Hot Rod Alley in Corpus Christi, Texas

Hello there, Joy here, reporting from the San Antonio Airport, with its AWESOME free wi-fi! This morning, before I made the two-hour drive up to hop on my flight(s) back home to New York City, I spent my final few hours in Corpus Christi at the 18th Annual Coastal A’s & Rods Fun Run, where a bunch of antique car owners gathered to show off their restored beauties.

Even though the temps were close to 90 degrees, with little shade or helpful breeze, I couldn’t resist roaming around, taking photos of all the cool cars.

Let’s start with the most important car of the day, my Dad’s mostly restored 1926 Oldsmobile:

1926 Oldsmobile

My parents with my Dad's "Olds" from 1926. He's been restoring it for more than a year.

1926 Oldsmobile

My Mom and I with the Olds. On hot pavement. At high noon.

Alrighty, now the rest of the bad-ass cars:

I love flame paint jobs. I want a VW Bug with one.

Retro space age-y car. If I were a better photojournalist, I'd tell you what make/model this is.

Texas Antique Vehicle

Nice color combo on this puppy.

Grease Lightening

They were playing the "Grease" soundtrack. Can't you see Danny Zuko driving this one down Thunder Road? Also, it's hard to photograph chrome without yourself showing up. This is an especially flattering self-portrait. *sighs*

There I am -- again!

All this little bug needs is some orange flames on the front end. Sadly, there was no rum in those drinks. The nerve.

Adorable.

Chevrolet logo

I like the antique logos. So let's show a few more of them, shall we?

Camaro

Camaro logo. Sweet car.

Sexy. I'd own one of these, too. This always has been my favorite model of Corvette.

In case you forget which truck you're looking at.

This was a common theme on many cars. Ah, the good ole days. The food is fake, yet it still made me hungry.

*Evil laugh*

Runs on Lone Star Beer

Why was I not surprised to find this truck's owner lives in Austin?

You must be naked, or crazy, or both.

And yet, this rule resulted in absolutely no one stripping down.

Port Aransas, Texas: Where the Sea Turtles Roam

Today, on the 7th birthday of WordPress (woohoo!), I spent the official day off with my parents in Port Aransas, Texas, an adorable beach town about 30 minutes from Corpus Christi, my hometown.

We decided to go because my friends and former newspaper colleagues (way back when) just published a book, Surfing Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. I picked up a copy and had Dan and Michelle sign it. I love the book’s dedication: “To all Texas surfers, past, present and future.” Rock on, Dan and Michelle, you seriously are one of the coolest couples out there.

After the book signing, we headed down to a park next to the Port Aransas ferry. Growing up, my father spent a lot of time fishing and hanging out in this area, and he never remembers seeing sea turtles floating around the jetty. Thanks to enormous conservation efforts — both from federally supported sea turtle rescue/release and places like the ARK — the sea turtles have returned. (And if you’re looking for a place to throw your money at, may I recommend the ARK? Good, good people volunteer there.)

We went today in the late afternoon, and stood on the big granite jetty rocks. In the distance, dolphins rolled through the water, and at our feet, sea turtles hunted for a mid-afternoon snack. It really took no effort on our parts to find this nature, it came to us.

I love that just earlier this week (see previous post), I was hanging out with aquatic (freshwater) turtles in Central Texas, and today I hung out with marine (saltwater) turtles. Mother Nature is showing me mercy this week. I really do love Texas. She gets under your skin and stays there, no matter what. Stay wild, Texas!

My parents scouting for sea turtles and dolphins.

Port Aransas Sea Turtle

Wait, what's that brown spot beneath the water? OMGSEATURTLE!

Port Aransas Sea Turtle

Obviously, you *can* have a close encounter with sea turtles in Texas. Real, honest-to-goodness wild, not captive sea turtles, folks. Forget the aquarium, just go to the jetty!

And s/he dives back down. Hasta pronto, tortugita!

Bottlenose dolphins are plentiful in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Here they ride the bow waves of a Greek ship. Oh, to have a good zoom lens.

The view beneath Horace Caldwell Pier on the beach in Port Aransas.

My crab legs dinner at Virginia's in Port Aransas. As much as I love seafood, I do try to limit eating it to only when I'm on vacation. But god, so good.

You Know You’re in Central Texas When…

1. You take a photo of your husband sitting under a pecan tree next to a spring-fed river.

2. Some dudes pull up and drop off a turtle they rescued from the highway.

3. You go kayaking, and spend a lot of the day protecting yourself (reluctantly) from the perfect Texas sun.

4. This is ubiquitous.

Lone Star Beeh

5. So is this.

6. Armadillos are art.

London Hall

7. The small towns have dance halls that let you bring in ‘ole bottles of liquor if you’re tired of Lone Star, aka “set-ups,” or as shown here, “se ups.”

