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Travelogue of Our Roamings

Spring and Summer of 2006


Brownsville | Wichita | Rock Hill | Tucson | Tulsa - Gordonville | Houston


San Antonion, Texas

Warning - The San Antonio report is quite long. There are so many things to do here and in the "Hill Country", or along the Gulf Coast.

Well, as it turned out, our next move was back to Texas. Maybe not the best climate choice for a stay that goes until August. But several other reasons made it the best choice for now. We had planned to come back to the Austin or San Antonio area during our roaming, but not quite this quickly. Oh well, we're here now (after a week's stay in Oklahoma again).

Our home this time is in the Villas of Vista Del Norte apartment complex . These are very new gated apartments, and with mostly adult tenants. The amenities are very nice, with a huge fitness center, an indoor basketball court, game room, a whirlpool, sauna, and more. The only down side of the complex is that it is very near an airport runway. The very worst part, for moving us in and out anyway, is that our apartment is on the third floor. It was no fun at all to move into a third floor apartment in 95+ degree weather. We are the first people to ever live in our apartment, and there were a few bugs to get worked out. The first one was that the air conditioner did not work. There were some wires crossed, and every time that the you tried to turn on the A/C, the heater came on instead (and yes, if you turned on the heat the heater still came on ). This made the first day move-in even more fun! But we got the A/C fixed, and the move-in completed. We have a view of a large field and a small lake, with no other buildings across from us. A few days after we moved in Anna saw a number of deer in the field while walking the dog , and we have seen three types of birds that we have never seen before while sitting on our balcony. There was also a roadrunner running around in the yard with a snake in its mouth. The pair of roadrunners are actually a common sight around the grounds.

Our first weekend here we made run down to Edinburgh to see our friends down there, and to make a quick run into Mexico at Nuevo Progreso for a few things. Then it was back to San Antonio to finish getting settled into our new home. We stopped a couple of times on the way back at produce stands to pick up some very fruit and vegetables.

Having settled in, we started off to see San Antonio and to finally get some decent mexican food again (after being away from Texas for months the sight of a taqueria menu almost made Anna and I cry with tears of joy - funny huh?). As usual, one of our first stops in the new city was the zoo. San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium. We had been here once before, years ago, and the zoo lived up our expectations again. Those expectations being that San Antonio has a large and very nice zoo. The exhibits are large and the animals are many and varied.

A day or so after the zoo we headed to Market Square, or the "El Mercado" in Spanish. We browsed the shops but didn't find anything to buy (it mostly pseudo-mexican touristy crap like you can find for half the price in the mexican border towns anyway). It looked like many of the small individual businesses and stores in the Square have closed since we were last here. All the food vendor booths and stalls were also gone. This was a real disappointment to Anna and I, because these venders were where we usually ate when visiting the Square. We've always preferred getting simple tacos or gorditas from these vendors. Then sitting under a tree in the uncrowded outside square while listening to the live musicians while we ate. Much nicer than the two crowded restaurants there. But this time we did eat at Mi Tierra Cafe, after a short wait. Anna were very impressed with the pastry counter in the bakery while we waited. The food at Mi Tierra was all quite good, but nothing really special.

Next, I had to run back to Houston for a quick trip to take care of some things. I got eat at some of our old favorite restuarants and visited with some of our very good friends, the Smiths. Heading back toward San Antonio I made a short side trip to Lockhart for some barbeque to go. It was Sunday, so Kreuz Market was closed, and I couldn't sample their fare. I stopped by Black's Barbeque and picked up some brisket, ribs, and sausage. This was dinner for us on my first night back. The brisket was probably the best that we have every had. But the sausage was too loosely packed and lacked flavors other than smoke for our taste, and the ribs had been cooked with so much salt that they kind of tasted a little bit like ham (still good thought). But the brisket would be worth another trip.

