|Life on the Road with Paul & Kathleen: "Not bad for two dumb kids from Ohio" - Proving once again that it's never too late to have a happy childhood|
|Our Lazy Daze at Kirk Creek Camp on CA Hwy 1 40 mi N of Hearst's Castle 11/24/03: Shortly after full-timing began.||Foretravel SHIELDS UP! in El Centro, CA 11/19/06|
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Click Here to See Kathleen Swim With the Sharks
$2800 - 2 BR - 1150sf - 429 Euclid - Oak - Onsite Pkg Soon
Door To Enclosed/Secured Porch
Enter secured 2 BR Apt from porch Stairs go to landing
Landing to top floor
Kitchen 8 x 13
Kitchen 8 x 13
Enter 18 x 27 Dining/Living Room From Stair
Years ago a tenant made an area the size of the bright part of the carpet in the photo into a great fenced play area for their child to explore
Bath 11 x 9.5
3 x 3 Shower at Left
Tub Not Used - Save Water
Bedroom 1 - 11 x 18
BR 1 Closet 6.5 x 6.5
Bedroom 1 - 11 x 18 - 3 Windows
Bedroom 2 - 10 x 14 - 1 Large Window
Bedroom 2 Closet 4 x 6
Bedroom 2 - With Rug
Kathleen and Paul are owners and live on site. So you'll get quick response to your needs and access to your washer/dryer in the basement.
7/31/14 to Aug 2 - Houston, TX
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Our grandson, Zane, wanted to fly all by himself, so that's how it came to pass that PaPa and ClipClop drove their Honda to Houston to pick up Zane on Saturday, July 26th. He had flown "by himself" from Minneapolis to Houston!
The drive down from Nacogdoches to Houston is about 142 miles, mostly on freeways, and it took us awhile to find the exit for George Bush International Airport Terminal at which the Delta plane was to land. One wrong pass, and on the 2nd try, we made it! We had special "passes" that allowed us to enter the restricted area in order to pick up a "minor!" And almost right on the nickel, his plane landed!
The boy was starving, so we stopped at a food concession and Zane managed to "down" 2 pizzas!
Leaving the building, we stopped to see this "MoonWalker" -
We all piled in the Honda for our drive down to Pearland, to the Holiday Inn Express that would be our "home" for a week.
What a surprise for us! Driving around Houston was a feat not to be desired by the faint of heart. A maze of on ramps, off ramps, turn arounds and a conglomeration of cars, trucks and other moving vehicles! (In other words, a driving nightmare - though Paul was able to keep his calm and we made it down to Pearland without incident.)
During the rest of our time there, we made sorties into the city of Houston, but the distances, traffic, and unfamiliar highway directions made it difficult to schedule more than one event a day. There's a lot to see and do in the city, but one must be used to how they drive here. After a few days we pretty much got the scheme of things, but our trusty Google navigator app was always needed.
We lived in Houston 47 years ago - loved it - but oh! how it has changed!
We did drive down to Galveston with plans on taking a boat ride in Galveston Bay, (Harbor Tours) then found out it was closed for that day, so we drove along The Seawall and stopped at the “beach.”
Years ago we drove our VW bus right on the beach and spent a wonderful day playing in the Gulf of Mexico and making sand structures. Today the beach is full of dead seaweed and still shows signs of the infamous oil spill of several years ago.
Recent hurricanes have done the rest to make this area void of nice beach or inviting waves. That does not stop the locals who seemed not to mind the clutter and oil residue.
We had read about the “Ocean Star” Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, so headed for that. We are not advocates of drilling in the Gulf, and especially of not drilling in the Alaskan waters, and thought Zane might get some information on drilling rigs and the like.
Of course, the Ocean Star is in the business of making drilling look good and necessary, but much of what we saw today was how large everything is on a rig.
There were lots of places for Zane to crawl up and investigate, and even to make the acquaintance of several models of divers.
All in all, it was a learning experience and enough there to make it a fun experience for Zane.
Another day we drove up to Houston (the terror of it all!) to see the Gerald D Hines Water Wall Park.
This water wall features a 64-foot architectural fountain that re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute!
We were all quite impressed with this interesting site.
After admiring the Water Wall, the three of us walked over to the Galleria where Zane found a nice pair of sun glasses!
We read that this Galleria is one of the largest in the country. We believe it is!
Paul was told that parking in the parking garage was “free” so he parked there. Turns out it was $12 for about an hour’s parking! This place is right in the “city” and no on-street parking was to be found!
