College Football Weekend Fun

This past weekend I went to Lubbock for Tech’s last home football game with D.  Pumpkins good friend, Buddy tagged along to keep us out of mischief.  We left Friday morning with the car loaded with provisions and Christmas decorations for the college kids. Caprock10

Pumpkin met us at the Apple Country Orchards in Idalou (about 30 minutes before Lubbock).  Oh my… this is soooo worth a stop. You can pick your own organic apples, but the real treat, in my opinion, is the store and bakery.  They have apple pie, dried apples, apple butter, apple turnovers and are known for their German Apple Cake, but my favorite by far was the fresh pressed apple cider….yum!!  I have a half gallon in the freezer waiting for Thanksgiving if I don’t succumb to temptation before then.

View of the orchard from the back gazebo

View of the orchard from the back gazebo

Fresh Pressed Apple Cider. Keep frozen until ready to drink

Fresh Pressed Apple Cider. Keep frozen until ready to drink

Next, we head to Caprock Winery in Lubbock.  No dirt roads required to get to this lovely winery.

Caprock

I’ve mentioned before that the climate of the high plains of Texas are conducive to producing  very good wines and Caprock consistently produces award winning wines.   The tasting room is cozy and only $5 for 5 tastings.

caprock3 After the tasting kick up your boots and  enjoy a glass of your favorite on the patio.  On this cool afternoon, the Legacy Cabernet was my choice.

Caprock12Teeve and a couple more friends joined us for dinner later at Teddy Jacks, a fun bar and grill where the burgers are the star attraction. It’s always packed so expect a short wait, but there’s plenty of room in the bar or the outdoor patio to enjoy a drink while you wait.  Pumpkin ordered a burger with shaved ham and bacon, while the fries came in a cute little fry basket. I love cute food!

foodNext day was game day but with a 2:30 kick off there’s not a lot of time to do much but bar hop and eat lunch near the stadium.  The last home game of the season is special for two reasons. First, it’s to honor our country’s military both past and present.  Second, it’s to recognize and celebrate the seniors. Teeve’s girlfriend plays trumpet for the band and the half time performance was a tribute to all the branches of the military followed by a beautiful performance of Amazing Grace that brought tears to many an eye.  After the halftime performance, the seniors remain on the field and march across the field for a final time and  I cried again. You can watch the performance on YouTube.

The Masked Rider leads the team onto the field

The Masked Rider leads the team onto the field

Sunday we drove back home, my car loaded with wine, apple cider, apple turnovers. I had no room for the German Apple cake, guess Pumpkin will be making a stop on her way home for Thanksgiving.

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Getting a Leg up on Texas Hunting

Leave it to Sweetie and JW… they never cease to provide endless entertainment to satisfy our thirst for amusement!  We were exploring the new hunting lease in west Texas,  a beautiful 228+ acre ranch, half wooded and the other half cleared for hay.  There are multiple ponds throughout with cross-fencing to contain the cattle to specific areas.  D and I were riding with Billy, the rancher, while Sweetie, JW and Billy’s son followed on ATV’s.   We came across a barbed fenced area that enclosed an electric pole that begged to be investigated.  D and I felt no need to have a close look at an electric pole, so we stayed in the truck with Billy.

Sweetie and JW inspecting a feeder

Sweetie and JW inspecting a feeder

The guys needed a closer look at the pole, I’m not sure why… a pole is a pole to me….but what do I know?  The pole sat on the other side of a new sturdy barbed wire fence and should not have been much of a concern for the 6’3 statures of Sweetie, JW and Brian. Sweetie is sporting jeans, a long sleeved button down shirt and boots  while JW’s ensemble consists of his usual khaki shorts, t-shirt and hunting boots. Brian, easily negotiates the fence.  JW lifts his left leg over the fence… but not quite high enough and proceeds to snag his shorts on a barb of the fence… ahem… right smack in the middle of the crotch. He’s stuck at this point… can’t put his leg down nor can he get it over the fence.  Meanwhile back in the truck Billy, D and I are roaring with laughter at this spectacle.

We watch as Sweetie grabs his leg and tries lifting it over… but the barb won’t let go of the khaki shorts. JW hollers at him to take the barb out, Sweetie shouts back, ‘unless you have hot dog tongs I’m not going anywhere near that barb’.  In the truck, we are now crying from laughter.  Finally, Sweetie continues to lift JW’s leg up and down until the khaki shorts yield to the barb on the fence and rip a nice large hole in JW’s shorts.