(A side note here on barbequed ribs in Texas. Out of the dozens of BBQ joints that I have eaten at in Texas, I can only think of one place that really cooked up great ribs. And the owner and pit master there was born and raised in Memphis, and trained by his father. A second runner-up for Texas ribs is in Sherman. Texas just isn't the best place for barbequed pork ribs, or pork of any kind for that matter. There was another good place for pulled pork in Port Aransas that was tender and juicy, and again the owners were from the South (Alabama, if I remember right). As far as my judgment of barbeque goes, here's a little background of my qualifications. I was born and lived in Memphis, I've spent over a decade in Texas, lived in the Carolina's several times, and finally now have spent some time living in Kansas too. I think that covers all four of the major barbeque meccas.)

A few days after getting back to San Antonio we packed up the truck, loaded the dog, and set off to Canyon Lake for some camping. We ended up at Canyon Lake Park. This park sits at the end of a large peninsula that extends out into the lake. The facilities here are pretty primitive, with no water or electric at the sites and pit toilets only. But it has great water access, and the upper camping levels always seem to have a cool breeze and a great view of the lake. The other part about this park that we like so much is that if you stay on a weekday you can have most of the park to yourselves. We camped on the upper level to take advantage of the shade and cooling breeze, and we were the only campers in that whole area of the park. And this was what we went camping for, just the two of us (three if you count the dog) and some quite along time with nature. Since we were in the Canyon Lake area I had to spend a little time collecting some fossils. These were mostly Cretaceous era (80 to 100 millions year old) echinoids (sea urchins) and clams. There are also a couple of dinosaur footprint trackways near the lake.

A week or so later we took a day trip up to Boerne (pronounced Burn-ee) to go tour the "Cave Without a Name" caverns. This is one of the only privately owned, and publicly accessible, caves in Texas. We waited for a hour of so to get a smaller tour group, instead of going with a couple of dozen boy scouts that were there when we arrived. Our tour guide was one of the owners, and since our group was small he took his time and was quite informative. The cave tour ends at an underground stream flowing from deeper in the cave and disappearing down a hole beside the trail. Like most caves in Texas this one was very active during Prohibition, and a section of the ceiling is covered in suet from the fire of an alcohol still. This cave is smaller than most in the Hill Country, but is very nice with many beautiful formations. Definitely worth the trip and tour price. The one odd thing about this cave is that there are twice as many steps coming up out of the cave than there are going down. I swear! Those few steps going down could not possible have made us as out of breath as we were coming back up, no way!

About the middle of June, Anna's parents, along with her aunt and uncle came for a visit. This was their first time to San Antonio. So, we decided on a sight-seeing tour of San Antonio (there was still a lot that Anna and I had not seen too). After some thought we agreed to take one of the professionally guide tours, instead of driving and finding parking ourselves. We chose the San Antonio City Tours, as we had a coupon and they would pick us all up at the hotel where our visitors were staying. So we headed out early the next morning, in a light rain. But the rain quit by about 9am and did help to keep the temps down. We took the full day tour. Our morning started with the "Alamo…the Price of Freedom" movie at the IMAX, followed by an hour or so to visit the Alamo itself , and finally the boat ride and tour around the Riverwalk. The afternoon was filled with some sight-seeing from a bus, the old missions of San Jose and Concepción , and ended back at the Market Square. Oh, and a broken down bus on the ride back to the hotel (only a 15 minute delay)! At first I wasn't very sure about paying for the guided tour, but by the end of the day I was glad that we had choosen as we did. I believe that it was worth the money. We didn't have to worry about any driving or directions, no parking problems or expense, and we didn't have to wait in line for our custom extended Riverwalk boat tour. All agreed that it was a very good day, and we were all tired and ready for a good meal. We stopped at the Hungry Farmer Steak House on Blanco Road near the apartments. Dinner was mostly chicken fried steaks, of course, and ground sirloin steaks. Everyone went away stuffed. Our guest left the next day so that they could stop by Dallas to visit other family members.