Dance hall

8. The bars look timeless.

9. Lots of people drive trucks, especially dualies.

And you know you’re in Austin, specifically, when:

1. Your brother works at a local animal shelter.

2. You have a snuggly encounter with a cat named Bernard.

3. Every car has a preachy bumper sticker.

Barbie Dream House on a Barbie Dream Day

It’s 78 degrees and the sky is as blue as my husband’s eyes. So I ran errands at high noon today, rather than after work.

On days like this, I start coveting my favorite houses in lovely Astoria, Queens. I picture myself sitting on a stoop, dead-heading roses while sipping on a Gin Rickey:

I’m So Sorry, Planet Earth

Padre Island, by Flickr user qnr

Padre Island along the Texas Gulf Coast doesn’t have the glittery, white sand beaches of travel magazines. The sand is more the color of agua de tamarindo, and it’s often covered by a  thick layer of decaying Sargassum seaweed. In certain areas, beach trash gets mixed up in this seaweed, creating odd, massive sculptures of rope, plastic and dying barnacles. Stepping into the water isn’t likely to bring a lot of relief — the water is too warm in the summer, and jellyfish and stingrays take up most of the space that isn’t occupied by floating seaweed and debris.

So, no, I won’t lie to you: It’s no paradise of vacation dreams. It sits on the receiving end of the Mississippi water shed, a victim of the massive river’s trash and silt.

It also is where I grew up; it’s marred beauty is one of the few places in the world where I feel a power beyond my own, a presence I wouldn’t call God but Mother Nature.  I don’t believe there is some ethereal male being watching over us from unknown heavens, but I do believe that our planet is very much alive, in her own way. And that we are doing our best to snuff her out.

But Padre Island hangs on, in spite of us. Look beyond the less-than-perfect scene, and you’ll start to realize what an ecological haven it is: Rattlesnakes shift in the dunes and sharks lurk a few sandbars out. Endangered Kemp Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs here every year, and dolphins fly-swim through the distant waters. It is paradise, just not in the human way.

About a decade ago, Texas decided to allow oil drilling not only in the nearby waters — the horizon has become a windshield covered with smashed bugs of oil rigs marring the view — but also in the sand dunes themselves.  It’s one of the reasons I moved away, and became a person who doesn’t own a car. I didn’t want to contribute to this nightmare, I want my hands clean when my time comes. Of course, that’s an impossible feat, but I do my best to keep my hands as clean as possible.

Earlier this year, when President Obama said he supported continued oil exploration, I was exasperated. I had previously supported him, assuming he’d never take such action. He broke my heart with that announcement, and my already increasingly demotivated attitude toward politics took a sharp nosedive into complete apathy. His hands are very dirty.

When the recent news of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana made headlines, I turned off the news, I simply couldn’t process it. And now, as the oil churns out of the ocean floor at a frightening rate, my denial has turned into despair. All our hands are dirty.

When ecological disasters keep me up at night — and this one most definitely has — the things I take comfort in are the weeds that pop up through the concrete on the sidewalk, the rats that rip through the garbage bags at night, the pigeons that take over the city parks, those cockroaches that scurry across your kitchen floor. In the oceans, the legs of those giant drilling platforms that are creating such murder right now are also artificial reefs, and even our embarrassing ocean trash becomes covered with life.

Try as we might to dirty our hands, and dirty our only home, we’ll destroy ourselves long before we fully succeed. And if we do turn things around before our final moments, there’s a planet full of life waiting to cheer us on. I am taking comfort in that right now.

For Betty and Martie

Mother’s Day snuck up on me this year, since I’ve been in the middle of moving internationally, and starting a new job. (It’s exhausting!)

We *just* moved back to Astoria, Queens, this week, and now is the time of year when everyone’s gardens really start to shine. A favorite flower in Astoria is the rose. I took every single photo here in a one-block radius (!) from our apartment — now imagine that spread across 30 or so blocks, and you have a lot of roses to enjoy!

In lieu of the real thing, las rosas aqui son para mi mama y mi suegra:

My mom has always loved peppermint roses like this.

This pink rose bush was almost weighed down by all the blossoms.

The favorite choice of Texas girls.

A nice distraction from less-than-ideal architecture.

No one seemed to mind that I was taking photos of their roses.

I love the soft/hard combo of roses and bricks.

I am envious of the gardens in my neighborhood, but maybe soon we'll own a garden, too.

These pastels look great in the sun (what rose doesn't?).

A lovely coral color.

As I was trying to frame this shot, two moms walked by. 🙂

How Sweet It Is

Last weekend, while I toiled away in San Francisco working and Brendan oversaw the move into our new Queens apartment, our amigos were nice enough to take Charlie to Astoria Park for a picnic.

BFF Dora sent me this photo while I was feeling rather homesick, and it’s now my favorite photo of Charlie. It’s not only an adorable photo but a reminder of how awesome my friends are:

Brenda and Charlie

The Big Apple Awaits

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After an exhausting week in San Francisco, I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to JFK. I miss my husband and friends so much.

I worked a lot and volunteered at WordCamp over the weekend, but I did squeeze in some fun….as you can see above.