 

 

 

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Scariest Halloween

Halloween 1992….. It was a Saturday and the weekend before our 2nd wedding anniversary. Our plan to celebrate was to spend the afternoon sailing on Lake Lavon, watch the sunset, then anchor in a cove for the night. According to the morning weather report, it was going to be a beautiful day with ideal conditions for sailing.

Nov 3, 1990

Nov 3, 1990

We sailed for several hours enjoying the cooler October weather, then settled in a cove for dinner and watched a spectacular Texas sunset. As the stars came out it got chilly so we went inside and settled in for the night. About 2 hours later the wind began to pick up rocking the boat followed by a pretty good rain. Then came the thunder.. and the lightening far up in the clouds. What the heck? There had been no storms in the forecast. We were pretty far from the marina but we pulled the anchor and began to motor back.    The storm, however, passed quickly and we decided to anchor in another cove once again. We survived the storm…. or so we thought.

By now it was about 11:30, we were snuggled in the front berth, the boat gently rocking us to sleep. Then off in the distance I could hear thunder building. The gentle rocking of the boat became more intense. The lightening this time was not striking high in the clouds but sky to ground. I could not believe this was happening again. The intensity of the storm was building, rocking the boat violently with lightening strikes all around us with a 30 foot mast making us an easy target. What is the first rule when in a storm on a lake?   Get away from the water. We were about 60 yards from shore on a remote part of the lake so even if we could manage to get to shore there was no where safe to go.

Unlike the previous storm this one was not passing quickly but became more intense. The wind shifted direction becoming more powerful and started rotating the boat around, the anchor broke free, now the waves pushed us towards shore. I was distressed to say the least and knew this was the end. The wind continued to beat the boat closer to shore, we were clearly aground now the 22 foot O’Day listing farther on its side with each wave that hit. Trapped in the cabin is not where we wanted to be as we concluded that we were going to swamp and sink if we stayed here. We went up on deck and prepared for the inevitable swim to shore.

Assessing the situation, we knew once we got to shore we would not be out of the woods. We were many miles from help (no cell phones back then), we would be soaked on a chilly fall night and still vulnerable to the lightening. With a new determination to fight Mother Nature, Sweetie makes the decision to try to pull the boat out. He jumps in the frigid water and uses the power of each wave to slowly pull the boat back out until she was upright once again. This took about 30 minutes, he climbs back in and shouts ‘ we are getting the hell out of here!’

The rudder had been damaged when the boat was grounded, sailing back was not an option. The O-Day had an outboard motor that you controlled by hand, so completly soaked and shivering we began motoring back to the marina. The intensity of the storm was starting to subside but with all the lightening we were still not out of the woods. We were in the middle of the lake now, the waves continuing to pound the boat when the motor came loose from the motor mount on the back of the boat, it must have come loose when the boat grounded. Somehow…. Sweetie managed to hold on to it.   This could not be happening I thought…..at least before we were in a cove pretty close to shore. Now we were in the middle of the lake with a motor no longer attached, no rudder hence no way to control the boat! Thank God for Sweetie.  He managed to reattach the motor and get us moving again. What seemed like hours we finally made it back to the marina, the storm had passed. Cold and soaked but we had survived! We drove home as the sun began to rise, welcoming a new day. We gave thanks to live another day. We welcomed our first child, Stevie, 9 months later.

Today, as Sweetie and I celebrate our 25 year anniversary we also celebrate life. We celebrate that we survived that fateful Halloween night 22 years ago and celebrate the family we created. Halley was born 3 years later.  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SWEETIE! I love you.

 

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Travel Rule #4

Tragically 5 people lost their lives when their whale watching vessel sank from Tofino, BC over the weekend.  Upon hearing the news and details of the incident, I realized this was the same boat we had taken when we visited Tofino about 14 years ago.  One of the exciting things about traveling is seeing new things and adventure, but, with adventure comes risk.  With risk, there are ways to mitigate the risk when you travel.  Throughout the years and with each adventure, back road and pothole, Sweetie and I developed a list of travel rules to keep us safe.

Tofino is on the west side of Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the Clayoquot Sound and getting there is an adventure in itself.  There are a couple of ways to get on the island, we chose the scenic route…..a  2 hour ferry ride from Horse Shoe Bay to Nanaimo followed by a 3 hour drive on the Pacific Rim Highway.  OMG… the scenery is spectacular! I’ve had the privilege of traveling to some gorgeous places….but Vancouver Island and Tofino are still in my top 5 most beautiful places I’ve visited.

