Day 10 -Part 2 – Arkansas to Mississippi

The trip between Arkansas and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi is about 7 hours of driving – which for us is about 9 hours of travel. We wanted to arrive late afternoon which is why we were trying to leave early.

The day was grey and we were expecting to drive through some rain at some point. We’ve been fortunate to have mostly gorgeous weather. Driving through Arkansas looked a lot like this……pretty green, some trees, lots of land.

At the second gas stop, we found Snowballs. Siah’s been wanting to try them. The package had 2, so each boy got one to try.

And then Siah got to eat both of them because they were NOT Judah’s fav.

We crossed into Mississippi just before noon and the rain started. We passed a sign for the Petrified Forrest and Jon shared a story about how he had petrified wood as a child and we made the decision to stop and check out the gift shop. We weren’t gonna do the trail because it was raining but we could stop and maybe find a souvenir.

We parked and ran through the rain to the gift shop. It was filled with Rocks and Gems and was such a fun place to check out. Jon got a piece of petrified wood which was a fun memory. It’s really cool looking.

The petrified wood is really cool and I can only imagine how interesting the trail must be.

I love the Color’s of the different rocks and gems. They are just so vibrant and beautiful.

As we travelled further down into Mississippi we passed through a rain storm and it was a downpour. Like big fat soaking wet rain drops that drench you.

About an hour from Bay St Louis the sky started clearing and it was stunning. We were pretty excited to be getting closer.

We pulled into Buccaneer Bay State Park around 6pm and found our RV pad. It was right across the street from the beach.

By 6:20pm the boys were in swim suits and down on the beach.

It’s been surprising how few of the sites that we’ve stayed at have had a fire pit. This one does and so we made a fire. Unfortunately, we forgot our marshmallow roasting sticks at Xani’s so the kids foraged for a dead branch to use.

Jude’s stick was ready to use but Siah brought back a dead small-ish tree and then spent an hour whittling the trunk down to a size that could hold a marshmallow. FYI, this park has no wifi and it was awful that I didn’t realize it when I booked it. I’m the worst mother for making them do things like having creative fun.

We eventually doused the fire and crawled into bed. Tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous, sunny and 24 degrees. I can’t wait.

Day 10 – Part 1 – Leaving Arkansas

Today’s a 2 part-er because we had a whole adventure before we even left the property!

We woke up at 7am with the hope of leaving by 8am. Okay, let’s be real…I figured we’d probably pull out by 8:30am and we most likely would have, if not for that little issue with a tree.

When we pulled in and parked, we didn’t necessarily think 100% through the leaving situation and although it was a little bit awkward to park: it was downright exciting to try and get out.

Getting ready to leave wasn’t the issue. It was actually hooking up the trailer and navigating out of the driveway that took a little…….creativity!

Good thing we’re creative.

The driveway comes in from the road. The house is on the left side and at the end of the driveway is a garage. We parked parallel to the garage. There is a small center island that you can pull around and keep driving – now you’re on the right side of the driveway and then it connects back to the main driveway. On the right side of the loop, just passed the garage is a bit of a drop off AND to make things more fun…a tree from the center island area tilts slightly over into the road, so while a car or even a truck might get through – a trailer would not.

While Xani and I supervised the entire “situation”…Jon and Jimmy (Xani’s father in law) did the actual heavy lifting or driving or navigating.

Okay. First issue was actually hitching up the trailer to the truck. Remember the previous mentioned drop off – we found it. The space between the trailer and the edge of the driveway didn’t allow for a lot of navigating. Fortunately, we also have 4 wheel drive and were able safely get all 4 tires back on the driveway. We got the trailer hooked up and moved onto the second challenge of backing up the trailer enough so that we could exit on the left side.

The issue was…..well, let’s see, we had multiple trees to navigate around, a giant drainage hole to not fall in and the center island to avoid. All with a 25 foot trailer connected to a long truck. Epic. They managed to avoid the hole but a tree jumped out and grabbed the trailer. Rather than rip the drain spout off the trailer, they decided to move the tree. Ya! Move the tree. I was surprised they were just gonna cut a tree down but it’s even better than that.

