grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Thursday, January 31, 2008

02-31JAN08 - Houma, LA (truly homeless)

We arrived to our still unsold house in Houma right after New Years; but more on the house later. Although nothing was definite, our intention was to stay here for about a month or so (or until after Mardi Gras). The most important thing we had to do, other than sell our house, was “dog sit” Rebecca and Raymond’s “baby” Gracie; Gracie is a seven month old Weimaraner that is the proverbial bull in the china shop. We had been “volunteered” to dog sit while the newly weds went on their honeymoon ski trip to Park City, Utah. And while in Houma we would try to get our annual and semi-annual dental and medical appointments done.

Dog sitting Gracie was a little adventure in itself. Although we have owned Jack Russell Terriers for over 15 years and have dealt with these high energy dogs, we were not prepared for a 75 pound puppy that was all legs and didn’t know the word “NO”. Unfortunately Corrie seemed to get the worst of it, since Gracie seemed to take great pleasure in jumping on her or trying to sit on her lap. As for Gumbo, he would just lay in his bed and growl anytime Gracie came near. The kids made it back from their honeymoon with no broken bones and retrieved their baby, Gracie!
Meanwhile, our realtor called and told us that an offer had made on our house and that we might close in the middle of February. At the same time Dan, who still does some consulting jobs, went to Texarkana, AR, on business for LSU (Geaux Tigers!). For those that don’t know, Texarkana is a town that is split in half by the Texas/Arkansas state border. In fact the border goes right through the middle of the post office, the only post office in USA serving two different zip codes.

Dan’s motel was on State Line Ave where he noted:

---all the car dealers were on the Texas side because the sales tax is less than in Arkansas.

---all the liquor stores were on the Arkansas side, since the Texas county was dry.

---until recently the majority of the population lived on Texas side because there is no income tax in TX; but apparently Arkansas has implemented a special exclusion for their side of the city and people are now buying houses in Arkansas?

When Dan returned from his LSU trip he noted that the beverages in the RV refrigerator were not as cold as normal. A call was placed to the RV Doctor (local repair technician), who determined that refrigerator was not repairable. Looks like another unplanned trip to a repair facility. On the brighter side, we received a phone call from our realtor that the closing on our house would be on the 30th of Jan!

During the last full weekend in Jan was also the start of the Mardi Gras parades in Houma. For the first time since moving to Houma we didn’t watch any. Friday night was rained out, Saturday was too cold, and Sunday Dan was fasting for his colonoscopy on Monday (since he was fasting, he didn’t want to spend four hours around people constantly eating and drinking). As for the medical procedure, at least he didn’t end up in the intensive care unit for three days like he did in 2003. Unfortunately, a polyp was removed, and he gets to do it again next year.

Since our house sale was closing on the 30th of January, we cleaned out the last of our possessions and moved the RV to the Houma Civic Center on the 29th. The morning of the 30th we were awakened by the noise of what sounded like tap dancers walking by the RV? Turns out the Budweiser Clydesdales were in town for the Mardi Gras parades and had set up base at the opposite end of the Civic Center parking lot. What were hearing was the ten horses being walked around the parking lot for morning exercise.

That morning we received a phone call from old friends of ours, Steve and Barbara Garrity, from Andover, Massachusetts. Steve is another retired Coastie, who relieved Dan as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard unit in Morgan City in 2001. Seems they were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and wanted to swing by. Since we were closing on the house at 1600, we decided to meet right after lunch. Although the visit was way too short, it was great to see them.

After visiting with the Garrity’s it was off to the house closing. Since we were the sellers we had to sit there for an hour while they went over the mountain of paperwork the buyers had to read (right!) and sign. Then at the very end we get one piece of paper with how much is owed to us for us to sign, and we get our check. Since it was five to five, we jumped up, said thank you very much, and ran out the door to the bank to get the check out of our hands and safely into our account. We actually made it to the bank a couple minutes after five, but they had failed to lock the door.

The next morning, the last day in January, found us once again making the seven hour drive to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, AL, this time to see if they can fix the refrigerator. We had tried to get it repaired in Louisiana, but no one would return our calls. So we decided to drive much longer than we normally do, hoping that the factory can get to us quickly. During the last half of the drive we (ie Dan) had to deal with driving rain and thunder storms through north Mississippi into Alabama.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

01JAN08 - Biloxi, MS

After a farewell cup of coffee with the Guldenschuhs it was back on the road to our empty house in Houma, LA. Although we could have driven straight through to Houma, we decided to split drive into two days and stop in Biloxi, MS. We decided to stop in Biloxi to check out the Keesler Air Force Base Family Camp, and the recently reopened casinos.

As most of you know most of the damage to New Orleans from Katrina was from levee failure and the subsequent flooding. Unfortunately for Mississippi their coast bore the full brunt of the storm surge and hurricane force winds. It is estimated that a thirty foot wall of water came ashore from Pass Christian all the way to Biloxi. Houses and businesses on the north side of US 90 that had been there for decades, and some for over a hundred years, and survived numerous hurricanes were completely destroyed. Biloxi is doing okay in their recovery because four of the major casinos have finally reopened and provide employment opportunities and a much needed tax base, but the majority of the coastal Mississippi communities still look like ghost towns.

After a couple of false turns we found the military Family Camp and set up camp. The majority of the Air Force Base was not damaged by the hurricane, but was without full utilities for several months following Katrina. In addition, since there are almost no rental housing available, the majority of the Fam Camp is employees of the base waiting for housing. After an early dinner it was off to the Casino Beau Rivage to contribute to the hurricane recovery. On our return from the casino, we swung through the Air Force housing at the Falcon housing site so Dan could check out another military house the Ryans occupied in the early 60s when Dan Sr was stationed at Keesler AFB.