While in San Antonio celebrating our one year wedding anniversary, we decided to visit The Alamo. We’ve both been there when we were younger, but it’s funny how much you don’t remember (I thought it was MUCH bigger!) and how much more you enjoy the history as an adult. If you’re interested in reading some of the history, I really like this synopsis on the History Channel’s website.
We are bad travel photographers who completely forgot to take a picture of the front of the building. It was under construction anyway, and really didn’t look pretty. We did mean to take a picture on the way out but it slipped out minds.
We briefly wandered through the shrine portion of the Alamo (which is the iconic building we all think of) but sorry, no photos are allowed to be taken inside.
We also went through the museum exhibits in the Long Barrack which was really interesting.
I think what we both enjoyed most was the courtyard area. Beautiful architecture and lush greenery. We had fun playing with our new camera accessory and trying out some wide angle shots and some macro shots in the courtyard.
The Alamo’s Courtyard
Christie at The Alamo
Brian at The Alamo
Beautiful Courtyard Fountain
I particularly enjoyed coming across these bright purple berries, which I later discovered are called Beauty Berries. I’ve never seen bright purple berries before and they are my FAVORITE shade of purple. I also loved the purple flowers I found, as well.
Beauty Berries Seen in Alamo Courtyard
Purple Flowers Seen in Alamo Courtyard
We can get beautiful macro shots now that we haven’t been able to get with our iPhones before. It was a shutterbug’s paradise.
We loves seeing all the canons and reading the various plaques around the property.
Canon Seen in Alamo Courtyard
Plaque in Alamo Courtyard
Everywhere you turn in the courtyard area, there is another beautiful view… something to appreciate.
Of course, there is a lot more to The Alamo than the courtyard and the foliage. That just happened to be the most enjoyable part for us 🙂 Plus you can’t take pictures inside, lol.
We highly recommend a visit, especially if you enjoy history. Bonus, for those who collect National Parks stamps – it is a National Historic Site and they do offer a passport stamp. You just have to ask at the desk inside the Shrine (not the gift shop which is where we thought it would be), and it does not have a date on it unfortunately.
Did I mention, visiting the Alamo is completely free? We recommend it as a very family friendly place to visit – great for all ages.
We have really been enjoying the RV park we are staying at in Houston and it just so happens the same company has one in San Antonio as well that just opened up in July, so we are staying there. It’s called Greenlake RV Resort. We kept our monthly site in Houston going but brought the trailer here for 3 nights. It’s still a cheap way to travel as we are only spending about $24/night with Good Sam discount. Bonus – we don’t have to remember to pack anything! Everything is with us! We just love this life.
By the time we pulled in, set up, took showers and got gussied up, we really didn’t hit the town until about 8pm. We strolled the Riverwalk a little and just took in the atmosphere, then selected a little Mexican restaurant where we could dine on the water. We had a romantic little anniversary dinner, just enjoying each other.
The Riverwalk at Night
Anniversary Dinner on the Riverwalk
The next day was really our “San Antonio day” where we took in the Riverwalk and the Alamo and spent the day wandering. We started off our day enjoying coffee and breakfast at Sip, a local coffee spot. We spied a little glimpse of the Riverwalk from up above:
First Glimpse of the Riverwalk from Street Level
We really aren’t big on cities, especially big cities! LOL… but San Antonio is more than just a city. When you go down below street level to the Riverwalk, it doesn’t feel like “big city” anymore. It’s like another world!
Greenery Along the Riverwalk
Charming walkways, beautiful architecture and tons of lush plants – not to mention the river itself – all come together to create the most delightful atmosphere. For me it feels a lot like places I have been in Europe. It is, simply put, a place you want to be. We felt so relaxed strolling along.
Nature is a very present force along the Riverwalk, doing its own thing:
Crazy Tree Growing Out of a Building
Yep, that tree is growing right out the side of a building we walked by.
After strolling around on our own for a while, we decided to take one of the boat tours. $8.25 for an adult ($6 for a veteran) and the tour lasts 35 minutes. We found out tour to be very informative, interesting, and just plain fun. It was a great day for it as it was somewhat overcast and we didn’t have the sun beating down on us. We floated around learning about the buildings, the river, and some history of the area.
View during River Boat Tour
It was fun to have some things pointed out to us that we might not have noticed on our own… for example, this awesome building which was built to give the illusion of being two dimensional:
Designed to appear flat – it really does!
