Friday, May 15, 2015

Hitting the Coast

The final leg of our time in Texas began with a trip from East Texas to Galveston, where we were scheduled for our first-ever seven day cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.  Along the way, we saw the giant Sam Houston (you can read about that here) and, although the bluebonnets were done for the year, the wildflowers along the highway were spectacular.
Houston skyline

Houston is one city in America that I don't care if I ever return to!  I've driven through it twice and both times the traffic was horrendous!  Although this picture doesn't reflect it, the stop and go traffic jams started in Conroe, a suburb about 40 miles north of the city and never really let up until we passed over the bridge to Galveston.  This was on a Saturday and the same held true on the following Sunday for the return trip.  (As an aside, I have a new friend, Dolores, who lived in the area for many years, so I may have to give the city another chance one of these days with a "native"!)

We arrived in Galveston with enough time to do a little sightseeing, but the most important activity on the agenda was...

Toes in the sand!!!

Galveston, on a Saturday afternoon, was understandably very busy and to park on Seawall Blvd. you pay by cell phone.  I had some trouble with it and one of the parking monitors who was patrolling on a Segway kindly saw that we had out of state plates and told us not to worry about paying and to have a nice time. Way to be friendly and welcoming, city of Galveston!  

We walked the Galveston seawall for a bit and saw the 1901 Storm Memorial, in memory of the victims of the 1900 hurricane which flattened Galveston.

This memorial withstood a devastating storm in 2008 that flattened Galveston once again.

Before tucking into our hotel for the night, we drove over to the Houston Space Center.  The center is no longer used for space missions and has been turned into a learning center. They were closed by then, but they did have an unexpected display on the grounds.

Entrance to the Houston Space Center, which is on a busy street among retail strip malls.

Space Shuttle Independence atop a Boeing 747

Dedication in front of the building

And just down the same street is the Johnson Space Center.  We tried to get in, but were stopped by a gate guard who told us the only way to enter was via a paid tour and it was too late in the day for that.  This facility is still in use today for some kind of NASA goings-on.

Secret stuff, apparently, going on in here!

Even though we didn't get to actually tour either of these facilities, it was goose bump time for me to stand before the places where so much important history occurred during my childhood. It was amazing to discover the mundane settings where critical functions of the space program took place.  Okay, so maybe I could be convinced to give Houston another chance, just to be able to tour here!

Next we checked out the parking lot where we were going to leave the car just to be sure we knew where to go in the morning.

Shades of the Caribbean??

A quick dinner and it was off to the hotel.  Getting excited now, next stop will be a ship larger than anything I've ever seen.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas

Until next time...

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