Happy New Year 2023

We wish all our friends a healthy, happy and prosperous 2023

Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Galveston

In 1892 the first Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built in Galveston, Texas. Unfortunately it was completely destroyed in the horrific hurricane of 1900. A replacement church was constructed during 1903-1904. Like the Bishop’s Palace across the street, famed Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton designed this, the second church on the site.

Note the dome, center

The beautiful church marquee






Following is a quote from a 1981 Texas Historical Commission Historical Marker placed at the church: “The present building, the second for the parish, was constructed in 1903-04 during the pastorate of the Rev. D. J. Murphy. A prominent landmark in the city, it features ornate octagonal towers, flying buttresses, elaborate ornamentation, and a variety of arches. The design reflects influences of the Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque styles. The building’s original dome, damaged in a 1915 hurricane, was redesigned by Nicholas Clayton.”

Historic Bishop’s Palace in Galveston

Known as Bishop’s Palace, this Victorian style mansion was originally the home of Josephine and Walter Gresham. Gresham was a railroad magnate and hired famed architect Nicholas Clayton to design the home. The structure was completed in 1892, and miraculously it survived the disastrous hurricane of 1900.

From 1923 until the 1960’s the house was used as the residence of the Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. It is now owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation. Guided and self guided tours are available for an admission fee.

This stunning mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Locally in Galveston it is a contributing building in the East End Historic District, in its entirety a National Historic Landmark.

The day we saw the Border Wall

One winter day when we were living at an RV resort in Harlingen, Texas, Sher and I decided to head out and see if we could see the border wall between Mexico and the United States. We also wanted to see the Rio Grande River, which is of course the actual US/Mexico border.

We started our trek on US Highway 281 south of Pharr, Texas. We headed east on 281, which for this stretch towards Brownsville is also the route of the Military Highway, another historic route in the Lone Star State.

Border fence seen across a farm field

Closer to Hwy 281, with graffiti






We spotted some of the border wall sections that were pretty far from the road. We were closer to the fence between Los Indios and La Paloma. The vertical metal slats were mounted in a large concrete foundation.

What we didn’t get, however, was why the wall/fence stopped out in the middle of nowhere. It seemed odd that it seemed to be random as to where the fences had been constructed and where there were none.

We continued our drive into downtown Brownsville into the historic commercial part of town. What a treat to see all the colorful store fronts and signage in Spanish. Different for a couple from Indiana. I spoke with a Border Patrol Agent who kindly directed us to a small city park where we could see the Rio Grande river. It too had a high fence, complete with coils of razor wire on the Mexico side.

Mexico on left, Border Patrol watching the river

Looking across the river at Matamoros Mexico

Parked at the Alice Wilson Hope Park






All in all we had a very nice day. It was most interesting seeing the thousands of acres of irrigated crop ground. There were some workers in the fields, but mostly it seemed that new crops were just starting to grow, and other fields had been recently tilled in preparation for new crop plantings. Early in the year compared to our crop seasons back in the Midwest.


Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime mural in Texarkana

Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist born in Texarkana in 1868. He became famous for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the “King of Ragtime.” During his brief career, (1895 – 1917) he wrote over 40 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.


In 1984 a large mural was painted on the side of a building in downtown Texarkana, on Main Street a couple of blocks in from the Texas/Arkansas line, Texas side. Time took its toll, the mural faded. However in 2015 a project to restore the mural was undertaken. A local TV station reported that Joplin’s great niece dedicated the project. Joplin was a brilliant composer whose works became well known with the release of the 1973 movie The Sting.

We just happened upon this beautiful and large mural. We were lucky in that there were no cars in the parking lot blocking our view. Thus the photo of the complete mural, above. Another example of why travel is adventuresome.

Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge and 1.5 million bats

Back before the pandemic we were visiting our family in Austin. We all took a day trip to San Antonio one Sunday, and planned to see the bats of Austin that evening. This is a recap of that adventure.

Who would think that a winged visitor from Mexico would make such a splash in downtown Austin, Texas. Such is the story of the Free-tailed bat. These critters migrate to Austin in March and stay through November. The colony spends each day under the Congress Avenue Bridge and emerges en-mass at sunset. This daily event has become a famous local attraction in Austin.

View of the watercraft waiting for the bats

Mexican Free-tailed bat

We planned to see the bats after a day in San Antonio. Because it was a Sunday, free street parking was available if you could find it. A ten dollar garage was well worth the cost. When we got there I needed a restroom and found one at a great restaurant a block away. The restaurant staff where we had supper knew exactly what time the bats would emerge. After supper we walked the two blocks to the bridge. Because it was Sunday the crowds were not large and we walked right up to the bridge rail for a great view.

The bat colony takes flight

A viewing deck was on the river bank for a look up at the bridge. A wide variety of tour boats, canoes and kayaks were in place on the water of Lady Bird Lake waiting to see the show. And what a show it was! The first bats started to fly about 10 minutes before sunset. It didn’t take long for hundreds of thousands of bats to fly out from under the bridge. The sky was filled with masses of bats! It looked like they were flying along the river. Before the Congress Avenue Bridge was built where did the colony of bats spend daylight hours?

Texas Hill Country’s Jester King Brewery

This is a post that Sher wrote back in February, 2020 just before we cut short our time as Winter Texans and headed back to Indiana before COVID struck. We just found this and somehow it never got published. So…Here it is.

It was a special treat for us to visit Jester King Brewery while we were in Austin, TX because our last name is Jester.  So, of course we had to buy some beer with our name in it!

Enjoying our beer under one of the heaters

It is located at a beautiful 165 acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country.  It is so welcoming and a fun place for all ages.  Since we are retired we were able to visit when it opened at 4pm, so they weren’t super busy.  We had had a late lunch, so we weren’t hungry but their pizza looked delicious and by the looks of people ordering it I think it was a favorite.  We were there on Maj’s birthday and  we already had reservations in town with our family in Austin, or I would have suggested we have dinner there.

The kitchen/food bar

The spacious and comfortable seating area






They had many choices of beer, but it was easy for us to choose one we wanted try, the Jester-King one!  We, also, bought a bottle to bring home.  How we could we turn down a beer with our name on it?

Had to have it!

We had fun and it is on our recommended places to visit.  The bartenders were exceptionally nice and so friendly and helpful in answering our questions.  They have an outdoor covered area for seating with heaters, and a bonfire outside when we were there.

This is a favorite place and we’ll definitely  be going back the next time we are in Austin.  And, getting pizza!

Remember the Alamo

“Remember the Alamo” echoes across history

The battle of the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar took place for 13 days, February 23 to March 6, 1836. The siege of the mission by Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna ended with the defenders being wiped out. The Alamo remains one of the most revered historic sites in Texas. We’ve visited a couple of times, and you can feel the history there.

Special event to support Texas craft breweries

Yesterday Sher and I went with our son to the Austin Beerworks to enjoy local beers, some great food, and at the same time we supported Small Business Saturday. Sponsored by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, this event featured 80 small Texas breweries and retailers all over the state celebrating this year’s theme: “Here’s to Gettin’ Back Out There”.

The running can is the ABW logo, on the back of the jacket.

All over the state Texas Craft Brewers Guild encouraged patronizing these small businesses. Each location had really nice beer glasses for purchase. According to the Guild website “$1+ of every glass supports the association of craft brewers advancing the industry through advocacy and education.” We had a fun afternoon at the ABW taproom. And as the picture shows we supported the event by adding glasses to our collection, Maj got a nice jacket, and of course some beers to go. We always enjoy a win-win.