Friday, June 30, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 14


Today was good - tiring but good!

We got up super early so we could avoid the heat of the day.   There was not a luggage cart available so we ended up carting the down one by one, but the bell boys were extremely helpful and didn't make me nervous as they normally do I was happy about that.  It was cute - the guy thought they had broken our truck because the top was loose and I just hadn't latched it down.

Anyway, after we got'er loaded we headed out to breakfast.  We did the same place as yesterday because it was yummy and my research hasn't netted a ton of good breakfast places in San Antonio, so let's go with what we know.   BTW I'm so glad we left the car at the hotel yesterday -- parking here is expensive.   It was $12 for 2 hours to park for breakfast... I had dropped everyone off and ended up driving around for like 15 minutes looking for parking so finally I gave in and paid out the arse.

We had breakfast, which was fabulous and then headed to the San Antonio missions.  There are 4 of them (5 including The Alamo) and they were amazing.   We spent a good 3 maybe 4 hours looking at them (including drive time).  I loved seeing them - highlight of the trip for me so far.   It was also nice we were able to get back in the truck between each one so we could cool off as it was super hot today.

After the Missions we headed back into town and ate at What-A-Burger (where I paid another $12 for parking).   Then I got the bright idea to save a little $ and take the hop on and off trolley to the Tower of the Americas.   What I didn't realize is that it drops you 1/2 a mile from the tower - in 100 degree heat.   To say the least I was not happy.  We wait 15 minutes for this trolley, in the shade, but still in the heat.  Then we get on it, you can't understand her and the girls say she had a super annoying voice - then they drop us a 1/2 mile from the place??????

Anyway, we get there and go in because we have tickets already.   Only to be told I have to go wait in line, in the heat, to exchange my tickets for wrist bands.  Can you say annoying????   Then we go up in this 750 foot tower in an elevator with 20 people in it. I hate crowds... Amanda hates heights and was apparently freaking out about the ride up. I was looking down trying not to have a panic attack due to the crowds.

Once we got up there and escaped I was not impressed.   I've been on much taller buildings and had no ill affects, but something about this made me feel "off" I was ready to get down almost immediately.  We did teh walk around and then we went down.  Before I knew it Mama said she wanted to do a 4D movie and I followed her in... not thinking about how 3D movies make me have headaches.   It was horrible - I ended up standing up part way through to avoid vomiting, but Mama loved it and the girls seemed to semi- enjoy it so yay.

I knew Mama would not be able to do the 1/2 mile hike back and I had no interest in it myself so I requested a Lyft and then walked to what we thought was the parking lot to find her.  Only we went into a federal court house parking lot and she couldn't find us.  So here we are in 100 degree heat with a woman who can barely breath with cool temps much less heat trying to find a car.   We were standing there with me talking to the Lyft driver when a golf cart cop came by. I flagged him down  - had him explain to the Lyft driver where he would meet us and proceeded to take Mama by golf cart.  We followed on foot - I can't tell you how grateful I was for him.  

Once we found the Lyft driver she drove us back to our car and I promptly left San Antonio.  My car said 110 degrees... no joke.  Even after driving and having the air to cool it off it said 104.  It was insanely hot today and I was super tired / sleepy from the heat and irritation.

We drove the 2 hours to Corpus  Christi (stopping for a Walmart run).  Once we got here my mood did not improve  I went to check in and they told me I could not because William Dale was not with me.   Keep in mind, this is city # 5 or 6 at this point and all of the reservations have been in his name.   I explained to them that it was impossible to see him as he is in GA and they proceeded to tell me I couldn't check in.  I was 2 second from going ballistic, which I believe the manager saw when they had the bright idea for me to call my husband and have him give him permission.  Which I did.... Jack could tell by my voice  I was about to loose it and I think he told them a thing or two when he spoke to them as it was much longer than a simple "yes".  

Anyway, I got checked in, got 2 free beer/wine (that I don't drink) out of the deal and then we unloaded the car.   After the car was unloaded I was soaking wet with sweat so I came up stairs to cool down and get ready for some beach/pool time.

The girls and I headed down to the beach ... I stopped at the bar first and got an untasty drink and then we were on our way.  I walked with the girls for a few minutes, but they needed their teenage time and I was a 3rd wheel so I headed up to sit by the pool and read.   The pool is not as nice as I had hoped and they had alive band playing.  The band was good, but I would have preferred the quiet...   Eventually the girls came back and they invited me into the hot tub.  That was nice and I did enjoy the rest of the evening... but I'm hoping tomorrow goes better than this afternoon did.

P.S. this hotel probably hates me by now.  I've called down for towels, pillows and the bug that was in our room.  All separate calls, the bug one was probably the funniest for the though.   "UM excuse me - there is a gigantic black bug in my room.  Come get it" in the full girl squeak...   I thought the bug was a palmetto bug and I was not paying $300 a night to sleep with Palmetto bugs... it ended up being a cricket that the guy couldn't catch, but Mama later ended up killing.

Everyone is now settling down for the night and we are getting up at 5 AM to go see the turtle hatch-ling release; then I'm coming back and sleeping most of the day.   Sleep well blogland!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 13


Today was awesome!  We packed a ton in and had a good time doing it.

We got up this morning and went to a local German restaurant for breakfast.  While it wasn't the best I've ever had it was the best we've had in what seems like weeks for breakfast so win!

After this we walked down to the visitors center to get our hop on / off bus tour tickets and to see the Alamo.  We stood in the short line and visited the Alamo, it was neat and I was a little disappointed they did not allow photos (without flash) inside as my favorite part of visiting places is taking pictures, but we had a good time.    We then bought a few souvenirs - Mama went to go to the restroom and the girls to get a drink.  Once we had reconnected, after several phone calls to locate one another we were on the bus tour.

The bus tour was ok, certaintly not the best I've been on, but I love the hop on/off feature.  The problem was the A/C section (downstairs) had advertising all over the windows so you couldn't really see out, much less take a picture and the upstairs was really hard for people to navigate + it was really hot today.  I think we may have been competing with Hell itself when it comes to temperature.... so not good for Mama at all.  I'll be saying something on their review for sure.   The guides though were nice - some used the recorded narration and others talked, both were good.

The first stop we was the Scottish Rite Cathedral.  It wasn't open, but we got to take a few pictures from the outside.      We then grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local place similar to a Barberitoes.   It was yummy and the A/C was pumping so we lingered a bit.      The heat down here is absolutely killer!

Let me add a side note about the restaurant. We originally went to another one - walked in and began to sit down... there was a roach crawling on the floor so we turned around, told the lady she needed to do something about her bug problem and left.    It was hot, but not hot enough for me to eat there.

Then we went down to St. Mary's Catholic church and took some pictures - it was odd as there seemed to be no one in the church yet the doors were open... very odd.  After this we split up.  The girls went to the mall and Mama and I came back to the room.

Once back in the room I took a short nap before I headed out solo to do some more exploring.  Mama needed to lay down a bit.   I ended up just going souvenir shopping, but it was nice to be solo for a few and just "be" without worrying about the others.     I bought the girls some tank tops and Mama some souvenirs before heading back to the bus.   On my way back the driver told me that my nieces (he think they are my daughters) were on the bus so I walked up and sat next to them.

I got off a stop earlier to go by the drug store and the girls headed on to the house.  After getting Mama's medicine I waited for the bus next to a construction worker who insisted this wasn't hot... he's insane!     The bus then took me back to the hotel and I came in to get a shower and freshen up before dinner.    I also took the opportunity to pack up as tomorrow we leave this beautiful city.

