Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009
Last night we had a great time catching up with Kristen & Dan at their place in Myrtle Beach. It was great seeing them again and being so close to home. We said our good byes to them today and headed for Raleigh around noon. It was really nice seeing the Wake County sign and then the Raleigh sign and really nice when we pulled into Sherry's driveway! A special treat was seeing Scott (he flew in from Washington DC today)! It's going to take some settling in before we realize we truly are back! What a blast we had and truly will go down as one of the best adventures we have ever done! As we looked back today we came up with some conclusions:
Best city.....New OrleansBest state....New MexicoBest restaurant....Arnaud's in New Orleans French QuarterWorse potential disaster.....letting our GPS guide us to the heart of the drug district in Charleston, SC. We got out of there fast after seeing drug sales on each corner and guys drinking whiskey walking down the street...Fun times......meeting people from all over the worldGreat bonding moments.....enjoying the trip with Jeff

Thanks for all the blog comments and emails we got and look forward to catching up with our friends here in Raleigh soon...
And we are hatching some plans to continue this trip in a month or so by heading North this time (depending on Jeff's job situation)...stay tuned!

And saving the best for last a word of thanks to my sister Sherry for opening up her home to us. That lady has a big heart...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Feb 3, 2009
Hi --- sorry but the hotel we stayed at in Savannah GA had major problems with their internet connection so this is the first chance I had to catch up.
It was 67 degrees when we left Pensacola, FL and later that day when we arrived in Savannah, GA we were greeted with a high of 40 degrees! BRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are not used to cold, frigid, windy weather!
We are staying at the Planters Inn located in the heart of the Historic District. A nice feature is their wine & cheese happy hour…..and of course we had to attend! We met a couple from Toronto and another couple from Long Island, NY. Meeting people who are on their own adventures and sharing storied is definitely one of the highlights of the trip… especially from all over the world! Afterwards, we went to The Olde Pink House Tavern (an 18th century mansion) for drinks and appetizers……great atmosphere with a piano player and a huge roaring fire…loved it!

February 04, 2009
Today we took the trolley and toured the historic district, all twenty-four squares, River Street and City Market. We sure got our taste of winter….it was so COLD!!!!!! We decided to take off on our own walking tour so we could see things up close and enjoy the landmarks. One of my favorites was St John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral, the largest in the South. Beautiful stained glass windows, large carved-wood stations of the cross, and a solid white oak 2,081 pipe organ. A very beautiful place. Later we stopped at a café to warm up with hot tea and soup!
Wed night we ate at the famous “Paula Dean’s restaurant….for those of you that have waited in lines for hours you’d be so envious we walked right in! The fried chicken is to die for and as most of you know she loves butter but….believe it or not it was too rich for me!! I had a chicken pot and it was just too much!! Jeff really enjoyed the Southern style buffet with collards, green beans, turkey and fried chicken. Later we went back to the Olde Pink House to meet the NY couple for drinks!

February 5, 2009
Headed for Myrtle Beach…uneventful ride through Charleston other than ending up in the drug district where they had surveillance cameras throughout the area…..not the best area to be in!! Fortunately the GPS got us into a safe area quickly! Arrived at Kristen’s & Dan’s around 5pm…..loved seeing them again….almost home!! Tomorrow Raleigh….yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sherry, get ready…

THIS WAS GREAT FOOD! Paula Dean did not disappoint us. That large dish in front of Gayle was her chicken pot pie (for one person!)/

After our meal at Paula Dean's restaurant in Savannah. Easy to get into when the weather is cold.

Jeff warming up in a coffee shop.

We were seated in the lounge right next to a warm fire. Doesnt get much better.

Enjoying the evening in Savannah.

Shops along River St in Savannah. Very few people ventured out in the cold...

Ship docked along the river front in Savannah.

US Flag flying from top the City Hall building in Savannah.

Very friendly Southern lady from Savannah.

Loved the stain glass windows in the cathdral, St John the Baptist in Savannah.

Very eerie picture in St John the Baptist cathedral.

Beautiful Catholic Cathedral - St John the Baptist in Savannah.

