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Friday, April 16, 2010

San Antonio Mission San Jose Rose Window





The San Jose Mission was named for Saint Joseph and the Marquez de San Miguel de Aguayo, the govenor of the Province of Coahuila and Texas at the time. It was built on the banks of the San Antonio River. Its founder was the famed Father Antonio Margil de Jesus, a very prominent Franciscan missionary in early Texas. Mission San Jose is an active parish. Visitors are welcome to attend mass on Sundays.

Mission San Jose has become a lasting symbol throughout the centuries for the Spanish mission frontier in Texas.

Having fallen into disrepair and partial run over the years, the San Antonio Conservation Society and the Federal Government , among others took to restoring portions of the mission community in the 1920's and 30's. The Church, which had lost its dome, bell tower, and a wall was rededicated in 1937. In 1941, it was declared a State Historic Site, and later that same year, a National Historic Site.

Much of what is visible today was reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930's. The Archdiocese of San Antonio and San Jose parish are responsible for any maintenance and preservation work needed on the church structure itself. About 80% of the church is original.

La Ventana de Rosa, the Rose Window, is located on the south wall of the church sacristy. The window has been described as the site where the Host was shown to gathered mission celebrants during the Feast of Pentecost. The window, sculpted ca. 1775, has been the object of both legend and admiration. It is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America. The meaning behind the name is currently unknown, but legend has it named for Rosa, the betrothed of Juan Huizar who many believe created the window. Photos taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Roses



I spotted these gorgeous roses at an apt. complex here in Corpus Christi. Of course traffic was horrible, but I was determined to get a few shots of them! I managed to finally get to the complex and had a couple of people staring at me as I was taking photos, but....oh well! I believe these are called tea roses. Of course if someone knows differently, please feel free to leave me a comment with their correct name.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seagull

This photo was taken in Rockport. I love watching seagulls, just have to be careful to avoid wearing any of their droppings! Photo was taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yucca


These photos of yuccas were taken at the Mission San Jose in San Antonio. Interesting facts about the yuccas are:


Yucca is an evergreen plant and in bloom produces a large stalk of white or purplish blossoms. They are pollinated by the yucca moth, and in its absence they rarely fruit striking an example of interdependence, since the moth, which lays its eggs during pollination and whose larvae feed on some of the developing seeds, cannot reproduce without the yucca. The leaves are stiff and spear like. Native peoples of the region used the tough leaves for fiber. Yucca is also an excellent source of soap or detergent. When the central stem are pounded and soaked in water, the resultant mix will foam due to the saponins they contain. In the South Texas Plains, the Spanish Dagger provides the best source of this natural detergent. Many groups used yucca as soap for bathing, and for washing clothing, hair and anything else that needed cleaning, and they probably baked the central stem for food. . The flowers are edible, when picked at the right time, and the fruit of some species is edible when baked or roasted. Yucca fruit are not only sweet, they are like a very strong laxative.

Yucca is the state flower of New Mexico.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Houston Space Center-NASA



If you are ready for a great time head over to Houston's Space Center/NASA. You can put on a space helmet and blast off to a most exciting and fun adventure! You can experience out of this world family fun at NASA's official visitor center. You can see live shows, presentations, interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater, behind the scenes tours of the Johnson Space Center and so much more!

You will get to see actual spacecraft, like Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Capsules. You can watch astronauts train for upcoming shuttle mission. You can try on space helmets, touch moon rocks, land the shuttle and try space walking on state of the art simulators. There are live satellite links to NASA facilities which provide up to date information about current space flights and astronaut training.

Kids can jump on moon, staff a space station, drive a lunar rover, command the space shuttle, build and launch a rocket and so much more at the Kids Space Place.

The Houston Space Center is located about 20 miles southeast of downtown Houston.

Photo was taken with a SonyA200 18-70mm lens.




Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who ya gonna call?


Who could resist taking a photo of this old ambulance made to look like a ghost buster's car? I know I couldn't resist. My son-in-law spotted it on our drive to San Antonio from Corpus Christi and stopped so we could get these! I think it was somewhere around Live Oak? I guess I should take notes so I don't forget the locations. :)

I wonder how many remember the 1984 movie Ghost Busters starring Dan Aykroyd? Who ya gonna call.........GHOST BUSTERS!

Photos were taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sunflowers



Sunflowers were one of my Mother's favorite flowers! I can't see a sunflower and not think about her! It never fails to amaze me how something so beautiful can grow on the side of the road, without any care other than nature! These sunflowers were growing on the side of the road just outside a subdivision where 2 of my daughters live in Brownsville.

Sunflowers are annuals that live just one year. They grow quickly, bloom heavily and die with the first frost. They can and will regrow the following spring if the seeds fall onto bare ground. They usually grow to heights of 3 feet and have yellow petals and brown centers.

Photos taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Will it be Cotton?



I have to say that most times I really love the drive from Brownsville to Corpus Christi. I used to think that the drive was so boring, with nothing to look at. Maybe it's just me getting older, but now I don't feel that way at all! I've gotten to see the drive in the winter and now the spring! I have enjoyed seeing all the beautiful wildflowers and have hundreds of photos! Now, the fields are being planted and I can wonder about what crops they are!

Cotton is one of the most visible crops in the Valley. While cotton was grown in the 1890's, it did not reach commercial production levels until the 1920's. Cotton often constitutes the largest percentage of acreage devoted to one crop. Some of the major vegetable and melon crops are also grown in the Rio Grande Valley, including cabbage, onions, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cantalopes and honeydew melons.

I'm excited to see what crops I'll see on my drives back and forth!

Photos taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.




Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Graceland



Before moving to Corpus Christi last October I lived in a little town called Los Fresnos. It's a nice little town, just don't speed! :) I am the first to admit there is little to do there, but...there is ....Little Graceland which is located on West Highway 100 in Los Fresnos. The Museum contains a large collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia, including photos, posters, watches, and more. The owner of the Museum, Simon Vega served with Elvis in the army and after Elvis' death he started the Museum.

Mr. Vega and the City of Los Fresnos hold two annual festivals, one in August for the memorial of Elvis' death and a party in January for the King's Birthday. The festivities include: live music, food and beverages, look-a-like contest, sing-a-like contest, car shows, trivia questions, museum tours, and fun for the family. The highlight of the festivities are the world class impersonators that come from all around to perform the Elvis hits on stage.

If you're ever driving through or visiting the area, please stop in and visit Little Graceland, especially if you are an Elvis fan!

Photos taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

They're a bit slimy!

This photo was taken at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi. If you have never been, it's time to go! It's rather small, but has a nice assortment of areas and shows to visit/view. The stingray tank is a place we spent a lot of time. Most of the family HAD to touch a stingray, including myself.

Stingrays are a family of rays, cartilaginous fishes, related to sharks. They are common in coastal tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world. They are named after the barbed stinger (which is removed on the ones you can touch at the Aquarium) on their tail, which is used exclusively in self-defense. The stinger may reach a length of approximately 35 cm, and it's underside has 2 grooves with venom glands. The stinger is covered with a thin layer of skin, in which the venom is concentrated. Some species have several stingers, and a few, lack a stinger entirely.

Their flattened bodies allow them to effectively conceal themselves in their environment. Stingrays do this by agitating the sand and hiding beneath it. Stingrays eyes are on top of their bodies and their mouths on the underside, therefore they cannot see their prey; instead, they use smell and electro-receptors similar to those of sharks. Stingrays primarily on molluscs, crustaceans, and some small fish. They settle on the bottom while feeding, often leaving only their eyes and tail visible. Coral reefs are a favorite feeding ground and usually shared with the sharks during high tide.


Photo was taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mission San Juan in San Antonio



All of the photos above were taken in San Antonio at the Mission San Juan. It is a beautiful place to visit! I have many more photos of the areas to share over the coming weeks/months.

I can only hope that someone is enjoying seeing the area from my camera lens. What more appropriate time than this beautiful Easter Sunday! I hope that your day is filled with beauty and the love of family and our wonderful Lord and Saviour!

Photos taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sugar Cane Fields


It all started nearly 200 years ago when farmers were drawn here by South Texas valley’s rich soil, subtropical climate and plenty of water from the Rio Grande river. At one point there were five mills crushing the cane and cranking out the sugar. But labor problems and depressed prices shut them all down by 1921. Sugar cane in south Texas became just a sweet memory.

