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More RV Life Lessons from the Road

We’ve been on the move again! Here’s a map update for those of you following our journey.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I met a new friend in the laundry room at Bogue Chitto State Park. We shared two dinners during our stay, and one featured homemade sourdough rosemary parmesan bread that Amy and I made together. Despite working in foodservice for many years, Amy had not previously made homemade bread. I had fun introducing her to the practice and shared some of my wild yeast sourdough starter so she can make homemade bread on her journey westward.

(This is Amy, grating the cheese for our bread)


I split the dough into two loaves, baking one in Irving’s convection oven and the other in my Ninja Foodi Grill. Both came out pretty dense, to be honest, but I think that was due to my water:flour ratio which negatively impacted the proofing rather than a fault of either oven. I’ve made my go-to tumeric fennel sourdough loaf in the Ninja Foodi Grill and it’s been great. Regardless of the texture, both loaves tasted wonderful and it was great to share the experience and the meal with Amy, Sean and JJ.

I’ll be working to tweak the recipe in the future so I can create the perfect loaf in either of my ovens, and to hearing about Amy’s adventures in wild yeast bread making as they continue their journey as a full-time RV family.


I continue to carve out time to work as we travel. In addition to making new colored porcelain beads at Bogue Chitto, I finished tumbling the beads I brought with me. After five weeks or so in the tumbler, the polished beads need to be washed and then individually reamed to remove any residual polish material from the holes before washing them all again. This is a time-consuming process, but the beads are finally ready to be used to create jewelry. I’ll be making jewelry for the Chester County Studio tour over the next several stops on our journey.

We left Bogue Chitto State Park and headed to Fort Pickens Campground earlier this week. The park is part of the Gulf Islands Seashore National Park System and located on the beautiful Gulf Shores Coast of Florida. It’s situated smack dab in the middle of heaven in this beach lover’s opinion. The water isn’t quite warm enough for swimming, but I got my bare feet in the sand and walked in the surf — in early March!

We’re situated on a narrow barrier island oriented east/west with a sound on one side, the Gulf of Mexico on the other, and beautiful national park grounds in between, so there are plenty of opportunities for sunrises and sunsets! The sand here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Think of light brown sugar refined to almost the point of confectioner’s sugar, and you’ll be close.

The weather has also warmed considerably. We’re up in the mid-70’s now and loving the warmer temperatures! There are several trails where we’ve been able to explore with the pups, although they’re not allowed on the beach itself. Bandit and Oakley don’t love the ocean, so it’s not a big deal for them. It does mean extra walking for us (not necessarily a bad thing), because we walk the dogs to tucker them out before leaving them in the air-conditioned RV to head back by ourselves for a stroll on the beach. The views are wonderful, and abundant vegetation is everywhere. For history buffs, there is the Fort itself as well as several military batteries throughout the park. It’s interesting to imagine soldiers traversing some of the same paths long ago. I’ll post a full review of the campground with more photos in my next blog entry.

I’ve continued to gather photos of the natural landscape and fauna to feed my creativity once I return home. In particular, I’m in love with the diversity of wildflower specimens emerging as Spring comes to this part of the country. The structure of trees here is also gorgeous, having been blown into unusual contortions by the ocean winds. I’m dreaming of a series of work with some of these tree forms silhouetted against a colored porcelain sky blended to recreate nature’s paintbrush magic at sunset. I’m starting to get the itch to be back in my studio creating, and I hope I’ll have time to brings some of these visions to the work I’ll have available on the Chester County Studio Tour in May. (Fingers crossed!)


I can’t believe that we’re almost halfway through our trip (already!). I realize it’s been a while since I posted Tips & Lessons we’ve learned on our adventure. Trust me, we keep learning!


TIPS & LESSONS FROM OUR TRAVELS:

  • Good things happen when you clean out the refrigerator! Take, for example, the container of roasted garlic that I was able to add to the rosemary parmesan bread we made (see above). Or (the best example I can think of!) the piece of my mom’s banana bread that was nestled in that one place in the refrigerator that is semi-frozen, so it was still delicious. Win/Win!

  • Streaming the Super bowl takes up A LOT of data! Our cellular data suffered for the last two weeks because despite a plan with unlimited data, once you hit a certain threshold your data speeds are slashed (to bits, apparently)! I’m a day late on my blog post because I had to wait for the data plan to re-set before I could upload photos.