That evening we introduced Zane to a restaurant he had never been to: Cracker Barrel. As patrons wait for their food, they can play a game that is a small wooden triangle with "holes" arranged on the top and plastic pieces can be inserted in the "holes."
Object of the game is to jump over other plastic pieces, one at a time until only one piece is left standing. Kathleen has been practicing on this for weeks and has only won once, but has left as many as 4 still standing, On Zane's first try - guess what? Yep! Only one left standing!
On another day, to avoid the “city” we drove to the town of Sugar Land to visit the Houston Natural Science Museum at Sugar Land. It is housed in the Main Unit of the restored Central State Prison Farm. The original prison facility was named the “Central State Prison Farm, No. 2“ and nicknamed "Two Camp" by the residents and staff. The prison housed mostly black convicts who were poorly treated. Two Camp was used as a setting for the movie "Powder."
Before Two Camp was constructed, Huddie Ledbetter (better known as Lead Belly) was incarcerated in the wooden structures at the Imperial Prison Farm, until his pardon in 1925. The train from Houston to San Antonio would arrive in Sugar Land at about midnight with its light shining brightly. Lead Belly's words to "Midnight Special" reflected on his experience in Sugar Land.
"If you're ever down in Houston
Boy, you better walk right
And you better not squabble
And you better not fight
Bason and Brock will arrest you
Payton and Boone will take you down
You can bet your bottom dollar
That you're Sugar Land bound
Let the Midnight Special
Shine the light on me
Let the Midnight Special
Shine the ever-lovin' light on me."
At the museum, a 2000 gallon salt-water aquarium houses a wide variety of fish and aquatic life including tangs, trigger fish, butterfly fish, live coral, sea anemones, star fish, sea urchins, cleaner crabs, banded coral shrimp, harlequin shrimp, and hermit crabs.
Throughout the museum were were many creatures from eons ago. This was one of many that Zane found interesting:
One of the most eye-catching exhibits was a large, ball-like object, infused with light and advanced imaging techniques to create the illusion of a planet, Sun, moon or any other celestial body rotating in space. It was simply amazing! (I did not get a decent picture of it, as the lights made it impossible to catch a good view of the sphere.
All through the museum one could see huge geodes, crystallized slices of petrified wood and incredible fossils.
This amethyst piece was just one of many magnificent displays.
In one area, volunteers presented arranged 5 or 6 pieces of rock and invited visitors to match each rock to the article that was manufactured from that rock. Zane got every one right!
We spent most of the afternoon enjoying the many displays and even viewed a movie about Space and space travel (shown on the rounded ceiling).
Zane thought he had seen a similar movie recently, but the rest of the museum had lots for him to see and explore.
On Wednesday we drove to the NASA Space Museum - and not a bad ride it was, as our destination is actually not IN Houston, but to the south east! We told our trusty little navigation app not to go on highways, so our trip to the Space Center was not bad!
The Space Center has a NASA Tram Tour, a 90-minute behind-the-scenes-tour, that took us to real working areas of the Johnson Space Center. We had read about the long lines, and at least an hour’s wait to board the tram. Not for us! We had little wait time and enjoyed the trip!
The Tram took us to spots on the Johnson Space Center that we all enjoyed. It took us to Rocket Park, the Historic Apollo Mission Control Center and astronaut training. These buildings visited on the Tram Tour are real working areas of the Johnson Space Center.
The Tram took us (too quickly) past a memorial grove dedicated to the victims of the Challenger disaster. I checked on Google (thanks to Zane) and learned that the idea for the Astronaut Memorial Grove was spearheaded in 1996 by George Abbey, JSC director at the time, and then it became a reality when seven live oak trees were planted in memory of the STS-51L crew members who perished during the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. I would have liked to visit the grove, but it didn't seem a possibility today.
Happily, the day was not too hot nor too humid, but our bottles of water were nice to have.
Once our Tram ride was over, we took a journey in the Blast-Off theater! We watched the sight of blasting into space that began with the film “On Human Destiny.” We enjoyed the thrill of launching into space like a real astronaut.
7 seconds of terror - Freefall to Mars! Guests (young and older) climb stairs to a platform about 27 feet above the floor. After putting on a safety harness, guests descend to a padded landing zone, slowed by a self-regulating braking system. We watched as more than one adult and/or young person stood at the “jump off” point, only to decide not to jump, Kathleen counted more GIRLS made the jump than men or boys! Zane tried hard to make the jump, but decided to pass it up!
However, the Walking on Mars venue was interesting, and one that Zane enjoyed. Unfortunately, our cheap little camera was not able to get a decent shot of him “walking on Mars!” where guests walk like an astronaut on the Red Planet by the use of a harness and counterweight system.