All that changed in the early 1970’s when about a hundred farmers got together to bring cane back to the Rio Grande Valley. They built a new, modern sugar mill and today, they’re “raising cane” on about 40,000 acres.

Most sugar cane is planted by hand. They are laid down in furrows and covered with topsoil. About a year later, when the stalks are fully grown, it’s time to harvest. The wind direction and weather are checked, and warnings are given out in English and Spanish to leave the fields.

Then fire trucks arrive for igniting flames, not putting them out. The torching burns away excess leaves and other debris. It’s so dry, a forty-acre field burns in 20 minutes.

After the embers cool, the harvesters move in, chopping the stalks at ground level. Trucks carry the cut cane to a conveyor where ten ton boxes are dumped into a hopper.

The cane is washed then sent through seven crushers, or mills, to squeeze out the sweet juice.

The juice is filtered, heated and evaporated until only a concentrated syrup is left. The syrup is crystallized and the crystals spun around in a high-speed centrifuge until the raw sugar is separated from molasses.

The raw sugar’s taken to a huge warehouse, big enough to hold 70,000 tons. It’s eventually trucked to the port of Harlingen, Texas, where barges ship it off to be refined one more time before it reaches the store shelves.

Photo was taken with a Nikon D500 18-55mm lens.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ghost or Gravity?






While on a recent mini getaway to San Antonio I was told of a ghost story/urban legend in the area. I was intrigued and wanted to get photos of the area. Above are photos of the railroad tracks where supposedly a train hit a bus full of children killing them. Also, the surrounding neighborhood was supposedly named after the deceased children.

When we first arrived at this rather rural area we were the only ones there, but, quickly that changed. During the 10 minutes or so that we were there 4 more vehicles full of curious people arrived. Many got out and wandered around, some stopped on the tracks themselves and we saw nothing out of the ordinary. We quickly did a little search on the internet (thank goodness for phones with internet), and found that you were supposed to stop your vehicle approximately 15 feet from the tracks, turn off your engine, put car in neutral, and wait for your vehicle to move over the tracks. The road appears to be going slightly uphill, but, we did as we read (there were no other vehicles in the area at the time). Within a minute or so the truck did begin to move and we rolled over the tracks and around the slight curve in the road on the other side. It was a slightly eerie feeling, but.....being a total skeptic I knew there had to be a logical answer other than 'ghosts' pushing us. The following is what I found....

The story takes place anywhere from 1930-1949 depending on what you read. This popular urban legend is about a school bus which stalled on a railroad track. Before the bus could be evacuated the train hit the bus, killing everyone on the bus. The legend then goes on to say that the streets surrounding the area were named for the children who were killed. A couple of weeks after the accident some high school students were out for a drive when their car stalled on the tracks at the exact same spot. The driver put the car in neutral and as they were getting ready to push it the car rocked and then it rolled over the tracks and out of harms way. It was as if it was being pushed, but they didn't see anyone else around. The story spread quickly and it was believed that the ghosts of the children had pushed the vehicle to safety. It did not take long before people started going to the tracks and seeing for themselves just what would happen to them if they did the same thing. Those that tried it, said that their vehicle was pushed across the tracks by some unseen force.

While this is a great story, it is not true. Well, some of it is true, but the facts are a little off. The story of the accident appeared in the December 12, 1938 issue of TIME magazine. The story reported that 23 children and the bus driver lost their lives in a train accident. The accident, did not take place in San Antonio. It happened on a snowy, foggy morning in Midvale, Utah on December 1, 1938. The bus did not stall on the tracks but was moving over the tracks, after the driver had came to a complete stop and looked for trains. Not seeing a train (most likely due to fog and snow) he proceeded across the tracks and into the path of an oncoming train.

How do we explain all the people that have experienced being pushed over the tracks? It is an optical illusion; while the road appears to go uphill it is actually a downhill grade. This is very similar to what is known as a gravity hill and there are several located around the world.

Even though there have been reports of people using powder on the back of their cars to capture the hand prints of the ghost children, this is also something that can be explained. Our hands contain oils and even after a hand print has faded the oils remain. A regular car wash will not remove the oil. When you put powder on the back of your car the oil from our hands will bleed through the powder making it look like invisible hands were pushing the car.

This is a great example of an urban legend that was based on actual events, but like most urban legends the details and location change depending on where you are.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D5000 18-55mm lens.