Virtual Travel – Texas

Texas!

2015 09 22 35 Amarillo TX

 

Texas is a big state with a great variety of places for photography, therefore this is a LONG posting.

 

 

 

 

Texas Culture

1952     1958     1991     2007     2009     2011     2012     2016

 

 

Austin – State Capital

2009 08 27 63 Austin

 

The Texas State Capitol dates from 1885. The land it is on was acquired in a barter deal, 3 million acres of Texas Panhandle for this land!

Texas shows it’s Tex-Mex history in the state foods…

State Pastries – two – Strudel & Sopiapilla

Apple strudel     

 

State Small Mammal – Armadillo

 

 

 

The city of Austin is proud of it’s motto – Keep Austin Weird.

With the music scene, including a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Congress Street bats it is a great place to be.

 

 

 

Prairies

1949     1969     1972     2013     2014

 

Roads & Bridges

1954     1964     1974     1975     1977     1978    1983     1987

 

I have more Texas Official Highway Maps than any other state. So many this section has combined the Prairies with the Highways which is appropriate because it features Amarillo and Route 66

 

Amarillo

You are half way there – IF you are going from Chicago to Los Angeles, or vice versa.

 

 

The legendary Cadillac Ranch. For more than 40 years people have been spray painting these cars. The good folks of Amarillo liked the planted Cadillacs they have expanded (in different parts of town) to VW Beetles and Combines.

 

 

Mountains

1953     1959     1970     1993     2017

 

 

Terlingua  – The ‘ghost town’ of Terlingua is a former mining town, but is not vacant, as it is a destination for tourist from Big Bend National Park.

Once a year they hold the world’s largest chili cook-off.

 

 

Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These two parks cover much of the Rio Grande Valley of West Texas. Their natural scenery is stunning.

A plus is being able to take a row boat across the river to Mexico for lunch in Bouillas.

 

 

Marathon – Gage Hotel   We had the good fortune of spending the night in this crossroads town on the way to Big Bend. The Gage Hotel is a historic property that attracts people just for the atmosphere and food.

 

 

Langtry – Made famous by Judge Roy Bean and his Law West of the Pecos, and even more famous when Paul Newman starred in a movie of the same name. The town is pretty much vacant, but the area is scenic.

Nearby is Seminole Canyon State Historic Park. This park holds significant cave art.

 

 

 

Cities & Beaches

1961     1968     2015     2019

 

 

San Antonio. While the city is large, it has a feel very different than Houston or Dallas. The downtown is much more compact, with a significant amount of Art Deco architecture.

 

 

Missions – There are five missions in San Antonio, and four of those are maintained by the National Park Service (the 5th is the Alamo). Mission San Jose is the most impressive architecturally.  Our day in San Antonio included a visit to Mission Concepcion.

 

Alamo – The most famous mission in the state, and likely the country, it is not known for it’s service as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, but more so it’s use as a fort in the Mexican independence effort when a group of Texas soldiers died defending it.

 

 

Houston – The city is the 4th largest city in the country, with 2.3 million people in the city. It is the 5th largest metro area (by some calculations) with 7 million people.

The city has more buildings over 150m (492′) than any city in the United States other than New York, Chicago and Miami.

There are still a few historic buildings downtown, but many have been destroyed over the years as they went taller and newer.

 

 

Houston Art – One of the great finds in our travels was the very cool, quirky art of Houston. From top to bottom. Giant Presidential Heads – Sanctioned Graffiti – Beer Can House – Luck Land – Smithers Park.

 

 

Parks and Rec  Houston also provided some unique ‘park’ experiences – from going under the Buffalo Bayou Park to see the Cistern, to the Botanical Gardens, and finally inside for some baseball.

 

 

Galveston     Another pleasant surprise was Galveston. It seemed like 3 cities in one – the typical seaside resort with amusement rides and motels, a great state park natural area, and finally the historic area on the bay side.

 

 

Dallas – Fort Worth    While Houston gained lots of photos on this posting I have actually been to Dallas far more, just some time ago and without a camera.

Dallas is corporate, Fort Worth is cowboy (I know – stereotypes, but it seems to fit).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Milestone – Posting Number 1000

This photography blog started out as a way to share some photos with friends, but after a number of years it has reached a milestone – posting number 1000!

