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  • Texas is famous for its ever-changing weather, including flash floods that can make driving treacherous in low-lying areas and on water-covered roadways. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is reminding drivers to heed this important life-saving warning: "Turn Around, Don’t Drown!"
  • Do you remember the blizzard that we experienced here in Texas during February of 2011? I remember that ten years ago we had several days of extreme cold that was made worse by strong winds, but I don’t remember specific details. Since my wife used to be an avid photographer, I’m sure we could dig out some snapshots from that week. But I have more detailed and precise information.
  • I had stomach cramps not long after eating food I typically don’t eat. How do I know if I had food poisoning or if it was something else?
  • When my dad was 75, I remember him saying that old age is not for sissies. I didn't think that much about his statement then but I sure do now.

  • With spring break around the corner, Texans will be looking to explore and get outside. Texas State Parks are already seeing day passes and campsites filling up for the spring and summer months, so visitors planning a state park adventure this spring break are encouraged to make their reservations as early as possible.
  • 1849 – Regular steamship service from the east to the west coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, four months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor. California left New York City on October 6, 1848 with only a partial load of her about 60 saloon (about $300 fare) and 150 steerage (about $150 fare) passenger capacity. Only a few were going all the way to California. Her crew numbered about 36 men. She left New York well before definite word of the California Gold Rush had reached the East Coast. She made it to Rio de Janeiro in a record time of 24 days from New York. There she stopped for engine repairs and to resupply coal, fresh water, wood, fresh fruits and vegetables and other supplies. After traversing the Straits of Magellan she stopped at Valparaíso, Chile; Callao, Peru (just outside Lima); and Paita, Peru for more supplies. The coal supplies had been previously shipped to the various ports by sailing ships that had left earlier. As word of the California Gold Rush spread, she started picking up more passengers wanting to go to California. At Valparaíso she filled most of her remaining berths. When news reached the East Coast about the gold rush and the estimated time of California's arrival at Panama City, there was a rush to get to Panama to catch her before she continued the journey up the Pacific coast. When California arrived at Panama City on January 17, 1849, there were many more passengers than there was room. Provisions were made for extra passengers that were selected by lottery and paid $200 per ticket; some sold their tickets for much more. The SS California eventually proceeded towards San Francisco with about 400 passengers and a crew of 36; many more passengers were left behind to find their way later on other ships. On the way to San Francisco, low coal supplies required her to put into San Diego and Monterey, California to get wood to feed her boilers - engines then were simple enough to burn either coal or wood. Any "extra" wood on board was also fed to the boilers. The combination of a larger load and the southbound California Current required more coal than she had picked up in Panama. As the first steamship on the Panama-to-San Francisco route she had no prior experience or fuel consumption information to follow. Shortly after arriving in San Francisco, nearly all of her crew jumped ship and deserted. It took Captain Cleveland Forbes two months to rehire a new crew and get more coal and steam back to Panama. California left San Francisco on May 1, 1849 with the California mail, passengers and high-value cargo, as specified in the congressional mail contract, and reached Panama City on May 23, 1849. The new crew was much more expensive but the Panama City–San Francisco route was so potentially lucrative that the costs were simply deferred to the passengers in the price of a ticket. The mail, passengers and priority cargo to and from California soon developed into a paying proposition as more and more mail, cargo and passengers flowed to and from California. Much of the gold found in California was shipped back east by Panama Steamer. Businesses of all kinds needed new goods which were generally only available in the east. By the end of May 1849, 59 vessels, including 17 steamers, had disgorged about 4,000 passengers in San Francisco.