Three State Parks Within A Mornings Drive Of Jackson, Mississippi

I a pleased to introduce my son-in-law, Ken McCarron, who is an enviromental consultant, and the author of this post. He lives in Denver, Colorado with my daughter, Becca. They have two dogs, Konza and Lexie.  

As an environmental consultant, part of my job I often get sequestered away to client’s offices for weeks and sometime for months at a time. I generally enjoy the traveling and I love to see new places, the adventure of exploring, but after a few visits to the same city it becomes a challenge to find new inspirations.  This was my reality a few winters ago as I worked on a long-term consulting project in Jackson, Mississippi.  I had explored the city on previous trips, seen the museums, walked the streets around the capital, and I needed something different.  I didn’t have a lot of time on the weekends, so I wanted something close to the city.  My inspiration came from an unexpected source, the long ignored iconic symbol of the cheap hotel lobby; the tourist brochure stand.  

No, I didn’t go for the flashy casino ones, golfing vacation rentals, or the numerous ones advertising the battles of the Civil War.  As a child my father had saturated our family vacations with everything Civil War; I really thought that every vacation had to include a picture of my sister and myself sitting on a battlefield canon.  The one that caught my eye was the simple paper one, dull against the glare from all the glossy reflections around it, with the simple print; the State Parks of Mississippi.  It was February in Mississippi, the rental car was paid for, and I had a couple Saturdays to myself.  So, for the random encounter with the simple non-intrusive state park pamphlet, I would visit the four closest parks to my hotel in Jackson, Mississippi and spend my day off.  . Side note, I had already visited the LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson, including the Museum of Natural Science on a previous trip and since it was only about 5 minutes from the hotel, I decided to visit the next three on the list.

Roosevelt State Park (Morton, MS):

kims no bull

Roosevelt State Park Mississippi Watchtower photo (https://www.mdwfp.com/parks-destinations/ms-state-parks/roosevelt/park-photos/roosevelt-photos.aspx)

It’s not a far trip from downtown Jackson, it only takes about 40 minutes with light traffic on interstate I-20 going east. The entrance to the park is north of I-20 about half mile, you will notice the watch tower on the hill just before the turn.  It was a warm winter Saturday morning when I drove into the park and I didn’t expect to see many visitors, that was my plan, to escape and shake off some of my hours in front of a computer screen editing reports.  To my surprise there were a number of visitors down by Shadow Lake near the visitor center enjoying the sunny day.  I milled around the area, walked down to the lake and past the pools that were closed for the season.  Back at the visitor center there was an information board with a copy of the trail map, which I studied, noted the color system and names (really, trail #7 Civil War Hill; my Dad would be so proud) and then headed off to walk around the lake.  Once I was on the trail I quickly left behind the few picnickers and entered into a pleasant trail system that took me through the winter forest, past pine stands, through a couple of wetlands, past the rental cabins, and into the many campsites on the backside of the lake. I had the place to myself, except when I decided to climb the watch tower, but it was not even that busy.  The park is really nice, situated in the Bienville National Forest the scenery was beautiful and there are some great panoramic views from the overlooks and the tower.  

Golden Memorial State Park (Walnut Grove, MS):

 

My second stop of the day was a trip to Golden Memorial State Park.  I didn’t have a lot of information about this place when I set out, but I really enjoyed my time in this small park.  The park is centered on a 15-acre spring fed lake and seems to be popular among local fisherman and the park memorializes the “Patrons Pupils Teachers and Friends” of the old Golden School and their descendants (I was so tempted to put commas on the stone memorial).  When I entered the park in the late afternoon there were only a couple of cars and a few people fishing.  Since there were not a lot of trails and the park was fairly empty, I ended up walking along the road across the levee up to the trail head.  It was very relaxing and I felt like I had the place to myself.  I assume during the summer the small size of the park may hinder this feeling, but for my afternoon it was perfect.  The trails take you to the far side of the park where you can walk among the pines and see the second largest loblolly pine in the state of Mississippi, and yes, it was pretty tall.  It was getting dark by the time I got back to the car, but the drive back to Jackson was not that bad; without stops it took me about an hour. 

