Sunday, 20 April 2014

Houston…I’m sitting in a Tin Can…


The famous scene in “From Here to Eternity” with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, with the two lovers in the surf, locked in passion, waves breaking over them, they run hand in hand to a blanket laid out in the sand and make love, a beautiful scene if there ever was one.  Outside, not a care in the world, just a perfect snapshot of love and romance that has stirred people for decades.

With that in mind we head to Port Aransas beach to boondock for a" Beach Party"  (that’s a Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello film, come on, focus people!).  We park about a mile along the beach from Sandfest 2014.  It is picture perfect spot to watch the waves roll in meters from “The Long, Long Trailer” (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz).  Once set-up we sit and relax, drink in the sunshine, sea birds flying by, the cool breeze off the ocean, the vast ocean at our feet taking our thoughts and dreams across to far off lands and new adventures.  That’s the Hollywood image.

Hollywood makes it’s money escaping reality.  Truth is, Burt had a lump of seaweed stuck to his forehead and Ms. Kerr had sand in some very uncomfortable places.  The water is cold and there is a jellyfish floating on the next wave waiting to sting you.  In order to enjoy the sunshine you need to smear on lotion that smells funny and feels yucky.  “The Birds” (Alfred Hitchcock) swoop in in flocks looking for food and when you don’t give it to them they crap on your head.  The breeze off the ocean brings humidity and "The Fog" (low budget, no stars) that soaks everything in the trailer and makes you cold and clammy.  The waves bring in the oil slick from the spill in Galveston (BP Oil, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer).  Our thoughts are of having fewer people around and dreaming of less oil rigs on the horizon of the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm kidding!...would we boondock again?...Of course!  The truth falls somewhere in between two extremes.  It is a great experience opening the door when you aren't thinking about it and the beauty takes your breath away.   We had a great time on the beach but we are still cleaning the sand out of the truck and trailer.
There are worse places to park.

Sandfest 2014 was good, unfortunately the pro's had just started their sculptures Fri. afternoon. We left early Sat. and didn't to go back and see their progress.  What we did see were lots of booths selling everything from cheap T's to some very nice art and golf carts that cost as much as a small family car.  We listened to Jared Clarke a very entertaining local singer.  We ate dinner sitting on a pile of sand with 50 of our closest seagull friends.  It was a beautiful day and nice way to spend an afternoon.
Detra whipped this up while I looked for my sunglasses.

I had a good Philly Cheese Steak and Detra had pulled pork with funnel cake for dessert none of which were cooked on the "World's Biggest Grill" 

This was just shy of $17,000.  I will need one for the Gulf Waters site, so keep those donations coming!

Saturday morning made any downside insignificant.  We sat outside with our coffee and waited for the sunrise.  This is something Hollywood can't come close to creating on the biggest of big screens.  The waves, the soft morning breeze and the orange glow coming up over the horizon, it seems hard to believe this happens every day. 

We packed our plastic buckets and shovels and headed for Houston Sat. morning.  Driving all your worldly possessions on to a ferry (to exit Mustang Island) changes your thoughts from... "Ohh.. isn't this fun! Look at the dolphins!" to "How long has the Captain been doing this?" and "Are there enough life jackets to float my truck and trailer?"  We made it across to the mainland without getting a wheel wet and we were on our way.

First impressions of Houston were "Holy cow , TRAFFIC!" and second was there is a lot of stuff here.  We had time to look since we were crawling in bumper to bumper half way across the city.  We made it to Northlake RV Resort early afternoon, our home in the north end of the city.  This is a new park that they spent a lot of money on and it shows.  The facilities are all top notch with a nice laundry, exercise room, lounge with free popcorn, BBQ pavillions around the lake, a dog wash station and runs.  While every site has some grass there is a sense of a lot of concrete, but this is a minor complaint.

This was great (and good timing) for getting sand out of man's best friend or a Bulldog that just barely tolerates you.

We were hungry so it was DDD time again, There are a half dozen places in the city to choose from and we picked The Red Lion Pub and Restaurant.  This an English pub that looks like an old English cottage tucked in amongst small strip malls and office buildings. 

