Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Some of the Very Best Travel Stops in Texas

Texas offers vacationers one of the diverse array of trip stops than just about any state in the United States. Many people at first think of large ranches and cowboy when planning a trip to the Lone Star State. Rest assured, there's plenty more to see in Texas, the second largest state in the U.S.

Texas is so large that the climate varies from east Texas with it's arid and hot weather to the west where the climate is much drier yet can be hot as a chili pepper. An interesting historic note is that  Texas was originally called Tejas by the Indians which meant "those who are friends.

Here are just some of the fun and educational Texas travel stops you are sure to enjoy...

san antonio riverwalk boat tours
San Antonio Riverwalk
San Antonio

Your first stop might be the historic Alamo located in San Antonio. Originally built as a mission by the Spaniards, it was the site of the famous battle during the Texas war of independence from Mexico in 1835.

near the Alamo is the popular San Antonio Riverwalk with dining, shopping, hotels and fun narrated boat rides along the winding river.

Also be sure to visit the San Antonio Missions. These missions just south of the downtown area tell the stories of the people who came into the Spanish missions to live in the 1700s. The San Antonio Missions are a National Historical Park.


The Driskill Hotel located in downtown Austin Texas at 604 Brazos Street is arguably the most famous hotel in the state. The Driskill was built in 1886 and is well known for it’s beautiful architecture. The hotel was built by Jesse Driskill, a very wealthy Texas cattleman who set out to construct the best hotel south of St. Louis.

old austin texas hotels
Historic Driskill Hotel
The Bullock Texas State History Museum let history come to life with Texas stories, photos, artifacts and records in what is probably one of the finest state historical museums in the U.S. Add to this a 400 seat Imax Theater and special 4D effects and chances are you'll come back more than once.

Tour the Texas State Capitol Building just north of the downtown area and adjacent to the University of Texas. The capitol site is comprised of twenty-two acres of grounds. The capitol building is mostly built from materials found in abundance in the nearby Texas Hill Country. The building you will tour was built during the 1880's.


Make it a point to visit the Johnson Space Center where you'll explore about the history of the astronauts, space, communications with spacecraft and much more. Plenty of exhibits here that will be a big hit for the entire family.

 The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is also located in Houston.
This is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier.

buddy holly lubbock texas
Buddy Holly Center

Located in far west Texas, Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University. Two must stops here include the Buddy Holly Center with many exhibits honoring the 1950's rock and roll icon. According to the Buddy Holly Center web site, the Center has dual missions... preserving, collecting and promoting the legacy of Buddy Holly and the music of Lubbock and West Texas, as well as providing exhibits on Contemporary Visual Arts and Music, for the purpose of educating and entertaining the public.

Another interesting trip stop is the National Ranching Heritage Center. The National Ranching Heritage Center is a magnificent museum that is well maintained and very informative. If you love Texas pioneer history then this venue is a must stop. This amazing western museum comprising thirty acres features about fifty buildings that include a schoolhouse, barns, and very well preserved houses, etc. There are thirty-eight ranch structures. Each of them have been authentically and historically restored and furnished.

old frontier army barracks
Fort Stockton enlisted men's barracks
Fort Stockton 

Fort Stockton is located between San Antonio and El Paso and today is directly on Interstate 10. During the 1860′s and 1870′s, the fort was at a crucial junction for the stagecoach and freight lines heading to El Paso and eventually California. Tour the fort buildings and parade grounds and enjoy authentic exhibits from the fort's frontier past in the fort museum.

The Annie Riggs Hotel and Boardinghouse, which today is a world renown museum and considered Fort Stockton's first real hotel, was bought by a woman  named Annie Riggs back in 1904. The building was wisely turned into a museum in 1954 and contains a fascinating and very high quality display of 19th and 20th century memorabilia.

downtown dallas museums
Old Red Museum, Dallas

The Old Red Museum. The building is of red sandstone in a Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. The building was known locally as the Old Red Courthouse located at the southwest corner of Commerce and Houston Streets in downtown Dallas. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is located in a beautifully restored building, built in 1892, that was the Dallas County Courthouse until 1966. Today, The Old Red Museum makes an excellent trip stop while visiting Dallas and a great place to learn how this city grew from one man's 1841 settlement to a major metropolitan area of the twenty-first century.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a museum for all ages. It's virtually a living science lesson. There is something for everyone at this museum.  There are eleven halls within the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. As part of your visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science you can view educational features and cutting-edge documentaries along with independent films. The Hoglund Foundation Theater accommodates 298 people in comfortable seats.

