Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Internet, No Cell Phones, No Television

Beginning tomorrow, we will be gone for a week, eight days, and

Doing what?

Camping

Where?

At my favoritest camping spot on the face of the earth

favoritest?

I know. I know. “favoritest” ain’t a word. Neither is “ain’t”; but, at this moment, I do not care. So there! Ha!

As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted, we’ll be gone a week. We will be with no internet, no cell phones, and no TV. There

Say what? How will you ever survive?

Like I always have in the past… by swimming, by playing, by reading, by sleeping, by people watching, by hiking, by eating, by getting hurt… Scratch the last three words. There is always….

I hear a story in there somewhere

Let’s just say that I landed in the ER with a badly cut eye the last time we went. And, the time before that, I ended up spending most of the trip on the camp bed with a bad back and ended up in the ER with an infection of some kind and a reaction to Aleve, which I’ve never taken before.

As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted yet again, there is always something to do – even being bored is something to do. Ha! It’s going to be a bit of Heaven on earth – just pure relaxation in the middle of one of the earth’s beautiful spots.

There isn’t enough signal strength at this place for the internet or our cell phones. And, I have never believed in taking a TV along like some people do with their satellite dishes. This spot, on their website, does claim to have Wi-Fi; but, I highly doubt it. If they do, I will get on in case of emergencies. But, that is it. Nothing else. So, you’ll have to make do without any bloggy posts in bloggy land from me for a whole week. How will you survive?

By doing the some of the same things you will be doing, reading, eating, playing…

Awwww. Phooey. I was hoping you say you would miss me and will not be able to survive without me.

Ha!

Lee Ann and Dan will be at Garner from Sunday, August 1st, through Sunday, August 8th

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Road Trip Home


Since we had no obligations for Tuesday, we decided to leave early. We were out and about when we made this decision. So, we returned to the hotel arriving around 10:30am. We packed like maniacs. I now know I can pack up my crap in a hurry. We were out of there by 11:04am – a record breaking time. And oh, I think I got enough exercise for that day running to and from the vehicle at the hotel.

We decided to lunch at Lambert’s Cafe before leaving town.


The weather was horrid. But, that didn’t stop me from trying to take pictures of the place. It’s very interesting.



This place accepts cash and checks only. So, be prepared ahead of time. It is also very pricey. So, have a hearty appetite to make it your worthwhile. And, be prepared to wait awhile to be seated as it’s a VERY popular place.


Giant Checkers board game uses beat up lids from Thermos jugs. People could play this game while waiting in line to get in.

The walls are covered with pictures, license plates, and tin signs. There were flags of all kinds hanging from the ceiling. There will be people coming around with sides such as Fried Okra, Fried taters, Black Eye Peas, and Macaroni and sweet Tomatoes. And, there will be a person that tosses rolls to you from time to time if you desire one.

I had a hamburger, which wasn’t all that spectacular. Dan had a steak and he said it was very good.

And then we headed on out intentionally going through a funky interchange. We were inside Oklahoma within a hour.

Since it was a long drive, I was bored, and it was a gloomy day, I decided to challenge myself by taking pictures while we were on the move (mostly 70 miles per hour) to keep the boredom and doldrums away. It was a lot a fun not to mention a waste of time because the vast majority of the pictures were a total waste. Ha!

However, I did capture a few pictures that I liked while on the move.


We saw a lot of Hayfields in Oklahoma


I chased a lot of sun rays through the state. It’s not easy trying to capture a picture like this through a passenger window while on the move.


This was taken near the border of Texas while still in Oklahoma. The sun was setting.


We did stop once because I wanted to take pictures of a silo with a tree growing on top. I first saw this on the way to Missouri and wanted to take pictures; but, we didn’t stop. At the time, there were a bunch of goats taking refuge from the sun under the tree beside the silo. And, the weather was beautiful that day.

I now wish we had stopped back then because the weather was awful on our return trip home. And, there were no goats this time around. Oh well. Maybe another time I will capture a priceless image.

We arrived in Sherman, Texas around 9:00pm. We had the worst night in a hotel that we will never stay at again. We both ended up sick from the effects of lingering smoke.

We learned a valuable lesson – just because we had a wonderful stay in Missouri with a hotel by the same name (chain), it doesn’t mean another would be the same experience. We will now stick with our standby hotels and not deviate from them unless we’ve checked out hotel review sites beforehand.

One good thing that came out from this experience is that while rushing to get out of the place early the next morning, I spied this underneath a stairwell…


What the heck? I looked up. And, Lo and behold..


juvenile Barn Swallows


I couldn’t linger because the babies’ parents and older siblings (Dan said there were four of them) were beginning to make a racket and were pitching a fit concerning me. I didn’t want to trouble them too much. I felt blessed by this little discovery. Good things can happen in bad places.

We continued on down the road, grabbing some breakfast from a nearby gas station. I didn’t want take a chance at the hotel's free continental breakfast. I wanted out of there like a bat out of a cave.

While we continued our trek home, I spied a billboard ad for quilt store located in Waxahachie, TX. We decided to stop and explore.

It’s a very nice little “town” and the Square (downtown) is in good condition. I believe I would like to come back here and explore as it looks like it has plenty of antique stores and the “town” has character.


We eventually found the Common Threads Quilting store. I explored the store and didn’t see much I absolutely had to have. However, I thought the prices were reasonable in this little shop. I did make a couple of purchases.


Pillowcase kit & Apron Pattern

I am sorely in need of a new pillowcase for my extra pillow. My sister-in-law made and gave to me a Garfield pillowcase eons ago and it’s not going to last much longer. So, I decided to purchase this kit in hopes of learning how to make them. And, the price seemed reasonable.

As for the apron pattern, I’ve become such an Apron fanatic lately. However, I don’t like paying the high prices of the aprons I’ve seen for sale. I saw this pattern for sale in the Missouri Quilt stores; but, the prices were a little too high for me. However, it was under $10 at this quilt shop. So, I decided to get it.

I’m NOT a seamstress. I am amateur quilter. I don’t sew clothes nor do I know how. But, hopefully, I’ll be able to figure this one out when I’m ready to make one.

We both decided to linger and explore one antique store before moving on. I love rummaging. I love shops that sell “junk”. However, there are only a few things I will ever purchase and the price must be right for this thrifty gal. When I spied this…


Longaberger basket for $9.00, I had to get it!

I believe that the basket itself was once part of a retired 1999 item called “Santa’s Helper” – it looked like a sled. Somehow, the “runners” got lost. But, I didn’t care. The basket itself is still excellent shape not to mention serviceable. And, it’s Longaberger! Ha! The only thing this particular basket is lacking is a protector. Maybe I will find one off eBay someday.

You have to understand, I love the Longaberger baskets. The quality is outstanding. But, you often pay for what you get. And, forget about the retired baskets. Translation: prices are often sky high and out of my budget range.

Maybe I’ll show off my tiny collection of Longaberger baskets here someday.

And now, we return to our regular scheduled programming. (Enough with the babbling.)

We stopped to take pictures of a house I fell in love with on the way in downtown Waxahachie. These pictures do not do justice to the house itself.




We had lunch in Italy, Texas, which was just down the road aways from Waxahachie. We can now claim to have eaten in Italy. Ha! The place we chose was Grandy’s . We used to eat at Grandy’s when they had a few in Houston. But, they disappeared and we missed them. The sides are still the same – absolutely delicious. And, the chicken is still very good. To me, Grandy’s is better than KFC or Chick-fil-A – the food is good and the prices decent. I sure wish we had some where we live.

Then we continued on our merry journey, arrived home around 3:00pm and returned to life as we know it. In other words, we lived happily ever after! Ha!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dan's Middle Brother and his Family


On the afternoon of the sixth day of vacation, we met up with another of Dan's brothers. He happens to be smack dab in the middle of all the siblings. They have a lively six year old son and just had twins, a boy and a girl, only several months old. We had a very relaxing time and I held the baby boy for awhile -- he was just too cute.

I personally think that Dan captured the best pictures in the entire vacation, and one of them was priceless in my humble opinion. He wasn't into taking a whole lot of pictures this time around. But, when he did, he took some good pictures. I think the best one is in this collection below. I'll let you be the judge. (His pictures are noted directly below each one he took.) Enjoy.



{Picture by Dan} This is Grandma (Dan's Mom) with the twin girl



{Picture by Dan} holding the twin boy


{Picture by Dan}


The look on this kid's face is priceless. He is a Star Wars fan and was messing around with a toy lightsaber.








