Our Travels

Our retirement began February 3rd, 2006. This is an account of our travels. We hope you enjoy them. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge the picture. Please leave a comment for us...we love to read them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Installment #7

On Saturday, we took off in the car for Houston sightseeing –

As always, we hope you can click on the pictures to see a bigger picture.

the Chase Tower (the tallest composite all concrete building in the world);
a beer can house (a house clad in cut and flattened beer cans, wind chimes made of beer can tops)(picture);

an art car museum (pictures). The shell of the car comprised millions of small rectangular pieces of thin steel tack welded to each other (see second close up picture).

the Holocaust Museum (http://www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org/)

and the Galleria shopping Center (picture)
(http://www.texasoutside.com/houston/galleria.htm) (spent hours walking around, watching the ice skaters, looking at the Goddard Gallery (http://www.michaelgodard.com/biography.html) – one of his paintings shown here.

No visit to a city would be complete without a driving mistake – Sharon found herself driving down the streetcar lane – luckily no streetcar on the route at the time, but locals certainly honked a lot and finally a car drove up beside and stopped traffic so we could move over into a driving lane (that car just happened to be a police car).

Sights we saw along our travels
A buffalo ranch
Computer in rest stop, made to look like someone’s rendition of the "first computer" (see picture)

Passed through Sealy, Texas, where Sealy mattresses are made.
U-Haul self storage buildings in downtown Houston
Cotton Exchange building in downtown Houston
Talked to a fellow motorhomer from Seattle – the next morning we watched him leaving the parking lot in the motorhome. Evidently, he forgot to hitch up his towed car. He had to reverse back into the parking lot to get it. This has not happened to us……….. yet!!!!

We spent some time with Sharon Kay (a childhood friend of Sharon’s). The doll picture is of dolls she made – they were amazing. Sharon Kay volunteers at the Houston Zoo and has spent years developing a non profit organization to help Native Americans (http://www.northamericanindianministries.org/)
Sharon Kay works mainly with the orangutans – while at the zoo. She gave one of them a drink – and the orangutan spit the water at Sharon – guess she didn’t like not having Sharon Kay’s undivided attention. Some of the sights we saw at the zoo (http://www.houstonzoo.org/) – underwater diver cleaning window inside an aquarium, snakes, rats, giraffes, lizards, bears, birds, tigers (picture), white alligator, lions (picture) and elephants (some of them painting pictures). Zoo keepers put paint on a brush, put it in the elephant’s trunk (picture), put a canvas up close to the elephant, and the elephant swipes the paint onto the canvas. Then the zoo keepers dip the brush in another color and do the process over again. These canvases are sold to the public. Sharon Kay auctioned some paintings from the orangutans for $400.00 at a fund raiser.

When we were ready to head east out of Houston, Tony noticed the tow dolly had a stress fracture in one of the welds. A trip to Wal-Mart for a phone book, several phone calls, and several hours later, we were ready to hit the road again. The welder we found was only five miles from where we were – a lucky break in a city this size. Unfortunately the heat from the welder caused Tony to have to rewire the tow dolly before we could proceed East.

Our next touring point was the San Jacinto Monument
and the Battleship Texas (commissioned in 1914, was the most powerful weapon in the world, the only surviving U.S. naval vessel to have seen service in both World Wars) http://www.visithoustontexas.com/visitors/attractions/listing.details.php?category=12412&id=28319
We watched many barges and tug boats while we were on the "Texas". The self-guided tour allowed us to go down to the engine room and about 2/3 of the way up the different levels. This visit was recommended by Sharon’s brother Jim. A GOOD recommendation. On the way we saw Solvay Chemicals – the company Jim works for in Wyoming.

Our last stop in Texas was Beaumont at the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum (http://www.famoustexans.com/babedidrikson.htm) - her record for athletic versatility stands at the top for both men and women). Also in Beaumont, we visited the Texas energy museum (here we saw robots describing the finding of oil)(picture); a Victorian Queen Anne home (picture); the Edison museum (http://www.edisonmuseum.org/) ; and the Texas fire museum, with the world’s largest fire hydrant (picture) (provided by Walt Disney after the making of the "101 Dalmations" movie) www.firemuseumoftexas.org

After spending ten days driving across Texas, we arrived in Jennings, Louisiana, via Lake Charles. On the way to Jennings, we stopped at Lake Charles (picture) at the lake where they had an alligator and turtle park. Took a picture of one of the many high bridges we went over (picture). On the road trip we saw what we think is rice fields and a lot of swamp land. This is the worst road surface we have been on. We saw miles and miles where the semi trucks have lost tires – the road is covered with pieces of tread. Tony slowed down considerably and only got honked at one time by a trucker unhappy with our speed of 45 on the interstate.