We pulled up in my new Porsche 911 Turbo S

Shepperd's Pie and Fish & Chips how English is that? Jenny & you concur?

Very cool 4x4 sold by Lamborghini of Houston outside the pub.

The food was delicious but what stands out here is the atmosphere, it is dimly lit with stucco and timber just like you think a pub should be.  Warm inviting booths in red leather are big and comfortable.

We decided to cruise downtown afterwards to see what we could see.. Houston is similar to Toronto maybe just a little shinier.  That fact these southern places don't see long cold winter let's them keep their sparkle for a long time.  Not having to deal with slush and salt for half the year makes it easy to be pretty.

The next day we did a little shopping and roaming.  We found out that this city with it's 'burbs is huge.  We also were reminded that big city drivers are aggressive and don't like you to leave spaces much like in T.O.  While we are OK with that, Houston drivers have completely stopped using their signals to warn you when they are cutting you off.

We drove to Houston West airport to see an airshow of old war planes.  There is an organization called The Ghost Squadron that are a group of people who own these planes and run a museum here. They had many planes on display with a few you could actually climb into.  Plane rides were also being offered in some of the planes.  For $225 you could go up in a WWII fighter or even an earlier plane with open cockpit which would be a thrill.  I was tempted but that much money puts a lot of diesel in the tank.

Monday was reserved for the Johnson Space Center and Kemah Boardwalk unfortunately, the weather had reservations before us and rained out our Kemah visit so that will wait for another time. 

The Space Center is a wonderful place to kill a rainy day and learn a bunch while you're at it.  There are plenty of hands on demos and informative displays that explain what really goes into space travel and helps you see true accomplishment it is.  To see what the Apollo program accomplished with technology of the day, truly was a giant leap for mankind.  You realise how crazy these people where to think this could be done in that day and age.  We have smarter phones today than the main frame computer NASA had to work with.  This is something everyone should see at some point. 

Canada built the Canada arm and the hands-on exhibits for NASA.

Hanging out in the Space Lab training module.

Just the mechanism to close the door was mind boggling.  This is the actual Apollo 17 command module that went around the moon and back.

The Houston control room where they first heard about a problem...
"Apollo 13" (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon,  Dir. Ron Howard)

Saturn 5 rocket ...a whole lot of boom

When we do come back this way in the future we will take the "Level 9" tour.  This is only open to twelve people a day, costs $89 and would be worth every penny.  You must book it at least a day in advance and we didn't have time when we figured out what it was.  It takes you to places off  limits to the rest of the visitors.  You get to see where the astronauts train and where testing for the I.S.S modules is done.  Lunch is included in the cafeteria the astronauts dine in and access to many other very neat places.

Time to hit the road to Graceland in Memphis which brings us to:

Fulltiming Lesson #3;  When entering your destination in the GPS make sure you are going to the correct state. Memphis, TN and not Memphis, TX because they aren't even close to one another. 

We headed north on Hwy. 45 none the wiser, until Detra was looking at the map and thought it was a strange way to go see Elvis.  I was blindly following the GPS which I try not to do, until Detra asked "Why we aren't taking Hwy. 59?'  We quickly figured it out and pointed the truck at the right Memphis.  All it really cost us was maybe an extra 1/2 hour on the road, it could have been much worse.

We are in Millwood State Park in Arkansas for a two night stay before we hit Graceland and Beale St. in Memphis......  That's Tennessee not Texas.

Two roads diverge in Houston and we take the one less travelled by... the wrong one...



  1. Love the movie references! Boondocking on the beach looks great too. Were you afraid of burying your rig in the sand?

  2. Thanks Jim. The sand was pretty firm. I wouldn,t go any close than those pictures show. When we hooked up to leave I spun the tires and started sinking, but if you go easy it stays on top on problem. There were people with 45ft. Buses on the beach so we are relatively light.

  3. Quite a contrast between southern US campgrounds and our natural forested ones, here in ON Canada. You and Detra are certainly having some wonderful experiences. The photos make your entertaining blog come alive.

  4. Yes it's great to see the different landscapes, I can' t wait for next year's desert and the huge redwoods and old faithful and the mountains and the plains and.... you get the picture.

    1. :) ...places to go .. things to see..quite a bucket list!

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