  • You use a lot more water than you think! We have only water and electric hook-ups at Fort Pickens. After 48 hours here and one night of boondocking, we had 28 gallons of gray water that needed to be dumped. We figured out how to use our honey pot (who we have nicknamed Pepe), and it’s really not all that difficult! I’m sure we made all the neighboring campers nervous when they saw two obvious newbies pulling out the directions and running through the operation visually before executing our first successful portable dump. It was gray water only (from the sinks, not the toilet), but only the neighbors directly behind us knew that. I’m sure there were audible sighs of relief as we pulled Pepe down the road where we emptied him at the dump station. We’ll work on being more conscious of how much water we use going forward, which is a good practice for many reasons.

  • Four hours seems like a good driving distance for us between stops. We split our last commute up this way, and drove part of it at night. That was great, because traffic was minimal and we were able to crank up the radio and make great time. We had time to stop for groceries and fresh fish on our way into camp, and arrived early enough in the afternoon to set up camp and take the dogs for a walk before night fell.

  • Not all Cracker Barrel parking lots are equal! Our first Cracker Barrel stop was in Kodak, TN and was great (except for the trash trucks that came to empty the dumpsters at way-way-too-early-o’clock in the morning). Our second stopover at Moss Point, MS was noisy (situated practically beside the highway with loud restaurant equipment that ran all night long), bright (like as in it-felt-like-daylight-outside-all-night-long-bright) and dirty (doggie diamonds and litter were everywhere). In the future, I’ll be more selective about our overnight boondocking stops. I understand that many churches allow RV’ers to overnight in their lots, so I’ll look into that going forward. If anyone has tips to share on how to vet overnight parking options, please offer them up in the comments below so we can all benefit from your experience!

  • Sometimes, it’s worth leaving a campground early to re-visit a newly discovered favorite restaurant. We pulled out of Bogue Chitto at around 4PM the day before we were scheduled to leave so we could make a second stop at Mandeville Seafood before they closed. We’re happy to report that our second Shrimp Po-Boy was just as delicious as the first one. It was worth sacrificing one night in the campground even when factoring in the aforementioned Cracker Barrel experience!

  • The dogs have quickly learned to settle into the ride between campgrounds. They no longer go nuts when we stop for gas (or po-boys). Neither Bandit or Oakley seem to comprehend the parking lot boondocking thing yet, though. They appear to expect their leashed exits from the RV to yield a magical new place where we’ll be settling in for several days. When we opened the door for Oakley to do her business at the aforementioned Cracker Barrell, she took one sniff and looked at me with a classic puzzled expression. Her eyes are very expressive, and they seemed to be saying “What’s this, Mom? No good smells here!” Dogs know so much more than we think, right?

Before I sign off, I want to share a photo of a little oasis we discovered less than five minutes from our site on our first walk with the pups at Fort Pickens. It is a sandy grove filled with graceful live oaks, small evergreen bushes, and gorgeous little plants with lavender flowers scattered all around. There’s even a bench where I can sit to meditate or just enjoy my surroundings.


From our site, we hear the song of the night critters in the marshes behind us as dusk falls, and birdsong fills the air in the morning as a wide range of feathered friends begin calling to one another in the trees throughout the park. I took this photo from the picnic table in our site just a moment ago, as this little guy caught my attention as he calls to his pals. It’s really beautiful, and I feel so blessed to be here and to be able to share it with you!


Thanks so much for being a part of our journey. We really do love having you along for the ride!


Susan (and Steve, Bandit and Oakley)


For those interested, here is my review of

BOGUE CHITTO STATE PARK in Franklinton, Louisiana

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We enjoyed our stay at Bogue Chitto State Park. When we arrived, the friendly staff who welcomed us at registration gave us two slices of King Cake (a Louisiana Mardi Gras tradition), setting the tone for a great stay! We camped in the Upland RV Park for 11 nights in February, 2023 in our Vegas 24.1 Class A Motorhome. Flooding caused the Bottomland RV Park to close during our stay, so we were fortunate to have booked in the Upland RV Park!


