A Moo-ving Valentines Weekend!

We spent Valentines weekend helping D and JW pick up the newest edition to their growing herd of cattle (is 3 a herd?).   We headed out to Comanche and picked up this little fella, Buddy.  Buddy had a rough start in life, he was attacked by a mountain lion shortly after he was born and bears the scars to prove it, he is soooo sweet!

Buddy

Before picking up Buddy, we stopped at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche  to try the Reserve Viognier 2015 that won Best of Class at the  2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. I had been wanting to try it ever since I read an article in Dallas News about Texas wines taking 158 medals in this prestigious competition.  Tastings at Brennan Vineyards are $10 but if you buy 2 bottles they’ll waive the fee.   The Viognier was very good and we ended up bringing home 2 bottles for Valentine’s Day.

Me, Sweetie, D and JW wine tasting at Brennan Vineyards

After the vineyard, we stopped at the deer lease to pick up some wood. It was a beautiful day in Texas, and I thought it would be a good idea to explore this old ramshackle of a house.

Me in my get-up

 

It was no less than 2 minutes that I was warned not to step on a board with nails that you guessed it… I most certainly did.  Friggin nail went right thru my boot!  Of course it was rusty….I’m fairly sure I had a Tetanus shot last year.   Sweetie is not going to be too happy when I tell him and I can just hear JW saying ‘I told you to look out for nails!’

We got Buddy mooo-ved to his new home without further incident, pretty good I’d say since this was the first time any of us did this. He took it all in stride, I know he’ll be very happy in his new home with JW and D.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Numba 1 Salsa Recipe Just in time for Super Bowl!

The masses have begged and pleaded (well… sort of) so once again I’m posting my recipe for Numba 1 Salsa just in time for Super Bowl weekend.   During high school Teeve was always asked to bring his salsa for any events or party.  Today, it is still the number 1 request I have for parties.  I’m curious if there are any statistics as to how many gallons of dips will be consumed on Sunday?

Numba 1 Salsa

All my measurements are more-or-less…. no exact science here especially when dealing with peppers.  What I am demonstrating here made 2 blenders full.  I like to roast all the veggies for about 10 minutes to take the ‘bite’  out especially the garlic. Here I used 1 yellow onion, 1 full head of garlic clove peeled, I had a 1/2 red bell pepper and threw that in for good measure.

Now for the peppers… this depends on your personal level of hotness… how hot you  like your salsa.  Go ahead and roast a bunch, but you may want to start out with half and keep adding until it reaches the level of hotness you prefer.  Here I used about 5 or 6 jalapenos and 4-5 serrano peppers sliced in half and seeds removed.  When it’s Hatch Chili season, I’ll omit a couple of serrano and use Hatch instead.  Roast at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

While veggies are roasting soak 1 large bunch of cilantro. I chop off the ends with no leaves.  I soak and swish all my leafy veggies instead of rinsing. If you use a white bowl like I do, you’ll see why.  After pulling out the cilantro there will always be dirt in the bottom of your bowl.

When you feel like cilantro is sufficiently clean I do a rough chop.

After veggies have roasted and slightly cooled  you are ready to blend!  There is a method to my madness, so follow closely.  Put about 1/2 of a 14.5 oz canned tomatoes  and juices first in the blender, followed by 1/2 of the roasted veggies. Squeeze 1/2 lime in next and 1-2 chipotle peppers with a bit of the adobo sauce (I like Clemente Jacques).  Start with 1 if you do not like it too hot.  Do not add cilantro yet!  Now, pulse the veggies several time leaving them chunky.

Next, add 1/2 of the chopped cilantro followed by about 1/2 tsp salt and cumin and a couple of shakes of black pepper.  Now, top with more canned tomatoes to fill your blender.

Pulse to get the cilantro mixed in, then blend until it gets to the consistency you prefer. Add more juice from tomatoes or water if needed.

Taste… if you like it hotter, dump all the salsa in large pot or bowl leaving a bit in the blender.  Add more peppers to blender and blend then dump in with the rest of your salsa and mix.  Now, bottle your salsa.  I save empty pickle jars to use for salsa or mason jars.  Consume your Numba 1 Salsa within 7 days.  This should not be a problem, I would be surprised if it lasted more than a couple of days.  I’ve heard if you mix it with Velveeta it makes a Fantastic Queso!

