Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pickin' Party

Last Sunday afternoon a few of us here at Pecan Grove RV park got in our cars and drove about 30 miles West into the Texas Hill Country near Spicewood. Our destination was a very cool party at the home of Freddy Powers. There was a solid 8 hours of some of the best music you could ever hope to hear.

You may not instantly recognize the name Freddy Powers but, you know his music. He holds 5 BMI awards for #1 records which he has written for Merle Haggard and George Jones including, "Looking for a Place to Fall Apart," "Friend in California," "I Always get Lucky with You," "Let's Chase Each Other Round the Room Tonight." You may have also seen a PBS special about him just a couple of weeks ago.

Neither Willy nor Merle showed up while we were there but, we did get to hear a soon to be released cd that Willy had dropped off before we got there. Also present was Hall of Famer, Sonny Throckmorton who has 18 number one hits to his credit. That is Sonny in the photo sitting right in front of the bass player (just to the right of the gray hat). Our friend Ron, that invited us to the party, is on the left playing the drums. Immediately to the right of Ron, playing the guitar, is Steve Carter.

We sure had a great time just standing around listening to music and visiting with everybody. Looking forward to the next one!

Monday, December 18, 2006

New RV

Lloyd has written of our sailing trip so well that I didn't really feel the need to add to it. For a city girl like me it was quite an adventure and one I will never forget. I will say I did much better than I thought I would. My sailing experiences had been limited to Lake Travis on days that the weather was perfect so I really did not know what to expect, although Lloyd did his best to explain what the experience would be like. I would do it again though, but not right now.... for now we are happy to be home and getting back to normal.

About 2 weeks before we left on the sailing “mission” (as Lloyd puts it) I found a heck of a deal on a 32 foot, 1999 Prowler 5th wheel with 3 slides. Being short on time, we had to really hustle to complete the purchase of the new-to-us trailer and sell the smaller one. Selling the old one was easy! We took pictures and posted it on Craig's List (that is where I found the new one). We sold it in 2 days to the second person who looked at it and got nearly what we paid for it 4 years ago. So we were happy! A friend helped us move the 5th wheel from it's location north of Georgetown because our truck wouldn't pull a trailer this large. We finished getting it set up in Pecan Grove RV Park 5 days before we left on our trip so we barely had our things moved back in before we left.

This one is in really good condition. It looks like it had been used only occasionally. We had to replace the refrigerator and the carpet to put it in tiptop condition. Oh and we did have to evict some wasps and dirt dobbers. The wasps were pissed off let me tell you!!!!

I am thrilled about all the extra space we now have. We have two huge slides in the living area, and one in the bedroom which gives us lots of room! We have tons of storage, so everthing has it's place. The kitchen has hardwood flooring that matches the cabinets.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to decorate it. Guess when our grandaughter, Noel, gets here she can help since interior design is her major. AND grandma can use all the help she can get.

Friday, December 15, 2006

We are not Moving

I think, by now, every single person we know in Austin has called or emailed to tell us how sorry they are to hear we are having to move due to the closing of our RV park in downtown Austin. The thing that got all this started was a development plan for the land that now is the Shady Grove RV park which is a 37 lot RV park next door.

This does not effect Pecan Grove, where we live, at all. We have no illusions that we will be able to stay here forever but, for now, there are no plans to close Pecan Grove. In fact, the Shady Grove thing is far from being a done deal, from what we hear. The developer is asking for a variance to build to 75 feet, which will require council action, in the face of neighborhood opposition. Who knows how that will go.

Since we have primarily made our living in real estate, we understand the desire of owners to see their property develop. On the other hand, it is sad to see a uniquely Austin business, like a downtown RV park, replaced with high rise condos. Every time something like this happens, Austin loses a little of it's weirdness.

Just wanted to clarify what was going on. We should be here for many years to come and, if someday the RV park closes, we may get a condo or apartment downtown. We have gotten used to living down here and it would be hard to find anything we liked as much.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In Case You Still had any Doubt

Normally when I write about our country's foolish endeavor in Iraq, it turns into a complete rant. I am not going to do that this time even though I am still infuriated at the needless loss of life and waste of this nation's treasure. It will not be a rant this time because the tiny group that still supports this unmitigated disaster is, at this point, unreachable and I can now accept that with a certain degree of calm.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group report is now in and confirms what this writer and many, many others have been saying for years, and now should be clear to the entire world. Not since WW II has this country been in such a potentially disastrous position and you can thank President Bush for every life lost and dollar spent.

The Report clearly states there are no good options out of this situation. We will probably just pull out over the next year or so and leave behind even worse problems, along with, at present count, up to half a million dead Iraqi's.

What will happen to those that lied, manipulated intelligence data, invaded a sovereign nation, killed a half million people, killed 3,000 of our own boys and girls, injured 10's of thousands more, destroyed our standing in the world, and unnecessarily dragged us into the most expensive war in our nation's history? The short answer is, "Nothing," other than a little political heat.

If any other country had done this, we would be the loudest voice calling for the arrest and trial of the perpetrators as war criminals. I guess there are distinct advantages to being the biggest bully on the block.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Catching Up

Obviously, we have been back in Austin for a while now and I have not posted anything to the blog. I almost blogged myself out on the three weeks we were away sailing. I have actually gotten a few emails to the effect, "What the hell is going on, we know you are home, post something!"

Sorry about that and here goes. We have been busy catching up on going out dancing. It is amazing how much you forget in three weeks. Also, I did not get to do any running on the trip and have been trying to get back in shape since we got home.

Thanksgiving was great! We had dinner with Betty Peterson and her family. Allen and Deborah brought Allysa down to Pecan Grove the next day and we all had a nice visit. Here is a photo of Deborah and Allysa on our patio. Just look at that long curly hair; have you ever seen anything so cute???!!!

Here is one of Allysa with the stuffed turtle we got her; at the moment, turtles are a big deal to her.

A couple of days ago we had a very nice happy hour here in our RV with our new friend and next door neighbor, Sandy.

Ted and Nancy Forcum stopped by Pecan Grove with their RV a couple of days ago while on their way to the Rio Grande Valley. We all went to the Dallas Night Club tonight. A very weird thing happened tonight at Dallas. This was only the second time in our lives we have gone there on a Wednesday night. We bumped into an old friend, Tim Mosely, who we have not seen in at least 10 years. Tim said this was his first trip to Dallas in about 8 years. It was quite a coincidence and great to see him.

I hope this gets me off the hook. More will be coming and, on a regular basis.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Back in Austin

Well, we are home from the sailing trip. Actually got home day before yesterday, but have not had a chance to post anything. Been catching up on a lot of sleep but, to be honest, have gone out running a couple of times and even made it out dancing Friday night at the Dallas Nightclub so it has not been all rest.

Had a few more photos from the trip that I wanted to post. After we got into Tampa, Bob had the boat hauled out of the water and put in storage to sell. The photos of it coming out of the water were fairly interesting, to me at least. I hope you enjoy them.

