Thursday, July 16, 2009

About the above.
Recently, the family travelled to Thibodaux, Louisiana, to take Caleb to the Manning Passing Academy held on the campus of Nicholls State University. We joined two other families there. Between our hotel and the camp, we drove through Des Allemandes, Louisiana, noticing that they proclaimed that the town was the Catfish Capital of the Universe. I love catfish so we stopped looking for some Catfish at the Louisiana Catfish Festival which just so happened coincided with our visit.
Our athletic director, Scott Smiley, also loves catfish and wanted to compare his catfish to what one could get at the universal headquarters for Catfish and at a festival dedicated to the species.
During our stop, we took the opportunity to have our picture taken with the Catfish Queen.
Sadly and surprisingly this happened. I had to buy tickets to purchase food so I went to the booth and asked how many tickets would it take to get a catfish platter or some such plate. I was informed that there was no such plate. In fact, there was little to no catfish available. There was a catfish po-boy. But no catfish, hushpuppies, fries.
They did have a Catfish Boulette which you can see in the picture above - the round things. Wanting some sort of catfish from the headquarters for catfish and at a festival celebrating the fish, we purchased the above Boulettes. It consisted, we were told, of catfish, spices, meal, and "other stuff."
You will notice, in the above picture, that a bite has been taken out of one of the Boulettes. That was the only bite.
On another food note, our hotel was in close proximity to New Orleans. The Smileys had never visited the city so one evening we drove into the French Quarter, onto Decatur Street, and sat down at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and Cafe Au' Lait. Pictured above as delivered with the necessary powdered sugar.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Drink of the summer - Orange Fanta

TV Show of the summer - Deadliest Catch

Lunch of the summer - Ouiznos


Some afterthoughts from our trip:

1. National Parks visited include Yellowstone, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountain, Big Bend, Sequoia, Hot Springs, Yosemite, Badlands, Grand Canyon. Ranking the parks, in my opinion, starts with Yellowstone. It is my favorite. Yosemite is number two. Third place is hard. Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Tetons. Can't call it.

2. National Park that I should have gone to but haven't - Guadalupe Mountains. It is in Texas and would be a great destination for this fall. McKittrick Canyon in the fall would be great.

3. No excuse really parks - Joshua Tree and Death Valley. I went right past both on this last trip but didn't turn in.


Colorado City, Arizona. Made famous somewhat by the book "Under The Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer about fundamentalist Mormons. Eerie drive through the city with most everybody scoping us out when we drove by their house. Stopped by a convenience store/cafe called Merry Wives.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Trip Photos

The Narrows hike
50 degree water... glorious.

Emerald Pool trail, Zion National Park

Sequoia National Park, above and below

San Diego Zoo

Hoops on the cruise ship

Ensenada, Mexico

Watching the ship leave port of San Diego.
Good times.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Trip Summary

Thursday, June 18th - Left in afternoon. Drove to Midland. Stayed in Motel 6.

Friday, 19th - Drove to Tucson, Arizona. Ate at a pizza place called "Sauce." Best I have had. Motel 6.

Saturday, 20th - Drove to San Diego. Met Huddlestons and Roberts. Ate seafood on harbor. Hampton Inn.

Sunday, 21st - Boarded Carnival Cruise ship "Elation." Set sail.

Monday, 22nd - Visited Catalina Island. All three families snorkeled in Lover's Cove.

Tuesday, 23rd - Visited Ensenada, Mexico. Ate in town. Took taxis to market.

Wednesday, 24th - On ship.

Thursday, 25th - Back in San Diego. All three families visited San Diego Zoo. Hampton Inn.

Friday, 26th - Millers and Huddlestons take Whale/Dolphin watching boat. Roberts return home. Later same day, Huddlestons return home. Millers drive north of Los Angeles. Rodeway Inn.

Saturday, 27th - Six Flags Magic Mountain. Afterwards head north to Lindsey, CA.

Sunday, 28th - Sequoia National Park. Leave headed back east. Stay at Circus Circus in Las Vegas for $24.00.

