Thursday, July 21, 2016

Riding the Wave -- Saturday, June 25, 2016

Scattered clouds build in the East the morning of June 25 and bring a glorious sunrise painted with oranges and pinks.  A gentle breeze helps to keep the temperature down to the low 80s, and I know it will be a good day.

Herb and I take our morning walk around 7 o'clock before the sun burns the clouds away and we pass a bus stop bench where people are waiting for their ride on the Wave.  We have always wondered where they go and what they do.  The bus provides free transportation from Port Isabel to and from the towns of Laguna Heights to South Padre Island for work or play or shopping.  We return from our walk quite refreshed.  Our conversation now turns to, "What fun thing are we going to do today?"  

"Haven't we always thought about riding the Wave just for the experience and to see where it goes?"

"OK, today's the day!"

So with that thought we take a ten minute walk, or about half a mile, to  the closest bus stop, where he notes the schedule:  Port Isabel bus arrives twice an hour -- at 21 and 51 minutes after the hour.  Well, who knew?  So we have several minutes to wait in the heat of the morning and wish we had a cooler place to wait.

Then very unexpectedly we see the Wave approaching.  Off schedule?  We don't need an answer to that, all we need is to get aboard and ride in this air conditioned vehicle.  How lucky can we get!

The driver turns west toward Laguna Heights, and for the first time, out of the hundreds of times we have driven through the town, we get a closer look at the businesses and homes.  The bus travels many, many streets, turning here and turning there.  Passengers are greeted by first name and sit in their regular seats (I wonder whose seat we took) as they go to their destinations, possibly to work, or maybe they are returning from work.  Maybe they just went to the grocery store or the breakfast taco shop.  

I am amazed at the frequency of stops, one of which is near the Boys' and Girls' Club and the Animal Shelter, where I donated Dr. Jake's grooming tools, shampoo, life jacket, and food and water bowls.  We pass the police station, where we can say thank you, as well as where you can pay your parking fines; the courthouse, where you can plead your case; and the fire station, where we can say thank you!

The Wave stops at a bench stop near Walmart to pick up a man who has a prescription bag in his hand, and drops him off at his trailer park.  I am pleased to see that we drive by the Catholic Church and new Cultural Event Center, which will afford many to attend without having to worry about the limited parking space.

Oh, did I mention the number of restaurants we pass?  We didn't even know some existed.  The last one that get's our attention is Dirty Al's Pelican Station - very popular and with reasonable prices. is almost lunch time.

That is where we turn east and go across the causeway bridge over the ship channel and onto South Padre Island.  Turning to go north up the island the driver slows and asks if anyone needs the South Padre bus.  No one answers, so he continues his drive.  It is then that Herb asks him, "How far do you go up the island?  We want to select a restaurant for lunch."   

He replies, "This is the Port Isabel bus.  The one you want is the SPI bus, the one that just passed."

Who knew?  Who planned ahead?  But we are having the time of our lives.  He stops to let us out, and we begin our trek -- in the increasingly humid heat -- to find the next bus bench.  Finding it, we see there is a considerable wait for the next bus.  But right next to it for our viewing pleasure is the remnant of a recently built sand castle and a sign asking that it not be touched, because it is made of sand.

And the sign I like....

To pass the time while we wait for the next bus and to escape the heat, we decide to step into the nearby strip mall for shade.  We remember that Gabriella's Italian Restaurant previously owned by former neighbors in Port Isabel, should be just ahead.  Hmm...there is a new restaurant, Russo's Italian Grill and Pizzeria, since we visited the island.  Pizza is never Herb's first choice, but we go past the outside seating and into the air conditioning to check the menu.  Yes!  He sees a salad that gets his attention and I see many entrees that interest me.

What a surprise as we are seated, to hear someone call our names, and we look over to see Gail and Alta, our friends and realtors.  We are so happy to see them -- and their food looks good -- so that makes the choice on the menu easy.  I choose Tortellini Brodo soup with a Mediterranean side salad, and Herb goes for a bowl of the soup.  Yum.  