In between the tree they moved and the tree they cinched to, you can see the edge of the driveway and the drop off on the right hand side. Not a lot of room to navigate. In the next short clip, you can see the “filled in” drainage hole they successfully avoided.

It took some effort to get the strapping unhooked from the trees.

Put your back into it, babe!

We said good bye to Mac and Xani and Jimmy (Dalton was already at work and missed this adventure) and hit the road by 9am. A little later than planned but with a great story.

We stopped to fill up the tank and headed out on the 7 hour drive to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Day 9 – Arkansas

It’s our last day in Arkansas before we move on with our trip and I’m determined to hold every moment with so much gratitude.

Dalton had the day off today which was awesome. He, Xani and Jon hopped in Xani’s Mini Cooper and ran out to pick up eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast. I’m sure we could have planned better but it was just another moment to be together and remember.

Jon and Dalton were in charge of breakfast and they did a fabulous job. It was delicious! Complete with grits and Jimmy Dean sausage. To be honest, I did not eat the grits; but I heard someone say they were delicious.

After breakfast, we tidied up and the boys headed to the range. Xani and I stayed behind. I was tempted to go but the lure of some quiet time was too much for this introvert.

The boys had fun and I took a shower, did a little prep for tomorrows travel and Xani made snickerdoodles. I helped her roll the dough balls and then we sat in the sun for a bit. It was a such a lovely day just being with the people I love.

We had talked about possibly having seafood for dinner but by the time dinner rolled around we decided to go to Waffle House. The boys were so excited because it’s internet famous for always being open no matter what.

Having never been, I was expecting more of a family restaurant but it was more like a diner. We squished 6 of us into 4 person booth with 2, on chairs at the end.

Before we arrived, I had figured that I didn’t want waffles so I’d probably just get a salad or something light. But the menu has waffles and eggs and hashbrowns and grilled cheese and basically it’s carbs with a few proteins like eggs, bacon and sausage to balance it out.

Jude said the waffle were spectacular. 10 out of 10 and it got an “S” rating – which I understand to mean Superior – for both the food and the service.

It was late when we arrived and by 8:30 the waitress suggested we not stick around as they would be closing at 9pm. We said that we understood they were open 24 hours so why were they closing; and she said that the drive through would be open but they closed the indoor dining as this was the ghetto and we’d be likely to get mugged if we stuck around. It was a funny way to round out the day.

We went back home and Siah checked in on his school work, we packed a few things up and went to bed a bit earlier as we were planning to get on the road to Bay St Louis early.

It’s bittersweet to be leaving my sweet girl but knowing how well she is loved by this incredible family makes it easier.

We absolutely enjoyed every moment getting to know these guys. They are such good people with great hearts; authentic and real and we hope to be able to see them again soon. We are so thankful that you opened your home and hearts to us. We feel blessed to call you family.

Day 8 – Arkansas

It weird to think that it’s been over a week that we’ve been “on the road” and that we’re not even half way through this adventure. It’s been a lot of fun, so far; and we have so much more planned!

It’s another gorgeous day. Not too hot but gloriously warm and sunny. This is where I sit in the sun in the morning and drink my coffee. I look out at the trees and every day the green fills in more and more; and it gets even more beautiful. This morning the woodpeckers were out. There were a couple of them flitting through the trees, pecking away. I also saw the brightest red bird that I’ve ever seen. No idea what it was; but it was sure pretty.

Jon made waffles. These guys have a fancy “double waffle maker” and we’re gonna have to get one of those. We only have a single maker and this speeds up the process significantly. Jon made “Dynie’s waffles.” We stopped by their house one day – 20+ years ago – and Dynie was making waffles and they were so delicious that Jon asked for the recipe. He’s been making them ever since.