Numba 1 Salsa

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15 Top Tips for Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Today starts the first day of the Harry Potter Celebration at Universal Studios in Orlando, the only official event that celebrates everything Harry Potter.  Last year we took a quick trip to Universal Studios and it was serendipity that it was the same weekend as the 3rd annual event.  We had a blast!  One of the best things about going this weekend is the people watching and seeing all the costumes.  There were groups of Death Eaters, professors and even a group Beauxbaton girls dressed in powder blue.

It is becoming an increasingly popular event, and judging from Instagram posts, people travel from all over the world to attend this event.  The attention to detail that Universal Studios has given to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has really raised the bar for theme parks in my opinion and I want to share my 15 top tips .  This year the NFL Pro Bowl is being held the same weekend which may increase the crowds so you’ll want to pay particular attention to tips #1 and #14.

15 Top Tips for muggles visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida:

  1. Arrive early….. be at the entrance of either park about 30 minutes before the scheduled open time.  They usually let you in before the park ‘officially’ opens.
  2. There are 2 parks within Universal (Islands of Adventures and Universal) and each has a section of the WWHP.  Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located in Islands of Adventures.  Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios.
  3. The Hogwarts Express takes you between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley but you must have a Park to Park ticket to ride.  It is worth the extra $$$.  Make sure to ride it in both directions.  It is a different experience each way.  You can take food and drinks on the train, so grab a Butterbeer and enjoy the ride.
  4. Dress up in wizards robes, a favorite character or at least a HP t-shirt.  Otherwise, everyone will know you’re a Muggle.  People wathching was a big part of the experience. Wizards robes are $109 at WWHP, plan ahead and order one online ahead of time.
  5. The entrance to Diagon Alley from Universal is not marked… on purpose to keep Muggles at bay.  Enter at the red brick wall in front of the Knight Bus.                             
  6. If you followed Tip no 1 and arrived early…. go ride Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley or HP and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff in Hogwarts.    Later, ride again.  The lines will be longer but you will have time to absorb all the detail as you wind thru the line.  For the ones that don’t want to ride…they should stand in line with you to see all the cool stuff. They can take the exit before boarding time.  The ride itself is only half of the experience for true HP fans as you wind thru the castle, see Dumbledore’s office or the Sorting Hat.

    Hogwarts Castle

  7. Flight of the Hippogriff – is a small roller coaster and cannot accommodate a lot of riders, so wait times are long after 11.  Ride it…it is the only way you can see Buckbeak and so worth it!
  8. It is worth the wait to go to Olivander’s (in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) for the mini show.  You may purchase a wand ($50 in the shop.  They come with a map of locations you can visit, cast a spell to make something happen…. very cool and not just for kids!  Sweetie especially enjoyed drinking a beer by the statue of a Merpeople and watching wizards cast spells on unsuspecting Muggles in Diagon Alley. 
  9. Buy a Butter Beer!  You can buy one in a collectible mug for $13.  Soda refills are $1.00 and Butter Beer refills are $6.95.  Or you can buy one for $6.95 in a plastic cup.  There are 2 kinds, cold or frozen.. frozen are by far the best and both non-alcoholic.

    Pumpkin enjoying a Butterbeer

  10. Buy regular beer!  There was a good selection of draft beers.. about $8.00
  11. Go in all the shops. Look up while in the shops…. there is so much to see from Delores Umbridge on a unicycle at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to the Monster Book of Monsters at Dervish and Bange’s.

    Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

  12. Check out Knockturn Alley.  It is not well marked, there is one entrance by the restrooms.  Small children may be scared as it is dark and soooo cool.  Inside you’ll find Borgin and Burkes, make sure to check out the vanishing cabinet by the register.
  13. We did not eat at the Leaky Cauldron, but just walked thru.  Again so much to see including the wanted poster of Sirius Black.
  14. Download the Universal Studios AP.  This gives you a list of shops, attractions, dining and even ride wait times.
  15. Read or watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban before you go to ‘refresh your memory’ and make anyone in your party do the same especially if they have never read the books, it will make their experience so much more enjoyable.

The attention to detail is simply amazing at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  While there are not a lot of rides, true HP fans will be ecstatic to step inside the beloved books and simply wander about the shops, people watch and make new friends.  There are other attractions at Universal Studios, we only spent a short time at those and only wanted to stay in WWHP.

