuits and gravy, sausage links, scrambled eggs, bacon, beans and mini cinnamon rolls - well, we certainly got our fill.  And even better, we enjoyed every bit of it.  The complementary mimosa just topped it off! 

The Black Marlin - excellent!  I ordered the crab cake sandwich and Randy ordered the shrimp burger, both with sweet potato fries, and we shared.  I ate some of the crab cake sandwich first and decided it had to be the best, even before I tasted the other one.  And then I tasted the shrimp burger and had to change my decision - I had no idea that shrimp burgers could be that good!  

At Frankie Bones I ordered Fettucini Alfredo with blackened salmon and Randy got the roast french dip with skinny fries.  It was so good.  Everything.  My meal was excellent and his was even better.  To top it off we ordered the carrot cake, but unfortunately that was not on the same level.  I would go back for the meal, but not the dessert.  That’s OK, I don’t need dessert anyway!

How do you know when it's cold in South Carolina?

Your lap is full of critters.  Either they are trying to keep you warm, or they are stealing your warmth to keep them warm.  Since this is Randy they are snuggling on, it's the latter.  

The Differences between RV Parks

We spent one night at the Beaver Lake RV Park in Quincy, Florida.  It cost $20 at the Passport America rate, and it was a terrible place.  They advertise “clean restroom facilities with showers” and a laundry facility.  Hah!  That was the dirtiest RV park we’ve ever seen.  The bathrooms are filthy.  The floor hasn’t been cleaned in - well, maybe ever.  One part of the floor is almost clean but only because the toilet has flooded.  The toilets are untouchable, and the showers are a mess, too.  The laundry facility is unbelievable.  I don’t think it’s ever been used, I don’t even think the machines work; at least one was unplugged. 

I went to the office to ask why it was in this state.  The lady said “Well, most people just use their own RV.”  I said I could see why.  

One of their advertised benefits is being within walking distance to a casino.  We walked down the road (anything to get away from there), but there was nothing.  Where ever that casino is, we couldn’t find it.   Fortunately the actual camping grounds were OK - just a grassy field with hookups, but there wasn’t any trash about.  So we just stayed inside that night and watched DVDs.

We spent the next night at Pecan Park RV Resort in Jacksonville, Florida.  It cost $23.73 at the Passport America rate.  There we found clean paved sites, clean facilities, a clean office, a clean pool, plus wifi and cable.  Next door is a big 3-building Flea Market, and although I didn't find anything I liked, at least it was there!  This park is close to Jacksonville and because it's so nice, some RVers stay for weeks, or even months.

The differences between these parks is night and day.  My favorite online site to check RV parks is rvparkreviews.com, but even so you can still get surprises, both good and bad.  The best plan is to get a recommendation from someone you know, but on the road that isn't always possible.

Krewe Parades in New Orleans

Tuesday we drove around the St. Bernard area before going to New Orleans.  Some of the houses in that area look like they are still trashed from Katrina.  I am sure that I don’t understand all the issues, but I cannot really comprehend why, 7 years later, so many houses should be abandoned like that.  I can understand why some owners would want to just walk away, but leaving property to decay affects the whole neighborhood.  As a former home-owner, I know that can be heartbreaking.

Anyway - back to the fun.  In New Orleans that day we played tourist.  Here's a fence so unique that they named the hotel after it - the Cornstalk Fence Hotel.
We got some good cookies at Rouses grocery store, and in an other retail store we learned about Absinthe. It has been illegal to sell Absinthe in the U.S. since 1915, but in 2007 the ban was lifted.  Now Absinthe sets are supposed to be very popular in New Orleans; at $300 a set, they are pretty popular with store owners, too. 
We usually go to the Acme Oyster Company to get oysters, but we decided to try another place so we went across the street to Felix, where we and ordered raw oysters and red beans and rice with grilled sausage.  Wow, it was so good - very flavorful, not too spicy.  Randy mixed up some horseradish sauce for us, and he did warn me to taste it to see if it was too hot.  I didn’t take his advice, I just spread a lot on an oyster and ate it, and I thought my face would fall off!  But after I realized I wasn't going to die, I enjoyed several more oysters, topped with just a little bit of horseradish sauce.  I'd give a grade of A+ to everything. 
After dinner we walked back to the car; New Orleans can be so surreal, especially at night.
On our last day in New Orleans we made it a point to get to Johnny’s before they closed, to get that muffaletta.  It was just as good as we remembered, and this time I didn’t pick the olives off!
We made one more trip to Cafe du Monde for more Beignets, then went to find a place to watch the parade.  To get into the right spirit, Randy got a hat with bells and I got electric bunny ears.  Happy Mardi Gras!
We had a couple of hours to wait before the parades started.  Fortunately we met some friendly folks to help pass the time.  I started hanging around with two ladies from Arizona, who had traveled here for Mardi Gras and met up with a daughter, grand-daughter and grand-niece.  A store owner brought out some chairs for us, then set up a sound system and started playing music.  Theresa, the daughter, who was a little younger than me, started dancing in the street long before the parade started.  She was so much fun; when someone walked by, she would trail behind them, dancing until she was noticed, then run back to her place and start again.  She is sure to show up on some You Tube videos!  Randy met Eddy, Ronnie, and Ronnie's wife Deanna, and had a great time with them.  Then a few other guys joined them for some talking and some beer drinking.  Not sure which one they did more of, but I could take a guess….
I didn’t take many pictures that night because it was raining a good bit.  That makes for bad pictures, as well as ruining the camera.  Plus, when I was taking pictures, I couldn’t catch beads.  So for once I didn’t worry about capturing the moment, I just had a good time. There were actually two parades that night.  The first one was "Druid Phobias", put on by Krewe of Druids.   There were lots of floats, bands, and beads, and the rain did not stop the fun.  We caught a lot of beads, and the people we were hanging out with were determined to give us the full Mardi Gras experience, so they started giving us most of the beads that they caught.  Pretty soon we were covered with beads, and it is surprising how heavy those beads can get!.  Fortunately about that time someone on the float threw us a couple of plastic bags, so we started loading those up. 

