#TBT – Visiting Erie Canal, JELL-O Museum, Bethlehem, Nicholson Bridge

(Author’s note: This post is another in my Throwback Thursday series.  Taken from August 2008 on a visit to Bethlehem for the Music Festival to join Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours.  I also visited a number of other sites. At the time I was still working in Woodstock, Ontario)

August 1, 2008: Instead of heading back to Kentucky for the weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Bethlehem, PA and join
Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours for their two performances at the 2008 Bethlehem MusikFest.  I decided to make a weekend of it and visit more places along the way that I had yet to get to.  It would be a fun weekend indeed!!

I headed out early and headed southeast towards Buffalo.  My adventures for the first day would take me to the Erie Canal and the Jell-O Museum, among other places.  The map of the entire trip is below.

Woodstock to Lockport, LeRoy and Penn Yan, NY then to Bethlehem and back

My first “tourist stop” along the way was Lockport, New York.  Lockport derived its name from the locks that were built on the Erie Canal through here.  It is only about 20 miles east of Niagara Falls.  Like many towns in NW New York and SW Ontario, the town was initially settled by Quakers.  In the 1820s construction on the Erie Canal was well underway and part of the route would go through Lockport.  The locks were the idea of Nathan Roberts. A sixty foot drop existed at Lockport and a way had to be devised to raise and lower the packet boats to complete the journey to Buffalo. Roberts’s idea was a twin flight of locks with five locks each. In 1823, work began on the lock construction. These locks were crucial to
the completion of the canal.

(click on link above to learn more about the canal)
A portion of a large painting in the museum depicting the construction of the locks on the Erie Canal
Another portions of a large painting in the museum depicting the construction of the locks on the Erie Canal
Another depiction of the locks by Robert E. Hager
Another image of the Locks from 1839 by W.H. Bartlett

Today the town of Lockport welcomes many visitors who come to see the historic locks, which have since been improved upon considerably as technology has allowed.  When I got to Lockport I visited the Erie Locks & Canal Museum, where there was a small video about the building of the canal and locks in the area.  I then walked over to the locks.

A unique welcome sign: Welcome to Lockport, NY
The Lockport Museum
A couple of girls who acted as guides at Lockport
The Old City Hall and the entrance to the Lockport Cave

There are tours down and through the canal from here as well as a boat tour down in the Lockport Cave. Due to time and money constraints I chose not to take them.  But I would love to have the time to take a whole day here to see the sights and history.  Maybe someday…..

There are basically two locks in Lockport, as the sign above shows. The Erie Canal reached Lockport in 1824, but the locks were completed on Oct. 26, 1825.

The complex was built as two sets of five flights of locks (one east-bound, one west-bound) and was considered to be an engineering triumph.  These would help traverse the Niagara escarpment which dropped 60 feet in the Lockport area. Lots of early photos can be seen here.   Following are Some views of the locks in Lockport

Middleport Bridge over the Erie Canal

From Lockport, I headed east along the Erie Canal and made my way into Middleport, a quaint little town with an interesting restaurant and bridge.  The Original Basket Factory was begun around 1893 to make baskets for fruit farmers along the canal.  It later became a nice little restaurant.

Lovely wreath at the Original Basket Factory
The Original Basket Factory Restaurant
The Original Basket Factory Restaurant overlooks the Erie Canal

From Middleport I continued east to Medina, NY (pronounced Ma-DIE-nah as I later found out) on NY Highway 31.  Another nice little town along the Erie Canal, Medina is the home to the
Medina Railroad Museum (which I did not visit) and is also home to a very large sculpted apple along the Erie Canal.

The “Big Apple” of Medina, NY
Another view of Medina’s “Big Apple” overlooking the Erie Canal. The apple is dedicated to the W. NY Fruit Growers who have added to the economy of the area.
The apple was sculpted by Richard D. Bannister between Jan. 99 to Sept. 2000. It is in Lion’s Park.

I went further east of Medina on NY 31 to find the only place along the canal with a tunnel going under it.  Just down the road on the left was Culvert Rd.  Take a left and it takes you directly to the tunnel. Known as the Culvert Road tunnel (or something like that), it was the only one ever on the Erie Canal and has existed here since
Clinton’s Ditch, another name for the Erie Canal. The original road culvert, on a slightly different alignment, was removed about 1854-1855 as part of the Erie’s enlargement.  The contract for the Enlarged Erie road culvert is dated October 24, 1854 and lists Conway and Slater as the contractors. The 1854/1855 Enlarged Erie culvert was substantially rebuilt or replaced as part of the Nine Million Dollar Improvement of 1895. The contract for the new structure was given to Charles A. Gorman and is dated December 7, 1896. The current road culvert represents an attempt during the Barge Canal’s construction to preserve, if unknowingly, the historic significance of the structure. The facade of the south end was dismantled and the stones numbered. It was then reinstalled at a new location to allow for the wider Barge Canal channel.

The Culvert Road tunnel under the Erie Canal
This tunnel is in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the sign indicates
Another view of the tunnel from the other side
This is a view of the Erie Canal just above the tunnel. The rail fence across the canal is the same one above the tunnel photograph above

After my drive along NY 31, I headed south on NY 98 towards Batavia and then east on NY 5 into the historical town of Le Roy, NY. My main objective in visiting Le Roy was the JELL-O Museum.  This delectable bouncy treat was first developed in Le Roy in 1897 by Pearle Wait.  He was working with some cough syrup and laxative tea and then added some gelatin.  His wife called it Jell-O. The recipe was bought by a man named Orator F. Woodward in Sept. 1899. There is a lot of history about Jell-O, but perhaps the one thing that many people my age think of is Bill Cosby.

The JELL-O Museum, in Le Roy, New York
The JELL-O Museum welcome sign
Jell-O Museum T-shirt
Who likes Jell-O?
Bill Cosby memorabilia at the JELL-O Museum
The Bill Cosby plaque on the “JELL-O Brick Road”
Most popular flavors – Strawberry is #1; San Francisco is largest consumer, though Salt Lake City is the largest consumer of Lime JELL-O
Jell-O molds of all varieties
What good is Jell-O without spoons? Dozens hang from the ceiling throughout the museum
A cow adorns the porch–with JELL-O on its forehead
A side view of the Jell-O cow

After Le Roy I headed east on I-90 to highway 14 South.  I then went south through Finger Lake country along Seneca Lake to Geneva, then on 14A to the small town of Penn Yan, which sits on the north end of Keuka Lake.  This is beautiful country.  Penn Yan is also home of Birkett Mills, known for its famous Buckwheat flour, but also known to have the largest griddle in the world.

The World Record Pancake Griddle. People walk by so you an get an idea of the griddle’s size.

