009 - week two | the south
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
We started our second week off with probably the most frustrating part of this journey so far. We finally caved and accepted the fact that fixing the taillights is out of our hands. Which meant, we had to try our luck again on finding a garage that will and can fix them on short notice.
So after crossing our third state border to Mississippi, where the rest areas are even nicer than the ones in Alabama (they really are super nice) and finding a cheap gas station to quench Henry Ford's very frequent thirst, we decided to go straight to the source and call CampingWorld in Jackson, MS. We explained our problem and situation and before we knew it, we had an appointment for the next day. We even had the opportunity to overnight park on their lot, but after seeing the location, we decided on contacting a Boondocker in the area on short notice instead. After a quick trip to Walmart to restock some groceries, we already had received an acceptance. We made a small detour around the Ross Barnett Reservoir where we drove a few miles on the beautiful Natchez Trace and boy were we glad we took this route. The scenery was absolutely idyllic, driving right next to the calm water, reflecting the warm evening sun.
At Eddie's place, Boondocker #3, we had the opportunity to finally hook up our electricity with success, and got a small glimpse into the beliefs of some of the folks in the South. We definitely had arrived in the bible belt. Apparently, our economy is booming thanks to our newest president, and after getting and also giving a house tour of Henry Ford, we noticed our host felt a little uncomfortable when he put two and two together and realized that Mattia and I, (clearly being unmarried and all) were both sleeping in the bunk above the cabin. Oops.
We enjoyed our time there nonetheless, because those moments, those conversations, and those insights are exactly what traveling is all about for us. Learning about different beliefs, seeing different perspectives, and getting a feel of what life is like in other parts of this country.
After a stormy night and a really early start into our morning, we made our way to CampingWorld. We dropped off our keys at the service desk at 8am sharp and with them our beloved Henry Ford. We were then directed to wait in the customers lounge for Henry's diagnose and an estimate of the cost and time it would take to repair him. Two and a half hours later, we were told Henry has a bad ground wire that needs replacing, it would take them another two and a half hours to repair it and cost us about 390 dollars. Ouch. At this point we couldn't decide what hurt more, the amount of money or the amount of time it took to get these taillights fixed. But we knew we had to do it. Unfortunately, this CampingWorld is not smart enough to realize that most people that drop off their RV to service it, also happen to live or vacation in it, and therefore only offer a water fountain and a non functioning popcorn machine for the customers to stare at in the customers lounge. Thankfully, I quickly grabbed half a roll of Ritz crackers and our refill mug before we handed over the keys, so our hunger and thirst were taken care of for the first hour.
We were finally given back our keys THREE and a HALF hours later. After waiting a total of six hours in the very unmotivating customers lounge we were both just ready to get out of there and grab something to eat. So after paying the total of 374 dollars (thank goodness they stayed within their estimation here) we drove to the nearest McDonald's. After filling our tummy's and attempting to wash our hands, we realized the entire electricity inside of the RV was NOT functioning. It was not the fuses, and everything was working perfectly fine before our service at CampingWorld. So, we drove back, had to fight a little for them to accept that everything WAS working fine before, dropped off the keys again, and waited another 45 minutes. We received the keys back and were told that the issue had nothing to do with what they had worked on before, they fixed it for us however, and free of charge at that. Ok.
Frustrated, but glad everything was fine now and that we could continue our journey, we headed back to the Natchez Trace. We drove the two hours almost completely on our own to the very end where we arrived in the beautiful town of Natchez, MS, where our day took a huge turn. Here we were able to overnight park for free at the visitor center, profit from their outlets, free coffee, dump station, and water supply. Now this is how we like it.
We decided to stay two nights, so we could explore the town the next day. The stunning and pompous antebellum houses were just as beautiful as they described and the little crooked houses in between could probably tell a story just as interesting. We wandered the streets for most of the morning and a bit of the afternoon, found a free library where we both grabbed a new book, stopped at a local deli to grab some sweet tea and chat with the vendor about what he knew about Switzerland, to enjoy the rest of the afternoon just relaxing in the RV.
Our snug neighbor in the lot declared he could tell right away that we were RV rookies, because we immediately plugged in our cable to the outlet when we arrived, he of course didn't need to because he has solar.
Next stop: New Orleans.
Here we decided to splurge and pay for a camping spot outside of the city in the closest state park. Luckily, the spot came with full hook ups and free laundry. After settling in, we took an Uber to the French Quarter, strolled around the blocks and down the tad bit smelly Bourbon Street where people were already drunk at 5pm and the remnants of Mardi Gras were still visible, entered eclectic voodoo shops and an old thrift store with a magician outside, and enjoyed a cafe-au-lait at the historic Cafe du Monde. We treated ourselves to burgers and french onion soup for dinner before heading back to the Bayou Segnette State Park.
The next day, we took advantage of the free laundry and I befriended the neighbors kiddies while Mattia took a shower. I learned from the talkative one (probably around 5 years old and definitely doesn't understand the concept of a space bubble) that he is the oldest out of his brothers, could run on the spot, but also very fast otherwise. The second oldest provoked his dad by dropping his shoe filled with rocks exactly outside of the rock pit several times while eyeing me as if he wanted to impress me, and the very sandy baby crawled around my feet peeping up with a large drooly grin on its face. Mattia's look on his face was priceless, when he returned from his shower.
As soon as our laundry was done, we headed on, on a very bumpy highway, down very long and very straight roads, where everyone had at least two trailers or RVs in their backyard, to finally arrive at Rutherford Beach, LA where we decided to stay the next two nights. The campsite was free and right on the beach, so this gave us the opportunity to just relax for a bit. Even though the beach was filled with litter and our view consisted of about 25 offshore oil rigs in the distance, we enjoyed the quiet until we met our neighboring tent campers.
She, about in her late 40s, tiny, and a little unkempt, knocked on our passenger seat window, where Mattia was swiveled around in his chair, explaining that she had a 20 dollar Applebees gift card and needed money for her brother who was in the hospital. We didn't have any cash so Mattia sent her on to ask the others. She stomped off annoyed, while her pirate partner (yes, he had an eye patch) waited impatiently in their car. After five minutes he started honking the horn continuously, I imagine to signal for her to come back. A little while later, we noticed that she started what looked like breaking down camp. But at the speed she was going, it would take her the next two hours, way past sunset. After cramming about five duvet covers and blankets into their car and a few trash bags full of stuff, she started tugging on the tent. Finally, the pirate decided to lend a hand, because he must have also realized that in her doing this part on her own, the tent would just blow away in the wind. Quite a while later, after scolding their two little dogs multiple times, and angrily jumping on the trunk to attempt to close it with all the junk inside, the pirate put the car in reverse. And as we suspected, about thirty feet further back, the car started spinning its tires and they got stuck. Smartly, the woman started walking in the other direction from us, in the hopes of finding someone that could help them pull them out. At the very back, about five campers past us, she found her hero with an ATV. They latched it on the front, pulling off something on their first attempt, and achieving their goal on the second.
We watched them, now in the dark, speed down the only road away from the beach, finally allowed ourselves to turn on our lights and started cooking dinner. After the spectacle of a performance, we were now looking forward to crossing over into the state of Texas.
At Rutherford Beach, it started really sinking in for the first time, that we are not just on vacation. We actually live in this camper now, we have been for the past two weeks and will for quite a while now. It was at this moment, when I got hit with a light spark of homesickness, not for a specific home I can think of, but probably for an actual home. It still takes a little getting used to, no matter where we park Henry every night. Home is in fact Eddie's driveway but also Rutherford Beach.