I am so behind on my blog. We had excellent adventures in both Dallas and Liberty, Missouri. But those will take more thought and energy to write than I have in my weary fingers tonight.
Instead, I’ll give a quick rundown on our arrival in Illinois. We left Liberty Missouri this morning. We had our first ever Denny’s breakfast experience. Shame on me, I’ve been a lifetime Denny’s snob.
Denny’s was convenient and inexpensive, so we checked it out. Who woulda’ thunk they would have gluten free English muffins? I have been avoiding carbs. But GF English muffins were irresistible. I ordered mine “buttered in the kitchen.” The waitress, upon delivery, said, “The cook has never had anyone ask for a gluten free muffin buttered, only toast.” Huh? Butter is such great food group. Number two only after cream cheese.
Then we were on the road. We listened to Devil in the White City. I read it when it first came out. Jim rarely wants to read anything I read. Maybe he thinks I like “chick lit?”
I’m enjoying this book as much the second time around as the first. While absorbing the 19th century Chicago Worlds Fair and a whole lot of murder, I finished a scarf and began another.
We had to stop at Michael’s in Liberty for more yarn. This new scarf is for our friend JR’s girlfriend, Melinda. Plum, blue, cream. I’m looking forward to vintage button shopping in Chicago’s Andersonville and adding plum buttons to my collection.
We drove. We listened. We crossed the “mighty Mississippi” for the second time in one road trip. Pulled into our hotel about three p.m. We hadn’t had lunch, so we planned an early dinner. At about five I said, “Honey…can we eat soon?” Jim glanced at his self-winding watch and suggested we wait until closer to dinner time.
The self-winding had run down hours earlier. Jim was unaware of the time. I pointed out it was, in fact, dinner time. I’m not a happy hungry person so Jim grabbed our “Miss Mamie’s” 10% off coupon ( after first checking out reviews) and we headed to dinner.
It was yummy, and I have enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch. I have put a note-to-self on top of the cooler to remind us to take the chicken out of small frig in the morning. Along with Jim’s wee-teeny cinnamon bun. The pre-dinner bread basket included two. He gobbled the first before his meal; the second will be breakfast.
Our waitress, Elaine, has celiac sprue. She felt my pain at missing out on the bread basket. But I had the marvelous morning GF English muffin, so for a celiac that’s splendid. She loved our service dog!
The weather here is a fabulous 80 degrees. The grass is soft, not the saw blades of Floridian lawns. I adore living in Florida. But not in the summer and never the lawn.
Tomorrow Chicago! We already have two Tate babysitting gigs lined up. Life is stupendous.
Today we had fascinating private JFK assassination tour. So much to tell. We learned that the public wasn’t privy to many facts about that heartbreaking day. But I’m too tired to fill in the details. Maybe tomorrow.
Two hours before the tour started, we had excitement. I was attempting to shut off the water when this happened. And no, I wasn’t able to save the day by putting my finger in the dike.
We were told we’d get a different room at the end of the day. We piled all our stuff into Gracie, the marvelous mini-van, and waved goodbye to Robert, the soaked to the skin maintenance man. We dropped Bronson off at The Pet Resort and raced to meet our tour guide.
While sitting in our suitcase, in the 100-degree heat, my hormone replacement therapy meds, used to living in air-conditioning, melted down into a lump of paraffin.
Who knows what kind of hot flashing freaking out menopausal monster I’ll turn into within the next few days? Poor Jim.
My family doctor is off until Monday. But, YAY, my brother-in-law is a doctor.
Eek!?! I just remembered, he retired a couple of weeks ago. Can he still prescribe? OMG. Oh well…Too late to fret about it now. Time to crawl into the feathers. First I’ll crank the temperature down to arctic levels. Take that, Hot Flashes!
We were told to arrive very early at the Silos. Otherwise, we’d meet long lines and stand in the oppressive August heat. We bounded (Lie. Hobbling is more our morning style) out of bed. Sucked down a cup of La Quinta coffee and headed to Happy Hounds, Bronson’s play-date for the day. Dropped the kid off and he never even looked back. He must have been ready for some canine companionship.
