Hermann Park train

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One day last week Derek said to me, “I’m bored, let’s go somewhere for lunch.” I suggested the Pinewood Cafe in Hermann Park, right next to McGovern Lake. After a nice lunch, neither of us were ready to go home.

Derek started walking towards the train station/gift shop. At first I thought we were just going to browse inside the shop, but then he bought two tickets for the train ride.

The train ride is something I wanted to do since we first came to Hermann Park the first week we moved here. I am so glad that we did it. We were the only adults without kids on the train but that situation is nothing new for the two of us.

Tickets are $3.50 each for a 20ish minute ride. The ride is quite scenic, going through and around the whole park. It was nice to catch the breeze on a hot day. There is also running commentary for points of interest.

Now that I’ve been on it once, I’ll definitely go on it again. I know my parents will love it.

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Kemah Boardwalk

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Kemah Boardwalk is about 35 minutes away from us on the bay of Galveston. Kemah Boardwalk was something I knew I wanted to do over the summer. When The Bull country radio station announced a Wednesday night country concert series, I knew that would be the perfect time to go.

We arrived around dinner time and ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp, a place I have always wanted to go to. There are plenty of other restaurants there too.

In hindsight we probably should have done some of the rides or maybe gone to the onsite small aquarium attached to one of the restaurants. I am not a big ride person, but there were some small ones that would have been doable like the carousel or the train ride.  Once we ate and circled around the boardwalk twice, there wasn’t much for us to do. There were a few shops that we looked in that wasted a few minutes. It was nice to look out over the water though and see the boats coming in and out of the marina. We were lucky to see a double rainbow form after a small drizzle.

We would have left sooner if not for the concert being at a specific time. It did not help that the concert started a half hour late! The artist was Chris Lane. We were not familiar with him, but it was nice to stay and listen to a few songs before heading back home.

I think Kemah Boardwalk is a great place to go if you’re a family or if you really like rides. Most of them I wouldn’t have gone on, like the roller coasters and the rides that swing back and forth. No thank you! But it is also nice for a couple to go out to a nice dinner, walk around and get some fresh air. (Mind the mosquitoes since you’re near the water! We both got a few bites.)

Some photos:

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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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