Have a question?  Email me at backroadsandpotholes@gmail.com

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Hey, you’re not Mushu!

Human nature dictates that we put things off until some event occurs that forces you to address the issue or task you’ve been avoiding.  For instance, you know you need new tires, but with your demanding schedule you keep telling yourself ‘I can make a few more miles’.  The tires are getting thin, the tread barley exists….’a few more miles… I can make it to work’.  We believe we have the ability to will things to be…. until you have a flat tire and finally you have to make time to change those tires.

Alas, such was the case with me and my ever deteriorating eyes.  I knew it was time to address the problem a few months ago.  Both of my kitties are allowed to go outside during the day, but I bring them in before dark.  This particular evening I brought them both in right before dark.   About an hour later I went outside to get something.  I caught a glimpse of Mushu and thought ‘what is he doing out?  Sweetie must have let him out’.  Hmm… with arms outstretched I walked towards him and began reaching for him…. then froze dead in my tracks.  This was not Mushu.  Mushu does not have a white stripe running down his back.  I slowly backed away and could not believe my narrow escape from what almost was a stinky close encounter.

Mushu

Mushu

My eyesight was bad. Not only was I not able to see the big ‘E’ on an eye chart, I had a difficult time seeing at night (obviously), began having double vision, reading was an issue and working on a computer was bothering me. When I traveled, I had to pack 6 different pairs of glasses, 2 different types of contact lenses and all the paraphernalia that go along with contacts.  In this baggage weight restricted era, it seemed that half the weight of my bag was consumed by stuff to be able to see. After the skunk encounter, it was obvious I still was not seeing well even with all the different glasses.

I discovered had cataracts. I thought I was still too young for cataracts but nonetheless the doctor said he could fix my cataracts allowing me to see at night, correct my vision and get me down to just 1 pair of glasses for reading by replacing the lens in my eyes.  HOORAY!

 No

I had both my eyes done a week apart, it was a piece of cake except that I look like I have been in a bar fight and can not wear makeup or lift more than 10 pounds for 3 weeks.   I got the courage to post a picture of me with no makeup and 2 black eyes. 

BlackeyeI am looking forward to being able to snorkel next month with my new eyes.   I’ll no longer have to listen for the Jaws music to know if a shark is coming, I’ll see him coming!

 

 

 

 

 

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We shouldn’t have done that!

Discovering the unexpected is why I travel.  Potholes encountered along the way are the things you never would have expected.

Teeve and his Crew

Teeve and his Crew

Teeve and a group of his college friends met us in Santa Fe for a few days of skiing, eating  and relaxation before the spring semester started.  Santa Fe is one of my all time favorite places to visit.  It’s an easy and picturesque drive from north Texas with so much to explore.  I was still recovering from a surgery and was not able to ski so Sweetie took me to visit El Santuario de Chimayo nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountains 24 miles north of Santa Fe while the rest of the group went skiing.

After an hour or so in Chimayo  we were planning to hike at Bandelier National Monument but I didn’t feel up to a couple of hours of hiking.  We opted to head west on  Highway 4 in search of the Spence Hot Springs.  The drive on Highway 4 is spectacular, but there are no signs for the springs.  You have to look for a small, circular, parking pad between mile markers 24 and 25.  It can only  hold about half a dozen vehicles so, if it is full you’ll have to drive on.  Fortunately, a car was pulling out and we pulled in.

Let me make a couple of things very clear…. there are no facilities (bathrooms), wear hiking boots or tennis shoes, flip flops are a bad idea. We changed into our swimsuits in the truck. There is really no one around so we took turns keeping watch as the other changed.  The trail is fairly well marked, rocky and can be steep.  If you are wearing flip flops, you’re going to have a difficult time and it does get icy during winter .  The hike is a steep15 minutes with the trail becoming less obvious the higher you climb but eventually you’ll spot the 2 natural hot springs.  There is a top spring that feeds into a lower pool, both overlooking the Santa Fe National Forest.