Lake Lincoln State Park (Wesson, MS):

Lake Lincoln State Park Mississippi photo (http://www.mdwfp.com/parks-destinations/ms-state-parks/lake-lincoln.aspx)

The next Saturday was a bit overcast with some rain, however living in Denver, I was just happy that it was not snowing and that it was almost 60 F in February.  I headed south on this trip to Lake Lincoln State Park; I figure that I had already been to Roosevelt, I should keep up with the presidential theme.  The trip from Jackson, down I-55, and through Weston took about an hour.  However, it took me a lot longer to get into the park because right across from the entrance to the park was Smokin’ Oaks BBQ & Steakhouse, and yes I am a sucker for good BBQ.  After lunch I drove/rolled across the road to the park, the rain had picked up so I slowly drove around the park roads and took in the sites of the forest and all the campgrounds. I parked my car near the boat ramp wanted waited for the weather to clear a bit before heading out to explore on foot.  The park seemed larger than the ones I had visited the week before, but I was a little disappointed in the lack of trails, however, this park is all about the 550-acre Lake and fishing.  This was obvious when I realized that everyone I saw in the park that day was either getting ready to fish or was out on the lake in a boat fishing.  I enjoyed my time in the park and I did walk around after the weather had cleared, but I was kind of jealous that I didn’t have a boat to really appreciate this park.  With the weather turning on me again, I decided to head out early and take the back roads back to my hotel.  Part of enjoying a place is to step away from the interstates and just let the roads dictate where you go.

 

Weekend Getaway To Monroe, Louisiana

Although Monroe, Louisiana is a small town, it has a ton of places to see and things to do. And, it is only a seven hour drive from Atlanta via I-20. That’s close enough to go for a weekend or for a week long vacation. Here are some of the attractions you will find in Monroe.

 

Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo

Interstate Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Flamingos at the Louisiana Purchase and Zoo
(Photo from http://www.monroe-westmonroe.org/Discover/Attractions)

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo would be at the top of my list to visit in Monroe. The zoo has a flock of Flamingos, which I think are so pretty! There are more than 450 species of animals at the zoo, with exhibits that include those animals indigenous to the original Louisiana Purchase. You’ll see Bison, Black Bears, and Elk and more. I can’t wait to see the Australian Exhibit with all the animals that only live in that country. The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Tickets costs are: Adults $4.50, Seniors $3, Children $3, 2 & under are free.

Market at 7th Square

7th street market

Market at 7th Square
(photo from http://www.monroe-westmonroe.org/Discover/Attractions)

The Market at 7th Square is open year round, and offers a great variety of produce depending on the season. Early spring brings Strawberries and bedding plants. In Summer, expect to see things like corn, tomatoes, squash, peas, peppers, butter beans, okra, watermelon, muscadines, and peaches. During the Autumn months you’ll find sweet potatoes, and your pumpkins for Halloween Jack O’lanterns or yummy pies. This is the kind of place I look for when I travel, to find locally grown vegetables and fruits, either to eat while I am in the area, or to take home and freeze. They are open Monday thru Saturday, from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and are located at 1700 North 7th Street in West Monroe, Louisiana. 

Landry Vineyards

After you’ve been by the Market at 7th Square for your fruits and vegetables, you must go see Landry Vineyards. Family owned and operated, Landry Vinyards was established in 1999. The first vineyards were established in Folsom, La. where the winery was also located. Hurricane Katrina destroyed that first vinyard. After that, the family moved their business to West Monroe. The 20 acre site includes a new winery, vineyards and beautiful tasting room. They offer a wide range of wines from Bayoutage Red Blend, Bayoutage White Blend, Peach Muscadine, Blackberry Merlot, Chardonay, and more. They are open Monday thru Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and offer tastings and tours of the winery. 5199 New Natchitoches Rd, West Monroe, Louisiana 318-557-9051

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Want to go fishing on Black Bayou? Here is your chance to experience Louisiana wildlife up close. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a 4,500-acre lake, swamp, bottomland hardwoods, mixed pine and hardwood uplands is a wildlife habitat with all kinds of plant species and everything from small alligators and turtles to coyote, deer and a wide variety of birds. You can rent a canoe and go fishing, or just look at the wildlife that lives in the refuge. Refuge is open daylight hours. Visitor Center open 8-4 weekdays; 9-5 Sat.; 1-5 Sun. Get more info here. 

