A Neighborhood Visit

I don’t have the time or money to travel as much as I would like, so I try to be a traveler in my town and areas near by. I’m planning a weekend trip to San Antonio next month, there are some trails I want to watch and I would like to see the new exhibit at the zoo, but when I can’t really go anywhere, I’m trying to see areas around my home. My goal is to explore all the parks here in Corpus Christi.

I started by downloading a list of the parks here in town. I don’t have a very organized way of choosing the parks. Basically, I pick ones I’ve never been to or look interesting on Google Maps or their reviews. Its almost like throwing darts at a very specific dart board. I’ve visited about half a dozen parks since I started, some I wasn’t impressed with, they were just parks with a walking track and playground. Not that that’s a bad park, it meets the needs of the people and families that live in the neighborhood, just not what I was looking for. My favorite were the parks with something to actually explore. Lakeview Park and West Guth Park were my favorites.

Lakeview Park had a lot of trees surrounding a lake or a very large duck pond, because there were a lot of ducks. It took me about an hour to walk all the way around the lake. Probably less, I did stop a few times and venture a little closer. There were lots of birds nesting around the lake, mostly ducks and geese, but there were some ibis, cormorants, turtles and even a few chickens that had made a pit stop there. At least I think the chickens had just stopped there, I never imagined chickens living there, but now that I think about it the neighborhood surrounding the lake didn’t really look like a place you would raise chickens. I had a grand ole time that afternoon, and isn’t that what everything is about.

While I like Lakeview because of the nature, I enjoyed West Guth Park because one spot in particular gave me the greatest sense of nostalgia. There was this old, stone foundation (I don’t know what was there) among a copse of trees. I could imagine me and my friends playing there when we were kids. We always played on the edge of the woods (we weren’t allowed to go in). We used the dirt and threes and roots to create backdrops of all our games. West Guth also had a small duck pond surrounded by trees with exposed roots. The roots made the perfect little seat.

Last weekend, my sister and I went to Blucher Park. I normally visited the parks on my own, but I took my sister with me because as much as I wanted to visit this park I was a little hesitant. I had read a lot of reviews describing a homeless population living in and around the park and a shelter on one side. I’m not saying that homeless people are dangerous, but since college I have a hesitation on being alone in an area where there was anyone who I thought might be homeless. Most homeless people I have met have been perfectly wonderful people who are just down on their luck, but I had a scary experience the summer between my junior and senior year of college.

That summer my car broke down and I had to walk from my apartment to work for about a month. I would usually walk or ride my bike, sometimes my friends or roommate would give me a ride. One afternoon when I was walking, just after I crossed the street from my neighborhood to the next a homeless man approached me from behind on the sidewalk. He told me that I was coming with him. I’m not really a screamer, usually my brain goes to how I can get out of the situation so I didn’t move and didn’t say anything. He repeated that I was coming with him. I looked around helpless. A man driving down the road stopped and asked what was going on. The man walked away in the opposite direction and I continued on to work. I never told my family about this, but I did tell me friends and roommate. They didn’t let me walk to work too my after that and my car was fixed soon.

I don’t like to let things like that stop me from living my life, especially since nothing happened to me. But it still makes me nervous. Blucher Park was beautiful and I think I would have enjoyed it more if 80% of the people I saw didn’t make me nervous. The park had beautiful groves of trees, where it looked like I could curl up and read a book and spend a wonderful afternoon. The weather was beautiful (which lately the South Texas weather has been cold and wet) and the bugs weren’t biting, it was a great day to be outside in nature.

I was a bit disappointed though. They had a map of the park before you went in, but no way finding signs within the park which made things a little confusing once inside. I can see both sides, you don’t want to ruin nature with a sign, but it makes it less visitor friendly if your lost. The map showed a little bluff, I was in disbelief. I thought a bluff, really, but it was there and big enough that I wouldn’t have wanted to fall in. It lead down to a little creek. The park was smaller than I thought it would be. Overall, I was disappointed, I don’t know if its because I had hyped up this park or because I didn’t really allowed myself to enjoy the park.


Question from an Introvert

In this day and age, with everyone able to and wanting to be in touch with friends, family and strangers at the touch of a few buttons and at a moments notice, I think we forget about those who don’t really want to want everyone they know (or don’t know) to be able to find them.

I live alone. I have friends and we go out and do things, I enjoy spending time with friends, but in my life there is a place and time for that. Just like everyone else whose everyday life is spent with family and the occupants of their household. We all have things to do. Going out and hanging out with people you don’t live with is an occasion reserved for weekends or long lunches or celebrations. Its not something people do everyday. I live alone, so my everyday life (when I’m not at work) is spent without human companions. I enjoy doing things alone. In fact sometimes I really prefer shopping on my own I don’t usually want everyone’s opinion. I’ve been told how brave I am that I go out on my own. Statements like that are weird to me, because this is life.

Social media is everywhere and everyone expects you to be plugged in all the time. I talked to a help desk to help earlier this week to help me solve a problem with an app on my phone. Not a social media app. They expected me to be able to pop on my computer and pull up their site and go from there. I know this is where I diverge from many people now a days, even my father. I have a laptop and I don’t have it on unless I a working on it. Don’t get me wrong I like social media, I’m on Instagram and You Tube at least once a day, but I may get on Facebook once a month (I’ve been known to even go longer between Facebook log ins).