Here is one of a visitor we had after we entered Tampa Bay. We actually had several of these offshore, but this is the first one we managed to get a photo of. It is very hard to get a shot because they come up so quickly and are so quickly gone. Notice there are two in this photo.

I can't believe we do not have a photo of all four of us together, so I am making do by posting two photos. One is missing Gene and one is missing me - can you guess who was taking the photo in each?

By-the-way, the lift you see picking up Sirena is controlled wirelessly from a hand held controller. It has a diesel generator supplying power to the motors and is rated for 55 tons. Sirena weighs 17 tons, so was no strain at all for the lift. This boat yard also had a 75 ton lift. After lifting the boat, it is driven wirelessly to the storage area where it sets the boat down.

Here is one of Sirena being set down in her new parking space. Notice the yellow thing in the guy's hand behind the boat. That is the wireless hand held controller with which he is driving the lift.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nov. 14 - Tampa, Florida

Well, I am happy to report we have made a successful delivery from St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands to Tampa, Florida via St. Croix and Puerto Rico! At the moment, we are all pretty well worn out from the trip and glad to have it behind us. However, we all are very happy to have made the voyage.

Got tied up to the dock about 4:30 PM this afternoon. Since we did not have an internet connection at the marina, Peggy and I went to a nearby motel to get all the posts that have been waiting put on the web site.

The trip from Key West was a pretty quick 30 hours or so. We are going over to the marina in the morning to help Bob get things off the boat and do some cleaning, then we are off to the airport for a 3:15 PM flight to Austin.

The leg to Tampa was mostly windless so we motored most of the way. Here is the Skipper having his lunch today. Notice the glassy water in the background.

And, here is the Skipper sleeping off that lunch.

Sailing a modern, well equiped sail boat is difficult, but much easier than it was just a few decades ago. Sirena has roller furling main, staysail, and jib. All lines can be handled from the cockpit which means there is very little need to go forward while underway. It also allows for infinitely adjustable sail area, which is much easier than tying in a reef.

There are a couple of people that we all agreed needed to be thanked for making the trip much easier for us. First we want to thank Rudolf Diesel who kept us moving when the wind didn't. And we don't want to forget Mr. Garmin who gives us our position any time we want it to within + or - 30 feet.

Nov. 13 - Key West

Got in Key West about 1:30 AM this morning. It is a fairly complicated arrival, but probably easier at night than in the day since the lighted bouys are easier to see. There are about 8 miles of narrow channels with 5 or 6 turning points to navigate through the shallow waters surrounding Key West.

We pulled into the Conch Harbor Marina and found the fuel dock and tied up for the night. Around sunrise we got a knock on the hull to indicate the fuel dock was open and we filled our fuel and water tanks.

After moving the boat out to an anchorage, we all took a well needed shower and hopped into the dingy to spend the morning in Key West. First stop was Customs and Immigration where they simply noted our passport numbers and sent us on our way.

It was great to get out and walk a little after lying around like a couch potato for over a week at sea. We didn't need to buy much since we stocked the boat pretty throughly in Puerto Rico, but we did pick up some fresh fruit and a chart for the remainder of the trip to Tampa, Florida.

Got back out to the boat just before lunch and decided to get underway. It takes about an hour and half to run through the channels to get out to deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. Peggy had lunch ready for us about the time we made it to the end of the channel.

Here we are leaving Key West as we pass the cruise ship docks.

As I write, we have been headed for Tampa for about 24 hours. We are currently making 7 knots which will put us in there in about 5 hours, at about 4:00 PM this afternoon. Next post will be from Tampa.

While we were in Key West they were having power boat races and I thought this overly wide boat on it's trailer was well worth a blog post.

And the truck that was pulling it was very cool too.

Nov. 6 - 13, At Sea

Here is a close encounter of the freighter kind.

This is going to be a fairly long post because we have been at sea for a full week and I will not be able to post it until we reach Key West tomorrow night.

We had barely left Puerto Rico and were less than 10 miles offshore when we started thinking about skipping the Turks and Caicos and going straight to Key West. The reason we were considering this is that it is difficult to get out of those ports once you are in due to the reefs and prevailing Easterly winds. It necessitates a long beat to windward which none of us were looking forward to – they don't call it a “beat” for the fun of it.

The big issue was how were we going to let anyone know since everyone was expecting us to check in from South Caicos in about three days. So here we were with everyone on deck with a cell phone trying to get a signal from Puerto Rico since we could still see the lights. Finally, Bob managed to get a digital roaming signal strong enough to get a call through to his brother, Ken. We gave Ken all our contact numbers and he said he would let them all know not to expect us for a week or so.

As I write this, we have been at sea for six days since leaving Puerto Rico. As of about half an hour ago we were 170 nautical miles out of Key West and making about 5.7 knots. Should be into Key West around 10:00 PM tomorrow night.

We have been having a great time and eating like Kings. Peggy has been feeding us very well. Even though we are sleeping odd hours, we pretty much all wake up and eat together three times a day.

Bob, Gene, and myself are standing watchs of 2 hours each which makes it 2 on and 4 off, round the clock. It is not as bad as you might think grabbing a few hours sleep two or three times throughout the day. After a week of this, we have fallen into a comfortable routine and it is no big deal.

All of us on this boat are very old friends and, since we have now been together on this boat since the 28th of October, I think it is safe to say we will remain good friends after this is over. I think I can speak for everyone when I say it has been a real pleasure to be together so closely and for so long.

I have known Gene for over 20 years and Bob for well over 10 years and yet, have learned a few things I didn't know about them. Although I knew Gene played guitar, I had no idea how good he was and especially how well he could sing. It has been a real pleasure to listen to his music at night when we were in port.

I have also learned that Bob played tuba in his high school band and also plays the piano. And, although I knew Bob could sail, I had no idea what an excellent sailor he really is. In fact he is, by far, the best I have ever sailed with. And, when I say excellent, I am not comparing him to your weekender or day sailor. He is one that knows his business offshore, which is a whole different ball game.

Most lifelong friends are made early in life in high school, college, or military service. It is rare to make those kinds of friends late in life but, I can say without hesitation that I will be friends with Bob and Gene from now on.

We have had good weather except for one night of a cold, windy rain that lasted all night long. Two hours at the helm in that was not fun but, we did make good time because it was really blowing. We have had some periods of light winds but, all in all, the weather has been close to perfect.

Last night was an excellent night for sailing and we were making 6.5 knots through the water with a 2 knot following current as we came up through the Bahama Channel along the north shore of Cuba. We really made good time and had a 24 hour run of 152 nautical miles. Some time tomorrow we will cross the Gulf Stream and into Key West.

Nov. 5 - Puerto Rico

This is another one of those posts that will be put on the blog after the fact. No internet connection here at this marina in Puerto Rico.

Before we left St. Croix, in addtion to a fairly brutal windward beat of about 6 hours just to get there, we must have worked another 8 hours getting ready to leave. We were all exhausted by the time we left port. Here is a view from the top of mast that Bob took while we had him hoisted up there. Just checking things out and mounting radar reflectors.