Whether you stay a weekend or for the week, you’ll find lots to do in Monroe, Louisiana. Get more information here.

 

Money Saving Monday: Treat Yourself To Betty Boop!

Are you a fan of Betty Boop? If you are, right now is the time to order all the things that are Betty Boop related. Here are some of my favorite Betty Boop items:

 

Show off your Betty Boop love every time you write a check. Get these so cute check from Checks Unlimited $5.50/Box, Free Lettering, Free Shipping & Handling 9TNT. These Betty Boop checks are as fun and playful as Betty herself! Coordinating return address labels and checkbook cover are also available. Use the code 9TNT at checkout to get the deal! 

Betty Boop Checks

Checks Unlimited has tons of other check styles so you will be able to find just the right one. Don’t wait and miss this great deal! 

Betty Boop Cotton Nightshirt


Betty Boop Fuchsia Gray Cotton Nightshirt for Juniors – $14.99

from CrazyForBargains.com is so cute! It also comes in red or black. 

 

Target has this Biography of Betty Boop on DVD! 

You can get it for $20.19 at Target.com

IHOP Extends Their All You Can Eat Pancakes Thru February 12! Win A Gift Card, Too!

The anticipation has been building since fans took to social media last year to beg IHOP® Restaurants to bring back ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes.’ So, to thank loyal Breakfastarians everywhere, today IHOP announced the extension of this wildly popular promotion, which lets guests dig into unlimited orders of its freshly made, world-famous Buttermilk Pancakes for a great price* until February 12!   

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

How many can you eat?

Just in time to gather family and friends and celebrate the New Year, IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer features a great value on the fluffy, golden pancakes that set the breakfast standard almost six decades ago. After enjoying a full stack of five Buttermilk pancakes or a short stack of two pancakes with a combo plate of eggs, golden hash browns and choice of sausage, ham or hickory-smoked bacon guests can request additional short stacks of two Buttermilk pancakes until they’ve fulfilled their craving. ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ is available all day, every day for the month of January at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide.

 

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

“The best way we know to kick off the New Year is to offer our guests’ favorite freshly made breakfast at IHOP’s best value.  Almost six decades after serving our first stack of delicious, made-to-order Original Buttermilk Pancakes, IHOP continues to bring people together,” said Kirk Thompson, senior vice president, Marketing, IHOP. “Every year our guests look forward to IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer, asking for the return of a great value on our signature pancakes, to be enjoyed any time of day, every day, for the entire month.”

 

*Dine-in only. All You Can Eat offer valid per person, per order. For a limited time. Price and participation varies.

Win a $25 IHOP Gift Card!

One of my readers will win a $25 IHOP Gift Card so they can eat all they can eat pancakes! Just use the Giveaway Tools form below to enter. Giveaway is for US residents only. 

5 Ways To Save Money This Week

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase or sign up to be a member, I receive a commission. Thank you for supporting me by using my affiliate links!

I get emails every day, offering me great savings on all kinds of things. I decided that I should be sharing these great offers with y’all, just in case you may be thinking of buying something for yourself or as a gift. I hope that you find at least one thing that you were thinking of buying anyway, and can save money because I shared it with you. Here is what was in my inbox this Monday morning:

TopCashBack

TopCashBack is a great way to save money. If you are not already a member, they will give you $5 just for signing up! To get the $5 signup bonus, just make your online purchases through their links. Once you earn $10 in cash back, you’ll get the $5 bonus. Nothing could be easier! You earn cash back on every purchase you make through TopCashBack’s links. Start earning cash back from over 3500 stores online today by signing up to be a member

 

Gymboree Free Shipping

Gymboree has some of the cutest clothes for kids. They are Grandma worthy for gifts for Valentine’s Dar, or just because you want to dress those grandkids up. Right now, get free shipping on your purchase with the code FANCY. Gymboree clothing for kids comes in sizes Newborn to size 12, with Slim and Husky sizes. Shop now and save up 30% to 70% with Free Shipping! 

