Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Riverboat visit to the Chalmette Battlefield, site of the Battle of New Orleans

The third day of my New Orleans visit was set aside for a trip down the Mississippi River to the famous Chalmette Battlefield where General Andrew Jackson fought the bloody British in the Battle of New Orleans.  It was the final battle of The War of 1812 which was also known as the 2nd Revolutionary War. 

Now you can easily drive over to the Chalmette Battlefield, but we chose a much more exciting mode and bought tickets for the riverboat trip that takes you to the site via the Mississippi River on the Creole Queen riverboat.  The cost is $23 per person and well worth it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Orleans - A Visit to the World War II Museum

I have been to New Orleans several times over the past years and everytime I have wanted to visit the hugely popular World War II Museum there.  Unfortunately, I had never been able to find the time to go.  So when I planned my latest trip down I made sure a trip to the museum was the first thing I put on my itinerary. Day number 1!  Straight from the New Orleans airport to the museum.

The World War II Museum is very easy to find and there is plenty of parking available in the surrounding few blocks.  Beware parking is not free so be prepared to pay a few bucks. 

We went for the deluxe package.  This offers entrance to all the exhibits as well as tickets to the hour long Beyond All Boundaries movie and the USS Tang Experience.  The cost is $32.  I say go for it.  Well worth the expense, but plan for a solid four hours to take in everything.

Start with the Tom Hanks narrated Beyond All Boundaries.  A wonderful hour long movie that sets the stage and follows the events of World War II.  Very well done.  Very entertaining.  And very insightful.  Do not miss this!

From there we went over to the USS Tang Experience and the US Freedom Pavilion.  Inside the Pavilion are some wonderful airplanes suspended overhead.  You will be in awe from the moment you step inside.  There are several levels of walkways that allow you to get views from all angles and an elevator to take you up to the walks. 

After spending some time grabbing pictures it was time for the USS Tang Experience. Well, let me just get straight to the truth on this one.  Do not waste your time or money on this.  After paying your money you are given a card that tells you what station of the submarine you are working at during the experience.

Once inside, you take your station and embark and a most cheesy adventure.  Bad graphics and confusing instructions make for a less than enjoyable time.  The history of the USS Tang is quite interesting, but unfortunately that is only about a fourth o the experience. Your time and money will be much better spent at the wealth of other awesome exhibits the World War II Museum offers.

In the main building there are two separate pathways through the exhibit.  One takes you through the war in Europe while the other deals with the Pacific.  I would estimate that each path takes about an hour.  Do both for sure!  Wonderful photos, memorabilia and news releases will have you in awe the entire way.  Very well put together. 

The World War II Museum in New Orleans definitely was everything I had always heard.  A New Orleans experience not to be missed.  Put aside a morning or afternoon and check it out.  You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

TexanTreks is going back to Peru!

Oh yes!  TexanTreks is heading back to their favorite country on the planet.  Peru.  You saw several great articles on Texantreks from our first trip to Peru two years ago. 

The Pisac market, Cusco, a day in Lima, Machu Picchu.  Wonderful.

This time I have a bit different trip planned.  There was just so much I did not get to do last time.  I love the Inca history so we will still be hot on the trail of the Inca.  But there will be more too!

A four day trip out to Iquitos and down the Amazon River.  I cannot wait to see the wonderful wildlife and do some fishing for a piranha or two or three.  Maybe even grab an anaconda? The only downside is having to get all the shots to be safe from all the crazy diseases in the Amazon.  Oh well.  We must suffer sometimes for our adventures right?

Then it is back to Cusco.  Last time we went north into the Sacred Valley of the Inca.  This time I am heading south to the Inca ruins of Tipon as well as the Wari ruins of Picillacta.

From there it is time for a return trip to Machu Picchu.  It is just too magical of a place to not see again.  Finally, we'll close it out with a visit to Sacsayhuaman and the famous Pisac market.

So get ready.  Early next year will be a flood of more great Peru articles coming to TexanTreks.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A spectacular visit to the Palace of Versailles

Oh the beauty that is Versailles.  Words are not sufficiently written here to truly describe the majesty.  What I will emphasize before getting into the Versailles article is that if you visit Paris do not forego a visit!

The Palace of Versailles is situated ten and a half miles from central Paris and can be reached easily by car or train.  In 1682 King Louis XIV moved his royal court and government to Versailles and the small city and palace rose to prominence.   Construction of the palace began in 1664 and moved briskly for over forty years.  Famous figures such as Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Napolean and Marie Antoinette have lived here.

Truthfully, my expectations were not terribly high for my visit to the Palace of Versailles.  Earlier in the week I had visited Notre Dame, the Arc de Triumph, Napolean's burial site, the Louvre, the military museum and of course the Eiffel Tower.  I thought I had already hit the major sites in Paris.  Little did I know that I had unknowingly saved the best for last.