While driving to the Silos, I suddenly remembered I’d left my engagement ring, as well as my mom’s engagement ring, in our hotel room.
My mother’s ring has enormous sentimental value. Daddy sold his blood while getting his masters degree at the University of Michigan. He wouldn’t buy food. Every blood earned nickel was saved to purchase that ring.
As for my engagement ring–I adore it and the man who gave it to me. We raced back to the room where I found both rings snuggling safely in their secret hiding place. (I’d tell you what that secret place is, but then I’d have to kill you.)
We arrived at the Silos shortly after their nine a.m. opening. Jim dropped me off by the bakery while he went to find parking. I opened my white umbrella–an Amazon purchase in anticipation of Waco and Dallas sunshine–and stood to wait for Jimmy.
But the bakery beckoned me. Just a peek? I had no money so even if tempted couldn’t purchase a gluten free goodie. It turns out there were only three GF options–all cookies. If they’d offered cupcakes, I would have waited for my bank, Jim, to show up. I would have purchased a devils food with buttercream frosting delight and eaten every darn carb laden crumb. But it wasn’t to be. Joanna, my thighs thank you.
The place is divided into different areas. Shopping housewares, shopping garden, shopping bakery, playing, relaxing, eating food purchased from trucks.
The place seemed busy-ish to us. Employees told us it was a VERY slow morning. Jim and I checked out the shopping. Every square inch has Fixer Upper styling. Almost each shopper was busily gathering items for purchase.
The interiors are all about shopping. Exterior offers a giant fake grass play area, lined with black and white bean bag chairs to accommodate spectators. There are many picnic tables as well as bunches of food vending trucks. Few were open.
All of the merchants were local Waco restaurants. We wondered how the Gaines’ and the vendor’s split the monies. Do they rent space and also give up a percentage to the Silo business?
We stood for a bit and watched families play on the faux grass. We sauntered around to suck in the atmosphere. We had driven from Palm Harbor, Florida to Waco for this experience. We owed it more than half an hour. By 11 a.m. we decided it was time to push on.
Next stop was the LaSalle Shoppes. Sixty-five vintage shops under one roof. My goal was to find buttons for the scarf I’m making. I hit pay dirt! Eight buttons and I got a discount. Whoo Hooo.
Then, because of all the wandering and button shopping, we were hungry. We had lunch at Cafe Cappuccino. An omelet with cream cheese and bacon for me, two eggs over easy/sausage/hash browns/toast for Jim. He has abandoned our “low to no carbohydrate” diet since the road trip began. He gets a hall pass since he does all the driving.
We then moved on to Spice Village. Located in a 1908 warehouse building in downtown Waco, Spice houses over 80 individual shops in a fun atmosphere. We thought we’d recognize many from Joanna’s televised shopping adventures. We didn’t. Nor did we buy anything.
At that point, Jim had just about enough shopping for one day. We went to the Waco Suspension Bridge. The bridge is often featured in opening scenes of Fixer Upper. It’s a beautiful landmark and was the first bridge across the Brazos River serving as crossing on the Chisholm and Shawnee cattle drives. What most impressed me were the beautiful bronze sculptures. A herd of thirty cattle being driven by two cowboys astride horses.
I studied the steer for a long time, trying to sort out how many sculptures had been created. There were duplicates, but the placement was carefully orchestrated to keep clones from being obvious.
Then we decided we needed coffee to wake us up enough for MORE FOOD! We went to Common Grounds, the eclectic coffee shop near Baylor Campus and a quick walk from our hotel. The proprietors are the proud owners of one of the season two Fixer Upper homes. I remember that episode was the one where Chip ate a cockroach. Yum.
Dinner was at George’s, and supposedly the locals love it. We found it underwhelming.
This morning Jim and Bdog let me sleep until 8:30. Fabulous. We poked around, drank some unfortunate La Quinta coffee, went to Honda dealer for new key-fob battery, and then had breakfast at a different Cafe Cappuccino location. Jim repeated his yesterday’s order. I added spinach to my cream cheese and bacon omelet. A green veggie now and again won’t kill me. I hope.