I continued south to Corning, NY and then to Elmira and then eventually wended my way to Clarks Summit, PA (near Scranton), where I spent the night. Scranton is the home of then Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate (with Barrack Obama).  I spent the night in the Ramada Inn, which is right next to an extremely high bridge called the Freedom Bridge.  It towers 163 feet high above the town
and is 1627 feet long. At one time was known as the “Suicide Bridge” due to the more than 20 suicides that took place from the 1980s to the present.

The Freedom Bridge over Clark’s Summit, PA

August 2, 2008: I was off to Bethlehem this morning.  No plans to stop along the way, so I headed south on I-380 and then down US 209.  I got into Bethlehem around 10 AM and had a great time driving around the town while waiting for Antsy McClain and the band to arrive in town later in the afternoon.

Bethlehem is in Eastern Pennsylvania and is a city of about 72,000.  It was the home of Bethlehem Steel, which began in Bethlehem in  1857 but succumbed to bankruptcy in 2003.  At one time it was the second largest steel producer in the United States.  The buildings look rusty and the factory is like an old sore.  But, there is now  construction of a new casino on the site.

As I drove around the city I was taken by the cultural diversity.   There is a large Puerto Rican community, the beautiful old Lehigh University and the old steel mill.

The old Bethlehem Steel Mill – now defunct
Another view of the old Bethlehem Steel Mill
Some of the old buildings
Old gears dot the properties
Another old gear
Lots of these could be seen around the area
Large crane on the site of the new casino;
A divergence of new homes with the rusted steel plant in their backyards
A view of a Bethlehem neighborhood as seen from Lehigh University
Downtown Bethlehem, PA

I drove up and down the streets near the steel plant and imagined how this area must have thrived in the heyday of steel production.  Homes were tightly built in rows, with little or no yards.  Nowadays most of the neighborhoods I drove through appeared to be Puerto Rican.

Old steel mill worker homes in Bethlehem
More close-knot homes on a narrow street in Bethlehem, PA
One of Bethlehem’s small narrow streets
More old classic Bethlehem homes
A final look at Bethlehem housing

Lehigh University is a beautiful old campus and has some wonderful old buildings too.

Old rustic tower on the campus of Lehigh University
Strange art piece on the Lehigh University campus
An old classroom building on Lehigh University campus

I also drove around the outskirts of town and there was nice farmland and even some geese….

An old stone house on the outskirts of Bethlehem
An old farm house surrounded by corn fields just outside of Bethlehem
A lovely old rustic barn in the countryside near Bethlehem, PA
Geese relax in a small area of brush near a farm

Of course, the highlight of the visit to Bethlehem was the
MusikFest and most especially, the performance of the fabulous music group known as Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours!!  The Troubs were scheduled for two nights here.  They were just a small part of dozens of performances on a number of stages.  The first night we played at 9 PM on the Liederplatz Stage.

A flag made of at the entrance of the Bethlehem MusikFest
A performance tent at Bethlehem MusikFest in 2008
The famous Antsy McClain rocks the crowd at Bethlehem MusikFest in 2008, with Chris ‘Spoonz” Long on drums, Pauly Zarb on Keyboards and Brian Gavron on mandolin
Fans give Antsy a big Amen

The show was a blast and all had fun.  After the show we all crashed at the hotel.

August 3, 2008: This morning was a great time to sleep in, which I did.  The hotel was comfy, had a huge TV in the room and I just lounged until late in the morning.  Antsy and I then took a small ride around town and then back to the hotel to get ready for the second night’s show.  We played the larger Americaplatz stage at 7:30 PM and had a crowd of nearly 500 watching the show.

Antsy McClain performs on day 2 of the MusickFest. Pauly Zarb on keyboards in the background
Antsy and Adam having fun on stage
Australian talent Pauly Zarb tickles the ivories as Antsy looks on.

The band had a blast…

Antsy McClain
Pauly Zarb..the Australian multi-instrumental talent
Brian Gavron picks a mean mandolin
Chris “Spoonz” Long on the drums

And of course, Sumoflam was on hand to handle the Merch and answer questions.  He Married Up!!

Sumoflam working the tables at MusikFest 2008
The crowds line up for merch and Antsy sightings
Sumoflam gets on stage for “I Married Up.”
Sumoflam high fives fans
Sumoflam joins with mandolin player Brian Gavron to sing harmonies on “Field Trip”

But more than the band, the crowds had a blast (including a number of die-hard Flamingoheads from PA and NJ!!!):

Fans dance to Antsy McClain
Flamingoheads Unite!
The crowd gets into it!
Yes, Antsy signs shirts, especially “I Married Up” Shirts

August 4, 2008: Well, as with everything else, the good things eventually go away and are done.  The two days of fun with the Troubs were done and I had to be back on the road to Woodstock again.  I chose my route home carefully so I could see one spectacular sight on the way.  So, from Bethlehem I drove north on PA 33 then to I-80.  I then drove wet to I-380 and headed north towards Scranton and eventually back to Clark’s Summit.  I exited there and headed north on US 11 towards Factoryville, which took me north along the Lackawanna Trail into Nicholson, PA.  As I drove into town I was awestruck by the amazing sight in front me.  Towering high above the town was this humongous cement train bridge.  This is the Nicholson Bridge (actually the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct which celebrates its 100th anniversary in Sept. 2015).  It is 2375 feet long, 240 feet tall and 34 feet wide.  Yes, 24 stories tall!!!!!  The bridge was built as part of the Clark’s Summit-Hallstead Cutoff, which was part of a project of the Lackawanna Railroad to revamp a winding and hilly system. This rerouting was built between Scranton, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York.  All thirteen piers were excavated to bedrock, which was up to 138 feet  below ground level. Almost half of the bulk of the bridge is underground. The bridge was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and was designed by Abraham Burton Cohen. Construction on the bridge began in May 1912, and dedication took place on November 6, 1915.

Main street Nicholson, PA and the Nicholson Bridge
The Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct towers over the small town of Nicholson, PA

Considering the immensity of this bridge, it is amazing that it was built nearly 100 years ago.  A detailed history of the bridge is here.
Following are more pictures.  I drove all around the town to get these photos and found that the best place to get photos of the length of the bridge was at the cemetery, which is up on a hill overlooking the town.  This is by far one of the greatest places I have “discovered” on my trips thus far.

