Bucket List Activity

Just once before I die, I wanted to try to zip line. What I had envisioned in my head was more a picture of going from tree canopy to tree canopy, rather than long distances. Something like they did in one of my favorite movies Medicine Man. But in reality, what we ended up doing was going on several runs, each a little longer than the last. Basically, it was gliding over fields of grass in East Texas. Not quite as elegant as what I imagined, but it would do for me to mark it off of my list.

So while my ex-son-in-law and husband went fishing, my granddaughter, daughter and I decided to go zip-lining. To be perfectly honest, the place we went was very good at showing us how to do what we needed to do. They helped us suit up and to put on all the safety belts, gloves, harnesses, etc. Then they took us out and taught us what to do on a course that was just off the ground. Once each of us had completed that phase, it was time for the real thing. We had to climb up several flights of stairs to get to the starting place. By the time we got to the top, my daughter and granddaughter were both saying that they changed their minds and didn’t really want to do this anymore. So in spite of the fact that I was terrified, I said I’d go first. The first course was actually fun! I loved it. And naturally, since the “old lady” did it, the other two figured it couldn’t be that bad so they gave it a try. Guess what? They loved it too. Then we moved on to the next run. It was a little longer than the last. This time it didn’t matter who went first because we all enjoyed the first run. This one was fine, although I ended up sideways because I rotated right before the end of the line. The problem was that I have very little upper body strength and couldn’t straighten myself up. Luckily, they had a brake that the employees can use if necessary, and it was necessary.

I acted like the brave one!

My family began liking this more and more, but since I couldn’t rotate back in time, I started to feel a little more uneasy as each course got longer and longer. To make a long story short, I finished all of the runs, but on each one I became more and more frightened.

I’m glad that I left my comfort zone long enough to do this, but now I’m just really happy that I have checked it off of my bucket list.

Thanks to my youngest daughter for taking pictures with her iphone. Thankfully, neither of us dropped it.

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Water Water Everywhere: August 21, 2019 Alligators

One of our favorite places to go when we go to Louisiana is in LaPlace, about twenty-five miles outside of New Orleans. A company called Cajun Pride Swamp Tours offers a unique experience that is both educational and entertaining, a tour of a swamp. This sounds like a place that you would use tons of bug spray, but one of the interesting facts that I learned on this tour is that mosquitoes do not live in the swamp.

We have taken two sets of our grandchildren on this tour so far. They have both had such a terrific time seeing the wildlife, especially the alligators. The captains of the boats which carry about 30-40 people each are very knowledgeable about all aspects of the swamp and also about Louisiana history in general. They present this information in a way that makes you think and also has you laughing at their down home humor.

We have seen lots of alligators on this tour because apparently they like marshmallows. When they hear the engines of the boat, they come out because they are waiting to be fed this treat. The highlight of the trip is when everyone is allowed to hold a baby alligator, if they want to.

So, for an experience that is different and very enjoyable, I would recommend taking this tour if you are ever in Louisiana. The website for the company is https://www.cajunprideswamptours.com

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge -Remote: The Badlands

Several years ago, we went on a trip with our youngest daughter’s family to South Dakota to visit Mt. Rushmore. We did not realize all the things that are available to see in South Dakota. One of the magnificent sites we visited was the Badlands. At the entrance to the National Park, we saw Prairie Dogs peeking out from their holes and checking us out. When we actually entered the park, the views were amazing. There were layered rocks, canyons, grasslands and spires. As we continued our drive, we saw bighorn sheep right along the side of the road. Apparently, in some locations there are also bison although we did not see any of them in the park, but did in the Black Hills.

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/friendly-friday-photo-challenge-remote/

Ft. Morgan in Alabama

There is so much history contained in this area that it is truly impossible to talk about all of it. Therefore, I will give a very brief synopsis and then show pictures that were taken at this famous site.

Ft. Morgan was constructed in the early 1800s on Mobile Point. The fort was seized from the Federal government by Alabama during the Civil War and used to allow confederate supplies to come in. Later Admiral David Farragut captured the fort for the north. The fort continued to be used off and on all the way through World War II. In 1947, it was turned over to Alabama to be used as a historical park. The park also includes a museum with many interesting artifacts from throughout the history of the fort. The fort is located in a wildlife refuge. It also has a beautiful beach and fishing is allowed.

Trip to Alabama

My son and his family have been on beach trips for the last several years. This year they decided on Orange Beach, Alabama. We went with them, but stayed in Foley. It is a nice town, that is north of Gulf Shores. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are practically the whole southern coast of Alabama from Mobile eastward.

Texas Sunrise

We woke up at 4am and got an early start last Sunday morning. We met up at the Buc-ee’s in Terrel, Tx. If you have never visited one of these gas station/stores, you might want to stop just to see it. You could almost make a day trip visiting one of these. They transferred two of the grandchildren to our car because theirs was so full, and they kept saying it would be a much more enjoyable trip for them if they weren’t all in the same car. And we were off. It really wasn’t a bad drive, but with all the stops it took us about 12 hours. By the time we got there, ate and got checked in the Foley Holiday Inn Express, we crashed. This is the cleanest motel I have ever stayed in, and all the staff was extremely friendly and helpful.