Some of the cobblestone walkways remaining along River St in Savannah. As you can see from Gayle's outfit, it was freezing!

On of the 24 squares that define the landscape of historic Savannah.

Story of Juliette Low who founded the Girl Scouts in the US.

Home of the Girl Scouts originated in Savannah.

Home Gen Sherman stayed at when he marched through the South during the Civil War. Savannah was spared as the Mayor surrendered.

Story about William Jasper, died 1779.

Statue to brave Irish-American who gave up his life in 1779.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hey Jeff,

Looks like you have much more fun than working for the County. What a life style! I am still waiting for the BIG $$$$ contract and a strategy to turn T.W. down. Lately I didn't golf too much. Too busy plus the Chinese New Year, you know the special days usually kills energy. I really need few cans of RED BULL. Give me a ring when you feel bore, or better yet, come back to LA. Sun shine will make you feel good. Anyway, enjoy your wonderful moments, and get ready for the new waves. Take care.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gonna catch up with ya!

Hi Gayle and Jeff:

Just joined the BLOG and look forward to reading all about your adventures (I briefly scanned the trip but will carefully read all of it) - the pics are great! Thanks so much for sharing - look forward to seeing you soon. Safe and fun traveling. Welcome back to our "sunny South" - ha!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday, Feb 2, 2009

After many late nights in Houston & N Orleans we decided to make it an early night!

Nice reprieve ......stayed in and watched the superbowl and did the wash....what an exciting game!

Left this morning for Albany, GA.....very uneventful....ran into some rain...took the backroads from Cottondale, FL through Dothan, AL to Albany, GA. We decided on a cuisine we haven't had so it was Chinese night at the Hong Kong Cafe recommended by the hotel. Off to Savannah, GA tomorrow. Back on EST getting closer to home :).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Friday, January 30th & Saturday, January 31st New Orleans!!!! The trip from Houston to New Orleans was really uneventful …..other then arriving once again during rush hour!! We stayed at The Maison Dupuy located in the French Quarter. We walked through the area and down the infamous Bourbon Street bustling with bars and nightclubs….nonstop party atmosphere….a lot of Spanish/French influence with ironwork balconies in just about every building.

My first impression was too many bands….I had imagined that it would be more jazz but the college kids have taken over the French Quarter most nights after 9pm and it does get crazy!
We ate at the Red Fish Grill (seafood restaurant voted best seafood in the last 4 yrs)!


We started out having beignets at the world famous Café Du Monde…..and then walked around going through the shops in the French Market.

Later, we took the New Orleans City Tour. Best thing to do being in the city for the 1st time….though Jeff has been here twice! We saw the destruction of the Lower Ninth Ward, so sad to see so much of it in ruins and nothing being done about it….amazing how high the water came up to in some places - 22 feet! ….and on the houses a number on the outside showing how many people had died in the home. Brad Pitt had hired several architectures to start rebuilding homes but the homes that they built are not really feasible for the elderly (a big segment of the homeless). T hey are all different in design but really too big and expensive (green technology) and are impossible for elderly with stairs leading up 2 flights of stairs into the homes! It’s great that he is doing it but the outcome is not the best. We walked through St. Louis Cemetery (most cemeteries are above ground), went through City Park, the biggest park in the US, rode along Lake Pontchartrain with a glimpse at the world’s largest Causeway Bridge as well as the 17th Street Canal ( the new wall that has been built to hold back the water) and saw how Hurricane Ike has put so much pressure on the wall that it is pushed out at the bottom), and then followed St. Charles Avenue’s oldest running streetcar, passing dozens of old historic mansions, some taking up most of a city block! We went pass several homes that movies had been made from…… one in particular was The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons.