My friends have mostly gotten used to the fact that they aren’t going to be able to get a hold of me on Facebook, Snap Chat or Twitter. If they want to get a hold of me most of them know they have to text or call. My personal favorite is when people, okay mostly men, but not all, who try to message me on Instagram get so offended when I don’t answer them immediately. I’m busy, I don’t live my life on social media and I definitely don’t live my life to please strangers who think they are my friends just because they follow me on Instagram. There are many times when I don’t want to talk to anybody, even friends, I just want to look through the posts or videos and not interact. What’s wrong with that.

I’m don’t live my life like everyone else seems to. Of course I don’t know how everyone lives behind their closed doors. They may have the same feelings I do, but why is wanting to just relax and not deal with other humans so bad.

Bad TripAdvisor Reviews featuring the Tower of London

Its the day after Valentines day and I did mostly what I need to do today and I was a little bored, so I thought I would look at some TripAdvisor reviews. Its fun sometimes, I pick a place and I’m off down the rabbit hole. I picked the Tower of London, my most favorite tourist attraction. Sometimes I think of the phrase “tourist attraction” as a negative, but really this place as been one longer than the US has been a country so I think the Tower of London has not only earned the adjective but puts a positive spin on it.

When I read reviews, I tend to read the the one and two star ones. I know I’m setting myself up for aggravation, but if I already love the place, I already know its amazing and I want another perspective. Also I find negative reviews better for trip planning. When I read them I know what some of the worst things that have happened to people and if I’m okay with those potential situations or I just plan around it. I like to research new places I visit. Reading these reviews makes me realize how much people don’t plan their getaways and vacations. I can almost understand locals, but in this day in age who doesn’t at least look up the operating hours and the ticket prices online?

Many of the reviews were for how bad the lines are. Well you are going to wait in lines everywhere and if you are visiting any tourist attraction on a holiday or weekend you are going to wait in horrendous lines. Maybe because I prefer to travel alone or since I don’t have kids, I don’t have to book around school holidays, or the fact that I have worked in some part of the tourism industry almost my entire adult life (I worked at a summer camp my first summer out of college), but I know that when most people are able to travel, there will be lines and crowds. Use common sense. I’ve seen the same type of reviews for Disney World and special events – use common sense. Do your research and plan a trip when there are less people. You will probably pay full price (or you may get an out of season discount, who knows) or have to pull your kids out of school, but your experience will be so much better. Or just deal with it.

This biggest line complaint I saw was for the crown jewels or that they were just a couple of crowns and some plate and it wasn’t worth it. Every time I’ve been, there has been almost no line (plan ahead). In fact the last time I went, I had to time to visit twice. Once at the beginning of my day and once before I left. These are the jewels and regalia used in crowning the monarch of the United Kingdom and they are amazing. They do have a few other jewels in the exhibit and the Yeoman Warders are so nice, they answered all my questions. First with a little sarcasm and a joke, but then an actual answer. He even pointed a few things out about one of the crowns I never would have known about if I hadn’t of asked.

My favorite part is at the end where they show the boxes used to carry each piece needed for the coronation. Each one has its own specially made box. So cool. (Yes, I know its a little stupid, but hay its in the details sometimes.)

I thought it was hilarious that one person basically said that it’s just a bunch of gift shops. There are three (that I remember) and you are only forced to walk through the one. And only if you want to exit the White Tower. Its not Disney (I love Disney World).

A few people were upset they couldn’t go in to the church. Well do your research, they website says you can only go in on a Beefeater tour. Join one, they’re free. And by the way, there is a chapel inside the White Tower (I know, not the same). Why can’t you go inside the church without a guide? Okay, I don’t really know the exact reason, but the Yeomen Warders and their families live and worship there. Would you want thousands of tourists traipsing through a place was that special to you? I’ve seen what Americans do to places they’ve paid to enter, they think they have the right to do whatever they want. People can be quite disrespectful.

I read a lot of people said it was boring. I beg to differ, take your time to read the graphics. You don’t need an audio guide, just a basic understanding of the Tower of London (which you can get from the website when you check admission), the ability to read English (yes I know not everyone who goes can read English) and an imagination. I had the hardest time trying to wrap my had around what must have been going through the head of the last prisoner held and executed there, during WWII. Its an excellent place to see how animal exhibits have changed over the years. I know not everyone is a fan of zoos, but they have come a long way from the Tower of London which kept a polar bear on a chain just long enough so he could fish in the Thames. That must have been a site.

I was taken aback the first time I saw Keeper. I mean I actually stepped back onto my sister upon seeing him. Keeper was jaw dropping sight. I do have a complaint about him, I wish there had been signage explaining him. I had to Google Keeper.

This biggest complaint over all was how expensive admission was. Well yeah, compared to free museums. But think they have to keep a fortress built in 1078 up to historical standards and modern safety standards (people do live here). They also need to keep the lights on, mow the grass, feed the ravens, pay the staff, put food in the cafe and stock the gift shops among other things (these are just the things that quickly come to mind). The Tower of London isn’t government run, Historic Royal Palaces is a self run charity. If you take a look at other attractions, most of the big, paid admission ones have a comparable price tag. If this is a vacation or part of a day trip look up the price and budget.

In other words do some research!

End of rant.