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June 20, 2006


Downtown New Orleans is in a bit better shape than the surrounding areas. I road around for a while and saw the French Quarter, which I would describe as rather raunchy, and then found a restaurant where I ate fried clams. They were pretty good. Sadly the dinner cost $20 more than it should have - a traffic cop, who I have many words by which to describe that I will instead keep to myself, wrote me a ticket for being in an expired meter spot. I wasn't really in the expired meter spot though; I was in between two metered spots (there were cars parked on both sides). Anyway, she wasn't very nice about it and I didn't really have grounds to argue. So, my parting gift from New Orleans in hand, I left and headed towards Houston.

I was also very aware at that point that Houston had experienced flooding the past couple of days and that there was, according to the weather people, a storm system basically parked on top of the area that wasn't going away anytime soon. However, being the stubborn person that I am (in addition to my firm belief that weathermen are liars) I continued on to Houston.


As it turns out, it was a worthwhile gamble. I made it a little ways past the Texas border today and found a county park off of I-10. They had a camping symbol on their sign, but the park office was under renovations and the sign said the park closed at 7pm. I assumed this meant for people that weren't camping and pitched my tent.

Thankfully, nobody came by to yell at me, and no predators decided to stalk me as I slept. Hurray for free camping!

June 21, 2006


Today was outstanding. I was only about two hours away from Houston when I setup camp yesterday, so the drive was easy (and the weather is great!). When I got to Houston I immediately found the Johnson Space Center and took their tour. It wasn't as impressive as the Kennedy Space Center tour, but it was still pretty interesting. I got to see Historic Mission Control, where all of the Apollo missions were managed from, as well as earlier and many later missions. We were also permitted to tour the astronaut training center (I'm not sure if that was exactly what it was called) where they have mock ups of the shuttle, ISS, and other things the astronauts might encounter in space. It was pretty interesting. Once the tour was over I stuck around the visitor center for a while and saw a couple of movies (on a 5 story high screen) and some of the exhibits. The moon exhibit at JSC was way better than the one at KSC - it had a lot of moon rocks, some of which were rather large. The tour at JSC was also considerably cheaper than that at KSC. I was rather disappointed to discover that they give tours of the current day Mission Control on Saturdays. But, oh well. That also reminds me that before I got to New Orleans I drove by the Stennison (that is probably spelled wrong) rocket testing facility. They give free tours, but they don't happen on Monday or Tuesday. That was an unpleasant discovery as well. :-/


My time at JSC over, I continued on to Galveston. Since I had gotten such an early start I was still doing pretty well on time. I'd arrived at JSC around 10am, and departed around 4pm. I made it to Galveston in about an hour. Galveston, to my surprise, is an island. I had a few people tell me that Galveston was cool and that I should go there. I believed them, knowing absolutely nothing about the place. They were right as it turned out. Galveston is a really nice island. I would argue that it's better than the Florida Keys in many respects. The beaches are a *lot* bigger, and at first glance nicer. The island itself is much bigger (probably on the order of Acadia) which is also nice since everything isn't packed together. There are some really nice, open areas. One of them is Galveston Island State Park, incidentally where my campsite is located.

The breeze off of the Gulf is pretty strong, but it's nice out - and cool. Depending on how I feel tomorrow morning I might go for a swim (I'm sort of sick of saltwater though, at least temporarily). Today I basically setup camp, drove all around the island for about an hour, and then got dinner at a Golden Corral because I was starving. Tomorrow I'm hoping to make it somewhere near San Antonio, TX and to Big Bend National Park following that. We'll see how it goes.


One other thing I'd like to point out, Net 10 Wireless is evil. I have a cell phone through them, and the first time I got it and activated it the phone number would change every couple of days. It was amusing for a while, but I called them and they decided that I needed a new phone. So they sent me a new phone. Fine. Well, now that new phone is low on minutes. My Mom attempted to add minutes via their website, and it failed. Then I tried manually adding minutes using the pin number and that failed. I have 24 minutes left. If they can't figure out a way to add minutes to my phone (customer support is closed right now), I would advise everyone to avoid that company like the plague.

That's the end of another one of my rants. I'm off to sleep. Good night!

June 22, 2006


Today went fairly well. My original plan was to drive to San Antonio, TX. However, once I arrived there I realized that it was hot and that it was "just another city." So I instead kept driving. I made it all the way to the Amistad National Reserve (or something similar to that). Amistad means "friendship," by the way. There I saw a large dam constructed by both the US and Mexico to create the Amistad Reserve. It was a pretty neat sight.

There were also quite a few camping areas - many of them that charged only $4. However, the sun was still up (and it was getting cooler as it went down) so I decided to continue driving for another hour or so.


At that point I made it to Seminole State Park, which though a bit more expensive had a shower and payphone among other things. Seminole State Park is named after the canyon that runs through it and has a few historical points of interest. It contains part of the original gravel bed to the Southern Pacific Railroad as well as a brick oven used in the forging of the railroad. It also has Indian paintings in some of the caves and on some of the canyon walls (I didn't have time to check either of those out though). The campsite was good, and all in all it was an interesting place.

As an added bonus there was a payphone at the site, which allowed me the following morning to call up Net 10 Wireless and tell them about my problem. They fixed it without too much trouble, so for now I take back my earlier tentative suggestion to avoid them like the plague. They at least have decent customer support :).