I love any boat ride anyway, and we both really enjoyed including this in our day, albeit a pretty typical “tourist trap” experience – some of them are great and we think this one was!
River Boat Tour
River Boat Tour
Taking the tour also helped us get a sense of how everything was laid out and where we might want to go throughout the day, including picking our lunch spot (an Irish pub called Waxy O’Connor’s) and finding out that we needed to get to the Alamo by going through the Hyatt Regency. It helped us form our game plan 🙂
After the tour we stopped at an empty table along the water and sat down to write each other anniversary letters. This is a little tradition we are starting. We wrote each other letters about this past year as well as what we hope/dream for the year to come, and we plan to read them next year on our 2nd wedding anniversary 🙂
Writing Letters for Next Year’s Anniversary
We had lunch at the Irish Pub after finishing up our letters and continued along the Riverwalk toward going to see the Alamo.
There were so many scenic spots along the Riverwalk, like little waterfalls and giant lush plants. We were stopping to take pictures constantly!
Waterfall along the Riverwalk
Enjoying the Riverwalk Scenery
Brian next to some plants that are taller than he is!
The weather was perfect – yes still a bit warm and sticky but hey, it’s Texas. The cloud cover really helped to keep things comfortable, and it never did rain as we feared it would. We enjoyed every minute of our day just taking in the atmosphere of the Riverwalk.
Another Riverwalk View
We definitely recommend checking out the San Antonio Riverwalk whenever you have the opportunity. We think it would also be very family friendly. There’s plenty to see and do, lots of good food places to enjoy. The boat tours are fun. We also noticed it is very handicap-friendly, and many patrons in wheelchairs were getting around and enjoying the area as well. If you like that feeling of getting away from things like we do, this “not in the city” feel when you ARE in the city, might just be for you 🙂
A Beautiful Day on the Riverwalk
We also made a video of our day in San Antonio for your viewing pleasure 😀
Check out our video above for a little recap of our day! 🙂 Sorry for the noise toward the end, we think it is a glitch during video uploading and will try to fix it one of these days!
We woke up to a cold, windy, mostly overcast day so we decided not to drive down the coast yet (why miss the views?!) and we took another day in Tillamook, Oregon. We had ourselves a little outing to Cape Meares Lighthouse and State Park! We even had a little break in the clouds and enjoyed some very pretty views while we were there. Didn’t last long, though! 🙂
What a gorgeous view from the overlook!
Here we have the lighthouse! We weren’t able to go inside since it was closed for the season. It is very picturesque, isn’t it?
Here’s a nice sweeping view of both the lighthouse and the grand overlook area. Wow!
And of course, the obligatory lighthouse selfie. Aww, we’re cute. Right?
Brian captured this AMAZING shot. Blows me away!
We then ventured off and found this other gem – the Octopus Tree!! Whoa!!
This thing is just really, really cool. In case you can’t read the sign above too well, it says:
“The forces that shaped this unique Sitka spruce have been debated for many years. Whether natural events or possibly Native Americans were the cause remains a mystery. The tree measures more than 46 feet in circumference and has no central trunk. Instead, limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and is estimated to be 250 to 300 years old.
Designated an OREGON HERITAGE TREE April 2009.”
It’s so cool seeing how this thing is formed!
Brian pondering the tree’s height.
All in all, a super awesome day trip which we really enjoyed!
If you want to see the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” in action, simply accompany my husband to a cheese factory. LOL!
As soon as we got near Tillamook, I was dealing with a 5 year old. No joke. He was sooooo excited! I like Tillamook a lot and I love cheese, but I was just like ok we are going to buy some cheese. Hahaha. It ended up being pretty entertaining though, not to mention delicious!!
Seeing the factory itself was pretty interesting. All the big cheese-making vats…all those zillions of blocks of cheese going around getting cut and packaged. If you didn’t already watch the video, we captured some of the cheesemaking magic in there.
We got to go through this amazing cheese sampling line which was pure awesomeness.
We topped off our visit with buying cheese in their store, getting some Tillamook ice cream cones and goofing off in the lobby.
Another BEAUTIFUL Oregon beach. We started off our morning checking this out and made the above video for you 🙂 This beach was just awesome. It was a very romantic spot, not just in the sense of each other, but it also really sparked our dreams of seeing and enjoying everything that we can. As beaches go, this sure was a pretty one. Sparkling water, soft sand, pretty rock formations.