Because of the heat, we were looking for things to do that were inside. So our next outing was another stop in town. We hit Hwy 281 South for a little ways and then when over to the Whitte Museum. This is San Antonio's only real museum. We tours the exhibits on Texas wildlife, geology, and environment. There was special exhibit on the Mexican influents and festival, a section of permanent displays on ancient peoples of Texas, and one with general Middle Eastern and European antiquities. We also spent some time going through their educational learning center, which is located in a large tree-house structure. Lastly we toured some old pioneer buildings. We also made a quick stop by the Trail Drivers and Texas Rangers Museum, which is next door to the Whitte. All in all, we were not overly impressed with these museums. The World's Treasure museum in a place like Wichita blew them away. But I was impressed with one thing. While in the area we had lunch at the Picante Grill restaurant, which advertised the "best enchiladas in town". I had a Chicken Chipotle Casserole that was absolutely wonderfull (I had been trying to duplicate this dish since then).

Our following trip was Anna's pick. She had seen the Worlds of Wonder sign when we were driving into San Antonio and had seen a couple of other ads for it. We decided to go have a look. We headed back up I35, through all the construction, to arrive at this park in San Marcos. The main attraction here are another cave, an observation tower on the edge of the Llano Uplift, and a small exotic animal park. Again we waited a few extra minutes to take a smaller cave tour instead of going with a large number of children there for a field trip. We only had another couple and their kids with us when we went. However, the two kids both had shoes that not only flashed every time the child took a step, but had noise makers (almost like a little siren) as well. God, Anna and I were about ready to scream 5 minutes into the tour. You could not even hear our little tour guide half the time because of the constant noise of those shoes! But we got through the tour without causing a scene, barely. The cave itself is a small narrow "fault line" cave, and was formed during the uplift and accompanying earthquake. The are really no stalactites or stalagmites, or other water created formations in this cave. Again, this cave had contained a still and a little saloon during Prohibition. One interesting room near the end has a ceiling that is covered in marine fossils. It was very interesting to see them from the other side, above us that is, instead of at your feet. We also toured their observation town, antigravity house (tilted up at an angle and painted to distort your perceptions), and took a little tram through their animal park and petting zoo. It was a fun day out, but we had hoped for more from the cave and animal park.

We got up early one morning a few days later and started out before it got hot. We had a false start and our inital plans fell through. So we changed our plans and ended up at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. This place turned out to be a lot larger than we thought. Even our sometimes hurried walk through the paths, gardens, and enclosed tropical environments took us several hours. The sun was baking us by the time we left, and this accounted for most of our hurrying. As I said the botanical gardens are quite extensive and are very well done. I could very easily spend all day there, with my camera of course, on a cooler day. In one area they have a section to help people with their landscaping ideas. Here they had a number of small "houses" with a little yard, and each yard was landscaped in a different theme. For instance, one was american traditional, there was a herb garden theme, one using on Texas wild native plants, and so forth. Another area of the grounds was an old Texas Hill Country homestead and buildings. There was the duck pond with cattails that all public garden areas seem to have. An inclosed cactus garden that also seems to be a standard. A large area laid out and planted in native plants from the various regions of the state. One area that I thought was special and a wonderful idea was a garden area for the blind. The trail map here was a topology cast in bronze and set at a level where you could feel the rout of the paths and flower beds. The plants here were all very fragrant flowers and herbs, and all were labeled in large bronze plaques with brail as well as raised normal writing. Very prominent here are the garden's enclosed domes, or cones to be more accurate. These contain very densely planted environments of ferns, palms, rainforest with bromeliads, a controlled environment cactus garden, and other exotic plants. They also have an amphitheater here where they host theater groups. There are some Shakespearean plays going on at night here this summer. A while back, I know that they also setup a number animatronic dinosaurs throughout the grounds.

Our next excursion took us two tries. The destination was Natural Bridge Caverns. The first time we visited here there were just to many people. They had to be cramming about 40 people into each tour. Since this cavern is only about 20 minutes from the house we headed back to the city. (We had toured this cave a number of years ago, but it was mostly flooded then, so we got a very shorted tour that time.) You may have noticed a reoccurring theme with the caves and caverns. Well, when it's about 100+ degrees outside in south centeral Texas what could be a better place to get out and spend some time in the outdoors (techincally) and see some marvelous sights of mother nature.

