Returning to the Motherland!!

Michael has a meeting in Austin on Wednesday and Thursday so we decided that we would return to the Texas (fondly known as the Motherland) for a couple of extra days. If nothing else, it would get us out of the house for a bit!!

The traveling was a bit eerie as the airport was completely uncrowded and of course we were all wearing our wonderful masks. Compared to our trip to China two years ago, the smiles were the same although you can’t really tell…..

We had booked a hotel in downtown Austin and were able to drive there easily and get checked into our room. The first thought after hotel was food…..and Mexican in particular!! We found an Abuelos (one of our favorites in Abilene) so headed over for lunch. Within 1 hour of touchdown, we were sitting in the restaurant enjoying chips, salsa and Margarita’s……a personal best…..

As we were driving back to the hotel, we realized that the Texas State Capitol building was only a few blocks away from the hotel so we decided to go and pay our respects. As with everything in Austin, it is closed to the public right now but we did enjoy walking around the area and taking photos of the beautiful capitol grounds…..

The Capitol building was built in 1888 and is comprised of Red Granite quarried from Burnet county in Texas. The interior walls are Texas Limestone while the roof is made of Copper.

I have always thought that it was a beautiful building and made me proud to be a citizen of the great Lone Star State….

Speaking of stars, the fence around the compound was replete with thousands of stars…..

The grounds are beautiful with large trees of every variety. We would have loved to get to this sculpture but had to enjoy it from a “more than social” distance…..

After leaving the Capitol we tried to visit the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk but unfortunately it was gated and closed. So the next best thing was to drive around the University of Texas. Although, since we are alumni of Texas Tech University (Go Red Raiders!!), this is almost a sacrilege…..

We did enjoy seeing the campus, especially liking this sculpture…..

We also photographed the infamous University of Texas Tower…..

…..where, in 1966, Charles Whitman took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck and proceeded to fire indiscriminately on people on the surrounding streets. Before he was killed, he shot and killed 14 people and wounded 31 others.

Sadly in today’s world, this is not unexpected but in 1966 it was unheard of. Even though I was only 9 years old at the time, I knew the story of the UT Tower!!

To end this post on a happier note…….

I saw this sign for a Korean Chicken Wing shop and thought that the logo design was so ingenious. Someone had on their creative thinking cap when they came up with this…..

I loved this railing……

….and to continue in my collection of interesting hotel carpet designs, I really like this brightly colored paisley outside of our room……

I especially like this “quilting” design…..

More to come from the great state of Texas!!!

Impromptu Traveling…..

This past week, Michael and I had to make an unplanned trip to Texas to clean out his Mother’s house and get it ready to sell.

While it was sad to be going thru 60+ years of her life in that home, it was enjoyable to learn a few new things…..

…..like the fact that Michael was named a “Favorite” in his 4th grade class…..

He is so cute in his dark suit and super white socks!!! I also loved this photo of him…..

It was also fun to find his Mom (Esther’s) pages and pages of shorthand. Apparently when she was doing her Bible Studies, she would revert to the form of writing that she had used for MANY years when she was a secretary at a local bank…..

We found handmade horse saddlebags that Michael and his brother had made from green canvas……

Maybe this was the impetus for his current leatherwork…..

I came home with a few favorite items that I am looking forward to decorating with…..

I found a lap quilt that I made for Esther many years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t put a label on it (shame on me!!!) so I dont know when it was made…..

We spent a little over 20 hours working thru the 4 bedroom house and ended up with 66 boxes (mostly filled with the 700 books that we moved off of the shelves and the 100+ family photos sitting in frames around the house), 10 large garbage bags filled with bedding and clothes, and a dumpster FULL of unusable items.

We enjoyed our favorite Texas foods…..Tex-Mex, BBQ Brisket and good old Whataburger…..

We had one exciting event……

And yes, that is a small tornado!!! We watched it for about 5 minutes as it wandered around in the field and then dissipated. The winds were amazing!!

On the last day, I drove past the house that I grew up in and was excited to see that it looked great. Even more exciting was the kids swing hanging in the tree!!! I hope that they have as much fun in that front yard as I did!!!

It was good to get home again yesterday and get back to a bit of normal life…..and hopefully some creating soon!!!

Road Trip – heading West

On Monday morning, we left Abilene, heading North West to the city of Lubbock where Michael and I had attended university at Texas Tech.  It was great fun to pass the towns that we remembered so well….Big Spring, Snyder, Post and  Sweetwater (home of the Annual Rattlesnake Roundup).

