Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hi Ho Silver

Viv loves cowboy movies and TV shows so when I saw that the Texas Rangers Museum was sited in Waco, some 100 miles north of Austin and en route to Dallas, our final destination, we had to go there.

6 Texas Rangers rode out in pursuit of some desperados who ambushed them, killing 5.  The last one was left for dead but was saved by an Indian named Tonto and cut a black mask from his dead ranger brother's shirt to conceal his identity.  The 'lone' ranger left alive of course became the Lone Ranger.

Waco's population is 120,000 but is home to a couple of universities (Baylor and another) and some big medical facilities so I do wonder how many actual people of Waco there are for when you walk downtown, there are large empty car parks, a couple of towers and not much else.  There are many nice buildings and some apartment conversions looking to be in the offing so there is the possibility that this may change in the near future.  I hope so.

The Texas Rangers Museum is right next to the Visitor Centre and close to the Brazos River and downtown and is a terrific look back in time.

The rangers were created by Sam Austin in 1823 to combat Indian incursions into his new Anglo settlement.  Only 20 to start with and equipped with single shot fire arms, they were under heavy pressure from the more lightly armed but more maneuverable opponents, mainly Cherokee and Commanche Indians.  The Indians would send in a couple of scouts to encourage the rangers to fire their weapons and when they were busy reloading in would come the main body.

This wasn't their only problem either.  The Mexicans were just as pesky.

It took about 10 years before the settlers increased in number to 55,000 in Tejas and about that time they became sick and tired of their Mexican masters too.  The revolt began in 1835 but ended in 1836 after the loss at the Alamo and great victory at San Jacinto when the Mexican president Santa Anna was captured thus creating the Republic of Texas.

Battle of San Jacinto (from the Capitol in Austin)

However the Mexicans weren't slow to try to renege on the deal so incursions into the border country were constant.  The rangers were kept very busy as a result.

It was the invention of repeating hand guns and rifles that turned the tables.  Where before a ranger armed with 2 hand guns and a rifle could fire only 3 shots before reloading, now they could shoot 20 or more.  Given the disparity in numbers between Indian raiding parties and the few rangers that could assemble at any given point in time, this was a massive technological step forward.

The guns that won the west
At the Battle of Plum Creek in 1840, this new leap was demonstrated to massive success at a stroke changing the strategy entirely.  Formerly defensive, now the rangers could take the attack to their opponents.

Painting of the Battle of Plum Creek

In 1845 Texas agreed to be annexed to the USA becoming the 28th state of the union.  Almost at once the US found itself at war with Mexico over the border territories won from them by the Californian and Texan rebellions.  And to start with they found themselves losing.  The Mexicans had been training with German advisors and it showed.

The rangers were co-opted into the US army and their presence at the forefront of most action even if in small numbers turned the tables.  Their dynamic tactics learned the hard way in their Indian wars took the Mexicans completely by surprise.  As did their new repeating fire arms.

The war over and borders secured, the next challenge was the Civil War when Texas seceded from the union to join the Confederacy and called up all the rangers into the Confederate Army.  This left the borders with Mexico and the frontier with the Indians open and both took advantage pushing settlement back all over the west, nearly to Fort Worth in fact.  It took 15 years to restore the pre-war situation after which time the rangers found themselves changing from a simple para-military organization into peace keepers and lawmen too.

Weaponry used to take down Bonnie and Clyde

These days there are less then 200 Texas Rangers, all selected from Texan lawmen of the highest calibre.  They have morphed from being action men to being investigators.

But they still wear their big white cowboy hats!

The rangers today

Thermal Experience

We added another day to our stay in Austin as we'd enjoyed the city of 1.75 million so much so far and decided to add to our knowledge by a round the city tour run from the Visitor Centre just up the road.

Most interesting it was too.

The city is built around the Texas Colorado river -- not the Grand Canyon one, but the Texas one.  They are quite different.  Named after Samuel Austin who had arrived in 1821 having asked permission of the then overlords Spain and subsequently Mexico to build an Anglo population into the vast area of Tejas.  The Spanish/Mexicans were keen on this as they had no way of stopping the Indians from raiding at the extremities of their frontier so wanted a buffer between them and the Indians -- namely the new Anglo settlers.  The 300 in fact.

After much trial and tribulation, the Mexicans were booted out and the independent republic of Texas was born with Austin the first president.  Hence the name of the city.

The river has been dammed 6 or 7 times along the way in an attempt to regulate the water coming into the city and at the same time creating a series of ever higher lakes that wind their way through the city and up into the hills to the north. As the city grew, so homes moved out along the river and lakeside.  And as our tour showed, there are some pretty nice homes up in those hills too.

We also did a tour of the Capitol -- and most impressive it is too.  Built in the 1850's from local limestone, granite and marble quarried nearby and which was surplus to their owners' requirements at the time of its building it is the largest state capitol in the US (OK, this is Texas.  Why should anyone be surprised?).  It is also 14 feet taller than the Capitol in Washington DC.  Again why should anyone be surprised?

Davy Crockett was a Tennessee congressman who lost an election and decided to relocate to Texas to seek his fortune. When he arrived someone told him about the revolt against Mexico and asked if he wanted to help out at a place called The Alamo in San Antonio….

… in all Davy Crockett (front and centre in this painting) was in Texas for 6 weeks.  But he is still considered a legend in Texas and his painting hangs in the entry way near the statues of Houston and Austin.  Colonel Travers who commanded the garrison may have been the first person to utter the immortal words: "Houston, we have a problem".

The Texas senate… not currently in session.  They meet every other year for a month.

Sam Houston 
Recently substantially renovated with 4 new subterranean floors added for even more offices, this is one impressive building.

So is the university all around it.  50,000 students and 25,000 faculty make this a city in itself and comfortably bigger than Bermuda.  Its 100,000 seater stadium is bigger than Bermuda!

But boy was it hot!  Cooling off in the thermal waters of Barton Springs seemed a lovely thought so we headed off that way only stopping off to eat lunch at one of the many lunch wagons dotted around the city.

The pool itself is located within Zilker Park, the expanse to the southwest of Lady Bird Lake, Austin's own lake.  It isn't a new structure, rather old in fact and full of weeds and rather nasty looking algae in the shallow parts.  It was packed but we were able to find an empty spot and jumped in.


Compared to the North Sea or even the Thames Estuary around my home town of Southend, 68 degrees is actually quite warm.  But compared to Bermuda and Cayman's pea soup like water temperatures, this came as quite a shock.

But it was very refreshing.

Not sure if I found it that spiritual either (sorry Michael) as the weed was quite clingy and slimy but we did stay quite late as it was so pleasant.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at a Whole Foods supermarket.  Called 'Whole Pay Packet' by some, it was packed showing people are prepared to pay for quality.  Austin is their hometown too.  The founders were university drop outs who in the 1970's wanted to eat better than was available at the time so did something about it.  The company has its HQ in Austin still.

The store was huge, 2nd in size apparently to their London branch, and had its own restaurants and wine bar inside which were jammed with people sipping wine and eating dinner.

Great concept.  Expensive food but still packed with happy shoppers.  The company attracts the younger and hipper element so with demographics behind them is here to stay.  Like Apple, they are able to charge premium prices because the quality they deliver is just what people want.

We'd been told about a steak restaurant called Jeffreys -- see website here -- by a couple of people at Perry's and other fooderies so decided to try them out.  Not downtown by any means but only a short cab ride away, it is a fine dining establishment.  But the martini's were terrific and the steaks again lovely.

Two fantastic steak houses in one city is a pretty darn good advertisement for Austin's dining scene.

We shall be back!

Good Night Austin Texas, wherever you are

The Austin Food & Wine Festival was one of the few anchor points we'd planned in this trip and took place on 25-27 April 2014 in Butler Park, just outside the city.

I'd forgotten to look at the information flyer which said that the main Saturday daytime event took place between 12 noon and 4 pm until we were in the car leaving San Antonio so it came as quite a shock to realize we'd likely miss most of the first day and meant that instead of taking the back roads we'd stick pretty close to I35 and leg it for the 120 or so miles.

We arrived around 3 pm, checked into our downtown hotel -- a very nice Marriott Courtyard -- and headed off to the event.

It was 90+ degrees by now and so what could have been a very nice stroll through town and across the bridge covering the Texas Colorado River turned into quite a sweaty slog.  But it did take only about 15 or so minutes and that left us 45 minutes for the tastings!

Tastings are meant to be unhurried strolls.  Small plates of food and small glasses of showcased liquors sipped in a gentile manner are the norm but as we'd missed out on lunch we were definitely anything but.

The Mexican tapas were nice, the ceviche delicious, smoked salmon was scrummy and then we hit the beer stand -- all Belgian, the star being Stella Artois, definitely needed in this heat!  Then I found the Cayman stand (of all things).  They'd brought Tortuga Rum cake!  Trouble was nobody on the stand actually was from Cayman  They were all representatives hired by the island's tourist authority.  But it was nice they were there (Houston is one of their airline gateway cities so there is a connection with Texas).

Right next door was the Cinco vodka stand (see website here).  They did very nice vodka gimlets which on reflection was the beginning of when things started along the wrong path.

At 4 pm on the button all the stands stopped serving so we trickled out and into the city centre again retracing our steps of the morning until we found first a beer only bar and then what turned out to be one of the nicest steak restaurants I've ever been to called Perry's -- see website here.

Neither of us wanted to go to chain restaurants but we did decide to have a cocktail there before considering next steps.  Nice martini's they were too.  But then I decided to use the men's room and when I did I discovered the full story about Perry's.  It was huge and packed.  The decor was dark of course like all steak houses but really elegant too.  And the smell of the steaks!  Wow!!

So of course I had to suggest Viv make a similar journey and was not in the least surprised when she came back saying we had to eat there.  So we did and it was simply magnificent.  We shared a beautiful Porterhouse steak with veggies and it was melt in the mouth lovely.  So good it could be the best ever.  Certainly one of the best ever.

Now Austin has the reputation (actually they say it about themselves) of being the 'Live Music Capital of the World'.  The great guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was from Austin as was country icon Willie Nelson and as it turned out both were being inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame that night -- SRV of course in absentia -- an invitation only event that didn't include us, by the way.  And 6th Street is the place where dozens of clubs are sited.  So as we were on 7th and were staying on 4th we just had to pass through this den of iniquity.

SRV's statue in the park 

What a cool place it is too!

We found a guitar bar where a 3 piece band was grinding through a bunch of guitar heavy blues numbers, SRV of course being featured.  They were pretty good too I thought but when they finished around midnight, they were replaced by a fat guy with 2 turntables and a slick line in urban speak who played dance music/hip hop/electro and whatever else the audience wanted.  Within 15 minutes the place that I'd thought was pretty busy was absolutely jamming with groups of girls gyrating on the bar taking shots and whooping like there was no tomorrow.

When we finally left, we discovered the entire street was doing exactly the same.

What a place!

Austin could just be right!!

The following day was a lot slower pace.  When we arrived at the fair we found a celebrity chef howling at an audience who were trying to replicate the cooking he was doing up on a stage.  We spoke with a couple of these people later who said it was hot as Hades and the last thing they needed was that final celebratory tequila shot.  But it was fun!

We found the BarBQ pits with several groups cooking up a storm.

Best by far was the quail cooked over hot coals and hung up to finish off on an iron tree like frame.  They tasted lovely and spicy.  The chef told us it was probably the marinating in rendered pig fat for a couple of days that made them so juicy.

Nice quail tree!

Why is everything that tastes so good actually pretty bad for your health?

Pig heads on a string too!

We watched Andrew Zimmern from TV cook eggs and then missed out on a wine pairing session (if they were Texan wines, this would have been difficult!) so sat in on a Cajun chicken cooking session which looked pretty easy actually -- use rosemary, garlic and oil.  Add salt and pepper and cook.  Obviously there's a bit more to it than this but it didn't seem to be.

Then we hit the tasting again but today were more selective than the day before.  Schmidt BarBQ'd brisket was very nice indeed, the Brazilian wines were... how I can I not offend here? We drank some Dripping Springs Texan vodka (another name) in an awful concoction and found a maker of 90% proof gin that was deadly if drunk.  The drink he made Viv was appalling to look at -- 75% of it being gin, the rest being a little ice and some ginger beer.  It was not possible to drink this concoction AND live.

So we returned to Cinco and had a nice Bloody Mary with them and stumbled across a Campari stand where the barman went beyond his normal boundaries and made us a pretty good Negroni.

We also found Michael, the very new CEO of a bakery company called 'Baked By Amy's' -- see website here.  They were showcasing pecan tarts and brownies, both of which were really scrummy.  He said he'd just returned from New York where he'd lived for 20+ years with his new husband as he missed Austin and wanted a change of life balance.  He told us about a place called Barton Springs, a thermal pool just outside the city, which sounded so good that we decided to go there if we could.

I hope they make it.  The cakes were great.

One thing that struck me about the fair was the number of small businesses that were trying to make it in this sector.  Michael said Austin was more liberal than the rest of Texas and was quite an entrepreneurial enclave of a quite different sort to the rest of the state.  The numbers of small firms seems to bear him out.  Silvercar is also headquartered there.

Austin is a pretty good city!

And the heading?  Well its from one of my favorite Frank Zappa albums, made with Captain Beefhart actually, called Bongo Fury.  Its a mainly live album recorded in Austin.  FZ uttered these words as his farewell to the crowd prior to launching into a song called "Muffin Man" -- listen here.

FZ on left and the Captain

Too much information?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three times the fun! Yee Ha!!!

It takes 3 or 4 hours to drive to San Antonio from Galveston however we stopped off along the way in a small town called Columbus for lunch at a family owned diner called Schlobel's.

5 layers of over and under passes in San Antonio with 9 lanes of traffic.  Nearly as big as all of Bermuda!

The town itself is one of many Germanic towns in this part of Texas.  The tour guide in Galveston had told us that immigrants through Galveston were mostly German, Italian or Czech.  This is really curious.  The primary entry point for Europeans was Ellis Island in New York and in those days (mid-1850's) was by ship.  It's some 2,000+ miles further which would have taken another few weeks. Why would they have gone that extra distance?  Perhaps they were farmers lured by the promise of fertile, endless land in this part of Texas.

Our friends, Mark and Kerry, were old Bermuda hands or at least Mark was.  He'd gone first to Canada before relocating a year or so back to San Antonio where Kerry's family was located.  They have 8 month old triplets!

Three times the fun!

However they'd organized a sitter so we could go out to the San Antonio Fiesta -- this event being called Taste of the North East (of San Antonio, that is).

Amazing who you run into at the Fiesta!

It was held at a local country club and we used a service that we'd run into in San Francisco called Uber -- see website here.  This is a taxi service organized by an app accessed through smart phones.  You provide your credit card details and then use the GPS mapping capability on your phone to see which taxi driver is where.  In our case it was Francisco who was 8 minutes away.  The Uber driver can see who is looking to hire him and the location of the house.  The price is less than a regular taxi AND most importantly they are reliable.  Both passenger and taxi driver review the ride on the app to provide Trip Advisor like information for both parties.

Amazing service.  The cars are regular cars but unlicensed.  They must do something to enable them to operate and insure them.  In San Antonio City Hall tried to stop them in the courts, but lost apparently so Uber are now operating.  Francisco told me that they'd only been in San Antonio for 15 days so this is a really new thing here in San Antonio.

Mark told me that the regular taxis are heavily unionized, expensive and never leave the central part of the city.  Fertile ground for Uber in fact.

The Fiesta was noisy fun but mostly Mexican and Italian food!  Demographics always win in the end.

We then went onto a nearby neighborhood bar (courtesy of Francisco again incidentally!) to round off the evening.  A guy I was chatting to told me about how things have changed -- San Antonio is the 7th largest US city with nearly 2 million inhabitants.  Its a huge city sprawled over a vast distance.  He said he used to go to Mexico a lot but since about the year 2000, the drug cartels had made it all the border towns very dangerous places to visit.  Mark's view typically was more robust than that even.  His view is that Mexico will always be Mexico irrespective of any 'reforms' that politicians make.  The people with money will always have all the power no matter what reforms take place.  That's why so many make the dangerous trip across the Rio Grande still.

We visited the nearby German tow (again) called Fredericksburg (see website here) the following day.  'Nearby' is relative of course as this is a huge state (I think I mentioned that already).  The town itself is cutesy and has become something of a tourist destination too as it is in the middle of the local wine district.  We had lunch at a local biergarten called Auslander and did our bit for the local chamber of commerce -- clearly we don't have enough to carry!

We also visited a couple of local wineries which was a different experience to both Napa and Sonoma who have far more experience both of wine making and the winery experience itself.  Give the Texan wineries a few more years and they'll get there.  Apparently none of them make money at it yet (volumes at the largest local winery are 8,000 cases which is tiny in the great scheme of things) and are more part time vanity projects for wealthy business people than anything else.  One we went to was owned by a big city doctor!

Our final stop was a real treat though.  The city of Luckenbach (see website here) has a population of 3, 1 post office, 1 general store (actually its a gift shop), 1 bar and a dance hall.  Unlike most Texas cities, it is walkable.

Some tourists

An acoustic country band were playing and the bar was classic shabby chic.  Actually very shabby chic.  The food was all deep fried chips with something.  Yes, deep fried chips.  One of the dishes was cooked in a chip bag!  But what a great place!

Fine dinin', Luckenbach style!

As for the dance hall, it was an old wood structure with a country band setting up for the dance that was due to start at 8 pm.

The place was packed too.  Clearly Luckenbach is not a secret.

The new normal even in Texas

On the way to San Antonio we had to stop over back in Webster as we'd left our water bottles in the room's fridge and forgot all about them we we left for Houston.

We'd called the hotel but coincidentally their phones were down so we spoke with Best Western's 1-800 number and asked them to contact the hotel for us.

When we arrived, the hotel receptionist told us those great Houston words: "We have a problem".

The problem interestingly is the real new normal in Texas.  In that part of South Texas more than two thirds of the inhabitants are of Mexican origin.  I'd thought it odd that there were so many Mexican and other Latino restaurants and bars but of course it makes perfect sense.  I'd just not thought about that before.

The 'problem' that the hotel encountered was that the housekeeper who'd found the bottles had put them 'somewhere' but today was her day off.

The other 'problem' was that the hotel receptionist was not a Spanish speaker and the housekeeper was not an English speaker so the first step was to find someone who spoke both English and Spanish and then call the housekeeper on her cell phone and hope she picked up the call.

Fortunately all came through just fine and I just have to congratulate Best Western's staff for making it all happen.  We've stayed at this hotel chain on multiple occasions and on every occasion they really do a great job.  All are owner operated but clearly have to adhere to Best Western's standards which are clean room, free wifi, fridge, microwave, clean bathrooms, in fact all you need for a road trip.  Furthermore they are everywhere.

Great job Best Western and thanks!

Where are the water bottles?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No problem at all, Houston

Thinking about it, visiting the NASA museum immediately after the JFK museum in Dallas was a good idea.  It was JFK’s memorable speech in 1962 (see here) that announced America’s intent to put a man in the moon within the decade and propelled NASA to prominence and ultimate success.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…"
It also underlined how important political backing is to an initiative like this for looking back to 1961 the US was running behind the Soviets in the space race.  Soyuz happened in 1957, Yuri Gagarin in 1961 one month ahead of Alan Shepherd. Then came the Bay of Pigs and ensuing Cuban Missile Crisis.  The Soviets couldn’t win and more importantly couldn’t be seen to be winning so the US had to step up and that meant political backing and money.

JFK committed both in large amounts and so it happened.   

Not so today unfortunately as nobody currently cares about space.  Maybe it was 2008 and the Lehman induced financial disaster that sucked up so much of the US government’s resources and then some – the space shuttle programme closed in 2011 when funding ended.  Sadly banks became more important than space.  There’s a book in the NASA gift shop called "Failure is Not an Option" written by Gene Kranz who ran Mission Control through the 1960’s and 1970’s and who sums things up in 4 points:  (1) The public doesn’t care any more, (2) Washington doesn’t care any more, (3) There is no specific space plan, and (4) NASA doesn’t know which direction it is meant to follow. 

Really sad as I recall from my youth that in the UK (and the western world I believe), we were riveted by what was happening up in space.  Our TV covered each new launch in extended detail.  We lived, breathed and slept this stuff.  It was inspirational.  If man could reach into outer space, surely we as individuals could succeed and progress in our more mundane lives.  How I wanted to be an astronaut but I didn’t know how to start.  All my friends were the same.

Needless to say, the tour was magnificent -- see website here. 

The high point by far was our visit to Mission Control.  The tour guide said that the next planned mission is to Mars and should kick off within the next few months (why isn’t this all over the media?) and as a result our tour would be one of the last for a few years as this control room would be the one to control the programme.

The displays showed the location of the International Space Station (ISS) and it was wonderful to see the ISS move gradually along its orbit path (over the heavily populated parts of the world not the empty bits).  Currently the ISS has 3 Russians, 2 Americans and 1 Chinese person on board.  Check out the link.

Interesting to note that the Russians still pretty much control the ISS programme.  The Soviets were the first to set up a permanent presence (aka space station) and the Americans simply joined in when Sky Lab couldn’t continue any more. It was the space shuttle programme that enabled the ISS to grow to its present enormous twice the size of a football pitch size.  Once built the space shuttle programme was cancelled (in 2011) with resupply these days handled by the Russians and an independent for profit company that has been contracted with for resupply! Who knew that? The tour guide said that the present Crimean fiasco wasn’t helping mutual understanding and may well roll over into the ISS programme too.

…and that phrase. 

Well the world has it all wrong.  Jim Lovell actually said something different and it was only when Mission Control did a double take, gulped twice and said: “Sorry Apollo 13, didn’t quite catch that.  Please repeat” that those memorable words were said.

What was really said

I could drone on about how good this was for ages but simply encourage everyone to visit AND contact your elected representative to put the space initiative back on the agenda.  The technological advances this made and which we currently enjoy are legion.  We need another technological catalyst and of course the inspiration that such a coordinated and non-partisan programme would provide.

Saturn V -- actually belongs to the Smithsonian but as NASA built the structure around the rocket, they can't get it out now so it has to stay put!

The Minuteman rocket on the right is basically the V2 designed by Werner von Braun in WWII and was used with updates until well into the 1960's

Pushing the 'RED' button!

The 'facilities' on the space shuttle

We also visited Galveston, a 32 mile long sand bar off Houston, the following day and first of all managed a guided tour of the island (with Galveston Historic Tour – see website here) which is one of the earliest Texan settlements, home to the Texan navy in the war with Mexico and was incorporated in 1838.

Being flat as a pancake, like Cayman, Galveston is susceptible to hurricanes, the last devastation being in 2008 with Hurricane Ike.  

The path and the result

Back in 1900, the place was flattened and 6,000 people were killed, something that prompted the building a 17 foot high seawall and a gradual tilt to the island so that at the seawall, the island is above sea level but in the old town, it is 10 feet below sea level.  In 2008 this meant that part of the island was 8 foot underwater and substantially damaged.

Beach side houses on 20 foot stilts

50,000 trees were killed and their stumps in many cases have now been carved by local sculptors into imaginative art pieces.  Still many 19th century homes still stand in the historic parts which are very pretty.

It is also an oil town and in particular a big oil port.  The first offshore rigs in the 1930’s left from Galveston Harbour and these days many production platforms are supported by the port and the surrounding refineries (which are endless along this part of the coast into Louisiana). 

So we visited the Ocean Star oil rig museum (see website here) on Pier 21 in the port to learn more about things.

Great museum, by the way, and sited on a jack up rig from the 1960’s that was retired in the 1980’s all supported by the Who’s Who in the oil industry.  The technology needed in this industry is almost unfathomable to believe.  It beats me how people could think of such solutions.

Oil is essentially the remains of dead animals compressed by sand layers over the millennia into slim layers that extend all over the world.  Movement in the earth’s crust means that these layers change continuously (but very slowly) over time.  To find these oil layers, geologists examine test drill results for the likely presence of oil and only when they are determined to be big enough will drilling in earnest begin.  It takes 2-3 years to complete a well through the drilling stage to the establishment of a platform that simply sucks up the oil and sends it to the refineries.  On land this is easier as the oil flows up from the earth into storage tanks and pipelines that flow to the refineries.  Unbelievably this is also what is happening under the see for some of the newer rigs are huge solid state structures that double as storage tanks until the shuttle tankers arrive to take the oil to the refineries.  There are also undersea pipelines that obviate the need to do this and connect underwater with the oil coming up from underground directly with the refineries.

These days directional drilling, or the ability to make the drill go sideways not simply vertically means that more of an oil strata may be harvested than in the past.

Directional Drilling

Did I mention size?  This is how big the new ones are.  The island is Manhattan below the rig!

Just amazing.  The ingenuity of it all underlines why I believe that the US will reach energy self sufficiency very soon.  They are very determined and very, very clever indeed.

We moved hotels to the Harbour House Hotel on the waterfront in Galveston with a great view after a morning of retail therapy and managed a pleasant stroll around the old town.

Old town buildings

A nice place indeed.

Time to move again tomorrow.