The Nicholson Bridge as seen from the old train depot building.
The bridge from a distance
Nicholson Brisge as seen from the cemetery
A view of the bridge and the Tunkhannock Creek valley
A view of the Nicholson Bridge from the cemetery
The Nicholson Bridge as seen from below. It is dizzying to look up at it.
A view of a train crossing over the bridge

After the magnificence of the viaduct, I then had to head north.  I went through a town called Hop Bottom and then on the way up to New Milford. Hop Bottom got its name from the hops that are  grown in the area.  New Milford had an interesting library…

Welcome to Hop Bottom, PA
Old Ghost Sign for the Great Bend, PA Post Office
The uniquely designed Pratt Library building in New Milford, PA

I also made my way through the Finger Lakes of New York.  Along the road north of Ithaca I saw a sign about Taughannock Falls. I knew nothing about this waterfall, but the viewpoint was just off the road, so I took a little jaunt to catch a peek.  The Falls have a drop of about 215 feet and is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern U.S. It was an amazing sight, but unfortunately the light was not at the best angle for a good photo.

A view of the bridge at the base of Taughannock Falls in New York
Taughannock Falls in New York
Looking out at Taughannock Falls
Another view of Taughannock Falls in the shadows of late afternoon

Beautiful scenery, but no time to stop along the way…

A pink elephant near Owego, NY
Another view of the Owego, NY Pink Elephant
Corn fields and farms bedazzle in the Finger Lakes region of New York
A view of one of the Finger Lakes in New York
Finally, I ran into some wonderful sunflowers in the Finger Lakes region of New York

And finally, beautiful sunflowers

Some roadside guidance provided by……

 

North Texas/Oklahoma Odyssey and beyond

NTexas(Note: This is part 3 of my Texas road trip reports from June 2014, covering the trip from Austin to Ft. Worth and then on to Denton, Paris, Oklahoma, Arkansas and home to Kentucky.)

After spending a nice day in Austin, it was time to head north to Ft. Worth and then on to Kentucky.  Along the way I went from weird to spooky to strange to Friendship.  Here is the map of this portion of the trip.

My route from Austin, TX (weird) to Friendship, AR.  Traveled in late June 2014
My route from Austin, TX (weird) to Friendship, AR. Traveled in late June 2014

On this route I visited friends but also visited some other fun and quirky places.  My first stop was in Georgetown, TX.  Georgetown is home to some lovely Victorian architecture and also has one of the more quirky street statues I have seen.

A Victorian Spire in Georgetown, TX
The distinctive Onion Dome on the San Gabriel Masonic Lodge Building in Georgetown, TX

This building was the home of the San Gabriel Masonic Lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Texas. They built it and met here for over 82 years. For much of that time, locals referred to the building simply as the “Temple.” The building was completed in 1900.

A mural in Georgetown that depicts some of the towns more famed buildings
A mural in Georgetown that depicts some of the towns more famed buildings

Of course, quirkiness seems to be a part of central Texas.  Downtown Georgetown was home to Robert McAlpin “Three Legged Willie” Williamson.  At the age of fifteen, he contracted tubercular arthritis that caused his right leg to permanently stiffen at a 90 degree angle. In order to walk, a wooden leg had to be fastened to his knee. Because of this, he later acquired the nickname “Three-Legged-Willie”. He passed the bar at the approximate age of nineteen before practicing one year of law in Georgia. A lawyer at 19, he fought with the cavalry at the Battle of San Jacinto.  In 2013 a life-size commemorative statue of him was i

Three-Legged Willie
Three-Legged Willie – designed by Georgetown artist and photographer Lucas Adams

After lunch with my friend in Georgetown, it was on to Azle, Texas for my first in-person visit with fellow travel blogger and author Tui Snider. I originally became acquainted with Tui online by coming across some of her wonderful blog posts about quirky places to visit in the Dallas/Ft. Worth/N. Texas area.  I contacted her through Facebook and we soon were corresponding, sharing places and experiences.  I had to drop by for a visit since I would be so close.

Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014
Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014

Tui has written two books on travel in the area.  Her first, Unexpected Texas, is a great read.  Indeed, it is a handbook to the quirky and unique. She gives directions to places such as the Gravesite of an Alleged Space Alien, a Courthouse Displaying a Dead Lizard , the Statue of Jesus Wearing Cowboy Boots (visited on this trip…see below), the Rope used to Lynch “Santa Claus,” a Building Made Entirely of Salt, a Wax Replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, a  65 foot tall Eiffel Tower Replica (visited on this trip too), a Petrified Wood Motel & Cafe, the World’s Smallest Skyscraper, and the only Michelangelo Painting in America.

Tui Snider books as of January 2015
Tui Snider books as of January 2015

Her other book, Paranormal Texas, is a guide to quite a few haunted places in the the DFW Metroplex area.  As with her Unexpected, it is a fun read and well worth the small purchase price.

Visiting the Sniders in Azle, TX
Visiting the Sniders in Azle, TX – note the gargoyle in the foreground

Tui Snider’s home is exactly what one would expect of an eclectic writer.  It was more like a small museum with lots of untold artifacts.  I had to sneak a couple of shots…

A view of the inside of Tui Snider's home.  Note the image on the monitor...she was finishing up her Paranormal book at the time.
A view of the inside of Tui Snider’s home. Note the image on the monitor…she was finishing up her Paranormal book at the time.
A collection of oddities on top of an old old piano
A collection of oddities on top of an old old piano – also note the spiral staircase on the upper left

And I have to point out the fresco painted on their domed front porch….

Pointing out the Fresco on the domed front porch.  Classic!
Pointing out the Fresco on the domed front porch. Classic!

It was a great visit with Tui.  And, while there, she introduced me to another author and ghost lover Shelly Tucker of Denton, TX.  You’ll see my visit with her below. She is the owner of Ghosts of Denton, that provides haunted history tours of the area.  She also authored a book by the same name (get it on Amazon).

Tucker Book
Ghosts of Denton by Shelly Tucker

After visiting with Tui, I stopped in Dallas for dinner with another friend.  We visited the BBQ joint called Bone Daddy’s.  It is a small chain of eight restaurants with succulent BBQ and an atmosphere to match.  They have a dish called “The Flying Pig”, which I ordered. Just the day before in Austin I had a “Flying Pig” Donut at Gourdough’s (see that post and a photo). Both Flying Pigs had ham and maple components.

At Bone Daddy's in Plano, TX
At Bone Daddy’s in Plano, TX
They Buy Road Kill at Bone Daddy's!  Yum!
They Buy Road Kill at Bone Daddy’s! Yum!
I had the Flying Pig at Bone Daddy's
I had the Flying Pig at Bone Daddy’s

After dinner it was off to spend the night with my sister in Keller and then, the next morning I was on the road, with my first stop being an early morning meetup in Denton with Shelly Tucker who introduced me to some of the great places that town has to offer.

