Houston, We Have a Problem

Panic began to set in on August 24th. News outlets began to bombard the airwaves with reports that Tropical Storm Harvey was set to become a monster hurricane.

You can read about the storm on just about any news outlet but here is a link to The New York Times.

As a born and bred Gulf Coast resident I am all too familiar with hurricanes and their power. However, with that familiarity comes a bit of skepticism that a major hurricane will blow our way.

After all, we hear non-stop year after year during hurricane season that one could possibly come our way, but then it never does.

Allison, Rita and Ike made a mark on Texans. One that is still felt to this day. Those affected picked up the pieces and moved forward with their lives. Living on the coast, you take the good with the bad.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey. Reminding every one of the worst that could happen. By the middle of the week when Harvey was to arrive, there was still skepticism in the air causing people to delay on getting supplies. The very same supplies we knew we needed to stock up on at the very beginning of Hurricane season.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The day when people began pouring into the stores to buy non perishable food. I am one who waited till the last-minute and was in a long line. I definitely learned my lesson.

While waiting I overheard this conversation:

Man number one: “I need my Blue Bell.”

Man number two laughs: “What are you gonna do with it when the power goes out?”

Man number one: “I’m gonna eat up right then and there but at least I have it!”

Comical moment but the reality was that none of us knew what was going to happen. We never dreamed melted ice cream would be the least of our worries. We never imagined it would get as bad as it did.

IMG_20170824_173119.jpg
Empty bread shelves.
IMG_20170824_174522.jpg
This was the middle of the line. I jumped in towards the back near the dairy cases. 

Friday August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall north of Corpus Christi Friday night. It came ashore as a massive Category Four hurricane. This is not entirely surprising. The kids and I went to the beach the weekend before and the water was further from the shore and very warm.

Warm Gulf water is the main ingredient in fueling a hurricane. What was so unusual about this hurricane was that it would be caught between to weather systems. Now, I’m no meteorologist but that sounded like a very bad thing.

A rainmaker such as Harvey was going to be stalled because it couldn’t move. That meant massive amounts of rain would be dumped on a city that floods very easily.

Houstonians experienced Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and we got soaked. The storm caused 9 Billion dollars worth of damage and killed 55 people. No one wanted that to ever happen again. Yet, here we were at the mercy of Harvey.

Into the night…

There is something that happens to your body when you’re on guard constantly. You get anxious, almost borderline paranoid. Our phones were blowing up with tornado alarms almost twice an hour. We couldn’t sleep, we couldn’t eat. The only we could do was keep an eye on this storm and hope things wouldn’t get any worse.

IMG_20170826_203307.jpg
The kids and I placed a jar outside to see how much water we could collect. In five hours this is what we collected. I realize the ruler is upside down. As soon as I snapped the first photo the power went out. Then just as fast it came back on so I quickly snapped it. 

 

IMG_20170826_150036.jpg
As you can see from this little guy’s face he was so over the storm.
IMG_20170826_114503.jpg
My cat is 17 years old. The only thing that bothered her through the storm was whether I fed her on time or not.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

By this time we’re super exhausted but thankful the water had not risen near our front door. We did not dare venture out because it was still storming. We collected another container of water and this time the pitcher filled up in just three hours.

Massive amounts of rain was falling and the sky was gray to black all day. The news was reporting homes that were being flooded and multiple rescues and evacuations were taking place. I packed a very small bag with a change of clothes for the kids in case we needed to dash out of the door. It was a scary feeling.

IMG_20170827_121900.jpg
This pitcher was filled to the top within three hours. I had to pour water off so it wouldn’t spill.

Sunday August 27, 2017 through August 29, 2017

Things started to improve on our side. Many neighborhoods around us, particularly close to the Brazos river were evacuated and many were placed in shelters or homes of friends. We seemed to be in a pocket where we had street flooding but were spared water in our homes. Several of our friends had water three feet or more in their homes.

It was such a sad sight but their positive attitudes helped me to feel motivated to assist them and anyone else who needed help.

I have video posted on my Instagram account of the flooding near my home.

21200644_1248037235319475_1930987825321956551_o
Aftermath in Stafford Texas. The water had subsided. You can still see Harvey in the sky. 
IMG_20170829_171911.jpg
We didn’t see the Sun for days and on the 29th a break in the clouds revealed it. It was the most beautiful thing we had seen. 

 


Within the past few days the world has had their eyes on Texas and boy we did not disappoint.

In a city as big as Houston there often isn’t time or desire, in some cases, to stop and talk with your neighbor. Everyone has their nose in a phone or are running late somewhere. Often you can go to a store or outing and never speak once to a stranger.

