US Army Corps of Engineer (COE) Parks, Gunter Hill (Winter 2017 Part 9 A)


Our trip from Davis Bayou (click to read), Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to our next destination was just over 200 miles. It was an easy trip and we arrived around 12:30 pm.  We knew we might be a little early, but we learned that COE park check out times are 3:00 pm! Little did we know….

Our first experience in a COE was last summer. We stayed in the Land Between The Lakes (LBL) COE “Canal Campground,” click here to read about our fabulous time there. It took three posts to write it up since there was so much to do and we hope to return there one day. As I am writing this, we now have stayed in three, back to back stays, this winter. I had hoped to write about all three in this one post, but we did so much in the Montgomery, Alabama area, it needs its own post. Continue Reading

Welcome to Mississippi: Davis Bayou Campground (Part 8 Winter 2017)


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Florida route started in (green dot) Jacksonville, to (b) Dunnellon, then (C) Zephryhills, to (D) Micanopy, to (E) Sneads, to (F) Navarre, to (G) Fort Pickens, to (H) Holt, then crossed over into Alabama, (I) Robertsdale, then to (checkered dot) Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The Davis Bayou Campground is our 10th RV park/campground since we arrived in Florida on January 6, 2017.  We were in this National Park from February 19 to 26, 2017. It is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We discovered it when we were in Fort Pickens, Pensacola (Part 6 of our winter travels), Florida. It is a continuation of the Gulf Islands Seashore! Since we had such a wonderful time in Fort Pickens, we thought we’d go farther west than we had originally planned and try it.

The Lure of the Islands in the Gulf of Mexico
What is it that entices people to the sea? Poet John Masefield wrote, “I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Millions of visitors are drawn to the islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico for the white sandy beaches, the aquamarine waters, a boat ride, a camping spot, a tour of an old fort, or a place to fish.

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Mammoth Cave National Park, June 28 to July 6, 2016


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Mammoth Cave National Park, A World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Preserve

Finally, Bill got me here to see the world-famous Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky! I talked about our anticipation to visit here in our last post, Caves or Caverns.

We made our reservations to Cave Country RV Campground a week or so ahead since we knew this was the 4th of July holiday weekend.  We knew we couldn’t get into the campgrounds in the park, so we didn’t really explore them. Soon after we arrived, we decided to add a day on to our stay. We loved the warm welcome we received and all the brochures we were handed to help us make the most of our time here. There was so much to do in this area, but first, let’s check out Mammoth Cave National Park, which is part of the America the Beautiful pass program. Our tickets for the tours were half price! Continue Reading

Chapter 14 – Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak


(I missed up my last post so badly, here it is again, with corrections and new pictures!)

Nearly every visitor to Colorado Springs also visits the Garden of the Gods.  I remember visiting it many times as a young child living in the Springs .  I also remember the name seemed sacrilegious!   My dad never let us misuse the name of the Lord.  I recall once saying OMG (not the initials) and my dad having a stern talk with me!  So I would say, “Oh My GOSH” from then on.  As a mature adult, I now understand more clearly,  Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our niece Rachel moved to the Springs two years ago and I began to see family members trekking to the Gardens.  (I’ll admit, I was jealous and yearned to visit!)  Childhood memories crept back as  I questioned the name.  My dad satisfied me by saying the Indians named it and it was OK.  Well, what a surprise when I was finally able to visit it again, after a 50 year absence!

Rachel’s husband, Fernando took the picture of us with three-month old Baby Hadassah and Rachel at the visitor’s center.  What a view they designed for photo ops and what a surprise to learn Rachel and family had never come to the actual visitor’s center!  Bill and I love to learn as much about a location as we can when we are tourists.  So we watched the 20 minute high-definition movie about the creation of the gardens, from a geological perspective, the entire family history behind the actual gardens becoming a tourist attraction.  It is fascinating!