There was about 30 minutes between parades.  The guy with the sound system had been waiting for this - he jacked the sound way up and started playing dance music.  When “Cupid Shuffle” started, I left the sidewalk and joined the dancers in the street.  The wonderful thing about the Cupid Shuffle is that the song actually tells you what steps to do, so anyone can do it.  It was so much fun that I stayed out for some more songs.  It's been a long time since I did the Macarena!

The second parade was The Krewe of NYX.  
By the time it came along, it was raining pretty steady.  We didn’t care, we just stood out in the rain, yelling for beads and applauding the bands.  Those kids were marching in the rain, but they just kept on going, and put on a great show.
One nice guy decided to explain the parade to us and get us as many different beads as possible.  He kept running over to us with unusual beads or throws, and telling us about the floats and bands.  He said that one of the best "throws" was a purse from one of the NYX floats, and he made sure we got one.  Randy got a lot of cool stuff, too.  By now the people on the floats were tossing full bags of beads.  And our new friends on both sides of the street gave us those, too.  We ended up with about 50 or 60 pounds of beads, and it was a 2 mile walk back to the car, in the rain.  No worries - we had a wonderful time!

The Oyster that changed my life

We drove to New Orleans to spend a few days soaking up the Mardi Gras atmosphere.  We stayed in the St. Bernard Park, about 15 miles southeast of the French Quarter, because it was more affordable than the $199 a night that the French Quarter RV Park was charging.  When we drove into New Orleans we paid $20 to park downtown because it started to rain a little.  Then we eagerly walked around the corner to Johnny’s Po’Boy for a muffaletta, but alas, they were closed for the day!  Oh, well, if you can’t find good food in New Orleans, not only are you not trying, you are specifically trying to avoid it.  We would never to that, so we continued walking and found ourselves at the Cafe Maspero.  It was good the last time we were here, so we went in and got the Seafood Combo.  The Combo includes fish, calamari, shrimp and oysters and fries.  This isn’t fine dining, it’s just fresh seafood, battered and deep-fried, and entirely enjoyable.  (Side note: it’s funny how fish is the only food that you don’t want to taste like itself.  Beef should taste like beef and pork should taste like pork, but nobody wants fish to taste fishy.)  Anyway, as usual I ate some of everything except the oysters.  As usual, Randy suggested I try the oysters.  Unusually, I did.  And it was amazing!  I wouldn’t say it was my new favorite food, it was more like I could suddenly really taste it.  It tasted like the sea, somehow - complex and very interesting.

Well, that was different, but I didn’t dwell on it because there were Beignets to be enjoyed.  So we walked (in the rain) to Cafe du Monde.  As usual, Cafe du Monde was very busy.  I'm not sure if they just got the right location or if they had special publicity or what their secret is, but they have have been in business long enough to become part of the city's culture, and now, as long as they don’t change their recipes, they cannot lose.  I love beignets, in spite of the fact that I always inhale powered sugar with the first bite.  Later we walked down Bourbon street, where most of the street signs are missing, probably gone for souvenirs.  Besides the usual bar noise, there wasn’t much going on.  The city seemed to be taking a breath between Superbowl Sunday and Fat Tuesday.  