We arrived in Tofino after night fall… which breaks Travel Rule #1, be where you need to be before the sun goes down.   Tofino is pretty remote….and very dark….. trying to find the cabin we rented in the middle of a rain forest among towering Sitka Spruce was not an easy task.  We finally found the dark cabin and unpacked the car.  It was very cozy on the inside…but you could see absolutely nothing outside.  There was a sliding back door with no curtains that looked out to what I assumed was the back yard… it was very hard to see even with the dim porch light.

Sweetie and I were peering out when all of a sudden we saw this great big, black thing come bounding through the trees towards us.  In that dim light all I could see was a fresh out of hibernation, hungry black bear making a B-line for the sliding glass door.  When he got within 4 feet from the door, we could see that it was NOT a black bear, but in fact a very large, shake my entire body, happy dog.  When the sun rose the next morning, we could actually see our  our cabin was not the only one in that vicinity.  There were several in the area and our furry welcoming committee actually belonged to one of these homes but came to visit us daily.

We spent about 4 days in Tofino but one of the highlights of the trip was the whale watching tour.  It was not the best conditions to be out on the water and we only ended up seeing 1 whale, but in light of the tragedy over the weekend I have added another travel rule to my list.  Travel Rule # 4, when on a boat, know where the life jackets are and confirm they are there.

This site http://www.tourismtofino.com/ has very good information on Tofino and travel resources.

Dock in Tofino, BC

Dock in Tofino, BC

Teev and Pumpkin on the Whale Watching Boat

Teev and Pumpkin on the Whale Watching Boat

 

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Fall means College Football!

Summer has come to a close.  I love summer.  I love being outdoors… sitting outside sipping a cup of coffee as the sun rises or sitting outdoors sipping a glass of wine as the sun sets.   I know most folks living in Texas are ready for cooler weather as August and September roll around… but not me, I wish warm weather would last a bit longer.   I know most will think I am absolutely nuts… but I must confess….I turned on the heat in my car to get the chill out this morning as I set off for work .  I know the high in north Texas was 92 today, but this morning it was 62 and there was a chill… promise!

But alas, there is a bright side to summer ending… there is always a bright side.  College football is in full swing.  I became addicted to football when Teev started playing in junior high.   Football in Texas is an entirely different topic for another day.  Now both Teeve and Pumpkin are in college at Texas Tech in the High Plains of Texas… in the Panhandle.  They both played in the marching band at Tech until this year (also another topic for another day… Marching Band in Texas), but we still attend a couple of games, because it’s so darn fun!

The last week of September we attended the Tech vs TCU game.  Most people have the misconception that Lubbock, Texas is flat and dull… nothing to see or do.  Far from the truth!  Like all my travels, ye must seek and ye shall find.  The High Plains region climate is very conducive to growing grapes for wines.  There are several excellent wineries around Lubbock so we typically visit one or two on our weekend trips.

We left for Lubbock early in the morning and rolled in about 11:30 am.  Our first stop was CapRock Winery.  This is by far one of the prettiest wineries in Lubbock with a knowledgeable staff.

CapRock Winery Entrance

CapRock Winery Entrance

Tastings are $5.00 for 5 generous tastings, afterwards you may enjoy a glass outdoors on the gorgeous patio.  Football weekends are a fun time to visit if you are not partaking in tailgates, there is a good crowd and lively conversation.  However, eating prior to wine tasting is highly recommended… I had not eaten all day and ended up drinking a couple of glasses and was pretty smashed by the time we left.  Sweetie had to help me to the car and find food quickly.

Sweetie enjoying the Cabernet on the CapRock Winery patio

Sweetie enjoying the Cabernet on the CapRock Winery patio

Me getting smashed...

Me getting smashed…

Like all college towns, there are many good restaurants in Lubbock.  We discovered a new place off the loop, called Teddy Jacks.  There is usually wait, but oh so worth it.  You can enjoy a beverage outside on the patio while you wait.  The burgers and sandwiches are tops!  Once I got food in my stomach I was good to go.

Burger

Our second winery, Pheasant Ridge Winery, was a bit more challenging to find. We thought the GPS was taking us on a wild goose chase.  We were outside of Lubbock on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere, with cotton fields and Prairie Dogs on either side until grapes vines finally appeared alongside the road.

