Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - RANDOM PHOTO - CALIFORNIA


This is another photo taken from the passenger side with my iPad.  We weren't moving along as fast this time.  Our drive took us along the Pacific Coast Highway.  There has been an unusual amount of rain in California and this is the result.  In all the years we lived in California, I have never seen it like this.



2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - FRIDAY, APRIL 15TH, 2017

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Odometer: 50161

Time leaving the hotel: 9.12 a.m.

Heading to the Alamo in San Antonio but first, at


10.01 a.m. we have just finished breakfast at IHOP (International House of Pancakes).  It was next door to our hotel. We met a nice young waiter called Tyler from Oklahoma.  He has been working here for four years he said.  Nice stop over, made even nicer with Tyler's friendly attitude.  

10.24 a.m. we have driven 2005 miles since leaving home.


3.05 p.m. we are now leaving San Antonio.  We saw the Alamo but could not take photos inside.  The last time I was here over 30 years ago we could.  Now there is a gift shop with all kinds of books and postcards they want you to buy.  Marketing has arrived at the Alamo.  I make no complaints if the money is used to keep this sacred place going, and there was a lot of restorative work going on inside.


There were long lines to get in there.  You waited in one long line going down one aisle, and then waited in another long line after you turned the corner at the end, and then another line around the corner.  This was certainly a busy weekend.


  
Once you were almost at the door there was another hurdle of sorts, two staff members, one taking photos and the other keeping you back until it was your turn.  You had the choice of turning it down but we bought ours at the end of the tour.  The set of photos were waiting for us in the gift shop.  


Part of the Alamo was closed off so we did not get to see every room.  There is a list of names of those who gave their lives in the siege.  I remember there being people from my part of the world and elsewhere from our last visit.  Many were from several states in the US, but there were also people from England, Ireland, Scotland, one person from Wales, two from Germany and one from Denmark.

35 years ago we were driving across country with our son and my parents.  Gregg says he remembers seeing more back then, but I don't have much recollection.  He remembers another building.  I think I was too busy with our son maybe.  My parents were really taken with the history of the Alamo.  I remember Dad knowing a lot of facts from this era.  He was always very interested in history, and yes was a big Western fan. He and Gregg's Mother had that in common.  I remember many a Saturday morning watching old western movies with my dear old Dad as a child, and then years later with my dear Mum-in-Law.


Not sure what the larger building is but this was taken from the garden in the back.


I am getting tired walking around, and am not used to this heat so early in the year.  Yes I am whining a little here, smiling too.


Anyhow, there were a lot of large shade trees back there and it went down 10 degrees. There were pretty flowers and cacti blooming.  


Prickly pear I think?  And the pollinators were busy.


The Alamo is right in the middle of the city.  Just out of the grounds in front, there was a Turkish Festival going on, with stalls set up.  We could hear singing and dancing.  


We also looked at the Turkish crafts and Turkish food.  We tried a plate from a nice lady dressed in a long robe with a scarf draped around her head.  She looked elegant and had a very quiet and friendly demeanor, with a lovely smile.  When asked what we would like we chose a potato salad, lamb with rice and a roll with toasted sesame seeds baked into the top, which we shared.  It made a very tasty meal.  My photo didn't turn out well enough to do the meal justice.



Later we looked for the Riverwalk, with no success.  We had walked a long way to find it in that heat, and when we came to a path to get down there, it was blocked off by road construction.  We would have had to retrace our steps a very long way, and decided we had just enough energy to get back to the car, which was much closer than it would have been to find another way down.  We were dissappointed but third time's a charm, we will be back here again one day and the Riverwalk will be the first place we head for.  You really have to stay in one place more than a day to see everything, and even then you need more time don't you think?  Am I justifying?  Maybe!


There were horsedrawn carriages.  We would have taken one but again there were people standing in line for each horse.  



The horses were pretty animals, the carriages were very festive, some more decorated than others.



I am having an argument with my iPhone.  She told me I was being rude, that I had said "Maple work very polite and mine - insert a very rude word here - Michael!"  It is most definitely not what I said, total jibberish. It isn't the first time she has told me I am not very polite as she translates my words into something nonsensical. But I have noticed she is getting a bit better.  Am I training her or is she training me?  I had such a hard time one day that as a joke I started talking in a John Wayne American-ish accent as we were driving along and the more Gregg laughed, of course the more I performed.  "Betta watchwhatyar saying thar Pilgrim."  No disrespect to the memory of the great John Wayne but, she translated every word perfectly.  A little bit annoying but then it had been a long day. 

Remembering our travel code from our first trip across country, Gregg has now come up with the following.


You know you have been on the road a long time…

When you start thinking of Siri as a member of the family.

When the idea of changing Siri's voice seems cruel.

When your spouse finds Siri's jokes funnier than yours.