Now for the rest of our tour -- we return to the bus bench just in time for the SPI bus and learn that it is called the Wave because all you have to do is step to the curb and wave to the driver, who finds a safe place near you to stop for boarding.  To disembark, one simply pulls the cord to alert the driver -- no limitation to the number or location of scheduled stops.  How nice.  I always thought it was named for the surfers off the beach of SPI.

As we continue north, we pass some beach access streets, but as hot as it is, I do not want to leave this bus.  I shoot a quick photo of just how close we come to the beach.

Our route proceeds north to the Convention Center, where we return south to wait for the Port Isabel bus to take us back across the causeway and home.

When you live in a vacation destination town like Port Isabel, what does a local do for fun?  This day turns into a really exciting day for us!

Find Willie's ride....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
    and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
    Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Lovely Time in a Lovely Part of Houston -- March 6-14, 2016

As I look around at the cloudless sky and feel the cool breeze that blows a whisper through the palm trees, I get a call from Pearl telling me that we should 'go to the boat.'  It has been a fun and busy week with her and Joe as they spend time at Segars Point, and what better way to end the stay than to head to Port A, where On Your Mark is moored at Island Moorings.

We were actually planning a trip to Houston, and this will get us halfway there.

And another fun day continues!

On Your Mark

It is rare that we leave Sweet Caroline at home and miss our visit to our favorite Advanced RV Park in Pearland, but this is a car trip, mainly because the BMW is not tow-able four wheels down, and the Jeep is in Seattle.    Hotels are nice, too.

We choose Hotel Indigo, a six minute walk from the Galleria, five miles from the Museum of Fine Arts, about seven miles from downtown -- but the main plus is it is within walking distance (a long walk) to Whole Foods.  By the time we get there, it is lunch time and I ask Herb to take a photo of me to send to Maureen, even though this Post Oak store is not in her area of responsibility.

There is so much to explore in this area and one of the most awesome and beautiful is the Water Wall.

In its three acre setting, 11,000 gallons of water per minute spill over the walls of the 64 foot high fountain.     The gabled archway fronting the fountain, the scaenae  frons, is reminiscent of an ancient Roman theatre stage.

John Burgee Architects, with Phillip Johnson of New York, constructed the wall.  The semi-circular design of the fountain was to be a horseshoe of rushing water.  I love seeing the sheets of water cascade.

As we walk around the park, we stop to see families having picnics and kids playing.  Shown here is a relay race.  Good exercise.

Find Willie's lunch....

Whole Foods Store on Post Oak in Houston

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   March 6-14

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Returning to Texas for some Texas Wine -- February 9 - 23, 2016

What goes to Seattle, must come back to Texas (eventually)-- or is it what goes up must come down?  

We greatly anticipate a visit to Joe and Pearl's in Austin, as we make our way south from the Pacific Northwest.  I find the nighttime view of the downtown scene from their north window breathtaking.

Our next stop is in Port Aransas to hop aboard their Bluewater boat, On Your Mark, which is the closest we can come to boating for a while.  Just being on or near the water is good.  An oil rig greets us as we drive across the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway near Corpus Christi.                                                                                               

Herb goes topside to try the pilot's seat on for size.

Center: "On Your Mark"

Back to Port Isabel we capture a beautiful sunrise and know it will be a good day.

It's a good day to check out Amazon Prime for a fun purchase, and as soon as our wine aerator arrives in the mail, Herb chooses a nice bottle of wine from the Becker Vineyards in the Hill Country and practices pouring, as Vicki had taught him.  "Above the shoulder, and below the hip."  

Find Willie's wine glass....


Just a little more, please!

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   February 9 - 23, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wine, Anyone? -- February 7, 2016

Herb and I always like visiting with friends Bruce and Vicki.  We have so many stories to share, we have so many laughs, and we enjoy awesome, delicious meals together.

Oh, and we love to see what new toys they have.  Well, the one we see today is not exactly a toy.  It serves a purpose to aerate the wine being poured.  We sit down for dinner and are captivated while Vicki demonstrates how it works.  

Not a drop is spilled!

Above the Shoulder and Below the Hip

A pleasantry is the nighttime view of a pier on Puget Sound, seen from a dining room window.