Participants are said to feel a 62% weight drop in 30 seconds! Zane was not aware of this, nor did he feel any weight drop!
One exhibit that caught Zane’s eyes was the robot that made yogurt deserts. For $6 the individual checks out the flavor of yogurt they want, then indicate the first layer of candy chips. sprinkles, etc. they want on their yogurt. Then the robot puts more yogurt into the cup and puts a second topping on the yogurt to make it a delicious treat.
We all enjoyed watching the robot get the empty paper cup, push the button that disperses the yogurt, selects the topping and so on. It was fun to watch, and Zane enjoyed watching the robot and eating his desert! Taking photos through glass leaves much to be desired!
It was a good day for each of us at the Space Museum. We highly recommend it to anyone visiting Houston!
The day of our NASA trip was the 15th birthday of Zane's brother, and our grandson, Sebastian. We called him that night and hope he enjoyed our singing!
Our final day for sightseeing in Houston saw us drive into Houston to visit the Art Car Museum - or "Garage Mahal" that's been around since 1998. It's a private institution dedicated to contemporary art. It's an exhibition forum for local, national and international artists with an emphasis on art cars.
All art cars are subversive and have in common the transformation of the vehicle from a factory-made commodity into a personal statement or expression.
Often considered the "Art Car Capital" Houston has the largest number of art cars of any city in the country.
The Museum's distinctive scrap metal and chrome exterior was created by a car artist.
It was a fun place to visit.
Sooner than seemed "fair" our week with Zane came to an end. We spent our last night at the motel getting things packed for the trip up to the airport on Saturday. Because we had some paper work to do the morning of his flight, we decided to leave the very nice and accommodating Holiday Inn Express of Pearland and drive up to the Bush Intercontinental airport to the Marriott Hotel that's right at the airport. Again, we took the navigation's help to go on surface roads all the way. It might have taken longer, but it also gave us another chance to see the neighborhoods of Houston (sans heavy traffic!).
With Navigation's help we had no trouble in finding the airport and hotel! We found all the employees at the Marriott most helpful and welcoming. Nice as it was, it could not compare with the "home-like" atmosphere of the Holiday Inn we had just left.
We did take a personal tour of the hotel. The pool looked inviting, but perhaps the warm water of these southern pools was not something Zane enjoyed.
During our "inspection" we found only two places in the hotel that served meals! The one closed at 3:00 pm! The other one, CK's at the top of the hotel was a nice surprise. From our windows we could see many planes arrive and depart!
The meal was very tasty - each of us gave it high marks!
We had enjoyed free WiFi at the Holiday Inn. At the Marriott, guests were charged $12 a day. Zane was a good sport in not using their system. He is a very smart young man, and contented himself with several things he has on his computer that kept him occupied.
On Saturday morning we took the Tram from the hotel to Terminal A where we were able to get the paper work done for Zane's flight. Unfortunately, Terminal A is, in our opinion, wanting in food places. We settled on Starbucks where Zane had a turkey sandwich and a mocha, while we two adults had muffins and coffee. It turned out that Zane's sandwich had some mold on it and the server at Starbucks gave him whatever he wanted to replace the moldy sandwich. (K was surprised that the servers did not remove the other 3 or 4 sandwiches with the same date as was on Zane's sandwich.....) Zane selected a fresh scone. It wasn't what we had hoped to provide for him for his journey, but were not surprised at Zane's acceptance of the situation. This is one boy who does not complain, but always seems happy with whatever comes his way. We are surely going to miss having him around.
We had plenty of time to wait for the plane to leave. Final pictures of the three of us:
Evetually it was time for Zane to board his plane. Just before the call to board, we were all told that there was some "slight" malfunction of the plane, and it would be taken care of in 5 or 10 minutes. Suffice it to say that the plane was 48 minutes late in departing! Following are a few photos of a mechanic fixing something on the wing......
...a matter of some concern to this grandmother!
And soon the plane was pushed out to where it could navigate on its own.
Goodbye, Zane! We thank your parents for giving us the opportunity of spending this time with you! Happy and safe travels!
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|10/19 - IT IS SO much easier to blame other people, conditioning, or conditions for our own stagnant situation. But we are responsible--"response-able"--to control our lives and to powerfully influence our circumstances by working on be, on what we are. - from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey|
|Paul & Kathleen Smith | 173 Rainbow Dr #7329 | Livingston, TX 77399-1073 | (510) 386-8973|