March 25, 2013

We seem to be finding the 'LARGEST' things this trip ...

We left Houston, knowing full well that we didn't want to stay there for too long - too big - too busy! So after church at Lakewood we headed north to Oklahoma. Who knew we'd happen upon the LARGEST Casino in the United States.

The WinStar World Casino is the second largest in the world - second only to the Venetian, in Macau, China. But they are working on being the largest in the world, with the new 'additions'. As it is right now, it is one mile long from one end to the other. It is owned by the Chickasaw Nation Indian Band of Oklahoma. And it is located in Thackerville, Oklahoma, a small town of 450 people, just across the Texas borderline. Who knew??? They employ 6,000 people. There are 6,700 slot machines. They have a FREE breakfast for seniors (55+) every Wednesday and Thursday morning from 7:30 to 11:00. What a spread that is.... they must feed 10,000 people in that time. They use the Bingo Hall as a dining room for that event and it in itself seats 2100 people. There was a live band and a huge first-class buffet. (Needless to say, Michel wants to go again tomorrow!)

We can't believe this casino is NOT in TEXAS- isn't everything BIGGER in TEXAS??

Anyway, we decided to hang out here for awhile, the weather isn't the best, but at least there's no snow and we surely don't want to head too far north too fast.  

March 24, 2013

Left New Orleans on Saturday morning. Our plan, to attend the Sunday service at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.  We watch this inspirational preacher on TV whenever possible, so visiting his church was on our list of things to do on our way home from Florida this year. 

Victoria and Joel Osteen (picture taken from internet)

This church is a non-denominational mega-church and has the largest congregation in the United States, averaging more than 43,500 in attendance each week. The building seats 16,800 and is the former Compaq Center, a basketball coliseum. 

 It is so big, there is traffic control directing cars to the parking garages and shuttles to bring you to the doors of  the church. We arrived and were immediately escorted down to the front. We sat in the third row, directly behind the family. We were told this is a tradition in the church for first-timers. So we were very up close. No problem seeing Joel Osteen or his wife Victoria when they delivered their messages. It was an amazing experience. Very uplifting and lively. A 'must-do' if you're ever in this area.

March 23, 2013 - evening

 Dinner Cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez

We met up with friends Cheryl and Ray and their friends Lore and Jerry for a dinner cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez. There was a jazz band playing on the foredeck. We sat on the rear deck, enjoyed our happy hour, and watched the breathtaking view of the city as we rolled downriver at sunset.

This is the Domino Sugar refinery. The second-largest in the world.

Myself and Ray in the banquet room after dinner.

and Michel with Cheryl.

A good time was had by all and afterward we all walked down to Bourbon Street one more time and collected more beads.
New Orleans will always be one of my most fond memories!

March 23, 2013 - morning

Day 2 - New Orleans
Laura: A Creole Plantation

Still an operating sugar farm, built in 1805.
The tour was based on documents found in the French National Archives and also upon Laura's memories of the old plantation home. In these memoires she detailed 250 years of true-life stories of the Creole women, slaves and children who lived and worked here. We toured inside the big house where we saw the simple elegance by which they lived. Point of interest: there is no kitchen in the big house......

This is where the kitchen was - in the back yard.
All that is left is the outlining bricks and the animal pens.

The slave cabins still standing were built like duplexes - two families living side-by-side, under one roof, some living there still in 1977.

The garden is still there - well kept and blooming.

This is what sugar cane looks like.
Who knew that sugar cane was planted, by hand still today? 
It is planted lengthwise and new shoots sprout from each of the notches....
I guess we're not too old to learn something new!



March 22, 2013


New Orleans,  is a place like no other. There is so much to see and do, you could stay two weeks and still not get it all done! But we crammed it into 2 days, beginning at 9 in the morning and ending at midnight each night! This is much more 'fun' than us two old folks are use to. But it was well worth the time.  

Day 1:
This is a view of the historic Jackson Square taken from the riverwalk.  In the background and center is the famous St. Louis Cathedral.  Completed in 1851, and built over the foundations of a colonial 1727 church, it has been the city's center of worship for 280 years.

 This is the inside of the cathedral. It is truly spectacular, and pictures just don't do it justice.
New Orleans's history is influenced from Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. It is home to a truly unique melting pot of culture, food and music. You'll enjoy bowls filled to the rim with gumbo, late nights in dark jazz clubs, strolls through historic neighborhoods, and every night is a Saturday Night!!

