Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still On the Road: Does the Fun Ever Stop? Not in Texas!

And just when you thought I was running out of things to write about on our Grand Texan Roadtrip, I pull out one of our really cool stops!

Oh, I know what some of your are thinking. You are thinking "But. . . but. . . it's just fast food."

Put away those lame thoughts! This is not just ANY fast food! This is

SONIC fast food! The only fast food I lust and dream about during long North Dakota winters! The fast food with HEAT! The fast food that includes jalapeƱo peppers stuffed with some kind of heart-stopping cream cheese concoction.

Oh, sure, we have your usual array of lame McDonalds and Burger King, but Texans have SONIC, where the food is delivered to your car window by servants (I mean servers) on roller skates! Oh, that I might live to see the day when food is delivered in the depths of winter in North Dakota to me by people on roller skates!

(Nah! Either it would mean global warming had done us all in, big-time, or I'd feel so guilty, I'd have to bundle the young-uns into my car and turn the heater on full blast to thaw them out, and then I'd get arrested for kidnapping popsicle-ified Sonic workers.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shiner, Texas

Shiner, TX, has more than just it's brewery to be proud of. I thought the little streets and building were very appealing and it made me think about what it is that makes one little town, with old buildings, look so appealing, where another little town might just look shabby.

Some of us has to do with the maintenance. . . fresh paint, not allowing the city to fall into disrepair. . . .

. . . attention to detail and actually using downtown space for small little enterprises. . .
. . . . a spy, or two, with a camera. . .

. . . . and of course, making sure the town has the wonderful Doug to grace it's space with his presence!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shiner Texas and Beer Nickels

Once we left rain-drenched Austin Texas, we headed down to Galveston. But every good Road Trip requires random stops and detours for this and that. . . .

. . . .like a brewery tour in Shiner, TX. During the tour, no photos are allowed, in case we are tempted to duplicate in our living rooms, with 23 million dollars worth of equipment, the beer-making process.

But at the end of the tour, you are given 4 nickels to redeem for cups of beer, and you can sample the various varieties.

Fortunately, these are not full-sized glasses, but after finishing two of them, I was more than willing to abandon a 3rd, and pocket the cool, wooden nickel.

The town of Shiner itself is quite picturesque, and I thought this wagon wheel walk would be an ideal spot for portraits.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More of Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas

We floated along on a pontoon, captained by the ever-charming Robert with his ipad navigation, and the beautiful and gracious Barb. We stopped for lunch at The Spot . . .

. . . and were treated to this extraordinary paradise-like view outside of the lake:

You just know what I'm going to be daydreaming about all winter in North Dakota! Poor Dianna! This trip was her idea, and she didn't even get to go on it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Little More of the Lake

After we left Forney, we just headed through rain, rain, and more rain to get to rain-drenched Austin, TX.

So, rather than show you shots of rain-sloshed windshields, here's a little flash-back to the lake by Robert and Barb's house.

Look! A haunted castle on the lake (it actually would look haunted, if I used Topaz Adjust's ghostly preset, but I haven't decided yet whether I want to buy the program):

Do I really need to label this "sailboat" because I bet you could figure it out. (You'd catch me if I called it a submarine, right?)

Robert docked the pontoon on the lake at a marina, and we all had lunch at The Spot. Robert uses his ipod to navigate around the lake; I thought it was funny to see another person at The Spot with his ipad being used for lake navigation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Fun Never Stops on a Road Trip with Robert & Barb!

Oh, no. . . the fun never stops! Not with hotspots like Forney, TX! Sadly, we weren't there to partake of the festivities during the Jackrabbit Stampede.

Just imagine how Robert might have behaved during such a festival!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Forney, Texas and Doug-in-a-Cage

I love traveling with Robert and Barb, and of course, Doug. They are all perfect "Photo-Walk" companions. Robert and Barb both also search for photo opportunities, and Doug indulges us all.

After the Beer Barn, we headed to Forney, TX, on our way to Austin. The rain gave us a little respite, and we checked out some antique stores in Forney. This one was filled with art reproductions, and (expensive) photo opportunities. It's so much fun to go "shopping" with a camera; you just just click a way at pretty things, and leave your wallet safely tucked away.

Not Doug:

Not Doug:

Definitely not Doug:

Not Doug:

Not Doug:

Not Doug:

At last, Doug-in-a-Cage: *sigh* It's so hard to keep track of husbands these days. . .

But will he sing?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1st Choice: Zoo; 2nd Choice: Beer Barn

If you can't drive through the zoo because of the rain, there's always the drive-through beer barn in Texas!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ice Cream & Barbeque Any One?

I'd always heard about "Texas Barbeque" and had never eaten in one, so we stopped at a barbeque place during our Texas Road Trip.

I never would have expected the ice cream to be part of it.

My little brother, Robert, demonstrated the fine art of Barbeque Topping of Ice Cream Cones, much to the chagrin of Barb.

Now do you understand what I must have gone through all the time during my childhood?????

