Where Are We Now?
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On Tuesday morning we left MacDill AFB and headed up to see Macís mom to say goodbye. After having lunch we left Tampa around 2:00 heading towards Jacksonville. We stopped for the night at Wal-Mart Store #3207 in Sanford FL. Nice big parking lot with plenty of space for us. Surprisingly there werenít any other RVs spending the night there. Itís been pretty warm lately in Tampa and even here in the greater Orlando area itís pretty warm this afternoon and evening. We went into Wal-Mart and ate at McDonaldís, yuck, and shopped while waiting for evening to cool it off outside. There were no restaurants in walking distance and it was too hot to cook in the RV.
Wednesday we left around 10:30 and headed on over to Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville FL. http://navysite.de/homeports/mayport.htm. Itís very interesting to see all the ships coming and going. Iíve never been on a naval station before or really anywhere that had to do with the Navy; always been around the Air Force. Mac reminded me that when weíre in Key West we are on a Naval Air Station. But I say Key West doesnít feel like it since the RV Park is where the housing area is so you donít see any ships, or hear any bells and whistles, etc. (click photo for more)
The weather has finally cooled off and I had to wear a long sleeved shirt when I went outside. Iím so glad that itís cooling off. It was really getting too warm for me. I know itís snowing, sleeting and still freezing in places but it was getting really warm in FL, high in the mid 80ís with humidity climbing up there. Iím getting so spoiled with the ability to travel anywhere I want to go that the weather is just right.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
It was great sleeping weather last night. I think it was in the 40ís so we could cuddle while sleeping.
It was hard to get any work done this morning. I kept jumping up and running outside anytime I heard something going on. I wanted to see the ships coming and going. Also weíre right next to where they practice how to put out fires on deck; so that was fun to see them do. Iíd get settled back into working and hear something and have to run outside to see what it was.
After lunch Mac and I went to the beach area. Itís a really big beach, so pretty. I enjoyed walking around looking for shells too. After being so warm it felt like the weather was a bit cool for the beach but we enjoyed it so much regardless of the coolness. I plan on returning tomorrow and walking around some more, weather permitting.
After dinner this evening we went down to the beach again. We saw about 12 dolphins in the water coming up and going back under. One of them came completely out of the water, it was so cool to see so many dolphins. We saw a lot of jelly fish washed up on shore and some washing up. I donít know what kind they are or if they were even alive. I wasnít going to touch one to see if it was alive, I think they can sting. We really like the beach here it is so pretty and quite large. (click photo for more)
Friday, April 6:
After being on Air Force (AF) bases we feel so ignorant here at a Navy base. Weíll hear bells, whistles or other signals and not know what they mean. Also at the AF bases they have retreat at 4:30 in the afternoon and the national anthem is played. Here at the Navy base they play the national anthem at 8:00 in the morning. Navy Customs Info Itís been very interesting to learn of all the traditions of the Navy. Also the USS John F. Kennedy is here, so that is really cool to see it in port. I understand it was decommissioned in March of this year.
This afternoon Mac went over and worked with Kary, one of his co-worker who lives in this area. We then met him and his wife for dinner at Luluís Waterfront Grille http://luluswaterfrontgrille.com. Itís located on the Intracoastal Waterway. We had a great time and enjoyed it very much.
Saturday, April 7 Ė Sunday April 8:
We left Mayport on Saturday and headed west on I-10. Thatís the one really great thing about this lifestyle, no rush to get anywhere unless we have an appointment. Since we donít we goofed off much of the morning before hitting the road. We took our time driving and drove to the Wal-Mart store #1375 in Marianna FL to spend the night. We were the first RV there so we got to pick one of the prime spots for overnight parking right along the edge.
As mentioned earlier itís been rather chilly this week and Sunday morning was no exception. We were goofing off on our computers and it started sleeting! Wow, this is some weird weather weíve been having. Sleet on Easter in Florida! Thankfully it didnít stick, just sleeted for a short time and disappeared. I know other places that donít usually have snow had some snow. So just having a little sleet is okay with me.
We left around noon and headed west towards Pensacola. We were about 1 mile from our intended exit when we changed our minds and continued on to Biloxi MS. Thatís another great plus with this lifestyle, we can go anywhere we want and change our destination anytime we want.
We arrived late afternoon in Biloxi and weíre staying at the Keesler AFB FamCamp. Weíre in the drycamping area which is okay to us, we like drycamping.
Monday, April 9 Ė Saturday April 14:
Weíve been staying here in Biloxi and will probably be here another week or two. I donít know if weíve mentioned it before in the blog but Mac has had an ear infection since we were in Tampa back in January. Heís gone to 3 doctors with this ear, two different times in Tampa and once in Key West. Weíd decided to come on over to Biloxi so that he could go to the doctor again. He went on Monday to a specialist and weíre so glad that we came on over when we did. The doctor gave him lots of medicine, and wants to see him again on the 23rd. Weíre hoping that he hasnít had any hearing loss from having an infection this long.
