New York City – June 2019 – Different Ways to Get Around Town

On the ground, on the water, or in the air there are many ways to get around the city.

Let’s start with a city bus. Not just any bus, but a collection of historic buses from the MTA Museum:











Via the water…









Always a favorite – the Roosevelt Island Tram.



Or the train…



For now it is time to get out of town – over the swamps of Jersey.






New York City – June 2019 – East River Views

Most of my time in New York City is spent on the Jersey side, therefore most of the photos of the skyline is from across the Hudson. On this trip I had a chance to view Manhattan from the East River.




































Boquillas, Mexico – May 2019 – Crossing the Rio Grande

The small Mexican town of Boquillas was for many years a mining town, until that ended in 1919. Fortunately for Boquillas it lies directly across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park.

This worked great for years, with tourists crossing the border to go up into town for lunch, then returning to the park. All that ended with 9-11, and the border closings.

For more than 10 years the small town dwindled down to almost nothing, until finally the US Government built a remote immigration center and the flow started again.



The border crossing is only open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but our good luck had us there on a Sunday so we headed across the river in a rowboat.



The ‘Park and Ride’ lot on the Mexican side was where we picked up our ‘ride’ into town – a burro.



The townsfolk have this worked out – the family own some burros, and they walk along with you as you ride up the 1/2 mile hill into town, where they take you to their family owned restaurant. (there are two restaurants in town).

The food and cold beer were excellent.



After lunch they showed us around town, stopping off at his wife’s souvenir stand where we picked up something.



Their little town is resourceful. With a church and a school, they have everything they need to survive 160 miles from the nearest town in Mexico.




They do make trips across to the Rio Grande Village in the park to pick up needed supplies.

We continued our tour around town. While there are a few abandoned buildings, most are in use.















We stopped at the Park and Ride lot in town for our trip back down the hill.



A quick ride across the Rio Grande, followed by a brief visit to US immigration and we were on our way – full from lunch and with great memories of a cool little Mexican town.






Galveston, Texas – May 2019 – Beach and Bay

Galveston is located on an island, just off the Texas coast. While there is a major freeway crossing the bay onto the island, we chose the more interesting route by taking the ferry from the Bolivar Peninsula.




The Gulf of Mexico was angry this day, with a very rough surf, and red flag warnings for all to stay out of the water.



One the ocean side of Galveston there are the typical beach town activities such as an amusement pier.





One of the fishing piers shows how rough the surf was.




A monument to the victims of the 1900 storm is on the beach.




The bay side of Galveston is all business. An off shore oil rig construction company is located on the mainland side.




The Houston Ship Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the country.



The tall ship Elissa is located in Galveston. Built in 1877 it sailed under Norwegian and Swedish flags before being located in Galveston and after extensive restoration, is used for tourist and training of young would be sailors.




Another view of Galveston Harbor.



Like Morgan City, Louisiana, Galveston has a historic offshore oil rig. Unlike Galveston, this one has much corporate sponsorship. We passed since we had seen the ‘real thing’ a couple of days earlier.



One harbor was filled with shrimp boats.







Galveston has always been a point of origination for cruise ships, as was evidenced as one was in port ready for departure.







New Orleans – May 2019 – Getting Around The Big Easy

Getting to and around New Orleans has always been an adventure. Situated near the mouth of the Mississippi, the city is essentially surrounded by water and swamps.

While most people likely fly into the airport, or take I-10 from Mobile or Baton Route, the best route into the city by car is from the north across Lake Pontchartrain.



The Lake Pntchartrain Causeway is a 24 mile long bridge. Completed in the 1950s it is to this day the longest bridge in the world over water.



Which results in a funny looking navigation system – we are in the middle of the lake, still 14 miles from shore.



Eventually you get close enough to see the skyline of the city off in the distance.



Once you make it to town you see plenty of the ride share bicycles.



Although this person chose his own unique ride.



The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the country, with constant ships coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River.



