San Jacinto Museum of History and Battleship Texas

"Monument Sun" La Porte, 2018
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 16mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO100
“Monument Sun” La Porte, 2018

こんばんは。

Today Koa and I were down in Baytown where he was attending a band camp. So after dropping him off in the morning, I had the day to explore the area. I decided to check out the San Jacinto Museum of History which seemed to be the biggest place of interest and very highly rated on TripAdvisor and Google.

When you drive up to the museum, the first thing you’ll notice (from quite a distance) is the monument with star on top. It’s an impressive 570 feet tall and was completed in 1939. It commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto, which was the decisive battle for Texas independence and happened on this location. Housed inside the monument is the museum itself, with an impressive display collection and theater where you can view a short movie that describes the battle. While it’s free to view the permanent museum display, there’s a charge to watch the movie, but it is worth it because the movie describes in detail the events leading up to the battle, and you can learn a lot about the main figures in Texas history, such as Sam Houston, Stephen Austin, and General Santa Anna.

There’s also a separate charge to go up to the observation level at the top of the monument where you can see views of the shipping lane, and the city of Houston in the distance. There’s not too much more than that though, so if you want to save a few dollars, you can skip this part.

Outside of the monument is the reflecting pool which is near the area where the Texas soldiers were camped. On the other side of the monument is where the Mexican army was camped. This kind of blew my mind because they were camped so close together before the battle, which the Texans won decisively in a rout. I’d estimate that you could walk from one camp to the other in just a few minutes, although I guess at the time there were more trees covering the area.

"Monument" La Porte, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/900 sec, ISO200
“Monument” La Porte, 2018
"Reflecting Pool" La Porte, 2018
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 16mm, f/9, 1/400 sec, ISO100
“Reflecting Pool” La Porte, 2018
"Museum" La Porte, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/40 sec, ISO3200
“Museum” La Porte, 2018

After visiting the museum, I drove over to the Battleship Texas Historic Site to see the World War I era ship. It was smaller than I thought it would be and very industrial-looking. But I guess the sole purpose of the warship was to sink other ships so it’s basically a metal platform for huge guns. Interestingly, the USS Texas fought both in both World Wars.

"Battleship Texas" La Porte, 2018
Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.9500000476837mm, f/0, 1/inf sec, ISO0
“Battleship Texas” La Porte, 2018

And that was the highlight of my day in La Porte, Texas. It was actually pretty cool to learn more about Texas History. I grew up in California, and we didn’t have much state history in our curriculum so it was surprising to me that my kids were being taught so much Texas history here. But honestly, the Lone Star State has a ton of history and I can now understand where “Texas pride” comes from.

I hope you had a nice Saturday!

またね~

Running in China

It’s been a couple months since I returned from my trip to China, but I wanted to write a post about running while I was over there. I’ve written about running while on vacation before, but I’d like to expand a little more on the subject about why I love to bring my running shoes with me when I travel.

First of all, I heard that exercise helps get over jet lag, and since China is 13 hours ahead of Texas (during daylight savings) any opportunity to beat the tiredness is one worth trying. And speaking of tiredness, whenever I run in the morning, I find that I have a ton of energy throughout the day, all the way up until bedtime. This proved to be the case on the China trip as well – I had so much energy that I didn’t need to nap at all, and was even up at the lounge dancing until 11 pm. Which is kind of crazy for an introvert like myself. 😌

Another fun thing about running while on vacation, and running first thing in the morning in particular, is that there’s the anticipation and excitement of exploring new neighborhoods. I’d kind of check out what’s nearby in Google Maps, then just head out. On the other hand, on my run in Beijing, I just started running towards a park, not knowing what was there, and stumbled upon the Temple of the Sun, which apparently is a popular spot for runners. It was so fun to see this park, and stop to take photos, then run a bit more, then stop for photos again. It’s discoveries like these that just fuel the excitement for the next run in a new city.

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And a little bonus discovery – I found the nearby shopping center which had two of my favorite stores, Muji and Uniqlo, and made a note to return later when we had free time. Score!