Road to Pheasant Ridge Winery

Road to Pheasant Ridge Winery

Grapevines at Pheasant Ridge Winery

Grapevines at Pheasant Ridge Winery

This winery is a lot more intimate and quaint with knowledgeable staff as well.  Very good wines, the whites being their best in my opinion.

Sweetie and wine barrels at Pheasant Ridge Winery

We did make it to the game the next day.  There is much to absorb on campus on a game day…. tailgates, food, band, cheerleaders and traditions like the wrapping of the statue of Will Rogers on his  horse, SoapSuds, in red crepe paper.

Statue of Will Rogers on his horse Soapsuds covered in crepe paper on the Texas Tech campus.

Statue of Will Rogers on his horse Soapsuds covered in crepe paper on the Texas Tech campus.

Goin Band performing half time show.

Goin Band performing half time show.

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Adding Insult to Injury… Potholes from the Ranch

Hunting season is upon us… In Texas, deer season opens the first weekend of November. Beginning around September, hunters begin the process of putting all their hunting accouterments in place at their lease in hopes of hoodwinking a deer into believing it has been there all the time. I’m told you have to get the stand in place months before opening weekend so the deer come to think that it is a natural part of the environment.

I can’t speak for other hunters, but for Sweetie and JW, hunting is not about the ‘kill’ but rather spending time in nature, camping, drinking wine by the bonfire while the kids roast marshmallows. The hunting lease we were on was 600 beautiful hilly acres with no water or electricity. We had to bring everything in including water in 5 gallon containers.

A couple of years ago, we all went out to the deer lease… sometime in late September. It was me, Sweetie, the kids, my best friend D, her husband, JW, some of the other hunters, their wives and kids. The guys had been working all day setting up their stands, cutting wood and other ‘guy’ stuff, which involved getting really sweaty and grimy. Earlier that morning we hung a Coleman shower bag full of water, as long as the sun was out, the water would get very warm and even hot.

Coleman Camp Shower

Coleman Camp Shower

After they finished working Sweetie wanted to take advantage of the warm water and shower off some of the grime. Normally if it had been all guys, he would have stripped down at camp and showered. But, with women and children about, Sweetie was forced to find a more discreet area.  He found a nice wooded spot behind the camper, with some beautiful foliage that was starting to show the vibrant colors of fall. He hollers for me to come ‘stand guard’ to keep anyone from mistakenly walking by. I walk over, Sweetie is lathering up, butt naked under the Coleman shower bag, surrounded by the most beautiful red, orange and yellow foliage I’d seen all day. I look at him and say… ‘ you know you are showering amongst poison ivy’. With a dumbfounded look, covered in soap suds, there is nothing he can do at this point except finish and wash off the soap.

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The humiliation did not end there… oh no. Within a couple of days Sweetie had a serious poison ivy rash, with a considerable amount not visible while clothed. Calamine lotion and Benadryl was not going to provide a quick remedy to the rapidly spreading rash that would not allow scratching in public. He went to see our doctor that periodically had interns working with him. This time the intern was a young girl that looked all of 22, Sweetie’s rash was going to be a ‘teachable moment’.  Adding insult to injury, not only did he have to explain the circumstances of said rash, but the doctor insisted on seeing ALL the rash because it could be something other than poison ivy.  Some years the deer need not fear the hunter…..they die from laughter.

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Don’t think…. just drive

A lot of the bridges in Costa Rica are one lane.  Quite a few are the suspension type that traverse a gorge with lots of sharp, jagged rocks and rushing water.  The sensation as you drive across is like going though turbulence, only you’re in a car and you keep thinking about those sharp, jagged rocks below.  My best advice…  don’t think about it… just drive… but not too quickly or that sensation I mentioned gets worse.

Coming into Quepos this bridge looked innocent enough.  What you don’t see in this picture are the holes.  I’m talking large, gaping holes that opened up to what lurked below. Happily, a new bridge has since been built and no need to pause for a Hail Mary before crossing.

Costa Rica Bridge

I frankly preferred not to know if these little fellas we spotted earlier were hanging out below.

Crocs

croc 2

 

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Man over Board

This sign on a catamaran on a snorkel trip in Costa Rica tickled me. It reminded me of a time we were on Lake Texoma with our good friends D and JW. Lake Texoma sits along the Red River bordered by Texas and Oklahoma.  It is a huge lake, the 12th largest lake in the US with 74,686 surface acres of water, 580 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 100 feet.   Lake Texoma is able to support large private yachts up to 60 feet in length. Boats of this size can create a wake of up to 5 feet which jet skiers love.