On our second try we did tour the Natural Bridge Caverns. Anna's visit to the cave was delayed a little as I had to shoo a small very colorful garter snake off the path leading down into the cave. We had a relatively small group of 15 - 16 people. Small for the most visited cave in all Texas. During the tour, the complete one this time, it is very easy to see why this is the most popular cave to see. It is by far the largest and most beautiful cavern that we have seen in Texas so far. It has many very large cathedral rooms, and everywhere throughout the cave there are formations. It's just one huge fairytale landscaped room after another (the lowest at about 211 feet down). There are also a number of small underground lakes and ponds along the walking trail. This tour, unlike most others, is one way with a different exit so there is no backtracking. This is also a very actively growing cave. I would highly recommend this cave to anyone visiting San Antonio or the Hill Country. We did not go through the Exotic Wildlife Ranch this time. We've been through there 2 or 3 times already. But if you have never been, by all means go. It is one of the two largest and nicest in the state.

We were back downtown for our next day out. The plan was to walk the Riverwalk, take a few pictures, and then go to the Aztec Theater to watch the special effects show and their movie on the Mayans. This one also took use two trips. We stopped by the Aztec first to check the show times, and found that our movie was not showing that day due testing of the fire prevention system. But we did get ourselves some discount coupons for the delay. We went ahead and spend a couple of hours wondering around the Riverwalk, looking for things we had seem briefly during our boat tour. Anna and I don't really care that much for eating at chain restaurants (with the exception of Outback's), so we didn't stop to eat at any of the places along the Riverwalk. We headed back to the Aztec Hotel at 4pm to watch the special effects show in the theater lobby. I was quite entertaining. If you follow the link to the Aztec Hotel and Theater take the time to look at their pages on the hotels restoration. It is really pretty impressive. Especially the massive chandelier.

In mid July Anna's mom had a knee replacement surgery, and Anna flew up for a few days to take of her. Everything with the surgery and hospital stay went well, and her recovery continues to be good. While Anna was gone the dog and I played at being bachelors for a few days.

Time for another cave trip (there are quite a number of caves in the limestone of the Hill Country). This time it was Cascade Caverns. I was feeling little under the weather but I didn't say much and we went anyway. I was glad that we did. Cascade Caverns is also just right outside of Boerne, and bills itself as the wettest cave in Texas. Part of the cave is always flooded by an underground river, and they have to constantly hire scuba divers to dive into this underground river to clear debris that the river carries into the cave to keep it form becoming dammed up and completely flooded. I also have to say that this is the narrowest and lowest ceilinged public cave that I have ever been in. Through most of the tour I could probably have touched both walls at the same time, and I spend over half the tour ducking if not bent completely over. For a non-adventure cave tour this is unusual. By the way, this posture didn't help my aliments that day. I do agree with the advertised "wettest" cave. There is water everywhere along the trail, and some of it is a couple of feet deep. All this water also makes Cascade Caverns the most humid cave that I have every visited. The grand room at the end of the cave has a water fall that is probably 35 feet high, and falls into a large lake. With the draught in Texas they were having to artificially help the waterfall during our visit, but hopefully it will be all nature in the years to come. We returned back to the surface the way we came down.

The next day we decided to go back to at least two of the missions in San Antonio, and to visit some more of the attractions downtown. We wanted start with the missions first, while it was cooler, and the indoor downtown stuff later. So we headed back to the Mission San Jose first . We didn't have enough time during our guided tour to do more than just walk through this huge place and we want to have a better look. We spend about an hour roaming the mission grounds and about 30 minutes checking out the visitor center. For anyone checking the links above, you will probably be surprised to find that this mission really looks more like a stone fort with a limestone and adobe citadel. That's because that is exactly what this mission is, and why it was built. It was built to protect the Spanish people and the Coahuiltecans (kwa-weel-ta-kans) indians from raids of the roaming Apache and Comanche tribes. Much of the current mission ground was built during the restoration project in the 1930's. But it is still a very impressive place. Some of original native frescos, painted with natural pigments, can still be seen both outside and inside the structures. Oh, did I mention that it is still an active church with services, weddings, funerals, and such.

A quick trip back toward downtown brought us to Mission Concepción . It was a quick trip because all the missions were build close enough together so that a monk could easily walk from one to another in a single day. During our earlier tour there was a wedding going on here, and our sight-seeing was very restricted. This mission has not been so completely restored, and also looks more like what one might expect a centuries old religious mission to look like. Again some of the native indian painted frescos can still be seen inside the buildings.

By now it was getting hot, so we head off to visit the The Institute of Texan Cultures near downtown. This was a very fascinating museum that specializes in the cultural heritage and immigration history of the various peoples that make up modern day Texas. They also have a "Back 40" outdoors area where they conduct exhibitions of pioneering skills in a community of old buildings. On the day that we were there the people giving the talks and demonstrations (the best they could anyway) were all young children. It was a special event that they had volunteered for. The "Back 40" also had a very cute little miniature goat that seem to be everywhere. Back inside, in the air conditioning, we toured the displays and special exhibits. Including a questioning exhibit about whether Bigfoot(s) exist in Texas, with the evidence that has been gathered. Another display gave some history on the Black Seminole Indian Scouts, who I had never heard of before. They have very interesting history (including several Medal of Honor winners), and also a very sad one like most "indians" dealing with the government back then.

Our final stop that day, after a rather expensive turkey sandwich, was a trip up to the observation deck of the Tower of the Americas (very cool 360 degree view in this site). Yes, it's a long way up in a glass fronted elevator (750 ft). And yes, Anna is afraid of heights. We loaded ourselves into the back of the elevator and she shut her eyes as we got started. Once up top there are two levels, along with a gift shop and restaurant (no prices on the menu - so watch out). The inner level of the pinnacle is air conditioned with pay telescopes and access to the shops and food. The outer level, much to my surprise, was not completely glassed in and was open to the air. There was a very nice breeze blowing up there. We walked around looking at the view, took some photos, people watched some, then when back down the elevator, and when home.

I was feel restless one morning, so I grabbed my camera and some water went to go check out Eisenhower Park in San Antonio. This was about 10 - 12 minutes from the apartment. I walked some of the trails, and got to see the very first Western Scrub Jays that I have ever seen (no pics though).

The day after my trail walking, Anna was off work and we headed back the Aztec Theater. This time we got in to see our movie. The screen at this theater is very much like an IMAX, but you can easily see through the screen and the audio come out through the screen from speakers behind it. Very cool! The first part of the show described the history of the theater, and how they have restored and modernized a 1931 Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Then the show began on the anticent Mysteries of the Mayans began. It was a fascinating show, and carried a good Wow factor on the huge screen.

The following weekend we headed north to Austin to go see the nightly flight of the bat colony at the Congress Street Bridge. Anna has wanted to do this for years, but we never got it scheduled correctly. We got a hotel and then drove to a viewing point at the south end of the bridge. At about 8:25pm the bats started coming out in large numbers. Due to the wind that evening they did not fly over us, but instead flew down the river channel, which meant that our view was limited. But it was still a very incredable sight to see about 1.5 million bats take flight. For a some minutes after it began you could still see huge flights, with thousands and thousands of bats stretched out across the sky. By 8:50 it was over and we were headed back to the car. Due to the low light and very quick bats very few of our pictures are worth looking at :-(

We got up the next morning and visited yet another cave. This time it was the Inner Space Cave. This cave system is north of Austin and stretches underneath I35 (the cave was found by the highway road crew when they had problems drilling test holes for the road bed). One nice feature of this cave is the entrance and exit. You get to ride on a little railcar to save you from all the steps. All caves are interesting, and this one was too, but it really doesn't have anything to make it stand out. The publically accessible tour area is somewhat small, but there are many living formations to be seen. This cave no longer has any natural openings, but once did have, as several animal remains have been found here. More remains were found in this cave than anyother cave in the Hill Country. They included a mammoth, saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, gaint sloth, small wild horses, camales, and others mammals. We both agreed that our tour guide this time wasn't very good, but we had fun as always. We stopped by the hotel, got the dog, checked out, and started home.