Sweetie at the trail head

Sweetie at the trail head

We arrived and there was only a young couple already soaking which was odd I thought considering there were about 5 other cars on the parking pad. They all must be hiking I thought.  We stripped down to our swimsuits and negotiated our way into the water.  Let me make another thing clear… this is a NATURAL hot spring, don’t expect a chemical laden hot tub. The water is warm between 98-100 degrees, not hot, but on a chilly winter afternoon the warm water was welcoming.  Soon an older couple with their dog showed up and began striping down to their swimsuits.

Top pool at Spence Springs

Top pool at Spence Springs

We were all chit-chatting away but the conversation turned a little too quirky for Sweetie and I, but we nodded our heads and feigned interest.  After about 30 minutes of soaking Sweetie says ‘I imagined the water would be warmer than this’.  The younger  gal responds, ‘it is, in the grotto, but there’s a couple in there now’.  Huh? Grotto? Hidden behind some overgrowth, evidently was a grotto with the source of the spring feeding the pool we were now soaking in.   Sweetie and I don’t consider ourselves prude, but the thought of soaking in waters downstream of the couple in the grotto was just too much.  I give Sweetie the ‘I want to get the Hell out of here’ look and say that I am really hungry and ready for lunch.  Soon, we bid our adieu’s, get dressed and hike back to the truck.

We continue driving on Highway 4 until we reach the quaint town of Jemez Springs for lunch at Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon.  This is one of the most memorable places I have ever eaten.  Maybe because I was so hungry and trying to rid my memory of the grotto or maybe because the atmosphere is exactly what you imagine an old saloon in the middle of New Mexico to look like, or, maybe it’s because it was the best damn green chile burger I have ever eaten!  Damn, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Seriously, have you ever planned a trip around something to eat?  That’s what I’m doing next time I plan a trip to Santa Fe.  Let me know what food or restaurant you would plan a trip around in the comments, or send me an email at backroadsandpotholes@gmail.com.  Happy trails!

Town of Jemez Springs

Town of Jemez Springs

Me at Los Ojos

Me at Los Ojos

For more information on Spence Springs, see Santa Fe National Forest

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Valentines Snowmobiling Adventure in Colorado or The Day I Met My Sweetie

People always ask to hear the story when Sweetie and I met.  This is a long one but has all the elements of a good tale, action, danger, romance and a happy ending.  I was single, in my 20’s and I really wanted to go skiing.  Problem was, none of my friends wanted to go or could not. I found a local ski club that organized long weekend ski trips.  They took groups on a sleeper bus and set you up in ski in-ski out condo. If you were traveling solo as I was, they paired you with other singles or couples to share a condo.

Everyone met in a parking lot of a mall to board the bus on a late Friday afternoon.  I arrived very apprehensive not knowing anyone and because I would be sharing a condo with 2 gals I’d never met.  My fears were soon put to rest when I met my roommates, Liz and Meg. They were my age and were really nice and not psychos  like my active imagination was picturing.

We boarded the sleeper bus and were assigned a booth towards the front.  The sleeper busses are really cool, instead of just benches all facing forward, they are like booths, with 2 benches that face each other with a table in between to allow a place for eating and playing cards.  At night they fold down to a bed and can sleep 2.  Pretty cool.  Me, Liz and Meg settle  in as other passengers began to board when  4 guys come in….carrying a 6 foot submarine sandwich. The leader of the pack would be my future Sweetie for the last 27 years. They placed the monstrous sandwich along the windows.   I wish I would have taken a picture of that… it was hilarious.  Me and the gals looked at each other with amusement.

Sweetie and the guys consuming 2 feet of the 6 foot sandwich

Sweetie and the guys consuming 2 feet of the 6 foot sandwich

We all settled in and began to get to know each other.  They guys, Sweetie, RobBob, Chuck and John all worked together and were pretty cute, but I was NOT looking for love.  In fact, it was the last thing on my mind.  A few hours passed and everyone took out their dinners…. The 6 foot submarine sandwich emerged with a bottle of Dewar’s Scotch.  I pulled out a pitiful peanut butter sandwich as I longingly looked at the guy’s mammoth of a sandwich.   I had spent a good portion of my hard earned cash on my ski outfit. You gals can understand when you’re in your 20’s it is much more important to spend your money to look cute than to eat!