Cookies By Design


Say it with cookies - Enjoy a wide variety of gifts & treats for every occasion from Cookies by Desi

$10 off all Valentine’s Day Gifts over $50 with promo code VDAY1050 at CookiesbyDesign.com! Valid 2/6-2/12. If you haven’t decided on what to get your Valentine, why not send Cookies By Design? Save $10 on gifts over $50 and get them delivered by Valentine’s Day when you order by February 12. Use promo code VDAY1050 at checkout to get the savings. 

Craftsy

Craftsy
If your sweetheart is into crafts, sewing, quilting, or wants to learn something new, giving her (or him) a Craftsy gift card is just the thing for Valentine’s Day. She can pick the classes she wants to do, and possibly make something sweet for YOU! What a great deal that would be. There is so much more to Craftsy than sewing: Photography; Cooking Classes; Cake Decorating; Knitting; Crochet; Drawing; Paper Crafts; and much, much more. Visit Craftsy to purchase a class or a gift card and Gift Any Craftsy Class today.

CrossCountry Cafe

You love coffee, so why not treat yourself to some K-Cups or ground coffee for Valentines’s Day. CrossCountry Cafe has a Huge selection of Keurig K-cups and gourmet coffee pods at rock bottom prices! Give some as a gift! You can get a cute Valentine’s Day printable at CrossCounty Cafe to add to your Valentine’s Day Coffee gift! 

What do you buy online? I buy just about everything from cat food to coffee to cereal. I get good prices, and I don’t have to go to the store. 

 

 

Thinking About Snow Birding: Important Steps to Remember

say no to snow

Most of us who are retired or about to retire might not appreciate the abundance of snow and cold that we may experience every winter. We may think you would like to snowbird every year, but your budget just won’t allow you to go, or you may think that you can’t leave because of friends and family.

You would be surprised to know that snow birding is indeed possible and won’t break the bank either. There are several options available, which depending on your budget from renting a property to buying a piece of land and building or putting up an affordable small home. According to the Cottage Depot, most cottages can cost $15,000 to $30,000 and when you factor in the normal home costing $100,000 or more, this makes the option of snow birding possible. 

Regardless, of your situation, you’ve worked hard all your life and deserve the chance to hightail it somewhere warm during the winter time. Unlike a lab rat who needs metal ear tags to identify where he belongs, you will voluntarily come home in the Spring, but just need a break from the cold. Today, we will remind you of those extra steps in preparation before you leave.

say no to snow

Image source: http://wpmedia.business.financialpost.com

Getting Transitioned

Most of the time when you head off to warmer weather for snow birding, you go from three to six months and it’s important to think about your current home and what needs to be done. Are you planning on flying or driving to your snowbird getaway? Will you be renting out your home when you’re gone? Despite these questions, you have to remember the following in order to have a smooth transition to your vacation property.

Mail

You have to remember to go to the post office and forward your mail to your next destination. If you aren’t going to be gone that long and have a family member picking up the mail.

Insurance

If you happen to be driving to your next destination and will be there for some time you will want to notify your insurance company. Also, if you happen to be leaving a vehicle behind in your garage, the insurance costs go way down.

Water and Utilities

There are a variety of items you should remember to do when you leave  to go snow birding that include turning off your water. You can also turn down your water heater to vacation mode or even turn it off completely.

Make sure to unplug everything that takes electricity as even leaving it plugged in can cost you extra money. Remember utilities like the cable and the internet as having these deactivated could save you quite a bit of money as well.

Smart Choices

You will want to make sure it looks like if someone is living at home, even when no one is there. This can include having someone take out your garbage cans, keeping your driveway and sidewalks plowed, and using timed lights.  You want to make it look like someone is living at your house to keep away thieves. It might even be a smart idea to let family come over once and awhile. 

Wardrobe

You have to decide what’s important to bring with you when snow birding. It might be warm at the next destination, but you have to consider you might go out with other couples, or have a couple of cold days you might have to face. It’s best to be prepared!

Conclusion

Snow birding is enjoyed by millions of people in the US, and you should join the crowd as it has become affordable no matter your budget. Sure your family and friends might miss you, but you will be back in the spring, and they can visit you then. Isn’t it time you spent a little time enjoying yourself in a warmer climate this winter?