Upon arrival I took in the wonderful front of the Palace.  Let's start by saying this place is huge.  The front goes forever and is decorated with beautiful sculptures and gold leaf.  I stopped to take some pictures and buy my ticket to enter the Palace itself.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The South Dakota GPAA claims of MaryAnn, Migg and Rainbow

We decided to plan an August trip to get out of the Texas heat.  Destination South Dakota and the Black Hills.  Of course we planned to hit Deadwood, Rapid City and Mount Rushmore, but the highlight for me was the three days at the GPAA MaryAnn gold claim.

There are three GPAA gold claims in close proximity near Rochford which is about a thirty minute drive from Rapid City.  We decided to check out all three and settle on the one we thought was best for us.

We found all three claims with relative ease.  The Migg claim had several people already on it with three campers.  It is the closest of the three to Rochford. The GPAA mining guide directions of 2.6 miles was spot on.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Deadwood's Mt Moriah Cemetery

Make sure you plan to visit the historic Mt Moriah Cemetery if you ever make the trip to Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It is simply a can't miss attraction.  Perched high above Deadwood on a beautiful plateau, Mt Moriah Cemetery sits among the trees.  The cemetery is quite hilly, so be prepared for a bit of hiking.  Entrance only costs a single dollar.

It is divided into four sections surrounded by two potter's fields on the north and south sides.  Many famous old west figures are buried here.  Most notably Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.  Hickok was shot and killed by Jack McCall while playing poker in Deadwood's Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in 1876.  His gravesite is the highlight of the trip with a wonderful statue and headstone.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The trip to Mount Rushmore

Only a short drive from the Crazy Horse Memorial is mighty Mount Rushmore.  Unlike the Crazy Horse sight which in 75 years has not much more than a face completed, Mount Rushmore was completely done in 14 years.

You can catch glimpses of the Presidents from miles away as you approach.  The drive north on highway 16A offers some spectacular views as well as some wonderful one lane tunnels that profile Mount Rushmore upon exit.  As you make your way through each tunnel you are greeted with the four faces coming straight at you at the tunnel exit.  Really well planned making for some great photo opportunities.

The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota

The next to last day of the South Dakota Black Hills adventure was set aside for Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.  It is quite easy to get to the memorial as it is only a few miles outside of the neat little town of Custer.

The entrance fee to the Crazy Horse Memorial is $10 per person or $27 per car load.  One of the best pictures available is from the entrance gate itself.  There is plenty of parking at the visitor center which holds a very large museum of Indian memorabilia.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Visiting the Wari Exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum

I am a huge lover of Peru and the Incas.  On my 2012 trip to Peru we stumbled upon a pre-Inca site in Lima called Huaca Pucclana.  We really had no intention of visiting anymore sites as it was our last day before returning home from visiting Cuzco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.  Heading back to our hotel our cab driver decided we needed to see Huaca Pucclana and drove us over.  Huaca Pucclana is a large pre-Inca site that had Wari influence and even has Wari burial sites within the compound.

Not a ton is known about the Wari.  Originally thought of as a warrior culture recent archaeology is showing the Wari were much more diverse.  Their culture is slowly being uncovered at several sites around Peru.  They had no written language, but created wonderful art, pottery and tapestry.

Friday, May 31, 2013

TexanTreks is heading to Belize and Guatemala!

Yes you heard it here first.  The next big TexanTreks adventure is on the books.  We are heading to Belize and Guatemala to explore the wonderful Mayan ruins.  I have always wanted to see the Mayan architecture and ancient cities, but I could never make it work adding it onto one of my other southward adventures.

You should know by now that we love to go southwards.  In the last few years TexanTreks has been to Panama to explore the rainforest and Panama Canal.  We have also landed in Peru twice visiting a multitude of Inca sites including the mystical Machu Picchu.  The Mayans are a culture from the same time period that thrived in Central America.  Unfortunately, they suffered the same fate as the Inca around the time of the Spanish conquistador arrival.  Drought, civil war and disease brought down a once brilliant civilization.  At least we still have some beautiful ruins to explore.

Well now it is time to make Belize its very own trip. Belize City will be the home base for the trip and I will venture out from there.  I have plans to visit Tulum, Lamanai and Xunantunich inside Belize and also hop across the border into Guatemala to explore Tikal and Uaxactun.  Should be quite the adventure me thinks!  Check out TexanTreks next January and February for wonderful stories on the adventure!

Now don't worry there will be some awesome articles coming to TexanTreks before January 2015.  We have a trip to Colorado to do some gold prospecting on the Arkansas River which will include visits to the old mining towns of Leadville and Buena Vista.  We will also be reporting on some wonderful soccer matches featuring Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast, the Aston Villa trip to Dallas in July and most importantly the Dallas visit of mighty Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ancon Hill, Panama City, Panama

One of the sights you will definitely notice upon entering Panama City, Panama is the huge flag of Panama waving high on Ancon Hill.  It flies proudly to be seen from the downtown area as well as the Bridge of the Americas and the Panama Canal.