Mac was sure that Xani was gonna share; but she didn’t.

After breakfast, I went out and set the trailer in order. I love trailer living because everything has a place and if you put it back where it’s supposed to be, then everything stays neat and tidy. I really like neat and tidy.

Front of the trailer

I did a load of laundry and put that all away too. After a week, we had one load and I’m a bit surprised at how many pairs of socks the 3 guys go through. I don’t often wear socks as I love my Birkenstock sandals but they wear at least a pair every day and sometimes more because once you’ve taken the old pair off, you can’t possibly put them back on! (Insert eye roll)

Back of the trailer

After the trailer was tidy, I grabbed the crochet dishcloth I had started the other day. I just needed to add the scalloped edging to it, so it was the perfect “sit in the sun” project.

Jude came out and asked if I want to shoot the BB gun with him. So we set up a table and some pop cans.

We hit some and missed some, and even hit the table and the bucket that the cans were in. I’m pretty wobbly and have a hard time holding the BB gun steady enough to consistently hit the cans. I like it when they are clumped together as I’m more likely to hit at least one of them, then. Ha!

Jon came out and joined us for a couple of rounds.

The bugs started to get annoying about this time but when you’re in the zone, you adapt, right?

Xani and I used to go together and get our nails done and I hadn’t had time to get them done before we left, so we booked an appointment at her nail place here. Little mother/daughter bonding time.

Jon sat in the sun while we were gone. It’s really nice to have some downtime moments, especially after the past crazy years.

I finished the edging on my dishcloth while sitting in the shade, in a rocking chair on the back porch.

Then I grabbed a glass of sweet tea and headed out the front to sit in the sunshine.

Can you see my little frog friend? I love the sound of frogs chirping. This little guy has some serious camouflage going on. I only noticed him because he hopped. I have edited the photo like crazy to make him stand out a bit.

Dalton’s dad asked if the boys wanted to drive the tractor and Jude was ALL over that. That boy would thrive out on a piece of property somewhere. But maybe somewhere with less ticks!

Jude had fun driving and Siah had fun riding. He only hit one smallish tree.

Jon made his ribs for dinner and while we waited for them to finish up, Jude and Xani and I played a game of Trouble. Xani won and I lost!

After dinner, we sat out on the back porch and chatted a bit. It’s been so lovely getting to know Xani’s new family. They are lovely, Lovely people. She is so well loved by them and I’m ever so thankful for how kind and caring they all are.

We headed to bed, did another tick check, and settled in for a good night sleep. It was another fabulous day and I’m so grateful!

Day 7 – Arkansas

We woke up to the beautiful sounds of birds chirping, roosters crowing and dogs losing their ever loving minds. Welcome to Arkansas.

The weather is amazing. It’s warm and sunny with a slight breeze. We pulled out some chairs, grabbed a coffee and sat. After a week of rushing, it feels luxurious to just sit and be.

The trees are just beginning to explode with greenery in a million different shades and it’s beautiful to sit here in this private forest oasis and listen to the sounds of nature and city collide. Woodpeckers and garbage trucks, the roosters and sirens, frogs and an RC car being played with on the property next door. And dogs, there’s a lot of dogs on the neighbouring properties and they all try to vie for dominance with their song.

Mac found this turtle a week or so ago and the poor guy gets put down, manages to crawl a few feet before being discovered again. We haven’t seen him open up and move around; but he’s pretty cute, all tucked up in his shell.

Jon has made pancakes for the kids – from his mother’s recipe – since they were tiny and it was fun to see him and Xani in the kitchen together. They were delicious, as always!

The boys are in dog heaven and I’m pretty sure the dogs think they have gone to heaven with the amount of attention and belly rubs and butt scratches and ear rubbing that they are getting.

We sat out on the back porch and chatted. I dragged my chair out into the sunshine; and it was glorious. I struggle with the amount of rain we get on the West Coast. Even though it’s all I’ve ever known, it feels like my soul washes down the drain with all the rain between October and May. I live for the warm sunny days of June, July and August but even as August winds down, I feel the sadness start creeping in and it’s hard.

