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Blogging Food Geography Travel Weather

Wichita Falls Texas

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. This month I’m virtually visiting 5 continents in 5 weeks. 4 weeks ago I wrote about Luxembourg in Europe. 3 weeks ago it was Yunnan China in Asia. A couple of weeks ago it was down under to Perth Australia. Last week it was Santiago Chile in South America. This week I’m back home in North America in the United States Of America – specifically the great state of Texas and Wichita Falls in the far north of the state.

This is actually not a virtual visit, but an actual visit. I’ve just returned home from Wichita Falls Texas. I flew out there last Friday morning for my annual late-September visit to spend quality time with family. My “first cousin once removed” and her husband picked me up at the small but modern Wichita Falls Regional Airport, and we proceeded to a local Mexican restaurant for an early Lunch. That’s a tradition for each visit. We must eat a meal at a Mexican restaurant, and I don’t think that we’ve ever repeated the same one. We’ve always gone to a new place with each new visit.

I returned home this past Tuesday afternoon (27 September 2022). My flight on American Airlines (Airbus A321) was packed like sardines – probably at or near 100% capacity. I think a lot of people who had previous plans to head for airports in the Tampa Bay area and even Orlando were on the flight(s) to Miami instead since #MIA was the least-affected airport in Florida from Hurricane Ian. There were a lot of flight crew sitting in coach. Despite the packed flight it was amazingly peaceful and serene inflight, and the flight itself was quite smooth (just a few chops here and there). The pilot took a different route to Miami from Dallas – staying over land for nearly all of the route – over to Tallahassee, and then down the Gulf Coast of Florida. (Normally it would cross the Gulf Of Mexico from New Orleans to Fort Myers.)

Note: I’ll post an impact statement on Hurricane Ian here in my hometown on Twitter @ChrisMDay.

This was my first time flying since the start of April. Mask mandates in airports and airplanes were lifted later that same month, so this was the first time in nearly 3 years that I flew without a face mask. There were a few people at the airport and on the airplanes who wore face masks. I’d estimate maybe 5% did so. On all of the flights to and from Wichita Falls the flight attendants stated during their safety briefing that whether or not we choose to wear a face mask please respect each other’s personal decisions. That’s good advice to follow. Be kind to each other.

Incidentally after that first meal at that Mexican restaurant upon arrival in Wichita Falls – we visited a fun historical museum. Next #TravelThursday I’ll write about it, as well as some other fun places that I visited in the local area. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Christian Driving Food God Photography Travel

Ocean City Maryland

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Exactly 7 years ago this morning on Tuesday July 28TH 2015 me, my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my 2 nieces drove westbound across the 4.3-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge (U.S. 50 / U.S. 301) after spending 3 fun days and nights on Ocean City Maryland.

It was me and my brother’s idea to return to Ocean City. It was our first visit since we were kids in the early-1980s. As a family – me, my dad, my mom, and my brother visited Ocean City for up to a week at a time about every 2 or 3 summers from the mid-1970s through the early-1980s. We usually stayed at a neighbor friend’s condo bayside. I think they still own it today !

For my mom it was one final opportunity to visit Ocean City, relatives, and friends. For my sister-in-law and my 2 nieces it was just another beach. But for me and my brother it was remembering and reliving our childhoods.

While “the girls” were sunbathing on the beach – me and my brother got to hang out for a little while together doing what we would have done together some 30 years earlier – eating the best french fries on the planet, and visiting tourist attractions along the 2.25-mile boardwalk. I also got some “me” time alone doing what I tend to do today when I’m out on vacation – capturing photographic memories.

YES – Those beautiful sand sculptures were actually on the beach. I was completely awestruck. God bless Mr. Randy Hofman for creating them and proclaiming God’s Good News surfside.

Me and my brother vowed to not wait 30+ years to visit Ocean City again. So far it’s been 7 years. What are we waiting for Danny ?

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit a new location. I’m not sure where yet. Usually I know what I plan to write about for next Thursday, but this time I’m not so sure. Shall I remain stateside, or shall I go abroad – either to a place I’ve been, or to a place I want to visit ? I’ll figure it out before then. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Driving Food History Shopping Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about the first-half of my short one-day road-trip to and from Naples. This week – it’s the second-half of that fun day some 2½ hours away from home.

My next stop on my museum tour was the Naples Historical Society Historic Palm Cottage a couple of blocks from the beach along historic 12TH Avenue South.

Here’s what I wrote about it on TripAdvisor:

This was my 4TH of 4 museum stops in Naples on this day, and it was the highlight of my day. I was the only participant for the 1 PM tour, and the docent was still eager to give the tour. Very admirable. He was very knowledgeable on the history of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. The house was beautiful and interesting. After the 45-minute tour I watched the 25-minute video, and that was very informative. I then looked around the house one last time on my own before emerging out into the front porch. I talked to the docents out there for a little while about the house, the neighborhood, and my own plans for next year when I’ll transition from a long career into retirement and serving as a docent in a few museums in nearby Highlands County Florida. GREAT experience at the Palm Cottage !

