Friday, March 18, 2016


After our weeks on the seashore, with little else to do than take walks on the beach and hang out in the Alfa, we arrived in Houston to many wonderful activity choices.

The azaleas were in full bloom on an afternoon spent at the Bayou Bend Gardens.

I wore the pink butterfly cap I bought in Arizona. It fit in well with the flowers

Not all were shades of pink.

Sunday evening we went to dinner at the beautiful home of one of our college friends and his wife. Although we have not seen each other for 40 years, thanks to the internet and email we are still connected, and reminiscing and conversation came easily.

Image from the Web
I'm usually not impressed by seeing famous people.  Meeting them, perhaps, but not just seeing them walking by on the sidewalk. But, at one point, while we were sitting in their wood paneled library, our host called me over to look out the window. A spry looking, white haired lady was taking her evening walk with a burly man in a dark suit. It was one of their neighbors, Barbara Bush!

The next evening we all went out together to a Brazilian steakhouse,
Chama Gaucha. It is one of the top 100 restaurants in the country as ranked by  Yelp. Craig likes to use it and Trip Advisor as we travel through cities we are not familiar with. He keeps the top 100 list on the desktop.

It sure was good! If you like beef or other grilled meats, it is a joy. There is no menu. After having a small salad at the salad bar, the diners stay at their tables while waiters bring selections of perfectly grilled meat around. You tell them if you want rare or well done or something in-between, and they slice a beautifully thin slice for you. They also offer chicken, lamb, and shrimp. New items are constantly offered, and you have a little card that you have at your place to let them know when you are ready or not.  

Yumm! There is also a Chama Gaucha in Chicago. 

We are still very much tourists. We were discouraged from trying to go to the Houston Museum district by very heavy traffic and road construction. I think every family in Houston was trying to take their kids to the Zoo or Natural History Museum on Tuesday. It is spring break time so I guess that could be expected. 

So, when we couldn't find parking, we headed across town to the NASA Space Center.

One highlight for me was seeing the 747 with the shuttle on its back. We were able to go inside both.

We also were interested to see the command center used for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. I remember seeing it on TV and thinking how modern it all was. What you see in the room are not computers. The actual computer was on the floor below. Although I did not take a picture of it with someone's hand holding a cell phone in it on purpose, the image brings to mind what the guide told us about the computing power used. The computer had two megabytes, which is what a few pictures on a smartphone use! 

I knew the launch rockets were big, are big, but knowing and standing next to one are two different things.  They have a building with a complete Saturn V rocket in it.

In our down time at the Stephen Austin State park, we were not really able to take any short hikes. We could have walked the park road, but all of the trails were closed due to flooding. 

We were able to get a look at part of the river. After we saw the Brazos River at I-10, we decided that this was not the main river, just a flooded side channel.

Although the skies were overcast all week, we only had actual rain during the night. The humidity was very high, and I was amazed there were no mosquitos.

Without pesky bugs, I could spread out my books and maps to start making plans for our route up the East Coast. For me the first step is to work with the truckers' map book and my calendar to estimate the distances between places we want to see and the dates we will be in any particular place.

We prefer to either stay in the outskirts of small towns, or at state parks. Most of them take reservations. I have a feeling that I should be making reservations now, rather than waiting too long.  

After I get a rough list, I check reviews and availability on the computer. If we can't get into the state parks I look into private commercial parks, starting with places that give a discount to Passport America, Escapees, and Good Sam members.  

Some people say they just drive along and stop when the mood strikes them. The few times we have done that, I was uncomfortable all day.

How do you plan your trips?


  1. Wow, that's a lot of planning material! :) We always make reservations also. We just like having plans in place - that's how we roll!

  2. Sometimes we planned things out, but most of the time we planned only a couple of days or three ahead of time..For major holidays, we planned WAY ahead of time. We did have our share of testy conversation more than once late late in the day, when we had trouble figuring out where plan B was going to be our stay when plan A didn't work out and it was time to come off the road for the night. I can certainly understand your anxiety and being uncomfortable! My next visit to Houston, I'm gonna check out those gardens! Thanks for sharing....

  3. I'm still using Microsoft Trips and Streets, which they no longer support. We're booked for Memorial Day weekend, and that's about it. I have no idea where we are going to be. Jim's Achilles really threw a wrench into the planning process. I like to have reservations, it greatly decreases the insecurity on the road.

  4. I'm with you, Merikay; I am also uncomfortable not having reservations. But we don't adhere to schedules well enough to make them very far in advance.

  5. We always make reservations ahead of time. We use lots of different programs on the internet to do it instead of books. So far it's working!

  6. What a fun day touring around the city.
    We plan our travels according to weather and the locations of our membership parks all done with Streets and trips and checking them out on line.
    Usually we just reserve around the holidays and long weekends.

  7. I would love to see the NASA center. Your pictures are incredible. I plan a list of hundreds of things I want to see and then when we take off and maybe see 1/4 of them. I usually don't make reservations but I'll call in the morning to find something that night. We find that there are always places along the way that we want to stop and see that we hadn't planned on. However, you are smart to make reservations in the East. There aren't a lot of parks and they always seem to be full.

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    1. Nice blog. Looks like we plan about the same way, although I never make reservations. Lots of input from different sources! Be safe and have fun!

  9. We have taken to explain our journey as wandering. We never know from day to day what tomorrow will bring. We occasionally make reservations when visiting our kids near Dallas & KC but other than that we just wander & see where we end up. We all do what works best cuz in this lifestyle we are all about being stressfree. Love your pictures of the Space Center, it's on our list. Becki

  10. I like to plan as I am uncomfortable with uncertainty! Which is funny as I was just telling my husband that I need to learn to be more spontaneous. Space Center would be wonderful to see.


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