We then headed out again.  I grabbed us a Lyft driver to take us down to the mall area where we could catch the river boat cruise.  It was a 30 minute cruise along the river walk to show it too you and let you ride in the boat.  It was a little cramped, but our driver was entertaining and it showed us some of the places/shortcuts which was nice.     We also got to see some of the city we would have not seen otherwise so yay!

We then headed down to find a restaurant.  There was a very helpful and overly friendly volunteer that recommended the Lone Star Diner... so after some debate we went there.   Kaylee and I decided to split a steak and OMG!!!!  It was a 12 oz steak that I could have never eaten on my own, but I regret splitting it as I would have ate it.  It was the best steak EVER!!!!!  I want to move the chef to GA and eat at his restaurant.

We then caught a Lyft back to the hotel and are getting ready for bed.  We are getting a super early start tomorrow to try and beat some of the heat.... wish us luck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 12


Can I be honest?  I want a hug from my hubby, a soak in my bathtub, to sit and pet my kitty and to sleep in my bed.  I want to keep the lights on past 10 and sleep past 12.   I want to be responsible for nothing and no one.   But - that is a week or so away still and I am determined to make the absolute most of this so I am setting those wants aside and focusing the now and the great time we are having.

I'll tell you about today, but first I want to make some general notes about the trip that I want to remember.

  • Texas Roads are insane.  You have 2 lane roads in the country with driveways coming out on to them and the speed limit is 75.  In general the speed limit is always 75 unless otherwise posted (which is rare).   
  • Austin TX roads make the rest of TX look sane.  There ramp intersections with the interstate come off of access roads and their are turns every where.  I can't tell you how many times I missed my turn due to thinking the GPS was saying something different.  They are just not intuitive.   Also, I35 S branches off - you go right to go to some road and left to go to another, but both right and left are I35 S... yea I'll let you ponder that for a minute.  
  • I don't think I was ever young.  I am listening to the nieces and I realize how much they do not know of the "world".  They talk about the beggars and the homeless - they worry them.  The beggars make them feel unsafe and walking in the city causes them concern.  Don't get me wrong I believe they should be wary in any surrounding - be watchful and cautions, but I don't think I was ever as timid or as shocked as they are.  Maybe it was because I traveled and was exposed to things early on?  I don't know.... maybe I was and am just remembering incorrectly.  Anyway, I think this trip is good for them and I'm trying not to "mother/lecture" too much, however I am an extremely dominate/controlling person so it's  hard some times.
  • I love my Mother - beyond reason - but sometimes she drives me insane.  I'm sure the reverse is also true.   She didn't feel well today and we butted heads quite a bit, tomorrow will be better.
  • Kaylee is an extremely sensitive sleeper.  She struggles going to sleep with the light on or with people moving around, yet she wants to go to sleep by 9 to 10 every night.... where as I'm a night owl who goes to sleep at 12 or 1 - it's making for a grumpy Kaylee and a grumpy Lisa.  I try to accommodate and only leave the bathroom light on, but you can only be so quiet.  Amanda sleeps more soundly, but I think I may disturb her as well.... I love them both, but I miss my bed. lol.  I really thought I would be the one going to bed 1st with 2 teenagers..
  • I miss my Rav4.  This truck just isn't as agile as my Rav. 
And with that we will move on to today....  Today we got up and ate breakfast at the hotel again.  It was free and yummy (though their oatmeal left something to be desired).   After breakfast we headed over to the Center for the performing Arts building that Amanda wanted to see.  It has a headless statue in front of it that says no pictures... so of course I took one :)  We also went to see the TX University tower to take some photos.  Once photos were out of the way we headed to the LBJ Presidential museum. 

I did not know very much about Johnson so I found it very interesting and found myself constantly lagging behind the others.   Of the museums I've been too for presidents I think this was my 2nd favorite with Kennedy being the first.   The way the museum was laid out caught my interest and it told a story ... I really enjoyed it and as I said learned alot.  A few things I didn't know:

  • He pushed through the voting bill that Kennedy was working on when he died.
  • He was a huge civil rights supporter after becoming president.
  • He didn't want to be in the Vietnam war but saw no way out.
  • He passed medicare/medicaid!
  • He passed the information rights act we rely on so much today to keep our gov't transparent.
  • He recorded his phone conversations and they are now public ...
  • He was the one that coined the phrase "we shall overcome"
  • His wife loved wild flowers
  • She had an office in the museum that is now open to the public
  • The white house china had wild flowers on it.
Once we finished there we headed out for lunch.  We ate at a sandwich shop that I wish we wouldn't have.  It was outside only, the service was horrific and the food just ok.   But it filled our bellies.

After lunch we went souvenir shopping and then for ice cream.  This ice cream place was so cool!  They made the ice cream on the spot using liquid nitrogen.   I had the vanilla and it was so yummy. It was super light vs. typical ice cream which always feels heavy to me.  Mama didn't care for hers or ours, but ... she was in a mood anyway.   I thought it was awesome!

I then stopped by the TX State Cemetery for a few pictures.  The tombstones in this cemetery are huge and they tend to tell ones life story.   There is one in the shape of the state of TX.   Its also interesting that it is a confederate civil war cemetery surrounded by a community that was made up (back in the day) of freed black slaves.  It was once in the "rich" area, but when the lakes were created they moved out their and then in the 50's and 60's Austin forced the black communities over to this area by denying them power and other city utilities in the other areas.   A dark part in Austin's history, but you have to love the irony of the cemetery ... 

After that we were on our way to San Antonio.  It was a 2 hour drive and it was full of people driving the TX way - crazy.  You go from 80 to 40 constantly...  people merge every which way and construction with walls no more than an inch from the lane side.  Despite all this we arrived safely.

The hotel we are staying at is in an old jail and the rooms are tiny.  I let the bell hop help me load the bags as we had to push them up a hill and then they valet parked the truck... I have no idea where as there is no parking lot to be seen.  

Once in the room I pushed the chair into the maids room across the hall as we simply didn't have room to walk. They have since pushed it out and it sits in the hall way...   I'm such a rebel :)

We got settled in and the girls went walking as we are staying within walking distance of most things. Tons of historic stuff and they found a mall :)     Once they got back we walked over to dinner.   Dinner was ok - not as good as I had hoped, but ok.  After we ate we walked the river walk for a few minutes... I helped a guy find his way (believe it or not) and then we headed back to the hotel.   

Tomorrow is a full day of site seeing and I'm sleep so I'm calling it early tonight.  Sleep well blogland.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 11


Today was jam packed and HOT!   First we got up and ate at the Executive Lounge here at the hotel. It is a perk due to Jack's "elite" status and I have to say it was rather nice... I had planned to go out for breakfast tomorrow, but we are going to eat here instead.     The food was good and the hostess was nice.

After breakfast we loaded up and headed down to the Visitors center for our tour.  I booked a Van tour in advance ... once here I wish I would have waited.  They  had a double Decker hop on / hop off tour that I did not see online, it is by another company and I think we would have enjoyed it better, live and learn.

The tour we took was good, don't get me wrong, it just could have been better.  It was 90 minutes - the guide was entertaining and told us a ton about what we were seeing, but we went by everything too fast.  Plus the windows made it hard to get pictures... also, much of the tour was talking about stuff behind trees we could not see.     I've been on much better, but we enjoyed it and it was in the A/C so bonus on that.

