Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend with Cousins

This past weekend my cousin Shannon, her husband Ted, and their three 3 year old daughter Emma came for a weekend visit. My cousin Shannon is only a couple of years older than my son Lucas and I really never "knew" her well until we moved to Texas. I really enjoy her company. She has a pleasant personality and I feel comfortable around her. Ted also has a pleasant, accommodating personality. And as much as I really don't like small children, Emma is not even that me anyway. I think she drives her mom and dad

Shannon reminds me of my brother Buddy in the fact that she makes sure that visiting and maintaining family relationships are high on her priority list. They are what I would call the "backbone" of family relationships. Without members like them extended family relationships would cease to exist.

In the three days they were here we spent most of our time hanging out at my house, eating out at some of my favorite local restaurants, and even took Skye and Emma to Crowe's Nest Farm's Family Fun Day.

It was a pleasant weekend.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dallas Disaster

I'm being a little over dramatic with my title for this post, but our mini trip to Dallas was not how I envisioned it to be. Since moving to Austin almost 6 years ago, this would be our first visit to Dallas and all three of us were pretty excited about our little overnight getaway.

The past week has been a forecast for some much needed rain across all all of Texas. I was a little concerned about taking our trip with so much rain in the forecast but (a.) We were financing our hotel night with reward points we had earned through our credit card and since our reward points expired at the end of September cancelling would mean that we would lose our points and our hotel night. (b.) Rain in Texas is very unpredictable and we have chanced many a trip in the past with rain in the forecast only to end up with enough clear sky breaks to enjoy ourselves despite the rain.

The drive north to Dallas is an easy drive with no large cities to drive through to slow us down. That said, it started raining pretty hard about 2 hours in to Dallas. I'm a control freak when it comes to my car so I was driving. I'm really just sparing Toby the grief I would give him if anything ever happened to my car with him behind the wheel.

The rain was blinding at times and I was having to keep my eyes totally fixated on the road ahead of me. Luckily there wasn't too much traffic on I-35 at the time.

About 30 minutes outside of Dallas the traffic picked up a bit and the rain slightly let up. I began to relax a bit. About this same time Toby says calmly but firmly "Watch out for that guy next to you." I was so focused on the road ahead of me I didn't even notice the guy in the pickup truck next to me was fish tailing.

About the time I glanced over at him he had lost total control and was sliding right towards and in front of us. At that point, the only thought in my mind was to avoid running smack into him at the approximate speed of 60mph as he was sliding all over the road sideways right towards our car.

I slammed on the brakes but the road was so wet and slick that I just slid along towards his truck full speed as he was sliding off onto the shoulder of the highway. His truck finally was stopped by the railing on the bridge of the highway. I was still sliding towards him with my foot pressed on the brake with all my might. It didn't matter. It was too slick for me to stop.

The only option I had left was to hope there was nobody coming up beside me to the left and slide on around the butt end of his truck, which is exactly what I did.  As I slid around him I looked in my rear view mirror to see if I was about to get slammed by the vehicles behind us. Apparently the traffic behind us could foresee what was going on and had slowed down enough behind us not to have to partake in the slip and slide adventure. I really have absolutely no idea what was going on behind me but I'm pretty sure somebody most likely narrowly missed rear-ending me also.

I pulled over on the side of the road because I totally shaken and I also wanted to make sure the guy in the truck was okay and had not been hit by any oncoming cars. I asked Toby to look back and make sure the guy in the truck was okay. Once he told me he was okay I just cried from relief or maybe just the trauma of the whole ordeal.  It could have been so much worse than what it was. A narrow escape at it's best.

Once we finally made it to the hotel it was still raining. We dropped off our luggage and went for a bite to eat. The rain had put us behind in schedule so most of the indoor activities..museums, etc. were going to be closing in another couple of hours and we still had to eat dinner. I didn't want to pay full price for admission only to be rushed by a time frame. Also, anything outdoor was totally out of the question. It was even to rainy to walk around downtown.

We finally decided to go to the mall. It was absolutely the only option we had at that point and Skye has been asking to be taken to the mall for the past couple of weeks anyway.

The Dallas mall was a bit more upscale than the one in Austin but Skye did find something she had been in search for there.

We spent the evening at the hotel doing what we would have been doing at home...watching T.V and on our technical devices.

The next morning Toby and I got up and took Bo for a walk around the little quaint neighborhood behind the hotel. The air was crisp and moist with rain drizzle and I enjoyed walking around looking at the cute little uniquely decorated homes. For me, it was the highlight of the trip.