After driving all night, we arrive at a small Ski Resort in Southern Colorado called Cuchara Valley. Cuchara has since closed, it was simply not profitable to remain open (shame). When I say this place is small, it was really small, but beautiful and very quaint. We met 2 other single gals that evidently were sitting at the back of the bus, Pam and Karen.  Pam did not want to ski and opted to just go snowmobiling. Karen, however, joined me, Meg, Liz and the guys and we all spent the day skiing together.

The whole gang. I'm in the pink parka and black pants and my future Sweetie behind me on black jacket

The whole gang. I’m in the pink parka and black pants and my future Sweetie behind me in the black jacket

That evening the 9 of us met for dinner. It started to become evident that Sweetie had eyes for me and was insisting to pay for my dinner… only a bowl of soup… remember my cute outfit.   Over dinner, we discussed the big news of the day in Cuchara Valley, a moose was in the area.  Moose are not supposed to be in this area so it was quite the excitement for the locals and made the front page of the news.  Dinner was wonderful, everyone connected and we instantly became great friends.  Two local brothers that ran the snowmobiling tours came by and asked if were interested in taking a 2 hour moonlit snowmobile ride when we finished dinner.  I am not making this up… their last name was Lemon, hence the Lemon brothers.  We discussed it and everyone except my 2 roommates  wanted to go.

It was dark by now and the Lemon brothers took 6 of us and another small group of 4 to a shed where they kept all the equipment.  It began snowing as we drove through the mountains… a beautiful gentle snow.  They outfitted us in black snowsuits and helmets that made us all look like the Michelin Man.  The 2 Lemon Bros had real snowmobiles, the rest of us had these 1 person mini snowmobiles, half of them did not have headlights.  There were not enough snowmobiles for our entire group so Pam rode with Lemon Bro 1.  They gave us brief instructions and lined us up, every other snow mobile having a headlight…..that would work…right?  We lined up, Lemon Bro 1 with Pam leading us and Lemon Bro 2 at the rear. Never having ridden a snowmobile, much less in the dark, I was lucky to have one with no headlight and was following Chuck.  We took off on a trail and it was a lot of fun… for awhile.

Me and the guys

Me and the guys

I don’t know exactly how this happened, but I was following Chuck and somehow I think he swerved at the last minute, I didn’t see this in time (no headlight) and proceeded to go up and over a boulder.  I went airborne, flew off my snowmobile, landed in deep powder, with the snowmobile coming down almost on top of me.  Amazingly I was not hurt but really shook up and did not want to continue.  Pam ended up taking my snowmobile and I rode with the Lemon Bro 2 at the rear of the group.

It was glorious… it began snowing again, the moon would peek out from behind the clouds illuminating the meadow we were in.  We snowmobiled for about an hour then stopped in a clearing. The Lemon Bros lit a bonfire.  Pam and the Lemon Bro 1 decided to snowmobile for a bit more. The rest of us hung out by the fire laughing and telling stories.  An hour passed, Pam and Lemon Bro 1 haven’t come back.  Her friend, Karen is getting concerned and asks Lemon Bro 2 if they should have been back by now.  This was supposed to be a 2  hour tour… it’s been about 2 1/2 hours already.

Bonfire

Bonfire

Lemon Bro 2 takes off to search for them, we stay close to the fire as we watch the lights of his snowmobile disappear into the forest.  It is snowing quite heavily now and Sweetie rounds up the guys to start bringing more wood to the fire.  We wait for another half hour or so and Lemon Bro 2 returns alone.  We are all very concerned now.  Lemon Bro  2 doesn’t know what to do, so we wait some more, the guys keeping the fire going.  Finally, Lemon Bro 2 decides we ought to go back to the truck.  Everyone lines up and one of the guys said he knew the way back to the truck and would take the lead.   Me and Lemon Bro 2 would take the rear.

We were riding along when Lemon Bro 2 stops and tells me that the lead snowmobile should have turned and they were going the wrong way.  He tells me he can’t catch up to them with me on the back of  his snowmobile and that I would have to get off.  He must be joking I thought, evidently not and I climb off and I sank in thigh high snow.  Lemon Bro 2 then hands me a flashlight… He speeds off as I watch the light from the snowmobile disappear in the forest leaving me alone. I am standing thigh deep in snow, in the middle of the mountains, in the dark, it is snowing heavily now, my family has no idea where I am and all I have is a flashlight to guard against some deranged moose that is on the loose.