We sailed all last night and arrived here around 10:00 AM this morning. We have already filled our water tank and, at the moment, I am sitting here on the boat at anchor. We launched the dingy and Bob went to get us checked in at customs while Gene and Peggy are buying groceries. I am just sitting here writing and trying to keep my foot elevated to help the swelling go down. Here it is after 4 days on antibiotics. Yuk!

I think we will probably make it out of here by 5:00 PM or so this afternoon. We may stop in the Turks and Caicos on the way. That is roughly three days from here, although I have not plotted it out. Will try to do that before everyone else gets back from town.

I will be keeping a record of each days sail but, probably will not see an internet connection for at least three days. Hopefully, I can find and internet cafe or something in the Turks.

Here is a photo that has nothing to do with Puerto Rico but, is one you might like to see. This is Sirena under sail while Gene and I moved her to St. Croix. Bob or Peggy took this photo from Cruzan Gold.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nov. 4 - St. Croix

Just a quick post to say we moved both Sirena and Cruzan Gold to St. Croix today. Bob and Peggy took Cruzan Gold and Gene and I moved Sirena. It was about a 6 1/2 hour beat, which was pretty tiring. We are leaving Cruzan Gold here and all getting aboard Sirena for the trip to Tampa.

We have been doing a lot of last minute things all afternoon and plan to head out for Puerto Rico about 9:00 PM this evening. Should be a really nice run to Puerto Rico with a full moon. Here is Bob up the mast mounting the radar reflectors and inspecting the mast head.

I will try to post again from Puerto Rico.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nov. 3 - Still in Red Hook

We were supposed to be out of here today and in St. Croix by this afternoon. That is now put off until tomorrow. A few things cropped up.

First, a couple of days ago I managed to puncture my skin on my ankle with some coral. No big deal until yesterday afternoon. In a matter of about six hours it went from a 1/16 inch hole to a very ugly dark red to black area with a pretty big center which rotted out. This morning my foot was pretty swollen as well.

Tried to go to the VA clinic here on St. Thomas and after $65 in cab fare and getting the royal heave ho from the VA ("go to emergency room, I am too busy with my 2 patients," worthless bastards), I returned to Red Hook and walked across the street to a clinic and $200 and 15 minutes later was on my way to a cure. I am about to change my high opinion of the VA since this is now the second time this has happened in two years. Let me think about this for awhile and, if I get really pissed about it, this subject may turn into my next rant. I actually feel it coming on now by just typing that last sentence. Serenity Now!!

Trust me, MRSA is not fun and is terribly painfull. I can think of at least 5 women who know me pretty well that are going read this and say, "You big baby, it probably doesn't even hurt." Well, just Google MRSA and see what you say then. The doctor told me he is seeing 20 cases per week in his clinic.

I had to laugh during my visit to the doctor. He told me that if it formed a cyst while at sea, I would have to cut it open with a scapel, get the puss out, wash it, and pack the hole with a wick to keep the puss out of the wound. I mentioned to him that he was talking to someone who weak kneed at just the very thought of a flu shot.

Anyway, I am on an antibiotic that is supposed to work and am feeling better every hour. Bob, Gene, and Peggy are a lunch at the moment. I am just so happy to have an internet connection that I am skipping it. I think this is the fourth post I have made today.

Another reason for waiting was that Bob wanted to get a new dingy motor for Cruzan Gold and it is not being delivered here until 5:00 PM. So, we will do the St. Croix thing tomorrow. I know I will feel better tomorrow because I absolutely could not put weight on my left leg this morning, much less sail Serina, even with Gene's help.

That about all that is going on today. Spending a lazy afternoon here in the coffee shop surfing away.

Nov. 2 - Back in Red Hook

After we all had breakfast this morning, Bob hollered up from below, let's go to Red Hook. Gene and I took us out of the cove on St. John's and headed out for the hour and a half run to Red Hook over on St. Thomas. No doubt, this was a test to see if we really did know how to read a chart because Bob never came up from below until we were in the harbor. I bet he was looking out a port hole though and hoping we didn't run his boat up on a reef. ;-) He may think I didn't know it was a test, but I know the professor too well.

Back in Red Hook we sat about getting the boat ready for the return trip. Transferred a bunch more stuff off of Cruzan Gold onto Serina and bought more groceries. We picked up the newly repacked life raft and now have it stowed on deck. We also have the dingy stowed on deck and are pretty much ready to head out for St. Croix tomorrow.

Bob and Peggy plan to take Cruzan Gold and Gene and I plan to take Serina over to St. Croix, where we will leave Cruzan Gold and all get aboard Serina for the trip to Florida.

Peggy fixed us all a great Spaghetti dinner tonight and, at the moment, she and Bob are installing lee clothes on all the bunks. Hopefully, I will get to post this tomorrow along with the last three days when I had no internet connection. I think I saw one internet network the whole time we were in the BVI and couldn't connect to it.

We stopped at the Indians to do some snorkeling and saw this little kid (maybe 18 months) riding on his daddy's back with his mother swiming next to them. Notice the pacifier in his mouth. Just thought it was worth a photo.

By-the-way, I know my formatting is screwed up. I am writing in Open Office while off line and posting in Blogger when I get a connection. Doesn't trasfer just right and I never get a connection long enough to fix it.

Nov. 1 - Wreck of the Rhone

I had hoped to post yesterday's blog today, but no internet connection has been available. Should have one tomorrow evening, since we will back in Red Hook on St. Thomas.

Had a very interesting day today tooling around the British Virgin Islands. Went first to The Baths, not to take one, but to dive. The Baths are a huge pile of granite boulders, some larger than most houses, piled up on the Western shore of Virgin Gorda. Very interesting to swim among and see the sea life.

Below is a photo of Serina moored at The Baths.

Afterwards, we headed to the 150 + year old wreck of the British steamship, Rhone. It was quite a sight to see this huge ship lying on the bottom in the exact spot where a hurricane drove it up on the rocks.

Now, we are back in an anchorage on St. John's in the USVI for the night. Tomorrow, back to Red Hook to start getting ready to leave for Florida. Hopefully, we will be on our way by Saturday.

On the way to our anchorage this afternoon we snacked on cookies and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Now peanut butter cups have always been one of my favorites and, as a school kid, it was not unusual for me to spend my lunch money on them instead of lunch. However, after a couple hours in the sun today, these were to the point where I would not even touch them. That didn't stop Bob though who opens one up and promptly runs liquid peanut butter cup all down the front of his shirt. Peggy offered him a wash cloth, but he declined and spent the next 10 minutes sucking chocolate out of a shirt that was none to pretty to begin with after three days of sailing. Now that is a guy that likes his Reese's!!!

Oct. 31 - Tortola

Got up this morning at the ungodly hour, for us, of 7:30 AM. No use trying to sleep too late on a boat with Bob aboard! I am not sure what time we first heard him up, but I did open one eye enough to see that it was still plenty dark outside.

The plan today was to leave the US Virgin Islands at St. John's and go into the British Virgin Islands for a few days. We went through Customs and Immigrations on Tortola around lunch time today. Below is a photo of the Customs House taken from Sirena's mooring in the harbor.

Bob, Gene, and myself motored ashore in the dingy to clear Customs while Peggy stayed on board Sirena and fixed lunch (we took her passport and filled out her paper work.) It was something to see these very formal British Custom's officials in their starched, dress uniforms. I felt they needed a flashing neon sign that said, “Warning – Bureaucracy Ahead.” There was form after form in six point type and triplicate.

The only undotted “i” was that Peggy (who was not there) had forgotten to sign her passport. It was not an issue but, when we got back to the boat, we told her it was a HUGE problem and they wanted to see her in customs immediately! Furthermore, we were told that the three of us could not come back ashore under any circumstances and that she would have to take the dingy in by herself (which she had never driven). This had the potential to become a practical joke that would go down in the record books until Bob couldn't contain himself and cracked up. All it would have taken was another two minutes and we would have had her into the dingy and launched.

A couple of minor electrical problems to repair in Tortola and we were on our way into the British Virgin Islands. Stopped at Sand Island for some snorkeling and saw a lot of interesting sea life. I think Peggy's experience was the most interesting in that she had a Barracuda, almost as big as she was, pull up next to her, within arm's reach, and swim along in formation for awhile.

Afterwards, we sailed on to a nice anchorage and went ashore and had dinner. It was Halloween night and lots of kids, dressed as pirates, kept coming in the restaurant to trick or treat. It was a lot of fun. After we got back out to the boat I tried to get an internet connection to post this, but couldn't quite do it. It was there, but just a little to far away. Darn, I will hold it until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oct. 30 - St. John's

Woke up this morning with rain coming through the port holes and hatch and hitting us in the face. Really not that huge of a problem – I simply pull the covers up over my face and make a few whining sounds until Peggy gets up and closes the openings ... no big deal.

A few rain showers every night seems to be about normal. Today, after coffee here in the marina, Bob and I took the life raft into town by taxi to be inspected while Gene and Peggy stowed gear on the boat. Although the life raft was out of date, we found out it would have worked anyway, had we needed it, since the inspection process involves inflation using the internal bottle. However, it will be reassuring to now know for sure it is up to date and ready to go.

Bob and I walked the couple of miles back to the marina then we all headed over to the local grocery store to buy food for the trip. We only bought about a weeks worth since we are staying here in the area to mess around for a few days. The plan is to re-provision in San Juan on the way to Florida. Besides, we will be making one more stop back in St. Thomas and one in St. Croix before leaving the Virgin Islands.

Got out of St. Thomas this afternoon around 3:00 PM and went straight to St. John's to do some snorkeling. Made it here in time to get in about an hour before dark. Now sitting on a mooring in a small cove at St. John's. We had dinner this evening at Peggy's Restaurant as you can see below.

The photo below is approaching St. John's. That is Gene sitting up there on the forward deck.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oct. 29 - Preparing to Leave Dock

Here is a photo of our new home away from home for the next month or so. Her name is Sirena and she is a 45 foot Island Packet. Our plan is to leave the dock here some time tomorrow afternoon and go play for a few days before heading out for Florida.

Today, our first full day on board, was a fairly busy one. After breakfast in the marina we went about moving supplies from Bob's other boat which is moored in the same marina. While Bob and Peggy selected items we might need for the trip, Gene and I used the dingy to ferry these items to Sirena at the dock.

This afternoon, while Peggy and Gene took a nap, Bob and I worked out a way to raise and stow the dingy on the forward deck of Sirena. We made up a sling and used the spare, main halyard to lift it out of the water and swing it into position. It worked easily and will be much better than towing that thing all the way to Florida.

Peggy ended up getting herself a little dehydrated yesterday and felt pretty bad. It is surprising how much water you have to drink down here in the humid air. Anyway, she has learned her lesson and is pouring it in.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/28 - Arrival - St. Thomas

It has been a long day, but we are finally here. Arrived at the marina about 10:00 PM and immediately headed to the restaurant to eat and get a couple of rum and Cokes. Sat up talking to Bob and Gene until 1:30 AM.

It is so nice to be here and St. Thomas is really very beautiful. It makes all the effort of getting here worthwhile.

Did I mention I am not a good traveler? Here is a little account of post 9/11 airline travel that might give you some insight to my travel phobia. As of 4:00 PM this afternoon we had been traveling for 8 hours. As the crow flies, we have made about 400 miles toward St. Thomas. That works out to an average speed of 50 MPH.

Today, I was obliged to empty my pockets, remove my belt, and take off my shoes three times. About 1 oz. of peanuts, a Diet Coke, and a cup of coffee was it for the day. I have been ordered through a security maze by a bunch of fat ass, do nothing, federal welfare workers sporting a TSA patch. My laptop battery went dead because the airport terminals have put covers over all the electrical outlets just to screw with me! On the nearly 3 hour leg from Orlando to San Juan, American Airlines served one small cup of Coke and would not even let me have the whole can. Man, this is FUN!!!

Anyway, that air travel BS is over with and the trip home by sailboat will be much more better. Going to get a good night's sleep, do a run in the morning, at start checking this place out. By-the-way, I turned 55 today.

Until tomorrow .....

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Rainy Day One

As a person who tends to get short of breath when I lose my internet connection, I just had to show this photo of my new hero. This guy must be some kind of communications, road warrior, God! You can't really tell it from the photo but, most of these antennas are 1/2" rebar with guide wires and an antenna duct taped to the top. I don't really know what they were doing but, the SUV was just packed full of radio gear. Been reading the last few days that cell phone use can make you sterile; I suspect the EMF inside this vehicle would fry bacon.

Today, the first day of our journey, has not been a great day for me. Since I go all the time, for months on end, few are aware that I am not a good traveler. Although, I nearly always have a good time on our trips, I can not honestly say I have ever had as much fun as I do just hanging with our friends here in Austin. Peggy is the traveler and the entire burden falls upon her to, not only do all the packing and planning but, keep me calm as well. I don't know what it is exactly; it is not lack of experience, because we leave town all the time and have traveled internationally many, many times but, it just freaks me out to pass that Austin City Limits sign.

Made it about 50 miles this morning before the rain started. Now, here we are almost to New Orleans and the rain has not let up for a second. At times it rained so hard the interstate traffic slowed to 35 MPH. I think we will be to the kids house in Gulfport in a couple of hours. I just got off the phone with Art and he told me Robin (our Granddaughter) keeps asking if we are there yet. I may start asking that myself if the rain doesn't let up and let this traffic start moving.

We are going to spend tomorrow with the kids in Gulfport then fly out from there on Saturday for St. Thomas. We will partially provision the boat in St. Thomas, then sail over to St. Croix to pick up a few more things. The plan is to spend a week or so in the Virgin Islands scuba diving before setting out for Florida. We are going to do the voyage in a fairly relaxed manner and not worry about a schedule. Therefore, my hope is that I will be able to catch an internet connection every 4-5 days to update our progress.

I used to think IH 35 in Austin was bad, at least I did until about half hour ago. We have been sitting here in a Baton Rouge, IH 12 traffic jam for, what seems like, forever. I sure wish there was a better way to head East out of Austin without having to go through this land of Huey P. Long, washboard highways, collapsing levees and, worst of all, hasslers of Willie. Poor guy, can't even ride his dang bus through this sorry ass state without some donut junkie busting him over a little pot. Next time I am tempted to come this way, I will ask myself, “What would Willie do?” Divert through Arkansas, maybe? Hmmmm, is that better?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hitting the Road

Just wanted to let everyone know that Peggy and I are going to be away for a little while. May not be able to answer emails in our usual lighting fast manner. ;-) In fact, if you are sending something with a file attachment, it might be better just to hold those until we return in December so that the puny, little, anemic 100MB of storage Earthlink gives us does not overflow.

We are going to be spending the next 4-6 weeks moving a 45 foot Island Packet sailboat from St. Croix to it's new home port in Tampa, FL. If you would like to follow the 1800 mile voyage, just keep an eye on our blog at the link below. In fact, rather than email, why not let us hear from you through your comments left on the blog? Just clink on "comments" at the end of each post and leave your message. I have it set up to accept anonymous posting, so, if you don't have a blogger account, you don't even have to sign in. Just be sure and leave your first name so we know who it's from.

We are leaving first thing in the morning, but will not be on the boat until Saturday night. We will keep a daily account of the voyage but, will only be able to post it to the blog whenever I can get an internet connection. If you are following our progress, we should be back in Austin about two days after reaching Tampa. I know from experience, it gets a little lonesome out there on the ocean so we would love to hear from you and will try to post lots of photos.

We are driving to Biloxi, MS in the morning to spend a couple of days with the kids and will fly out of there for St. Croix on Saturday. The truck is loaded and ready to go! We are excited about going, but are sad about the way we are going to miss all our friends here in Austin, a group that has grown considerably since moving downtown to Pecan Grove.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Photo Posted

A few of the blog readers that know us well have asked why we have such an old photo of us posted on our profile to the left? The reason was that it was the most recent one we had of us together. It was only about a decade old! We have not changed in the last 10 years anyway. Ha! One has a little more hair and one a little less, that's all, and it's probably not the ones you think.

The problem has been taken care of now. As you can see I have posted a current photo of Peggy and I to our Profile in the left column. In fact, it was taken about 2:00 PM this afternoon.

I have not been posting for the last week or so because we have just been so busy. We sold our little travel trailer and bought a rather large 5th wheel with three slides. It has just been an ordeal getting this all done and, at the same time, getting ready to leave for the Carribean for six weeks. I will post more about that in a day or two. Briefly, Peggy and I, and a couple of friends are moving a sail boat from St. Croix to Tampa, FL. If you would like to follow the 1,800 mile sailing voyage online, just keep an eye on this blog. I will be giving a daily account and posting it every time I am able to catch an internet connection. More on this in a couple of days.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Austin's South 40 - My Review

Last Friday we went to the Dallas Nightclub for our regular Friday night dance. We always arrive when the doors open at 6:00 PM and usually stay until about 9:00 PM. Last Friday we were feeling particularly energetic so, at nine, we decided to go somewhere else, and that somewhere turned out to be the South 40 down on Ben White for our first visit.

We arrived, I suppose, sometime around 9:30 PM. Walking in the door, there was a short line waiting to pay the $4.00 cover. I didn't think anything about the cover and just assumed they had some local band inside. The ditsy little airhead collecting the money had a tip jar next to her register and upon payment, every single time she would hold out the jar and say, "Remember, tipping is not a city in China" as she would bat her eyes and grin as if this mantra was actually very comical. Reminded me of some beggar holding out a cup or some intersection jockey with a "Will work for food" sign which really means "give me some money to buy drugs." She, of course, tried that bull shit on me and I told her, "I would keep that in mind after I got inside and found a waitress actually performing a service." Anyway, that is what you put up with getting through the front door.

I am a little bit annoyed by this time (as you can probably tell) after the shakedown at the door, but we go on in and I look around to see if the band is set up yet. Low and behold, there is no band, just a DJ. And, although I don't know it yet, this DJ is destined to occupy a special place in my book of bad DJ's.

Now keep in mind, this is a country and western bar/dance hall, and it's not exactly your typical urban cowboy setting either. It is an older, fairly rough looking place and just the kind of joint you expect to hear some good country music, rockabilly, swing, and some Lyle Lovett or Stevie Ray Vaughn blues. What do you get here? At first came a few old draggy two steps followed by some rap thing that went on for 15 solid minutes. The only people dancing were a couple of ol' skanky girls out there dancing with each other. And they couldn't even shake their lard asses for more than 10 minutes of this rap marathon.

Just when I thought my head was about to explode, it ended and this so called DJ that we paid $4.00 each to hear puts a few two steps on autopilot and goes over and sits at the bar while they run. Next, he wanders back over to his booth and puts on AC/DC "She Shook Me all Night Long", followed immediately by a couple of Guns and Roses. I happen to be a big fan of AC/DC as well as Guns and Roses, but I don't go to a country bar to hear either. Apparently, neither did anyone else because there was not a single dancer during the entire ordeal. Next came a couple more country songs, then the Salsa started ... aaaaannd we were out the door before the first song was half way through so I can't tell you what happened after about 11:30. I draw a line in the sand at Salsa! It is fine on chips, but I'm not going to put that crap in my ears.

Take my word for it, the South 40 in Austin is one sorry place to go, at least on Friday night, which you would think would be one of their better nights. I don't know what it would take to get me to give it another try. Maybe, if they canned the beggar at the front door and got a decent DJ. They do have a good dance floor and the waitresses were very nice so the place has potential. I wonder if another night of the week is better? I'm too snake bit now to check it out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stinky Cap Election Results In

The polls are closed, the votes are counted, and the results are in. First off, as reported earlier, there was a serious attempt at election fraud by one party. Our efforts to get Jimmy Carter to oversee the election failed, but we managed to work around that. We did hear back from the Carter Library and they did promise to pass our request on to President Carter, however, they pointed out that IF we got a response, it would be 8-10 weeks. I just hope I'm not on some "do not fly list" now.

So here is the final count of the popular vote. It appears to be a landslide for the "Don't Wash it Party". There were 63 votes "Don't wash" and 15 votes "Wash it". In addition, there were a few we classified as "hanging chads". In other words, we were sure what they meant, but still able to argue there is a micron of doubt. These were votes like "Burn it", "Stop running", "Burn it on Lloyd's head", "Wash, dye, and hot glue frillys on it", etc., you get the idea.

