Archive for the ‘ PresentDayDrives ’ Category

Texas Tradition…a drive in the wildflowers

I am from Texas, born and raised….yet in my thirty (cough cough) years…I had never heard of the tradition of going and taking pictures in the seasonal wildflowers of Texas. Especially with the state flower, the Bluebonnets. Last year I was introduced to this as my wife and I took our 5 month old daughter to a pristine little patch of Bluebonnets on her parents ranch. On the drive there I saw people pulled along the side of the road, with their children and loved ones, taking pictures in the patches of wildflowers along the side of the road. Luckily for us, our little patch was untrampled and we got a few nice pictures, given that our 5 month old wasnt feeling it. It was also special because she was wearing a dress her mommy wore when she was a baby as well.

This year we revisited the tradition, this time our daughter wasnt feeling standing still long enough to get too many pictures of her, but at least we got some smiles.

Daughter in the Bluebonnets

I recorded our trip up there to show you some of the people parked alongside the road, out there taking pictures.

Info from Chron.com:

For the latest on blooms, check TxDOT’s wildflower hot line, 800-452-9292 or visit www.txdot.gov.
Report your sightings to HoustonGrows’ online database.

Please don’t pick

It’s not illegal to pick wildflowers along public roads, but the Texas Department of Transportation asks that we not remove or trample the blooms. Those who pick or crush bluebonnets and other wildflowers leave fewer for others to enjoy. And when flowers aren’t allowed to go to seed, there are less flowers the following spring…..

About the bluebonnet

Texas’ floral trademark, our beloved bluebonnet, belongs to the large Lupine genus. Most are annuals and perennials, including the five cold-hardy annual species native to Texas.

All five share the honor of our state flower.

Lupinus subcarnosus beat out the cotton boll and the prickly pear cactus bloom to become Texas’ state flower in 1901. But many felt the common L. texensis the most attractive of the five native bluebonnet species. So in 1971, lawmakers ended the squabble by recognizing all five as the state flower.

The bluebonnet, so named because of its color and shape, has more than one common name. It’s been called buffalo clover and el conejo (the rabbit), which refers to its white, cottonntail-like top. Once, it was known as wolf flower (Lupus means wolf) because it was believed the plant robbed the earth of nutrients. But we now know bluebonnets, which belong to the legume family, add nitrogen to the soil.

What makes a Classic?

What makes a Classic?
(From Wikipedia)

Classic car is a term used to describe an older car, but the exact meaning is subject to differences in opinion. The Classic Car Club of America, maintain that 20 years to 45 years old for a car to be a classic (over 45 years fall into the Antique Class).

United States legal definition
Legally, most states have time-based rules for the definition of “classic” for purposes such as antique vehicle registration; for example, Most states define it as “A motor vehicle, but not a reproduction thereof, manufactured at least 20 years prior to the current year which has been maintained in or restored to a condition which is substantially in conformity with manufacturer specifications and appearance.”

The TX DMV says…
http://www.txdmv.gov/vehicles/license_plates/qualifying/antique/classic_auto.htm
Classic license plates are issued to cars that are 25 or more years old. Unlike antiques, which cannot be used for regular transportation or carry advertising, classic license plates require a vehicle to be fully registered like any other vehicle, allowing it to be operated on any roadway. A specialty plate fee of $15 is charged in addition to the regular registration fee and other applicable fees.

That puts a vehicle from 1985 as a classic in Texas. What kind of cars might those be? That was the curious thought that crossed my mind.

Custom TX Vanity Plates

The other day the wifey, kiddo and I were driving around and we saw a car with a strange license plate I had never seen before. To most people its not a big deal and would have gone unnoticed. However, with my one-track mind I decided to scour the web and see if I could find out more. The license plate had a big “T” on the left hand side like the one pictured below (however I could have sworn it was inverted in color scheme). It said at the bottom “T for Texas”.

I thought it was a pretty unique vanity plate and even one I’d consider having. Well, until I found the website they are on My PLates.com and how much they cost.

from the sites about us page

“My Plates is a Texas-based company that was awarded a contract by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to design, market and sell new Specialty license plates in the State of Texas.

We’ve created a whole new range of plate designs including new Texas themes and colors. In fact, you’re probably starting to see a lot of our new plates on the road right now.

When you call our toll-free number (888-769-7528), you reach the friendly folks in our Texas office, so you talk with people who are well-versed in the specialty plate process. They also speak Texan and Plate Speak, so they can help you come up with fun combinations to get the plate you want!

