Port Bolivar Ferry

Taking the ferry from Galveston to the Bolivar Peninsula was something I really enjoyed and was part of just about every trip I made to Galveston.

I made the crossing many times in a car but usually I preferred to park in the adjacent parking lot and walk onto the ferry.

I have ridden it on early mornings when there is fog, noon and afternoon in the bright sunlight, and at night, which adds a kind of special quality to the trip.

On the daytime runs there are views of Seawolf Park on Pelican Island and the remains of the S.S. Selma, a sunken concrete ship partially visible above the waters of Galveston Bay.

Oh yes, and there are the ever present seagulls, flocking around the stern of the ferry and hoping for a bit of food. Warning…don’t get beneath them as they seem to have rather loose bowels.

Caves

I’ve visited a number of caves over the years and as I sit here thinking about it there is one question that stands out.

That question is, “Why? Why did I go to all of those caves?”

I don’t like caves. I didn’t enjoy any of them. In fact, I was quite nervous the whole time I was in them. The idea of being far below the surface with all those tons of rock over my head gave me a case of “the willies.”

For someone who gets creeped out by caves I have gone through a lot of them. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Diamond Cave in Arkansas, and Cave of the Winds in Colorado. And in Texas I’ve visited Natural Bridge Caverns and Wonder Cave.

Now I will admit most of those caves were beautiful, but as I said, they were nerve wracking for me.

No more! Give me a nice and reasonably well lit nature trail through a forest and I’m happy.

carlsbad-226252_640

How Not To Photograph A Creek

During the years I lived in the Dallas area my favorite spot to go on my days off was a neat little place in Oklahoma, not very far past the state line.

It’s called Turner Falls. The waterfall there is simply beautiful. There are lots of hiking trails and things to explore.

Adventures? Oh yeah, and on one visit I managed to have one that was typical. I was photographing the creek considerably below the falls and decided I wanted to get a view from the middle of the creek. It was rather shallow and I found a place where I could step on several large rocks and actually be right in the middle of the flow without getting wet.

As I stood there, intent on focusing my camera, a splash of cold creek water hit my right ankle. Without thinking I quickly moved my foot. My balance was already precarious and that sudden movement resulted in my rear-end landing in the icy cold water of the creek. The people who were watching said they had never seen such wild scrambling to get back to dry land. I wasn’t hurt but from the waist down I was wet and miserable.

By the way, just as I plopped into the creek I accidentally clicked the shutter. The resulting picture was of my left foot just as it hit the water.

That was the first and last time I ventured into the middle of a creek with a camera.

First Visit To Lake Tahoe – Part 2

After a restful sleep we were up early and ready for a day of exploring.

After a nice breakfast at one of the casinos we headed over to Emerald Bay on the west shore. There I finally got my first good view of the lake. My reaction was contained in one short word. “WOW!”

We parked the car and took the trail down to Vikingsholm. It turned out to be about a one mile walk. Yet, due to the steepness of the trail and the altitude, our return back up to the parking lot seemed more like two miles. We had to stop numerous times while we huffed and puffed.

We continued our drive, stopping often, but eventually making it all the way around the lake and back to the casino area.

As we sat in a restaurant having dinner we both knew without a doubt that someday we would live at Lake Tahoe.

And sure enough that dream came true in the late 1980s.

emerald-bay-360998_640

First Visit To Lake Tahoe – Part 1

In the 1980s we were on a trip out west. We stopped at the junction of US 6 and SR 120 to get gas. I wanted to go to Yosemite so we asked if Tioga Pass was open. We were told they were still clearing the winter snow so it was still closed.

We headed west on SR 120. That road was a constantly up and down affair, like a roller coaster made up of continuous small dips. When we got to US 395 we followed it north and just outside of the town of Lee Vining we came to the junction of Tioga road. Sure enough, it was closed.

I really wanted to see Yosemite but we would have to go considerably out of the way to get there. My wife said that was ok, we could visit Lake Tahoe on the way. I’d never been there…in fact I’d never even heard of it.

It was already dark as we drove on through Lee Vining and continued northward. After what seemed like forever we entered the little town of Gardnerville and then Minden. Just outside Minden we pulled into a rest area.

I asked my wife how much further was Tahoe and she said it was up in the mountains just west of us. I told her I was exhausted and asked her to drive. We changed places and she headed for the mountains.

When we got over to the foothills things seemed a bit confusing for there was an arrow and a sign that said Lake Tahoe yet there was a partial barricade and a second arrow pointing a different direction. We finally decided to take the road that looked like it headed up the mountain to the lake.

After following what seemed like the narrowest and curve-filled road imaginable we finally arrived at the casinos. Since I had never been in a casino we parked and went into a couple of them for a little while. Soon, however, exhaustion overcame us and we found a nice motel room close by for some much needed rest.

In a future post I’ll continue this with the events of the next day when I actually got my first view of the lake.

moon-1859616_640

It Wasn’t The Highway Patrol

It was already dark as we were heading east on our way back home from a trip to Yosemite. We topped a pass and immediately noticed the flashing red light of a patrol car on the far side of the valley below.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “Looks like the police have someone pulled over. Probably for speeding.”