We enjoyed passing gorgeous, green cotton fields and stately wind farms…..

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We reminisced as we drove, remembering trips that we had taken and people that we had know during our 6 years in Lubbock.

We were reminded of the topography of the area, starting out with flat, flat grasslands and gorgeous blue skies…..

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and moving into the Llano Estacado region with Mesas popping out of the ground like giant mole hills…..

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We enjoyed seeing fields of pump jacks and the smell of freshly pumped oil…..

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We arrived in Lubbock around 11:00 and headed out to find some of the places that were important to us when we lived there.  Unfortunately, our Church was no longer there, our duplex had been torn down for a retirement center to be built and I was unable to recognize the building where I had worked.   Oh well, you cant fight progress!!!

We continued on to the Texas Tech University campus, actually being allowed to drive onto the campus….something that we weren’t allowed to do when we were students!!

We had forgotten how pretty the campus was, with a Spanish feel to the architecture….

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We visited the Biology building where Michael received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Baker.  We enjoyed a few minutes visiting with him in the same office that we first met him in…. 38 years ago!!!

DSC00082 We also visited the Business Administration building where I received my Bachelor’s Degree…..

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….although it is now the Mass Communications Building.

We enjoyed taking photos of ourselves at the football stadium…..GO RAIDERS!!……

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….and the Will Rogers statue……

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We left the University and started the most fun part of the day…..a visit with some old friends over a two hour lunch.   We first met Bill and Gayle when we were all students at TTU and had re-connected over the last few years over Facebook.  They currently live in Denver but were visiting in Lubbock with family.   It was as if we had never been apart and we happily enjoyed our food and TONS of fun stories about our lives. 

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It was definitely the highlight of our day!!

After lunch we got out the GPS to put in the address for our hotel in Clovis, New Mexico.  The only problem was that we had both forgotten to book a hotel!!!  Fortunately we were able to use our phone to find a hotel and headed on the last hour and a half of our trip.

We enjoyed passing thru the towns of Tahoka, Anton, Littlefield, Levelland, Muleshoe (one friend used to pronounce it Mul-es-hoe rather than Mule-shoe), Progress, Farwell and Bovina.

One of the things that surprised us were the freight trains….we NEVER see them at home.  Before the day was over, we had seen over 10 different trains criss-crossing the countryside…..

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I am VERY happy with this photograph, especially as we were driving at 75 miles per hour at the time!!!

We arrived in Clovis, checked into our hotel, took a spin around the city and then retired to the hotel for an enjoyable night of relaxing and video watching.

Road Trip – Part One

The last time that Michael and I made a road trip was in 2006…a trip to Texas to visit our Mothers and then on to San Antonio, Texas and to visit some of Michael’s research sites in Louisiana.

Since then there hasn’t been a lot of time for car travel as we have done a LOT of overseas travel….. 8 weeks in England in 2007, 2 weeks in India and 4 weeks in Australia in 2008,  10 days in Portugal in 2009, two 2 week trips to China and then 7 weeks in Italy in 2010, 5 weeks in China and Thailand in 2011 and finally, 3 weeks in Turkey and 3 weeks in China in 2012!!!!

SO, with much excitement we hit the road for a car trip….starting in Texas and then continuing to New Mexico.

We knew that the trip to Abilene, Texas would be a very long and fairly boring trip so we downloaded the book “A Walk in The Woods” by Bill Bryson.  It was the perfect companion to our driving and we enjoyed a 10 hour drive to Shreveport, Louisiana on the first day and then five more hours on the second day, arriving in time to take my Mother out for dinner to celebrate her NINETIETH birthday!!!

On Friday, the day was spent getting ready for the big party and on Saturday we celebrated her Birthday in style with about 60 guests!! 

The food was fun…..

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The cake was BIG…….

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and the table looked great (my cousins put together the banner)…..

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Mom enjoyed every minute of the party, especially visiting with her 93 year old cousin…..

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…..Mom is on the right.

One of the most fun things about this time was that I got to spend time with many of my cousins….some of which I haven’t seen in  FORTY years!!!!  It was such fun to catch up with them  We rounded all of them up for one photo on the stairs……

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It was a fun day and we were all exhausted after it was over!!

On Sunday we spent time with Michael’s Mother, attending Church with her and enjoying the requisite Mexican Food for lunch afterward.

We packed up and got ready for the second leg of our journey…..on Monday we head to New Mexico……