Monday, 29th - Drive to St. George, Utah. Arrive early at Days Inn so kids can swim.

Tuesday, 30th - First drive into Colorado City, Arizona. Weird place. Drive into Zion National Park. Stay at Zion Lodge.

Wednesday, July 1st - Still in Zion NP. Hike the Narrows.

Thursday, July 2nd - Start home. Decide to go all the way.

Friday, July 3rd - Arrive home at approximately 5:30 am.

Presidential Libraries

Atrium area of the JFK library

JFK hallway

This is a driveway that runs from FDR's house to what was the main road. After the onset of polio, he would set goals to walk from his house to the end of this driveway.

Graves of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. The actual, very plain graves are in the foreground.

Krista asked for a list, so here it is: We, or some of us have visited:

Richard Nixon - Located in Yorba Linda, California, this library actually took us by surprise. I guess that we were not expecting much perhaps, but there was much to learn about this man, and the library did a good job of presenting all that Nixon had done. There was no attempt, it seemed, to gloss over Watergate. They had moved his boyhood home to the library site, the home was built by his father from a kit.

LBJ - Repeated visits to this library on the campus of the University of Texas. It is my least favorite of the libraries though, from a building standpoint, it is interesting made more so by glass wall encompassing several stories where a visitor can see all of the archives not open to the public.

Harry Truman - Leslie is the only one of us to have visited this library located in Independence, Missouri. The library site is the place where he returned, lived, and worked after his presidency. Leslie was impressed and left wanting to know more about him.

Kennedy - Cold is the word that describes this library. While laid out well making it easy for the visitor not to miss anything, the information is partial and seems to be a lot of marketing. Interestingly, a very small portion is devoted to the assassination. There is a good slice of it dedicated to the family accomplishments and to the First Lady.

George Bush ( 41) - A great library in College Station that has visiting exhibits on a regular basis that are outstanding. Leslie ran into the former president at the library once when he introduced author David McCullough, who was there to speak about "Fathers and Sons". A great part of this library is all of the letters that the president wrote, he was a prolific letter writer, to his children and friends. They show an intimate, thoughtful side of the man.

FDR - This is located in Hyde Park, New York. The most intersesting thing about this library is the home that he lived in that is located there so it has a personal flair. His desk is there and it is left as it was on the day he died. Most of the items were simple gifts from friends. The library itself was smaller that many of the others. It was the first one built. It was built and running while FDR was still president.
Ronald Reagan - My personal favorite partly because he is a favorite of mine. There was so much to learn. This one is located in sort of desert region in California. The exhibits were excellent.
Abraham Lincoln - Located in Springfield, Illinois. Recently built from private donations and an outstanding spot for a vacation stop. The National Park Service has a museum about him located there, as well, since he lived in Springfield. Very interactive.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Introduction to Robert Frost poetry needed? Try these.

"The Pasture"

"Mending Wall"

"Two Tramps in Mud Time"

Only poet to win the Pulitzer Prize four times.

Liked to be known as a farmer and teacher.

Father died when he was young. Wife died before him. Younger sister died before him after he had to commit her to a hospital for mental illness. Had two children die in infancy. Another one died as an adult.

Only poet to speak at an inauguration. Kennedy's.

"Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening" has been done really well in a children's book with illustrations by Susan Jeffers.

He had a habit of sleeping late after staying up late chatting with friends.

He was sloppy in dress.

"I had a lover's quarrel with the world" is on his tombstone.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

While in Lake Placid, we stayed at Whiteface Lodge. I waited for awhile to book our place to stay searching for the best deal. One of my anxieties is manifested in booking a place that looks great on the internet only to get there and find that it is a run-down trailer in a trailer park behind a landfill.

This did not happen.

When I first began looking, I noticed Whiteface Lodge because it was rustic in an Old Faithful Inn way, like a huge log cabin. That is what we like, but the price put me off immediately. Then, because I took some time to book lodging, I looked back at, the site that I use to book most trip plans, and saw that the lodge was running their own "March Madness" special which meant greatly reduced rates for Sundays through Thursdays in the month of March. So, for those days, I booked it and was not disappointed. I want Leslie to love the places we stay, and she loved this one.