This time we actually walked for quite a while, a couple miles I believe and it was really the first time we ever enjoyed a real walk on the beach together! Peaceful, serene.
When you’re looking around and really seeing, it’s amazing all the cool things nature will show you. We particularly loved the designs in the sand that were made by water flowing over rocks, or sand and dirt (darker sand? not sure) mixing together.
We also found sand dollars (we were on a quest to find one that wasn’t broken!) and jellyfish…..
… and even (our own!) lost flip flops/escapees.
All in all a wonderful, enjoyable, perfect time at the beach. Definitely a great honeymoon spot!
Our spirits really seemed to lift as soon as we got to Oregon! 🙂 It was a sunny and beautiful day and our ride across the bridge was pretty too.
Immediate impression: Oregon is gorgeous! Our very first little scenic pullover spot was this:
We left The Biscuit in a nice cozy spot in the parking lot and went to check things out.
I think this beach may be one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever seen!
Most of my beach experiences have been tropical. Florida, Hawaii, California. It’s always pretty, but I have never been that much of a beach person. I prefer forests and lakes and mountains. This beach had a totally different feel for me. This beach, I loved.
We did our usual exploring “thing” – we took photos, we walked and talked, goofed around and there may have been some frolicking on my husband’s part. He was pretty hyped.
My husband has spent time in this area before and he told me I would love the beaches but I just thought oh yeah it will be pretty, it’s a beach. But the Oregon beaches touch my soul in a whole different way. We couldn’t get enough.
We stayed until the sun was almost down. It was hard to leave the beauty!
Our visit to Hoh National Rainforest was very short. We got there around 4pm and it was wet, cold, and dark. Couldn’t really do a hike or anything like that, so we just drove around a little. The trees are beautiful and I would love to spend some more time there in the future when we have better weather and more time!
Seeing all the wetness and moss is still a little crazy for me since I’ve been living in Colorado for the last ten years. We don’t have this kind of green and we don’t really have moss. The trees are pretty magnificent too, so tall!
We stopped to see this gigantic natural masterpiece, aptly named “The Big Spruce” 🙂 It was pretty impressive, especially in person. Had to use my panoramic feature to get the height of the tree in a picture!
Lots more crazy moss covered trees!
Saw a bunch of elk, too…. although those we ARE used to seeing in Colorado 🙂
My morning began the way most of our mornings on the road do. We tore down and turned our bedroom back into our dining room, and made some good food for breakfast. But that’s where the normalcy ends. You see, I got the chance to go on my first hike of our honeymoon. Unfortunately, Christie was not able to join me as she is still recovering from her second foot surgery. Being the wonderful wife that she is, she knows when I get stir crazy, and she encourages me to do the things I love. In this case, it was doing a ten mile round-trip hike to the New Dungeness Lighthouse in Sequim, WA. I jumped at the opportunity and decided she had a great idea. I got all gussied up in my hiking clothes, made myself a couple AB&Js (Almond Butter & Jelly, yum), grabbed a banana, filled my water and I was ready. So I hooked up the Biscuit, loaded the car, and dropped Christie off at the local Starbucks to get some stuff done. With Mamma Bear settled in at the ‘Bucks, the Biscuit and I were off to the Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge for a little walk-about.
I was pleased to find ample parking for the Biscuit and quickly moved to the trailhead. Now, if you are a wandering soul like myself, I highly recommend investing in the National Parks Annual Pass for only $80. This pass will get you into any National Park in the U.S. and gets you into most state parks as well, for FREE. Considering that most National Parks charge around $15, and State Parks around $5, this pass pays for itself quickly. Dungeness Spit NWR only charges $3.50 but takes inter-agency passes, making my visit completey free. Awesome.
The hike from the trailhead to the beach takes you about a half mile down a paved path through the lush green forest you would expect from the Olympic Peninsula, passing two observation decks with free viewing telescopes. After passing the second viewing deck I continued down the steep path to the beach. Once on the beach, I had the pleasure of being the only person on this end of the spit, I turned westward and started my beach adventure. I quickly became lost in the hypnotic rhythm of the crashing waves and the crunch of rocks beneath my shoes, amazed at the wonderful view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountains that I had all to myself. I’m amazed that the waters of the strait don’t take this tiny strip of land (only about 200 feet wide most places) and wash it away. The experience of having the Strait of Juan de Fuca just a few feet to my left and the Dungeness Bay just a few more to my right was incredible. I felt like a good hard wave at high tide could leave me stranded on this tiny little sand bar, forced to draw a face on my backpack for company and performing my own dental surgery with an ice skate.