Yesterday, we finally managed to get in some drawing. The prompt was mushroom. Jon created the psychedelic pencil drawing above and I drew the colourful version below.

It’s been fun to take the time to draw each day and we’ve missed it, in the race to get here.

Jon helped Xani run an errand and I tidied the trailer. We had a delicious meal of barbecued chicken, potatoes and Greek salad. Xani also made cinnamon buns for dessert. Everyone helped to get dinner cleaned up and then we went out on the property and built a fire.

It was nice to sit and chat and laugh and be with family. We pulled out the marshmallows and had some s’mores. Talked and laughed some more.

There’s something soothing about sitting around a fire at the end of the day. You can talk or not talk but just being with family fills your soul.

At the end of the evening, we put the fire out and headed back to the trailer for a quick tick check before climbing into bed. It was a pretty great day!

Day 6 – Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas

We weren’t sure if we’d split the trip between Kansas and Arkansas into two shorter days or just take the plunge and go for it but on Saturday night while in Hays, Kansas, we talked with the boys and decided to get up early and make a day of it and then we’d have extra time with Xani. We had plans to leave by 8am but when I woke up at 8 and everyone was still in bed, I figured that plan had gone out the window.

We did managed to get up and on the road by 9:30am. That 9 hour drive is deceiving because when you add in slower driving because of the Trailer, gas stops, bathroom breaks and food, it’s easy a 12 hour journey and in our case it was actually a 13 hour journey. (insert eye roll here)

Hays, Kansas

Hays was pretty and warm when we left but oh so windy and we wondered how that would translate into driving conditions. Our trailer is not exactly the most aerodynamic shape and a good gust of wind will shove you into the next lane or onto the roadside. It can be quite exciting!

These flowers were smaller than my pinky fingernail but so pretty.

Everyone was pretty eager to get going. Who wouldn’t be looking forward to a whole day of sitting around?

As we started our day, the weather looked a bit ominous up ahead of us; even thought the weather condition app didn’t show even any rain let alone a storm.

As we neared Oklahoma, this friendly guy welcomed us! There has been a few of these metal characters that we’ve passed along the way; a bear, a camel and one other animal that I forget at the moment but this is the first guy we’ve seen!

There was a whole lot of flat land as we drove through Kansas and Oklahoma. Not terribly exciting; but still beautiful in its own open way.

We stopped at this truck stop to let one of the boys use the toilet and I’ve got the say that this is the funniest and most wildly inappropriate gas station names we’ve come across yet!

I started crocheting a dishcloth to pass some of the time.

We hit a toll station that accepted credit cards and then we hit one that only took cash – which we didn’t have, of course. So they gave us and envelope and a ticket and told us to pick up some cash and pay both at the next one. We stopped in Muskogee and used Google Maps to find an ATM. It took us into town and to a bank headquarters that did NOT have an ATM nor was it open on Easter Sunday BUT, fortunately for us, one block up and one street over there was a bank with an ATM.

Not cool, Google! Not cool.

We had parked in an empty insurance place lot that was next to a Sonic so we thought we’d grab something quick to eat. It was not quick’ THEN, we desperately needed gas so we followed Google Maps again to a gas station that was unmanned AND we couldn’t pay with our card because we don’t have an American Zip code. So we had to find another one. Eventually we did, gassed up and were on our way to Arkansas.

We crossed into Arkansas about 7:30 and had a couple more hours to go. If you’re looking to pass some time just get Jon and Jude and Siah started on a conversation about protons and neutrons and electrons and atoms and energy and black holes and white holes and I don’t even know what else. The last hour or so was a riveting conversation that I didn’t understand even though they all tried to explain it, so well.

We pulled in around 10:30pm. Got our trailer set up, said our hellos and then went to bed. All in all, it was a pretty good day.