We traveled north from the Gulf Coast to another Mississippi State Park, just south of Hattiesburg: Paul B. Johnson State Park. The weather on Monday was wet most of the trip, although the rain held off until we were packed up and it had mostly ended before we stopped at our new location. However, this meant the ground was soggy and we had to be careful in backing up the RV. Our first problem came when we arrived and could not figure out how to check in. Unlike most state parks there was no entrance booth, so we followed the signs for the campground around to the other side of Gieger Lake. As we passed the park headquarters with RVs visible ahead, we decided we had better stop and ask at the offices. It was a good we did, as this was the how you checked in. It would be nice if they put up a sign for first timers in the park! We had to stop on the road as Kal was not going to pull into their parking lot which would have required backing out. In any case, we got checked in and found our site with no problem. However, then we had a problem. All of the sites are very narrow and with the recent rain it did not look to be a good idea to be off the asphalt. Unlike most of the sites, our site was not angled to make it easy to back into and there was a large pine tree forcing me to come in at right angles. In addition, there was a pole and ditch on the other side of the road limiting my ability to get the truck back around in front of the RV. Initially I made the turn into the site in good shape but was unable to get the truck swung around enough to keep the RV wheels on the asphalt. After trying four times to move the RV over about a foot without enough room to pull forward far enough, I was ready to give up. Kal convinced me to pull completely out of the site and start over. This time I did a better job in following the asphalt into the site and put it right on the mark the first time. By now it had stopped raining and we were able to get set up for the week.
We did not have any plans for the week except for a hike and possibly a round of disc golf in the park. It was a good thing we had nothing planned as they would have been discarded. On Wednesday, Kal’s dad fell and hit his head necessitating an ambulance to the hospital. As far as we know he never regained consciousness, as he also had a stroke. We don’t know which came first and he passed away on Friday. All week we waited to see if we need to travel to Birmingham which was only a 3.5 hour drive. I extended our stay at Paul Johnson State Park for another week, delaying our trip west, as we waited to find out when we would need to travel to Birmingham. Kal and her brothers worked with the funeral home and began planning a funeral for the following Saturday. Unfortunately, Kal’s brother in Birmingham was overloaded with everything and they decided to delay the funeral a week so we could move to Birmingham for two weeks to take the pressure off. Except for numerous phone calls we stayed around the campground and did little else until we headed to Birmingham.
On Thursday of the second week, we did decide to get away for a day and drove south to Gulfport to Island View Casino. We were not terribly impressed with the casino, especially since the very first slot machine I played refused to print out a ticket. After waiting patiently for over 15 minutes for someone to come by, Kal went out in search of someone to help. She did find someone only to find out she had a list a mile long of machines with problems and would get to us when she could. This took nearly another hour before it was our turn, all the while one of us having to stay by the slot machine. Thankfully, we were there together, so someone could go play a bit while the other stayed at the machine. This experience kind of soured our experience even though we came close to breaking even for the day. After a quick late lunch at a local Pizza Hut, we headed back to the campground for the rest of the week.