Today we only had a two-hour drive from Waco to Dallas, so I figured we might enjoy a little vintage button hunting on the way. I found a dandy antique store in some Podunk town along the way. I told Jim the place had GREAT Trip Advisor reviews. I chose not to mention there had been only two reviewers. Likely the owner and her sister.
No buttons. After that, I shut up and knit.
Tomorrow we have a three-hour private tour of the Kennedy assassination route. After that possibly the Bush Presidential Library. Bronson has another spa date. He will be well worn out when we pick him up at the end of the day.
For some reason, he has been off his feed since we began the road trip. I wish I could say the same for us. Oink.
For dinner tonight, Jim has located an excellent Italian restaurant nearby. Yay! More food! Tomorrow we tour Dallas. The day after that eight hours in the car to Liberty. We began listening to our second Stone Barrington romp this afternoon. Stone got laid before chapter three was over. That man has stamina. By the time we reach Liberty he may need to be put into traction.
We started at Harp Designs. Joanna Gaines collaborates with Harp owner Clint when she wants custom furniture created. Clint, a woodworker, and his wife owned and lived in the home next door. It was a Fixer Upper several seasons ago.
They have turned it into a B and B. It can sleep twelve and costs $550-$650 a night. I can understand their decision to move. Since fame has struck I’m sure many were intruding on their privacy. While we were there people were walking to their porch, snapping photos, peering into windows. Not me. Honest. But I did stand on the sidewalk and take a few shots.
Harp Design’s retail store sells things made of wood. Hand-turned candlesticks, wood napkin rings, and cutting boards. We bought a mug. We don’t need another mug, but it said “Harp Designs” on the side, so I wanted it in our cup arsenal.
Following lunch, we headed to McGregor, Tx for a gander at Magnolia House, Chip and Jo’s bed and breakfast. They found this fixer upper while working with clients who were interested in opening a B and B. The clients passed on this home, but Chip and Joanna snapped it up. They then added a ranch home in the back yard to house the couple managing their B and B.
I just read the couple has another B and B opening in the fall of 2017. Maybe tomorrow we’ll roll past it before heading to Dallas.
Then we moved on to lunch at the Homestead Cafe, located in the Homestead Craft Village. First, we wandered Craft Village. I wondered if it was a Mennonite group. All the female workers wore long hair, pulled back severely, no makeup, and ultra-conservative clothing.
I learned Homestead Heritage owns the craft village. Homestead Heritage is an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community. Its literature stresses simplicity, sustainability, self-sufficiency, cooperation, service and quality craftsmanship. It also strives to live in peaceful coexistence with the land, other people, and other faiths.
Our lunch was delicious. The Heritage Cafe is in a charming rustic house. All interior walls are natural ship-lap. Do you suppose Joanna Gaines suggested that? I had jerk chicken tacos with avocado, mango, some mystery gluten free sauce and spicy, yet sort of sweet cole slaw. Jim had the always-adventurous cheeseburger option.
Bronson was admired by one and all as he snoozed under our table.
On the way back to Waco we wandered through a large vintage/junk/antique warehouse Joanna frequents. My goal was to find loose buttons for my current scarf. None to be had. There was a second option next door, but the yawns had caught up to me.
At that point, it was time to drive back into Waco, ferret out our hotel and check in. I was exhausted. Crawled into my “Mishri” jammies. To explain, our little step-grand-daughter, Mishri, at about age three made “exotic” (think mismatched) clothing choices. Her parents allowed her to pick her outfits on weekends. Jim thinks my PJ choices smack of Mishri styling. Blue and green plaid pajama bottoms with a red and white striped t-shirt, perhaps? Does this constitute letting myself go? No matter, it’s comfy and since Mishri is adorable, dressing as she did makes me feel adorable too. (I highly suspect the look is more becoming on a three-year-old than a sixty-five year old.)
Due to weariness, dinner was something grabbed from our on-the-road cooler. Two cheese sticks for me. I was asleep before I saw what Jim picked. More on Waco Day two tomorrow.
Jim is standing at attention, hoping to get me to dinner before I opt for a second night of cheese sticks.
It’s 7 a.m. I must be where? Sleep still fogging my brain. Please wait while I swill a second cup of coffee.
