Thursday, March 21, 2019

Austin and Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park in southwestern Texas was our last stop. The park is larger than the state of Rhode Island. We are now on on way back to Bristol. It will take us about 6 days driving.

Sunset behind Chisos Mountains from high desert.

The desert in bloom

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom

Chisos Mountains from above Rio Grande Village Campground

Mule Ears Peaks

Santa Elena Canyon

New Orleans, Galveston

New Orleans 
We camped on the south/west side of the Mississippi and would drive to Algiers Point and take the 5-minute ferry across to New Orleans. We did a lot of walking and trolley riding to see the sites. Mardi Gras was getting into swing so there were lots of interesting people to watch.
New Orleans from the Algiers Point Ferry

Below is the tenth steam-powered riverboat named Natchez that has plied the waters of the Mississippi. It was built in 1975 and can do "an honest 16 m/h" and has never lost a race. Personally, I didn't even know there were steamboat races. This Natchez is for the enjoyment of the tourists offering jazz and dinner cruises. 

No Rules Fashion-Perfect for Mardi Gras

Voodoo Shop

When we were young (1973) we went to Mardi Gras-the parades, the floats, krewes, beads, crazy people etc. and it's not something I need to do again. We looked for different aspects of New Orleans to appreciate, the architecture, iron works, food, music, cemeteries, neighborhoods etc. Below is a tree that has "caught" more than it's fair share of beads thrown from Mardi Gras floats.

The following four photos are examples of the excellent iron works found in New Orleans. The last one is probably on Bourbon Street and is all decked out in the Mardi Gras colors.

Mardi Gras street corner
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden district was established in 1833 and is still used today. The tombs can fit many family members and the remains when decomposed can be removed to make more room.

Preservation Hall is a musical venue in the  French Quarter founded in 1961 to protect and preserve traditional New Orleans jazz. As you can see it's not a fancy place, and I walked right past it the first time, but the music was great!

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park
This was a surprisingly beautiful walk through the bayou.

On to Galveston

Casita on the Bolivar to Galveston Ferry

Oceanstar Museum: explaining the energy industry here in the Gulf of Mexico. It is actually a retired jack-up drilling rig. We learned quite a bit!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Davis Bayou

Mist in  the bayou
rising up to greet the dawn.
A new day begins.
 a haiku from a friend
An egret on Davis Bayou

This was our second time visiting the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. For those of you who have seen our blog from previous years, you may recognize the photo of the Blue Angels. I find it so amazing that this display accurately reflects how closely the Blue Angels fly to each up to 700 mph.  It all seems too dangerous to me..

The combination of excellent tour guides who are retired aviators and thoughtful displays make this museum worth visiting numerous times. Even if the photos seem overly packed with planes and jets, when you’re there, it’s all good! I would go back again.
Blue Angels F-18 displayed in formation at a true scale.

PBY Catalina with clear fuselage
The PBY Catalina Flying Boat was used during WWII in anti-submarine warfare,
as a convoy escort and for search and rescue.

A walk in the wetland forest of Davis Bayou.

This is a piece of public art in Ocean Springs, MS
outside their cultural center where we attended a
folk music concert. We try to appreciate
local theater, music and food when traveling.

This is a metal side panel on a bridge. It is the logo of the
Shearwater Pottery. What you see through the cutouts is the marina behind it.




















 Laissez les bons temps rouler!

It's Mardi Gras season in Louisiana!

This is standard fare in Louisiana! We've tried gumbo, crawdads, gulf shrimp, crab cakes, soft shell crab...but so far no grits, catfish or... Bud Light! 😪

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Florida Panhandle

We were originally scheduled to visit St. George Island State Park, one of our favorites, but in October,  Hurricane Michael changed that. We rescheduled to Rocky Bayou State Park near Destin, but on the bayou, and then to Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Quartz with rain flows and settles 
 On the beach, George reads

George reading and enjoying the deserted beach.
Rocky Bayou State Park and the Fort Pickens Area of the National Seashore are west of where the eye of Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle. The area escaped the heavy winds and tidal surge that devastated the area closer to Apalachicola and Panama Beach.  Traveling farther inland on I-10 we saw the destruction of the extensive pine forest of that region. Crews were still cleaning up the debris and salvaging what timber they could.

Santa Rosa Island and Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens is situated on the western end of Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island that extends 40 miles from near Fort Walton Beach to Pensacola Beach, typically less than a 1/2 mile wide. It is characterized by extensive fine quartz sand beaches and dunes stabilized by sea oats and other scrub vegetation.

Fort Pickens was built to protect Pensacola Bay with its new navy yard and depot on the mainland. It was in use between 1834 to 1947. The fort was active during the Civil War, remaining in Union hands even though Florida was a Confederate state, during the American Indian Wars, it housed Geronimo as a prisoner and was updated and re-armed for World Wars I and II.

Joe Patti Seafood Market is the largest seafood market we have seen. There were 50-60 people buying seafood, many bringing coolers.

This is about 1/3 rd of the space at Joe Patti's.

Beach driftwood

 Her hips akimbo
Wry smile on a tilted face,
Diane's sassy pose.

Coquina limestone

Coquina block wall

An enlargement of the previous photo

Deer Moss (lichen), Cladina spp.

Dune botany
Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria
Scrub Mint (False Rosemary), Conradina canescens