Houston – May 2019 – McGovern Centennial Gardens

Just south of downtown Houston is Hermann Park, and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. It is a small, well thought out space with flowers, plants and statues.














The statues featured great Latin American leaders, as well as (strangely) Scottish poet Robert Burns!












Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Jungle Gardens

With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.



With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.



The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.



There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.



As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.



Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).



We did NOT feed this alligator.



The turtles were safely out of harms way.



A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.




This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.



The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.

Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.

When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!








New Orleans – May 2019 – Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

City Park in New Orleans is a perfect place to escape the hustle of the city and relax. It is larger than Central Park in New York, with a number of attractions throughout, including the New Orleans Botanical Garden.



There is an impressive piazza just across the street.



The street itself is lined with Live Oaks, complete with Spanish Moss.



The Arrival Garden is colorful, with the flowers growing up the wall.



There is a nearby sculpture garden, as well as sculptures scattered throughout the gardens themselves.






The walkway was in full bloom.



Most of the gardens were destroyed by the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina, but with donations and volunteers from all over the country it has recovered nicely.



The Train Garden is designed to represent New Orleans in the early 1900s. It has over 1300′ of track, and on weekends they run the trains.




The Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden was completed by the Japanese Garden Society of New Orleans.



Throughout the gardens are well placed sculptures to accent the flowers and plants.



City Park is home to more Live Oaks than any other urban space in the country.



A view inside the Conservatory of the Two Sisters.



A final look back towards the gardens.



And the Arrival Garden becomes our Departure Garden.



As a spectacular bonus just across the street is the Casino Building, which is being restored. Just outside on this beautiful day was the Cafe du Monde beignet truck!

No need to fight the crowd in the French Quarter, we had wonderful, warm, powdery beignets in the relative calm (along with 30 4th graders on a field trip!) of the park.






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.

Washington, DC – May 2019 – U.S. National Arboretum

The United States National Arboretum is located a couple of miles away from the Capitol building in the northeastern section of the District of Columbia.

It is located on 446 acres of land, with numerous focus areas throughout.

One of the highlights however has nothing to do with trees, plants or flowers. It is instead the National Capitol Columns.

In 1958 an addition was made to the Capitol building, and the columns, which had been installed in 1828, were no longer required. For decades they sat unused, until in the 1980s they were relocated here.




The caps were retained as well, and show the great detail.




They surround the stone foundation, complete with a pool.





We moved on to the Herb Garden – which has a view of the columns in the distance.





The herb garden is well landscaped.




Numerous workers were hard at it, keeping the place looking good.




The previous evenings thunderstorm gave the entire area a fresh look.





The herb garden had numerous sections focusing on various uses including a section on dyes, such as these flowers.





The nearby visitor center had a mid century modern vibe to the design.





The azalea section lead up a hill, to a supposed view of the Capitol building





No view was found, but plenty of colorful bushes.





The Dogwood section was next…








The sunny morning highlighted the flowers and leaves.





The gardens were a perfect place for romance.





Our last stop for the morning was in the Asian Gardens.




These tall thin sculptures are made out of bamboo.





The Garden make a great stop away from the touristy areas of the city.

Columbus – January 2019 – Snow Day

It’s January, very little events going on, and it snowed enough to make the roads sloppy. But it did add some character to every day objects around the neighborhood.





It was just the right amount of snow, about 3-4″, to not cause total shutdown.





No skating today, unless you want to get very wet.





When the last grass cutting of the season is in neat rows, the snow comes out with the same pattern.





The birds have a home out of the snow.






This flight is grounded.





The large ornamental grasses to cover up the utility box. No longer green, but still with some color to contrast the white.

I hate snow, except once a year. Come on spring.











Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 20 Rainbow Trees and An Abrupt Stop

Our second morning at the Kauai Inn started after sunrise, which gave us a chance to see how beautiful the grounds and background was.

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As we left to go out for the day we found a new city have moved in down the street.

To quote a line from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ – “I’m bettin’ he’s gonna swerve first”

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Our day had us headed to some waterfalls – first was Wailua Falls. I was expecting to drive into a park and go for a hike to the falls, but we ended up driving up and getting a glimpse of them from the overlook in the fog.

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Still the double falls was impressive.

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We then headed to the nearby Opaeka’a Falls. While more distance, you did get a better view – but still no hiking.

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The Wailua River Valley is historically a Native Hawaiian settlement area.

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We continued up the road as far as it could go until we got to the Keahua Arboretum.

Not a traditional arboretum, but more of a ‘woods’, it nonetheless has some amazing trees. These are known as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.

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As Wikipedia states: “The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.”

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Easily some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.

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With that we headed back down the mountain, passing some houses with great views.

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We stopped by Poliahu Park.

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Where the remains of a Heiau (temple) remains from ancient Hawaiian times. People have left lei’s as an offering.

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Our plans were to continue north to a wildlife preserve and lighthouse when we ran into a bit of a problem – literally. An elderly man missed seeing us coming down the road and pulled directly in front of us – BAM.

Airbags are an exciting event – scared the #$%^ out of me.

Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, and after getting a replacement car from Avis (who get’s a shout out about how well they handled this situation), we got checked out and were on our way.

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We decided to skip the lighthouse and instead went to the Spouting Horn Park, where we met some of the local sea birds.

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Spouting Horn was nice, but with the much smaller waves it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Maui.

With that our eventful day came to an end.

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