Find Bruce's 'My Window'....

An evening photo we have come to anticipate -- (Photo courtesy of Bruce C Moore)

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   February 7, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Find Willie's Orca Card, January, 2016

I love Seattle.

One of the fun things we like is riding the Rapid Ride public bus system.  Tym and June put us onto this a few years ago.  We can go from the north side of Seattle, Stimson Marina in Ballard, where Willie's Tug, is to downtown, transfer to the Light Rail, which will drop us at SeaTac Airport.

And many points in between.

So last year we went to the main bus terminal to each get a pass card, load about $20 on them for about 20 rides.  This could last a few years.

We are back now for the Seattle boat Show and riding the Rapid Ride.  Now I have a brilliant idea --  I used to have a thin wallet that held my Stimson pass and my bus pass, so with it, all I had to do is wave the wallet near the contact and the marina gate would open or the bus pass clicked off a $1 and marked me Paid.  

But today I use a different wallet, but think it would work to put the bus pass on top of my hand inside a tightly fitting glove.  I wave it at the contact and it works great for a smooth entrance to the bus.

While sitting in the seat, I get a text, reach into a jacket pocket for my phone and unbeknownst to me, my card falls out of my not-so-tight glove onto the floor.  I realize it as the '70 Bus' leaves the stop after dropping us at Lake Union for the Boats Afloat Show.   It would do no good to yell after the bus a block away now.   So Herb calls the Orca issuing company to cancel my card, but they will not transfer my remaining $14.50 to his card.  Neither can he pay my passage with his pass.  Bummer.   I can get a replacement card at the issuing station on Jackson, and remember I have the original receipt in my wallet -- which is not with us!

I travel light sometimes.

Ingenious:  We ride the shuttle from Lake Union to Century Link, walk to Jackson Street issuing station.

The agent laughs at my story, we pay our $3 replacement cost, and look around to see what is in the neighborhood.  Kitty-cornered is the Klondike Museum, a national park, so we go there and totally enjoy the exhibits, reliving our trip in the motor home to Alaska ten years ago.

Find the silver lining to my bad day....

Photo Taken While Riding the '40 Bus'

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   January, 2016

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Walk through the Seattle Boat Show, January 2016

A must in the life of Herb and Willie is attending the Seattle Boat Show, held in January.  Not only do we get a preview of new boats, boat accessories, and suppies, but it is a great opportunity for a Winter visit with our boating friends.  

Included in the category of friends are the owners of marinas where we have stayed in the past.  But first -- we visit Dockside Solutions, where Angela, Lisa and crew handle our mail. To our delight, we see Herb's photo on their banner at the Boat Show.  He is shown posing with his Dockside baseball cap at one of our anchorages on the cruise to Alaska last Summer.  We took a photo of him wearing the cap at every stop -- especially in Sitka AK!

Find Herb....

Soon we find George in his booth promoting his and Gail's marina, Port Harvey, in BC.  It is also known for its Red Shoe Restaurant, whose walls are decorated with red high heel shoes that guests have given them.    George is happy to say they are rebuilding after the barge housing the marina sank a few months ago.  We first visited in 2014 and look forward to the next cruise to Port Harvey.

Herb and George

Next we come to Pierre's Echo Bay Lodge and Marina booth, where Tove is busy answering questions for visitors.  I stand back and clap my hands in her unique cadence.  All look up, because they know a former guest of their marina is near.  

I recall Happy Hour being held in their large dining room, and when she announces dinner is served, she uses a hand clapping technique from her former school teaching days.  Sounds like clap-clap, clap-clap-clap!  It would get MY attention!

Pierre and Tove
Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   January, 2016

Christmas in Houston, 2015

Herb and I had an opportunity to visit Houston Methodist Hospital at Christmas and were delighted with the Christmas concert in the lobby.  One group especially catching my attention is a trombone quartet.  A tiny ballerina steals the show as she dances in front of the musicians.  It is not known whether she is the daughter of a performer or a happy child taking advantage of the venue.

So cute!

Gingerbread House -- smells so good!

Merry Christmas
Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   December, 2015