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A Texas-Sized Lazy River - Houston

Dear Diary,
The last leg of our Spring Break travels brought us to Houston, Texas.

We splurged on an overnight stay at the downtown Marriott Marquis, and our room overlooked Minute Maid Park - home of the Astros.

My sports-enthusiast child marveled at the proximity.

(The oil refineries could be seen at the edge of the horizon.)

(It was crazy to think that so much of this city was so devastated by Hurricane Harvey.)

While my son took in the stadium, I honed in on the one old Victorian home that seemed so out of place amongst the sleek, modern skyscrapers.

It's the Cohn House, and I can only imagine the grand splendor it once boasted.

Built in 1905, the home was originally located on Rusk. The city purchased the landmark in 2003 and moved it to its current location.

From what I gather, it was the home of Arthur Benjamin Cohn, a businessman who helped found Rice University in 1912. A few years later he sold the house and the surrounding land. As downtown spread outward and upward, the home cycled through various owners and fell into disrepair.

The city plans to one day turn it into a visitor's center at the cost of over $80 million. There was the hope that it would be completed by the 2017 Super Bowl, but for some reason, the plans fell through.

The property remains in its abandoned state as it has for years. I believe the city still intends to restore the home as a visitor's center, but it is not known when it will move forward.

I hope it does soon. I'd hate to hear of this piece of history being torn down.

The rest of the day was spent at the hotel's Texas-shaped lazy river and infinity pool. At a maximum depth of 3-foot, we were able to relax poolside while the kids expelled their energy before dinner.

Where we ate - Ninfa's, 2704 Navigation Blvd.
... And the fact that I have zero pictures should tell you how delicious the traditional Mexican cuisine was. Get a table on the outdoor patio!

The Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ

Dear Diary,
There are few words I can use to describe the majesty and the magic of the Red Rocks that surround Sedona.

Founded in 1902, the city sits at an elevation of over 4,000 feet. The vibe of the downtown area is artistic - explorative, even. Alongside the galleries are small shops that offer aura photography, psychic readings, tarot card readings, and fortune telling. Plenty more sell crystals.

It's all inspired by the numerous vortexes in and around Sedona.

Should we ever find ourselves with more than a half hour to spare, I'd love to explore the mystery and spirituality that spirals everywhere you turn.

My first impression of Sedona, as you can see, was of its stunning horizon. But enough talk - the pictures are enough to convey.

(The trail we hiked ...) 

I cannot wait to explore and discover more.

Abandoned Bedrock City - Williams, AZ

Dear Diary,
After nearly 50 years, this roadside attraction based on the 1960s animated series, “The Flintstones”, has shuttered its doors.

I read that in its place, a Raptor Ranch will open with predatory birds on display in between live shows.

The site is located about 25 miles south of the Grand Canyon's south rim, so it was an ideal spot for travelers back then to set up camp. I’m sure it was quite popular in the golden age of road trips, when it was customary for families to pack up the station wagon to see the sites. I feel lucky enough to have seen the signage and other structures before they were torn down to transition the property for its new usage.

Bedrock City opened in the 70s, known for its buildings seemingly built of carved stone. I read that generations of children would have taken seats inside the Bedrock Schoolhouse, pretended to be locked up in the Bedrock jail or watched the namesake cartoon on an unending loop in the Bedrock theatre. The highlight of the park would be sliding down the neck of the Brontosaurus.

The original proprietors raised 5 children in the park, and the new owners are aware of the area’s fondness towards the site. He’s stated that they’re keeping some of the statues, including the Brontosaurus, to be used as centerpieces in the new children’s playground.

To see it sit in silence now felt like I witnessed the end of an era.

However, there appears to be still-open Bedrock City sites near another national monument - Mount Rushmore, in Custer, South Dakota. And while I understand it was time for business-side of things to move forward following the retirement of the original owner, I was satisfied to learn pieces of this Bedrock City would remain intact for future generations to enjoy.

The Grand Canyon - Arizona

Dear Diary,
There is many a patriotic song written about America. But to bear witness to the sites that possibly inspired one of the songs, well - it defies explanation.

What we cannot get over, is that to get here, we had to travel across the most flat expanses of land. And then all of a sudden ... THIS.

It really must be seen to be believed.

Even if you only go once, this is the site that must be experienced in a lifetime.

The Grand Canyon fills you with wonder.

One thing we did, was walk a Geoology Trail. Along the way, we learned about the various rock layers of the canyon and its age. There were telescopes pointed directly at the layers of the canyon mentioned on the trail.

We saw examples of the fossils that were discovered there.

Like adorable paw prints.

What animal do you suppose made those?

Carvings in the trees ...

In the picture above, a small sliver of the Colorado River is visible. Can you see it? To see the river that created this site from thousands of feet above, well - it felt like looking down was a travel back in time.


We saw a few people disobey the fence line and climb down the rock formations. I couldn't believe the risk, the audacity, and complete disregard exhibited by those people. And for what?

I could see everything I needed to from the safety of the trail.

2019 happens to be the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Canyon National Park's opening. Inside the visitor's center, one of the Glen boats from the original expeditions of the canyon were on display.

Visiting the Grand Canyon was surreal.

For more information, visit the related U.S. National Park Service site.