On the flip side southern hospitality exists and Texans are so good at it. Think of it this way, in some families they may go weeks without talking but as soon as something major happens or someone is sick, the family will band together and take care of each other.

That’s sort of what Houston is like.

First responders, prominent people in business and everyday people came out and showed the greatest love they could in helping each other. It really was a beautiful thing. We had to participate in some way especially since we went unaffected materially.

IMG_20170831_132904.jpg
The kids wanted to give away the toys they don’t play with. They reasoned that they wouldn’t someone elses trash so they sent used toys that were in good condition. Our donations went to Rockport Texas which was hit the hardest by Harvey.

Houston is still working through the mess and people are still being evacuated because of rising water. Many parts of the city are still under water.

To see photos of the aftermath The Houston Chronicle has a slide show you can view. The cover photo was also taken from The Houston Chronicle website.

Some stats on Hurricane Harvey from various news outlets:

  • 50 inches of rain fell. That is how much rain Houston receives in one year
  • Estimated damage is 180 Billion dollars
  • 19 trillion gallons of water dropped over southeast texas
  • More than 30,000 people displaced
  • The death toll is at 30 people

If you can donate to a trusted charity or send supplies to Texas, those affected would be greatly appreciative.

Some people have opinions about everything. Including what we all should have or should not have done with this storm. As devastating as this storm was Texans will rebuild. We will build more thoughtfully and prepare better in the future.

I’ve been told that perhaps we should move. How could I? There is something about looking out on the Gulf as you stand at the shore. You respect its power but also soak in its peace.

As I mentioned earlier, life on the Gulf means you take the good with the bad and you share it all with your fellow Texans.

 

 

McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park was a fun little place that I had no idea existed! My mom, who is always on the hunt for great photo opportunities, wanted to take pictures of waterfalls here in Texas. We found this little gem in Austin Texas, which is about 160 miles west of Houston and 90 miles north of San Antonio.

Onion creek flows through this park with the Upper Falls closer to the park entrance and Lower Falls a tad bit further down the road.  It has not rained much in Texas over the past few months so the Lower Falls were a bit skimpy and the Upper Falls were non-existent.

The Lower Falls were very easy to find. In fact the entire park was easy to navigate and the park rangers were extremely helpful.

The creek was a bit slow which made it great for families with little toddlers to get their toes wet.  I took my shoes off to walk in the ankle-deep water.

Converse 1Creek toes

The water was nice and warm but I would suggest wearing water shoes or  sandals with good grips.

Many kids were jumping off of the limestone rocks into the pool below. There are lots of people on the shore and on top of the rocks but I tried to miss them with my camera. People were really enjoying themselves while lounging in tubes, pool noodles and some were picnicking on the shore.

Falls Lower 1

Falls Lower 2.jpg

Lower Falls 3.jpg

One thing that disappointed me was the amount of garbage that was caught in the rocks. A lot of this is washed in from the creek but still, I imagine some trash gets away from the picnic areas further up the creek. This trash was lodged here and it did not seem to float into the pool where the kids were swimming.

Lower falls trash.jpg

Onion creek 2dragon flyOnion Creek

I was unable to get any really good photos of the Upper Falls because it was so dry. There was a pool of water and a small cave where people were swimming and hanging out. This looked like the most popular spot. I showed these photos to my kids and they wanted to pay a visit. We will be going back very soon!

If you’re looking for a small park that has water fun, hiking, camping and biking this is a good place to go.

For more information on visiting the park here is the link.

Road Trip To Arizona

RoadTrip Cover Photo

As part of reaching my goal to visit every state in the U.S, I planned a Road Trip with my mom and sister. Unfortunately, my sister was not able to make it which created a noticeable absence. I have several friends who live in Arizona and they moved their schedules to prepare to see me so I did not want to reschedule.

We live in Texas and as Southeast as it gets! Driving towards Arizona was a big deal. The total drive according to Google would take 16 hours with 10 of those hours being used to get out of Texas!


EL PASO, TEXAS

Our plan was to drive through to El Paso and stay the night there. My father was in the Army when I was a youngster and we lived in El Paso at one point. I wanted to visit my old elementary school and apartment where we lived. Can you believe I remembered it? Well, yeah I did.

Old elem
Elementary school in El Paso I attended in Kindergarten

Having the opportunity to visit our old apartment was a blast from the past. I remember playing outside in the dust since there was no grass. You can see from the picture below that grass was just non-existent. Fun fact is we lived in El Paso the year it had this crazy amount of snow dumped on it. We went from desert to winter wonderland over night!