Bead, Quilt and Honey stores

On Monday morning of our sixth day of vacation, we went shopping! We were on the hunt for some antique and quilt stores. We found several stores online that were nearby our hotel and mapped them out. We went to the furthest one out first, which was an antique store. It was loaded with junk and much to my disappointment, closed.

Dan saw a Bead shop on the way up to the antique store; so, when I saw the place on the way back, I told him to stop.


Like the good chauffeur and doting husband that he is, he did (stop).

I have a confession to make.

*takes a deep breath*

I’m a bead-aholic and I refuse to quit. Ha! However, I do try to be good about making purchases.


This shop is one of the coolest "dual" shops I’ve ever been in. You walk inside the door and on the left side is all leather and related merchandise – anything a leather worker would happen to want or need, he’d find it here (most likely). They had all kinds of stuff including tools, furs, fasteners, hardware and more. On the right is the bead shop. It is like they divided the humongous place down the middle, placed the registers smack dab in the center, decided who gets what side, and then worked in harmony forever. Ha! Both sides were decent sized “stores”.

Anyway, I quickly roamed amongst the leather and then made a beeline to the beads. They had tons of beads. I was in bead heaven. I roamed and looked over everything and found some decent bargains.


My Bead Purchases

I got creative with Dan’s help – we turned all the strings of beads I purchased into a framed flower for this picture. Isn’t it cute? I know. I know. Silly. Ha! The strands that form the petals were $2 each and the ones that form the stem and frame were $1 each. I thought I did very well considering these were nice glass beads.

And then, we continued on down to the quilt shops. We stopped by the Quilt Sampler first. This store has a very unassuming storefront. It wasn’t worth the effort of taking a picture. Don’t let unassuming or boring storefronts deceive you. This was one of the best shops I’ve entered in a long time. It was loaded to the rafters with merchandise, fabrics, and the like. I had a blast wandering the store. And yes, I bought stuff.


The Loot

The fabrics are Fat Quarters. (Check out Fat Quarters and Other Signs of Madness for a definition and a humorous blog post on the insanity of collecting Fat Quarters.) These fabrics were on sale – buy 5 for $1 each. How could a fabric-aholic pass this up? Especially when she still needs a few more faux plaids and stripes for a project she plans to do someday? Not! Resistance is futile! Ha!

I picked up the book and immediately loved some of the ideas. I quickly located my husband to show it to him. It is an expensive book. I didn’t want to get it if he didn’t think it was good (he’d be doing most of the work). When I returned to him, he said to go ahead and get it. Yeah!

While my husband was perusing the book, I finished up wandering the store. I came across a quilt top hanging on a wall that was made from a pattern called "Baby Charms" by Bean Counter Quilts. The quilt top they made was the larger version for a boy -- it was so darn cute. The pattern can be used for girls too. So, I decided to purchase the pattern. I hope to make a baby quilt someday soon. Mother’s Maxine quilt project comes first.

After I finished this shop, we went to another quilt shop called Merrily We Quilt Along which also had a unassuming storefront. In fact, we almost didn’t find it. This place practically had an entire tiny shopping strip. A portion of the store has a tea room. I didn’t find anything I absolutely must have. Personally, I liked the first quilt store we went to.

Then we decided to call it quits and go to lunch. We heard about Honey Heaven and the Bee-stro cafĂ© while at the first Farmer’s Market we attended. I wanted to go there, mainly to see the live hive and to get some honey. So, we went there to have lunch. The storefront was unassuming.

What’s with the boring or unassuming storefront signs??? I don’t get it. It certainly isn't attracting customers. And, not worth taking pictures.

Dan had the BBQ Beef sandwich. Let me tell you upfront, I dislike beef for the most part. However, when I tried a little piece, I immediately liked it. It was tender and not chewy (which I hate). I told Dan if I could have Beef brisket like that, I’d eat it. He said it was delicious. I had a grilled honey mustard chicken breast sandwich, which was okay.

We then explored the store, which was in the back of the place. There is a LIVE beehive in the back of the store. It was AWESOME! You can see a small picture of hive in the “bee tour” section of the website. That picture doesn’t do it justice. The whole thing swivels and there is a PVC pipe which the bees travel through to get in and out of the place. This place can also be educational for young kids (adults too). I’ve always been fascinated with bees and hoped to have a hive or two or three someday. Heh. That will probably never happen. However, it did bring back memories of Daddy and his bees when I was a young kid.