Sumoflam with Shelly Tucker in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse
Sumoflam with Shelly Tucker in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse

Denton, Texas is a fun place to visit, almost like a miniature Austin in some respects.  The pinnacle of Denton is the old County Court House, which now serves as a museum. Opened in 1979, the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum is located in the historic 1896 Courthouse in downtown Denton. The museum features rotating exhibits depicting Denton County history. Visitors may walk the halls to discover the history of the settlement of Denton County, learn about their ancestors in the museum’s Research Room, and step into the historical courtroom on the second floor.

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX

The Romanesque courthouse was designed by W. C. Dodson (1829-1914) from Waco.  He also designed a few other courthouses in Texas during his working years. Many consider this to be one of the most beautiful courthouses in Texas.

A view of the Romanesque tower on the county courthouse
A view of the Romanesque tower on the county courthouse

Downtown Denton is also a great place for some old neon signs. Here are a few that I captured while downtown.

Campus Theatre Neon in Denton, TX
Campus Theatre Neon in Denton, TX

The Campus Theatre was a grand movie house built in 1949 in downtown Denton. The manager for Interstate Theatres in Denton at the time impressed the importance of this project upon his company: Denton was in need of a movie theatre that would cater to the “kids on the campus” (University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University). As a result, the Campus Theatre Movie-House was built. At the time of its construction the Campus Theatre was one of several state-of-the-art movie houses in the southwest. The Campus Theatre remained open and operational as a movie house until 1985 when it closed and was left vacant. It has since been restored and provides the first permanent home for all performing arts organizations in Denton.

Logan's Shoe Shop Neon, Denton, TX
Logan’s Shoe Shop Neon, Denton, TX
Atomic Candy Neon Sign in Denton, TX
Atomic Candy Neon Sign in Denton, TX

Atomic Candy is one of those quirky and off-beat candy shops with a menagerie of old knick-knacks and retro signs and things. Unfortunately, I was there too early but could at least look in to see their bulk candies, soda fountain and novelty items.

Old retro statue of a boy in the window at Atomic Candy in Denton, TX
Old retro statue of a boy in the window at Atomic Candy in Denton, TX
Old Fine Arts Theatre in Denton, TX
Old Fine Arts Theatre in Denton, TX

The Fine Arts Theater was built as the Graham Opera House in 1877
by George & Henry Fastorff.  In 1935 the Interstate Theater Circuit remodeled the building, and put the Texas Theater into operation.
In 1954, the Texas was purchased by Trans Texas Theaters, and in
1957, it received yet another new name … Fine Arts.  It is currently in the midst of a restoration project.

The Old Opera House in Denton is now a shopping center
The Old Opera House in Denton is now book store called “Recycled”

The Wright Opera House was built in 1899 for $25,000, it was the elite showcase of Denton. Built from the bricks from the condemned 1870s Courthouse, the Wright Opera House operated until 1913, due to the advent of cinema.  It now houses the book store and eight luxury apartments.

LSA Burger Company Neon, Denton, TX
LSA Burger Company Neon, Denton, TX

Perhaps the best part of visiting with Shelly was her connections.  The LSA Burger Company has to have been one of my favorite places to visit on my entire trip to Texas in June.  I got to meet one of the managers and got a personal tour of the place before it opened for the day.

With one of the managers of LSA Burger Co in Denton, TX
With one of the managers of LSA Burger Co in Denton, TX

LSA Burger Company is a live music venue and is all about historic Texas musicians (it was even started by a Texas Musician!)  The MUST SEE item in this place is the famed “Great Texas Supper” mural housed inside the eatery.

The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

The painting was actually the idea of LSA Burger Co. owners Jon Christopher Davis and John “Sparky” Pearson.  Eyecon Murals in Dallas did the artwork. The painting depicts a scene similar to “The Last Supper,” and includes (from left): George Jones, Selena, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Scott Joplin, Janis Joplin, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly and T-Bone Walker.

A portion of the Great Texas Supper mural
A portion of the Great Texas Supper mural with Steve Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly and T-Bone Walker
Sumoflam and the Last Texas Supper
Sumoflam and the Last Texas Supper

Another great piece of art is in LSA.  It is titled “Texas Instruments,” a play on the famed microchip company.  The sculpture is a wire mesh piece that has been fashioned in the shape of Texas. It is filled with a collage of instruments including guitars, violins, horns, and amplifiers. A strategically placed guitar painted with a lone white star pays subtle tribute to Denton’s place on the map.

Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Texas Instruments Sculpture at LSA Burger Co., in Denton, TX
Texas Instruments Sculpture at LSA Burger Co., in Denton, TX.  The guitar with the star denotes Denton’s location on the map.

But these are not all.  LSA Burger Co. also has a shrine to Willie Nelson. Yes, that’s right!!

Willie Nelson Portrait above his shrine
Willie Nelson Portrait above his shrine
Willie Nelson Shrine at LSA Burger Co. in Denton, TX
Willie Nelson Shrine at LSA Burger Co. in Denton, TX

They also have a laminate counter with dozens of album covers

Album Counter at LSA Burger Co.
Album Counter at LSA Burger Co.

And finally, the beer bottle chandelier…quite a work of art.

Beer bottle chandelier at LSA Burger Co.
Beer bottle chandelier at LSA Burger Co. in Denton

Shelly also walked me around the courthouse, told me a few ghost stories and invited me back. Next trip to Texas will most certainly include a prolonged visit to Denton!

Prosper Water Tower, Prosper, TX
Prosper Water Tower, Prosper, TX

From Denton I was off to have a late breakfast with a friend in Prosper, Texas at the Cotton Gin Cafe and then onward to Paris, TX and Hugo, OK.

Breakfast at the Cotton Gin Cafe in Prosper, Texas
Breakfast at the Cotton Gin Cafe in Prosper, Texas

The Cotton Gin Cafe is a nice little place in an old brick building on Broadway in Prosper.  All of their menu items are home made and tasty.  The atmosphere is fun as well with many old posters and signs for eye candy.

Old Prosper Post Office
Old Prosper ISD Tax Office

The establishment of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad in March of 1902 created the change that forced the communities of Rock Hill and Richland to merge forming the Town of Prosper. For years, Prosper was the central stop for the railroad between Dallas and Sherman. When community officials applied for a Post Office with the name “Richland”, they were informed that city name was already taken. Postmaster B.J. Naugle asked for an alternative name and J.C. Slaughter suggested the name Prosper, because crops that year had been very prosperous.

Texas Hwy 289 north out of Prosper
Texas Hwy 289 north out of Prosper

From Prosper I headed north on Texas Hwy 289 towards Sherman and then proceeded on US 82 to Honey Grove, Texas. My last visit to Honey Grove was late one evening in February 2010.  I was on my way to  find Bugtussle, TX after having driven all day from Bugtussle, KY (see my original trip journal HERE).  Even in the dark the town looked old and rundown.

