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

On the Old West Highway toward Las Cruces NM

About 6:30 PM looking back West to Arizona. Sky was all pink's and blue's

Sunday, January 25, 2009

End of a great day in Scottsdale. Area off Scottsdale Road reminded us of Old Town Pasadena

Jeff at Dobbins Lookout with Phoenix and Scottsdale way in the background. Beautiful and very peaceful

Lunch at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant. Not bad weather for January!

Tough choices!
Late Saturday morning we headed for a short trip from Blythe CA to Phoenix, Az. I drove and with the speed limit at 75 mph it was a quick drive! Phoenix is a medley of Mexican-American, Native American and American West cultures ….. and definitely home of the cowboy! We toured the city, passed the Arizona State Capital and stopped for lunch on the patio of My Big Fat Greek Restaurant. Afterwards we drove to South Mountain Park which contains 16,500 acres of peaks, canyons and strange rock formation as well as native Arizona flora. We drove to the crest of South Mountain to Dobbins Lookout which gave a spectacular view of the city. It was hard to hold Jeff back….I needed John or Dan there to hike the trails with him!
Onward to Scottsdale, AZ where we spent the night. Scottsdale is a very yuppie spot with a lot of shopping and dining….we walked around Old Town but unfortunately for me and luckily for Jeff, the shops were closed. We ate dinner on the outside patio (love the patio) at Malee’s, a Thai Bistro. Gayle has become quite the cosmopolitan person!
We finished the evening with a glass (?) of wine sitting at a gazebo in the hotel courtyard.
Tomorrow we head for Las Cruces, New Mexico, located very close to the Mexican and Texas border.
Based on the wintry weather forecast more North, we are glad we listened to Al, Jeff’s brother, long distance trucker, who said to take the southern I-10 route.
Enjoy the pictures!
Love Gayle and Jeff

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So glad you are on your way home. I will get all of my thrills traveling along with the 2 of you... can I call you 2 Lewis & Clark!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sun peaking through after a rainy day in Palm Springs CA

Sundown in Palm Springs

Gayle with mountain in background at Palm Springs. Sun was going down.

Subject: Gayle & Jeff Day 1 Adventure from Pasadena to Raleigh - Blythe CA

Just wanted you all to know Jeff and I have started our trip home. We are planning on taking the southern route due to winter weather. After a fun filled week of saying good byes to our favorite places we left Pasadena today and believe it or not.... in the pouring rain which made it much easier to leave! We are going to take our time and see as much as we can over a 2 week period.
Today we stopped in Palm Springs and had a late we were approaching Palm Springs we went through the San Gergonio Pass which is one of the windiest areas in the world, making it an ideal setting for wind turbines. These turbines generate nearly 600 million kilowatt hours every year...enough to meet the needs of nearly 250,000 people.
We find it amazing how each town in California takes on a totally different look as Palm Springs does. We often said we would do a w/e there but never did and after visiting it we are sorry we didn't....lots of cute shops, restaurants....! After lunch we moved on to our final destination for the night, Blythe, Calif (close to the Arizonia border)....glad we had a short 3 1/2 hr drive today.....with packing the car (which by the way is quite full). At dusk we ran into a lot of heavy rain in the middle of the desert it was quite rewarding to reach our hotel! Jeff found Blackstone merlot to be his best friend after driving in the rain.
We will write you as much as we can to keep you all updated...hope you enjoy hearing from us!
Tomorrow we leave for Phoenix/Scottsdale, Az!!
Gayle & Jeff

Monday, January 19, 2009

Head EAST Old Man (and woman)...

As you hardy adventurers begin your long journey across this great land of our, I want to wish you a safe and exciting trip. Looking forward to you sharing your tales and photos of this exciting undertaking.