This visit almost didn’t occur. Parking is at a premium in this area. Nearly all of it is for the nearby beach and pier. It costs money ($3 per hour), and vacant spaces can be rare or non-existent – even during low-season in July. When I arrived no spaces were available. I drove over to the nearby shopping center where there was plenty of available parking, but signs were also posted stating no beach or pier parking. I drove back over to the “legal” parking area, and I stumbled across a vacant parking space right in front of the Historic Palm Cottage. I paid $7.50 for 2½ hours of parking, and I’m glad I did, as I spent nearly 2 hours at the cottage itself enjoying the tour (guided and self), watching the video, and then talking to the docents.

My final stop in Naples was Tin City – a historic and quaint shopping and dining village right along the banks of the Gordon River. It’s been there for over 100 years. Nowadays it’s a small collection of mom-n-pop shops selling antiques, knick-knacks, souvenirs, clothing, candy, and food. They also have a few larger restaurants there. I enjoyed an early-Dinner at Pinchers (a local Southwest Florida seafood chain). I then picked-up some monkey bread from Mon”Key” Bread Factory.

It was a fun day in Naples. 2½ hours to get there. 7½ hours of fun while there. 2½ hours to get home. 230 miles total. I need to do it again – maybe when the weather turns cooler in the dry season. I definitely want to visit the Historic Palm Cottage again. They also do guided walking tours of the immediate neighborhood. They look very educational. In conjunction with my next visit to Naples I also want to visit nearby Marco Island and Everglades City.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll head to the beach – 1,100 miles up the coast in Ocean City Maryland. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Driving Food History Military Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Friday July 08TH 2022 I did something very rare. I drove out of the local area for a short one-day road-trip, and I returned home later that same day !

The fun started at the crack of dawn, or near the end of nautical twilight for you astronomy buffs. That was at 6 AM local time. That’s when I got on the road with no bags – no luggage – just exciting plans for my day in Naples.

I got on Krome Avenue (Florida State Road 997). Its origins date back more than 100 years. Up until just a few years ago it was a narrow 2-lane rural road that ran along the western fringes of Miami-Dade County. Starting in 2015 and continuing for the next 6 years it was modernized and widened to 4 lanes with a median. Now it’s a major thoroughfare with heavy rush hour traffic northward (towards Miami) in the morning and southward (towards Homestead) in the afternoon. On weekends it’s congested in both directions.

I picked-up U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) from Krome Avenue, and I also picked-up a yellow box truck right in front of me. This was definitely a test of patience for me, as for exactly 58 miles it never quite reached the posted speed limit. It stayed about 5 MPH below, and occasionally as much as 10 MPH below. I never passed it, but dozens of other drivers behind me didn’t have that patience. Every single one of them passed me and that truck. Even an 18-wheeler truck passed us by. As for me – my day-trip to Naples didn’t necessitate a death-defying act of passing on a narrow 2-lane rural road. I am thankful for patience – produced by the Holy Spirit within.

The truck turned left at Collier County Road 29 towards Everglades City, and I continued westward into the Naples area. Naples is quite unique in that it’s 1 of only 3 incorporated cities in Collier County. It’s the most-populated of those 3, but that’s not saying much. It’s got less than 20,000 residents; yet, the Naples metro area (essentially the entirety of Collier County) has a population of over 375,000. Naples contains the downtown area that serves much of the county, but it’s not the population center, and it’s not even the county seat.

So out of every 20 people that call the Naples area home – 19 live outside of the Naples city limits.

I’ve been visiting Naples for over 30 years. It’s about a 2½-hour drive from Homestead. Usually I visit (or drive through) Naples on the way to and from Estero or Fort Myers Beach in neighboring Lee County. There are a lot of attractions and parks and museums in and around Naples. I’ve probably visited the Naples Zoo more than any of them.

After a hearty Breakfast at Perkins (the closest one to my home at 109 miles away) – I ventured over to the Collier County Museum at Government Center. I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s always interesting, and there’s always something new to see. It’s an interior and exterior museum with displays outside in a city park-like setting.

My next stop was a small military museum located inside the terminal building of the Naples Airport. It’s got a small footprint, but there’s a lot of memorabilia packed into it. I think that most of their visitors are waiting for a flight, or arriving from a flight, or waiting for their rental car. I don’t think that they get too many visitors who go out of their way to specifically visit the museum.

My next stop was the Naples Depot Museum – another Collier County-operated museum. It was my first visit in just a little over 10 years. It’s the former Naples train station – with lots of exhibits inside, and a train car and a caboose that you can walk through outside in the rear parking lot.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll continue my recap of my day-trip to Naples with the highlight of my day (another museum), and the finale of my day at a historic shopping and dining district along the riverfront that’s been there for over 100 years. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp