|We're gonna rock down to....|
Our vacation to Galveston this week was no exception. Our trip there (in my parents' borrowed minivan, due to both of our cars being at least borderline on-the-fritz) included:
Breakfast at one of those "where the locals go" restaurants in McAlester, Oklahoma.
A visit to see the World's Largest Peanut in Durant, Oklahoma.
Lunch at a gas station/barbecue/expensive snacks, cheeses and jellies store, which I have been told is a Texas thing, but I'm not complaining, because my sammich was goooood.
Then we were in Galveston, and the week was half great/half crappy (LITERALLY - asshole seagulls). Fortunately, I saved the best stuff for the return trip home.
We headed out of Galveston, where the skies and the gulf were both turbulent, to a swamp southwest of Houston. A swamp. In Texas. In July. Who goes to a swamp in Texas in July?
People who have a daughter who wants to see alligators, that's who!
Brazos Bend State Park was the destination for our alligator expedition. We pulled up to the entrance, where we were greeted by a park ranger. She gave us a map and directions to the nearest lake (there are several on the park), and rattled off a list of Do's and Don't's of alligators. The lakes have gravel trails around them, and the trails of two of the larger lakes connect. I asked if we could wear flip flops on the trail, and the ranger said, "You CAN, but I wouldn't." 'Nuff said. We changed our shoes and headed out.
One fortunate thing about the day was that it was slightly cooler than normal, i.e., it was only 89 degrees and the humidity was about 189,000%. We were sweating before we left the parking lot. We walked to the lake, where there was a small dock, eyes darting around as we walked, watching for alligators (Rule #3: Keep a safe distance of 30 feet from alligators at all times. Dyanne's Rule #3(a): No problem.)
My son, daughter and I had just stepped onto the gangway to the dock when my husband, who was behind us, asked if we had seen the one under the gangway.
My daughter (and remember, this whole stop to see gators was HER wish), started to freak out (the first of many, MANY times while we were there). My husband walked off the path and got MUCH CLOSER THAN 30 FEET and took pictures, while the alligator laid in the water and glowered at him. My daughter begged and pleaded for him to get back on the walkway (Rule #3 again), and he finally joined us on the dock. We saw three gators from there. They saw us and made no bones about it. One of them actually turned in the water so he could eyeball my son and me as we looked out over the water from above him. Alligators are nothing short of creepy.
We finished our walk, drank bottles of water out of the cooler when we returned to the car, then stopped at the visitor's center before leaving the park. No gators on the path while we walked (Rule #5: If you see a gator on the path, do not try to go around it or step over it; turn around and return the way you came. Refer to Dyanne's Rule #3(a), above).
Air conditioning on full blast, we headed north to the next stop of the route home:
Located in Huntsville, Texas, home to 7 state prisons, including a penitentiary that formerly housed Texas' death row (due to overcrowding, the death row inmates were moved to a prison in another city; however, they still perform the executions there), the prison museum fell under my radar when I was looking for a place for us to stay on the way home from the beach. We stayed in a Huntsville hotel seven years ago when returning from the beach. At the time, we did not know that it was a prison town, as in LOTS of prisons, as we stayed on the south side of town and then passed several of them on our way out of town the next morning, and we weren't real keen on a repeat stay, especially since I read somewhere that Friday was the day prisoners get released. Guess what night we would be staying in a hotel. Yeah.
We may not have wanted to spend the night in Huntsville, but by golly, the two Orange is the New Black fans weren't going to miss a chance to see a display of real shivs! We only had about an hour to spend in the museum, as our foray into the world of the Texas gator took us a little longer than I had scheduled, but it's a fairly small museum, and we were able to see most of it before closing time.
It was also surprisingly busy. I read that inmates who were released that day would often head straight to the museum, but no amount of eavesdropping led me to believe that was true that day. We did get to see the shiv display, plus one about Bonnie and Clyde, inmate art, prison riots, and a moving pictorial one about last statements.
|Note at bottom: "This is my last meal, and damn it, I want it served hot on however many plates|
and bowls it takes to keep from mixing any of it up together..."
Food rules matter.
|Inmate art, made from toilet paper, and included here just for|
Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0
We drove into Oklahoma and made one last stop, in McAlester, driving to the outskirts of town to take a look at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. It is very old, very rundown, very scary. We drove past it slowly, then turned around and came back, stopping the car for a few minutes just to look at the rows and rows of fences, the razor wire, the guard towers.
"No one ever go here to stay," I said. All members of my family quickly promised, and we slowly drove off.
"Do you think the guards are looking at us, taking down our license plate number, because we look like we're casing the joint?" asked my son.
"Let them," I answered. "This is your grandparents' car."