Notice I said earlier, it APPEARS to be a landslide for the "Don't Wash it Party". After a recount using the Red State, Blue State, Electoral College thingy, it turns out the majority vote winner did, indeed, lose the election! HOW CAN THIS BE?! This is only the second time I have seen this happen in my lifetime, and the first time was an unmitigated disaster.

Sadly, in order to preserve the union, I am conceding the election and offering my congratulations to the "Wash it Party" candidate. I am worried the next several years are going to be very painful without my lucky cap.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lucky Cap - or Not?

Take a look at this cap. I admit it is a pretty funky looking thing. However, there is a reason for it's sorry state and, every day like clockwork, Peggy and I have a discussion as to why she is not allowed to wash it. This morning it was agreed that we would ask the blog readers for their opinions.

As any reader of this blog knows, about three months ago, I took up running again after laying off for several years. At my age, I was very concerned about possible injuries while trying to get back into this sport. Now, I am up to four miles daily and have done so without injury or pain and during this entire building process I have worn this cap. I think that pretty much proves this is a lucky cap and that it would be crazy to wash it.

Peggy seems to think it reflects badly on her when I go out wearing this disgusting thing on my head. For some reason that sounds vaguely familiar. OH, I remember, my first wife used to say my color choices in clothing reflected badly upon her. No doubt, she was absolutely right about that. Many times, I heard the statement, "You are not going out of this house dressed like that!"

That problem is now completely solved. I have gone back to wearing a uniform which means I no longer have to strain any neurons deciding if colors match. My daily uniform is black t-shirt, white shorts, white socks. When a dress uniform is called for, I substitute Levi's 501 Blues for the white shorts. Some of you have noticed I had started wearing a uniform, but, I think many were too polite to say anything for fear that I had simply stopped changing clothes. But, I digress, this is about the cap.

I would like your opinion as to whether or not it is worth the risk to wash this valuable cap. If it is a lucky cap, it would lose it's magical powers, and I might be hobbling around here with all kinds of problems after my next run. My personal opinion is that it is not worth taking that kind of chance and I should wear it until it rots away to the point it will no longer stay on my head. But, by all means, give us your opinion. I'm still not going to wash it but, it might make Peggy feel better if, by some miracle, someone agrees with her silly idea. Wash it? ... You don't wash a lucky cap!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Let's Clear the Air

Last Saturday we went up to Dallas to attend the wedding of my cousin's daughter. It was a great time and was very nice to get to see everyone and to visit for several hours. Wish we could get together like that more often.

The reason for this post has nothing to do with the wedding, and I hope this does not spiral into a full blown rant but, to be honest, it might. After the wedding was over, it was still early, about 10:30 PM. Peggy and I decided to go over to the Cowboy's Nightclub in Arlington to dance for a few hours. Drove about 20 miles to get there, paid the $14 cover charge to get in, stayed 20 minutes and left. Why did we leave, because of the foul air from all the smoking! By the time we got out our throats were scratchy and our eyes were burning.

With the medical knowledge available today, everyone knows smoking kills and most have sense enough not to do it. In fact, millions have given up smoking all together, and GOOD FOR YOU! The very act of smoking puts you at the same risk of dying as someone who has already suffered one heart attack or someone who already suffers from diabetes. Second hand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking yourself so, how can you possibly justify exposing the rest of us then claim it is "your right!"

Those who do not have this addiction have no idea how great it is to live in a city that does not allow smoking in public places. In the twenty minutes we spent at Cowboy's I witnessed two smokers flick a lit cigarette onto the carpeted floor and not even bother to step on it. Something like this is way beyond rude and, at that point, becomes just plain anti-social behavior. Why would someone do that?

If you live in a city that still allows smoking in public, try coming to Austin for a weekend of clubbing and see for yourself how great it is to be able to take a clean breath of air inside a bar or nightclub. Banning smoking in public is a trend that is gaining traction and will eventually work it's way across the US. Until then, demand that your city councils represent the majority of citizens. If you do not smoke, you are in the majority. Use that position to implement change.

I think I managed to stay calm and not turn this into a rant, didn't I? Serenity Now!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Perfect Granddaughters

Allow me to introduce you to my Granddaughter, Noel. I wonder how many people can honestly say they have known someone who, from birth through adulthood, has never done anything wrong? This is no joke! Believe it or not, I was there for the birth, and next month will celebrate the 21st birthday of this perfect Granddaughter who has never done one single, solitary thing wrong in her entire life.

Now, when I say perfect there is no exaggeration, I MEAN perfect! Of course, it goes without saying that as a teenager she did not go out drinking, smoking dope, dating losers, or skipping class. But, it is also a fact that she never even talked back to her Mother, always made straight A's in school, always behaved as a perfect angel, and made her Grandparents proud at all times. This is someone who by age 10 fully understood the value of money and, as an adult has continued her conservative financial ways. Today she knows how to live on a budget, and is a good money manager. Now, very close to graduating from Sam Houston University, this hard working young lady has maintained a good GPA while working as many as two jobs at a time. What more can you say, she is perfect in every way.

I have three other Granddaughters who, at this point, are perfect as well but, we will just have to wait and see if they can go 21 years without doing one single thing wrong, as Noel has done. The fact is, I have only had the privilege of observing two of them for 4 years and one of them for 3 however, I have to say, they are off to really good starts. All they have to do is make it through the next 16 or 17 years without a single slip up ... piece of cake.

The parents and other family members can help these three Granddaughters in the same way Noel's parents and family members have helped her achieve her lofty standing; everyone needs to work at keeping Grandpa in a comfortable state of blissful ignorance. A few years ago one of the Aunts, Cindy to be exact, started telling us something when, I think, she noticed I was about to dive out of the moving car. She paused and said, "You don't want to hear this, do you?" I don't know what gave it away? Maybe it was the fingers stuck in my ears up to the second knuckle while singing, "NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA." Listen folks, Grandpa intends to stay in his "happy place" where all his Granddaughters are perfect little angels.

Now, don't get me wrong, you girls can talk to your Grandparents about absolutely anything. Just be sure you talk to Grandma first so she can tell Grandpa just what he needs to know. I have one request for the parents. As soon as the little ones are old enough to fully understand mushroom cultivation, please explain to them that dealing with Grandpa is exactly like raising mushrooms.

This post is about the Granddaughters but, I have not forgotten about the two Grandsons. But, come on guys, it's 21 years without a screw up. You know you can't do it and I know you can't do it, because I have been there. If you make it through one day, you are doing good! Besides, you are boys, just relax and have a good time.

Amber & Noel - Robin & Allysa with Grandma on right. Woo! Woo! Grandma

Sunday, September 17, 2006

ACL Weekend

This is a huge weekend in Austin with the Austin City Limits Music Festival going on. This will be the fifth year for the festival. I suppose every hotel room in Austin is booked this weekend. As I sit here in our RV looking out at Barton Springs Road I see a steady procession of music fans walking toward Zilker Park. Later tonight, after the show, that will turn into a full blown mob moving the other way away from Zilker.