The tugboats stay busy all day.



At the base of Canal Street is the tourist ship The Natchez, a faux stern-wheeler.



The best transportation however are the streetcars.





New Orleans turned out to be a fairly easy city to navigate.






Moss Point, Mississippi – May 2019 – Gulf Coast Gator Ranch

The Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is located in the swamps of southern Mississippi, near the town of Moss Point. They specialize in raising alligators for commercial use, but they also retrieve ‘nuisance’ alligators from golf courses, etc.



Their ranch is surrounded by a levee and fence to keep the wild alligators away from their alligators. Because their gators get lots to eat they grow to impressive sizes.



They lurk about in the ponds and nearby grasses.



You can buy ‘gator chow’ and throw them over the fence to the gators.



They are everywhere!



Some just hang out on land enjoying the warm Mississippi sun.



Our host, and boat captain – Captain ‘Frog’ – brought out a baby alligator for us to hold.



It was time for part 2 of our morning – an airboat ride!



Just outside their ranch we found this guy keeping an eye on us.



Fortunately he was just hanging around for a snack as well – marshmallows.



As we headed out into the swamp we passed by even more gators.



The black waters of the bayous were beautiful. Captain Frog was very knowledgeable about the plants and flowers of the swamp, and the traditional uses, as he grew up in the swamps of Louisiana. He had the perfect Louisiana accent to go with it.



We would ride for a while then stop and check out the wildlife and surroundings.



At times Captain Frog would pick up speed as we went sailing through the grasses with ease.



There is an amazing amount of beauty in the swamp.



This might look like a pile of brush, but it is an alligator nest, where the female gators place their eggs.



For good measure we passed a couple more gators on the way back to the dock.



It was great to ride along with Captain Frog – we learned about the swamp, saw lots of gators, and had a good time blasting around in the air boat.

Gulf Coast Gator Ranch is a highly recommended stop if you are in the area.

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 12 Lanai

Day 12 had us spending time near and on the island of Lanai. It is currently mostly owned by a software billionaire, but 2% remain in the hands of the local people.

We were parked for the day in the Mauele Bay.

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Before we started our day we had a private tour of the ships engine room with the engineer. For most people on a cruise in Hawaii this wouldn’t be high on the list, but it was for me – very cool.

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Twin 700 HP diesel engines (only one seen in this photo).

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It was a relaxing day for all.

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All of the crew of the ship have multiple jobs, including the captain – here explaining to the kayakers how to push off the boat and get started.

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Which they all successfully did!

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I opted for the skiff tour of the local geology. Note the mist coming out of the hole at the bottom center. There are numerous blowholes around Hawaii, basically small caves that the water is forced into where it runs out of space and come blowing back out.

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While one of the smaller ones we saw, it did creates rainbows.

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Our tour continued along the cliffs where there was clear evidence of the volcanic activity and subsequent abrupt movements of the earth that sheared off with dramatic results.

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The most famed geologic point was Sweetheart Rock. At one point there would’ve been a large arch here but that came down long ago.

As with many other locations like this, local lore has it that one person had forbidden love and threw themselves to their death, hence Sweetheart Rock.

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A local seabird (not sure what kind) coming in for a landing. It took him/her 4 tries!

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Eventually the kayakers returned.

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And everyone went for a swim. Most went off the back of the boat, but some of the more daring jumped off the 2nd deck, including this elderly woman from Mississippi!

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Our afternoon was spent at a cat sanctuary (enough on that for a separate post), and some time in Lanai City.

Lanai was a pineapple plantation before rich people bought the entire island. Our driver (Neal) had grown up on the island and worked the plantation before working in the motor pool.

He eventually started his own shuttle business and now has a fleet of 14 vans. Oh – he also plays music and showed us photos of him with Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood!

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After a tour of the town we returned to the beach for a sunset walk up to view Sweetheart Rock.

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Another Hawaii day – another Hawaii sunset.

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