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The Bryan Museum opened in 2015 and is housed in the old Galveston Orphans Home which opened to 1898. The museum contains the extensive collection of businessman and collector, J.P. Bryan. Bryan began collecting Texas artifacts at an early age. His lineage goes deep into Texas roots. In fact, Emily Austin Bryan Perry, Stephen F. Austin’s sister, is Bryan’s great-great-grandmother.

The Collection

This Texas sized collection holds some seventy thousand items from rare books and documents to weapons and artwork. Bryan’s goal for the museum is too demonstrate the wonder of the American West and provide evidence of the events that happened there. 

Throughout seven galleries, you will take an in-depth look at Texas history. From the calling card of Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas to the artwork of Frank Reaugh, Texas history is found in every corner of the building. Due to the massive size of the collection, the docent led tours are recommended. Tours are available twice daily.

The main floor galleries take you through the history of the West from the Spain’s involvement to the creation of the Republic of Texas.  You will also find a Civil War violin case and a wall of Old West saddles.  On the second floor, artwork of the Old West Masters covers the walls. 

The upstairs gallery is dedicated to the art of the Old West. A collection of rifles and pistols used in the American West dominates a large display alongside that of with cowboy spurs. Bryan’s favorite artist, Frank Reaugh, the “Rembrandt of the Longhorn” covers a large portion of the gallery.  In the special exhibits area is a collection of murals of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. 

In the basement, you will find the children’s area and a gallery dedicated to the building itself.  The home was damaged in the 1900 hurricane. It was rebuilt and continued to serve as an orphanage until the mid 1980’s.

Orphanage items

History buffs will be absorbed at the Bryan.  It tells the story of Texas like no other.



Moody Mansion

W.L. Moody, Jr. purchased the thirty-one room Mansion in 1900 and it served as the family’s home for some eighty years. Moody was one of the wealthiest people in America in 1950 having interests in some fifty businesses. 

Built in 1895 by the Willis family, the mansion is a magnificent work of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.  The residence did not receive much damage in the 1900 storm due to its steel and concrete construction. The ornate wood paneling, ceiling and staircases are massive. Moody died in 1954 and his daughter Mary inherited the home and businesses.

Mary Moody

Mary Moody was a woman ahead of her time in the 1950’s.  She managed the fifty companies left to her by her father. During the 1950’s, she was the first lady of finance in America. Mary was also a world traveler and loved to hobnob with celebrities and funded the theater.

The Galveston Children’s Museum is housed on the ground floor of the mansion.  In a unique twist, the self guided tour of the mansion is narrated by the six members of Moody family.  The likes of this fine piece of architecture is something not seen today.  Be sure to look in when in Galveston.



Bishop’s Palace

Bishop’s Palace is an extraordinary building.  Located in the East End Historic District of Galveston, it has stood the test of time against the elements. Built in 1892, by Walter Gresham, the Chateauesque mansion constructed of steel and stone, weathered the 1900 Hurricane with little damage.  From 1923 through 1960, it served as the residence of the Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. The residence is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The residence is massive. Sienna marble columns flank the ornate mahogany staircase to create a grand entrance for the residence.  The staircase is lit by an elaborate skylight and there are fourteen foot coffered ceilings are found in the first floor formal rooms.  The large windows light the space with rich stained glass. 

The audio guided tour is well worth your time to enjoy this magnificent architecture and design. 



I ended my Galveston journey with a ferry ride across the Bolivar Peninsula that put me on the road toward home.  This ferry is a free service offered by the Texas Department of Transportation takes only about 15 minutes but is well worth the trip.  If you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins on the way.

Bolivar Ferry



Blue Bonnet Café, Marble Falls, Texas

My trip to Fredericksburg began bright and early with a stop for breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls, Texas.  This café has been open since 1929.  The restaurant’s name came from the blue bonnet hat not the Texas wildflower.  In 1981, John and Belinda Kemper bought the Café and have been serving up some of the best food and pie in the country.  Be sure to stop by and have a slice.



National Musuem of the Pacific War

The National Museum of the Pacific War is an enormous museum dedicated to the story of the eight million who served in the war in the Pacific and the over hundred thousand that died there. In fact your ticket is good for two days here and you will need every minute to thoroughly review the artifacts and displays. Admiral Chester Nimitz is also honored at the museum.  In fact, he is the reason the museum is located in Fredericksburg. Nimitz’s boyhood home is located adjacent to the museum and his role in the Pacific theater is legendary.

Admiral Nimitz

The museum boasts many artifacts from the Pacific War; including a submarine that served in the Pearl Harbor attack and a door from the U.S.S. Arizona that was sunk during the Pearl Harbor air raid. There are many uniforms, rifles and items that have been donated to the museums by servicemen or their families.  The docents here are well versed about the war. They can relate details of each gallery should you have questions about any of the battles. 


