We were ‘dog free’ for one more day, and Joe was still feeling puny from his virus, so I was the designated driver and set out to find a park I’d read about, Fort DeSoto. Turns out it’s this great big county park, with several different beaches and fishing piers. We drove up to the historic remnants of the fort, and learned that it had been built to protect the US during the Spanish-American war in the late 1890s. There are still some of the old cannons and storage rooms there.

The heat and humidity have continued to be pretty high here lately, so after traipsing around the fort, we decided to go for a swim at the beach nearby. It was dotted with families, spreading their umbrellas and picnics, and all enjoying a lazy Sunday. What a nice way to cool off – swimming in the blue/green waters, and then picking through the little shells that had washed up all along the coastline.

We wandered over to one of the fishing piers, and saw that the waters were teeming (not too strong a word) with schools of little minnows – every now and then schools of big fish would swim up from below and try to eat the minnows, causing a chain reaction of minnow schools rushing around creating a “boil”, and sea birds from above diving down and trying to gulp whatever minnows dared to come near the surface. Then everything would calm down again, and you could see the minnow schools swimming gently beneath the surface. Add in the occasional dolphin slowly cresting the surface of the water, and you have the general sense of sea life at this pier. Apparently, it’s a popular destination for people to come out and fish on the weekends – the pier was filled with people of all shapes, sizes and colors, throwing small nets over the rail to catch their ‘bait’ minnows, and then using them to try for the bigger fish that lurk further down below the surface. We saw one young boy reel in a meal-sized fish, and proudly show his dad, as well as several families with all the kids dangling poles over the rail.  Tons of people came with just a couple of buckets and a pole, all working hard at catching those rascally fish. Made me want to get a pole and try it – I do love eating fish.

We hung out until the afternoon, when it was time to pick up Buster from the boarding kennel he’s been staying at while we were in Maryland. Sure enough, he seemed pretty happy to see us – whining, wriggling, and wagging his tail!

Then, off to the next hotel. Fortunately for me, this is one we will be at for 4 nights (huzzah!), and it has a king bed. I’ve become quite the connoisseur of the frugal hotel scene and this is a pretty good cheap room.

I got to talk with both of the kids tonight – they seem to be doing well, thankfully. I love them and miss them so much I can’t even describe it. We are so proud of them, and we know that they are in the process of stepping into their own lives, which is pretty cool! Eden is battling a chest cold while navigating the new world she’s in at the UofO, and Noah is busy with his boring part-time job and lots schoolwork at OSU. Both of them are so incredibly awesome, and they are simply the best.

Random thoughts about living out of cheap hotels and small cars:

  • Living out of hotel rooms has become my new strange reality. I really miss two things:  1. a kitchen, and 2. a bedside stand to call my own (for whatever reason, this is a small personal space that I miss).
  • Tips for eating ‘on the cheap’ while on the road – must haves: a medium-sized cooler with wheels; a small cutting board; a very sharp (preferable ceramic) knife; some paper plates and plastic utensils; and lots of zip-loc bags in different sizes (sandwich up to 2 gallons). With this arrangement, and a small microwave and fridge in your room, your culinary horizons open up.
  • Also worth noting – I find that it’s worth it to buy the best sandwich provisions you can. This includes a small bottle of aged balsamic vinegar, very good cheese, genoa salami, excellent lunch meats, and sourdough bread (if you can locate any – it’s harder to find in the south) or hoagie rolls if you can’t find good sourdough. Nothing seems to elevate the situation like a well-crafted sandwich in the middle of the day. Also, have chips. And peanut M&Ms. And cold soda (from that cooler you’ve been lugging around).

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