The Texas travel sites detailed above of course are only a small fraction of what you can explore throughout the state. You may enjoy additional Western Trips articles on the links below...

Old Route 66 Through the Texas Panhandle

A Texas Historic Courthouse Building Tour

The Historic Waggoner Ranch of Texas

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A San Diego Vacation for the Entire Family

San Diego, California has so much to offer tourists that a visit there takes several days to take in all the attractions. Many will say it takes several different trips to really see everything. San Diego is a top choice destination for a family vacation.

From Old Town San Diego to the unique USS Midway to the beauty of Coronado Island, San Diego offers something for everyone. 

San Diego has terrific weather. Any time of year you visit, you'll enjoy a moderate climate. You should expect this all year long. Apart from pristine beaches all around San Diego, there are so many wonderful and attractive places you should visit with your family. Every family should make a trip to San Diego for excellent combination of amusement and combined historical and cultural sites.

Cosmopolitan Hotel
Old Town

During your family trip to San Diego, your family will feel a true touch of history in the structures styled in Mexican architecture of the Old Town. The feel of old Californian times is all around you at this place. The oldest structure in San Diego, the Cosmopolitan Hotel, is in Old Town as well as the Wells Fargo Museum with an authentic Concord Coach on display, the original livery stable, several restaurants and plenty more historic structures.

San Diego is unique due to its legacies from the times of the Spaniards and the Mexican wars until the present day.

USS Midway Flight Deck
USS Midway

San Diego is closely related to the Navy. You'll certainly want to visit the USS Midway with your children. Your USS Midway visit can easily take most of a day and you'll enjoy every minute of it. Aircraft is on display both on the flight deck and in the huge hangar below. In addition you can take self guided tours with audio devices of the inner compartments of this famous aircraft carrier.The USS MIdway is on display in the harbor just west of the downtown San Diego area.

The San Diego Zoo and Sea World

The variety of places to see in San Diego and the quality of venues can make it hard for a family to rest. Many zoo gardens, especially the Sea World, are built and maintained up to the highest world standards. San Diego differs a lot from other tourist zoo destinations due to the fact that the zoo maintains accurate natural settings for their wildlife species. It is so easy to transfer yourself to entirely different world, whether it being Africa or the Polar Cap with rare, white bears.The San Diego Zoo is a destination not to be missed.

San Diego Zoo entrance
A zoo visit is a good opportunity to stroll around with the family. A trip to the San Diego Zoo can be for several hours or for a full day. Walking around can easily consume one day. In fact, you can spend days at this amazing zoo. A good thing to note is that parking is free. Visiting the zoo is a learning experience.

If you know your wishes and study San Diego carefully, your every day will be an extraordinary adventure. Balboa Park, where the San Diego Zoo is located is also home to the popular San Diego Automobile Museum, Air and Space Museum, historic structures dating to the early 1900's as well as a great dining establishment.

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is the hub of dining, nightlife and entertainment in downtown San Diego. It's estimated that there are over 100 restaurants and nightclubs in the general area. In addition to that, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to ninety-four Victorian era buildings some constructed as early as 1873. The Gaslamp Quarter is a National Historic District.

Hotel del Coronado
Coronado Island 

A bridge connects San Diego to Coronado Island which is home to the historic Hotel del Coronado.  Whether your interest is history, architecture, gardens or adventure, there are tours of Coronado available to guide you on your way. Regularly scheduled tours of the Hotel del Coronado and Historic Coronado are given several days a week. Volunteer docents from the Coronado Historical Association lead a 90-minute tour throughout the historic Hotel del Coronado. Tours depart Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:30 am, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm. Cost: $20 per person; children under 12 are free. Call (619) 437-8788 for more information and reservations.

The Coronado Historical Association offers a Coronado Heritage Walk. This stroll through the past departs from the lobby of the Museum of History & Art, 1100 Orange Avenue, on Wednesdays at 10:30 am. Learn about Coronado's famous buildings and residents in this tour of historic Coronado. Fee includes admission to the museum. Cost: $15 per person. Reservations required. Please call (619) 437-8788.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Aircraft of the Castle Air Museum / A Must See

Visiting the Castle Air Museum is an amazing and unique experience for young and old. Located at 5050 Santa Fe DrAtwater, California, the aircraft collection on exhibit is large and outstanding. Atwater, CA is located about thirty-one miles southeast of Modesto on CA Hwy 99 and about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco as well as about 10 miles north of Merced. 

