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Blogging Driving Food Geography History Travel

Henrietta Texas

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I revealed that I spent quality time with family in and around Wichita Falls Texas. It’s an annual tradition for me every late-September to visit for a few days, and celebrate the wedding anniversary of my Aunt (by blood) and Uncle. This year was their 66TH !

Following an early Lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (another tradition) we went on a short road-trip (another tradition). This time we headed 20 miles ESE along U.S. 287 into Clay County and the small city of Henrietta (the county seat and population center). A little over 3,000 residents call Henrietta home, and it’s one of the oldest settled areas in the region – going back to the mid-19TH Century.

We visited the Clay County 1890 Jail Museum & Heritage Center – presented by the Clay County Historical Society. For those of you who have been following my #TravelThursday posts for awhile – you’ll know that not only am I a big fan of local historical societies and museums that they run, but I also plan to be a member and volunteer at a few upstate here in Florida once I retire and relocate.

Me, my cousin, and her husband were treated to an excellent docent early on a Friday afternoon. The museum is only open for 8 hours per week (4 each on Thursday and Friday), and we exclusively occupied 2 of those 8 hours. The docent showed us everything in the museum. (There’s a lot to see inside downstairs and upstairs.) I was studying our docent intently. I hope to be as good as her when I resume being a museum docent. She definitely enjoyed her museum, and she absolutely loved to talk about it. That’s the type of docent that I like !

On this visit to the Wichita Falls area we also drove over to Archer City – the county seat of Archer County (south of Wichita County). We visited a church lot where they were selling pumpkins and gourds.

We also drove all around Downtown Wichita Falls – the county seat of Wichita County. There’s a lot of history downtown – much of it mere memories with the original buildings left behind vacated. There are plans to continue to revitalize it with new cafes, bars, restaurants, events, and opportunities.

This was my 11TH visit to the Wichita Falls area to visit family over the past 9 years (since 2013). Each visit brings family love, good food, and pleasant surprises. I always look fondly back – and forward to – my next visit.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll present a tribute to a place that I visited 9 times and spent 17 nights from 2011 to 2020. It’s an island that will never be the same again due to the catastrophic destruction of Hurricane Ian. I’ll look back at those fun times on #FortMyersBeach on the Southwest Florida coast. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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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 Career Military Travel Weather

Phoenix Arizona

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Yesterday was the 30TH anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s destruction of Homestead Florida – my home of almost 5 years at the time. After 19 months of living in Maryland, Virginia, and Central Florida (Melbourne and Tampa) – I returned to Homestead in March 1994, and I’ve been here since. That’s almost 35 years (minus 19 months). When I first arrived here in Homestead – I was 20½-years-young. Now I’m 55.

I don’t think I’ve told anyone this before – other than my coworkers at the time in Gloucestershire England – but in July 1987 I actually received vague military orders for my next assignment / duty station to Phoenix Arizona. (Those orders were inexplicably replaced 3 months later with orders to Homestead Florida.)

I’ve never been to Phoenix – “The Valley Of The Sun”. Someday I’ll probably visit. I wonder how much different my life and career would’ve turned out had I gone to Phoenix instead of Miami / Homestead. There would’ve been no hurricane to drastically change my life 7 years into my military career. Maybe I would’ve stayed 20+ years on Active Duty. Maybe I would’ve fallen in love with Arizona – much like I’ve fallen in love with Florida. Maybe I would’ve never gone on a Caribbean cruise.

I know that I would’ve thoroughly explored much of what there is to see and do in Phoenix and beyond. I’ve only stepped foot on a small part of Arizona – the northern part from Hoover Dam to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. That was part of a family excursion out of Las Vegas in January 2002.

I grew up with hot and humid summers up in the Washington D.C. area, so South Florida’s weather wasn’t such a shock when I first arrived here. It just lasts much longer here than there. British weather was similar to Maryland and Virginia weather in the wintertime. Of course winter weather lasted much longer in the U.K. I generally don’t do good with dry desert weather – whether it’s sizzling hot in the summertime or freezing cold in the wintertime. I guess if I made that move to Arizona I would’ve gotten used to it after a short little while.

As a creature of humidity – even North Texas (where much of my family lives) – is too dry for me. My nose and skin don’t like arid-extra-dry. South Florida air always feels refreshing after returning home from a week or two in Texas.

Next #TravelThursday let’s visit Luxembourg. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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Blogging Driving Food Holidays Military Shopping Television Travel Weather

My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 5 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 9 within the eastern portions of the Dallas Texas Metroplex (Collin County). I visited the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas military museum, and then from there I visited the “Dallas” TV series museum – the Southfork Ranch. It was an interesting combination of military history and television history, and it was very appropriate in that I discovered the “Dallas” TV series in England in 1986 with my military dormitory buddies. It was “must-see-TV” for us back then.

Here’s what’s even wackier. During our guided tour of the Southfork Ranch, one of our tour guides went around the room and asked where each person or couple was from. I responded “Miami”, and a couple on the other side of the room did the same. We eventually met up outside on the front grounds of the mansion following the conclusion of the guided tour. The couple were actually from Homestead (same as me), and the guy worked at Homestead Air Reserve Base (same as me) for the same Wing. He left / retired a few years ago, and he and his wife moved to the Dallas Texas area. We actually knew some of the same people on base. #SmallWorld

After I returned back to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house on that Friday afternoon I did not drive my car again until the following Friday morning. I enjoyed the day-to-day routines with my family, and we did the normal things that we always do during the week leading-up to #ThanksChristmasGiving – our traditional combined Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of my favorite things to do is something that goes back some 40 years, and it’s as simple as shopping with my brother. It’s also a good workout keeping-up with my brother in the stores.

On Day 16 of my road-trip – Friday November 26TH 2021 – I departed my family’s house for the start of the long drive home, but first I had to let my defroster melt the coat of frost off my windshield and rear window so that I could see. On that frigid morning I took the backroads of the local area over to U.S. 69, and I took that to I-20. On the south side of Shreveport Louisiana I got in one last meal at Whataburger.

Fun Fact: The nearest Whataburger is about 380 miles from my home.

After my early-lunch at Whataburger I proceeded onto I-49, and I took that to Alexandria Louisiana. From there I took backroads and old U.S highways through the rest of Louisiana, across the mighty Mississippi River, through Natchez, and over to Hattiesburg. I pretty much traced the same route eastward, as I took westward 2 weeks earlier.

I arrived at my hotel destination on the west side of Hattiesburg right around sunset that night. On that day I drove 523 miles, so that’s 1,974 miles on this road-trip so far.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 5 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll reach Florida next week, but how deep into Florida will I get ?

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries