Hey everybody! Remember me? That gal you know who is parading around the country in an RV with her husband and three children? Surely you haven’t forgotten! Or, maybe you have. If so, you can refresh your memory here. But, for those of you who do remember, it’s good to have you reading again! Sorry about the long pause there, but I was busy with another writing project. And, if I’m being totally honest, I just haven’t felt super motivated to blog. We’ve been having a lot of fun seeing new places and visiting with family and blogging just seems a lot like…. Work. Work while you’re on a grand journey doesn’t always sound awesome. But with the help of my nagging, er, I mean, HANDSOME husband, I’m back. And maybe he’ll quit bugging me to write. Probably not, but you can’t blame me for hoping! 😉
I feel like I should give you a little refresher sitcom style! Previously on 5 Novaks and a Bus…… The Novaks enjoyed the warmth of Florida and all it had to offer, but it was getting old fast. They jetsetted off to Long Island, Bahamas to spend some quality family time with Zac’s family and then returned yet again to…. Florida. They drove up state (through Tampa right after the big college championship game. Hello, Traffic!) and caught up with friends visiting the Sunshine state from the land of Lincoln. Where have the Novaks been since? Did they get tired of traveling and go home? Did they decide to live off the grid high in the mountains? Or, have they dropped off the face of the earth completely? Find out in…. This blog post!
So, after Panama City, FL, we did NOT fall off the face of the planet! Hooray! Us-1, Planet-0. We instead began to navigate along the gulf coast with our eventual goal being Galveston, TX. That would be our last stop before meeting up with my parents in Dallas for what would become known as the Great Texas Tour of ’17!!! But all of that later… let me tell you all about the Gulf Coast.
First of all, did you know that Mardi Gras was on February 28th? No? I DID! Why? I’ll tell you. But first, let me tell you some of my preconceived notions of Mardi Gras that were false. I, of course, knew what Mardi Gras was. We mention it up north and local bakeries make special goodies around that time of year. Paczkis… or something like that. But it’s NOT a big deal. I pretty much just thought that Mardi Gras was only a big deal in New Orleans. But NAY! It was a big deal in Mobile. And Biloxi… and EVERYWHERE on the Gulf Coast. We pulled into our RV park in Mobile on January 16th. SIX WEEKS BEFORE MARDI GRAS. The place was totally decorated. I kept checking my calendar to see if my dates were right! It’s a big deal. It reminded me a little bit of how early we decorate for Christmas. Please don’t get me wrong. It didn’t bother me at all. I was just surprised to see so much of it, so early, so far outside of New Orleans. It was a fun little piece of that culture.
While in Mobile, Alabama, we pretty much just laid low and relaxed. I should mention that the RV park we stayed at was really, really great and had the nicest bathroom/laundry room I’ve ever seen at a campground. It was called All About Relaxing and their only downfall was that we wished they had a playground.
The biggest thing we did in Mobile was tour the USS Alabama. Zac doesn’t often mention things to me that he REALLY wants to do. He’s a pretty go with the flow kinda guy and usually lets me plan things. So when he piped up and said that he really wanted to tour this battleship, I knew we had to do it! It was a neat experience and while it wasn’t my favorite thing we’ve done, we all did enjoy it. It was a long tour and the kids started to get a little whiny toward the end, but we all survived.
After relaxing in Mobile, we scooted an hour west to Biloxi, MS. We literally went here for two reasons: It was in Mississippi and we could check that state off the list and it is as far south as you can be so that we could try to stay warm. And Biloxi was ok. It’s mostly beach and casinos. We went into a little town just east of there called Ocean Springs. It was a cute little town and we had a delicious Italian lunch there and then went to a playground where we saved a kitten out of a trash can. True story! Caydence also set up shop at the campground we were at there and sold at least $40 worth of rainbow loom bracelets she had made! We were in a really good spot and people walked by our site all the time. She LOVED having her own little business! Unfortunately, we haven’t had very good sites lately for her to do this more, but we’re hoping to in the future. Not to mention that there just wasn’t much else to do there, so it was time well spent.
Another little culture shock on the Gulf Coast was the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on the whole area. Again, I always thought of New Orleans when I thought of Katrina, but it really impacted that whole area. And there is a general sense when you talk to the people there that Katrina separated the timelines of their lives into before and after August of 2005. It was sobering and sad, yet amazing to see how far all these places have come since then.
After Biloxi, it was on to New Orleans! This was a city that I had much apprehension about. When we would ask people who had been before what they thought about us going there, the responses were so widely varying! We got, “Oh! You’ll love it! So much history and so much to do! It’s lovely! And the food! Aw! It’s just so great!” And we also got, “How could you possibly even think of going there?!?! Did you know that geographically speaking, there is one spot on earth where Hell literally bubbles up into the land of the living and oozes into everyday existence?!?! That place is NEW ORLEANS and all who enter there shall perish! It is a den of debauchery the likes of which your eyes will never unsee! Run! Run with haste as far as you can from that devil’s playground!!!” Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating about that second one a little. But, needless to say, I just wasn’t sure what we were going to think about this city. I must say that I was so pleasantly surprised! I will admit that we only went into the city on weekdays and we were out before nightfall everyday, but when we were there… I loved it. People always ask me what’s been my favorite place so far and New Orleans in currently in the top three. The French Quarter is so charming and beautiful. And the streetcars!!! So quaint and full of history! They also have a wonderful city park that has a really fun Storybook play village that the kids loved. And I think we were there at a great time too because, as I previously mentioned, they were all decorated for Mardi Gras, but they were still a few weeks out, so the city was beautiful but not too crazy. We even went to a King’s Cake festival and sampled cakes from bakeries all around the city. We really enjoyed our time in the big easy.
The two negatives? We drove down Bourbon St to see what it was like, and I can see why you wouldn’t want to necessarily be THERE. But that was the only street that we found to be a bit unsavory. Also, we hands down agree that this city has the country’s worst drivers! I mean, we haven’t seen the whole country yet, but it would be hard to imagine it getting much worse! Otherwise, visit New Orleans! You’ll be glad you did!
And then finally, we made it to our last destination on the Gulf Coast. Galveston, TX. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t really know that it was on an island. But, hey! That’s what this trip is for, right? Learning about our wonderful country. And Galveston was nice. It’s clearly a vacation town and it was kind of dead considering we were there on the off season. I was really excited about the campground we were staying at because it seemed to have sooooo much to offer! But then we got there and realized that most of the fun things it had to enjoy were not open or running because, you guessed it, out of season. But we enjoyed our time there nonetheless. Our highlights would definitely be going to Pleasure Pier and the Moody Gardens. They also have a huge water park there that looked amazing called the Schlitterbahn. But it was of course closed. Our Northern blood just couldn’t get over how weird it was to have a water park closed when the daily high was in the 70’s! Open this place up, people! It’s a heat wave! But obviously people didn’t share our enthusiasm for what we called “warm”. We stopped at a light next to a car whose driver was wearing one of those winter hats that have the big furry flaps that you can pull down over your ears or tie up on top? Do you know that type I’m talking about? The type of hat you’d wear skiing in the mountains! We were in shorts and t-shirts and this guy was ready for winter sports. But, now I’m rambling. The pier was awesome and we practically had the place to ourselves. The Gardens were nice but not everything was open because of the season. And that’s that!
So, now that I’ve caught you up on the Gulf Coast…. Stay tuned for the next installment of 5 Novaks and a Bus! Texas: Where your Ex’s live and the Stars are Big and Bright!