10.56 p.m. and we are in our hotel room for the night.  We stopped early and are in midtown Austin.  When we booked in we were trying to decide what we wanted to do for dinner as we overshot the road leading to Walmart earlier.  The hotel does have a restaurant but it didn't open until 5.00 p.m.  Gregg looked on Yelp and found a Tex-Mex place just around the corner, and it had excellent reviews.  I said we should try an authentic Tex-Mex meal before we left Texas and he was happy.  I am not a fan of spicy cooking and he enjoys this style of food more than I do but hey, we are in Texas.  The restaurant, as it turned out, was a great idea.  I ordered a beef enchilada.



Gregg ordered a plate of beef tacos.  


Both meals came with rice and refried beans.  The beans we said were the best we had had in a long while, the whole meal was delicious!  We had guacamole for an appetizer and they kept bringing the tortilla chips.  We also had a Margarita that was larger than others.  It was delicious and refreshing.  



Our waiter was fun and friendly.  As you come into the door there were several very large white candles laid out not in any particular order, on an oblong wooden platform, about four feet long and a foot wide.  


The candles had been lit many times and the wax had dripped heavily, surrounding all the candles and joining them into one fun looking piece of abstract art.  


Patterns always attract me so, intrigued as to what it would be like when they were lit, I waited.  As it got darker in the restaurant a young girl who had greeted us when we arrived, lit them. Those candles looked lovely.  I went over and took several photos and when I came back the waiter was smiling at me.  I told him I thought they were a very pretty addition to their decor.  He said that they put them there for their customers' enjoyment, and he was happy I liked them.  He then said, with a very straight face, "Of course, there are other works of art on the wall, and you will see them if you look closely."  There were mirrors all over the wall and at first I was puzzled as I stared into one of them.  All I could see was myself.  I got it, I laughed out loud and said to him, "Oh you're good!!!"  He laughed too and his smile got broader.  Such a fun night.

Gregg did the laundry when we got back.  He is so good doing that and I have his dear mother to thank for it.  Between washing dishes and doing laundry I get a lot of help.  When he and his brother were very young, these were two of their chores.  I truly believe it's a nostalgia thing now as he actually enjoys it.  I am a blessed lady in more ways than one.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - RANDOM PHOTO - ARIZONA

The Desert is Blooming!



Hello Everyone, I am sharing another random photo until I can put together another account of our travels.  I still have a few before this day.  We were at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  It was hot but absolutely gorgeous!  I look forward to telling you more later on.  




Thursday, April 20, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - FRIDAY, APRIL 14TH, 2017

Friday, April 14th, 2017



9. 29 a.m. and the odometer reads 49924.  We are leaving our hotel in Wharton, TX at 9.29 a.m., heading to the Gulf just East of Corpus Christi.  Getting back on 59 south now.

As you leave the road our hotel is on, right across the road is a plastics factory.  We saw thousands of pipes in the back.  

4.47 a.m. we passed a farm with a huge building and a very large silo.  The sign said it was for rice.  There are fields of what we think are rice, as far as the eyes can see, on both side of the freeway.

The speed limit has been 75 mph for most of our journey.

10.14 a.m. and we are now 1800 miles away from home.

10.53 a.m. and we have just passed the small town of Tivoli, now on Texas 35 South.  


11.36 a.m. stopping at Whataburger.  This is a new one to me but our son remembers it from his trip a few years ago. The fries were excellent.  My burger was a bit too vinegary for my taste but Gregg enjoyed his.

1.01 p.m. we are on a ferry. We joined the line of cars waiting to get on, and for a while we were next to three giant oil rigs.  


We studied them. and the wait to get down to the ferry seemed not so long.  It was a short trip across to the other side, a five minute ride.


1.40 p.m.  We have walked on the beach overlooking Corpus Christi Bay.  To get to our parking spot we drove over a wide expanse of sand.  It was firm enough.  We saw RV's on here and watched as other cars made their way without sinking into the sand.  We figured it was safe!



There were several beachgoers and I talked with one lady who was strolling with her dog.  She said she lived in Texas, about a four hour drive.  


She apologized if her dog had scared the birds, but I assured her she had given me a few good shots of them in flight.  







Gregg walked along the breakwater....


as I took photos of Black-headed Gulls....


(This beach had a lot of scrubby looking brush.  Not sure what kind of plant it was but no one seemed to mind, including the birds.)


Common Terns.....




and Sanderlings.









The beach is part of Port Oasis Park.  

I had a nap in the car for about half an hour.  All that walking on the beach I guess.  Gregg said we will stop early and true to his word, it was about five when we pulled into the hotel's parking lot.  But first we found a Walmart close by.  There are days when we don't feel like finding another restaurant, especially when we feel tired.  Walmart has pretty good pick-up foods.  


Gregg chose a roast beef sub and I a protein pack with a hard boiled egg, cubes of cheese, miniature sized Dorito-type chips, apple slices and grapes.  We also picked up a small veggie snack tray for that evening if we needed it, or snacking tomorrow.  For dessert, an individual cherry pie which we shared.  These relaxed dinners in a hotel room are very nice.   

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - RANDOM PHOTO - ON THE ROAD

On the way from Lubbock, Texas to Santa Fee, New Mexico.