The next morning, I wanted to be sure to get sunrise pictures so we drove down US 59 straight to the beach. Unfortunately, there was a building blocking the sunrise itself, but I ended up getting some beautiful pictures of the sky and amazing blue heron pictures and videos. I had never really watched a blue heron eat before. It is quite interesting. First, he walked around until he was ready to eat. He’d crouch down and bend his head to the side and strike. Sometimes he’d come up empty, and others he’d catch something. Then he had to maneuver the fish into position so that he could swallow it whole. Meanwhile, he might drop it a time or two before swallowing, and he would have to make sure it didn’t get washed away by a wave or stolen by a sea gull. The sea gulls would crowd around him to get a chance to steal the fish.

Heron fishing

After the heron moved on and the sun rose higher in the sky, we went back to the motel and ate. Then we met up with our family and spent the morning on the beach fishing and playing in the water. My granddaughters and I took a long walk on the beach. Just listening to the waves was so relaxing. About 11am, when most other people were coming out, we’d go back to the room, eat and rest.

Fishing from shore

On this day, Monday, we ate lunch at the Fish River Grill in Gulf Shores off of Ft. Morgan Road and US 59. The food was excellent. We split the fried shrimp. It came with swamp soup (beans and mustard greens), fries, coleslaw and fried okra. Then we also split something I had never heard of before: shrimp pistols with crawfish sauce. This was absolutely amazing. It tasted so good that I ended up ordering another one just for myself. If you ever go, you have to try the Shrimp Pistol. The prices were extremely reasonable for all the food they gave us.

Then about 4pm we went to Perdido Pass to check out the fishing for the next evening. On our way back to the room, we stopped off in the state park, and I got more heron pics and a few squirrel pics. The squirrels here have white bellies and a stripe down their backs, nothing at all like the ones at home. We were getting back into the car and I noticed several people looking over the side of a bridge. I had to go and check it out before we left. There in the water was an alligator. Earlier, I had seen signs saying don’t feed or aggravate the alligators, but I never thought I’d see one this close. He swam right under the bridge and came out the other side and just sat there.

About 8 ft. alligator

Between Orange Beach and Gulf Shores there is a very long fishing pier. My husband and I left early enough to get to the pier and walk around before sunset. Not many people were catching any fish, but lots were trying. One person did catch a stingray. We stayed long enough to get sunset pictures and then headed back to our room so that we could come back to the pier in the morning and get sunrise pictures. Who gets any sleep on vacations? Surely not us! There’s always too much do see and do!

Johnson Space Center – Houston

Space Shuttle Independence on 747

On July 20 of this year we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the landing of man on the moon. If you were alive at that time, I don’t think you will ever forget it or Neil Armstrong’s words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Although most space launches occur in Florida, the main control center for flights is in Houston at the Johnson Space Center. Touring this facility can only be called inspiring. There are so many amazing things to see. As you drive up to the main building, the first thing you see is one of the space shuttles atop a 747 that is used to transport the shuttles back to Florida. Once inside the main building, you can actually go into both of these vehicles and see the massive size of the interior for yourself. Then you can walk around the main building where you see all types of exhibits and mockups of different space vehicles, and movies. There are also hands on experiments for both adults and children, as well as an area for kids to actually attempt to do some of the things that astronauts have to learn to do. One of these exhibits is a moving vehicle kids sit in and try to dock a incoming space vehicle to a stationary vehicle in “space.” There are also rides that can be taken (extra cost). One of these involves using goggles that make things appear multidimensional. In addition, there is a lunar rock area where you can actually touch a rock from the surface of the moon, and see many others.

Another very interesting adventure involves taking tram tours. Most of the time there are two tram rides. The blue line or the red line. Both took us to Rocket Park. This is by far our favorite part of the tours. There are a few rockets outside the building, but when you enter the building, you are totally blown away by the massiveness of the Saturn V rocket inside. It is laying on its side and is 363 ft long. This rocket has three stages and a command module. Finally on the very top is the lunar module.

From here the tram tour drives you around the actual working areas of Nasa and shows you the buildings from the outside. Then you are allowed to go into the Christopher Kraft Building and see the actual mission control room for the Orion missions. We were told that this will be closed very soon, and we were one of the last groups to be able to see it. In this building there is also a room that you can tour with a special ticket of the old mission control room of the early space programs. On a trip quite a while ago, we were able to see this room. The thought that we were able to put a man into space using computers that didn’t even have the capability of a present day cell phone is truly amazing!

The second tram tour takes you to the astronaut training center as well as riding around the outside of buildings. It has lots of different space vehicles and robots that are used for training.

I would say that the space center has something for just about all ages. Older adults will enjoy the historical parts and seeing the actual machinery involved. Younger children will enjoy all of the hands-on experiences and rockets.

The End of Our Ten Day Trip

We got an early start and crossed into Ohio before 7 am. The terrain is starting to get a little flatter. I never realized that Ohio was as big as it is, especially when you drive diagonally across it. We stopped in Louisville, Kentucky to pick up a cocker spaniel. We now had a packed car and were finally headed home. After crossing back into the Central Time Zone, we continued our trip into Tennessee, Arkansas, and then into Texas.

In the last ten days, we had driven through twenty-one states and delivered eight puppies to their new homes Even though we had not been able to make many stops to “tour” the different areas, the trip gave us a terrific overview to pick where we would like to return for a longer visit.