You will learn about each battle in the Pacific Islands and the price paid by our troops.  The thirty-three thousand square foot space containing some of nine hundred artifacts takes some time to absorb.  Upon your entrance to the museum you walk through a timeline of the history of the war.  You begin with Japan’s massive increase in military power, the Pearl Harbor attack to the enormous challenge gearing up for war and the quick enlistment of troops who would do battle in the Pacific through each Pacific battle and the final solution of the use of two atomic bomb


My father was a Marine who served in the battles of both Tarawa and Iwo Jima.  He never talked much about the war, as many of his generation did not.  Seeing actual footage of the battles and the toll of lives it took, I can understand why he didn’t want to discuss it. He did tell me about the shacks he stood guard over while stationed in Tinian.  Turns out, he was guarding the atomic bomb.

This is an impressive museum that tells the story of World War II Pacific Theatre like no other. While history buffs will be enthralled with what they can learn here, this is a place where everyone can learn more about their county’s history.


Fredericksburg is a prominent wine growing region. I was able to visit and sample a selection of wines from two of the areas vineyards.


I was looking forward to enjoying more Texas wines since I had discovered them when I was in Austin some year ago.  Grape Creek selections are known as well balanced wines.

My friend and I joined Jim Overman, our Tasting Ambassador, at the tasting table for a sample of seven of Grape Creek wines. Jim is retired and has lots of stories and knowledge to impart about the wines.  He explained that Texas was akin to Italy in is climate.


I was looking forward to enjoying more Texas wines since I had discovered them when I was in Austin some year ago.  Grape Creek selections are known as well balanced wines.

Grape Creek Tasting Room

My friend and I joined Jim Overman, our Tasting Ambassador, at the tasting table for a sample of seven of Grape Creek wines. Jim is retired and has lots of stories and knowledge to impart about the wines.  He explained that Texas was akin to Italy in is climate.

Jim Our wine Tasting Ambassador led us through the wide range of Grape Creek wines from the Viognier to the Mosaic. The good thing about Grape Creek Jim told us is that, “Every category of wine from dry whites to reds, to the sweets is a good wine.”

Grape Creek wine tasting

Grape Creek is a wine club vineyard, so you cannot buy their wines except though the wine club or at its locations in Fredericksburg or Georgetown. There are four wine clubs: The Black Label Club, The Mixed Club, The White Label Club and The Sweet Club.  They will ship or you can pick up at their two locations.  The clue ships five times year in 3, 6 or 12 bottle shipments.

Grape Creek Crew

My friend and I each chose a bottle based on our very different tastes. The Petit Sirah for me and the Muscat Canelli for him.  This was a welcoming and enjoyable tasting room. Seek it out when you’re in Fredericksburg.



Lost Draw Winery

I visited Lost Draw’s tasting room at the invitation of the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I must say, it was a great choice for my all too brief visit to Fredericksburg. Texas wines are known for their unique flavor profiles. Lost Draw’s wine maker, Andy Timmons, is the second largest grape growers in the state and largest grape supplier to vineyards in state.

And Lost Draw serves up some fine vintages. They are the largest grower of Mourverde in the state.  Their Tempranillo is very popular in the tasting room.


Lost Draw Tasting Room

My friend and I were treated to taste of five selections of wine. My favorite among the five was the Rousanne, a Texas Chardonnay.  Lost Draw is a small batch winery meaning they create 100 to 150 cases of each wine.  They create some 25 wines per year.  A wine club winery, they offer four different levels of membership and ship 4, 6 or 12 bottles per shipment.  Lost Draw is the only Texas winery that offers free shipping to its members.



Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu

Madri Gras Musuem

I take pride that my hometown, Mobile, Alabama, is the home of Mardi Gras. On my recent tour of the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, I found here that Carnival season is celebrated year round. The museum told the story of how Lake Charles celebrates the season and bought back fond home town memories of ‘Throw me something, Mister.’

This six room museum features the largest collection of Mardi Gras regalia in the South and the collection grows yearly duet to the donations of costumes from members of the Krewe’s at the end of the each season.  As the collection grows, so does its encroachment into the halls of the Lake Charles Central School of Arts and Humanities Center or the Historic 1912 Central School.  The museum opened in 1998 on its mission to preserve Louisiana’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration.


The collection in the Museum is impressive beyond belief.  I was fascinated with the detail and sheer size of the mantles that adorn the costumes. Everything from space aliens to kings and queens is represented.  In Mobile, the Mardi Gras Kings and Queens invest thousands of dollars into the design, size and length of the trains of their costumes.  In Lake Charles, the mantles of the costume are impressive and some are massive. The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu Museum is awash in vivid colors.

Lake Charles’ Carnival celebration is something special. Since 1964, with the formation of its first Krewe, the Krewe of Cosmos, Lake Charles has made carnival something for everyone. The common there for Mobile and Lake Charles is the celebration of traditions that remain constant, it’s all about the party. 