Other than that we havenít been doing much. Working during the day then hitting the casino at night. Mac has been playing in the poker tournaments and Iíve been playing video poker.
If you don't gamble you may want to skip these two paragraphs. :-)
Just in case we have some "cross over" traffic from our other web site www.CasinoCamper.com I'll start posting some more info about our gambling fun. We kicked off the 2007 gambling season on 4/8/07 with $200 free play at the Beau Rivage. Yes, we realize the video poker at the Beau is short-pay, but it's a nice place and they have good poker tournaments and great restaurants.
Last year you might recall was a bad year for me at the poker tables. I won't go into too many details but one thing I did was play too many NL cash games. My tournament success suffered. For 2007 I'm very serious about improving my play and getting as much table time as possible. So far I'm playing only in tournaments. I started 4/9/07 and have played in 6 small tournaments ($40 to $120 buy-in), cashing in 2 of them for an overall profit of $720. I know it's a really small sample, and I probably can't sustain it, but if I could do that every week I'd be one happy camper.
Business has picked up on my "day job" now, and I put in 49.5 hours last week. I promised myself at the start of this year, no more 50 hour weeks. So far so good.
Wednesday, April 18:
One of the many benefits of having a playerís card from the casinos is the mailings that youíll get. Weíve received many offers from various casinos for free shows, meals, rooms, money, free play, etc. One of the offers we took advantage of while here was for four free tickets to see the show Imaginaya, currently showing at the Beau Rivage Casino. We made reservations to see the show last night. When we picked up our tickets there was a couple at the desk that had not made reservations and didnít have their mailing offer with them and they were having trouble getting their free tickets. Since we had four tickets and only needed two we gave them the other two tickets.
Before the show we ate dinner at the Memphis Q. They have a very nice dinner offer before the show of prime rib or catch of the day for two for only $26.00. We both had the prime rib and it was very good, thick and flavorful. We even had time to play a little in the casino before seeing the show.
The show Imaginaya was very good and we really enjoyed it. The show is from Russia and includes trapeze acts, acrobatics, dancing, comedy, etc. The show lasted about 90 minutes.
My only complaint is why does music have to be played so loudly? Itís not just this show it seems to be anywhere music is played itís played at levels that are uncomfortable to hear. Weíve been in several casinos and other shows that when the band is playing they play so loudly you canít hear anything. I started carrying a pair of disposable ear plugs with me last year and last night I got them out. After putting those in I enjoyed the show very much. This was my last pair so Iím going to buy some more disposable ear plugs and ensure that I carry them with me all the time.
Monday, April 23
Happy anniversary to us! Weíve been married 24 years today. To celebrate we went to the Beau Rivage casino (surprise). Chris played video poker and I played in a Texas Holdíem tournament, placing 3rd. We then picked up a comp for the coffee shop (Terrace Cafť) and had an anniversary dinner around 11 pm.
Tuesday, April 24
Interim update. Chris may come back along and add some comments for the past 5 days.
Weíre still in Biloxi. Iíve been seeing an ENT for an ear infection thatís been persistent since December. Yesterday they did a hearing test and both ears showed a decline of high frequency hearing, both showed some fluid behind the ear drum, and the left was worse than the right in that regard. The left also tested lower in speech recognition. The doctor thinks itís just going to take additional treatment to resolve, but does want to rule out a growth on the nerve for the left ear, so heís ordered an MRI and weíre hanging around for another few days so that can happen. It looks like weíll leave on Saturday for Livingston, TX. Depending on the result of the MRI and how my ear feels we may return to Biloxi for me to continue seeing this specialist.
This delays our western migration, so we plan to travel more quickly between Livingston and Las Vegas. Weíll arrive later than planned in Las Vegas, but due to the typical heat of summer weíll most likely stay just a short time and hit Reno as planned.
While hanging around Biloxi weíve discovered a couple of good RV parking opportunities in the area. The Imperial Palace has a lot of room in two lots for RVís and the Beau Rivage has an oversize vehicle lot as well. See www.casinocamper.com/mississippi.htm for details.
Although Biloxi is bouncing back there are many areas where destruction is still a common site. Especially along the beachfront there are blocks that are still leveled with only concrete foundations and rubble. Many private homes have been repaired or rebuilt, but there are still hundreds of FEMA trailers and other RV's around where houses once stood. I took a photo of a house showing how high the storm surge came. This home is a few blocks from the back bay. Click photo for larger view.
Gambling: (If you donít gamble you may want to skip these two paragraphs) My success in the small daily poker tournaments has continued. Iíve now played in 12 small tournaments ($120 buy-in or less) and cashed in 5 of them. Comparing this to 2006 season Iím much more focused, and I playing a generally tight aggressive game. Iím also starting to be a much better reader of hands, and observer of other players tendencies, styles, etc.
