A Travellerspoint blog

April 2014

Houston, TX

I may need some new pants.

sunny 72 °F
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I had some AMAZING hosts to make my stay at Houston extra-special.

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The number one thing that stood out most during my stay in Houston were the restaurants. SO MANY RESTAURANTS. By the end of my stay, my friends were probably sick of me mentioning how many damn restaurants there were. It was nuts how many there were. So nuts, that I decided to do some investigation in the matter: it turns out that Houstonians eat out more than residents of any other city. Ridiculous.

I guess the good thing to learn was that the food was actually good. And not just 'good-good', but David approved good. I like to think my standards are set higher than your average koala. Some of the more memorable establishments included Torchy's Tacos, Niko Niko's Greek & American Diner, Fadi's Mediterranean Grill, Ruggles Green and Churrascos.

Jessie and Jemillie told the server it was my birthday at Churrascos Restaurant... so I could get a free show and flambéed tres leches cake. This is me pretending to be surprised.

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Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum.

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The Light Inside. A blue tunnel connecting two museums... surreal.

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Jessie had a hankering for some bike riding around Rice University. I never was too fond of bikes until I bought a motorcycle, so I was doing my best to not run into people, sidewalks and parked cars.

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NASA Space Center

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Presidential Heads + The Beatles (this was located in a random location. almost an industrial business center)

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Beer Can House. Yes, this man covered his house with beer cans. When asked why he did it, his response was, "It was something to do." Good enough.

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I also had a chance to catch up on some movies! Jem and I went to see The Lunchbox, and we all stayed in for a Redbox night to watch In a World. Both were great, go see them!

Random pics: a gigantic armadillo, a painting and scary lady thinga-ma-bob.

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Posted by muricadave 20:18 Archived in USA Tagged beer restaurants house nasa houston texas can Comments (1)

New Orleans, LA (NOLA)

so.much.salt.


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The day I left Fort Walton Beach to head to New Orleans, there was a weather advisory of possible flooding due to heavy rain along my route. Well... 80% of the drive was free and clear, with the last 20% being the most ridiculous pour-down I've ever been through. I was SO glad I had 4WD. Go-go-gadget Honda CR-V!

Anywho, my favorite part of NOLA was the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. By far, the most impressive sculpture garden I've strolled through. The sculptures were unique and fairly contemporary. The grounds, garden and mini-lake could have stood by themselves as a little oasis for some R&R.

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The beard is made out of monkey fur.

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As far as food goes... I was not a fan. I just found most of the food too salty. A exception was Willie Mae's Scotch House. The greasiest fried chicken ever... but they perfected their fried-crust.

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Everyone was friendly (a continuing trend I'm finding in the South), and Bourbon Street was exactly what you'd think it to be. A 24/7 drink fest. Literally, it has bars that are open 24/7.

My fondest memory is watching a grandma puking on the road, at around six o'clock in the afternoon. GO GRANDMA! I guess she couldn't handle those Hand Grenades.

And let's not forget the New Orleans Athletic Club. This gym blew the pants off of any I've been in.

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Posted by muricadave 19:08 Tagged new orleans bourbon nola Comments (0)

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

I got some color on my vampire skin.

73 °F
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Sunscreen, white sand and aqua water summed up my stay at Fort Walton Beach, Florida (near Pensacola/Destin/Santa Rosa). It was my second unplanned stop during my trip, coming from a recommendation from my hosts in Charleston, SC. There wasn't much to do in the city, so most of my time was spent laying out at the beach.

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I drove on scenic Hwy 98 my last full day and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. What a thoughtful parting gift from Mother Nature.

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On the way to New Orleans, I checked out the Air Force Armament Museum - My favorite plane had to be the SR-71 Blackbird. It looks like something out of a sci-fci movie.

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Oh... and they have Piggly Wiggly's here.

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Posted by muricadave 16:11 Archived in USA Tagged beach fort museum airplanes walton armament Comments (0)

Savannah, GA and Florida Caverns State Park (Marianna, FL)

sunny 71 °F
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Next up, Savannah. It was a bittersweet 2.5 days there; sweet because it's all dressed up with cute little parks in each section of the city, and bitter, because it was raining 90% of the time I was there. Lots of the 'charm' in Charleston was in Savannah as well.

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I arrived at my next host's place (who was amazing!) and decided to venture towards the river walk (where all of the touristy restaurants/bars are). I was greeted by the largest boat/tanker/whaling ship/etc.. I have ever laid my eyes on. It was mesmerizing watching this monster glide down the river, and I almost felt sorry for the water below carrying the big red beast.

For scale, check out the dark-spec in the opening below the "S"in WILHELMSEN. That's a person.

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For a good part of my first full day in Savannah, I was able to walk around the Savannah Squares and take some time in Forsyth Park.

LOVE ME THAT SPANISH MOSS!

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For lunch, I stopped by Zunzis and ordered 'The GodFather'. To add to the delicious sammy and David-approved portion, Zunzis gets a golden-star for their love of The Governator. You know, Ah-nold Schwarzenegger. My sandwich-wizard was in full Ah-nold speak with the guy in front of me in line. Thumbs up yo. I gave him a little bit of my impression as I thanked him for the meal.

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But yes, most of my stay in Savannah was wet. That's ok. I had a chance to catch-up on The Walking Dead (Netflix show).

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My next stop was Florida Caverns State Park. It was around 6:30 when I arrived at the park and the ranger asked me right away if I was on site 35. Yup! Love it. She even gave me my very-first, genuine, bonafide, "bless your heart".

