February 22, 2017

A couple more things we wanted to see while in Tucson were the Titan Missile II Museum and the Desert Museum - so today was the day.

We caught the first tour on the Titan Missile II. This is a one-of-a kind museum giving visitors a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter nuclear war. 

It was once one of America's most top secret places and now it is a National Historic Landmark bringing Cold War history to life for millions of visitors from around the world. 

There were 54 Titan II missile sites on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987 and this preserved Titan II missile site is the only one that remains.

This underground silo was able to launch in just 58 seconds, and was capable of delivering a 9-megaton nuclear warhead to targets more than 6300 miles (10,000 km) away in about 30 minutes. It was a very interesting tour - and creepy!

After lunch we went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 

This attraction too, has a four-star rating! This 98 acre desert museum is a zoo, a botanical garden, an art gallery, a natural history museum, and an aquarium all rolled into one!

There are two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats, over 230 different animal species, 1,200 types of plants and it has one of the world's most extensive regional mineral collections.

The highlight of the day was the Raptors Free Flight (birds that eat live prey). This demonstration featured three different raptor species; the Barn Owl, Red-tailed Hawks and the family group of Harris Hawks, and focused the attention on how the birds behave in nature. 

An interesting demonstration - - birds were swooping over the crowds of people and diving to the ground to catch their prey for dinner. 

February 21, 2017

We spent last night in Benson, Arizona and this morning we drove into Tucson. First on our agenda was to visit "Old Tucson" the place where the spirit of the old west comes to life!

The home of over 400 western movies and tv shows, it is one of Arizona's top Wild West Attractions. 

There are live action stunt shows, musicals and live entertainment throughout the day, restaurants to keep you fed, 

a small train that takes you around the property for a relaxed view of the set, 

stagecoach rides and even a merry-go-round for the kids (but I saw big kids on it too!!) 

It was fun to wander around the sets and remember the old westerns. We took in the entertainment, the musical revue, the Holywood Stunt demonstration and the Musical History of the Silver Screen.

We didn't have any trouble wasting away the day, before we knew it, it was closing time and time for us to mosey along.....

February 20, 2017

Still in New Mexico - the nights are sure cold here!! Took another detour up to Silver City because the billboards along the way advertised Cliff Dwellings. On our way there we passed the City of Rocks, so once we were settled into the Walmart in Silver City we doubled back to check it out. 

It was established as a State Park in 1952 and and encompasses one square mile in the Chihuahuan Desert. The elevation is 5,200 feet. 

The rocks forming the City of Rocks is known as the Kneeling Nun Tuff and were produced by a very large volcanic eruption that occurred millions of years ago. 

The next  morning we drove up to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is 44 miles north of Silver City.  Half of this drive was up this twisty windy little road, the second half was nice and flat. The sign read to allow two hours driving time, but it didn't take that long .... 

At the Cliff Dwellings there is a one-mile loop trail which climbs 180 feet above the canyon floor. 

The monument is a small site of just 553 acres, containing the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in cliff alcoves by the Mogolon people between 1275 and 1300 AD.

There were six caves at this site. 

Cave three had stairs built to access the huge room.

Caves four and five were constructed on two levels.  

These dwellings offers us a small glimpse of the homes and the lives of the people who lived there. 

February 18, 2017

Stopped into Roswell, New Mexico the site of the "UFO incident" that happened in 1947. 

Whether it was a UFO or not, many feel it was a great cover-up - the US Government deemed it a weather balloon crash.  

Since then there has been a lot of speculation.... a movie, a TV series (this picture taken from the props from the movie), many people have come forward to 'speak the truth'... who knows what to believe?? The Museum has an incident timeline beginning on the day and working it's way through days and weeks of interviews... very interesting!!

Enough about the extraterrestrial - we came back to earth and landed at the White Sands National Monument in the Tularosa Basin, southern New Mexico.

The shimmering white sand dunes settle over the Chihuahuan Desert covering 275 square miles - the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. 

It looked like we were driving on snow - the sand is so white. 

I think others thought it WAS snow!

February 17, 2017

We've never spent a lot of time in New Mexico, so on this journey through we decided we'd visit a little. We left the direct route of Hwy 10 West and headed north a little to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We were told that this was a 
'must-see' and they did not steer us wrong.  Carlsbad Caverns is a breathtakingly beautiful place. It’s New Mexico’s only national park and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The Natural Entrance

The Carlsbad Caverns feature over 100 caves. 

The "Natural Entrance" is the entrance into the cavern. There is a pathway that takes about an hour to walk down to get you to the 'Big Room' which is the huge underground chamber in the cavern. 