El paso Apt
Apartment complex we lived in

Enough about El Paso and on to the reason for the trip. Along the way we saw desert and Mountains. There was no way I was making a trip to Arizona without visiting Tombstone, the site of the famous gun fight at the O.K. Corral. By the way, I can quote the Tombstone movie word for word but never mind that 🙂


TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

Tombstone is very hot, dusty and dry. The people were nice and some were dressed up to mimic the old way of dress. Here are some photos of Tombstone.

city hall
Old Tombstone City Hall
GUnfight
Site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In 1881 the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-Mclaury gang in this legendary shootout.
Big nose kate
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon was originally called The Grand Hotel. Kate was Doc Holiday’s common-law wife.
Bird cage(1)
Reported by the NY Times back in 1882 to be “the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and Barbary Coast.” NOW that’s a serious reputation!
Birdcage inside
Bird Cage Entrance
Wells fargo
Old Wells Fargo bank

NEW MEXICO

We did not stop at any notable places in New Mexico but I did get this really nice shot of the rising sun. We also crossed the Continental Divide which was a cool check-in for Facebook.

New Mexico
Sunrise over the Mountains in New Mexico

THE GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

On to one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen in person! We stayed in Mesa Arizona but I did not get any pictures. It was a three and a half hour drive to The Grand Canyon but the scenery made the drive worth it. I tried to capture the beauty and majesty of the canyon but you just have to be there to appreciate it.

A few tips when visiting the Canyon even if you do not think you will hike. Take plenty of water, even if it is not hot. The elevation at 7,000 feet will take a toll on your body. Also, pack some sustainable snacks such as jerky and trail mix. Do not feed the wild animals. We saw Elk and Ravens on our trip but you can see squirrels, mountain lions and California Condors.

I have a crazy amount of photos from the Canyon but these are the ones I feel will give you a sense of just how beautiful it really is. Let me get on and show you the pictures!

Canyon 2
The Grand Canyon
Canyon Colorado
The Colorado River
canyon script
View from the Desert View Watchtower
Canyon shoes
Resting my toes for a bit 🙂
Canyon
Beautiful shot
Me Canyon
Sitting on top of Split Rock with the Colorado River behind me
me side canyon
Side of the Canyon
MountainPeak
Humphrey Peak as part of the San Francisco Mountains. This was on the way up to the canyon.
Watchtowe
Mary Colton’s Desert View Watchtower

The Grand Canyon was place I will never forget. I am so happy I was able to see it in person and take pictures for memories.

The trip back to Texas was driven all at once starting at 9 am on a Sunday. We arrived in home 20 hours later!! It was an unforgettable time and I hope to bring the kids when they are a bit older. I have officially updated the Life List.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon or Tombstone? If so what was your experience.

Looking For Something That Is Not Lost

Today the kids and I went Geocaching. Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.  This activity was part of my life list and I can now update the date!

edited-geo-slpark
Before hunting for the hidden objects.

The first search was conducted at a park near our home.  We used my phone in order to find the coordinates of the hidden object.

It was hard to know what to look for but the description and hints were  extremely helpful. Be sure to read up on Geocaching etiquette and terms.

Edited-Geo-SL.jpg
Success! The first object we found.

We moved to our second location to a business park further down the road and found this one in a muddy field. Our shoes and socks got wet but the kids had fun getting messy.

Edited-Geo-Staff.jpg
The second object we found.

We had so much fun looking for these that we plan on hunting for more in the coming weeks. I will be taking a vacation soon so I plan on looking for more objects where I will be headed.

Have you tried Geocaching? If so what was your experience?

An Unexpected Trip To The Texas Capitol

We took the kids on a day trip to visit a little place where we love to get pecans. It is about 20 miles from Austin.  We live about two hours from Austin so it was not an entirely long trip but with three kids in the car they can get fidgety. I will say this, the kids did not appreciate my 80s/90s karaoke session!

While visiting Berdoll, we stopped at the 14 foot squirrel and snapped a photo. It was a lot of fun and the now the kids can tell people they have seen a 14 foot squirrel!

Squirell.jpg
Friendly little fellow!

Once we finished with our pecan trip, the kids suggested we keep driving to Austin in order to see the Texas State Capitol. The husband and I thought it was a great idea. I more so because it is on my Life List!

capitol front.jpg
It was a great trip and the kids go to experience Texas history. Homeschoolers never stop learning!

Here are a few pics inside the Capitol.

We had a great time and finished it off with some great Texas BBQ! I consider this trip a success and can update the Life List Page!