Coffee quaffed, memory restored. I am sitting in the Conroe, Texas La Quinta dining room. Fellow diners include blue-shirt-guy. He chose to sit in the corner of an eight person high-top dining table. Best view of TV probably the reason. He’s about sixty, slim and eating a sliced banana.
The other person sharing this dining area is a stocky fellow. He picked a table placing his back to the television. But, like Linda Blair in true Exorcist fashion, he keeps spinning his head on his neck to look at the TV. I wonder why he doesn’t move to the other side of his table.
Blue shirt just made a move. Filled a glass with juice. New person entered the scene and is chatting with Exorcist-man.
I woke at 7. Bronson sensed it and said, “Let’s go walk around.” So we did.
I was hopeful the morning Nazi would sleep late. We only have a 2.5-hour drive today. At home, that old man can snooze until 11 a.m. On the road, he bolts out of bed eager to hit the road. But he crawled outta’ the feathers just as I dropped the dog off and was sneaking out the door. I thought I was stealthy. Stealth is difficult to judge when you’re deaf. Note to self: Put in hearing aids next time I go on a covert mission.
Last night we had a nice dinner at Red Brick Tavern. There was a large crowd in spite of the rest of Conroe’s downtown being fast asleep.
Exorcist-guy is a bouncer. He keeps jiggling his right leg up and down. I can see it out of the corner of my right eye. Vigorous leg bouncing is a pet peeve. My options are as follows: Walk over to his table and scream, “Just stop with the damn leg bouncing!” or look the other way. Option two is probably smarter. I’ll try to position my self to take in the view to my left.
Uh, Oh…the “time-to-go-Nazi” just strolled into the dining room. Did he trust Bronson to stay in the room? I keep glancing to my right watching for the animal to come rolling in. The Jiggler-Exorcist-Guy is done so I’m free to look right again.
Last night at the Red Brick Tavern there were several guests seated at the bar. A woman, back to us, had pretty shiny long brown hair. Jim wondered if her face was as lovely as her hair. I suggested he be a spy, take a photo. The spying fell to me.
Other views from the dining experience are as follows. I’d add more info, but Hitler awaits.
Time for eggs, then outta’ here before The Nazi scoops me up. He said, “Take your time.” but that freedom won’t last long. I still need to eat and apply war paint. Next stop WACO!
Our road trip was preceded by a great Saturday night send off dinner at Rusty and Lynda’s. We were SO smart to buy a house across the street from those two.The meal was a fancy “seafood boil” including corn on the cob, potatoes, shrimp, kielbasa, hot sausage, and crab legs. It was DELICIOUS. We happily gobbled too much.
On Sunday Jim woke me at 7:30. His goal to hit the road by 8 a.m. We did well and got on the road only 45 minutes late. I never understand his insistence at leaving early. We are merely going to sit in a random hotel with nothing to do. But it’s his thing, and that’s not the hill I plan to die on.
We’ve had two long lovely days on the road. I do love the hours spent in the car. Our first audio book was a Tami Hoag mystery. We liked it but would have enjoyed some occasional comic relief. Maybe comedy doesn’t mix with a strangled sexy Russian woman found in a canal; half chomped by an alligator and stomach filled with various DNA semen. Perhaps that isn’t laugh track worthy.
Jim is happy because our second book is a Stuart Woods Stone Barrington romp. So far Stone has bedded two women and avoided being blown up by a briefcase bomb. We are on disc three of eight. I suspect Stone will enjoy a few more mattress dances before we hit the last disc.
I finished the scarf I began on our last road trip. Lynn–it’s coming your way. And I began another. I have realized I have ADD. I need to change colors every four or five inches. Otherwise, I get bored. Photos of the current project will be in a future blog.
Our first stop was Theodore, Alabama, near Mobile. I’m a stickler for finding local restaurants. Trip Advisor sent us to Hacienda San Miguel. Jim had chicken fajitas and margaritas. He likes rhyming food. I had two chicken tacos and Cabernet. It didn’t rhyme, but it tasted great.
In spite of having our personal-carried-from-home pillows, neither of us slept well. Jim bounded out of bed at 11:45 thinking it was almost noon. It was not quite midnight.