"The Bat Cave"
home to thousands of Mexican free-tail bats
who roost here from March to OCtober

The caverns were forged by sulfuric acid – not water erosion, as is the case with most limestone caves.
There are no flowing rivers or streams inside the caves.
In the 1880s, people didn’t go into the caves to admire them. Instead, they were there to mine for bat poop! Apparently, guano is a powerful fertilizer. The bats here are Mexican free-tail bats and as many as 300,000 of them billow out of the caverns each night.

Some people are under the impression that James (Jim) Larkin White was a cowboy who stumbled upon the caves by chance. He was actually a guano miner who explored the far reaches of the caves in his down time. It is up for debate who first found the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns.

February 16, 2017

Spent the evening of February 13th at a Walmart in East Houston. Awoke the next morning (Valentines Day) to Tornado Warnings AGAIN!! It was like de ja vu - but we hung out for the morning in the Walmart, got pedicures, (I also got a manicure) and we waited out the storm - lots of thunder and rain, but the tornado never touched down, at least nowhere near us!  

It was just after lunch when we got going, and I didn't think we'd ever get through Houston - is it ever huge!! It went on for miles and miles but we got to San Antonio by late-afternoon. Just in time for happy hour! We had a late dinner at Cracker Barrels, which was just a short walk from where we were parked, then just relaxed  for the rest of the evening.!

The next morning we headed into town to check it out! We shopped and looked around Market Square. 

Market Square is a three-block outdoor plaza lined with shops, and restaurants in downtown San Antonio, Texas

It is the largest Mexican market in the United States. 

The "El Mercado" section has 32 specialty shops and the "Farmer's Market Plaza" section has 80. 

This is "Mi Tierra Cafe Y Panaderia" (Cafe and Bakery) decorated as Christmas all year round!

The Alamo 

Remember the Alamo?? This is a very historical landmark in San Antonio and there is a lot I could say about it, but it's history and easily googled for information.  One thing that is not history, but pertains specifically to the Alamo is that San Antonio does not have any high rises in the downtown area. This is because The Alamo is a reverent place not to be 

Torch of Friendship

La Antorcha de la Amistad - "The Torch of Friendship" located in downtown San Antonio is 65 feet tall and weighs more than 45 tons, was a gift from the Mexican consulate as a sign of friendship and to represent the roots Texans share with Mexico. In the background you can see the Tower of the Americas.

Tower of the Americas 

This is a 750 foot high observation tower/revolving restaurant which gives you a 350 degree view of San Antonio. Built in 1966 it was the tallest observation tower in the United States until the Stratosphere was built in Las Vegas in 1996.

The San Antonio River Walk, also known as Paseo del Río, is a maze of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of San Antonio

This has got to be San Antonio's top tourist attraction. The river that is "The River Walk" is 2.5 miles long, lined by bars, shops, restaurants, nature, hotels and art. 

We took the 35 minute River Barge Ride along the cypress-lined paved paths, under arched stone bridges and lush landscapes. The river gently winds through the city center providing millions of visitors each year with easy access to the city's cultural hot spots, historic sites and other attractions.

Another busy day - we'd rate this city in the top 10 of places to visit. 

February 12, 2017

The Mardi Gras parades literally begin in January and go in full force until Mardi Gras at the end of February. We purposely stayed in New Orleans to go see the parade last night.  We'll be hitting the road on Monday and this is our last hurrah in New Orleans!

I learned a lot about the Mardi Gras parades on my tour of the float factory, but none of these floats were a part of this parade!

Each parade is themed and is organized by a "Krewe", and and there are many, many Krewes, some have been around for a long time, others not so long. (Krewe of Zulu, Krewe of Rex, Krewe of Morpeus, Krewe of Athena, just to name a few) 

Last night's parade was run by Krewe du Vieux which has been around since 1987.

The parade rolled through the Marigny, French Quarter with its charmingly rude, crude and socially unacceptable assortment of mini floats and costumes, set to the theme "Crass Menagerie" and they made no bones about dragging President Trump along with them. 

The streets were crowded with people, and this isn't even Mardi Gras!

It was an interesting parade to say the least -  nothing like I've ever seen before.  

February 10, 2017

New Orleans City Park is a 1,300 acre outdoor oasis that has been charming New Orleanians since 1854. There is something here for everyone; Botanical Gardens, open air sculpture garden, amusement park. Stroll through the sprawling green space or follow the parks biking, jogging and walking paths. There are 26 tennis courts and a new 18-hole golf course.

Raice Wariors - bronze sculpture

Corridor Pin - Blue - stainless steel sculpture

The park is home to the world's largest stand of mature live oak trees, which include a grand oak that dates back nearly 800 years. 
waterfall in the Botanical Garden