Once we got back we bought some souvenirs and then walked to grab some lunch.  At first we went to a restaurant called the Jackalope on 6th street.   On yelp it had high reviews... what yelp did not tell me is that it was 21 and over even at 12 in the afternoon.   So I looked up another restaurant a few blocks away and we walked to it.   Waller Creek Pub House was where we went and it was really good!   I had tacos and they were yummy!

After lunch we walked back to the car and headed to the State Capital.  This building was so pretty, both inside and out. We walked around and took lots of pictures.  We even got to take pictures in the senate/house floors and in one room we got to go behind a podium.  It was pretty cool.   Once we were done we meandered down to the gift shop and I bought a Christmas ornament.  While heading back Kaylee wanted to go up a different elevator than the one we came down and I was resistant.   She was right - this elevator took us to an area we would have not seen otherwise.  The view from outside was amazing!   We took some pictures and were going to walk down to the Bollock Museum, but it was hot and there was a hill I didn't think Mama would do so well walking back up so we decided to just scrap it.

We headed back to the hotel and took a couple hours of downtown that I think we all needed.   Mama and I napped and the girls watched videos.

After the nap we loaded back up to go watch the bats.  They have a bridge here in Austin that is a perfect bat home and they live there by the millions.    If you are sitting there when the sun sets you can see them fly out from under the bridge so we went to watch....   While we were waiting a teenager fell from a tree and broke his leg.  911 was called and there was a bit of excitement, but he was well taken care of so we stayed in our spot and watched from afar.  

Also, while we were waiting Mama struck up a conversation with a gentleman next to her.  He was from Ohio and was extremely nice.   There were at least 200 hundred people out to watch the bats on a Tuesday night, I can't imagine it on the weekend.   Everyone was friendly and there were some deaf people selling brochures.  One hugged the girls and freaked them out a bit, it was cute.

Then the bats came.   I expected this onslaught of bats that blanketed the sky.... not so much.  It was just a steady stream of them leaving the bridge.  It was neat I guess, but not worth the wait or the hype.   It still made an enjoyable evening out, but I wouldn't do it again.

After the bats we drove a bit (further than I realized) to get pizza.  It was wood fire baked and awesome!  

Then we drove to the board walk where Stevie Rays statue is.  From the internet I expected it to be well lit given it is open until midnight.   It is not!  It is a walking trail that is gravel and dark at night.  There were a ton of people around, walking their dog, jogging, etc.. so I felt safe, but it was pitch black.     We walked to the statue and got Kaylee a picture that her Mom asked for an then walked back.   On the way back we found a frog I was trying to get out of the road... I was just going to get it to safety, but Mama picked it up and carried it to scare the girls with.  I'm sure it was terrified... I know it peed in her hand, which she totally deserved!  Kaylee did squeal a little though, so it was worth it.

And then we headed back to the hotel.  We stopped at Riverside Chevron to let Mama use the potty and they wouldn't let her!  Told her to go down the street.  To say the least they will never see a dime of my money and I hope others boycott them as well.

We are now back at the hotel, Mama got to potty and we are all tucked in ready to get some sleep so we can see more tomorrow :)   Sleep well blogland!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 10


Today was mostly a travel day, but we did see a few things that I want to remember so I'll recount them here.

First we got up, got dressed and then grabbed breakfast at the hotel.  Holiday Inn Express has a good breakfast some days and I love their cinnamon rolls.     We then loaded up and headed over to Sandra's to drop Murrell off and visit for a few minutes before leaving.  I didn't get to visit with Sandra or Vicki very much this trip and it was my first time meeting Sandra.   They are supposed to come to the house in a few weeks to bring Murrell for her annual summer visit so I'm hoping to get to know them some more then.

We then had to leave, which was hard for Mama, but we can't stay forever so ... off we went.   Today was mainly a drive to Austin which was about 6 hours away, but we broke it up by stopping in Corsicana.   There was a pioneer village that was on the AAA things to do list and I told the nieces not to get excited... glad I did!

It was a replica of an old pioneer village crammed into maybe a 1/4 acre lot.  Most of the buildings were extremely musty and the lady we paid for our tickets with looked surprised to have guest.   There was some things that were worth remembering though:

  • They had a "Lefty" museum that was a nice surprise.  He was a country music star and there were neat pictures and memorabilia that were neat to see.
  • There was an old out of tune piano that looked kind of neat.
  • There were some really old creepy dolls... the stuff horror movies are made of.
  • The had a building filled with old pictures from the town.  It was not climate controlled so I hope they have copies as these will not last long :(
  • Amanda tried to brand Mama with an old cattle prod.
  • Mama climbed up in a tree at 72 years of age - I was worried.   
  • I climbed up in a tree to make her happy..... I'm insane.
  • She wanted to climb into the stage coach, but I thought it would fall down ... so No.

After that Amanda and I went to find a bathroom while Mama and Kaylee went to take pictures of some flowers.   The bathroom was difficult to find and a nice gentleman playing basket ball told us where it was.  He also said I had pretty eyes and I said thank you... a few minutes later I realized he was talking to Amanda, oops!

We then made sandwiches and ate them in the truck as it was just too hot to sit outside at a picnic table!  Sweat was pouring down my back from the little walking we did :(

After that we left Corsicana and drove the remaining 2.5 hours to Austin.  We are staying in a Crowne Plaza a little outside the city and it is nice.  The valet offered to help us with the bags, but I felt subconscious about the sheer # of bags we have so I did it... I should have let him help.   I am going to be muscle bound by time we get home from lifting these things all of the time.  

We then settled into our room, got baths, rested, and were up and out again.

We went and ate at a local Tex Mex restaurant that was amazing.  I had a skirt steak meal that was melt in your mouth good.   I wanted to wash the truck after dinner, but everything had closed so that will have to wait for another day.   I also needed to get a new Compact flash for my computer, but Best Buy didn't sale them - Can you believe that?  So I needed up buying a card reader given I left mine at home so that I could empty my 32 GB card.... I'm getting a couple of 100GB cards for Europe this year!

Anyway... we ran our errands and came back to the hotel.  It was getting late + it had started storming so I was glad to get back.   We have a jam packed day of touring tomorrow so I'll get off of here now. Sleep well blogland :)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 9.2


So I thought I was done for today, but I have to tell you about our laundromat experience.   Everyone but Kaylee and I were asleep so we decided to wash the cloths that we had planned to wash later in the evening.  I thought the hotel had a laundromat, but it didn't so we headed out to the local laundromat.  

I realized upon driving over to this laundromat that I have no idea how to use a laundromat.  I told Kaylee to stay in the car and I got out and popped in to make sure they sold washing powders.  I was walking in and there was a gentleman standing there and he said "yes, there is a machine to the right that sales it."  I popped in and a guy that worked there confirmed the machine so I went out and got Kaylee.

We then proceeded to get change and put or cloths in the washers.  The guy was extremely helpful and showed us how to use the machines and how much to put in each one.   I believe he may have been slightly autistic, but he was highly functioning and helped me out extensively.

After getting our cloths going we sat and visited for a while with each other.   We then put them in the dryers and the gentleman once again helped us.  I'm sure he was laughing on the inside, but ah well - I needed the help.  