Our Site (#17) was sloped but we managed to get Irving mostly level with our leveling block system. Our site was huge, with a significant amount of mostly open space between us and our neighbors on both sides. Irving was parked pretty close to the road, which we didn’t love; however, the perfect place to hang the hammock was a plus! The site offered a picnic table on a concrete pad, a grill and a campfire ring.

We opened our door in the morning to face the forest, and had what felt like a very private campfire area situated well behind Irving. Neither is a bad deal, right?

Bogue Chitto is a relatively large park with some amazing mountain biking trails, an intense disc golf course, a lovely walking trail and equestrian trails. The roads throughout and leading to the campground are paved and well maintained. The day use area included two bathhouses, a splash pad, a playground, picnic tables, grills and pavilions. There are several lakes stocked with fish. The Bogue Chitto River runs adjacent to the campground, and there’s a beach area there (although it was still closed due to the recent flooding when we left). Several campers and day use visitors had kayaks. I believe your can rent horses as well. They have a WiFi connection, but we found it to be really slow (particularly on weekends and during the day when the park was full).


The park was packed on weekends, with mostly local families coming to enjoy the great outdoors. We happened to be at the park on Fat Tuesday, and there were celebrations for Mardi Gras the weekend before that included a golf cart parade and several crawfish boils (which smelled fabulous!). We met one of two hosts in our camp area, and she was lovely.


There were six unisex bathrooms in the Upland RV area complete with sink, shower, and toilet. Hot water was plentiful and we loved the fact that it felt like your bathroom at home (minus the concrete floor). There were pull-down benches in every shower and ample hooks for hanging clothes in each bath “room.” The facilities were dated but clean.


Laundry facilities with a wash tub, a single washer and a single dryer were attached to the bathroom. Electronic payment via an app was accepted, as were old-fashioned quarters; each load was $3.50 for both washer and dryer ($1.75 each).

The unique topography of the park is interesting. Where we stayed in the upland section, it was more like a forest. Tall pines swayed in the wind and there was no standing water visible. For the first week of our stay, the bottomland was closed so we were unable to access it even on the trail.

Once the bottomland section opened up, we hiked the 6-ish mile Gorge Trail around the entire park, which took us through swampy bottomland more typical of what we’ve come to expect in Louisiana. The flood waters had done some damage, but the park staff had clearly been hard at work cleaning things up. They were also working on a boardwalk at the bottom of the gorge accessed by several stairs throughout the park while we were in residence, so we didn’t get to see that portion of the park.

The vibe at Bogue Chitto was friendly but not overtly so. There were a lot of younger families camping here (which is great!) and several large groups that seemed to be camping together. With the exception of the friend I made in the laundry room and a neighbor we had chatted with previously at another park, the campers seemed to mostly keep to themselves or intermingle within their own groups.


I should also mention that Louisiana State Parks is offering seniors (age 62 and over) half price on camping reservations through 2023, which is a pretty big deal when you’re spending a month in their parks. Present your ID at check-in to receive the discount, or ask for the senior rate when making your reservation by phone.


The only real complaint we had about the park was the fact that posted leash laws were not enforced, and not everyone seemed to clean up after their pets. Many campers allowed their dogs to roam in their sites. For the most part, this did not present a problem for our Oakley, who can be reactive toward some dogs. On the trails, however, we had two encounters with untethered dogs in tight spaces. Oakley wears a muzzle when she’s not in our site and is always on a leash when not inside Irving because encounters with other dogs tend to ramp up her anxiety, especially when those dogs invade her space. Thankfully, the encounters were brief and did not escalate, but they could have easily gone sideways.

If you’re a camper who leaves their dogs untethered, I encourage you to think of those situations where your dog might encounter a reactive dog or catch the scent of a forest animal. (Case in point: Elvira, who belongs to a day visitor we met who was frantically searching for his dog who “never, ever left his side” but had done exactly that after seeing a wild animal. I hope Elvira found her way back to her fur parent!). Consider that your dog may encounter things in a campground that they might not normally encounter, and you can’t really predict how they’ll react. They may not obey your command immediately, perhaps becoming lost for hours or unnecessarily escalating a situation with another dog that could have easily been avoided by a leash. And please, always pick up after your pet for the safety of both domestic and wild animals who share the great outdoors!

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