Honey Grove, Texas
Welcome to Honey Grove, Texas

Actually, in daylight there were some bright spots in this quiet little Texas town.  But, there are entire sections that are rundown…a sad look at brighter days gone by.

A view of Honey Grove, Texas
A view of Honey Grove, Texas
Old Bank Facade in Honey Grove, TX
Old Bank Facade in Honey Grove, TX
Downtown Honey Grove, Texas
Downtown Honey Grove, Texas – old brick roads are delightful
Old Pool Hall, Honey Grove, Texas
Old Pool Hall, Honey Grove, Texas
Entire street of buildings is rundown in Honey Grove, TX
Entire street of buildings is rundown in Honey Grove, TX

After driving through Honey Grove, I proceeded east on US 82 towards Paris, TX.  Just west of Paris is the small town of Toco.  Off to the north of the highway I saw an old plane parked in the field next to a barn.  What an unusual site as there was not an airport.

Old Airplane in Toco, TX..totally out of place
Old Airplane in Toco, TX..totally out of place

I tried to figure out what is what all about and found a piece on TexasEscapes.com about it.  According to his page, “the plane is a Martin 404 and there wouldn’t be too much more to say about it if photographer Stephen Michaels hadn’t stayed up late to research the ship.  An aircraft electrician in a previous life, Michaels researched the FAA number to find that the plane had been part of the Southern Airways fleet. ” Apparently, the research also led Stephen to the Southern Airways website – which revealed the story of a chance meeting between the plane and its former pilot and a very interesting interview with the planes current owner. See that article here.

Google Satellite view of the Toco Airplane
Google Satellite view of the Toco Airplane

According to the above noted article, the “owner was Isaac Newton (Ike / Junior**) Burchinal, a well-known movie pilot. Some of his credits include; “Flight of the Phoenix,” “Twelve O’clock High,” “Catch 22,” “The Great Waldo Pepper,” and “McArthur.” He also was the pilot for Robert Conrad in the TV series, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”

I drove a little closer to get another shot and saw cockpits from a few other planes in a “Cadillac Ranch” formation.  Turns out that this used to be the Flying Tiger Airport and Air Museum.

Another shot of the Toco Plane
Another shot of the Toco Plane – a Martin 404 – it finished its life as a Pro-Air Airplane
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Old Prop plane at Flying Tigers Air Museum
Old Prop plane at Flying Tigers Air Museum

It is for reasons like this small air museum that I love taking back road trips.  You just NEVER know what you will see along the way.  And the joy of it all is reliving the trip as I write so I can do some research an learn a bit.

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas

My next stop on the way was in Paris, Texas.  I was headed to see the Cowboy Hat topped Eiffel Tower replica.  I actually had hit Paris, Tennessee on my way down to Texas a week earlier and have a fun post about the “Two Towers”.  Check it out HERE if you have not seen it.  Most of the details about this tower are in that post.

The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica.
The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica. About 70 feet tall with Cowboy Hat on top

Though the tower is the most famous icon of the town, there is also another more obscure item. In keeping with the theme of this post (paranormal, ghosts, haunted places, spooky, graveyards), I visited the Evergreen Cemetery in Paris to see the “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” gravestone.

From the front it seems common as most other gravestones.
From the front it seems common as most other gravestones.

A closer look from the back reveals that this particular Jesus was interesting….as he is apparently wearing Cowboy Boots under his robes.

Cowboy Boots on Jesus
Cowboy Boots on Jesus
A closer look at the boots
A closer look at the boots

Thanks to the guys at WeirdUS.com, a bit more detail about the story can be found. Of course, I too can’t really tell whether it is Jesus or an angel.  But, there are certainly Cowboy Boots and I am sure that Willet Babcock (a furniture magnate and Opera House owner in Paris in the late 1800s), the man buried under this monument, had a sense of humor and certainly made a legacy such that many come to visit him who have never known a thing about him…including me!  By the way, this sculpture is apparently attributed to a German immigrant stone mason named Gustave Klein (see this interesting article), who was responsible for many of the monuments in Evergreen Cemetery and is also buried in the cemetery.

Old Ghost Sign on a building in Paris
Old Ghost Sign on a building in Paris

Like many Texas towns, there are remnants of days past.  Old Ghost Signs still linger on as decor on old buildings. such as the one above and the one below, both in Paris.

Paris Cotton old ghost sign
Paris Cotton old ghost sign

And one last fun view from Paris before heading north to Oklahoma:

Paris Lanes, old bowling alley neon sign
Paris Lanes, old bowling alley neon sign
I bid farewell to Paris...that's me in the reflection...
I bid farewell to Paris…that’s me in the reflection…

From Paris I headed north on US 271 for my first venture into the southeastern Oklahoma town of Hugo.

Welcome to Oklahoma
Welcome to Oklahoma

In the late 1800s and early 1900s this town was apparently a hotbed of activity … the wild west town.  It was a railroad hub and so it had an assortment of dance hall girls, hustlers and gunfighters, and perhaps a dozen circuses wintering nearby taking advantage of the moderate climate and easy rail access. The town was founded in 1901 and was named for the French novelist, Victor Hugo.

Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK
Welcome to Historic Hugo, OK

Nowadays the town is best known for its one-of-a-kind cemetery, a few murals and as the birthplace of 70s singer-songwriter B.J. Thomas (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head).

Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
Old wall mural in Hugo depicts some of the history of the town.
A building made of petrified wood in Hugo
A building made of unique stones (or petrified wood??) in Hugo
Downtown Hugo, OK
Downtown Hugo, OK

The town is perhaps best known as a resting place for Circus Performers and, has become the eternal resting place for many of these performers.  In fact, the town even has acquired a nickname as “Circus City USA.”

Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce
Elephant Statue in front of the Hugo Chamber of Commerce

Hugo has been a circus wintering ground since 1942 and is still such for three circuses and their staff and performers, The Carson and Barnes Circus, The Kelly-Miller Circus, and the Culpepper-Merriweather Circus.  It is a common site to drive past their grounds in the winter and see them taking care of an elephant or working on their equipment.

Showmen's Rest in Hugo's Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Showmen’s Rest in Hugo’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Circus sign in Mt. Olivet
Circus sign in Mt. Olivet

The town cemetery, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, has a special area called Showmen’s Rest which features unique headstones and grave sites for circus performers and owners. there is also a section called Bull Rider’s Reprieve set aside as a resting place for rodeo riders that have passed on.  I thoroughly enjoyed the brief visit to this hallowed ground to remember circus performers.  Here are a few photos from this fascinating corner of a cemetery.