It took us quite awhile to get down to the valley floor since we were on one of those twisty roads. My grandmother said those kind of roads were so crooked they would break a snake’s back. Anyway, all the time we were coming down we continued to get glimpses of that patrol car’s light.

Even as we drove across the valley we could occasionally still see the flashing light. My wife allowed as how whoever they had stopped must have a big problem.

Soon it became evident that whatever was happening was on the same road we were on.

As we arrived at the intersection of another road we quickly discovered the truth and burst out laughing. There was no car or truck pulled over by the highway patrol. The flashing red light we had been seeing was mounted on the roof of a brothel.

San Antonio

One summer when I was still quite young my mother and dad took my sister and I to San Antonio.

I had gotten my very own Kodak Brownie camera for Christmas and I was going to finally get to really try it out.

We visited all of the tourist spots and historic places. The Alamo, the rose window at Mission San Jose, the Chinese Sunken Gardens at Breckenridge Park, and the Buckhorn Saloon.

But the river walk appealed to me most of all. It instantly became my favorite place. We walked the entire length of it, crossed a footbridge and walked back to where we had started. After re-crossing the river we had dinner at the Casa Rio.

A few days ago I came across some of the pictures I took there with my Brownie Camera on 127 black and white Verichrome film. Some of them were considerably better than what I produce today with my fancy digital outfit.

Note: The image below is from the internet…not from my Brownie camera.

walk-292995_1280

Now That Is Cold

It was very late at night when we pulled into the motel. When we got out of the car we were stunned by the intensely cold air.

After we registered we walked over to our room, turned up the heat, and then went to the car and got our luggage out. Since there wasn’t a parking place any closer to our room we just left the car parallel parked near the office.

By the time we got back to the room we were really feeling the cold.

After we warmed up for awhile I took a quick walk to the soft drink machine I had seen outside. That was when it struck me just how cold it really was. The cold drink machine actually had a heater blowing on it to keep the cans from freezing.

Now that is cold.

Chased By Something Unseen

It was close to sunset when Nan and I began our drive up the mountain. Part of the way up we pulled into a scenic turnout and and got out of the car to watch the sunset. The view was incredible.

As we enjoyed the beauty, I suddenly felt something strange nearby and I turned around to face the east. I couldn’t see anything but I could feel a presence approaching us. I felt very uncomfortable with this and anxious to be somewhere else. I turned to Nan and told her I thought we needed to get away from there. One look at her face told me she was feeling apprehensive too.

As fast as we could we got in the car, turned around, and headed back down the mountain. The sunlight suddenly failed completely and darkness descended on us like a snap of the fingers.

Whatever was out there was very close by. We could both feel it. I had to really fight to keep from giving in to panic as I drove down the twisting mountain road.

The presence stayed with us all the way down the mountain and into the outskirts of a small town, where we finally felt it suddenly depart. Nan, who had said nothing since we had jumped into the car and literally fled, looked at me and asked what that was. I told her I did not have any idea but I was certainly glad it was gone. Since we both were completely unnerved and exhausted from the experience we decided to drive some distance away from the area and find a room for the night.

What was it that chased us that night? Even after many years I still do not know. We have since been back to that same mountain and driven up that same road with no problems. We did make certain not to stop at that same turnout though.

Stuck In The Sand

In the late 1950s I picked up my grandmother and we headed for Galveston. Back in those days the two of us regularly made spur of the moment trips together.

When we arrived on the island I decided to turn on Stewart Road and head for west beach. At this time there were no developments on the west end of Galveston so after I turned off of 61st Street we quickly left civilization behind.

This was quite a few years before the bridge across San Luis Pass was built and my goal that day was to get as close to the pass as possible and hopefully be able to see the treacherous currents that flow between the Gulf of Mexico and West Galveston Bay.

Now it wasn’t the world’s best maintained road and as we drove further west it got somewhat worse. Finally I turned off onto a sandy track that led to the gulf. Once on the beach the sand was firm and after traveling a mile or so I could see water in front of us so I knew we were close to the pass.

Suddenly the firm packed sand became deep and loose. I slammed on the brakes but not quite soon enough. I put the car into reverse and tried to back out. No luck. We were stuck. We got out and looked. Fortunately, when I had realized we were in loose sand and couldn’t back out of it, I had quit trying so we weren’t in very deep and it wasn’t far to where the beach was firm.

I looked around and found a couple of planks that had washed up during high tide. I scooped out the sand behind the tires all the way back to the firm beach. Then I jammed the planks under the back tires.

I asked my grandmother to stand over on the beach near the water where she wouldn’t be in any danger. She told me if I got the car moving to keep going until it was well away from the deep sand.

I got in and started the car. I put it in reverse and let out the clutch a little. When I felt the back tires bite into the planks I hit the gas and popped the clutch. Sand went everywhere and I practically flew out of there.

My grandmother hurried over, got in the car, and suggested we find a paved road to drive on. I totally agreed.