Thursday, May 6, 2021

Pensacola and Tammany - Continued


 The day after meeting with Camille in Pensacola, I decide to take a day away from touristy go-go stuff.  I decide to write, and cook, and do yoga and exercises in my campsite.

It felt good to get some writing done on book three.  The writing helps me feel grounded in some purpose.

I enjoy preparing meals outside.

At 3:00 or 4:00 I was ready to break out.  I decided to ride right from the park and take sidewalks and streets that were just outside the State Park.  All the neighborhoods were self-contained and full of dead-ends.  None of them led anywhere.  So I just decided to always turn right. 

Eventually I would find myself back on the main road again.  

There were waterfront properties that must have been destroyed during Hurricane Sally.  Only the driveway and foundation remained.  Other properties still had tarp over the roofs and siding missing.

One neighborhood had the requirement that all homes have a standard white fence.  It gave the neighborhood a Disneyland fantasy feel.
I rode into a children's park.  The playground was quite elaborate.  There were children climbing and running, it was good to see.

On May 2nd it was time to leave the Big Lagoon and head over toward New Orleans.  It is under 300 miles.  I drove on back roads and it took me all day.  At one stop I noticed that my passenger seat was beginning to look like I was a hoarder.

I arrived at Fontainbleau State Park.  It is located north of Lake Ponchartrain, which is on the northern edge of New Orleans, LA.  My picnic table and fire ring were sitting in water.   They must have gotten a lot of rain.
While I was setting up camp I got excited when I saw a woman and her dog in a truck moving into the site next to mine.  Maybe I would have a someone to have happy hour with!

After she was parked she got out of the truck and waved excitedly and said "Hello!".  I waved and responded with a greeting.  While I watched her and her dog walk quickly to the road to meet up with a friend, another woman with a dog who was walking over to her site. Dang!  She wasn't saying "hi" to me!  The dogs greeted each other with barks and tail wags and butt sniffs.

After the two women chatted a while and the second woman started heading back to her camper I asked if they were sisters.  She explained that they both are full-time RVers and they met in Washington state.  They were meeting up again for the first time and were going to travel together a couple weeks.

I talked with her a while and mentioned how I thought the big "Hello" was for me.  I was excited because I thought there would be someone I could join for happy hour.  She invited me to join them for happy hour the next evening.

She had just gotten free of a clinging tag-along camper and I think she was wary of me, but I tried to assure her I am independent.  I don't think I was pushy, but maybe a little needy.  Ha ha.

Fontainbleau is known for its ancient oak trees.  They are scattered around the park, twisted trunks and branches that reach high and some branches that reach out low along the ground.  Many of them covered in swaying Spanish moss.   These trees would have stories to tell if they could talk.  

There is a yard of these trees and a plaque says that under them were the shacks of slaves, 157 slaves at one time, many of them skilled in a variety of trades.  Children under 10 were used to push sugar cane into the mill, a dangerous job.

The park is quite impressive and on the day I arrived, a warm, sunny Sunday, it was very busy.

There is a beach and people were enjoying the water and the beaches.

I was admiring a water park where young children and their parents were playing.  A woman came up and we chatted a bit.  She said in her German accent that the water park was new.  They had built it during the COVID shut-down.

 The Tammany Trail crosses the entrance to the state park.  After I explored the beach and picnic area I took a ride a few miles down the trail.  

Tomorrow, I told myself, I would ride the trail.

And I did!  I rode my trike from the park to Sidell.  

I knew it was going to be a good ride when I pulled out early and saw five deer before I even got to the trail.

I went by a pond with waterlily were blooming.  I remembered that George and I had done this trail at the start of our "last hurrah" road trip after his dementia diagnosis.  We were here about the same time, because the lilies were blooming then too.
The Tammany is a lovely trail with tall towering pine trees that are close to the sides of the trail in places.  I loved zooming through the shaded tunnel.  I rode back to Mandeville where I wound my way to an Anytime Fitness.  This is only my second or third time at the gym since I have gotten my COVID vaccines.  I have lost some strength and I look forward to building it up again.

I side affect of those trees close to the trail is that the roots can cause bumps.  Most of the trail was smooth, and some places had brand new smooth pavement.  That is always a delight, smooth new pavement.