When we got back to the hotel Skye had already gotten dressed and ready to head back home so I proceeded to do the same.

I was brushing my hair at the large mirror in the bathroom area when all of a sudden I heard a cracking sound from above and the long oblong (approximately 5 feet long)  cover to the vanity mirror lights above came crashing down. Luckily I jumped back away from it before it hit the vanity and it crashed on the floor below me.

As I watched it hit the vanity counter on the way down I also watched it miss hitting the Canadian Mist bottle Toby and I had bought the night before before it landed on the floor.

About the time I noted the bottle was safe I looked down at the floor at the light cover and then crashed down the half full liquor bottle on the floor with it.

I have no idea how the liquor bottle ended up on the floor too because it was safe and sound just seconds before that.

When we went down and told the front desk about the mishap she told us it must have been a ghost. Hmmphh...that's what I thought

Even though the weekend was a bust in certain ways I was also very glad that we didn't get in a wreck nor did I get hit by the vanity cover. I was a little sad too because I really wanted to be able to check out some of the cool structures and buildings in downtown Dallas I could only see out my rainy, foggy car windows.

Because of all the rain I didn't even manage to get any pictures!! I feel like Dallas didn't get a chance and I'm not sure how long it will be before I get another chance to go there....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day Trippin': La Grange, Texas

I always try to take full advantage of the small window of cooler weather in the fall and spring months with outdoor activities. Today we headed to La Grange, Texas to check out the Monument Hill State Park.

This small state park is only a day park situated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River.

Skye in her preteen stage is not real impressed with walking around state parks but once she spotted the swings just inside the entrance her eyes lit up. I was pretty impressed to see the swings had the flat board seats instead of those strap types that squeeze your hips into submission.

We all three swung for awhile in the cool shade of the canopy of large trees overhanging the swing set.

Skye has only vague memories of Mobile but mentioned how she remembered swinging on her swing set when she was little and trying to touch the branches of the tall trees that shadowed our backyard with her feet as she swung up and down. Of course, she was way too little to do that back then but she was determined to accomplish that old dream she once had as a toddler.

It took many pumps and a lot of determination but she did it!!

The monument itself....

The view from the overlook was beautiful....

The old Kreische Brewery house sits right on the edge of the overlook. I envisioned how awesome it would be to live your daily life surrounded by nature and such a view....

The backside of the brewery, smokehouse, and stables......

Trails leading down to the actual brewery....

Overlooking the brewery. Toby made note that we were at a brewery but yet there were signs posted that said  "No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed"....

Here you can see the upper brewery overlook 
Skye disrupting Toby's meditative state....

Along the loop trail. The whole trail loop wasn't but about a mile but it was pretty steep in some spots.....

Luckily there was a water fountain along the trail!

It was an enjoyable day trip for us all.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ghost Tree

Whenever I know we have to go downtown for shop supplies I always make sure that we utilize our trip with some sight-seeing. I never bore of the visual experiences downtown Austin has to offer.

I had recently heard about a public art project called "Thirst" that will be displayed on Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) for the next couple of months.

I was immediately intrigued by the project because it appealed to my naturist side. A drought ridden Cedar Elm tree is painted white and displayed to appear to be hovering over the lake.

The tree really wasn't really all that spectacular (I'm sure it is more visually appealing at night when it is illuminated) and I don't think it was meant to be visually appealing as it was to bring awareness about the effects the drought has had upon the state of Texas and the thousands of trees that have been lost due to the drought. I applaud the awareness even though anyone that lives in Texas should already be aware of all the devastation that drought has brought. Read more about the project here.

Toby explaining the meaning of the Pac Man graffiti on the bridge - how do people get up there anyway?.....

Free Meals??? It was painted in several places all over the pedestrian bridge....

On to the Austin Nature and Science Center.....

Not very long ago Skye could stand under this dino rib cage without crouching

Playing in the dino pit is still fun

I always thought Skye got her looks from her father but as she matures she has caught me off guard more than a few times by resembling my mother in her younger days.....

At the lookout at the Nature Center

My best friend
This weekend is ACL (Austin City Limits) Skye seemed more interested in ACL than a walk down the trail. I sometimes forget she is not my little girl anymore that enjoys walking the trails picking up special rocks or pretending she is a Native American hunting for food. ACL next year maybe????

As we were exiting the Nature Center Skye took a couple of pics of ACL setting up. I remember before we moved to Austin Skye and I would sit up late at night watching Austin City Limits on PBS just so we could get a glimpse of downtown Austin. Now we can see it anytime we want....