In addition to great service and a whole lot of fun, there’s another part that’s great for Texans. A portion of each plate purchase goes into the state general fund which provides services for all Texans.”

Visit the website if you are interested in getting some custom vanity plates for your Texas registered vehicle.

Camera Mount update….

So far the initial camera mount was a Phone/MP3 player holder I got for $8 at Walmart. It had a long flexible neck that bounced around too much to make any video useable. Next I tried rigging that one by cutting the flexible neck and super gluing it. Except I cut it too short and you could see the suction cup in the shot. That was the old mount which you can see a video clip of below.

So I then ordered a PanaVise mount for about $26 on Amazon.com and received what’s pictured as the “new mount”…except its setup in conjunction with the Flip’s bottom mount left me unable to use it with camera as is. I wanted to use the phone holder anyway because of its quick release setup instead of having to screw the flip on and off the PanaVise mount. Somewhere in the setup there is a weak point because it still vibrates, yet not as much bouncing around as in the old mount. Soon I will figure out how to reduce the vibrations even further. Of course the stiffer suspension of my “SUV” might also be a contributor to the bumps and shakes. Look at the video clip below for a clip of footage from the new mount and compare against the clip of the old mount above.

I know I am not done yet, but so far do you think there has been a great improvement?

Car Mounted Flip UltraHD


My crude initial setup

Well I had a dry run of it yesterday, however the “universal” phone/mp3 holder windshield mount I picked up for $8 at Walmart has a flexible neck…which in a bumpy ride makes for very shaky video footage. I even tried shortening the flexible neck but now my camera has the suction cup glass mount in the shot. I guess I shortened it too much. I am now opting for a different one I saw on Amazon after reading a little here and there. This one may or may not work for me either. If it doesnt, well I at least have a Flip UltraHD for some home movies. If it does, I will have some traffic video to share with everyone.

The “Panavise 809 Camera Window Suction Cup Mount” sold by Amazon.com

It will arrive sometime in the middle of next week, so You will have to hold your collective breaths until then.

AJD

Averagejoedriver “Flips” out in HD

Coming soon….stay tuned for some video documenting the adventures of averagejoedriver on the psychotic roads of Houston. I am now being accompanied by a Cisco Systems Flip UltraHD 120mins video recorder. After much research, I was going to either go with the Sony Bloggie with the swivel lens or the Flip, and I ultimately chose the Flip.

Bear with me as this will all be trial and error for me, but I hope to start documenting some of the topics I rant or rave about on here.

This should be fun….

A night at the Drive-In Theater

Friday night was our night at the Drive-In Theater. A fun activity that involves sitting in your car and watching a movie. No more hanging speakers from your window. You just tune your radio to the broadcast for the screen you are watching and enjoy the movie.

My wife and I hadnt been to one before our time last summer to see Terminator:salvation and Angels & Demons in one night. Friday we went to see Alice in Wonderland but didnt stick around for the second feature, When in Rome. The movie itself was good, at least the parts we were able to watch. Since this isnt a movie review blog I wont get into the details of plot and what I thought of the movie. I will say though, for some reason I kept expecting it to be the movie version of the Disney cartoon, yet it actually is the SEQUEL to the original story. I guess it should have been called something like Alice: Return to Wonderland.

Of course our daughter chose this nite to learn to use her outdoor voice, as she would stick her head out of the back window of the Escape and talk, babble and yell during the movie. Yes, we became THOSE people, the ones with the kid that talks during movies. It would be ok since its a “drive-in” since you assume most people are inside their cars, but some people, ESPECIALLY our neighbors next to us, are sitting around their vehicles in lawn chairs. As the night progressed, the talking became more like whining and crying and she got more tired and refused to go to sleep.

Alot of people asked us on Facebook where the drive in is located. I believe there are at least 2 or 3 around the outskirts of Houston. This one is called The Showboat Drive-In and is off of 2920 out in Hockley TX. Not very far from us in Katy, but for my friends and family in Southeast Houston it might be quite the drive just to see a movie. Showboat Drive-in has 2 screens, each with double features. They update the movie listings on Tuesdays for the coming weekend. Visit their website for more details.

The Showboat Drive-In
22422 Waller-Tomball Road
Hockley, TX 77447
(281) 351-5224
The Map

We had a blast and hope to return as our daughter begins to be able to sit through movies and when they have movies we want to see. Here are some pictures of our adventure.

The big Screen