Friday, December 31, 2010

Galveston: A Whole Lot of FUN

After Christmas, we set out for a three-day trip to Galveston.  We had never been there, but we packed it in with things to do.  We took the ferry onto the island.  We could have gotten there by bridge, but I thought the ferry would be the best way to go, because it would make it seem more remote. The picture above is one of the ships we saw from the ferry.

I fell in love with the tall ship Elissa.  We were able to explore the top deck as well as the quarters below.  I think it was $8 per person.

Moody Aquarium was nice, but we almost missed the water tunnels.  Do not leave without seeing the tunnels, or you will feel ripped off. The tunnels are below:

There are two tunnels and a junction between, making a huge aquarium where sea creatures swam over us and beside us.  I could have sat there for an hour, just watching and being hypnotized.  If not for the tunnels, I would have felt that it was not worth the price.  We paid almost $40 for two tickets.  Still, there were other attractions.  You can see penguins being fed, then go below and watch them swim at and above eye level.  Oh, wait, did I say swim?  They flew under water, their petite wings flapping as if they were in the air. There were several other creatures as well.

This is the doomed Flagship Hotel.  I read in an online news article that the hotel is to be demolished to make way for an amusement park.  Ironically, there used to be an amusement park there, which was damaged by hurricanes and demolished to make way for the hotel.

 We toured the beautiful and majestic Bishop's Palace.  Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the house.  It is huge and truly magnificent.  You can read more about it at The Galveston Historical Foundation

Above is the Moody mansion.  We did not tour it because we wanted to explore the wharf.  However, we ended up going to Pelican Island, and what a marvelous discovery!  We toured the Cavalla, a submarine, and the Stewart, a Destroyer Escort. Below is a scene from inside the sub.  

I highly recommend this self-guided tour.  Going inside that submarine really made me realize how tight it is in there. We counted 55 beds, but the brochure said as many as 80 men were there at one time.  In the interest of space, some fortunate sailors got to bunk directly over a nice, toasty torpedo.  We spoke with a man who had been on a sub, and he said the guys would just pat the torpedo, say, "good night honey," and drift off to sleep.

To go onto the pier below, you either pay to fish or buy something from the little store.  From here, we got to watch the sun set over the water. We peeked into so many worlds while on this trip.  We glimpsed the underwater worlds of the sea creatures at Moody Aquarium; the Victorian culture of the Gresham's in the Palace; the tight, chancy world of  a sailor surrounded by ocean; and the fun of watching fishermen on a pier jutting out into the Gulf as we faced the ocean, pretending the nearby sand bar was nowhere in sight.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flagstaff Arizona, on Vacation

A few days ago, we got a room for 3 nights in Flagstaff. I had pictured Arizona as being all desert, and with wide stretches of emptiness. WRONG. It does have desert areas, but Flagstaff is in a national forest. Arizona is a land of contrasts.
On that first night in Arizona, we went to Lowell observatory, where Pluto was discovered. They had a star viewing that night and I was able to view Venus and Saturn. This was my first time to see a huge telescope that required its own housing. It was surprising when the tires started turning as the dome rotated. Seeing Saturn caused me to say, “Wow!” I was actually seeing Saturn through a telescope, and not just in a magazine or on a website. We saw Venus through a smaller telescope, and it looked a lot like a round light bulb.
It was difficult to get back to the hotel that night. Flagstaff streets seemed confusing to us. We soon learned that the best thing to do is use I-40 as much as possible. We were eager to get back to the room and get some rest. The next day was going to be full of discovery.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Plight of the Del Monte Ketchup Bottle

So I was in my friendly neighborhood Walmart and I wanted some ketchup. I chose the Hunts over the Heinz. But as I was putting it in my cart, I remembered Del Monte. Where in the world was Del Monte? Surely they hadn’t discontinued it. A long backward glance revealed bottles of Del Monte, inconveniently and almost inconspicuously placed on the bottom shelf. Oh look, it’s less expensive.
Yes, I’ll admit that I personified the Del Monte bottle and felt sorry for it. The Hunts went back to the shelf and the Del Monte landed in the cart. One must be ever vigilant to avoid being manipulated. Oh wait, was I somehow manipulated by a sense of justice? OK, I’m done with this.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Things to do in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana is the oldest continuous settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. It's an interesting place for artists, romantics, history lovers, and anyone with an interest in times gone by. The founder of Natchitoches, Louis Juchereau de Saint Denis, has descendants who now must number in the thousands, because he had several children, who had several more, and on and on. I am one of those descendants, and if you have Louisiana ancestry, there is a chance that you too, are a descendant, which would make us distantly related.

The historic district of Natchitoches is a fun place to be, and there are lots of things to do. Pictures are posted below the following list of things to do:

1. Rent a paddle boat and paddle around Cave River Lake.

2. See an old house made of bouselage, consisting of deer hair, mud, and Spanish moss.

3. Take a trolley tour.

4. Ride a horse-drawn buggy.

5. See the gnarly oak tree that grows down the hill from Front Street, near the river(actually Cane River Lake, a horse shoe lake).

6. See the hugely wide oak tree on Second Street, one block from Front Street.

7. Eat Natchitoches Meat Pies.

8. Walk the brick streets and see the wrought iron--there is a lot of it! It reminds me of New Orleans.

9. If you're an artist or photographer, you can take pictures and sketch things like the wrought iron, the Cane River Lake and fountain, the lamp posts with flags and flowers hanging from the poles, the brick streets, the old churches, and more.

10. Stay in a bed and breakfast inn. There are several of them.

11. As you stroll Front Street and beyond, shop in the galleries, gift shops, clothing stores, and general store. And, shop in whatever-I'm-leaving-out here.

12. Eat in one or two of the historic district restaurants.

13. Go by the historic cemetery. It's shady there, and nice on warm days. I don't mean to seem strange, but I noticed some of the prettiest insects at this cemetery.