It was an all suite place with a fireplace, a deck, and a bunch of other things that made us conclude that it is the nicest place we have ever stayed which isn't saying tons because we typically, especially when all of us travel, don't stay at nice places. This place was a treat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 11, 1989. Leslie and I were married at the Pipeline Road Church of Christ, it the evening, ceremony performed by my dad. We went to Vermont.

We just celebrated our 20th anniversary though on the 11th we actually did not officially have any special celebration. On the 13th, this past Friday, we flew to Boston. Below, I summarize the trip with a few observations to follow in the next couple of days.

First, before the anniversary trip, on the 10th, I returned from Orlando, Florida, as a sponsor for our seniors who visited DisneyWorld for their senior trip. We stayed at All Star Movies and had four days of hopping parks. The students were great. I spent most of my time at Epcot though I visited all of the parks and most of them alone, walking and watching, thinking. I spent the least amount of time at Magic Kingdom. Riding just a few rides, I primarily enjoyed the slow pace of going where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go there and leaving when I wanted to leave. Due to the sponsor make-up, I had a room to myself, and that was nice.

Landed on the evening of the 10th, but Leslie and the kids were not there. She had packed the kids for the night and headed to College Station to watch Cal State Fullerton visit Olsen field and to play the Aggies. Though the game was won by the Titans, the visiting with friend was a treat.

Took off with Leslie on the 13th landing in Boston at 12:40 am, rented a car, headed west on I-90 toward New York state. Our three children stayed with the Waldrons for the first couple of days before my parents arrived to finish out the supervision.

In deciding where we were to visit, Leslie and I typically enjoy going to places that we have not visited. We have long wanted to go to the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York. Lake Placid, home to two winter Olympics, most notably the miracle on ice when the U.S.A. won Olympic gold in hockey, was our destination.

We had one stop before Lake Placid.

Leaving Boston, we found an Econolodge in Worcester, Mass, and got a few hours of sleep before picking up our journey. Into New York, we travelled south to Hyde Park for the purpose of visiting Franklin Roosevelt's presidential museum.

After that we completed, we headed north through Albany, the capital, into Adirondack Park and Lake Placid. Stayed in the Pines Inn the first night before three night in Whiteface Lodge. A treat.

We left on the morning of the 18th at 6 am headed back to Boston arriving early enough to visit JFK's presidential library. Loaded the place at 4:09 and landed back at DFW four hours later.

There is the summary. Now just a few observations before I close tonight only to pick up tomorrow.

Some of you know that I have loathed flying forever. I no longer mind it = modern medicine. Approximately 45 minutes prior to take off, I open bottle, walk to water fountain, down a couple, and take in all of the wonders of leaving the surface of the earth.

A couple of quick observations about the presidential libraries.

FDR's was very enjoyable. Personal. A great tour guide. A lot of insights into the man, his family. He and his wife a buried in the rose garden there in little sunken places in the ground.
JFK's was ok. Not personal. Set up nicely in a sterile, organized fashion which I liked the same way that I like zoos that are laid out logically because it makes the anxiety about missing something go away. Unusual presentation about the assassination.
Both men had affairs, and neither library had any mention of these indiscretions. Just a notice.

About Boston.

I love Boston because of the history, the accents, the neighborhoods that are glued together but are completely separate but make the whole fascinating. There is an earthiness to Boston. And the history is everywhere and not just the ones you know. Look on a detailed map. Tons. Leslie likes the history but not the city so much.


We drove to Vermont because we were close enough. Drove into Middlebury home of Middlebury College and a great Vermont town, not a village in the New England postcard or calendar sort of way. Robert Frost taught his craft at Middlebury College at the
Bread Loaf writing conference. I bought a new book on Frost at the Old Vermont Book Store in town.

Enough for tonight.