The traffic on I35 was horrible, like normal it seems, so we decided to go out west on Hwy 290 to Hwy 281 and then south to home. We changed our minds on the way and decided to stop by LBJ National Historical Park, which was about 15 miles out of our way. We toured their little museum, walked some of the trails, and poked around their Heritage Homestead Farm (watched the blacksmith forging tools and a man shoe a horse). By then we were getting hungry pretty warm. We finished up our stop here with an "out of the window" auto tour of the rest of the park as we headed home.

It was a few days after this that Anna's hospital asked if she could stay for a few more weeks. We talked it over, and since we still had a list of unfinished to-do's around San Antonio we said, "Sure we'll stay for another 6 weeks, but not a full 3 month assignment". Anna made one request to our staying. She wanted to go to Oklahoma and check on her mother again, and we wanted some time to play while we were in Oklahoma. So now we're packing the car and it's off to Ramona, Oklahoma.

We made the trip in two day, with a stop in Killeen to stay overnight with a cousin of Anna's. We had dinner at the Orchid Thai Restaurant, and everything was wonderful. Anna's Chicken Padd Thai was probably the best that I ever tried, and all the rest was also above par. The next morning we drove to Oklahoma City for another stop to visit friends, then hit the road again to Ramona. We arrive in the late afternoon with no problems.Our stay was wonderfully, as always, and Anna's mother is recovering well (she was driving again when we left).

While in Oklahoma we went to Jenks, a Tulsa suburb, to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium. Our niece, Kristen Ward, came with us. The OK Aquarium is very nice. Not many large tanks, but a very large number of small extremely well done aquarium tanks. In this way it was more attractive than a number of other aquariums that we have toured. Oh, and as special treat for me there was a large antique fishing tackle exhibit. We all had a very nice time.

We left a couple of days later. We planned to drive to Lawton, to go to the Fort Sill Museum and the Geronimo exhibit there. There is also a wildlife refuge near there. We stopped in OKC again to have lunch with friends, then continued southwest on I44.

Well, we got to Lawton, and guess what, every hotel in the town was full (Fort Sill graduation and a county rodeo). We decided to go ahead and take a tour of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, and then drive to Wichita Falls for the night. The extra drive was only about an hour. We got a room at La Quinta, and ordered in Chinese food from the Taste of China restaurant (the hotel had a menu). Anna had a delicious Orange Chicken, and my Chicken Le Mein was okay but a little bland.

We left the next morning, with Sonora and another cave tour in mind. Most of our drive was through large cotton farm land and was pretty boring. It got more interesting as we continued south out of Abilene. There, we drove into the the Callahan Divide Mountains/Hills. The scenery got better, and I had more fun driving the curves. As we continued south we started seeing the beginnings of the Horse Hollow Windmill Farm, which is the world's largest windmill farm. These windmills are at least 20 stories tall, and they seem to go on ever. There are more than 400 windmills in these hills. We stopped for several pictures, and then got back on the road.

We continued on into Sonora without other stops (we were starting to get tired). Guess what we found in Sonora, another rodeo and more booked up hotels. We got one of the last two rooms in town that would take pets (they told us a funny story about last year's rodeo, when they found a bathroom full of baby goats). We had dinner at the nearby Sonora Mexican Grill. The red salsa was good, and they had a very interesting and good green sauce. They said the green was just a blend of avocado, sour cream, and lots of fresh garlic. It worked well to cool down the heat. Anna's dinner was good, and my chicken enchiladas in ranchero sauce (Juan's Special) was excellent. It was the hottest tongue searing ranchero sauce that I ever had, and I was sweating after the third bite. But it was delicious.

In the morning we made the first tour of the Caverns of Sonora, and all that we can say is Wow..!! Neither one of us had ever seen anything like this cave. The first part is pretty blaugh, but then you come to the fantastic part. Just about every square inch on the cavern is covered in calcium crystals. And I don't mean the ordinary calcium carbonate formations like other cave. I mean that everything is covered in white crystalline growth. It's like walking through a huge very delicate geode. The tour was almost two hour for the one-way trip. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and helpful. We think everyone should see this cavern at least once, and recommend it everyone coming to Texas.