A lucky shot taken as we were flying along at 75 mph - yes that was the speed limit along those long stretches of road in Texas, and still we were being overtaken.  I was, just in case anyone is wondering about our safety even further, in the passenger seat.  We had been seeing thousands and thousands (no exaggeration) of turbine windmills filling the skyline.  When this one turned up I quickly grabbed my iPAD, rolled down the window and hung onto it for dear life, and this is the result.  The old windmill was still working.

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12TH, 2017

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Odometer reading is 49223

9.00 a.m. we left our hotel in Meridian, Mississippi.  Gregg has just taken us a ride through downtown.  


We saw two prisoners dressed in prison garb.  The name of their correctional facility was on their shirts - didn't see what it is - and their trousers had wide, light green horizontal stripes.  They were using leaf blowers and cleaning up in front of the courthouse, doing general gardening work.  



We went by an old train station, nothing to do with the top photo but Gregg had read about it and wanted to take a quick look. I don't have any photos.  It had a railway car and a museum.  Gregg read up at the hotel about Meridian, and told me a few things as we drove through the city.  It was very interesting and I told him he would make a great tour guide.

11.20 a.m.  Meridian is behind us and we are on a very LONG road, Route 63.  Hardly any cars, the occasional crossroad but no towns visible.  Very flat country.  

11.24 a.m. we passed two more prisoners on each side of the road - recognized those green striped uniforms from the ones in Meridian.  They were picking up trash. A truck 30 yards away from them piled high with trash in the back.  The roads do look really clean around here.


1.12 p.m. we took a very nice walk along the Bayou Heron Road.  Beautiful trees and very happy butterflies, who didn't quit flapping their wings or settle long enough for a photo, but I got a wildflower.  I have to admit I wasn't getting a lot of success with photos along this trail.



But first we visited the 
and Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  We were  in Mosa Point, Mississippi.  We had read about it.  You can click on the above link for information.  


We followed a couple of horseriders for a while and they moved onto the side so that we could pass.  One of the horses seemed very skittish, even before they knew we were there.  I was a little concerned, but the lady riding him was obviously very skilled as they waved for us to pass them.

The building is quite big.


There was a relatively short trail at the back 


and we did see bright green lizards....




dragonflies.....and the mosquitoes seemed to be getting bigger!


No birds yet.  The gentleman at the visitor center said they were late arriving.  



1.41 p.m. and we are going through Pascagoula, Mississippi.  We are seeing every fast food franchise imaginable, which includes waffle houses.


3.21 p.m. Gregg and I have just finished lunch at a restaurant called Snappers Seafood.  


It is on the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Gregg had a seafood gumbo which included one of his favorites - okra.....


and I had fish and chips with coleslaw.  


Our meals were very good but we absolutely loved the appetizer, cheese puppies.

 
They are not like a regular hush puppy.  On the outside they look like one but when you take a bite the melted cheese takes you by surprise, and it is delicious.  Added to the mozzarella/cheddar cheese mix, are little bits of Jalapeño. A little heat but not too much.  


I could not bring myself to try the alligator meat.  You can enlarge the menu and the red arrows I have added point to that particular item.  I truly wanted to try it but I am not an adventurous soul.  I would be very interested if anyone out there has and can tell me what it tastes like.  You can enlarge the photo to see other items on the menu.


On a somber note, this area was hit very hard by Hurricane Katrina. We still see signs of the devastation from 10 years ago.  The restaurant we were in was new.  On the wall is a photograph of what the restaurant used to look like, and right next to it is a photo of how it looked after Katrina.  There was nothing there, it was completely blown away, gone!  Inside it also showed a line painted on the wall where the surge of water reached, and we were on the second floor. 

The new place is now built on stilts.  In fact, many of the buildings we passed were built on stilts.  There was also a lot of open ground where buildings once used to be and have not been built on since.  I remember our son coming through Biloxi a year after Katrina and he was greatly shocked and saddened thinking of how awful this hurricane must have been for so many.  I still remember his phone call that night.

We are on our way to Lafayette, Louisiana.

4.40 p.m. We just passed into Louisiana and the mileage is 49473.  We have also just crossed the Pearl River.

5.58 p.m. we passed through Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana.

6.00 p.m. just saw a huge billboard for Angola Prison Rodeo? Click on the red link to learn more.

6.01 p.m. we just crossed the Mississippi River.  Gregg said we did this with my Mom and Dad when our son was 2 years old.  I remember the trip but I don't remember the bridge.  We are now officially in the west.

At 6.11 p.m. we have just driven 1400 miles.

6.23 p.m. a sign says Whiskey Bay 1 mile.

6.25 p.m. now passing over the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel.  (I am going to be looking up and reading about all these places once I get home.)

We have been traveling on a road that is elevated 30 feet above swampy ground.  Not only have we been driving over swamps but have also been crossing rivers for at least 20 plus miles.  

Now we are driving on regular roads next to rice fields.

(I guess I didn't write any more after this.)