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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hotel ICON - romantic Houston getaway

Recently, we visited the upscale Hotel ICON in downtown Houston. The historic building dates back to 1911, and served as the Union Bank for many years. The hotel also houses the renowned Bank restaurant. With vaulted ceilings, classic designs, and original artwork, the Hotel ICON makes a perfect romantic getaway.
Look for our feature coming soon. View our video of the Hotel ICON now via our Texas guide.
Hotel ICON - Houston, Texas

Posted by Carl Burnham at 7:09 AM
Edited on: Sunday, June 10, 2007 7:08 PM
Categories: Accommodations

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thank our military

This Memorial Day, as Americans we need to remember to thank those who we owe so greatly the freedoms we are able to enjoy. They have paid and pay a huge sacrifice for keeping our country safe.

Image showing the USS Lexington before being hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane during WWII

We are working on a feature for the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi. It is a fascinating tour, with history of WWII on display, and also many aircraft.

Here is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago on our visit to the Pacific War Museum in Fredricksburg, TX., where I met two WWII veterans giving talks. It was written for them, but really applies to all our military.

Heroes among us.
Our greatest generation was all for one, and one for all.
Sacrifices were many. Many did not return.
All sacrificed, overseas, and at home for the one goal.
To win the war. There was no question.
Many went through hell, and gave the enemy hell.
They had a job to do to save the world from evil.
They are our best. Our WWII veterans. - CB

Posted by Carl Burnham at 9:23 AM

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Upcoming Destinations: Romantic Houston Getaway | Going South | New Medieval Times near Atlanta | Denver

This summer will be a busy time for us. This weekend, we return to Houston to include a new feature on the Hotel ICON, a luxury hotel in the heart of downtown, as we prepare a new segment on Houston. Lately, we have focused exclusively on Texas destinations in adding to our features. We will be expanding again to other states in June, as our travel writers venture thru the South to top attractions, on the way to Virginia then back along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The new Medieval Times Restaurant near Atlanta will be one of our features, which offers a regal meal with entertaining one-of-a-kind jousting and showmanship. We went to their Orlando restaurant years ago, and it is a must see experience. Also in June, we will be traveling to Denver, as we prepare a new segment and update our Colorado sections. Stay tuned.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:34 AM
Categories: Destinations

Monday, May 21, 2007

Travel to Corpus Christi

We just returned from our trip to Corpus Christi, the largest coastal city in Texas. Be sure to read our features on the Omni Bayfront Towers and a flounder gigging tour.The area offers alot for those vacationing, especially if you like the outdoors. We are working on additional features for Corpus Christi, including the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington. Other sites include a Natural History Museum (which has replicas of all three Columbus ships that you can walk on), an art museum, a botanical gardens and nature center, a Selena memorial. For walking along the beach, within Corpus Christi many go to North Beach, which is by the USS Lexington.

Corpus Christi Bay Corpus Christi North Beach Ok, smile this time!

There are lots of places in the bays which look like prime fishing spots. Besides sports fishing, there are lots of places for bird watching (read our feature on the George Blucher House B&B across from a bird sanctuary), to see dolphins, With our feature on flounder gigging with Captain Dupnik, we discovered first-hand how fun the sport can be. From the flat bottom boat, we could see the water teaming with life near the shore, from sea turtles, string rays, perch, to flounder.

Lots of area small towns have interesting things for the history buff, including King Ranch in Kingsville, just south of Corpus Christi. Port Aransas has the Fulton Mansion (built in the 1850s). We were surprised at the lack of seafood restaurants around Rockport, Aransas Pass, and Ingleside. After exploring around, we discovered Catfish Charlies, a local favorite in Corpus Christi. We drove briefly to Padre Island, and also Mustange and Goose Island. The beach at Padre had seaweed washed up on the shore, which is common this time of the year. On Padre, we saw a truck almost get stuck in the sand, so we didn't venture on the beach with our vehicle very far. If you are careful, it's not a problem to drive it. Just stay on the areas noted. We plan to return later in the summer, this time with our kayaks, so that we can explore more of the bay up close.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 9:16 AM
Edited on: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:27 PM
Categories: Destinations

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Upcoming trip to Corpus Christi and Houston

Coming up this month, we make a return trip to two of the top five ports in the country, Corpus Christi and Houston.

Along the Corpus Christi bay, there are lots of scenics and fun things to do. We plan to feature a local fishing charter, taking a night trip with Captain David Dupnik.
The Texas State Aquarium is a family favorite. The USS Lexington is permanently housed here, which saw action in WWII and has several noteworthy fighter planes on display (including several early Blue Angels and a Skyhawk plane flown by Senator John McCain during the Vietnam War).
Later in the month, we return to Houston to highlight some of the many museums.
Have you been to Corpus or Houston? What are your favorite things to do?

Later this year, we plan to highlight more destinations in other states, including our favorite Colorado.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 11:44 AM
Edited on: Monday, May 14, 2007 7:20 PM
Categories: Destinations

What was the first RV?

Ever wonder when the first RV appeared? Sure, we've all seen those old black and white photos of converted Model Ts which popped out into a tent with beds. Who can forget also the early Winebagos with their boxy appearance. I won't post a photo, it may make you cringe.