Even Bronson is off center for the first few days of a road trip. He won’t eat breakfast, generally choosing to revisit his dish later in the day.
Today’s lunch was at the #1 Trip Advisor recommended Scott, Louisiana. Fezzo’s. Fezzo’s name came from the owner’s father. Apparently, as a kid, Dad had made toys from wooden spools. He carried his spool toys everywhere. The postmaster nicknamed him Fezzo, the Cajun French word for “spool.” The name stuck.
We had a darling young waiter, Luke. Dark hair, fire-plug physique and impressed with our oh-so-excellent therapy dog. Luke wants to train his 18-month-old German Shepherd to be a therapy dog. I chose not to tell him to spend $65 big ones on the internet, and his animal would qualify.
Truthfully, Bronson is amazing. Going back to school for brush-up lessons paid off. I took this beautiful photo of him at Fezzo’s.
Yawn. I’m road weary.
Time to read my Vanity Fair magazine and feel sorry for Angelina stuck in her $25 million mansion and having to handle six kids all by her lonesome.
And we haven’t eaten enough this vacation, so time to prowl for food. Conroe, Texas. Red Brick Tavern. Yum.
When the mail-lady rolls up to our box, Bronson alerts me with a joyful bark. Together we hurry down the driveway. While Bdog lifts his leg on the post, I open the letter-box excited to get real mail.
Which almost never happens.
Here is what we got today. Two bits of junk mail and two Ballard Design catalogs. I rarely purchase anything from Ballard. Why they felt I need duplicate books is puzzling.
I post a card or letter five days a week. Sometimes multiples. I do this because I think everyone enjoys getting “real” mail. But hardly anyone enjoys creating “real” mail.
I also love buying stamps. These are my most recent purchases. Who wouldn’t be happy getting a letter with a Cruella DeVille stamp?
The Celebrate stamps are only for birthday cards, or perhaps retirement notes. The shells are for postcards.
I wrote another blog post about my love of mail and High School friend Ruthie sent me an actual letter! I was thrilled. If I knew how to do a back flip, I would have. Truthfully I cannot imagine having the courage to leap head over heels into the air. Or hurl my body toward the ground to catch a baseball. Both my kids are comfortable risking broken bones for sports. Mom, never.
But I digress. We were talking mail. Some days I get magazines. For a year I have subscribed to People. Getting that delivered to the house wrecked doctors waiting rooms and grocery store lines. The upside of a long line at the Piggley Wiggley used to be reading People. Now I’m reduced to The Enquirer. Fortunately, my People subscription is about to run out.
Speaking of the mail, I have to stop it for a full month. (Road Trip!) Maybe, just possibly, when we get back to Florida in September I will have piles of cards, letters and perchance even a present or two. A girl can dream.
I pulled out my journal in anticipation of our road trip. My memory is sketchy at best, so when we travel, I jot down our daily experiences.
Journals must be Moleskine, preferably unlined, size 5″ by 8″. They have an elastic band holding them closed and an envelope inside the back cover. I store random ticket stubs, receipts, and postcards there.
Sometimes I scribble little drawings to jog my mind. Occasionally I ask Jim to write from his point of view. Odd how we can share the same experiences but he often sees them differently.
Jim, whose memory isn’t too great, somehow never forgets anything about vacations. Still, he enjoys it when I pull out an old journal and read to him. Guess he likes hearing about things from my perspective.
This time next week Bronson will be playing at Happy Hounds while Jim and I tour Chip and Joanna Gaines stomping grounds.
We watched a Fixer Upper “out-takes” show last night. Chip ate a roach and chewed up a snake-skin. I thought I’d toss my cookies. He’s kooky. I love that about him.
I like Joanna’s decorating, but sometimes she’s impractical. For example, she rarely puts upper cabinets next to bathroom sinks. Where do homeowners hide their toothbrushes, prescriptions, lotions, and potions?
And yet she’s built a design empire. So what do I know?
She never includes television sets. Apparently, she and Chip don’t have TV in their home. For the first year after leaving my marriage, I lived without television. It was peaceful. I got lots done in the evenings.