The miles pass quickly with such wonderful scenery and before I knew it, I had hit mile four and could finally see the lighthouse at the end of the spit. The New Dungeness Lighthouse sits at the end of the spit and is beautifully set in the wind swept sea grass framed by the clouds that seem to constantly encase the Olympic Peninsula. As I approach closer, I see a cross in the distance, pointing the way to the lighthouse, and welcoming me to serenity. Upon reaching the grounds, I find a well- manicured lawn surrounding the lighthouse, keeper’s house and cistern. The structures are very well kept with fresh paint and obvious care. As I approach the buildings on the designated paved path, I pass the restrooms and a fresh water source and make my way around to the backside of the structure and the entrance to the lighthouse tour. Being so late in the year, they have a sign posted for visitors wishing to enjoy the tour to ring the doorbell at the back of the Lighthouse keeper’s quarters, located across the lawn to the north. As I was walking up to the back door, and nice gentleman stepped out to meet me. Dean was his name, and tours are his game. Dean is a chatty fellow who loves the rich history of the lighthouse and the surrounding area. Shortly after meeting Dean, a large hulk of a man stepped out of the back door and introduced himself as Lance, Dean’s associate. These two cool dudes ended up giving me one of the best tours I have ever had.
During my extensive tour of the lighthouse and the grounds, I learned that all of the lighthouse keepers at New Dungeness Lighthouse are in fact volunteers. The New Dungeness Lighthouse Association has anywhere from 2 to 7 keepers manning the lighthouse for a week at a time. Each group of volunteers (including families with children) will get shuttled out to the lighthouse each week at the lowest possible tide, allowing the Lighthouse’s trucks to utilize the beach, bringing back the prior group of volunteers.
Throughout the tour, I was fed tidbits of information about the spit and the lighthouse grounds by the dynamic duo of Dean and Lance. Lance was my guide throughout the grounds and the lower part of the lighthouse, and Dean was my guide through the actual light. As I was the only visitor, I was afforded the opportunity to take as long as I wanted up top, and Dean made sure that I left with no questions unanswered. We talked for a good hour, mostly of the lighthouse, but also of Dean’s own experiences as a keeper over the last 15 years. Upon my visit, that weekend happened to be Dean’s 45th volunteer week at the lighthouse. He has guided tours through every season of the year, in any and every weather that the Pacific could throw at this small spit of land. You could tell he takes his job very seriously, and that New Dungeness Lighthouse holds a place very close to his heart.
Some of the interesting tidbits of info:
Up until about 15 years ago, the spit had continued to grow about a half mile further than when the lighthouse was built.
The U.S. Coast Guard manned the station, allowing its keepers to bring their families out to the spit, until 1994, relinquishing control and maintenance to the New Dungeness Lighthouse Association on September 2nd.
The ONLY part of the entire lighthouse and grounds that the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for now is the light bulb, lens, and housing. To give you an idea of how big that is, I could easily place the entire housing in my 30 liter pack (the size of a normal children’s school backpack).
New Dungeness Lighthouse is only lighthouse in the nation with it’s own fresh water source. The U.S. Government actually paid a well driller to come out onto the spit and drill a well in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Knowing that the government was paying, the driller was more than happy to drill to the other side of the planet. Lo and behold, at 635 feet, he hit an artesian spring that happens to feed to the top of the Olympic Mountains. The well now provides about 20 gallons per minute of fresh water to the lighthouse’s cistern.
During the busy summer months, the number of visitors to the lighthouse can reach up to 400 hundred in a single day. But that 400 is a fraction of the thousands that start the trek but turn back.
Dungeness Spit is a 5½ mile spit of sand and bedrock that is the rim of a giant boulder field built by glaciers bringing down rock from the top of the Olympics. This ancient boulder field now lies 80 feet below the surface of the water and is what makes up Dungeness Bay.
New Dungeness Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in the nation that continuously runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The light bulb used is a 50 watt bulb brighter than the dome light of your car, but no brighter than your headlight. With the help of the lens (special prisms focus the “lost light” into beams), this 50 watt bulb can be seen up to 17 miles away, just short of Victoria Island B.C.
As my tour went on, I noticed that so much time had passed that my trip back would be slightly hindered by the coming high tide. After saying my good-byes to the Dynamic Duo, I set out on my trek back to the mainland. With AB&J in hand, I began the long journey back along the shrinking beach. On my way back, I encountered just two other people going to the lighthouse, but many other beach bums out to enjoy the rare sunshine. I walked the shoreline knowing that I had the spit to myself for most of the day. The trip back always seems longer, but this time it really was as I was not able to move nearly as fast due to the rising tide which kept pushing me farther and farther up the beach into the driftwood piles. By the time I reached the end of my journey (only about a mile left) I was limited to clambering over driftwood and wading through thick sea grass. Lesson: check the tide tables and allow for extra time for log clambering. By the end of my trek, I had gone around 11 miles in 3½ hours, took an hour and a half tour of a wonderful lighthouse, met two really cool guys, and earned a boatload of memories.
After almost 6 hours, I returned to pick up my amazing wife from Starbucks and it was off to our next stop in Ocean City WA, about 3 hours away. Quite a day.
While we were staying in Sequim, WA we decided to check out this nice little coastal area by Dungeness Bay. It was our first sunny day in Washington and we were lovin’ it! We got to take a beautiful short hike down to the water through just a gorgeous forested area. Brian of course put his “explorer” hat on.
Walking through a forest when sunlight is filtering through the trees is one of our absolute favorite things in life.
Just beautiful there!! We kept hiking down, down, down until we finally saw the water.
Then came to a small beachfront. All I can say is WOW!
Brian took one of his favorite driftwood pictures. I really think he might have to do a book of these some day as he has oh-so-many amazing driftwood photos.
We spent some time just watching the water and enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the rocks. So peaceful.
I took a LOT of pictures of my handsome hubby.
We tried to get one of us and the view but the lighting made it hard.
Just an absolutely gorgeous spot that we highly recommend visiting!!!
If you’re a video person, I recommend starting this one with the video. It’s just plain fun!
We found out about Olympic Game Farm from the brochure we got at Gilgal Oasis RV Park, where we were staying. It proudly boasted “Home of the Waving Bears!” and I swear, I almost fainted from excitement. I have seen YouTube videos of the Waving Bears and I thought they were just about the cutest things that ever roamed the earth. I couldn’t believe that here we were, in the same town, and maybe I could get a chance to see them!! That’s pretty much all I had on my mind when we drove here. I knew there would be other animals, that was cool and all, but all I could think about was waving bears.
We pulled up and found out that basically it is set up like a drive-through zoo. Price was $24 and you can come back as many times as you like that same day. You can purchase bread there to feed the animals, drive through the park with your windows down and stop to feed animals. They do warn that this is all based on preference of how much you want to interact with the animals because they are pushy. If you have your windows down, the animal will be in your car as far as they can get. We didn’t have any bread so we kept the windows cracked just enough for them to stick their noses in and that’s all. Thank goodness…
Things started off with a few pushy peacocks and seagulls…which was mostly just amusing. The llamas were absolutely hysterical. They followed us relentlessly. It was just hilarious to me. All through the park, every time I turned around, there was a llama right behind me.
A few animals were more allof, like the zebras.
Then there were the yaks. Just as relentless as the llamas, only a little more… scary?? I mean when a yak i coming straight toward you… well, it’s just not something you know how to react to LOL. But once they got right up to the car, they were pretty sweet. Brian gave one a kiss through the glass 🙂
Buy this time I was having so much fun I had almost forgotten about the waving bears! But I saw we were almost upon them… however, it turns out, they are getting into hibernation season 🙁 Didn’t even occur to me…. so a couple of them tried to lift their paws for a wave, but they just couldn’t manage. It was just toooo much effort. Mostly they just wanted to rest. A lot…
I was crushed. My soul was sad. But at least the other animals were turning out to be a lot of fun, so we pressed on. We left this part of the park which the llamas couldn’t get out of, so at least we didn’t have the llama paparazzi following us anymore. Then there were the bison…. I have to admit when one of those ran straight toward us I got that unsettled feeling again…
Turns out they were pretty sweet too. Not much for personal space, though…
We also saw this really cool type of deer I have never seen before called European Fallow Deer:
Of course, the tour wouldn’t have been complete without us making our video which we did (posted at the top of this post)… and of course, selfies…
Well, no one said we were cool. We had fun though!! We also think kids would have a blast doing this… and if you don’t mind llama slobber, doing this with the windows down and feeding the animals would be a blast too. Another time…