We then waited a bit longer until they were done and then we started to fold them.  At this point the guy is hanging out chatting with us as we fold.  It was a little bit awkward as it felt like he was analyzing our cloths, but he was just trying to get some company I think.  Anyway, this excursion cost me like $25 - I'm not sure how people afford laundromats, but the cloths are clean.   It was a funny adventure and I had a ball telling the girls back at the hotel.    

Once we got back everyone repacked their suitcases and we are checking out in the morning to head to Corsicana and then to Austin.    I'll let you know how that all goes tomorrow :)

Texas Adventure Day 9


Today has been a day of family, so not too terribly much to write journal wise.   Murrell spent the night last night so there are 5 of us in the hotel room here.  You would think it would be crowded, but she is so tiny and I enjoy Mama and  her interacting so much that it's not or if it is I'm not noticing.   We all, including Murrell, got to sleep a little late and went and got breakfast in the hotel... I missed taking the picture again, but the breakfast was good and also free, so win.

After breakfast we drove to Marshall to pick up my cousin - Ima Jean.   Ima Jean has always scared me.  Back when I was younger and we came to visit there as always yelling and shouting in the house she and my aunt lived in - its how they communicated.    I have memories that made me seriously want to never come back to TX so I was very apprehensive about this visit.  However, I was so surprised.  I'm guessing my memories are skewed as she was very enjoyable to be around.  We picked her up and went to the Willow Oak Cemetery in Gilmer TX.

This is the cemetery where Mama's grand parents are buried.  We wondered around, looked at the graves, and tried to determine why everything looks different than Mama remembers.  I think it is the fact that storms have taken trees down which causes the entire place to have a different look - Mama swears they moved the graves.   Who knows what is true, but we did find the markers so I'm considering it a win.

We then headed back to Longview/Marshall area.  Before we took ImaJean back we stopped at a local restaurant, the Bootlegger Grill for some lunch.  The food and service were both excellent.  They did not have a shrimp plate, but they made one for my Aunt Murrell, which was super sweet.   They also had fabulous sweet tea and Amanda's Alfredo was to die for.   I really wish I had ordered that, though my shrimp was also good.

After lunch we drove back to ImaJean's, but we took old rows and Murrell, ImaJean and Mama were pointing out places they and others they knew had lived, things they had done, etc...   Most of it is gone now and it's just fields, but it was nice to hear them reminisce.

We then went back to ImaJeans and her and Mama looked at some old pictures.  My other cousin Steven aka Peanut was there and they were talking loudly and at the same time just as I remember from back as a teenager.   They were not arguing, it is just how they communicate - Mama and Murrell joined right in.  All talking at once and all hearing each other - I don't know how they do it, but they do.   It raises my stress level, but I'm not around it all of the time and am just not used to it.  

We stayed a bit and then headed back to the hotel to do some laundry and nap.  Currently everyone is in nap mode.   In a bit I'll go do the laundry and I think the rest of the night will just be visiting and getting some rest.  If anything else interesting pops up I'll be sure to do a part 2 for the day, but in the meantime I hope you have a good afternoon/evening.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 8


Today was a day set for family and we did see family, but it ended up being a day trip into itself.  We got up around 10 (slept in a bit), grabbed some breakfast at the infamous Waffle House and then headed over to Sandra's house.    But before we talk about Waffle House let us talk about the Waffle House visit.

We get our seat in a bench and I go to take the normal group picture I take and post to FB before every meal.  Only this time an elderly gentleman sticks his tongue out behind the girls heads... which I post to FB anyway :)   Then Mama decides to go get a picture with him... which was hilarious, and it gets posted to FB too.  Only my Mama... I wish I could be that way with strangers.

After breakfast we rode over to Sandra's, my cousin, and almost immediately got into the cars to go see Kilgore.  Kilgore is the home of one of the major oil boons during the 30s.  We went to the Oil Museum, which was great.  They made it look like an old town and it wasn't "stuffy" like many museums are.  You could touch things and well just have fun with it.  They taught about the different soil layers and how oil is made.

They have a pretend elevator ride to take you "8 miles" into the earth.  It has the cheesiest puppets you have ever seen or heard tell of, but it was cute.    They also had a movie about the "oil boon" that was actually pretty interesting, until the end when they shook your seat like you were at an oil drill... that was pretty high on the cheese factor.

I actually had to change my Card in my camera today at the museum.  I started shooting RAW a while back and this is the first big trip since then.... 32GB card filled up :(  I am using my 8GB card now, but I see a purchase in my future...  Ah well, back to the adventure.

We then went to the oil derricks in Kilgore, took some pictures and visited a bit before getting back in the car.   Then we drove and kept driving to see an Indian Burial ground.  What was funny about this is that I had no idea where I was going - I was just following Sandra.   For those that know me, they know this lack of control is a pretty big deal, but I was game so here we went.   When we got there Sandra actually passed it - there was the ground and some type of teepee.   We stopped and took pictures, then headed on to catch up with Sandra.  Only to see her driving back, she thought the burial ground would be like a cemetary vs. a mound of dirt.   It was so funny - the priceless look on her face.  It made the journey worth it.

We then drove down to the New London school memorial.  It was blown up in the 1930's due to a gas leak and over 300 people, mostly children, died.  Very sad...

We then stopped for some dinner at What-A-Burger (where I failed to get my group photo), had dinner and then went on our way again.  We drove down to an Indian Massacre Site and took a few pictures.    I believe Sandra got turned around a bit on the way they stopped and asked a guy directions.   He was gesturing and we have video of him giving them directions which I hope is as funny as I think it will be.

Once we got there and looked around for a bit we headed back to Longview.  When I had Amanda put our hotel in the GPS I realized we are over an hour out - I think we drove around all of East Texas today, but it was fun.  Murrell rode with us the entire day, so her and Mama were talking and visiting which was good.   Overall it was an enjoyable, but long day.   Now Murrell is staying with us the rest of the visit.  Her and Mama are on the sofabed, Amanda and I are on our bed and Kaylee (the smallest of us) has a bed to herself.  It's pretty funny.

Tomorrow we go visit some additional family and go see Mama's parents graves.    Sleep well blogland.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 7


I'm so tired I almost put off writing this, but I know if I do I'll regret it.   Today was amazing - it was also exhausting.   We got up, ate breakfast at the hotel, packed up and headed out.

The first thing (after Walmart and the ATM) was Hot Springs AK.  We visited the visitor center, walked around the bath exhibits and then went for it.   A bath/massage in Hot Springs.    I was expecting to go into a room, get undressed, put on a robe, go to another room, get in bath, etc...   This is not what happened.   You go into a room - get undressed - then a lady helps you put a sheet on, while you are naked - your butt is facing her!  Yep, she gets to see it in all it's glory.

Then she takes you to another room, where another lady, takes your sheet and helps you get into the bath - she then runs more water, and hands you water to drink.   All while you are naked as a jaybird. Now the lady doing this for me, her name was Mattie, was extremely nice.  She made you so comfortable and it was obvious she didn't give a dang about my lady parts so I was ok with her... but she saw more of me than even my Drs.     Both of my nieces and Mama also had this experience... we weren't together so we didn't see each other (Thank God), but I would love to have seen just their faces - it would have been priceless.

You sit in this tub, in water that is 100 degrees, with a jet that is super powered churning the water.   It was relaxing, but after a while I was ready to get out -it just got to be too much... I was ready to remove myself about 2 minutes before Mattie came back into help me, so good timing.  She helps you out of the tub, wraps another sheet around you and takes you to a bench.   You lay on this bench, drinking ice water, with a hot towel behind you and a cool one on your head.   It was amazing!

After this experience, I think I'm done, but NO.  I then go and sit in this steam box - I didn't let her close the door on my face, but everything else was in a metal box, full of steam.  And yes  I'm still naked as the day I was born.    After the steam box, she puts my sheet back on and I sit in a tub with just my butt.   It was odd, but it soothed my lower back so no complaints.

I then am taken to a shower where I rinse off before going back to wait for my massage.   I then get a full body massage (which was amazing) before getting dressed and calling it an experience.  I'm not sure I'd do the whole thing again as getting that hot really takes it out of you, but it was a fabulous time and something I will remember for ever!

After the bath we were all hungry.  So we went to a local burger joint and ate burgers while regaining our energy.   Once done there, we bought some souvenirs in a shop and left Hot Springs behind.

Next on our agenda was Crater Diamond Mine State Park.  This one was something Mama wanted to do... so we did.  It was an adventure.   I brought buckets and shovels with us as I could get them for a $1 and they wanted $4 to rent them...  So we go down with our buckets to this park.  I had a feeling going in I was going to skip out early and take a nap in the truck, but I expected the others to have a good time....

Let me preface this to see it was hot - I mean really hot.   We went down and everyone started digging in this field of nothing but churned up dirt... tons of churned up dirt, that is all it was.   I took some pictures of the girls and Mama digging and then I went back to the truck.  I got the air on, got all settled in and was about to take my nap when the girls come up.   They were hot and wanted in, Mama on the other hand decided to stay- so I let them in and we are all taking a nap.  I tell them to check on Mama in 10 or so minutes as it is really hot and she doesn't do well in the heat.

It hadn't been no more than 10 minutes as Kaylee was just stepping out to go check on her and here comes a golf cart with a woman on it and Mama.   She had almost passed out in the field due to heat - and here I am laying in the A/C truck looking like an ass to this woman I'm sure.     She is fine, it was just too hot, but geesh... I should have stayed down there.   I guess it's OK given everyone is OK, but aaaah.

So I get her and her rocks settled in the truck and then we head to Marshall/Longview where the family is.   We are here for 3 days to visit and rest.   We checked in and I was getting luggage in when Mama found our room was not good.  The carpet was wet from the A/C, so I went to the front desk and was upgraded to a suite.   The room is awesome and we will enjoy it for the next bit.

After we settled in and I got a shower we went over to Sandra's to see Meryl and the family.   It was a good visit and the homemade pie was excellent.   I am tired though and glad to be back in my bed.   Tomorrow we will get to visit more which will be good.

Sleep well blogland - I'm calling it a night!

PS:  I forgot to say that on the way to Longview we ended up going into Hallsville.  We stopped and saw where my Aunt Jenner and several people Mama knew are buried.  We also stopped at the church where she was a baptized and took a picture.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 6


We are now in Hot Springs AR, checked into the hotel and everyone is gone doing this and that - so I'm in the hotel room, alone.  I love my mother and my nieces, but I also love my alone time.   So this moment of solitude is much appreciated :)   The introverts reading will understand.

Today over all was a great day.   We got up, loaded the truck and headed out.  We ate breakfast at this odd place called The Root Cafe.  It was what I would call a hipster restaurant and not really my style, but that is point of vacation.  Try new things.   The eggs were ok, the toast horrible and the bacon was ham.    The coffee was drinkable, but they only had the raw sugar.  What is wrong with this side of the Mississippi?  They don't seem to believe in regular white sugar.

After escaping the breakfast joint we went down to the Central High School location.   This is where the first public schools were integrated and it was extremely interesting.  The visitor place had videos of the 9 black students who went to school there as they are today, recounting stories and giving their perspective now.   It was amazing to hear them - you have to admire their bravery and determination.

They also had a video explaining how the activism of the 9 blacked students was being carried on students today who are actively protesting social injustice.   It was a well done exhibit and the park ranger was extremely nice and helpful.   It was obvious he enjoyed his job.   We also got to see the school itself, from the outside, and the gas station where the reporters were set up.   Amanda seemed to be moved by it - Kaylee - well she is hard to read.

We left the school and headed to the AR state capital and took a few pictures from the outside.   The capital also has statues of the 9 students who integrated which was pretty cool.

We then went to the Clinton Presidential Library.  Clinton is by far my favorite president, at least of my lifetime, but his library didn't really impress.  JFK still has the best library by far.  Clinton's was too much reading and modern looking.  It was hard to take pictures of the few artifacts because of the way they had the lighting set up and it didn't really grab you and tell a story.

There were a few interesting things:

- When he left office we did not have a deficit, but a surplus!
- We had a balanced budget & we still helped the less fortunate in our society.
- He passed FMLA.
- He was extremely well liked internationally.
- He was impeached, but then he was acquitted by the Senate.

Also, they library seems to want to make money off of stupid things.  $24 for a picture behind the Oval Office desk and their souvenir plates are outrageous ($150).    I think they could have done a much better job.

We then and ate lunch at a Noodle house.   It was pretty good, not something I would do often, but it was something different.  After eating we walked up to this red interesting building and took some pictures.   We asked a gentleman what it was and he told us it was their courthouse... very cool looking.

We then drove down to the Big Dam Bridge :)  It is the largest pedestrian bridge in the US.   It goes over the AR river.  The view off of it was pretty and the rapids sounded so relaxing, but the dam/bridge itself was kinda ugly. After seeing Hoover Dam I think my expectations may be a little high.

We then loaded up and headed to Hot Springs.  After we got 5 minutes along the way I spotted the blessed sign - Dunkin Doughnuts!  So we hopped off and grabbed some Dunkin and a Tropical Smoothie for Kaylee.  I was so happy to see some DD: )   We then proceeded to drive to Hot Springs. The rain was full of rain and construction - my favorite things, but it pretty uneventful.

We are now sitting in the hotel and resting.  Dinner is sandwiches and I think everyone is happy just to rest.   The hotel here is pretty central, so the girls walked down to get some ice-cream from a near by shop and Mama went to the goodwill next door.

Life is good and we are enjoying ourselves.   Tomorrow is the Hot Springs and the Diamond mine, then over to Marshall/Longview to visit family.    Have a good night blogland :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 5


Today was mainly a travel day.  As I mentioned yesterday we changed our schedule to come up North to try and avoid the storm.   We got up, packed our stuff up (which was a miracle in itself) and headed out.   I don't know I think I did something different last time, packing this morning was difficult and I wasn't sure I was going to get the truck to close, but it all worked out.   I do want to say we had two really nice gentlemen help us this morning, one offered and picked up our large suitcases, while the other one helped to close our truck cover.   People are so nice...

We then grabbed a bite to eat at a great restaurant whose coffee was top notch!   I also sat down and chatted with a complete stranger.   He had a O2 machine that is different than Mamas and I wanted to know about it so, I asked to sit and we had a chat ;)   The old me would have never done that, I'm getting nutz in my old age.

We then drove, mostly in the rain, for 6 hours.   The drive overall wasn't too bad and we crossed the 1300 mile marker for our trip which was cool.   There were a couple of things I wanted to remember about the trip so I'll record them here:

- Driving out of New Orleans up 59 you get on this bridge.... or this amazing bridge network, that is.    Mama said it was the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, but I'm not 100% on that.  What I do know is that it's long.... and it has intersections where other bridges come off of it like you were on land.   There are turn around sections (that are blocked off) with Port a Potties  -- I guess in need of emergency situations, lol.   It was really cool.  In some areas we were in brackish/swampy areas and in others we were over water and that was all you could see.   I liked it a lot.