I ended up purchasing two bottles of honey at what I thought was a reasonable price. So far, I like the honey. I mostly drizzle honey on top of a heel of bread with butter. Yum!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dan's Second Youngest Brother and His Family


On Sunday, the fifth day of vacation, we met up with Dan's second youngest brother and his family. They managed to make the trip down to Springfield from Illinois to show off their young son. I was so thrilled that they did make it down. The little kid is precious. In fact, so is his (step)daughter.

We didn't do a whole lot except visit and go out to eat at Zio’s Italian Kitchen for lunch. It was a very lovely and relaxing visit, perfect for a Sunday!

Here are a few pictures that we took. Enjoy!



{Picture by Dan}


{Picture by Dan}




Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eureka Springs, AR and Branson, MO

On the fourth day of vacation in Missouri, we went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We spent most of the morning exploring this beautiful historic downtown location. The weather was partly cloudy, which made taking pictures difficult. But, I still managed to get fairly decent shots.


Sunrising over Eureka



Humpty Dumpty sat on a Wall...

Tree is growing through the upper level (street)

The city protected this tree, which was awesome in my opinion.

We spent about three hours in Eureka Springs. We then took off. Dan then took me to historic Downtown Branson. By choosing to do this, we avoided the crowds of the touristy parts of Branson. A lot has changed since the last time we explored this place. Branson Landing has since been built practically right next to historic downtown and didn't even exist back then. We did roam this shopping strip. If you're a shopaholic, this is the place to go. It's located right next to the river and a very beautiful area.

The weather had turned cloudy and rainy, So, taking pictures was out. I did manage to take a picture of this historic store.


Dick's 5 and 10

We spent some time exploring this place. I loved rummaging through all the merchandise. I ended up getting a souvenir t-shirt -- the only purchase I made.

I was so tired from our all day outing that I snoozed some on the way back to Springfield, MO where we were staying. This is highly unusual for me as I often cannot sleep in the car. I will often get sick if I try to read, play video games (DS Lite) or even sleep while traveling, which is a pain. And, don't bother suggesting listening materials because I'm deaf. A tough life I have, I know. Ha!

When we arrived at our destination (Springfield), we roamed around looking for a place to eat dinner. We decided on...



Steak 'n Shake

As you can see, the weather was horrid. But, I had to try to take pictures.

I loved this place. It had on old-timey feel - like a 50's diner. And, I was pleasantly surprised that the food was delicious. When we stopped, there was a car show in the parking lot. We absolutely enjoy looking at old cars. There was a rusty old bucket of a truck with a spiffy beefed up engine that made us laugh! But, we also thought that the concept was cool.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Surf Waterpark


{In the tune of 12 Days of Christmas}
On the third day of vacation, my true love took me to, a water park...

I know. GROAN. Ha!

I'm such a water freak, I love being in the water whether it be the ocean, a river, a swimming pool or a water park.

We chose to go to Big Surf over Branson's water park mainly because it was cheaper. It's a nice little park; but, it was just a tad too tame for the both of us. It also didn't have much. It had a tiny river (a disappointment for me), a kiddie play area, the wave pool, and three or four "rides". We did like the wave pool.

So, we will be going to the Branson's water park the next time we go to Missouri (which will most likely be two years from now) in spite of the fact it's more expensive.

I took along a cheap disposable Fuji waterproof camera that I purchased at a Walmart. You don't get great pictures; but, you do get some snapshots of memories. This is the first time I used a Fuji disposable water camera. I think I will stick with the Kodaks (I've used them before) even though they are more expensive. It seems to me that Kodak camera takes slightly better pictures -- it may be my imagination though.

One of these days, I'm going to invest in one of those digital waterproof cameras out there -- having one of these would be awesome! I'm currently liking and keeping an eye out on the Olympus Stylus Tough 8100 digital camera. It's a tad too expensive for me at the moment though. And, I need to save up my money first.

Anyway, here are a few pictures I took at the water park. Enjoy.



A couple of River rats

I'll have you know, the water was COLD. At least, we are going to be prepared for getting in the Frio River beginning of August.




Dan braves a water slide

I wouldn't try this one out. I told Dan I would after he went by himself. After he completed the ride, he said that he was glad I didn't try because it had a tremendous amount of g-force. I heaved a big sigh of relief because I really didn't want to go! Ha!



Wave Pool

We were in this the most. It would make waves for ten minutes, be calm for ten minutes and then start up again. I would have to say that this is one of the better wave pools I have been in.