When we were dating Jim’s next door neighbors watched TV endlessly. We mocked them, calling them the “TV people.” Now we’ve become them. Our latest Netflix binge watch is Madame Secretary. I wish we got HBO so we could take in Game of Thrones. But we’re too frugal to add more networks. We already have about thirty-six million choices.
Who among you, my six faithful followers, remember when there were only three channels? ABC, CBS, and NBC. At a certain time of night, the last shot was of a waving flag as our National Anthem played. After that TV was over until morning.
I also remember rotary phones, no ATM’s, busy signals, and walking miles through snow and sleet with no shoes to get to school. (Maybe the last part is a lie.)
Now I’m rambling. I just drank a Red Bull. My mind is racing. I should run errands, but the sky is darkening. There will soon be torrential rains. Time to drug the dog, otherwise he’ll drool all over our brand spanking clean floors. Today was cleaning day. Yay for that.
We are counting down the days until our exciting road trip. Yesterday we went to the library and got piles of CD books. As always Jim wanted to get Stuart Woods Stone Barrington novels. We’ve listened to so many of those. Stone Barrington is a filthy rich attorney, private investigator, drop dead gorgeous New Yorker. Every two or three chapters Stone is in the feathers with one beautiful woman after another. The only reason Stone makes the cut is the narrator does a great job reading the different characters.
Jim gathered about ten Stuart Woods novels and asked me to read the synopsis of each. I couldn’t guess if we’d heard them before. I vetoed all but two. Just now, I photographed the boxes of books only to find my rat-fink husband checked out seven, not two Stone Barrington romps.
Today we took a field trip to Joann’s Fabrics. I bought four skeins of yarn. While traveling I knit. It keeps me from paying attention to Jim’s (according to me aggressive/according to Jim competent reasonable) driving.
I then spent time organizing my big yellow Banana Republic knitting sack. I dumped everything onto the kitchen island and got fierce about tossing random stuff leftover from the past voyages. There were some soggy packages of gum, a few dead hearing aid batteries, one lone sock, and several pennies. Plus loads of yarns I won’t need this trip.
Now everything is pristine, organized and ready to roll.
On our last road trip, I completed one scarf and almost finished a second. I will be done this one within our first two days. It just needs a few more patches, some buttons, and a bumblebee.
Then I’ll move on to my next color scheme and create a scarf for our new friend, Melinda. JR, our buddy who dates her, told me what colors she would like, but naturally, I forgot. I think blue was among them.
If she hates it, she can pass it along to someone else.
While I was in the air conditioning cleaning my craft bag, poor Jim spent an hour in the hot sun cleaning goo off of Gracie’s leather seat. Gracie is my Honda Odyssey. The chair gets unbearably hot in the Florida sun, so I tossed a clean bathroom rug onto the seat. It prevents rump burn.
Little did I know the rubberized non-slip coating would melt onto the leather. Oops. But Gracie’s all cleaned up now and has a safe un-sticky towel to protect the leather from the sun. And my butt from the heat.
Tomorrow our “service” dog gets groomed. And all the stupid romance novels I dragged home a couple of days ago get returned to the library. I managed to get through only one. The Last Debutante. By the end heroine, Daria was no longer a debutante or a virgin.
Waco, Dallas, Kansas City and Chicago–we’re on the way! Whooo Hoooo!
Florida thunderstorms are earsplitting. They sound like they are happening in our living room, not the heavens above. Bronson is terrified of the noise. He becomes a shaking, drooling, tail between his legs mess each time we have a furious tempest. We’ve tried a Thundershirt, but no luck. Finally, the vet prescribed Xanax.
For reasons only Bronson could explain, he never wakes Jim during storms. I’m deaf. I have no clue the sky is falling. I can blissfully snooze right through the turmoil. Yet, if it storms, you can be sure the animal will be nudging me awake with a cold, wet nose.
Bronson’s surrogate parents, Brookie and Earl, know about his terror. The other morning, following a rude awakening by the dog, I wrote to them to complain that he never wakes Jim.
Damned if Bronson didn’t send out his own postcard of censure.
He even went so far as to color in the front of the card. He has pretty good fine motor skills, right?