After checking-in and setting up my tent, I needed a fire! I had a hell-of-a-time trying to find some wood for a campfire. Wouldn't you think most places would stock up on wood, given the location of the state park? Sheesh. Anywho, after visiting 5 stores with no luck, I settled on one of those firewood alternative logs. It did the job on my beans, so I was happy.

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Beans and beef jerky for dinner. Very manly.

Sleep that night wasn't bad at all. My mattress consisted of 4 towels, the thin tarp of the tent and mother-earth. I packed some cheap blankets that did a decent job of keeping me warm throughout the night. I popped my ear-plugs in and knocked out.

After brushing my teeth.

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Wake-up time was 6:00am... I was at the mercy of the sun, which I didn't mind much. That's one of the nice things about camping - it resets your circadian rhythm. The air was crisp and cool, and I sat on a bench sipping on hot coffee while the sun massaged my back with it's warmth. What a great morning :)

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My shower buddy

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I toured the caverns in the morning, and took a short hike around the visitor center. Most of the other extended hikes were flooded due to recent rain. Boo. And with rain, especially in this region, comes mosquitos ah-plenty. I already had a healthy nibbling in Savannah by my blood sucking friends, and I wasn't intent on sharing anymore of my life-force. So, I loaded up on DEET en route to the park.

Can you spot the butterfly below?

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Caverns

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Lunch was at The Oaks Restaurant in Marianna, FL. You can't beat $8 for hush puppies, creamed corn, fried chicken/catfish/pork chops, salad bar, and banana puddin'. Mac (my server) was southern-nice, and made sure to keep my water glass full.

Other than Florida State Caverns Park, and The Oaks Restaurant, there isn't much to Marianna. Now I'm sitting in Arby's, charging my phone and typing away on my laptop since there aren't any Starbucks/Paneras/coffee shops for traveling vagrants like me.

Next up, Fort Walton Beach, Florida (pretty close to Pensacola/Destin).

Random pictures below - coffee sock (my host in Savannah used this to make delicious morning joe), grungy me and Duck Dynasty towels. I guess they're a big deal in Marianna.

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Posted by muricadave 11:15 Archived in USA Tagged park fort camping florida savannah walton caverns Comments (0)

Charleston, SC / Hunting Island State Park (Beaufort, SC)

semi-overcast 71 °F
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There was a nasty accident from Durham to Charlotte, so it added an hour to the original two-hour drive. I arrived at my hosts' place in Charlotte, NC, at around 11:30. To be honest, it was a bit messy and the restroom was pretty nasty. That pretty much sums up my stay in Charlotte. I told my next host in Charleston, SC, that I would be there around 2-3:00PM, and since I woke up around 10, that didn't give me much time to venture downtown at all. OH WELL.

The good thing about leaving Charlotte early, is that it gave me MORE time to spend in Charleston. It was a gorgeous day. My next host gave me some great recommendations on where to walk, where to eat and where to get some sun. They also let me know that there was a Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) going on Saturday morning, and about 40,000 registered participants were expected to run, with another 10-20,000 unregistered walkers - so I was there at a good time apparently.

My host asked if I was a 'foodie', which then I told her that yes, indeed, I like food (I believe most people would say they're 'foodies' - who doesn't enjoy food?). Anywho, she told me some must-go places to try. So away I went to fill my belly... and walk around.

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And then... the food. Husk restaurant was my first visit, and my favorite. Fried chicken that was AH-kickin'! That little dish to the right of the chicken was some local honey for dipping.

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McCrady's was my second stop, where I ordered some fancy beef tartare. It was decent. This was the type of place where the waiter tells you about each particular ingredient, how it was made and where it was from. A bit too much for my taste, but a pretty dish nonetheless.

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Last stop of the night was Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.), where I ordered Shrimp n' grits, and a vegetable platter. The bartender immediately told me it was too much food for one sitting, so I said, "Ok... just shrimp n grits, and some grilled okra". About ten-seconds later, I figured I could handle the my original order, and told Mr. Bartender that I was going against his advice.

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He shook my hand after I finished both plates.

The next day was spent working out, laying out on the beach, taking a mid-afternoon nap and visiting north King St. in the evening. The residential side-streets are charming both day and night. North King St. is the go-to place for twenty/thirty somethings to drink and frolic about.

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The following day I was off, heading towards Savannah via US Route 17. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road and instead on the sides of the highway.

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There was a road on the opposite side of the highway that I had to see. I backtracked about 4 miles just to see it, and it was so worth the time. It was a private road, so I didn't go much further than 20 feet past the entrance.

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While filling up on gas, I decided to see what was around the area. My GPS suggested Hunting Island State Park, and a quick google search said it was one of the top things to see/do near Beaufort, SC. Done.

First stop, the visitor center. I asked the receptionist what I should do in the limited timeframe I had: she suggested climbing the lighthouse for a pretty 360 degree view and then taking a hike down to the edge of the island for sunset. After climbing the lighthouse, taking a few selfies and enjoying the view, I took a 3 mile hike to a secluded beach where I went nuts with more selfies*. I was the only person on the beach.

  • I scratched the hell out of my phone while jamming it between some driftwood on the beach, so please enjoy the pics :)

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I nearly ran out of daylight during the hike back to my car, where I ran into a wandering raccoon and a family of 4 deer.

Next up, Savannah, GA. I just arrived this morning and the forecast for my stay is rainy and overcast. Poop.

Posted by muricadave 10:27 Archived in USA Tagged island hunting beaufort charleston Comments (0)

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