When I was in Stockholm, I went for runs after work, around 5 pm, but for the China trip, I’d head out at around 6 am, with plans on being back at the hotel for breakfast at around 7 am or so. Running early in the morning has a couple bonuses. Firstly, there was pretty much no traffic on the streets. And I mean this literally. Even in the Beijing business district, I could run down the center of the boulevard if I wanted to! It was surreal. But by 6:45, the traffic had picked up and it was a completely different city.

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Secondly, the early morning running gave me a chance to see the sunrise. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an is pretty spectacular, but seeing the sun rise over it was epic. Something I’ll never forget!

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And speaking of epicness, my morning run along The Bund in Shanghai was amazing. The sunrise over the skyscrapers, the kites taking off, and the taichi was so perfect, it was like living in a dream.

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I think that even an early morning walk would be good, but elevating that walk into a run (or even a jog) will allow you to cover a lot more distance. It’s kind of surprising how far you’ll be able to get in a short amount of time and how much you’ll be able to see, especially in the city. Another thing I that I thought was really cool and convenient is that as a runner, you have an excuse to be pretty much anywhere, and no one will question your presence. If you are just walking along down some back alley at 6 am, it could look a little weird. But as a runner, you become kind of invisible. Plus, you stop standing out as a tourist, even if it’s only for an hour.

Another huge bonus, at least to me, is that the morning run means you’ll be hungry a lot. I actually enjoy feeling hungry… it makes me feel alive.* But what is nice is that you’ll have a good appetite for tasting all the new and interesting foods that come with vacation. On the China trip, I tried to avoid food that I could easily eat at home. So, instead of eating a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, and toast, I’d have rice porridge, pickled vegetables, kimchee, and dumplings. And my mindset shifted from eating to get full, to eating to taste everything. (Spicy frog, anyone?) That meant not needing to go back for seconds of the same item, but try to eat new things with each plate. Of course, if I found something that was particularly delicious, I’d have extra! But that was the exception, not the rule. And eating less has the benefit of being less tired since your body doesn’t have to expend as much energy digesting enormous amounts of food.

I truly believe running on vacation is something everyone should do. But before you think that running on vacation is only for hardcore exercise nuts, I can tell you that I am far from being super-fit. I am carrying a few extra pounds and my pace is more of a jog than a run. But for vacation, this is enough. Being able to jog for an hour is sufficient to reap the benefits of seeing new cities in a completely new way, and separate yourself from the tourist crowds. So, if you have a vacation coming up, it’s time to start running! Just get your cardio in shape, muscles in condition, and have your shoes/running kit ready to go. I know that you’ll take your vacation to the next level just by getting off the beaten path with your running shoes.

And the final bonus to running is that you’ll generally be in good enough shape to be able to participate in the more strenuous excursions and activities without feeling exhausted later. Climbing the 99 steps of the pagoda in Shibaozhai was cake, and I was able to recover from the steep portions of the Great Wall quickly. It felt so good! 😄

I hope you give running a try on your next vacation!

またね~

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Beijing Run at Strava:

Xi’an Run 1 at Strava:

Xi’an Run 2 at Strava:

Shanghai Run at Strava:

*I think the mindset of thinking that hunger should be avoided at all costs is terrible and something pushed by the food industry. And the fact that hunger is different than starvation is an important point.

New Favorite Show – ふらっとあの街 旅ラン 10キロ

"10km Run" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO500
“10km Run” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today’s photo is from the Japanese tv show ふらっとあの街 旅ラン 10キロ which I have been enjoying lately. It might just be my new favorite program because it combines a two things that I love: traveling and running. In fact, I am so enthusiastic about running when on vacation, that the fact that this show exists has me stoked.

The various hosts are runners, and the show is basically them running in various travel destinations. It’s more of a jog, really, with plenty of stops for photos and food. It’s exactly what I love to do when visiting a new city. It’s so great to be able to cover decent distances on foot in a short amount of time. Definitely worth waking up an hour or two earlier than usual to get that sightseeing in with the sweet morning light.

Check out the program’s website or twitter feed to get a glimpse of the episodes. I think it’s so great!

I hope you had a good day. 😋

またね~