Construction for the event has been going on in Zilker Park for the last two weeks. The entire park has been fenced, 8 stages have been built, and all the temporary buildings and tents have been put up. They sell 65,000 tickets each night for the show and, I would guess, another 65,000 set up outside the fence to listen. There will be over 130 bands performing. Last night, one of the big events was Willie and tonight will be Tom Petty.

I wanted to take some photos but, you just can not do justice to that large a crowd with a camera. I was pretty impressed with the bicycle racks, so I took this shot and was able to get in possibly 1/4 of the bikes parked at the show. Most folks are riding the bus in or walking.

Now, if you have lived in Austin for a while, here is a guy that requires no introduction at all. But, for those that have not had the pleasure, meet Leslie. For as long as I can remember, Leslie has been a fixture in the downtown area. He stopped by the trailer today to get some water, on his way down to the show and was good enough to pose for a few photos. Some were a little to graphic for this site and, no way was I about to publish the one he dedicated to me. Yikes! In case you can't tell in the photo that is Tweety hanging from the band of his thong.

Just keeping it weird.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Kid in the Mud

Our youngest grand daughter, Robin is here today. Here she is "helping" Grandma plant something in the yard. Of course, it had to be throughly watered and then, the fun really starts.

Robin, is Art and Cindy's daughter, who live in Mississippi. They are here for a few days because Cindy's brother was having some very serious surgery. However, it had an unexpectedly positive outcome. He had a large, 20cm tumor, in his upper abdomine which everyone was sure was going to be cancer. Well, the surgery to remove it went very well and the tests on the tumor, just today, confirmed that it was not cancerous and would not cause him any more problems. We are all very relieved about that.

We were sure glad for the opportunity to see the kids and be able to keep Robin for a few days although, we wish it had been under other circumstances. She has now been throughly hosed off by Grandma and I see the two of them outside washing the car as I write. They are now on pavement so there is no more mud for Robin to roll in.

I think they will all be heading back to Mississippi in just a few days so, I don't know when we will get to see them again. Maybe in November, when we head down to Florida. We are planning on driving to Florida, then flying to St. Croix to help ferry a sail boat from St. Croix to Miami.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Friends, Trails, and Other Stuff

We got some good news this morning. We have some friends, Alan and Jo Hunter, who are heading for Texas, Austin to be specific, from England, arriving tomorrow evening. Peggy and I made their acquaintance about three years ago when they were here in Austin for a short time and now, it apprears they may be staying a while since they have a five year visa. Here, you may take a look at their blog and, if you want to see one of the most comprehensive collections of aircraft photos in exsistance, take a look at the Futurshox web site. Here is a link to my RV-6 , on the futurshox web site. That is me in the left seat and Jo in the right. This was taken at a small gathering we had at the Lago Vista airport a few years ago during their first visit. The occasion was the first flight since restoration of Lyle Alexander's 1936 Rearwin Sportster. If you want to look around for more photos of the event on the Futurshox web site you will find a couple more photos of my RV-6 and maybe a couple more of one of my old Tri-Pacers.

Been getting in some good running since getting moved into downtown Austin. I generally head out west on Barton Springs Rd. along the south side Zilker Park until I get to Mopac, then north under the bridge to get on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail. From there I go east on the trail to the Lamar Street bridge where I get off the trail and use the sidewalks for the short run back to Pecan Grove. Takes about 35 or 40 minutes to make the circuit.

Here, on the left, is a view of the Lamar Street bridge from the trail.

On the right is a photo of the foot bridge across the Colorado River which, at this point along it's course to the Gulf of Mexico, is called Town Lake.

Below, I am including a photo of the Capitol taken from the Hike and Bike Trail from just west of the Lamar Street bridge. In fact the Lamar Street Bridge is visible in the lower part of the photo just below the capitol dome.

I think the trail system in Austin is probably one of the best in the nation. It is definitely one of the top reasons we enjoy living downtown so much. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department maintains over 50 miles of well surfaced, scenic trails in Austin. The one we use most often is the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail which is 10.1 miles in length.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Season end for Blues on the Green

Yesterday was the season ending edition of the KGSR sponsored Blues on the Green concert series. The 2006 season closed with a bang with Joe Ely and Double Trouble. It was a huge crowd and below is a photo of about 25% of them.

Sure hate to see it all end. It was a fun season and we are looking forward to next year.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where is the Outrage?

I didn't start this blog to do a lot of ranting but, I think I am entitled to one every so often, so here goes. If you are one of the few still clinging to the belief that the war in Iraq has something to do with the war on terrorism, then this rant is for you. If you know better but, are not saying anything about it, then this rant is for you too. The vast majority of thinking people in the world know full well, that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, Axis of Evil, took this country to war under false pretenses. Everyone, at least privately, knows they manipulated the intelligence to exaggerate the threat and, by so doing, have killed over 2,500 America boys and girls, given life altering injuries to over 15,000 American boys and girls, and killed or injured hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. They have destroyed our standing with the rest of the civilized world and put this country in debt hole that it will take decades to climb out of.

Are you outraged by this? If so, then show it! Begin expressing your outrage, talk to your friends and family, encourage them to express their outrage. Not long ago a former President was impeached because he couldn't keep his pants zipped and didn't want to admit that fact to the entire planet. Now, I was no particular fan of that president but, tell me, where is the equity? If you resent warrant less wiretapping of your phone calls and emails, then shout your outrage from the rooftops! If you resent being told you are unpatriotic if you don't support Shrub's phony war in Iraq, then say something about it. If you resent being subjected to Orwellian laws such as the “Patriot Act”, then make yourself heard. You may have a bigger voice than you think. Talk to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same. Start a blog and see to it that it gets passed around and linked to. Do what you can to put a stop to these abuses. If enough finally say, "I have had enough" we can throw the smirking little draft dodger who started all this out of office. Actually, that is probably just wishful thinking with a GOP controlled congress but, that is an issue for another rant.

I promise, something lighter in a few days! : - )

Friday, August 11, 2006

What a way to start a day!

How long has it been since you had one of those days when you think you just should have stayed in bed? Mine started at the crack of 10:00 AM this morning; my latest did, anyway. I should have gotten back in bed, and I would have, if it was not already getting close to lunch time.

First thing, I walk over and open the cabinet to retrieve the coffee to get our morning wakeup going and the coffee can comes flying out of the cabinet and hits me right in the forehead. It kind of pissed me off but, I was over it in five seconds. After all it didn't even hit me with the sharp edge and the lid somehow stayed on as it continued on down to bounce around on the floor.

Now I have the coffee going and get ready to have my cereal. My bowl is missing! My inquiry sets me back some when I get the reply, “It was cracked and I threw it away, just get you another one.” Some people might ask, at this point, what's the big deal? Well, people that have to ask a stupid question like that probably don't have a favorite shirt that has been worn so thin that it is nearly impossible to put on without ripping. They probably don't get new underwear when their wife slips out of bed in the middle of the night to throw the old ones away and replace them in the drawer with new ones. They have never mourned the replacement of a perfectly good tooth brush that still had half it's bristles. If these things sound weird to you, then you can probably eat cereal out of any old bowl. I, however, want to eat my cereal out of the same bowl from which I always eat cereal. And I can't help it! OF COURSE, this is sick, you know it, I know it, we all know it, but, it is not going to change in this lifetime.