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!





I did not expect to find a naval vessel docked on the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles but what I found was a story of determination by a small number of volunteers.

The Orleck was built in 1944 in Orange, Texas and commissioned in 1945 by the widow of Joseph Orleck’s widow.  The destroyer served from 1945-1982 where it served throughout World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The ship was then purchased by the Turkish Navy and renamed Yucetepe where it served until 2000. The ship was then transferred to a foundation in Orange, Texas where it was to be made a museum ship.  Hurricane Rita severely damaged the ship then 2009 and it was moved to the City of Lake Charles for display as a museum ship. The Orleck is one of the few U.S. Destroyers that remains on display in the U.S.

The Orleck

For some older visitors the ship brings back memories. Many visitors have been crewmen that served onboard as well as individuals who worked in Orange, Texas where the ship was constructed. Ninety year old, Rosa Lee Miller, who on her visit showed the volunteers where she installed cabling throughout the ship. 

Ron Williams, Executive Director is the spokesperson for the ship. He explained that money is always an issue for ship and the group has come up with many inventive ways to keep the coffers full. Recently the Orleck worked with a movie company which used some artifacts from the ship. This was a profitable venture.  Ron also told me that the volunteers are the key to the success of the ship.

One volunteer, David has been a working on the Orleck for several years and told me that, “You can’t put a price on the memories that people share when they visit the ship.”  He also enjoys teaching history to the kids and showing them how things work on the ship.

Check out this piece of history in Lake Charles, you will be glad you did.




Since 2017, the American Village in Montevallo has planted tulips in December for the community to enjoy in the Spring.  This year over 100 thousand bulbs were planted. This herald of spring has become an attraction that draws people from many miles away as the beautiful blooms are a stunning compliment to the entire Village campus. 

The blooms will only be around for another few short weeks so get there soon!


You can walk among the blooms and pick the ones you like and take them home. Come and pick a few Skyliners or some Monte Orange’s to add to your bouquets. This is a fun afternoon for young and old alike.


The American Village
Montevallo, Alabama

The American Village in Montevallo, Alabama is a unique creation. The Village was the idea of CEO Tom Walker. He had drawn out the facility on a napkin while at lunch one afternoon in the mid 1990s.  Tom’s vision was and is to create a place where people can learn about what it means to be an American Citizen. The Village was founded in 1999. The 183 acre Village is the culmination of his vision that sits on a hill just outside the small town of Montevallo. 

The American Village is committed to teaching young people about our founding generation and what it means to be an American. At the Village, they teach history in a “hands on” manner with a staff of a dozen historical interpreters, including, Martha Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine and Abigail Adams who bring history to life.  

Thomas Paine

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

The centerpiece replica of Mount Vernon stands as symbol to our forefathers and our country’s history. Here, you will see a full scale of the Oval Office. Docents and historical interpreters educate visitors in how the government works. A statute of George Washington, a replica from the Virginia estate greets you upon entrance. A replica of the assembly room where the Constitutional Convention was held educates visitors about the founding of America. The room where Washington received guests has also been replicated with faithful execution of the color palette.

Bruton Parish Church

Bruton Parish Church

The Bruton Parish Church is a faithful reproduction on the Williamsburg, Virginia site.  Here, visitors can hear historical interpreter Patrick Henry give his impassioned ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ speech.  The magnificent wood pulpit was imported from England and the boxed pews where the wealthy would be seated and pipe organ are accurate replications. 

The Village does host occasional services at the Parish Churchr.  While visiting the Church, a local craftsman and wood carver overheard the need for a lectern and pulling a quarter out of pocket and asked if the Village wanted a lectern, ‘like this’ he asked, indicating the quarter.  Just a few weeks later the elegantly wood carved Eagle lectern was in place.

National Veterans Shrine

The village holds several inspirational surprises for its visitors, none are as inspiring as the National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor which opened in 2014. The National Veterans Shine, which resembles Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, was created to honor the service and sacrifice of our county’s Veterans.  It serves to help visitors understand who our veterans are and what they did for the United States. 

Both inside and outside of the Shrine pays tribute to our Vets. Lady Liberty stands tall at the entrance holding a staff that commemorates the original thirteen colonies. She stands on the crown and sword of Britain and the shackles of slavery she has yet to tread on. Enshrined at the time the statute was revealed was dirt from hallowed ground of thirty battlefields from around the world along with water from Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Register of Honor

Veterans Register of Honor

The Shrine has everything to do with elevating the individual. Every veteran is someone’s child and they need to tell their story. In the Veteran’s Register of Honor, veterans tell their story through an online database. Visitors can view the register of Veterans stories through kiosks located in the Shrine.  Visitors are encouraged to upload their Veteran’s story through the website.


Add this unique and inspiring destination to your travels.  You will likely bring home a beautiful bouquet as well a wealth of knowledge about America.