Iím enjoying the tournaments in Biloxi, and looking forward to playing in other cites, but with some apprehension. The tournaments here have different structures from other places (starting number of chips, blinds progression, playing periods, # of places paid out, etc.). So I'll need to adjust my play to the conditions in other places. This will be both challenging and educational. I'm not going to start believing I can actually play this game now until I have success in several venues and with a longer record of cashing consistently.
Saturday, April 28
Yes, we're still in Biloxi at the Keesler AFB FamCamp. I have another appointment with the ENT on Wednesday to get the result of the MRI and decide what to do next about my ears.
I'm glad the Famcamp here is inexpensive ($90/wk for FHU), because we've spent more time in hookups than we planned. We kept thinking we'd be leaving in a few days, and we ended up staying on FHU for 14 days! We didn't really need it, so we've moved back to dry at $6/night. By the time we leave we'll have 11 days dry and 14 FHU.
The weather has been wonderful here. We've had a little rain a couple of days but not too bad, and our solar charging system is doing a great job of keeping us in power. I'm really glad we added that 4th panel, because it's made a big difference.
The plan now is to head for Livingston, TX on Saturday 5/5 and arrive on Sunday 5/6. I have an appointment at Joel West RV to have some work done on the motor home that week. If you ever need RV repairs around the Livingston TX area I highly recommend Joel West RV. The owner/manager Rick West is a former Marine (Retired) and an all around good guy. He has a staff of excellent mechanics and RV techs. They do the job right, and they don't overcharge you. Tell him I sent you if you drop by.
We've had fun at the casinos too. I'm still "up" on poker tournaments, but finished out of the money for the 4th straight time today and that's a bummer. The good thing is, each time I've been put out I had the best hand going in and that's all you can do is get your money in the middle of the table with the best hand. So I've played 16 tournaments this year, cashed in 5, and I'm $945 to the good.
Chris had a good day at the casino. Today she hit a Royal Flush on a quarter machine for $1000. She took a photo of it. At first glance you may not recognize the pay table -- no, it's not 8/5 JOB -- see the 175 for four of a kind? This is a new version of Bonus Poker that's been showing up lately and the payoff is 99.66% which is better than "full pay" 8/5 BP at 99.2%. Add cash-back, food comps, and free play and it's pretty much a break even situation.
Monday, April 30
While weíve been here in the Biloxi area Iíve hit the few thrift stores looking for books and other bargains. Sadly two of the thrift stores I used to visit when here have closed. I guess since Katrina hit not many people have anything to donate. I think those two were local with no other means of getting donations. I did find some books and was very happy to find them. I was getting very low on books, actually out of new reading material and rereading books that were set aside for Mac to read when he ever decides to read a book.
Iíve also driven around looking at all the area. Itís just really sad to see how much didnít survive the hurricane. There were some places that have taken longer to be torn down, one is the Gulfport VA. Hereís a link of before and after pictures of the Gulfport VA: Gulfport VA Photos I always thought this was one of the prettiest places on the coast. Itís sad that it didnít make it.
Weíve eaten out at several places since weíve been here. Weíve mentioned eating at the Beau Rivage Casino. Weíve also eaten at the Imperial Palace Casino, once at the buffet and twice at the High Tide Cafť. Donít you just love that name? We enjoyed the food there very much. We ate at the buffet once, It was the seafood buffet, it was really great. There were many kinds of shrimp to enjoy. All these meals were free with coupons or comps. We also went to the Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis and ate the buffet for free using coupons they sent us in the mail. We enjoyed the buffet very much, great food. The casino still has lousy pay tables on the video poker though. We hope that someday they improve so that we can play there again. We enjoyed staying at the RV Park before and would love to stay and play again but wonít play here until the pay tables improve.
Long long ago when I lived in the Biloxi area I worked as a waitress at the House of Chin Restaurant. It was a great place to work, I made good money and didnít have to work long hours to do it. We had many nationalities working at the restaurant, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Caucasian, etc. It was great getting to learn about the many cultures. One of the Japanese waitresses and her husband opened their own restaurant, Yukiís, over 25 years ago. Mac and I finally stopped in to eat at Yukiís Restaurant while here. It was great to see them both again. They were so fortunate that their restaurant wasnít severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina, but they lost their home and are rebuilding. We ate dinner and it was very good, so if youíre in the Biloxi area and want some great oriental food stop in at Yukiís Restaurant on Pass Road, youíll enjoy it.
Yuki's is a Japanese Restaurant and Steakhouse. They serve many Japanese dishes, some Chinese too, and great sushi and sashimi. The restaurant is in two parts, dining and hibachi grill. Thinking about it as I type, there must have been a sushi bar too. Any way, it's a good place to go as a couple, or with a group, and the prices are reasonable. 2389 Pass Rd, Biloxi, MS 39531 (near Wal-Mart). Tell them we sent you :-)
Monthly camping report. We've been hooked up and paying way more than we planned. In Biloxi we really should have gotten off hookups after the one week, but stayed for 2. Didn't need to run the AC even once, as the weather was great (except for 2 or 3 days of rain).
What did we do in April's past? Take a look at:
Continue reading to May 2007