I stood there for what seemed like an eternity with no fire to keep me warm, for about 20 minutes.  In the distance I finally see lights coming in my direction. Halleluiah the group came back for me!  Sweetie pulls up and says ‘what are you doing?’  He had no idea Lemon Bro 2 left me. We are about to take off again towards the truck and we hear a faint shouting, Lemon Bro 1 and Pam were on foot heading towards us, walking not an easy task since the snow is thigh high.  Evidently, they had been riding along and hit a snow bank, their snowmobile was stuck. We all finally made it back to the truck. We should have been back from our 2 hour trip around 9 and it was now after midnight.  The state police and the Lemon Bro’s wives were at the truck  about to launch a search party.  The wives were not happy and I believe they may have had frying pans underneath their parkas.

Sweetie walked me back to my condo and kissed me at the front door, my roommates were frantic with worry.   The following day we spent skiing together, boarded the bus for home arriving about 6:00 the next morning which happened to be Valentine’s Day.  I went to work with a smile on my face,  later, I received a stuffed Garfield the Cat with flowers, the note read ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, Adventures in Snowmobiling’.  It’s been 25 years of adventure ever since!  Happy Valentine’s Day to my Sweetie!

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Top Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It’s time I come out of the closet and declare that I am a Harry Potter Super-Fan!  I took the How Big Of A Harry Potter Super-Fan Are You Actually? and got 56 out of 100. My results declared:

“You’re a half-blood and there’s nothing wrong with that! Some of the best and bravest wizards are half-bloods. You’re dedicated to the cause but have yet to really dive in.  There’s still plenty of time to further your studies. If there were an O.W.L. for Harry Potter knowledge, you’d get an E.”

If you have not read a book or seen the movies,  just close your browser now and read no further….you won’t get it.

Sweetie needed some R&R, we pulled out our bucket list and figured out what we could do on the cheap for a few days using air and hotel miles.  Well, there was no question in my mind…. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida.  This would be the perfect time of year, mild weather and no crowds.  It was serendipity that it was the third annual A Celebration of Harry Potter event at Universal Studios.  It was everything I thought it would be and more!  I wanted to share my tips for visiting.

Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts Castle

Tips for muggles visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (I’ll refer to as WWHP from now on) at Universal Studios in Florida:

  1.  Arrive early….. be at the entrance of either park about 30 minutes before the scheduled open time.  They usually let you in before the park ‘officially’ opens.
  2. There are 2 parks within Universal (Islands of Adventures and Universal) and each has a section of the WWHP.  Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located in Islands of Adventures.  Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios.
  3. The Hogwarts Express takes you between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley but you must have a Park to Park ticket to ride.  It is worth the extra $$$.  Make sure to ride it in both directions.  It is a different experience each way.  You can take food and drinks on the train, so grab a Butterbeer and enjoy the ride.
  4. Dress up in wizards robes, a favorite character or at least a HP t-shirt.  Otherwise, everyone will know you’re a Muggle.  People wathching was a big part of the experience. Wizards robes are $109 at WWHP, plan ahead and order one online ahead of time.
  5. The entrance to Diagon Alley from Universal is not marked… on purpose to keep Muggles at bay.  Enter at the red brick wall in front of the Knight Bus2016-02-01 19.05.46
  6. If you followed Tip no 1 and arrived early…. go ride Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley or HP and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff in Hogwarts.    Later, ride again.  The lines will be longer but you will have time to absorb all the detail as you wind thru the line.  For the ones that don’t want to ride…they should stand in line with you to see all the cool stuff. They can take the exit before boarding time.  The ride itself is only half of the experience for true HP fans as you wind thru the castle, see Dumbledore’s office or the Sorting Hat.
  7. Flight of the Hippogriff – is a small roller coaster and cannot accommodate a lot of riders, so wait times are long after 11.  Ride it…it is the only way you can see Buckbeak and so worth it!
  8. It is worth the wait to go to Olivander’s (in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) for the mini show.  You may purchase a wand ($50) in the shop.  They come with a map of locations you can visit, cast a spell to make something happen…. very cool and not just for kids!  Sweetie especially enjoyed drinking a beer by the statue of a Merpeople and watching wizards cast spells on unsuspecting Muggles in Diagon Alley.Merfountain
  9. Buy a Butter Beer!  You can buy one in a collectible mug for $13.  Soda refills are $1.00 and Butter Beer refills are $6.95.  Or you can buy one for $6.95 in a plastic cup.  There are 2 kinds, cold or frozen.. frozen are by far the best and both non-alcoholic.