Thanks again for all the phone calls, emails, and blog messages.

~~Sharon & Tony

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Installment #6, 2007

Las Cruces, New Mexico – we toured a Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, http://spectre.nmsu.edu:16080/frhm/museum/museum.lasso, 3000 years of New Mexico agricultural history, including a leather working shop for making saddles. Tony & I each tried our luck with a small piece of leather which we stamped with our initials. Sat through a presentation on "Dowsing" by a civil engineer – half-way believable at first, but then got ridiculous (see picture of Tony using dowsing rods after presentation). We watched an exhibition by a blacksmith – Sharon got a nail made by the blacksmith (picture). Also saw 1897 Sears, Roebuck catalog, bale of cotton, dairy cow information, Mogollon pithouse, and a horse decorated in beads (took 100 volunteers two years to complete (see picture)), long horn cattle, and much more.

Just inside the Texas border along Interstate 10, we saw gas at $1.97, unfortunately when it was time to fill up, the gas was back up to $2.25. We were pushed by the wind all across New Mexico and part of Texas, so got better gas mileage on the new motorhome than we ever did on the old one.

After going a whole 70 miles in one day, we stayed at a rest stop. Signs on picnic tables "do not sleep on benches or tables". Next morning we saw a bum going through the garbage – now we know the reason for the sign (picture). Also saw our first live roadrunner (picture). If that’s not a good enough picture, take a look at the next picture of the "world’s largest roadrunner" found in Fort Stockton (picture) (11 feet tall, 22 feet wide).

On our drive towards Fort Stockton, we were parallel with the Rio Grande and all the little Mexican villages – again we saw helicopters in the sky and border patrol vehicles everywhere. Encountered a stop on Interstate 10 by border patrol with one dog sniffing for drugs.
Arrived at Fort Stockton http://www.tourtexas.com/fortstockton Wal-mart (another night with over 20 motorhomes making use of the parking lot). Sights seen - oil derrick, oldest house in area (supposed to be haunted), picnic benches made of stone, wagon used in John Wayne (picture) movies (Comancheros and Undefeated), bench with wagon wheels as sides, chimneys made of brick, cemetery with metal pieces with cross cutouts for some grave markers (picture), cross cutouts used as other grave markers. Just 20 miles east of Fort Stockton we finally saw some working oil wells, and flattop mountains (buttes) taking advantage of wind with hundreds of wind chargers.

Next morning we drove through Ozona, Texas (Crocket county), described by the town as the "Biggest Little Town in the World". Stopped for a look at Davy Crocket memorial statue in the town square. Will probably hear more about him at the Alamo in San Antonio down the road.
Our next overnight stay was in Kerrville, Texas. Here we found another replica of Stonehenge – this one called Stonehenge II, with some emphasis on Easter Island http://www.alfredshepperd.com/Stonehenge/main.html Stone must be plentiful here – we saw stone suppliers everywhere and it seemed every home was made with the stone. Appropriately, on Valentine’s Day, we toured the visitor center of James Avery, jewelry craftsman http://secure.jamesavery.com/about/index.jsp We watched craftsman making the world famous jewelry.

On our travels we saw a mini pickup advertising Red Bull Energy Drink (see picture); quite a few of the wind generators being transported down Interstate 10 (see picture). We calculated it takes six trucks to haul one wind generator. Parked behind us in Wal-Mart was the strangest motorhome I had ever seen….Tony recognized it as a Renault. On closer inspection, we discovered it was licensed in Great Britain (see picture).

On day 48 of our trip we arrived at yet another Wal-Mart – this one is perfect – access to Wi-Fi, a laundromat across the parking lot, cheap gas at the Wal-Mart station, great TV reception. We discovered how to find Rest stops with dump stations and water refills, so are pretty well set for our trip into Houston next. We spent Day 49 touring San Antonio. Of course, our first stop was the Alamo http://thealamo.org/main.html. Notice the picture of a huge old Oak tree on the Alamo grounds. We loved the river walk in downtown San Antonio (see picture). We stopped at a special effects show (picture) at Aztec on the river http://www.aztecontheriver.com/. We walked to the La Villita Historic Arts Village (San Antonio’s first neighborhood). Tony wants Jonathan to see some chairs we saw there (see picture) – selling price over $1000. We toured the Gunther House, located on a bend of the San Antonio River (founder of Pioneer Flour Mills http://www.pioneermills.com/AboutUs/History.aspx ). We took a picture of the flour mill with the turrets on top. Also saw the Tower of the Americas http://www.toweroftheamericas.com/.
We have now arrived in Houston, Texas, Friday, February 16. This is the most traffic we have seen since leaving the Los Angeles, California, area. More pictures and blog information in another week or so after we get out of this mess. Thanks again for all the phone calls, emails, and blog messages.