To celebrate I give you my favorite 40 photos of all time. (I tried to make it less but could not)

Scottsbluff, Nebraska




Milwaukee sunrise




Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan





Duluth, Minnesota thunderstorm





Yellowstone National Park – All Hail the Geyser Gods





Pagosa Springs, Colorado





Mendocino County, California





Cambridge, Ohio lumberjack contest






Cincinnati Renaissance Festival






Loudonville, Ohio – Native American Pow Wow





Alaska Peninsula








Columbus – Krampus





Chicago





New York City subway art





Cincinnati – Rosie the Riveter Contest





Lanai, Hawaii – Cat Sanctuary





Haleakala National Park, Hawaii





Waimea Canyon Park, Kauai, Hawaii





Columbus – Krampus V2





Washington DC – Embassy Day





Houston – Lucky Land





Amarillo, Texas – Cadillac Ranch





Cleveland – Parade the Circle





Columbus Zoo









Montreal




Olivos, Argentina





San Antonio De Areco, Argentina





Buenos Aires – Casa Rosada





Bariloche, Argentina





Buenos Aires – Retiro Train Station





Buenos Aires – Recoleta Cemetery





Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina





La Leona, Argentina





El Calafate, Argentina





Buenos Aires – Palacio Barolo





Igauzu Falls, Argentina







Across America – May 2019 – Random Scenes Part 1

The following are interesting scenes that didn’t fit any of the other postings.

Lajitas, Texas – The only place to stay was a golf resort, but it had a great sunset.




Texas border area – We saw a few instances of the border patrol in action, including going through 2 checkpoints along the highway. Strangely the checkpoints were at least 40 miles from the border.





Marfa, Texas – This town is an artist enclave for New York artists. How and why a bunch of New York artists decided to go to a small west Texas town is far too long for this blog.




Fort Davis, Texas is a historic town with a former frontier fort. Today it has a couple of cool re purposed buildings.





Pecos, Texas – For about 100 miles in any direction from Pecos were new fracking oil wells. The landscape was filled with these towers burning off natural gas, as well as truck traffic jams and RVs parked in the desert for the workers. The high pay also caused our most expensive hotel night in Carlsbad, New Mexico as the demand for housing far exceeds supply.









Roswell, New Mexico – While I have a posting for the UFO industry of Roswell, there was also a very cool airplane ‘boneyard’.







Portales, New Mexico – When we were driving into town the billboard for Burger King said ‘next to the airplane’. They weren’t kidding.



Hereford, Texas – Beef capital of the world. I think they are correct.





Canyon, Texas – A Giant Cowboy



Amarillo, Texas – Much cleaner energy source.



Canadian, Texas – Lonesome train blues.



Near Shattuck, Oklahoma – Folk Art along the Highway.





Fairview, Oklahoma – We were looking for some Good Eats, but needed to find somewhere else.



Jet, Oklahoma – One of our disappointments was being unable to check out the Salt Plains National Refuge – where you can dig around for crystals in the salt flats. Much of Oklahoma was flooded, and it flooded the salt flats.

The cows however were making the most of their new beach.





Somewhere in Oklahoma – The Perfect Farm Photo

Part 2 in a second posting.






Amarillo, Texas – May 2019 – Planting Vehicles in the Ground

For some reason the people of Amarillo, Texas like to take large vehicles and plant them in the ground.

South of town is Combine City. Since 2002 a farmer named Orville Ladehoff has been ‘planting’ old combines in the ground. Today there are 14 of them sticking up in the Texas prairie.









Slug Bug Ranch is east of town. Here there are 5 VW Beetles stuck in the ground much like the more famous one on the other side of town.










There are a few other items on the grounds that are also covered in graffiti.








By far the most famous in town, and likely in the world is Cadillac Ranch. Since 1974 these old Cadillacs have been sticking out of the ground in the Texas panhandle.

Note – they are not supposed to be in a pond, but there had been lots of rain so it appears they are partially under water.






















Big Bend National Park, Texas – May 2019

Big Bend National Park is one of the more remote parks in the continental United States, but with some effort – we arrived!




The early morning drive down from Marathon provided an excellent sunrise, giving the mountains great coloring.








Eventually we made our way back down to the Rio Grande River Valley.



Our west Texas days constantly provided interesting cacti views.



The Rio Grande in this area is really just a decent size creek, but the kayaks were setting out for the day.



Our first choice for hiking along the river, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, was closed due to wildfires, so we headed instead for the Boquillas Canyon Trail.




As we made our way along the river an elderly man on the Mexico side serenaded us with songs in an effort to get us to come down to the river bank so he could sell his wares.



The canyon walls continually closed in until we couldn’t go any further unless we went in the river.




We returned to cross the border into Mexico (detailed on the next post) passing more colorful mountains along the way.




With wildfires closing a number of the more popular spots in the park, we chose to go up into the basin and check out the Window View Trail. Again we were treated to interesting vegetation.








Being in the basin we were surrounded on all sides by the mountains.




This view is ‘The Window’.




While it was disappointing that the wildfires impacted the park, there was plenty to see and do for the day.






Langtry, Texas – May 2019 – Views of a (Mostly Former) Town

Langtry, Texas is a town in west Texas, but just barely. In the early 1900s it was a busy place as they built the railroad nearby. Today it is a post office and the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center (detailed on another posting).



Most of the buildings in the area have been abandoned.















Those that remain have a sense of humor, as evidenced by a sign pointing toward the Rio Grande that says ‘Mexico’ this way.





The town does have a beautiful view of the Rio Grande Valley, and the cliffs and caverns across in Mexico.