The next day we went to Metairie for lunch, following a tip from Cousin Teresa.  It was a great tip; Randy got a combination shrimp plate and I got a combination crab plate. 
And here’s how lunch went:

I asked Randy if he thought the cole slaw was good.  Randy suggested I try it.  Since I had been pleasantly surprised by the oyster at Cafe Maspero, I tried this - and it tasted pretty good.

I asked Randy if he thought lemon would be good on my crab cakes.  Randy suggested I try it.  Since I had been pleasantly surprised by the oyster at Cafe Maspero, I tried this - and it tasted pretty good.

I asked Randy if his grilled yellow squash was good.  Randy suggested I try it.  Since I had been pleasantly surprised by the oyster at Cafe Maspero, I tried this - and it was tasted pretty good.

How good?  At the end of the meal the only thing left on my plate was the french fries.  That had never happened before!
So that oyster at Cafe Maspero - and it was just a pretty good oyster, not the best in the world - somehow alerted my taste buds to what food can be.  I can't wait to see what else is out there!

February 3, 2013 Po'Boys and Lasagna

Today was our last day in Gilchrist.  We took the ferry to Galveston again, just for something to do, and had lunch at the Cajun Greek Restaurant.  It was entirely forgettable except for the company.  At the table next to us a couple were finishing lunch, and I just had to ask what they were having.  They had hoped for BBQ crabs but ended up getting deep-fried crabs, which they shared with us while we were deciding what to order.  Neither their deep-fried crabs nor our Po-boys made the “we must have this again” list, but we enjoyed talking with Deanna and Steve.  They introduced us to the LNT.org website ("Leave No Trace"), and we are going to investigate that more.  They are not full-timers but we pass through Texas often, so maybe we can keep in touch.

On the way back to Gilchrist we were parked at the front of the ferry and got a great view of how they dock it.  I am always amazed at what a smooth ride that is.  Later Randy fixed lasagna, Chris made salad, and we shared some of Aunt Jean's famous nut tart.  It's been so great to spend this week with Lonnie and Chris.  Now it's time for us to continue eastward towards South Carolina, with just a few more stops along the way.

February 2, 2013 Just another day in the sun

Today the mosquitoes were as bad as ever, or worse.  When Randy goes outside, they gather on his back like tarantulas in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So we cannot spend any time outside here, but Lonnie and Chris are staying on the beach side of road, where gulf breezes keep mosquitoes in check.  So we went to visit them.  Shortly thereafter Ken and Ann stopped by; they own the land where Lonnie is parked but they are also good friends who come visit when they can.  For lunch we had - shrimp and cheese grits!  We've had this several times lately but it’s always good, and this time Lonnie batter-fried the shrimp, which was a great idea.  Basically it was a day of sitting in the sun, eating, talking and making no momentous decisions whatsoever.      

February 1, 2013 More Beaches

Today it was sunny and not very windy, so we snapped the leashes on the dogs and stepped outside to walk to the beach.  Before we got out of the Park we were being consumed by super-big, very hungry mosquitoes.  Well, maybe it will be better at the beach - nope, they are there, too.  They like me and Shorty but they love Randy and Julienne.  So we scooped the dogs up and quick-walked back to the RV.  

It seemed like a perfectly good day was going to be wasted until Chris called to suggest we all head across the state line to some Louisiana beaches they like.  That sounded good so we put the dogs in the car and drove East.  It’s a 90 mile drive to get there so we got to see a good piece of the country.  We passed through wetlands on both sides of the road, and to our surprise we saw a lot of Prickly Pear cactus along a long stretch.  Cactus in the wetlands - who knew?  

Because the road runs so close to the Gulf, it passes over several waterways.  Instead of putting in drawbridges, here they make the bridges tall enough for ships to pass underneath.  The bridges looks like very steep hills as you approach them.  Good thing it doesn't snow here.

A lot of houses along this stretch are built on stilts, too.  And this was the first time I've seen a church on stilts.
When we got to the beach we parked the cars and took the dogs out with us as we looked for shells.  Last week they found big shells on that beach but today we found that sand had covered those.  Now other shells litter the beach - small ones, but lots of them.  We don’t really need more shells but we had fun strolling along the beach with Chris.  Lonnie stayed with us awhile, then he headed off in search of fossils while the rest of us walked slower, picking up shells just because they are so pretty.  Besides shelling, we also were watching the dogs have a wonderful time.  Shorty and Pita spent hours chasing each other and wrestling, while Julienne walked daintily out of the way.  
On the way back home we stopped at a roadside restaurant/gas station that Chris suggested for fried chicken.  Good recommendation!  The dogs conked out on the ride home.  We stayed awake while we were on the road, but found it easy to just relax at home all evening.