Every time we drive from- or to- Dallas, we pass the Huntsville Prison complex. And the Prison Museum. Thought it was high time for a visit, so we set aside a morning to do so. It was most interesting indeed.
The Texas State Penitentiary (nicknamed “the Walls” because of the brick walls) is located in Huntsville, Texas. The prison is the oldest Texas prison, having been opened in 1849. The unit houses the State of Texas execution chamber. It is the most active in the US, with over 500 executions since 1982. The average sentenced to die inmate spends 10 years on death row, waiting for appeals and the legal system.
Originally Huntsville Unit was only for white Texans; the only penalties available to black Texans were whipping and hanging. It is now integrated. During the American Civil War, prisoners at Huntsville produced tents and uniforms for Confederate forces at the prison textile factory.
In 1974, the prison was the site of an 11 day siege. Three armed inmates held several hostages in the education department. On the final day, the inmates tried to escape using chalkboards and hostages as shields. Three inmates and one hostage were killed.
The prisoners have included some famous inmates, including known bad guys like Bonnie and Clyde, old west gunfighter John Hardin, famous musicians, Indian war chiefs, and other felons convicted of a variety of crimes. Viewing the prison museum gave good insights to the desperate lives of the inmates, and their ingenuity to get out.
WE plan on a lot of hikes this summer, when we travel through Colorado, Utah, Oregon and Washington. So we have been taking fairly long walks around the RV park most every day. However, nothing like putting on the hiking boots, throwing on the backpack, and going through the woods. Today was our first day!
WE drove up to Sam Houston National Forest, where there is a long trail called the Lone Star Hiking Trail. It is some 100 miles long, so we cleverly decided just to walk 4 miles of it. It was nice to have the boots back on and spend some time in the forest!
Ths trails skirts Lake Conroe, so we get to see some of the lake. It is a bit early for flowers, but some of the early bloomers are starting to pop up. We enjoy being in the woods!
Stacy hit the 40th birthday mark, and Dallas (and friends) threw a most excellent birthday crawfish boil. We all had a great time, well, maybe the crawfish didn’t :)…..
We are so glad to be able to stop by and join in on the celebration. The company was great, the food was excellent (and the corn a bit spicy!) and more than we could eat. Thanks Dallas for doing this for Stacy. Ans Stacy have an excellent new year!
Our next stop on our trip was Memphis, TN. Home of Elvis Presley and BBQ ribs. So, that is exactly what we enjoyed.
Our first place to visit was Graceland. In fact, our RV park is so close we could walk over. Graceland is historic because of who lived there, not because of the house itself. It was not an architectural tour (go to the Biltmore Mansion for that) but a look into the life of a music icon. It was amazing to see the impact Elvis Presley had on the area and to music in general. He truly was King.
Our second stop was downtown Memphis, and Beale street in particular. This is the home of the blues and BBQ ribs. We had a drink in a bar that had live blues music, then had a rack of ribs at the famous Rendezvous restaurant. The dry rub ribs were tasty but we prefer the wet ribs like you get in Texas. But it was tasty!
We lived near Asheville, NC for almost 5 years, and thoroughly enjoyed the place. Scenery is great, and the people are super friendly. So when we had the chance to stop by we had to visit some of our old haunts.
We skipped the Biltmore Mansion, we have been there before and didn’t want to spend $50 each just to visit. But the Grove Park Inn is another great building, a historic hotel that has seen visits from US presidents and personalities. Built in 1912, the hotel was built of rough granite stones and the expansive lobby is noted for its enormous granite fireplaces and porch with its scenic overlook. It was advertised as having “walls five feet thick of granite boulders”. Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week just for the rock work.
Asheville is also known as a haven for foodies. With a population around 100,000, it boasts 17 farmers markets. We found a new to us place called the White Duck Taco Company and had some simply superb tacos. One with jerk chicken, one Bulgogi with kim chi, and one crispy pork belly with pickled watermelon really hit the spot!
We then followed the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Arboretum, but we were unfortunately a few weeks early. Wait a few weeks, and I’m sure the park would be a riot of color.
Savannah is the oldest city in the state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, Savannah became state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport.
Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings. It’s downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. Downtown Savannah largely retains the original town plan prescribed by founder James Oglethorpe. Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.
It’s also a great place to stroll amongst the many parks and historic antebellum houses. And a walk along the harbor (careful, those cobblestones are hard on the ankles!) will provide a host of eateries and tourist goodies. We had some terrific seafood during our visit! We would recommend the hop on – hop off tours to get a good overview of the city.
St. Augustin is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. It was founded in 1565, and was named by the Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor. He named the settlement “San Agustín,” as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land on the feast day of St. Augustine. The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years, and became the capital of British East Florida when the territory briefly changed hands between Spain and Britain.
The early years saw much disputes over territory, principally between the Spanish, British and even American Buccaneers. The harbor was reinforced, and a fortress (Castillo de San Marcos) was completed in 1695. The British, unable to break the fort, burned St. Augustine to the ground as they retreated. The city was rebuilt in the layout we see today. Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine’s distinct historical character has made the city a major tourist attraction, and it is also the headquarters for the Florida National Guard.
It is interesting to walk the streets and to see the old layout of the city. However, being a major tourist attraction, it is crowded with people and establishments selling goods to tourists. But walking the old sea wall, and seeing the old houses and churches, gives you an appreciation of the way people lived in our early history.