And with that we took the lonely road west.




San Antonio – May 2019 – Historic Homes and Buildings

As a historic city San Antonio had a decent amount of older homes and buildings in the center of the city.

The King William Historic District is just south of downtown. It has a great collection of restaurants and shops, but the highlights are the beautiful old houses.







As we reached downtown we passed by a couple great old buildings.





A classic clock, which we appear to have caught at high noon.



Nix Hospital s housed in a very fine example of an Art Deco building.






There are still a couple vintage theaters in town.





The Post Office and Court House is located across the plaza from the Alamo.





The Tower Life Building was completed in 1927. This eight sided classic Art Deco skyscraper also housed San Antonio’s first Sears store when first opened.








The Drury Hotel occupies the former Alamo National Bank building. Located along the famed Riverwalk the 24 floor building has many impressive details in the lobby.









We chose instead to stay at the Gunter Hotel, another great old hotel.



The Gunter Hotel is famous for being the location that blues legend Robert Johnson recorded most of the 29 songs he ever recorded. The bar celebrates the fact that he recorded in room 414, by calling themselves the Bar 414.



Despite the fact that Robert was from Mississippi, he was brought to San Antonio by a talent scout for Vocalion Record, Ernie Oertle. A producer from the label, Don Law, set up a recording studio in room 414 and 413 of the Gunter Hotel.

The drawing below is from an album cover of Robert’s music that was re-released in the 1960s depicting this recording session.



This is the room today, with the small white chair in the corner where Robert was sitting, facing the wall for the acoustics. How do I know this? This was our room for the night!!!

When we arrived every cushion was turned on end, every drawer was open. I immediately assumed it was Robert welcoming us! We spent the night hanging out listening to Robert’s music, either his original or the hundreds of covers from the Stones, Clapton and others.





San Antonio – May 2019 – The Missions

There are 5 Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio, four of which make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The fifth is the Alamo.

We were able to visit two of the missions on our day in the city. Up first is the Mission San Jose.




The mission was founded in 1720, with work on the current buildings beginning in 1768 and completing in 1782.



The community’s life was fully supported within the walls of the mission, including this oven.




There are many homes contained along the perimeter walls.




Massive stone arches frame walkways near the church.





Mission San Jose has had more restoration than the others in the area, resulting in a more ornate interior.



The south wall of the church features the ‘Rose Window’. This window is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America.



There is evidence of the earlier exteriors on one of the walls.



The main gate to the compound.



The church is holding up remarkably well for being 250 + years old.




Additional views of the Mission San Jose.










Just a few miles away is Mission Concepcion.



This mission dates from essentially the same time as Mission San Jose, however the grounds are much smaller.



Some restoration has occurred here as well.



Mission Concepcion is known for the fresco’s on the interior and exterior of the building.



The interior of the church is not as ornate as Mission San Jose, but elegant in it’s simplicity.



The missions we were able to visit in San Antonio are national treasures. We look forward to a return trip to the area to check out the others we missed.







Houston – May 2019 – Random Views

We had a great couple of days in Houston, coming away with a great feel for the city. This posting is to cover the random sights that don’t fit anywhere else, like the featured image above from the Sam Houston Park Village with a little church in the middle of the skyscrapers downtown.

Even though I had been in Houston briefly a couple of times previously I had never seen the Astrodome. The world’s first indoor baseball and football stadium when it was completed in the early 1960s, it still stands unused.




The Wateralls across from the Williams Tower is 64′ high, 1 foot for each floor of the nearby skyscraper.




The ‘Twilight Epiphany Skyspace’ is located on the campus of Rice University. I had read that this was a cool thing to see, but when we got there in the middle of the afternoon I couldn’t understand why. It turns out you must be there at sunset or sunrise – maybe next time.




Houston is notorious for their traffic, with over 6 million people in the area and very little public transportation. They do however have a streetcar that covers a few miles in the center of the city.




As well as crossing a man made pond in the middle of Main Street.




Discover Park has an interesting pinwheel display with a device that when you blow into it just right, kicks off fans that make all the pinwheels spin.




Buffalo Bayou Park is a nice urban park space complete with a skateboard park.



The highlight of the park though was our tour of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Once used for retaining water for the city, it is now a cool space to explore on a guided tour.




The city has numerous examples of public art.









I have often wondered who has the concrete contracts for road construction in Texas as they build ramps that seem far longer than needed, and never pile up dirt to make the overpasses shorter.




In the theme of ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ – As we left the city and reached the suburb of Katy, Texas we made a stop at a Buc-ee’s. A Texas based chain, Buc-ee’s are massive – this one has over 60 gas pumps (the photo is only showing about 1/2 of them)!



The highlight though was the World’s Longest Car Wash (according to the Guiness World Records) – the 255′ long one at Buc-ee’s easily cleaned off 2,000 miles of dirt and grime. Now it is off for San Antonio!