While I enjoyed the movie, what I learned was shocking to me, about the name that haunted me as a young child:   “The name of the park dates back to August 1859 when two surveyors helping to set up nearby Colorado City were exploring the nearby areas.  Upon discovering the site, one of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a ‘capital place for a beer garden.’  His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, ‘Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble.  We will call it the Garden of the Gods.’  The beer garden never materialized, but the name stuck.”  So much for sacrilege!  I don’t think dad wanted me to know the truth!

The view is so beautiful, I just have to include it and reminisce how in awe we were with the mountains and scenery!  Colorado is a BEAUTIFUL state and we can’t wait to go back for about a month or so!  You can’t see enough in a week and how we felt we were in God’s country and enjoyed His creation:

1 Chronicles 16:31 “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’”

I have so many other beautiful pictures, but I can’t figure out how to add them as a gallery, which this blog site says I can do.  I’ll keep working on it.  Anyway, we saw an elk and big horn sheep.  I did not get the best pictures of them, but did get some snapshots.  We also saw rock climbers climbing steep and high!  Those pictures also did not adequately capture the essence of the moment for us – FEAR!  Wow, brave people!  All this to say, you have to go there in person and enjoy a FULL day there!  The park is FREE as a promise from the man who ended up buying the gardens and willed it on to his family.

After the park visit, we went out to eat at a wonderful and local favorite Italian restaurant, Biaggios.  I forgot to get pictures!  Then off to see Rachel’s home….oh dear, I forgot to take pictures there, too!  Then off to our hotel that we thought would be shadowed by Pikes Peak.  Everything in Colorado Springs is shadowed by it in some way or another.  But again, no pictures of it!

Saturday, September 17 we picked Rachel and Hadassah up as Fernando had to work.  We had hoped to do some more hiking the day before, but ran out of time.  So before we took a train ride up to the top of Pikes Peak, we took a hike at their favorite new park.

After a wonderful time enjoying more of God’s creation, we went to the Pikes Peak Cog Train Station.  I don’t remember ever going to the top as a child, but I  remember seeing it from where we lived.  We were always in the shadow of the Peak!  We were told it would be 30 degrees colder at the top.  Snow was just beginning to accumulate once again on the top, so we knew it would be under 32 degrees.  We brought all the warm weather gear we could!  We were ready!


We had the best seat on the train, last seats so we had the view of the mountain as we climbed and descended. They ran a few trains at a time, so here is a view how the trains pass each other. It was an educational and entertaining ride up and back. I held Hadassah on the way down and let Bill be in charge of the camera….needless to say, we don’t have any pictures of the descent!

The snow began slowly and by the time we were on top, it was snowing pretty hard, windy and very cold. But worth every chill we felt!

I learned another important tidbit about America the Beautiful!  It was inspired and written after an English Professor visited the top of Pikes Peak.  But she did not visit when it was snowing!  There was a beautiful memorial to honor Katherine Lee Bates  (August 12, 1859 – March 28, 1929) for writing the lyrics.  She was teaching for the summer at the Colorado College and took the trip to the top of the mountain by a prairie wagon.  She wrote in her journal how exhausted she was once they reached the top, but when she saw the view, she was filled with joy!  And this beautiful anthem was born  (keep reading after to see how our vacation ended!):

America the Beautiful

 by Katharine Lee Bates
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

After our descent, we dropped Rachel and Hadassah off at home, where they were greeted by Fernando – how he wished he had taken the day off! We had plans for us all to meet our nephew in Castle Rock. We had just enough time to take a drive through our old neighborhood. While most of the neighborhood was still in tact and a very nice part of the Springs, it looked like our house was gone. Memories of my childhood flooded through my memory in a refreshing way! I am so glad I had so many happy childhood memories I could share with Bill.

We finished our vacation with a fun dinner with Matt, Rachel, Fernando and a still very happy baby Hadassah.  It was so sad to see the vacation end, but we vowed we will return!