~~Sharon and Tony

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Installment #5, 2007

We went to the car show in the big tent in Quartzsite before leaving – Too many cars to mention all of them, but did see a Subaru panel truck (1975), only one in the US ever; pick-ups with tear drop pull campers; a 1940 Lincoln Cabriolet; a bubble car (pictures).

We travelled to Yuma to be with friends, Penny & Arnie. Spent one night in a closed down Target store, and then on to Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Reservation (http://www.fourdir.com/yuma.htm), a mile from the Mexican border, where all the people were “boondocking” (staying without usual hookups). Most of them had solar panels. One guy sold wi-fi internet service, but only during daylight hours – due to solar energy. Picture inserted here of the great Arizona sunsets. We spent the evening around a fire built in a washing machine tub (picture), watching the helicopters, with huge spotlights, and border patrol, in trucks and on ATVs, trying to find illegal immigrants who had crossed over the border. Early in the day the border patrol had been all over the area dragging tires across the dirt so they could see if any new footprints were around later. The next morning while out walking we could see empty water containers and the reeds in the wash bent over where people had gone through illegally. Helicopters were still flying around that morning. After leaving and getting on Interstate 10 going East, the border patrol had closed one lane of traffic and everyone had to go through a check point. It seems this is the time of year when drugs are harvested, so there is more illegal traffic now.

We arrived in Green Valley to visit Sharon’s uncle, Matt, and cousin, Roy. Also toured the Titan 2 Missile museum. Sharon got to be the commander during the tour and turn the key to launch the missile (picture). http://www.titanmissilemuseum.org/

We drove around Green Valley the next day (a huge retirement community). Notice the picture of teapots on top of fence at one home and supersport PT Cruiser. The bike lanes were also for golf carts, according to the signs.

Our next stop was Tombstone. We stayed off interstates and got up to a mile high in elevation. Went into Bird Cage Theatre (http://www.americanwest.com/pages/tombston.htm) . A few streets in the town were made authentic “old west” style with dirt roads and boardwalks. U.S. mail wagons were used for touring the town with Belgian (related to Clydesdale) horses. Tony was thrilled to see a “Union Jack” flag flying below a US flag at an RV park. He stopped to talk to the chappie from Stratford-on-Avon (British).

We tried to tour Bisbee, New Mexico and the copper mines there, but all we could do was take a few pictures of the mine outside of town. The town seems to be fighting over who is going to provide the parking for tourists. However, there was a major roundabout as we were leaving the town, which again made Tony feel at home (picture).

Our next stop was Steins, New Mexico, a ghost town (http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/nm/steins.html) . Unfortunately this web site shows more than what we saw. The town was closed when we got there. All we saw were a couple of donkeys and a few goats.

We travelled only 50 miles today and stopped in an RV park – we needed a dump station and water refill, so we stopped at Las Cruces, New Mexico for the night. Today after parking, we went to Mesilla (http://www.oldmesilla.org/) (click on tours to see the church in the town) (picture of Tony by one of the shops). Next we drove the car to the veterans memorial park (http://www.las-cruces.org/memorialwall/) and Bataan death march memorial (http://www.lascrucescvb.org/html/bataan_death_march_memorial.html) An interesting article on the bataan death march is here (http://ghostofbataan.com/bataan/abiemain.html). Footprints of men on death march from this area were cast in cement around the memorial statue (picture).

We are going to continue heading south and east towards Houston, and hope to go on to Florida in time to see a shuttle launch in Florida.

Interesting things we have seen – Sign - “There’s no beer in heaven, so you have to drink it all down here”. “Beware of cuidado” with a picture of a snake at a rest stop. Tent set up on side of road in the middle of the desert. $2.03 – the lowest for a gallon of gas to date. Thirty-five cars and trucks lined up on one lane of the interstate to go through border patrol. A “shoe tree” (see picture). A camper with a deck on top, pull down ladder inside for access

Thanks again for the phone calls, blog messages, and emails. It is nice to hear from all of you.

~~Sharon & Tony

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