Wednesday, March 23, 2016

TX - First Day - Houston Surprised Us Both - Part 2

     A little later on Day 1 - Off we went downtown to find the tallest building in Houston and that we did!  It is the tallest skyscraper in Texas as well AND the tallest 5-sided building in the world!  The JP Morgan Chase Tower...75 stories high with an observation deck at 60 where we found a fabulous panoramic view of the city.   It reminded me of the Baltimore World Trade Center that Carl and I went in with my son Matthew when we were in town in January!  I thought THAT was high at the 27th floor of the 30 story building!  Both very cool!!!
     We reached the deck in an express elevator in a matter of seconds...whoa!  We found out after our visit that this tower is connected to the Houston Downtown Tunnel System.  It forms a network of subterranean, climate controlled pedestrian walkways that link a full 25 blocks.  Pretty cool...especially in the
The cool abstract design
at the front entrance
 to the tower

Houston from 60
stories up

Another view

I couldn't even get it
on my camera!!!

A painting that
hangs in the lobby
of its


On our way to the new campground as we were leaving Houston, we discovered the Eclectic Menagerie right alongside the highway.  We were able to park on the frontage road, get out of the motor home and play a little among the hugely over-sized metal structures!  Absolutely no rhyme or reason to was so much fun.  I had to wonder what the passersby might have been thinking while we climbed up and laid  down on these metal giants!

I got 'em!

C'mon Carl...I want that truck!  What
a guy!

Whew...these dudes are heavy, but I can do it!!!

I have nothing to say!!!
It's just Carl hangin' out!
That other truck was
just too heavy, I guess!
But he caught me a new one!

Thanks, Carl, I love it!
And it's RED...yeah!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TX - First Day - Houston Surprised Us Both - Part 1

When I think Houston, I think big 'ole metropolitan city...that's nice.  WELL...with only a half day to spend in the city, Carl and I had to be very selective in our choices of what to spend our time on.  (Originally planned to be at a campground only minutes from Houston, but it got flooded out and we had to change our place a couple hours we stayed at a Walmart near the original campground so we could at least get a little bit of the city)
Add caption
The first stop early morning was the Williams Tower, the 2nd tallest building in the state.  It was truly impressive looking up from the ground.  We were disappointed though in that the website said you could go up to an observation deck and see a panoramic view of Houston and we found out that this was no longer an!  BUT...we were told that the other tower (the tallest)  was not too far away and THAT ONE DID have an observation deck...oh, yeah!
     But before we ventured out to see it, we spent quite a bit of time at the Water Wall across the street  right smack in the middle of downtown's actually considered uptown Houston near the Westin Galleria!  A sight so impressive, it rendered us speechless at first!  It's a huge multi story 'fountain' unlike any other I've seen!  It is 64 feet tall representing the 64 stories of William's Tower directly across from it.  Water cascades in sheets both on the outside and inside of the semi-circle wall.
The front (concave) of the Water Wall

Carl on the inside
of the wall

ME in

The outside (convex) of the Water Wall
The front or concave part of the wall has a Romanesque arch a little shorter than the wall and it gives you the sense of entering into this awesome space and being "hugged" by the falls and "kissed" by its tickley mist!   The concave wall also has the added intrigue of the waters bouncing over several rows of stadium-seating-like granite.  One of the most amazing facts is that 11,000 gallons of water pour over the wall EACH MINUTE!!!  The park in which the wall sits offers the presence of 118 Texas live oak trees and a  scrumptious and soft and inviting.  I would have no problem at all lying back with a good book on any given day...all day...gazing occasionally at this magnificent site! was just lovely!
BRIGHT SPOT - Upon arrival to Texas, I made the decision that I had let my lovely grey locks grow long enough...time for a new more spunky do!  While Carl was patiently occupying himself between the motor home and Walmart (where we spent the night), I ventured over to the little strip mall that included a "Sport Clips" where Victoria took VERY good care of me and did an excellent job with my hair.  It is a rare instance when the stylist does exactly what you asked her to do! (I usually only have that luxury when I'm in MD and my daughter Nicole does my hair!)  In chatting with Victoria, I learned that she is a woman with an entrepreneurial dream.  She initially had a career in the field of international corporate law.  Having grown up in a military family and experiencing the type of travel that accompanies it, she found it to be a fascinating line of work.  Then, as life would have it, she was thrown a curve ball.  Her mom took ill and eventually passed in 2012.  During that period, Victoria chose to stick around and go back to school. She received her cosmetology license and began a career in that field.  As a young girl, she had cut hair for friends and family as the skill came pretty naturally to her and she loved doing it, so it made perfect sense. She also majored in business law which will be of great value to her in the future as she plans to start her own business.
Just from the brief time I spent with Victoria, I got a strong feeling that whatever she sets her mind to accomplishing, will indeed manifest!  Thanks Victoria for a great haircut and sharing your story with me.  It was a pleasure meeting you!
***So folks, if you are in Houston and want a great cut, Victoria is your girl!!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