    Pumpkin enjoying a Butterbeer

    Pumpkin enjoying a Butterbeer

  10. Buy regular beer!  There was a good selection of draft beers.. about $8.00
  11. Go in all the shops. Look up while in the shops…. there is so much to see from Delores Umbridge on a unicycle at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to the Monster Book of Monsters at Dervish and Bange’s.

    Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

    Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

  12. Go to Knockturn Alley.  It is not well marked, there is one entrance by the restrooms.  Small children may be scared as it is dark and soooo cool.  Inside you’ll find Borgin and Burkes, make sure to check out the vanishing cabinet by the register.
  13. We did not eat at the Leaky Cauldron, but just walked thru.  Again so much to see including the wanted poster of Sirius Black.

  14. Download the Universal Studios AP.  This gives

    Dragon spews fire every 10 minutes

    Dragon spews fire every 10 minutes

    you a list of shops, attractions, dining and even ride wait times.

  15. Read or watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban before you go to ‘refresh your memory’ and make anyone in your party do the same especially if they have never read the books, it will make their experience so much more enjoyable.

The attention to detail is simply amazing at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  While there are not a lot of rides, true HP fans will be ecstatic to step inside the beloved books and simply wander about the shops, people watch and make new friends.  While there are other attractions at Universal, we only spent a short time at those and only wanted to stay at WWHP.

Have a question?  email me at backroadsandpotholes@gmail.com

 

 

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Let a Lady a Show you how to Fish

This weekend we had dinner with Corky and his wife, at a wonderful Greek cafe. The topic of fishing always comes up between Corky and Sweetie.  Both love the water and fishing.  We recalled a deep fishing trip a few years back….. way…way back.

Living in North Texas it is only a short 11 hour drive to Port Aransas.  We took the 80 foot catamaran called the Scat Cat with Fisherman’s Wharf  for a 12 hour trip in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a beautiful and calm day for fishing.  We drank coffee and ate bagels on the upper sun deck as the sun rose leaving the harbor.

Sweetie and Corky on the upper deck of the Scat Cat

Sweetie and Corky on the upper deck of the Scat Cat

It takes about 2 hours until we arrive at the first fishing area.  Everyone claims their spot on the boat, bait their hooks with a gooey slab of squid and drop their lines.  There aren’t too many things that thrill me more than deep sea fishing!  Soon, the mayhem begins as fish begin to hit lines.  Everyone scrambles with their rods, reeling frantically.  The thing that excites me the most about deep sea fishing is that you really have no idea what will come up.  We were bottom fishing, so I expected Snapper or Grouper maybe even a shark. 

Sweetie is reeling in his catch, it’s not big, but he definitely had something. The fish begins to surface and it is something that none of us had ever seen before, white, almost albino looking and shaped like an eel.  What’s more, is that as soon as he pulled it out of the water it begins to bark like a dog. That was a surprise.  A deck hands begins hollering at Sweetie not to pull it into the boat.  He rushes over with gloved hands and releases the creature back into the sea.  I was able to capture one picture.  The deck hand said it was a dogfish, a species of shark. 

Sweetie's Dogfish

Sweetie’s Dogfish

Later that day we were fishing an oil platform.  Corky tells us about a dive trip he had recently been on. His group was diving an oil platform that had scallops attached to the pylons . They pulled off scallops right there under water, removed their regulators and popped them in their mouths.  Nothing like really, fresh sushi!

We were still bottom fishing and nothing was happening.  No one had even gotten a nibble.  Corky continues with his dive tale.  After he had his fill of scallops he and his dive buddy were in a school of Amberjack when a knucklehead with a spear gun shoots at a fish, the spear  just missing Corky’s head hitting a fish in front of him. If that didn’t freak him out enough, blood was everywhere now, a beacon for any sharks in the area.  Him and his buddy quickly ascended not wanting any part of that.