After the tour, we went back to the hotel to freshen up and out again going through the shops in the French Quarter. We loved seeing all of the activity in the streets such as people singing on the corners and watching the mimes. We stopped at the House Of Blues to listen to a Band. The band was only playing until 9pm and then the rock bands start playing. We did an exit out of there fast.
We had dinner at Arnaud’s, whose cuisine emphasizes classic French-Creole foods. We ate in the Jazz Bistro and were treated to a 3 piece jazz combo. I must say that our meals, the music and the atmosphere were fantastic….and it’s definitely in my top 5!
Sunday, Feb 1
Sunday we went out to a café for breakfast and then headed for the National World War II museum. It was very interesting learning more about what my Dad and many members of my family went through during those tough times.
Later we said our goodbye’s to New Orleans and headed through Mississippi, Alabama and arrived tonight in Penascola, Fla where we watched the SuperBowl! Being a Cleveland Browns fan all my life I just couldn’t cheer the Steelers on (though Jeff felt he should since he has a lot of family living in Pittsburgh). Maybe next year the Browns!!
Tomorrow we are headed North up to Albany, GA……we lose an hour tomorrow but it’ll be nice to be back with EST!

Typical swamp view on trip once we entered Louisiana.
Mother Theresa statue in St Louis Cemetery.

Everyone is starting to decorate for Mardi Gras coming up mid February. Sorry we are missing the craziness to come!

Inside St Louis Cathedral in French Quarter New Orleans.

Good music by an eclectic group of musicians.
Enjoying a sunny day in the French Market area of New Orleans.

An amazing amount of devastation still exists in New Orleans.

Musician Village humor. Musicians being resettled by Harry Connick Jr.

Some new homes in the Ninth Ward New Orleans that was so devastated.
One gorgeous home after another in the Garden District New Orleans.

One of the beautiful homes in the Garden District New Orleans.

Gayle hanging out with one of the locals in the French Quarter in new Orleans.

Lookin' gooood..

Almost on the home stretch of our journey home and we still love each other.

A great night in New Orleans at Arnaud's restaurant in the Jazz Bistro.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Houston!! Loved being in a big city again! We stayed at the Boardwalk Inn in Kemah, TX right off the boardwalk overlooking Galveston Bay. This by far was the best hotel yet! It has fabulous restaurants, shops and an amusement park all located on the boardwalk. Last night we ate at the Aquarium Restaurant which has a gigantic 50,000 gallon cylindrical aquarium which transports to an underwater world as you dine. It was really neat watching sharks and fish swim while your eating!

Today we visited the NASA Johnson Space Center. We saw the story of America's manned space flight program through historic artifacts, hands on exhibits, live presentations and behind the scenes tours. We actually viewed the actual mission control room! We were able to touch a moon rock and see Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules, Skylab and Lunar Module Trainers and a full size space shuttle replica. It was fascinating and we enjoyed the day!

Later that night we had dinner at The Charter House overlooking Galveston Bay....great food and yes I had my lobster!!
The only thing that would have been nicer was for it to be warmer....only got up to the 50's today and back down to the 30's tonight'

As you all know, Hurricane Ike had a direct hit here in Sept, 2008 and there is still alot of devastation, The Boardwalk is slowly becoming alive again.

Friday we are headed for New Orleans...its about a five and a half hour drive! Looking forward to it since I have never been!

We toured Houston Mission Control that was in service until the 1990's. The Apollo 11 rescue was managed from here. It is now a National Historic Site.
The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. It was the fifth human spaceflight of Project Apollo and the third human voyage to the Moon. It was also the second all-veteran crew in manned spaceflight history. Launched on July 16, 1969, it carried Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, while Collins orbited above.

Man driving on the Moon.

One of many great displays at the NASA Johnson Space Center outside Houston.
Hard to believe we have come all this way from Pasadena CA to arrive at Pasadena TX! Right outside Kemah TX.

Jeff with the Kemah police car.

With some of our closest friends at the Aquarium Restaurant on the Boardwalk in Kemah TX.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We began our day by making the journey to the heart of downtown San Antonio to the Alamo. 189 Texas defenders held out against Mexican General Santa Anna's 4000 troops for 13 days in their claim for Texas independence.The highlight was the reenlistment of Staff Sgt "Davey Crockett" which included a small ceremony for the event. Made us proud to be an American and remember how thankful we are to have the American soldiers willing to protect us all.Overall San Antonio is a pretty town with the Riverwalk crossing below many streets. Wish we had more time so I could shop!Around 2pm we headed for Houston, TX. It was to be a 3 hr drive until we came into Texas style rush hour traffic through DT Houston and settled into a long drive cross town to the hotel in Kemah TX which is on the far Southeatern side of Houston became a 4 and a half hr drive and by the time we arrived we couldn't see straight! More tomorrow but Our hotel looks out on Galveston Bay. Nice!

