Sculptures and houses

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We went to Galveston for the day last week. In the morning we did a walking tour of tree sculptures in the East End Historic District

In 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, and caused a lot of damage. Many trees were uprooted due to the tidal surge, but may more died later on due to being in salty water.

Instead of removing these salt-damaged trees completely, three artists, Earl Jones, Dale Lewis and Jim Phillips turned many of these into sculptures. The carvings are in people’s front yards, but anyone is welcome to stop on by and have a look.

We used a map that was in a brochure for the sculptures. We both severely underestimated how hot it would be at 9 a.m., and how long the walk would take. It took about two and a half hours. I would recommend it to anyone, but perhaps do it in a car, a bike, or walk it during a cooler time. We did come across the Mosquito Cafe about halfway through our walk, which was a nice little break.

A bonus from the sculpture walking tour is that you pass many beautiful, historic homes.

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Day Trip to San Antonio

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Last week we went to San Antonio for the day. We met up with my friend from high school that lives in Austin, which was a nice bonus. I can honestly say we had the perfect day. We did everything we wanted to do, and some more. The weather was amazing too.

Even the drive out there was great. It took three hours and it was on a two lane highway at 75 mph. I haven’t seen a two lane highway since Pennsylvania! We passed fields and fields of wildflowers, farms, and even some patches of cactus! It was peaceful.

Our first stop was the Alamo. I wanted to get there right when it opened. I had heard  that supposedly a lot of people are disappointed when they see the Alamo because it is so small. So knowing this information, the Alamo seemed like the perfect size to us! You cannot take pictures inside the main church building, which I had already known about, but still disappointed me. The expansive courtyards, with the mini museums in the barracks and the living history set ups, more than made up for it though. We spent over an hour here taking everything in. I really consider it a privilege that there are places of history that are preserved and we are able to still see them today.

Our second stop was the River Walk. It really is a beautiful area of the city. We walked around the main loop of the River Walk, but it goes out a few miles in both directions. We had thought about taking a river cruise, but we didn’t, and it honestly wasn’t needed. We saw everything just fine by foot. We were slightly disappointed because we had expected shops along the River Walk, but it was only restaurants and hotels. If we had known that, I probably would have eaten lunch on the River Walk.

We ate lunch at Mi Terra in El Mercado, (The Market Square) which was a street lined with Mexican shops and restaurants. Mi Terra was highly recommended online in different discussion forums. After lunch we took some time to browse around the craft vendors. So much cool stuff!

After lunch we headed back to the Alamo a second time. This was actually a good call because it had been overrun with school kids earlier in the morning, so now it was more quiet.

The last two things we did, Mission Espada and Mission San Jose, wasn’t even a definite thing on our to do list. I figured if we had the time in the afternoon, we’d go, but no big deal if we didn’t. These two missions ended up being my favorite part of the day. The architecture was amazing!

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Bluebonnets

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The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet, named so because the petals look like the shape of a women’s bonnet. Photographing bluebonnets was high on my Texas bucket list.

You can find bluebonnets just about anywhere in the state, but they are more prevalent the more west you go. I was figuring that I would have to take a road trip quite a distance out of Houston in order to find some. But then as bluebonnet season approached, I saw some pictures on Facebook of bluebonnets in Houston. Every time I came across a photo, I would comment, “Where was this picture taken?” But still being fairly new to the area, the vague answers I got did not help. I kept searching though. Eventually I found a picture of bluebonnets that said it was taken in Hermann Park. Ah hah! I know where Hermann Park was. That narrowed it down a bit. Then I saw in more pictures that the field of bluebonnets in question was by the Bill Coats Bridge. Google maps is my friend. The map showed me right where it was, on the southern end of the park.

That Wednesday I set out to find and photograph them. I was nervous though. Just because I had seen a picture of the bluebonnets weeks ago, would they still be there? I knew it was about a six week growing season, but had it just started, or was it ending? Well I had no worries because I walked from the parking lot smack into a huge field of them. They were beautiful, and I was not disappointed!

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Houston Zoo

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Derek and I went to the zoo this week. We had a good day! It is a fairly large zoo, and even with spring break crowds, it didn’t feel all that crowded.

Some photo highlights:

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We really loved the blue feathers on this kookaburra!