Things were getting pretty dull now, no fishing action.  I decided to try a new strategy.  We were bottom fishing in about 100 feet of water.  I asked Corky what depth the Amberjack were at on his dive trip.  I reel in my line, put a fresh squid and drop my line to about 40 feet.   A minute may have  passed and something hits my line hard!  I squeal grabbing the attention of the other anglers…. mostly men I might add.  I begin reeling frantically and pull up 2 nice sized Amberjacks.   With fresh bait on, I drop the line and again within a couple of minutes I have another hit.  Squealing again, I pull in 2 more Amberjack.  The other anglers not having caught anything are visibly grumbling, me jumping up and down shouting ‘I have 2 again’ didn’t help.  Finally, 1 guy set his man card aside and came to ask a girl of twenty something how she was fishing.  With all ears turned towards me, I revealed my strategy.  Soon, mayhem ensued again on the Scat Cat with everyone catching Amberjack. 

Me with my amber Jack, didn't want to get too close

Me with my amber Jack, didn’t want to get too close

Proud of my catch!

Proud of my catch!

 

 

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Numba 1 Salsa Recipe up for 24 Hours Only! You Snooze You Lose!

Numba 1 Salsa

Numba 1 Salsa

It’s gone….. you’ll have to subscribe to my blog if you want the recipe.

 

 

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Back in the Saddle Again!

Happy New Year!  I fell off the wagon with writing even though I have ample material to write about.  Ah well, I needed some down time.  

I finally got brave enough to step onto the scale after 6 weeks of debauchery (testing most of the Pioneer Woman’s holiday recipes and different wines to accompany each dish) and was astonished that I only gained 2 pounds.  Only 2 pounds gained for all those glorious calories!  That  was all I needed to ignite enthusiasm to write again.  It must be all the green tea I’ve added to my diet, or the red wine…

Sweetie had to work throughout the holidays, but we managed to squeeze in some time together.  New Year’s day we  drove to the deer lease for the last weekend of hunting. We pulled into the ranch and were greeted by these cute fellas.

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What I thought was aggressive cow behavior, was really just curiosity…. There were about 20 throughout camp eager to find out what we were doing.  After unloading the truck I began to get the grill ready before it got dark.  I set up the grill, went to get the charcoal and found this cutie inspecting the grill!  They didn’t stick around much after discovering what was going on the grill.

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JW had been at the ranch a couple of weeks prior and said he saw a mountain lion at one of the stock tanks.  We heard that mountain lions were making a come back in this part of Texas, but to actually see one of these elusive creatures is very rare treat.  Sweetie and I went hiking the next morning, following one of the game trails.  It had rained earlier in the week so there were wildlife tracks everywhere!   A ton of deer and hog tracks, what looked like raccoon or skunk tracks and then near the stock tank… very large paw prints. 

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I found what looked like kitty poop along the trail .  Evidently, wild cats do not cover their poop like domestic kitties as a way to mark their territory.   I was very excited on this discovery and it confirmed that JW was not imagining seeing a mountain lion.  That afternoon as Sweetie and I pulled out of the ranch onto the dirt road that leads to the main road, about 15 yards in front of us something very large, dark, and very cat-like ran across the road heading into the ranch.   I cannot say for sure it was a mountain lion, but I feel very confident it was.  What a great start to the New Year… or so I thought.

We were on I-30 heading home and just passed downtown Ft. Worth when Sweetie shouts  ‘oh s*!# we just lost power!’  Our truck died travelling at 70 miles per hour.  He managed to pull safely to the shoulder and immediately checked the gas gauge.  We had a problem with the gas gauge before, but didn’t think we had driven far enough since we last filled up.  None the less the symptoms all pointed to no gas.  Thank goodness for modern technology, using our  smart device we located a gas station 1/2 a mile away.  Sweetie grabbed a gas can and began walking leaving me in the truck. 

I had been sitting in the truck for about 30 minutes when I look up to the side of  road and see this site:

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Haaa!  Only in Texas I thought does Roadside assistance come on horse back!  Then here comes Sweetie with the gas can.  Sadly, gas was not the problem.  Sweete is pretty handy when it comes to cars but this was not something he could fix on a Saturday evening on the side of a busy highway.  We ended up having the truck towed to a dealer… 2 days and $700 dollars later Sweetie is back in the saddle again!

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Here’s hoping 2016 is filled with adventure near and far and to staying upright in your saddle!

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