- Then we drove through farm country.   Farms as far as you could see.   Very little in the way of towns, but tons of farms.

- I got hungry and we had planned to eat sandwiches.   I couldn't find anywhere to really pull over so we finally ended up eating in an abandoned buildings driveway.    I was about to be a Snickers Commercial all by myself!

We are now in Little Rock Arkansas.  We got here a few hours ago, settled in, and then drove to get a bite to eat.  I had looked on Yelp earlier for the restaurant, but when I got in the truck I remembered the wrong one.  So we went in, sat down and ordered drinks. While she was gone to get them I looked at the menu and freaked.... this was the expensive, not good place.  So I said "GET UP" and we all left very quickly before she got back with the drinks... it was embarrassing, but hilarious.     We then went to our intended restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal with good service.  I had a chicken noodle soup.  It tasted very different than your traditional chicken noodle, but it was yummy.

Now we are all in our pjs ready to settle in for the night.  Tomorrow is a busy day and I'm praying the rain holds off.   Sleep well blogland!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 4


Today was kind of a bust.  We got up to rain...   It was mainly drizzling so we headed out determined to get the most out of the day.   We drove to our restaurant of choice Cafe Fleur De Lis.    The food and service was good.  I had the french toast and it was yummy, not in my top 10, but excellent none the less and everyone else seemed to enjoy their food.  The coffee, however was too bitter for me.  I actually haven't had a cup all day as I had them exchange it -  shocked I  managed.

We then headed back over to the hop on / off parking lot and purchased tickets for the tour of St. Louis Cemetary # 1 where Marie Le Beu is buried.  At this point it was still just drizzling.... The tour starts in 30 minutes so we wonder the visitors area, use restrooms and get ourselves settled in.   We meet our tour guide, who happens to be the same one from the Garden City Tour yesterday and set off.  Then the rain comes... we were no more than 5 feet in and it started raining.  Not so bad you couldn't do it, but bad enough you couldn't enjoy it.  I took a few pictures - Mama held the umbrella over my camera.   But the longer we went the harder it started to rain and I'm not sure I heard anything that woman said as I was focused on my wet feet. ... Wait I did hear a couple of things to note:

  • XXX on tombstones has nothing to do with Voodoo, STOP defacing the graves.
  • Nicholas Cage built a triangle tomb there for when he passes away.  I think he loved his National Treasure part a bit too much.
  • They don't bury them above ground due to sea level... some are actual underground individual tombs.
  • Some of the tombs in the wall have sunken in and you can no longer access them as things sink in this city.
  • People are still actively buried in the cemetery and families often share an above ground tomb.
We got back in the visitors center after the tour and looked at each other.  Everyone was wet and miserable.  So we high tailed it back to the hotel to get dry and stay that way.  We ended up taking naps (all but Kaylee whom I'm sure was board) and woke up around 4 pm.  

We had cancelled our river cruise so that left the evening free... but it's still raining.   So, I found the BB King restaurant that had live music and the girls could get in.  So we went down, ate dinner and listened to the music.    The service was bad, but the food was good and the music was awesome.     The first band was enjoyable, but the second band we listened to was fabulous.  I felt bad taking their table so we didn't sit through the entire set, but wow!  The piano player played both Piano and Organ at the same time -it was amazing.  The main singer was and elderly black man that Mama would have run off with if she could have.  

We then headed back to the hotel and got here around 8:30.

Due to the tropical storm headed our way I have spent the past 3 hours re-planning our trip.  I don't want to be on the beach when the storm comes so I called and modified hotel reservations.   Then I went through and modified our agenda to meet the new dates/drive schedule.   It adds some drive time and is not as efficient, but we will enjoy it more.     We will be going to Little Rock tomorrow and will go back down through Austin/San Antonio / Padres Island next week after the storm has passed.   May I just give a shout out to IHG Hotel Brands.   I called and they were fabulous in helping me get the rooms modified and making sure we were properly taken care of!  She rocked.

And on that note - I need sleep!   I hope you are enjoying traveling with us virtually -more to come tomorrow!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 3


Today was another absolutely jammed packed day - I thought I had built in some rest time today, but that didn't happen... everyone is unconscious at the moment and I'm up typing the journal and making sure things for tomorrow are lined up.  I thought with two teenagers on the trip  I'd be going to sleep with them still doing whatever, but no - I've outlasted every one every night so far.  It's pretty funny.

So what did we do today?    First and foremost - breakfast.  Eating out on vacation is one my favorite things.  I love finding unique restaurants that I could never get at home.  This morning we tried Surrey's Cafe and Juice Bar.   The french toast had rave reviews on Yelp so I had to give them a shot.   Mama also had the french toast - she loved it, I didn't care for it too much.  The cream cheese center was too much and the sauce was... well not for me.   I ate enough of it, but not really my cup of tea, the coffee they had on the other hand was delicious.  Their OJ was also fresh squeezed, though I wish they would have refrigerated the oranges before squeezing them or something as it was luke warm :(

After breakfast, which no one raved about, we went down to catch the hop on and off trolley.  On our way we hit a bit of traffic where a tractor trailer had misjudged the turn, went up on a curb and got stuck under the bridge.   That was one thing... the funny thing is that the beggars were playing traffic cop.  It was quite humorous.

Once on the trolley our first hop off was Lafayette Square.  We walked around, took some pictures of the square, the federal building and Gailier Hall before meandering back to the bus.    One thing to note was we made a brief stop at the convenience store to get drinks and the guy was so funny.  He was ignoring a gentleman at the door, I assume a regular beggar, and was mumbling to us.  But he was funny - with a smart ass sense of humor.  When I asked where the closest public bathroom was he said "Go to the hotel next door, just walk in and pretend you are a customer, no one will tell you no".  He was right of course... but the look on his face after his transactions with us thus far just made it hilarious to me.  I have no idea why, but I will remember him for quite some time.

So I went to bathroom at the hotel and off we went back to the bus.   What interest me about the dynamics of this group is that Kaylee and Amanda are always walking ahead of us.  Which is fine, they are young girls who want to chat about whatever young ladies talk about without us "adults" in range, but they don't know where they are actually going.   So I'm constantly having to yell - stop - right  - or something to that effect.   I prefer that over them behind us as I would worry I lost them, but it just amuses me (most of the time).

Once back on the bus we listened to the commentary for a bit before hoping off to take the Garden District tour which is included in our ticket price.   I want to remind you at this point, that it is pushing upper 90s and my mother is right there with us.   Step for step.  You have to admire her and Thank God for oxygen tanks that make it possible.    Without them, there is no way she could do this.

Speaking of O2 let me digress for a second.  She has an oxygen concentrator and it is giving an error column replacement needed.  So I call the local Lincare to get them... they don't carry them!  What the frack, why have a portable O2 concentrator  you can travel with and not carry the equipment in all of your locations to handle issues?   This is why we went with a nationwide company...   UGH!  I was able to get her some portable tanks, but I'm a bit worried about having them in the truck due to the heat.  I may use them tomorrow and then return it... but then what will she use in the other cities.  Have a day to figure this out -- any nurses/medical staff that want to chime in, given Lincare is about useless, I would appreciate it.