The collection numbers nearly seventy restored aircraft exhibited on the museum's twenty acres. The museum site was obtained after the closure of Castle Air Force Base.In addition to the outdoor displays there is also an indoor museum which houses an amazing collection of wartime memorabilia including aircraft engines, military uniforms, historic photos, and personal military artifacts from the twentieth century. 

Castle Air Museum is operated by a non-profit foundation and relies on volunteers. The museum schedules events throughout the year. To see what events are currently scheduled and for museum hours, see the museum website at...http://www.castleairmuseum.org/calendar/

b-52d bomber
Nose of the B-52D

A Terrific Historic Aircraft Collection

We have traveled to several excellent air museums in the western U.S. and we can attest that this is one of the finest air museums you'll have an opportunity to experience. The collection includes historic World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Conflict aircraft.

Just to name a few of the aircraft on display at the Castle Air Museum, you'll be able to view the B-50D Superfortress...the B-52D Stratofortress...the B-25J Mitchell...the B-29A Superfortress...the B-17 Flying Fortress and the F-15 Eagle.

Highlighted below are just a few of the aircraft on exhibit at the Castle Air Museum...

b 52 stratofortress
The eight engine B-52
The B-52D Stratofortress

The B-52 was a long range sub-sonic jet powered bomber built by Boeing. This aircraft is the longest serving front line military aircraft in aviation history. The plane used four double engine pods and four twin wheel landing trucks. The B-52 could also be refueled during flight therefore making it a truly world wide range aircraft. This is a very large aircraft and requires a very long runway to operate since the engines were produced without reverse thrusters.  B-52D's would typically fly in formation much too high to be seen or heard. Each aircraft was capable of dropping over one hundred 500 lb bombs. Today, the B-52 is also used as a cruise missile carrier.

It has been said that the B-52 was the most feared aircraft by the enemy during the Vietnam War. The aircraft shown here at the Castle Air Museum is a B-52D which was the backbone of the Arc Light Fleet bombing runs during the Vietnam War. These models ere specially modified for the conventional weapons used during that conflict.

b-50 superfortress
The B-50D Superfortress 

The B-50D Superfortress was a Boeing bomber built post World War Two and was essentially a redesign of the historic B-29. The B-50 had stronger aluminum and more powerful engines than the B-29. The aircraft flew faster and was able to carry a heavier payload.

Out of all the B-50's manufactured, the B-50D was the largest variant. It is estimated that 222 B-50D's were built out of a total production number of 370. The first B-50's were ordered by the War Dept prior to the end of the war and were delivered in 1947. Production ended in 1953.

The more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines gave the B-50 a top speed of just under 400 MPH. The B-50 Superfortress was able to be refueled during flight and therefore was capable of reaching the Soviet Union.

The B-50 was among the last piston-powered bombers built during an era that would be dominated by jet aircraft. Both the B-50 and B-29 were replaced by the B-47 jet bomber.

b-17 bomber
The B-17G Flying Fortress

The B-17 was developed during the 1930's as a heavy bomber. The first prototype flew in July 1935. The four engine Flying Fortress is often referred to as the best known bomber of World War Two. The B-17 served in every zone of the war but is well remembered for it's bombing of industrial targets over Germany.

The B-17, during the course of the war, was determined to have insufficient defenses. As a result, in 1943 the aircraft was modified to include a turret on the plane's nose equipped with two machine guns. Machine guns were also added to the plane's sides. The B-17 had a cruising speed of 170 MPH and a range of about 1,850 miles. Maximum speed for this plane was 300 MPH. 

The last B-17G left the factory on July 29, 1945. A total of 12,726 B-17's were produced.

See these additional Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Pacific Coast Air Museum's First Responder

See the Helicopters of the USS Midway

Visiting the Castle Air Museum

As mentioned above, the Castle Air Museum located in Atwater, California is an outstanding air museum with one of the best collections of twentieth century military aircraft in the U.S. All types and sizes of military aircraft are on display. The variety of aircraft is unbelievable.

Anyone interested in historic military aircraft will want to visit this one of a kind air museum. If you enjoy history and airplanes, Castle Air Museum is where to go. It's a hidden gem in central California and well worth your time.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)