Man Over Board

Man Over Board

It was late afternoon and we were fishing, Pumpkin was only 5 at the time. Sweetie was helping her with her rod. Sweetie looks up, sees a large cabin cruiser and yells out to everyone ‘Hold on!’ We all do, except JW. The wake from the cruiser was about 4 feet and with one mighty heave, it pitches JW out of the boat and into the lake. Pumpkin, in a very casual voice says “man over board’.

We all look, and sure enough JW is in the water. D cannot contain herself and is laughing hysterically. Sweetie asks ‘why didn’t you hang on?’ JW is the size of a NFL player at 6’3 250+ pounds with a ‘I can’t believe that just happened’ look on his face.  Sweetie is no small fry himself, but with no ladder on our boat he grabs JW by the forearm, uses the force from another wave, and hoists JW back in the boat.  The way JW just popped back in the boat reminded me when penguins pop out of the water back on shore.

 

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Calm After the Storm

It’s been so chaotic the last 2 weeks getting the kids back to college…. well Pumpkin mainly.  Now that she’s not a freshman, she is able to live off campus and requires a lot of stuff.  But on the brighter side… I was able to pawn off… I mean ‘contribute’ a lot of stuff I didn’t want any more on her and her room mates.

So, we loaded up a 16 foot open trailer and the bed of our truck full of furniture and ‘stuff’ including a queen mattress and box spring, 2 twin beds, new Ikea furniture, rugs, electronics, wall décor and boxes of kitchen equipment for the 5 ½ hour drive to Lubbock, TX.  The drive entails driving thru desert.  In North Texas and the high plains area…. it rarely rains… especially in August.   If we are lucky to have rain, it is usually a drizzle.  So, I felt perfectly comfortable pulling a trailer full of ‘stuff’ without a tarp (plus I checked the weather as an added precaution).

We were past Seymour entering the ‘tough’ part of the drive.  There are no gas stations, rest stops or pretty much anything for about an hour and a half except ranches and tumbleweeds along the route we take.  It begins getting dark, then the skies open up and it pours… and pours… and pours for almost 2 hours.   There is absolutely nothing to do except keep driving and cry.

We make it to Lubbock and remarkably everything was salvageable except 1 twin mattress and the queen mattress.  The roommate’s brand new Ikea furniture, rugs and pictures were a bit wet but they dried nicely and you would never have known they just drove thru the desert in a storm.

The house is quiet now, my kitchen is clean and I miss Pumpkin and all her friends that pretty much lived with us all summer.  I found myself looking at old pictures today like I always do when I become melancholy.  I found pictures from our trip to Costa Rica in 2012 and came across the sloth Pumpkin spotted in the canopy next to the house we rented in Manuel Antonio.

It is not an easy thing to spot a sloth in the wild.  They typically are high in the canopy of the jungle, camouflaged and do not move.  If they do move, they are VERY slow.  The house we stayed in was built along a hill with 3 levels (114 stairs to get to the first level).   The 3rd level had a large balcony with a birds eye view of the top of the canopy.  Sloths are beautiful creatures that have a permanent smile on their faces and I find them calming, almost like having a glass of wine.  Maybe it’s because they appear to smile all the time, or that they are in no hurry to get anywhere.  Nonetheless,  spending time looking at these pictures today was just the therapy I needed.

Teev searching for the sloth below the canopy

Teev searching for the sloth below the canopy

Sloth 1Sloth 2Sloth 3Sloth 4

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I’m so excited!!!

I know I’m a bit off color and march to the beat of the drum in my head…. but I’m more excited about a new movie being released on Labor Day Weekend than the new Star Wars episode!

I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson several years ago on a plane to somewhere.  I remember laughing so hard I was crying and passengers all around me and several rows in front and back of me had to come over and see what the hullabaloo was about. Now, when I start laughing this hard I literally cannot stop.  My face scrunches up as if in severe  pain, my mouth opens uncontrollably, tears roll from my eyes and a strange noise emits from within.  I’m talking serious laughter folks.  This was pre 9-11, so, no air marshal was summoned, nor did anyone feel the need to restrain me.  When everyone realized I was reading a book, they simply had to know what it was.  Of course I couldn’t speak so I just had to hold up the cover.

As with any book converted to movie, I only hope the colorful cast of characters are portrayed as I imagined in my head.  Click to see the trailer if your interested.  I have not seen the trailer, but will wait to be surprised on Labor Day weekend.

Walk in the Woods

 

 

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