Amazing re-structuring from Hurricane Katrina. You'd never know that these places were under 8 feet of water. They are doing a wonderful job of restoring the French Quarter. We met a couple who were in the process of selling their property in Seattle and buying a 'condo' in the French Quarter....They certainly have the New Orleans Itch!

Saint Louis Cemetery is the name of three Roman Catholic Cemeteries in New Orleans.  All of these graves are above ground vaults; most were constructed in the 18th century and 19th century. St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest and most famous. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city's older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788. The custom of above-ground burial in New Orleans is a mixture of folklore and fact. The vaults are in fact more due to French and Spanish tradition than they are to water table problems. The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands

The Garden District

A trip to New Orleans just wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Garden District. The Garden District is a neighbourhood of the city of New Orleans. The whole area was once a number of plantations. It was sold off to wealthy Americans who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles.

The area was originally developed between 1832 and 1900 and is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic southern mansions in the United States. Originally the area was developed with only a couple of houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden, giving the district its name. In the late 19th century some of these large lots were subdivided as Uptown as New Orleans became more urban.

This has produced a pattern for much of the neighborhood of any given block having a couple of early 19th century mansions surrounded by "gingerbread" decorated late Victorian houses. Thus the "Garden District" is now known for its architecture more than gardens per se.

This area was basically untouched by Hurricane Katrina.

Bourbon Street at night
Bourbon Street is a street in the heart of New Orleans'  oldest neighbourhood 'The French Quarter.' It extends 13 blocks. It is now primarily known for its nightclubs, bars and strip clubs.  This is a Cajun Bar, where we enjoyed the music of this French band playing rockin' Cajun!

Just down the block, is the home of Maison Bourbon, a bar dedicated to Jazz and Blues.
There is something for everyone. To say there is a bar on every corner is a vast understatement. They are lined up and down the street. And not only Bourbon Street - EVERY street....
And let's not forget the souvenier shops. They are everywhere as well.
Lots to see, lots to do, places to eat everywhere

Michel with his new friend! lol

March 19, 2013

Last night we spent the night in Tallahassee, and it rained buckets, thunder and lightening all night.
Today we pulled into an RV park in Robertsdale, Alabama, just outside of Mobile. We figured we'd do a couple of day trips from here.
So after settling in we drove the Alabama/Florida coast highway to Pensacola Lake. Here is the 3 mile bridge we crossed to get to Pensacola Lake.


We walked along the beach - just to say we'd stuck our toes in the water. 

We walked along the street to see the area - here is a huge gondola-style ferris wheel  - we didn't go on it, it was very high in the sky!

We had dinner here at Flounders Chowder House. Great place! The service was awesome and the food was too - Michel said the chowder was excellent. It was evident that the 'staff' there really enjoys being there.  

And why would they be - the restaurant is located right on the beach - this is the backside of this restaurant!


And the deserts are out-of-this-world - This is the famous 'key lime pie'. Of course we ordered this to share, and ended up bringing MOST of it home with us.


March 16, 2013

We met up with friends Chris and Mike here in Kissimmee and we've managed to get in a good visit. We went to Universal last night together. Today we had a pool day. The temperature was 85 degrees, so we got our 'noodles' and put on our suits and bobbed around the pool for the afternoon. This evening we visited Celebration.
We walked around the lake and around the cute little town.

This is the Celebration Lake, and the little main street  in the distance. 

Celebration Hotel.

March 15, 2013


Although we had talked about going to Universal Studios, we decided to take an evening walk on the City Walk instead. The City Walk kinda skirts the perimeter of the park and it's where the shops and restaurants are located.

So we took some pictures. 
And walked around.
Shopped a little, and walked some more.
The lights were nice.

And  the crowds were nothing compared to the crowds in the park

March 12, 2013

The last hurrah!!
This was the last happy hour with friends and co-VIPs the night before we left.
Happy hour got to be quite a habit, and almost daily we'd get together to chat over the days' events and say cheers! to many more of the same. 
We enjoyed the company of the other VIPs in our camp and we wish them bon voyage and happy trails!
Peg and Darrell Luce, from Maine.

Lorna and Gene Murray, from Wisconsin.

March 10, 2013

Ochopee Post Office

Considered the smallest post office in the United States, this building was formerly an irrigation pipe shed belonging to the J.T. Gaunt Company tomato farm. It was hurriedly pressed into service by postmaster Sidney Brown after a disastrous night fire in 1953 burned Ochopee's general store and post office. The present structure has been in continuous use ever since.