Ok... back to our regularly scheduled travel blog.  The Garden District tour was an hour walk around the neighborhood looking at the homes and being told about the architecture and the history.  I found the guide to be fairly interesting and the pace was not so much that it tired us out, but the heat was extreme.  After the walk, which was extremely nice, we rode down to Jackson Square for a bite to eat.
We ate at a restaurant called Gumbo Shop and it was really good + the A/C worked!  We relaxed, enjoyed our meal and told stories with the waiter.  I really did enjoy it, but it had to end and the heat beaconed.  

We went over to Jackson Square and visited the St. Louis Cathedral.  It was quite pretty on the inside and well worth a visit if you ever come this way.   We then meandered around the square and relaxed for a bit before going over to Cafe Du Monde.   This place is supposedly famous and these "french doughnuts to die for".     They taste like funnel cakes and not even good funnel cakes.   So we ate most of it, then headed back toward the bus.

Unfortunately, we had just missed it so there was a 30 minute wait.   We could have walked it, but I think everyone was done for so we looked at tourist shops before waiting in a shady area for it to return.  Once returned we got on the bus - rode back to our car and came home for a much needed rest.

We stayed here for a few, then Amanda, Kaylee and I left to go get some stuff at Walmart while Mama slept.   When we got back she was up getting ready so we all did the same.  I could have handled a nap myself, but alas, I can sleep when I'm dead.

After we got all dolled up I called an UBER to take us down to Bourbon street.  I wanted to be able to drink, but more than that I just wanted to relax and not try and find parking at night in a party town.   We first went to Preservation Hall to watch the 9 O'clock performance.   With  an age restriction this is one the few places that I knew the girls could enjoy the music...

While we waited we chatted with a local bouncer that was near our line and generally had a good time cutting up and trying to not swelter.   The facility itself has no air and limited seating so it wasn't the best experience, but at the same time it is supposed to be a throwback to the old Jazz clubs so ...   Mama was able to sit outside in the hall and hear it perfectly + it was cooler out there as there was a fan, so win.   The three of us all went in and out, sitting some in the hall, then standing and watching. I don't think Kaylee enjoyed it, but Amanda seemed to - even if it was not what she had envisioned.   I thought the music was good, excellent in fact, but the venue needs to get over itself and get some seats and an A/C - vintage is only good for some things.

Once the performance was over we walked the girls down a section of Bourbon street itself.  This is of course known as the wild city and even though it was only 10 o'clock and a weekday the girls got to see plenty of what Bourbon Street is.   I would have liked to have went into a bar and listened to some music - maybe next time.  I must say I thought there would be more street music to listen to, I was hoping the nieces could experience more of that, but didn't see it tonight.    Maybe tomorrow... we shall see.

I then asked what they wanted to do - sleep, walk more, or go eat.   1 said eat, 1 said sleep and 1 didn't really answer so eating it was.  I had another restaurant picked out, but it was too fancy for a quick bite so we ended up at a place called Royal Cafe.     It was a little pricier than I had planned, and not what everyone wanted once we got there, but they walked off when I was trying to choose a restaurant so I vetoed the right to complain and we decided to stay there and get a bite.    

The hamburgers people got seemed good.  I got a Gumbo and it was good, but what I had at lunch was better.   Once we had finished eating it was 11 pm and they were closing down.  I grabbed an UBER and we are now safe and sound in the hotel.

It was really a great day, but super busy.  They are saying rain tomorrow - pray it holds off for us please.   We welcome the breeze, but the rain can stay :)

Good night blogland - sleep well and thank you for joining us on this journey.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 2


Today was a extremely full day - it started at 8:30 and it's 12:41 AM on 6/19 as I'm typing this, but it was really good overall.

First we got up, got dressed and were ready to start packing the truck by 8:30.  This was my first day packing it solo and it was a job and 1/2, but I did manage to successfully put the jigsaw of our luggage together and while there may have not been room for even a small insect when we were done it fit.   I did have to get a gentleman to help me pull the straps down for the truck bed cover, they take a ton of upper arm strength that I just do not have.

The same gentleman that helped with that also apparently wanted to pursue a further relationship with Amanda, he thought she was cute.   However, she declined and the day went on... LOL.  What it is to be a teenage girl again and have guys hit on you.  I don't miss being a teenager, but there aspects that would be nice to go back and repeat - hee.

Well, anyway after the rebuff we went into the dining area to grab some breakfast.  It looked OK, but I really wanted a sit down place and the food just didn't look appetizing so we decided to go out.   I had a restaurant option pre-chosen from my research so we checked out and were on our way.  Now keep in  mind we are in Selma, AL this morning.  The deep south and apparently they are the definition of the bible belt, because everything was closed this Sunday morning - including my chosen restaurant.

So we diverted to a fast food joint called Jack's.  It was actually pretty good and the coffee was decent.  I was having a rough morning due to not sleeping well last night and the coffee put some much  needed "goodness" in my morning and made me where I could be tolerated by the others.

We then left and headed down to Brown Chapel AME Church and King Monument.  They were people entering to have church and it is right across from some apartments with people out on their porches so we felt a little out of place, but I felt it important to see these historical places.  Selma has one of the most known acts of violence against black people and it should be remember so that it will never be repeated.  I think it's important to honor those protesters sacrifice and see the places that were important to them.  So uncomfortable or not we got out of the car to see the outside of it and take some pictures.

This church is where the Selma to Montgomery march was organized.  It was a key organizational hub for the black rights movement.  The outside of it is brick with some white brick and it isn't a particularly pretty structure, but it is important none the less.  The gentleman handing out bulletins to the church goers was nice enough to give us one as we were passing and invited us in.   Now keep in mind we are in shorts and flip flops, but he still invited us to attend his service.  That is what all churches should be doing.  We politely declined, but the impact he made was substantial.  I didn't feel uncomfy anymore and he knew we were there to honor the history.

Once we left there we headed over to Old Live Oak Cemetery.  We spent a good 30 minutes meandering the grounds, each going about our own way.   This cemetery is so pretty!  The moss on the trees, the old headstones, it is just amazing!  I loved walking around taking pictures of it and could have spent more time there if the bugs weren't so bad (even with bug repellent).

Upon leaving the cemetery we drove to Church street.  I got out and took pictures of a few of the churches as they were very pretty while the others rested in the A/C of the car.  We then went down to the Old Train Depot end of water street and took some pictures.  The entire town is closed on Sunday so it was deserted - it felt like a ghost town.  Some of the stores were also out of business and empty which helped with this feeling. We walked down to the river front park and took pictures in of the Edmund Pettus Bridge from side and also played on the playground (which was quite funny).

We then drove down a bit and I got pictures of the St. James Hotel, which as an interesting structure.  However, when I got back in the car and drove a bit further - I had not taken pictures of the Hotel, but some other building entirely as this as the hotel so I stopped again.  It was rather funny - now I have pictures of some random building and the hotel :)

Our last stop in Selma was the bridge itself.   Where the protesters were so brutally attacked for demanding their rights in a peaceful way.   We took some pictures and there was a man their explaining history so we chatted with him a bit.  We also bought a book he was selling on the history of Selma, if for no other reason than he was man enough to stand out in that heat without withering to sell his books.  