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Much for Blue Skies

But of course, if we are in vacation mode, the Weather Curse becomes highly sensitized to our location and finds us! We had a beautiful, gorgeous first day on the lake, and then awoke to this weather:

I just love road trips with Robert and Barb! I swear: we could look at crickets in a gutter for hours on end with these two and have a great time! Just being around them is a total treat, and it doesn't take much for us to have a great time with them.

We have only one minimum, measly, requirement: that Robert not sink the boat.

This was not the best weather for our planned trip to the zoo, but we decided to head for Austin, TX anyway, and make the best of it. And make the best of it, we did! We thought we'd zigzag a little and avoid the storm, but Tropical Storm Hermine zeroed in on us, and turned toward us. Barb valiantly did all of the driving, and safely got us to Austin, TX.

There were a few moments of respite in the rain, allowing us to partake of some wonderful detours through the Beer Barn, a stop at a Texas barbeque where Robert doused his ice cream cone with Tabasco sauce (and yes, I have the photos to prove it!), a scenic drive through Forney, TX, and its antique stores, and a tour of the Shiner Brewery.

By the time we got to Austin, we felt somewhat drowned.

Now, here's a digression: I'm reading a most wonderful book, "Little Bee." This book highlights the challenges we face in our lives, asking us to step out of our own little worlds and reach out to other people. We often don't really know how we'll actually react until we're really faced with a situation, and sometimes how we react is not what we had hoped for of ourselves; we might wish we'd reached to be better people than we proved to be.

That's how I feel about what happened to us in Austin.

Two people told us about their car troubles, and Robert graciously gave them a ride to another part of Austin. Robert and Barb have hearts of gold, and readily extended help to these two. I truly wish I had done the same thing; I admit that I felt some suspicion about what they had to say, and wish that I had just taken what they said at face value, and offered more to them. But I feel honored to know Robert and Barb, and how they are in the world.

(Even if Robert does put Tabasco Sauce on his ice cream cone, and eats it, and yes. . . I will show you the photos tomorrow!)

This last photo is the four of us, post-drowning and seeking food at Sullivan's, in Austin, TX

Monday, September 13, 2010

The North Dakota-Texas Connection

How do we even begin to return to North Dakota after such a wonderful week?

Doug and I got to visit my brother, Robert, and Barb, in Texas this past week. You know, Doug and I of the Weather Curse. . . . you can pretty much figure out where we were by just thinking about that Hurricane Hermine, that came ashore as a tropical storm, and traveled up the center of Texas.

That's where we drove, from the Fort Worth area to Galveston, TX.

And before the Angry Weather Gods figured out we were there (whatEVER did we do to them????), we got to go out on Robert's pontoon and float on a real, honest-to-God, lake in hot, hot, Texas weather! It was total bliss!

And I don't know what Robert and Doug were exactly doing in this shot. . . . but look at the looks on their faces. . . .

. . . whatever is going through their brains is most likely, at minimum, wicked, slightly deranged, and perhaps even illegal. . . .

. . . . but at least it didn't sink the boat.

We went to sleep under this beautiful sky. . . .

If you have a chance, and haven't seen it already, check out the comment from the "Mayor of Arvilla" on my previous post.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arvilla, ND: Not likely to have a traffic jam

If you get tired of all the hub bub and urban commotion in Larimore, ND, head on over to Arvilla, ND for a slower paced little. . . .ummmm. . . .excursion.

There are the thrills of the Hitching Post where you can sample your favorite beverage. . . .

And then make all your friends insanely jealous of your time at the Hitching Post by sending them lengthy letters about your wild adventures. . .

. . . before leaving town, be sure to enjoy the exotic scenery of the grain bins. . . and . . . .

. . . that's all there is in Arvilla, ND.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Larimore: Hotbed of Activity

Can you really imagine what it would be like to grow up in a little town like this? This is kitty-corner from the bank and drug store and is, apparently, the entertainment district. Oh! And down the block was an area that looked like it would get flooded in winter and turned into an ice skating rink.

Above, note the combination of "Larimore improvement," and "off sale"--not the juxtaposition that I would normally have in mind! Below is a closer shot of the "Tumbleweed."

I actually wanted to go in there. I wanted to go in there, see if there was a person that looked willing to let me photograph them, and even ask them what it was like to live in this little town. But I chickened out.

Directly across from the bank was the shopping district. Note the farmer's market, and the competition to the "Tumbleweed."

I regret that I didn't go over and talk to this man and check out the vegetables. They certainly look better than what we have growing in our yard this summer! I'm vowing to be much braver on our next road trip to little towns.

Pat's comment yesterday about "one stoplight" made me laugh!

But maybe the train crossing light kind of counts as a stoplight.

This really was the "teeming metropolis." It's actually one of the larger towns around. The next little town I drove into, Arvilla, ND, has a population of 293. The incidence of personal crime per 10,000 residents is 6. How does that work with a population of 293? Would that be like one middle school kid hitting another middle school kid in oh, say, 1980?