What most tourists do not seem to know is that you can go up there.  We had no idea until our taxi driver offered during our trip to Casco Viejo, the old town.  It did not take long for us to say yes.

It is not an easy taxi ride winding up the mountain on narrow streets.  It seemed every hundred feet there was an annoying speed bump to break our momentum.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Wonderful Visit to the town of Portobelo Panama

Let me start this article by saying the day trip to Portobelo was my absolute favorite day of the entire Panama trip.  It was simply fantastic.  If you visit Panama make the time to hop over to the Caribbean coast to check out the small town of Portobelo and its centuries old Spanish forts. 

The original plan was to do the drive from where we were staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort.  Three weeks before the trip we had the very, very good fortune/insight to go ahead and book a personal driver and guide for the day instead of trying to do it on our own.

Boy, oh boy did that turn out to be a great idea.  Portobelo is about a ninety minute drive from Gamboa.  The way our guide took us from Gamboa was not an easy route at all through some "seedy" neighborhoods.  I am doubtful if we could have made the trip on our own without getting seriously lost.  We certainly could not have made it in 90 minutes or probably anywhere close.  So my first Portobelo advice is to hire a guide or at least a driver.

Friday, March 15, 2013

El Valle de Anton - Chorro El Macho waterfall

After a few initial days in Panama City we rented a car and headed to the country  spending two days in El Valle de Anton.  After a monster traffic jam on the PanAmerican Highway we finally made it.  El Valle is a small village inside a long extinct volcano. 

Looking down into El Valle

Monday, March 4, 2013

Panama City, Panama - Metropolitan National Park and Old Town Casco Viejo

So TexanTreks survived the adventure to Panama!  It was magnificent and aside from a rainforest chigger invasion the trip was a total success.  A few days in Panama City, followed by two days in El Valle de Anton, followed by a few days in Gamboa with a fabulous daytrip to Portobelo mixed in.  Tough to followup the wonderful Peru trip, but Panama held its own quite nicely.

The flights were not a problem at all getting to Panama.  Even navigated the horrid Miami airport as best as possible.  Easily my most hated airport in the world!  We landed in Panama City late night and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel.  Unfortunately it was dark and we were unable to see the wonders of Panama City until the next day.

Up early the next day and it was time to start the adventure.  The plan was to stay around the city opening day and check out Old Town (Casco Viejo) and hike a bit in the Metropolitan Nature Park.  The decision was to hike in the morning before the day heated up.  Good decision for sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cusco's La Casa Concha Inca Museum

The La Casa Concha is the result of a joint project between Peru and Yale University to return the Inca artifacts to Peru from the Hiram Bingham Expeditions 1909-1915.  Peru has been demanding the return of these artifacts for decades and the sides finally came to agreement recently for the museum.

It is located in Cuzco at 320 Santa Catalina Ancha in the historical district and is well worth the visit. La Casa Concha is inside a quaint colonial mansion with the display on two floors.

The La Casa Concha is home to nearly four thousand Inca artifacts and is dedicated to the inhabitants of Machu Picchu.  There are eleven display rooms each well laid out and quite informative.    The scale model of Machu Picchu just inside the entrance will blow you away.  The photo display of Hiram Bingham's photos from the original exploration of Machu Picchu are quite impressive as well.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Visit to the C-Gem GPAA Claim near Stanton, Arizona

The community gold dig was over in Stanton and we found ourselves with some free time. We had a few hours in the afternoon and decided to make a trek to the nearby C-Gem GPAA claim a few miles from Stanton. The GPAA C-Gem gold claim is new and made its debut in the most recent GPAA Mining Guide.

We studied the directions in the guide and set out for the claim. We made our way to the Old Stage Coach Rd/Yarnell Rd which is just off the small mining camp at Stanton. Following the directions we turned and headed the 2.1 miles towards Yarnell as the guide instructed. We had five people in an ATV and a jeep. The jeep led the way with our gps. Once we made the 2.1 mile mark there was no right turn. Looked like we were going to have to figure this one out. A typical TexanTreks adventure was on!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Visit to GPAA claims near Sierra Vista, Arizona

Our destination was the GPAA event at Stanton, Arizona Dec 29 - 31st, but on the way we set aside a day to check out the GPAA claims just south of Sierra Vista, Arizona.  The original plan was to go to the claims near Ancho, New Mexico, but snow turned us southward to Sierra Vista.

The plan was half a day at the Big Four #1 GPAA claim and half a day at the PC-2 GPAA claim.  Both claims offered easy access just off State Highway 92 south of Sierra Vista.  No four wheel drive needed at all for either claim.

So we hit the PC-2 claim first.  The GPAA Mining Guide offers perfect directions and the claim is easy to find.  The PC-2 claim runs along the wash in Ash Canyon.  The country is really pretty as you can see from the pictures. A fire came through in the last couple of years and the trees are scarred, but the views are still quite nice.