After the cavern we headed back to San Antonio, via Fredericksburg and some other small Hill Country towns. We finally stopped at Casey's Barbeque on Hwy 281, north of San Antonio. We had a Sample Platter (with brisket, pork loin, turkey, sausage, and ribs), along with 1/2 a chicken to try everything. The turkey was very good and the sausage was nice, but the rest was only marginal, and we probably won't be stopping at Casey's again.

Well, it's 100 plus degrees outside, and we have tour all the caves. So what do we do now. It's time to start getting wet! We pack the car and the dog again, and hit the road to Corpus Christi for a couple of days. We like the hotels north of the bridge on Hwy 183 because you can get right on the beach. This time we chose the Gulf Beach II hotel. It's not fancy, but it reasonably priced, it allows pets, and it's about 100 yards from the water. After checking in early, we grabbed a quick lunch, and then it was off to the Texas State Aquarium during the heat of the day. They had an entertaining dolphin show starting just as we got there, then we spend a couple of hours wondering through their aquarium tanks and exhibits. This is not a really great or first rate aquarium, but it nice enough, with plenty of educational stuff on the gulf. After the Aquarium we had an early dinner, spent some time walking the beach and relaxing. After dark we went for another walk on the beach and walked down to the USS Lexington, which is lighted in blue spot lights at night.

The next morning we played in the surf again, drove all the way down Corpus' Shoreline Drive, and kept going south onto Padre Island. We drove to the Padre Island National Park, then head north again (on Hwy 361) up Mustang Island to Port Aransas. We stop in Port A a couple of times at marked wildlife viewing areas. After a short ferry ride we drove through Aransas Pass, Rockport, and Fulton (finally getting to see some wild dolphins south Aransas Pass). Our destination was the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. This is famous for Whooping Crane in the Winter and Spring. But we had never been here during the summer. We toured the refuge, taking pictures of deer, wild turkeys, birds, scenery, and water lilies. After our tour we headed back to Corpus so that we could walk the dog, who had been in the room for several hours now. We ate at Frenchy's Cajun Boiling Pot. The Seafood Gumbo was a disappointment in flavor (neither Anna or I finished). But everything on the fried Seafood Combo Platter was delicious and really hit the spot. Anna had her standard Shrimp Po'Boy and was very happy. Another walk along the beach at night followed dinner.

We got up the next morning. played around a bit, and then headed back to San Antonio. We still weren't really ready to get back home yet, so was took a side trip to visit the last two San Antonio Missions. Those being Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada . It was seriously hot by then, so we made our visit fairly quick and headed across town to the apartment.

A week or so later some friends from Houston can to visit us. We got up the next morning, Sunday, and we all went to Sea World . This was Labor Day weekend. Needless to say, the line of cars to get into the park was huge. It was still a very warm, actually hot, day (by 2:00pm I had managed to get a raging headache from the heat). The "Shamu" killer whale show was phenomenal! We just caught parts of the other shows, but what we saw was very entertaining. We didn't go on any of the rides due to the long wait times. The really sad part of our visit is that Anna and I both forgot our cameras! This has never happened to both of us at once before.

The tickets that we had were two day passes. So, our last weekend in San Antonio we went back to Sea World to see the other shows. This time with our cameras (I will be posting a photo gallery in the Recent Photos page soon). Again the killer whale show was wonderful. We also watched the Viva! show, it was also an awesome performance! Anna and I then attended the Sea Lion Mystery and Detective show, and became part of the show as the "warm up performer" brought us down front as victims. Of course we stopped by other shows and exhibits between the bigger events.

After that, we had to start packing. When we were finished, we headed to the Sherman area to do some house shopping. We found a place a few blocks from Lake Texoma (map it). We should be closing on this house around October 13th. We made one more stop for several days in Arkansas to visit family.

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