The first RV was likely made from an old redwood tree back in 1914 by an enterprising entertainer and naturalist, Charles Kellogg. He spent many months on the road, singing bird songs, promoting redwood conservation, and drove across the country four times. His log RV could only travel 5 miles per hour.. Yes, I know. Not whistle, sang them! He would open his mouth when he produced the sounds, and had unique vocal cords which allowed him to belt out quite an ingredible range. Listen to vintage 1916 recordings of him in "The Nightingale Song" and the "Mocking Bird".

If you happen to be in the redwood forest area of Northern California, be sure to stop in at the Visitor Center at Weott, California to see this interesting piece of RV history.

RVing has long held a fascination, in seeing the outdoors and new places. My wife and I always enjoy seeing the old 1954 movie where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz take to the road for their honeymoon with a 32 foot trailer. The most memorable for me is when they attempt to drive it along a narrow one lane mountain road near Mount Whitney, with precarious views along the edge (I have been there...I remember a certain road in British Columbia...). What is your favorite scene?

Here is a snippet of dialogue:
Tacy: You didn't let me finish. I was going to say 'turn right here left'.
Nicholas Collini: Turn right here left? Have you any conception how much room it takes to turn this thing around? We may have to go on for miles!

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:52 AM
Categories: RVing

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A boon for tourism? Texas may waive 20 cent gas tax by summer

A bill is floating through the Texas legislature would give drivers a relief at the pumps.

The Senate Bill 1886, would cost up to $700 million for the state, but the state has a rainy day fund of $4 billion. Stated Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, author of the bill, "If there's ever a time to give this money back to the people, I think it's appropriate to do it during the summer driving months."

If approved by a two-thirds vote of both the Texas House and Senate, it could be used as a savy marketing tool for the state in encouraging tourists to flock to Texas for their summer vacation. It may encourage other states to do the same. With the price of gas expected to be approaching $3 a gallon, it would be quite a welcome change.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 8:55 AM
Categories: Travel News

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Heroes among us - a visit to Fredericksburg to the National Museum of the Pacific War

Situated over 9 acres, this museum tells the riveting account of the Pacific War, it's hardships, and how we fought the Japanese: one island at a time.

Numerous exhibits include significant period artifacts and war memorabilia for the Allies and the Japanese. A portion of the museum is housed in the old Nimitz Hotel, which was owned by the Nimitz family, and commemorates Admiral Chester Nimitz who served over the naval operations in the Pacific. I recommend a visit to the museum when in the area. Plan to spend about 3 hours to have time to visit all the exhibits.

The highlight of our tour was hearing two WWII veterans recount their experiences in battle who were volunteering their time to help teach our youth about this important time of our history.
I talked with Quinton Pyle, who saw up close as the USS Arizona exploded as it was hit by Japanese torpedos. He pointed on the Pearl Harbor photo where his ship, the
USS Bagley, was nearby in the Navy Yard, and was the first ship to return fire and shoot down a Japanese plane. The crew were commended for fast thinking, especially since many of the crew had just entered service.

USS Bagley

He showed me his left arm where it had been injured during the Pearl Harbor attack while cutting gromets from 5" shells (as mentioned in the link above, although his name is misspelled). Although walking with a cane, he appeared to be in good health, and remembered the fateful day clearly.

Mr. Pyle went on to serve aboard the Destroyer, including at Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Saipan.
I was fortunate to be able to meet and talk with him. As the WWII veterans dwindle rapidly in numbers, it is important that their stories be told.

In the Pacific Combat Zone of the Museum, WWII veteran Peter Hammersen gave detailed accounts of what life was like on the islands fighting the Japanese. He served in the Army in the Pacific. He made no secret that he and other soldiers were no fans of General Douglas MacArthur, and how he kept others from getting the share of credit for winning the war. Before we departed, he stated, "The young people today need to know what it was like. All they have is TV, video games, and no hardships. They are not taught the full story behind WWII, and why we fought. There will come a time when we will need to fight again (a world war)." Hopefully, that will not ever happen.
Our military today, and their families need our support now more than ever.

Heroes among us.
Our greatest generation was all for one, and one for all.
Sacrifices were many. Many did not return.
All sacrificed, overseas, and at home for the one goal.
To win the war.
There was no question.
Many went through hell, and gave the enemy hell.
They had a job to do to save the world from evil.
They are our best. Our WWII veterans.
- CB

Posted by Carl Burnham at 3:33 PM
Categories: Attractions

Scenic Drives around Fredericksburg, Texas

The Texas hill country views around Fredericksburg this time of year are many.

After visiting the town, we headed 18 miles north on RR 965 to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. As it was getting late in the day, we caught a glimpse of the big rock and all the flowers, then took the Willow City Loop (take SR 16 to RR 1323, then right onto the loop. This winding 13 mile drive is on a private ranch road, and has the most stunning views we have seen in central Texas.
Many wildflowers, including Indian blankets and bluebonnets, were still in full bloom. Portions of the road has wandering cattle and narrow one-lane bridges, so be aware and take your time. At one point, we saw some deer jump a fence and then high tail it as our vehicle came close. The prime time to drive is from March-early May to see all the wildflowers, but anytime is a good time to see.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 2:07 PM
Categories: Destinations
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