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An ocelot.

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Stick bugs! The bug area of the zoo was actually quite fascinating.

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This tiny owl was so cute!

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This chimp has the right idea. Nap often!

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This baby tapir was born in February. Their baby stripes are so cute!

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All of the big cats are my favorite!

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A mother’s love. Awww.

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These cuddling cloud leopards were adorable.

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I was most excited to see Shasta the cougar. He is the mascot for the University of Houston. Some trivia from Wikipedia: “Shasta VI was born in September 2011 in the U.S. state of Washington, and was adopted by the university as a cub. Shasta’s mother was killed in 2011, when a hunter shot her. After a search from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Shasta VI was rescued, and transported to the Houston Zoo on December 11, 2011. In March 2012, the University of Houston Alumni Association announced that the cub would be adopted. Shasta VI is the first live mascot since 1989.”

 

McGovern Centennial Gardens

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I discovered McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park by accident.

I usually park in the same lot each time I go to Hermann Park, but one particular day that lot was full, so I had to drive around to the other side of the park to find another lot. I was walking along the trail, and stumbled into the entrance for these gardens.

I did not have my camera that day, because I was not intending on seeing anything new. I was fairly mad by the time I had looked around the whole garden, because there was so much to photograph! So two weeks later, I went again with my camera in tow.

I’m still in awe that there are flowers pretty much year round here! I will never tire of photographing flowers and plants!

Here are some photos:

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Flooding

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We had our first flood event this week. It was only a matter of time. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the floods Houston had last spring, but it was still an experience that I hope doesn’t happen again, at least for a while.

A bad thunderstorm passed through overnight. I woke up early in the morning to lightning and thunder, but didn’t think much of it. Then at 5:30 in the morning, our phones both went off. I thought it was another Amber Alert, so I turned it off without looking. We got up at 6 a.m. Turns out that the alert we got was a flash flood warning!

I should say first that our area was fine, just a lot of deep puddles on the sidewalks. I need to get some rain boots!

Derek looked through his emails, and an email was sent by the metro saying that parts of the red and green line tracks were under water. This means Derek couldn’t take the metro to school like usual, so I had to drive him in.

Driving of course posed another issue, because one of the main roads that we use to get to school is Route 288, and the underpasses of 288 were underwater.

Google maps picked up on the “traffic” on 288, i.e. cars at a standstill because they can’t go through the water, so we were routed a different way, but we really didn’t know if we would encounter water on that way either.

We thankfully didn’t. However, we did drive over some bayous that were to the top of their banks and it was scary looking! On my way back I was at a red light, and I needed to turn right. I looked to my left, and I saw a back up of cars because an underpass was filled with water! Good thing I didn’t need to go that way.

I am thankful all of this happened on my day off. Apparently a few different routes to the Chronicle building were flooded out too. The office had a delayed opening. I had enough trouble figuring out how to get to work with the marathon! I am hoping I don’t have to deal with this in the future, but I’m sure it is bound to happen again.

 

Houston Marathon

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I had a bit of a weird moment happen to me this morning. The Houston Marathon was today. I was watching the coverage on the news before I left work this morning. I heard them talking about the route, and they echoed multiple times to CHECK YOUR ROUTE if you need to head out for anything. Silly me, I didn’t think to check if I would be effected.
So I’m driving to work, and I approach the light just before my office. I see a bunch of runners going past, along with some police cars and barriers. Uh oh! So I get back on the highway, go one exit up, with the intention of coming back around. Turns out that road is blocked too!
I tried not to panic, and eventually I realized that I could just take the road in that I take to leave the parking lot when I go home, which was one turn before approaching the blocked off road. I wish I could say that I realized this route right away, but I never claimed to be good with directions. I made it to work 10 minutes late. Not bad.
All morning long I watched the runners pass by the windows, and just thought that it was interesting that I live in a city that hosts a popular marathon. I knew about the NYC marathon and Boston marathon, but I never realized Houston had one. This would have never been a problem if I hadn’t had to work Sundays, but no matter what the day, I wouldn’t have had to deal with something like this back in Wellsboro. Sure, we had a bunch of races, but lots of them were on designated trails, in the canyon and forests!!!
Just something new to have to think about!