I had planned to go to the museum but it was closed.  By extension we accidentally missed seeing the voting rights monuments and park attached to the museum :(  I would like to have seen them.    We then left for lunch, but being Selma on a Sunday it was closed so we decided to eat sandwiches at our next destination and moved on.

We drove to Old Chawba.  Old Chawba is the original capital of Alabama and it was a major port town.  Now it is nothing but architectural ruins and depressions in the ground of what used to be.   No one really knows why it was abandoned which is why I wanted to see it.  When we got there we checked in with the visitors center and then had a picnic in front of a really old church.  The church looked like something out of a witches movie and the niece's had a good time joking about it.

We then drove into the city.  I don't know what I was expecting, but there were only a few ruins - most of it was fields with signs telling you what was there.  I was a little disappointed in it, but then I think about the fact that this was a thriving city, a state capital, and this is all that is left of it?  It amazes me - even if I did want to see a falling down building or two.  One of the things that made me sad was the "new cemetery".  It is in disrepair and needs some upkeep and for them to remove some junk (bleachers, etc...) that has been put back there.  I hope whomever is running the park does that quickly.

After driving around the city a bit more we headed on to New Orleans.   When we went to leave we realized there was no signal for the phone, therefore no GPS.   I am very lucky that I printed the Google Map directions and also had the AAA directions so we were able to make do.  Kaylee navigated and I drove.   I'll be honest it was a little unnerving without the GPS or my music (I hate silence in a car with people - I hear all every small sound they make), but we did it and I was really grateful to God for giving me the foresight to print some directions.

Once we were back to the GPS land Mama mentioned we should avoid 10 and go 90 if we want to see something other than interstate.   So I looked at the map and thought it would be about 30 or 40 minutes out of our way to pick up 90 out of GulfPort MS so we started driving that way.  I think I probably miscalculated that time, but the experience was worth it.

When we got to GulfPort the view was so nice and the beach so white.  We stopped  - walked the beach for a few - stuck our toes in the warm water and just enjoyed ourselves for a few minutes before heading on.   We drove 90 for about 20 miles before it started getting too dark to see anything and then I followed the GPS to the quickest way to our hotel.  By this time it was 8:30 PM and everyone was ready to be out of the car.

So we arrived here around 9:30 or 10, unloaded and proceeded to do the nightly routine.  I was organizing while the nieces got showers and as I sit and type this everyone else is snoozing.  I seem to be the only night owl in the bunch.     I kept Kaylee up with the light :(   Hope she is OK tomorrow... I moved the floor next to the bathroom after I got a shower and stuff so hopefully this little bit of light isn't bothering her.   I'm about to cut it off anyway - it's after 1 AM here and I need sleep myself.   Tomorrow we explore New Orleans and we start our day promptly at 9.

Sleep well blogland.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Texas Adventure Day 1 Part 2


Well we didn't stay in.   Kaylee and I visited some while Mama and Amanda slept, then we woke them up at 6:30 and headed out.

We drove down to a neighborhood we had passed, parked and walked around.  There was one building that looked like it may have been an inn at one time.  It was obviously empty and in disrepair, but it had a quality to it.  A eerie feeling that was fascinating.   The other houses in the neighborhood had been redone and were old Southern Mansions that have been brought back to life.   The area was obviously historic as there were placards marking historic homes and some with signs explaining the history, but people gave us odd looks as we were walking around.  I'll be honest despite the very clean neighborhood and the fancy houses I was very watchful of my people and our surroundings - It didn't scream safe neighborhood, but it should have from looking at it.  Just a feeling I guess - or maybe it was the run down houses/businesses right down the road we had passed... not sure.  Despite my "feelings" we had no incidents and enjoyed looking at the houses.  The bugs had started to come out in the dusk though and they were biting so we headed on out.

We stopped by Walmart, where I did purchase a replacement cooler.  It seemed each of us had at least one item to buy.  But, let's talk about this Walmart.  The construction looked new, but it wasn't as large as the one we have at home.   The isles were dirty - I mean stuff strewn everywhere and well just in disarray.  They had 3 checkout lanes open and they were backed up down the isles... it was ridiculous!

One thing waiting in line did give me time to notice though - every one seemed to know everyone.  All around me people were greeting each other and having brief conversations before going about their day.   It is something  you don't see many places and it warmed my heart.

We then grabbed some fuel for the truck and headed back to the hotel.  We did our Bible Study time together, chatted a bit and now I sit and type in this freezing cold hotel room (thanks to Mama) as the girls and her sleep, or at least try to.

I also have enjoyed the nieces today.  I have of course known them all their lives, but they are becoming young women now and it's nice to get to know that part of them.   The grown part that tells stories and has interest I can relate to.   I hope they enjoy the trip and I hope we continue to get to know one another as adults.

Its time for me to join the rest of the team for some shut eye.  Sleep well blog land.

Texas Adventure Day 1 Part 1


Today we embarked on our girls adventure to Texas.   It's me, Mama and two of my nieces - Kaylee and Amanda.   I'll try as always to journal our adventures here.

We began packing the truck at 8:15 and it took 30 minutes to pack it up.  Jack had to bring out his engineering degree to get it done... I pray I can pack it back up tomorrow.  It took a feet in spacial relations and I'm not all that great at that, wish me luck.

We then left, stopped to get some ice for the cooler and then grabbed a quick bite to eat.  We ate at Chick-fil-A and Kaylee's parents and the hubby joined us.  Chick-fil-A was awesome as always, but I still had to go grab some Dunkin before heading out on our adventure.

And then we were off - 9:55, a whole 5 minutes earlier than my agenda :)

We then headed to Lagrange GA for the first stop in our adventure.

We ate at Mighty Joe's Pizza.   It was good... the options in Lagrange weren't all that and this was one of three I had narrowed our list down to.  The pizza was good, but I've had better.  What I found funny was the other's reactions.  Here are some examples:

  • Amanda - Ordered Cheese Pizza.  Just cheese??? I now know she is truly odd :) LOL
  • Amanda - The fact the TV wasn't centered in the wall or the fact the picture frames were not straight drove her insane!  It was so funny.
We then headed to the Biblical History Center.   I'll say it is a great idea - a remake of biblical places so that people have an idea of how people lives.  Sample crosses like what Jesus was really crucified on, etc...  There was a lady giving a tour, but she was going to depth and almost preaching so we walked away and did a self tour.  We enjoyed seeing the items and taking pictures.   Kaylee and Amanda are quickly learning, if they didn't already know that Mama and I love to take pictures.   The facility was interesting, but at the same time it felt touristy or fake?  Which of course it was - they were recreations of things, not the actual things so I'm not sure what I was expecting.   However, it was a nice stop to stretch our legs.  And it was interesting.  

The one thing that irritated me was they have a real museum part with real artifacts from Israel.  There is no sign saying no pictures so I was taking some - without the flash and was gotten on to.  If they don't want pictures, put a sign!

Anyway - I think it was a neat experience, but not one I would care to repeat.

We then headed toward Selma.  However, first we had to stop to get some more ice for the cooler (we may end up buying a new one as this one doesn't keep ice frozen long at all).  We are trying to drink out of the cooler vs paying convenience store prices for drinks, etc...    

We are now in Selma and resting a bit at the hotel.   The hotel is nice, but the A/C is leaking and the carpet is wet.  They only have a room that is smaller so we are opting to put towels down... it will be ok for one night.    We may rest here all night or we may go explore some of Selma tonight before settling down - I'll let you know what we decide in part 2 :)

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...