One of those perfect moments when a sign says it all! On the way to Houston...

This was a quite an honor to be at the Alamo at the same time that Staff Sgt DAVID CROCKETT (real name) was reenlisting into the Army. He is the tall gentleman second from right.

Gayle in San Antonio at the Alamo monument to the men who fought and died there

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27th

Hello again!

Woke up in Fort Stockton, TX to a very cold 24 degree foggy/icy start! Luckily for us, most of the bad weather either trailed us or was up North. The 4 hr ride to San Antonio was uneventful, displaying a vaste landscape that was constantly changing, from open prairie to forested plains. It was great arriving in a big city...I'm just not a country girl! We stayed at the River Walk Plaza which is located in the heart of the Riverwalk district of Downtown. A few steps below the city streets, we took the River Walk which was a pleasant (though very cold last night) stroll. The tree-lined footpaths, romatically lighted at night follow landscaped riverbanks bordered by nightspots, restaurants, galleries and craft shops. Our choice last night was Waxy O'Connor's Irish Pub! A no brainer for this Irish woman!
Today, we are headed to see the Alamo and then begin a 3 hr ride to Houston!! Once again glad we're taking the southern route....the original schedule would have put us in Oklahoma today in the middle of icy storms!
Most of Day 5 to San Antonio looked like this. Pretty trees on the side of the road with a backdrop of fog.

Ozona TX - Gayle finally had her Dairy Queen treat!
Nice digs near Riverwalk San Antonio. A real deal at the Riverwalk Plaza!

Riverwalk in San Antonio. The weather was "brisk"!

At Waxy O'Connor's Irish Pub along the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello everyone! It is Monday night, Jan 26th….not too much to report today. We left Las Cruces, NM and drove through El Paso, TX. It is located on the Mexican border and a popular winter tourist destination because of its international feel and warm and dry climate. It was very windy but reached 79 degrees today! Throughout our drive we saw miles and miles of Egyptian cotton, pecan trees in perfectly straight rows, and chiles being grown.
We stopped for lunch in the middle of nowhere, in a town of 3,000 called Ft Safford! We poked our heads into a cinder block restaurant a 100 yards or so off the highway called Angie’s. We decided that it might be the last place to eat for a long time. We met Angie who makes her own salsa fresh every day and we saw a note from 1991 that “without a risk of contradiction we said it was one of the best salsa we have ever had!” It was just OK… Moving on, much of the terrain was prairie, with cattle here and there and occasional rest stops with picnic tables but no restrooms….figure that out (Texans have great bladders)? The good news is that the speed limit was 80, so the miles really rolled by! What a great expanse of land in West Texas.
We stopped tonight in Fort Stockton, TX and yes we’re still in the middle of nowhere! We ate at K-Bob’s Steakhouse which hit the spot. Looking forward to the big city of San Antonio tomorrow!
Onward to Las Cruces, NM….
Sunday consisted mostly of driving….but what a spectacular drive! We decided to go off the beaten path so we could see more of AZ……and what a great choice! Our drive through the Old West Highway (US 70) took us through the Tonto National Forest. It is one of the largest national forests with acres of spectacular pine, brush and cactus country! Once again I had to hold Jeff back from hiking though he was just as thrilled being in the thick of things! Arrived in Las Cruces around 7pm, barely walked to Cracker Barrel for a quick dinner and made it an early night! Today we will tour Las Cruces and head towards Fort Stockton, TX.
Still dodging the weather bullet with the weather still holding in the high 60’s, low 70’s.
Bye for now!
Jeff was not around when the stagecoaches were running but it was still a magnificent route