OK, I have a new cereal bowl now and am still cautiously progressing further into the day. I open another cabinet to get my cereal and I swear, I am not making this up, it comes flying out and hits me right square in the forehead, right in the same spot the coffee can did. No harm done, it's just a box of cereal, it didn't even spill but, this day is not starting off right, at all!

I walk over to the refrigerator to get the milk. If I had been paying attention, I would have probably heard the music from “Jaws” playing on my way over. I reach in and pick up the milk and it slips out of my hand as if I was not even holding it. I honestly do not believe I have simply dropped something in 25 years. But, this morning a half gallon of milk hit the floor and, yes, the lid came off and that jug laid there going glug, glug, glug on the floor while I starred in disbelief. At this point, I really did think I should just get back in bed and curl up in the fetal position.

All that happened within the course of five minutes this morning. Fortunately, the milk incident was the low point of the day. Right after my coffee I went out and had a nice run and, although I was a little worried I might get run over by a car or have a tree fall on me, it went well.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday Night at the Spoke

After having lived here in Austin for 25 years, last night, we decided it was finally time to pay our respects to an Austin landmark so, we went to the Broken Spoke. When someone finds out you like to go honky tonkin', the first question they always ask is, “Do you go to the Spoke?” Well, now we can say, “We did, but we don't any more.” It's just one of those things that once is enough.

Now, I am not one to run down an Austin institution, so I am certainly not going to start that now. Anyway, I think the Spoke is going to do just fine without me, so it is obvious not everyone is going to agree with my observations. Let me say, up front, that the Broken Spoke looks every bit the part of the classic Texas honky tonk. The gravel parking lot, formica tables, creaky – slanting floors, and seven foot – smoke stained ceilings all scream, “Honky Tonk!” To top it off, you won't find a better chicken fried steak anywhere.

So, you ask, “What's the problem?” I'm glad you asked. The Broken Spoke bills itself as a serious place to dance. The web site boasts of all the great dancers that come out. A sign on the front doors brags that, “Through these doors come the greatest dancers in Texas.” Based upon those statements, I was expecting some very good dancing. There may have been, in fact, a couple of pretty good dancers there but, we will never know because no one can make their way around the small concrete floor for all the tourists and eight year olds jamming up, what should be, the fast lane. I would venture to say 90% of the dancers had never had a lesson in CW dancing and were clueless about dance floor etiquette. Honestly, I think most were there to dance a couple of hours so they could buy the T-shirt that says, “I danced at the Broken Spoke.” Many were oblivious to the progressive nature of CW dancing and you will see people doing swing in all areas of the floor, people anchored in place in the fast lane, people teaching their eight year old daughter to dance, etc. And, while I am thinking about it, what in hell's name are young kids doing in a honky tonk?! The management must be idiots for letting them in and, what does is say about the DUMB ASS parents for bringing them?!

I think that is enough said about why I am not going back to the Broken Spoke for anything more than eating a chicken fried steak and why, their web site is no longer listed in my bookmarks. Believe me, for dancing, there are plenty of other places around Austin to find a nice, smooth oak floor, where the dancers know how it works, and no one under 21 will ever be allowed to stick their heads in the door. The slogan at the Dallas Nightclub on Burnet Road is “Still a two step above the rest” and, after 26 years, is still a hard place to beat.

I probably should not even mention the band at the Spoke last night. It was the James Hand Band and it was not their fault that the dancing sucks at the Spoke. They are actually a pretty good band but, if you ask if they were worth the $10 cover, I would have to say, definitely not. Not bad, but equal to a thousand other bands that play for a percentage of the bar plus tips. If you are going to see them and have to pay a cover, don't bother. Two small criticisms I would make was that until they got warmed up they had to hunt around for the beat some. This pretty much disappeared after half an hour or so. Secondly, their set list needs work. I listened for an hour and a half before I had had enough and they never played a single Waltz. I, personally, hate to Waltz but, I know a lot of people like it. They played a run of Polkas that just made me wonder what they were thinking. During the first, maybe three couples got up to dance. Maybe they thought everybody just forgot to get up, so they played another Polka in which maybe four couples danced. By the third Polka in a row I believe these guys were saying, “Screw you, we are sticking to our set list whether you like it or not.”

Anyway, that was our Friday night this week. We still had a good time in spite of the lousy dancing and there was one thing that made the entire evening worth while. We ran into an old friend, Kaye Delancy, that we had lost track of about 10 years ago. It was the highlight of the evening!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Live at Antone's

Wednesday night Antone's was rocking with a standing room only crowd. Headliner was Junior Brown who proved all over again that he can smoke a guitar. The first set lasted about an hour and a quarter and ended with a rendition of Roll Over Beethoven that simply brought the house down! If Chuck Berry had stuck his head in the door halfway through that number he would have shit his pants, then headed home and put his guitar on eBay.

The second set began with only a five minute break and this is where the fun really started! Junior Brown was joined onstage by Jimmy Vaughn and Redd Volkaert. Junior took up position on drums while Jimmy and Redd traded licks on Junior's guitar. Finally settled into the perfect combination with Jimmy on vocals, Redd on Guitar, and Junior on drums.

One final note, Redd Volkaert plays the Continental Club on Saturday afternoons at 3:00 - no cover.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Keep Austin Weird

This is our new home away from home as seen from Barton Springs Road on the south side of Town Lake. The RV Park as been here since 1946 which is what, I think, gives it such a unique character. There is no way something like this could happen today with land prices being what they are. When I said in an earlier post that this was a special place, I meant that I really don't think there is another similar park anywhere. We have been RV'ing for a long time and have never seen one anyway.

We have already had a chance to meet a fair number of the people who live here. Many are retired, like ourselves. There are a surprising number who go to work every day. I say surprising because we are used to meeting more retirees in normal RV Parks. We even have an actor living here in the park. Actually, there are probably plenty of aspiring actors here with Zachary Scott Theater a block away but, one well known thespian is Matthew McConaughey, who has lived here for several years.

To the right is the view down our street from the park entrance on Barton Springs Road. See the back of the blue VW Beetle on the left side of the street? That is our place just past our bug. As you can see, it is the second best space in the park, if convenient access to the dumpster is an important consideration to you.

One more photo post today then I am going to publish this entry and call it a day. I titled this "Keep Austin Weird" so here is today's entry in that category. On our walk this morning, we headed west down Barton Springs Road to get on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail just a couple of blocks down Barton Springs. I took this photo as we passed the Chuy's restaurant which is three doors down from Pecan Grove. Notice the laundry on the roof. Keeping Austin Weird is more than just a slogan, it is an obsession!