Dedicated to Circus Performers
Dedicated to Circus Performers
Whalen...with little clowns
Whalen…with little clowns
James O'Donnell -- Acrobat and Clown
James O’Donnell — Acrobat and Clown
Elephant Posts at Showmen's Rest
Elephant Posts at Showmen’s Rest
Sumoflam with an Elephant Headstone at Showmen's Rest
Sumoflam with an Elephant Headstone at Showmen’s Rest
The Grass Showman
The Grass Showman
A performer's marker
A performer’s marker
Mr. Miller will always be under the big top
Mr. Miller will always be under the big top
Kennedy Swain
Kennedy Swain – Comedian for numerous circuses
Circus Lives Celebrated
Circus Lives Celebrated

Honestly, I was touched at the love I could feel in this place.  Many times my visits to cemeteries are peaceful and tranquil, but they exude some sense of sadness.  In this case, I was filled with joy.  those these performers had passed on, they still brought the joy out in an old guy who has not been to a circus since the 1970s.

A final view of Showmen's Rest
A final view of Showmen’s Rest

After my wonderful visit to Mt. Olivet, I was back on the road heading east on US 70 toward my next unique named town…Valliant, OK.

East on US 70 towards Valliant, OK
East on US 70 towards Valliant, OK
Welcome to Valliant, OK
Welcome to Valliant, OK

Valliant was founded June 2, 1902, and named for Frank W. Valliant, a chief divisional engineer for the Arkansas & Choctaw Railroad being constructed in the area at that time. Valliant is famous for its annual Watermelon Festival at the City Park.  Unfortunately, I was not there for the festivities, so I just passed on through valiantly….

Rolling Hills of SE Oklahoma
Rolling Hills of SE Oklahoma

Lest any of you think that Oklahoma is just a big state with lots of flat land for cattle, think again.  There are some beautiful wooded areas and plenty of rolling hills in the southeast corner of the state.  Driving along OK Hwy 98 to OK Hwy 3 is a wonderfully beautiful drive.

Rolling Hills of Oklahoma on OK 98 north of Wright City, OK
Rolling Hills of Oklahoma on OK 98 north of Wright City, OK
End of OK Hwy 98 at OK Hwy 3
End of OK Hwy 98 at OK Hwy 3

At highway 3 one can either go northwest to Antlers, OK or east to Broken Bow through the Choctaw Nation, which was the direction I went (actually visited Antlers a few years ago).

Antlers or Broken Bow?
Antlers or Broken Bow?
Welcome to Broken Bow...old sign
Welcome to Broken Bow…old sign

Broken Bow has one of those classic old motels with a classic neon sign.  The End of Trail Motel is one of those motels like I visited in the 1960s.  Would love to have stayed there for the night.

End of Trail Motel Neon sign in Broken Bow, OK
End of Trail Motel Neon sign in Broken Bow, OK

I also was scared a bit by the big dragon mural along he side of a building…

Dragon Mural in Broken Bow, OK
Dragon Mural in Broken Bow, OK

From Broken Bow I drove north on US 259 along beautiful Broken Bow Lake and then veered east on OK Hwy 4 onto Arkansas Hwy 4.

Oklahoma Hwy 4 just west of the Arkansas border.
Oklahoma Hwy 4 just west of the Arkansas border.
Welcome to Arkansas about 3 miles west of Cove, Arkansas
Welcome to Arkansas about 3 miles west of Cove, Arkansas

Following Arkansas Hwy 4, a beautiful drive through the woods, I made my way north on US 71/US 59 out of Cove, AR.

Arkansas HWY 4
Arkansas HWY 4
US Hwy 71/59 north of Cove, AR
US Hwy 71/59 north of Cove, AR

I soon made my way into the quaint town of Mena, Arkansas, the gateway to the Talimena National Scenic Byway (which will have to be on a later trip for me unfortunately) and also home to an old railroad depot, a few old signs and a nice atmosphere.  Mena was founded in 1896 as a railroad town at the eastern foot of Arkansas’s second highest peak, Rich Mountain (elev. 2,681).

Welcome to Mena, AR
Welcome to Mena, AR
Old Mena Depot, now the Visitor's Bureau
Old Mena Depot, now the Visitor’s Bureau
Which way do I go?  A large signpost in Mena, AR
Which way do I go? A large signpost in Mena, AR
Old Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Old Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Ghost Sign in Mena, AR
Ghost Sign in Mena, AR

Mena had this cool retro Studebaker place and it still had the old Studebaker cars.  It was built in 1948 and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. (see more here)

Restored Studebaker Dealer building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Restored Studebaker Dealer building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

A nice old mural welcomes you to Mena.

Welcome to Mena mural
Welcome to Mena mural

After Mena I took a beautiful drive down Arkansas Hwy 8 towards Arkadelphia, the last stop on this leg of the trip.

Arkansas Hwy 8
Arkansas Hwy 8
A view of Arkansas Hwy 8 southeast of Mena, AR
A view of Arkansas Hwy 8 southeast of Mena, AR

Highway 8 is a beautiful drive through the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The first major town is Glenwood, which is nestled in the foothills of the Ouchitas along the Caddo River.

Ghost sign in Glenwood, AR
Ghost sign in Glenwood, AR
A fun sign in the town of Glenwood, AR
A fun sign in the town of Glenwood, AR

Glenwood is a cute town with some old antique shops and a guitar store.

Billy's House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR
Billy’s House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR

Billy’s House of Guitars looks like it is not only a guitar shop, but also a live music venue (for a show called Front Porch Pickin’) in the hills of Arkansas.

Billy's sign at Billy's House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR
Billy’s sign at Billy’s House of Guitars, Glenwood, AR

OK, so I have been to a Taxidermy and Cheese shop in Canada. How about a Barber Shop and Auction House?

The OK Barber Shop in Glenwood, AR
The OK Barber Shop and Auction House in Glenwood, AR

Another interesting place in Glenwood is the Cattlemens Livestock Market, which has some awesome murals!  I just happened upon it and had to stop.

Cattlemen's Livestock Market
Cattlemen’s Livestock Market, Glenwood, AR
Front porch artwork at Cattlemen's Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Front porch artwork at Cattlemen’s Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Large Wall Mural at Cattlemen's Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR
Large Wall Mural at Cattlemen’s Livestock Market in Glenwood, AR

My brief stop in Glenwood was refreshing but I wanted to press on to my overnight stop in Arkadelphia, so soon I was back on the lovely drive down Arkansas 8.

Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR
Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR

AS I drove through the hills a rainy mist ensued and every so often a rainbow would pop out in front of me.  It was really nice.

Rainbow near Alpine, Arkansas as seen from Hwy 8
Rainbow near Alpine, Arkansas as seen from Hwy 8

I then came upon a church, which I later found out was the Trinity Temple Assembly of God between Alpine and Arkadelphia.  As I approached the rainbow had moved and looked like it was coming from the church…a pretty unique shot.

Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow
Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow

The rainbow continued on into Arkadelphia and floated over a Shell Station as a double rainbow.  It was so cool!

Rainbow in Arkadelphia, AR
Double Rainbow in Arkadelphia, AR

I finally made way into Arkadelphia.  A great name and a lovely town.

Arkadelphia Water Tower
Arkadelphia Water Tower

The day ended in a spectacular sunset, which I tried to capture.

Glowing sunset in Arkadelphia, AR
Glowing sunset in Arkadelphia, AR
Sunset in Arkadelphia
Sunset in Arkadelphia

Was a great two days of travel.

Three Days in Galveston – Pelican Fascination

IMG_7131After a long two days of driving from Lexington thru Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, I got to spend three days with family relaxing on the beaches of Galveston Island and visiting many of the interesting sites on the island. And, for me, I got to spend some time watching the amazing brown pelicans as they flew in formation, glided over the Gulf of Mexico and took amazing dives for fish. It was a wonderously amazing visit.

Pelicans fly in formation over the beach in Galveston
Pelicans fly in formation over the beach in Galveston

Galveston is not only a city in southern Texas but is also an island. The city actually sits on Galveston Island and Pelican Island.

GalvestonMap
Map of Galveston Island

The town was named for Gálvez-town or Gálveztown in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez by Spanish explorer José de Evia  during his charting of the Gulf Coast in 1785.  Since that time many beautiful buildings were built, including some expansive hotels and old church buildings.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston
Castle like turrets of Sacred Heart Cathedral
Castle like turrets of Sacred Heart Church with a Fleur de lys

The main reason for coming to Galveston was a Kravetz family reunion.  It was great to spend time with my cousins, uncles, aunts and sister and dad.  It was nice to see the family…but no pics of them here.

Sargassum (seaweed) buildup along the beach. Supposedly one of the worst in a long time
Sargassum (seaweed) buildup along the beach. Supposedly one of the worst in a long time

Unfortunately, it was a bad year for sargassum seaweed buildup.  The beaches had piles of smelly seaweed everywhere.  In fact, there were tractors having to try to scoop up the stinky stuff.  This was a result of cold fronts that kept the seaweed in the southern Gulf longer than usual, where it continued to thrive in warm waters. The seaweed then floated north, deluging many of the beaches along the gulf.

People were hired to clean up all of the messy seaweed on the beaches of Galveston
People were hired to clean up all of the messy seaweed on the beaches of Galveston

Despite the seaweeds, the beaches were still enjoyable.  I usually am going going going, but, since family was all together, I was able to just take it easy.  In fact, I sat in a beach chair and just watched the pelicans and seagulls and those strange two-legged mammals (humans) frolic in the waves.

Sumoflam chillin' on the beach, enjoying the waves, the seagulls and the diving pelicans
Sumoflam chillin’ on the beach, enjoying the waves, the seagulls and the diving pelicans
My niece and her cousin walk into the waters of the Gulf
My niece and her cousin walk into the waters of the Gulf

Though family is always important, my fondest memories of Galveston will always center around the graceful brown pelicans.  Their effortless floating over the city was fascinating.  In fact, I loved how they flew in unison as many of the photos below show.

Brown Pelicans in formation overhead.  So graceful in flight
Brown Pelicans in formation overhead. So graceful in flight
A single pelican in flight
A single pelican in flight
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation
A pelican glides over the waves if the gulf
A pelican glides over the waves if the gulf

Then, while sitting on the beach I saw something else that just blew me away.  I witnessed these graceful pelicans take high-speed nose dives into the gulf. While diving, the pelicans appeared to rotate their bodies ever so slightly to the left.  My research verified this and indicated that the rotation helps the birds avoid injury to the esophagus and trachea, which are located on the right side of their neck. They have also apparently learned that a steep dive angle, between 60 and 90 degrees, reduces aiming errors caused by water surface refraction. This is pretty amazing.  I tried to capture a few shots of this unique practice.

A pelican starts it dive
A pelican starts it dive
Another angle of a dive
Another angle of a dive
Straight in dive
Straight in dive
A pelican on impact after a dive (had to take dozens of shots to catch this)
A pelican on impact after a dive (had to take dozens of shots to catch this) – and a jet skier made it more interesting!
A dive as seen from a distance
A dive as seen from a distance

I also enjoyed watching the seagulls.  I have always been used to seeing white ones, but the ones in Galveston are darker and have black heads.  These are apparently called Laughing Gulls.

Unique black headed seagulls on the beach in Galveston
Unique black headed Laughing Gulls  on the beach in Galveston
Seagull in flight with the Gulf of Mexico behind it
Seagull in flight with the Gulf of Mexico behind it
A seagull taking off
A seagull taking off
Seagull in flight
Seagull in flight
 A pair of seagulls glide by
A pair of seagulls glide by

Galveston island is about 27 miles long and about 3 miles wide at its widest point. During my visit I circumnavigated most of the island.  My cousins rented a beach house in Jamaica Beach, which is on the southwestern end of Galveston Island and the only other town on the island.  We went there a couple of times during the visit and it was a nice drive.

Drive along the Seawall Highway on Galveston Island
Drive along Seawall Blvd. on Galveston Island
Heading into Jamaica Beach, TX
Seawall Blvd. turns into Termini-San Luis Pass Rd. heading into Jamaica Beach, TX

Before getting into Jamaica Beach, I passed the Pirate’s Beach neighborhood, which sits between the highway and the Gulf of Mexico. Some really amazing beach houses here, many of them built after the devastation of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Beach Houses on Pirate's Beach
Beach Houses on Pirate’s Beach
A colorful beach house on Pirate's Beach
A colorful beach house on Pirate’s Beach
Another colorful beach house on Pirate's Beach
Another colorful beach house on Pirate’s Beach

In the main town area there are a number of other rental properties that sit on some land that juts out between Jumbile Cove to the south and Carancahua Cove to the north. Many of the homes sit next to small waterways where boats can be docked and then taken out to sea.

Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Satellite shot of Jamaica Beach from Google Maps
Satellite shot of Jamaica Beach from Google Maps
Many of the roads were named after pirates.  The main entry is Buccaneer Blvd.
Many of the roads were named after pirates. The main entry is Buccaneer Blvd.

One of the recurring themes of my trip down to Galveston (and home as well) was alligators.  I visited the home of “Swamp People” in Louisiana the day before and on the way through Mississippi stopped in Alligator, MS.  So, it was only logical that I would run into something alligator related while in Galveston….