After working out, I was mighty hungry.  I rode down to an area of restaurants down by the waterfront.  I picked the pizza place, but as I waited alone on the deck for my pizza and salad, I regretted passing up the bustling coffee shop.  There was no people to watch here.

Back at camp, around 4:00 there was a knock on my door.  It was Lynn, one of the women with the dogs.  She said they were gathering inside Susan's trailer because of the heat.  Was I ok with that?  

"Yes!  I am fully vaccinated," I told her.  She and Susan had been too.

Susan's dog was a loving leaner.  One of those dogs that just sit and lean on your leg and let you pet them forever.  Lynn's dog was a player.  Her dog had a whole big bag of toys to pull from.  The whole hour and a half that we were together, Lynn was tossing for her dog or hanging onto something while the dog pulled at the other end of it.  You never know what you are going to get when you get a dog.

Susan has been full-time in her trailer for two years.  It felt so roomy!  Even with three of us in the trailer we were all close to six feet apart.   I asked them where they have been that was the most fun or most interesting.  Lynn said Big Bend National Park in Texas on the Rio Grande.  

That is interesting.  This must have been the fifth time someone has mentioned it as a great place, a "you must go there" kind of place.  

We exchanged contact information.  I wrote down the address of this blog, but I doubt if they will come here, their lives are full with making plans for where they will be going next.


I had thought I might ride the trail to the other end on my last day in Fontainbleau, but instead I hung out and wrote and hiked.

On the hike I took some pictures of more amazingly huge old Live Oaks. 

I went for a little trike ride around the park.  I left a copy of my second book, The Journey Continues, among  a shelf of books in the laundry room.

My legs are covered in bites.  I learned that the name of the bayou here came from the native word for the area... "riddled with fleas".  Though my bites are probably mosquitos, my anti-itch cream is getting used a lot!

It is hard to get an idea of how huge a tree is from a photograph.  I put my coffee thermos in this picture to give you perspective.

In the afternoon the clouds gathered and the thunder rumbled, but no rain fell until the evening.  Then it came and came and came and the thunder boomed and rolled and rolled off into the far far distance.  I began to worry that I might have to vacate, and I didn't like the idea of packing up in the pouring rain.

I posted on Facebook asking people how they check on local weather alerts when they are traveling.  I knew there were flash flood warnings for this area, but I had no idea if I was supposed to move to higher ground.

Before this trip I bought a weather radio, but it doesn't help if I have no clue how to tune into the local alerts.  I guess I need some instructions or to play with it.

But in the morning, the rain would quit for a bit and start up again.  I managed to pack up between the drops.

While I was at Fontainbleau I decided I didn't need to stay at the next campground, instead I could go see my friend, Jean, sooner.  I could move up my reservation in Tombigbee National Forest.  And then spend an extra day at Craighead Forest in Arkansas.  Which is where I will be picking up my mail.

So leaving Fontainbleau I went off to meet up with a friend.  YAY!!!!  She lives near Jackson, Mississippi.  I am so looking forward to connecting with her.


  1. It looks and sounds like you had a nice stay at Fontainebleau. We were there so many years ago that the trail was only partially complete. Stay safe and enjoy each day!

    1. Thanks Ann, and thanks for arm-chair traveling with me. I am sure I will be visiting sites that you have seen in you years of traveling and biking.

  2. When we were in Mandeville I heard about a famous old live oak so I searched for it on my trike. It is the Seven Sisters Oak and you can find more information on Wikipedia. I found the oak, and took a picture of it but I was behind a fence so I didn't see it in all its glory. So I saved a picture from the Wiki article.

    Are you going to Davis Lake in the Tombigbee? Beautiful place where we dodged tornadoes in the past.

    Ron Friedel

    1. Hi Ron, Yes, I got a site at Davis Lake. I like the park very much but when I moved the date up for my stay I didn't get a lake-side site and I regret that. Without cell power at the campground it would be nice to have a closer view of the lake. Thanks for texting me the picture of the big oak in Mandeville.
      It is amazing and I will make sure to go get a look at it when I am back doing the Tammany Trail someday.

  3. I'm so glad you blog. I find it most interesting. Big hug around the neck!

    1. Thank you! You are in my thoughts often. I am glad you are following along. I am not alone.


Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...