LA - Farewell Abita Springs

  Fun times at the stop...TEXAS!
Ah - ha!  Caught ya...LOL

"Are there REALLY any fish in this lake?"

Staring contest...he won!!!!!

I found this baby bat in the bottom of one of the
washing machines!  So glad I saw the little fella!!!
I let him sleep and used a different one!

These interesting 'mud formations' were
all through the walking trails...hollow in the center...
have no idea what they are???  Anybody know?

Can't forget the flora!

Along the trail

Nice reflection

One of the ponds

What a nice guy...sharing his snack with

More pretties

Campfire with new friends from Canada

Setting a bad example for

OK...I caved!!!
Catching a flaming marshmallow!
(not really..tee hee)
Sitting for meditation
with me early mornng

We are getting really good!
This is puzzle number 4!!!
This 500 piece was crazier to do than
the 1,000 piece!
Way to pick 'em, Carl!  LOL

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

LA - Natchez Steamboat Jazz Cruise

Wow...after 4 days of continuous rain and area flooding, the sun presented herself in all her glory just in time for our Sunday Brunch Jazz Cruise aboard the Natchez!  Gratitude was exploding out of us!
   Before we boarded, there was calliope music resounding through the marina from an organ on the boat.  This particular boat is the 9th in the line of steamboats that have traversed the Mississippi River bearing the name of Natchez.

Once we boarded, we could choose whichever table we liked...window seat of course. Shortly thereafter the hostess arrived to guide us to the brunch buffet!  Carved ham, eggs, biscuits, seafood gumbo with rice, cheesy grits, fresh fruit cups, seafood pasta salad, warm bread pudding, red velvet cake, French beignets with powdered sugar and...I ordered a mimosa just because...LOL  It was wonderful.  The jazz band, The Steamboat Stompers played during the 2 hours we were cruising up and down the river.

Domino Sugar Plant

We watched the claws scoop raw sugar

The cutest tugboat ever!!!

Front from top deck
The speaker system was great...we could hear them even while we were out on the deck taking pictures and just enjoying the sunshine!
     Guests were invited to tour the boiler room on the lower deck.  Carl had the opportunity to speak with the onboard mechanic who was taking a well-deserved

On the middle deck at the rear of the boat was the huge red paddle wheel!  I loved watching it turn and turn...guess that was the kid in


Hong Kong
Something I didn't expect to see were ships from various places around the world like Japan and Monrovia.  I hadn't thought about what an important waterway the Mississippi River has truly been in our history.  Another sight that was welcomed by residents of New Orleans was that of 2 cruise lines being able to offer the town as a port of call again.  It took 7 years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina for cruise ships to be able to dock here at the French Quarter.  They've been back now for 3 years and the area merchants are quite grateful for their return.
After the cruise we walked a bit around town.

     It was such a lovely day.

Typical indoor/outdoor cafe in the
French Quarter

Jackson Square (named after the
bronze statue of Andrew Jackson which
I accidentally cropped out of this picture)
in front of
St. Louis Cathedral