Smoked Alligator Jerky found at the small store in Jamaica Beach
Smoked Alligator Jerky found at the small store off of Buccaneer Blvd. in Jamaica Beach

I got a kick out of the product.  “Smoked Alligator with Pork Jerky.”  Made me wonder if the alligators were “pork fed” before being made into jerky…..

Seawall Blvd., the main beach drive on Galveston
Seawall Blvd., the main beach drive on Galveston

Back into Galveston….Seawall Blvd. is the “main drag” along the coast.  This stretch of road runs between the resort shops, restaurants and fast food places and the main beach.  Typical beach wear shops can be seen, as well as unique multi-person bicycles called surrey bikes.  I had never seen these before, but it occurs to me that these are the perfect mode of transport along the beaches.  There were rental places all along Seawall Blvd.

Surrey Rentals abound in Galveston
Surrey Rentals abound in Galveston
A group on a Surrey
A group on a Surrey
Taking the family on a Surrey Ride
Taking the family on a Surrey Ride
Surrey riding along the beach in Galveston
Surrey riding along the beach in Galveston
Enjoying the ride on a surrey
Enjoying the ride on a surrey

Unfortunately,  I didn’t get to try one of these out.  I should have!! But I enjoyed the beach scenes anyway.

Jet Ski Rentals
Jet Ski Rentals
Umbrella Lined Beach...rent a seat
Umbrella Lined Beach…rent a seat
Shaved Ice Cart on beach
Shaved Ice Cart on beach
Miles of umbrellas along the beach
Miles of umbrellas along the beach
More surreys...some were as reckless as ever
More surreys…some were as reckless as ever
Waves on the beach
Waves on the beach
Sumoflam enjoying the beach in Galveston
Sumoflam enjoying the beach in Galveston

Of course, there are all of the unique hotels, restaurants and shops to be seen.  I tried a couple of the restaurants while there.  Also drove by and captured shots of some of the hotels, condos, etc.

Seawall Blvd. shops and eateries
Seawall Blvd. shops and eateries – including a giant crawfish
On the beach you want ice cream and Ben & Jerry's is there for you
On the beach you want ice cream and Ben & Jerry’s is there for you
Pier dining and shopping if you want it
Pier dining and shopping if you want it
One of many eateries along the way
One of many eateries along the way
What's a beach resort without places with thatched roofs?
What’s a beach resort without places with thatched roofs?
Luxury hotels are everywhere on the island
Luxury hotels are everywhere on the island

While I was in Galveston, my wife was with her sisters and brother on the beach in San Diego.  I had hoped we could adjust our schedules and take photos at the same time on the beach…but it didn’t work out.  But, I did capture something that was pretty fun.  They were staying at a condo time share in San Diego called “Capri by the Sea.”  I ran into one in Galveston and called her.  So, we were both at Capri by the Sea at the same time…in different places.

Capri by the Sea Condos in Galveston
At Capri by the Sea condos in Galveston while Julianne was at the same in San Diego
Capri by the Sea
Capri by the Sea

There is a completely different part of the town of Galveston, called the Strand Historic District.  While all of the family was on a boat ride, I drove around that area.  There were large cruise ships, old shops, museums, seaside diners and more.

Cruise Ship near the Strand historic district
Cruise Ship near the Strand historic district
Historic Martini Theater in Strand Historic District
Old Martini Theater in Strand Historic District
Old Coca-Cola sign in Strand Historic District
Old Coca-Cola sign in Strand Historic District
Uneeda Biscuit Ghost Sign in Strand Historic District
Uneeda Biscuit overlayed by Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum Ghost Sign in Strand Historic District

Back on Seaside Blvd. is Pleasure Pier, Galveston’s answer to “Coney Island.” The Current Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier was built 1,130 feet out over the Gulf of Mexico waters and had its “soft” opening on May 25, 2012.  The new pier compile is located where the original Pleasure Pier stood from 1943 until 1961, when it was destroyed by Hurricane Carla. The original Pleasure Pier featured rides, an arcade, an aquarium, concessions, a large ball room, named the Marine Ballroom, and fishing at the end of the pier. It was also the site of the USS Flagship Hotel, an over-the-water hotel built in 1965 that was demolished after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Pleasure Pier in Galveston
Pleasure Pier in Galveston

The Pier has a midway with games and amusements and then there are a number of rides, some of them that glide right over the gulf of Mexico.  I didn’t visit….but we stayed close, so I did get a couple of photos.

Pleasure Pier Amusement Park in Galveston
Pleasure Pier Amusement Park in Galveston
A beach shot with Pleasure Pier in the Distance
A beach shot with Pleasure Pier in the Distance

Galveston does not have many sculptures, but there is one on the seawall that is well-known.  Commissioned by the Galveston Commission for the Arts and installed in 2000, Galveston sculptor David W. Moore’s bronze sculpture is a monument to the victims and survivors of the 1900 Storm, which killed in excess of 6,000 Galvestonians, making it the worst natural disaster ever to hit the United States.

Sumoflam with the Disaster Memorial in Galveston
Sumoflam with the Disaster Memorial in Galveston
Disaster Memorial in Galveston, sculpted by David W. Moore

The only other major sculpture of any consequence in Galveston is the “Texas Heroes Monument” located at the intersection of Broadway and Rosenberg Avenue.  It was commissioned by Henry Rosenberg to commemorate the brave people who fought during the Texas Revolution. The monument was built out of granite and bronze. The sculptor of the monument was Italian artist Louis Amateis and was unveiled on April 22, 1900.

Texas Heroes Monument in Galveston, Texas
Texas Heroes Monument in Galveston, Texas

The monument is 74 feet high including the statue of Victory. The base of the monument is thirty-four feet in diameter. The bulk of the monument consists of four columns made from a single block of granite. These are fifty feet high.

Victory, atop the Texas Heroes Monument in Galveston, TX
Victory, atop the Texas Heroes Monument in Galveston, TX

At the top of the columns are words which represent the qualities of the men who fought for Texas: Patriotism, Honor, Devotion, Courage. The statue of Victory is twenty-two feet high. She holds a sheathed sword entwined with roses and her right extended hand holds a crown of laurels.

DSC_8413Finally, I should note the “quirky”… a couple of restaurants have some giant “crustaceans” resting on the roof.  Got a nice chuckle from these…

Giant Crab in Galveston
Giant Crab at Gaidos in Galveston\
Giant Crab and smaller Kravetz in Galveston
Giant Crab and smaller Kravetz in Galveston

Then there is the giant crawfish

Giant Crawfish looms over Galveston
Giant Crawfish looms over Galveston at Nick’s Restaurant
Giant Crawfish at Nick's in Galveston
Giant Crawfish at Nick’s in Galveston

Overall, I had a great time with family and a great time visiting Galveston….even in the middle of the summer!!