Saturday, November 21, 2015

"If you come home as happy as you leave, you have had a good vacation." *

Pat and I just took a vacation to Texas over the past week. It was one we greatly looked forward to, in spite of both of us having an anxiety disorder. It was a time to reconnect with family and friends, and we did everything we set out to do except hit 6th Street in Austin for the night scene. True, though, we also did a few things we hadn't planned to do that were happy events.

We had good flights all around - no turbulence, no long layovers and yet no rushes to make the next flights, and gorgeous weather. I had some pretty hefty anxiety on the flight home, so I took a Klonopin to calm down. Klonopin at full dose works *extremely* well at 38,000 feet and I finally learned why people take anxiolytics recreationally. If I need one on a flight again, I'm not likely to take a full dose.

We arrived in Wichita Falls in the mid-afternoon of Friday the 13th, picked up our rental car, loaded up, and headed to my parents house. Dad and Pat went to Willie's Place to get bbq for us all and we enjoyed some slightly salty ribs. Emily and Chris came over when she got off work and we all enjoyed some good conversation and catching up.

Saturday morning brought some more visiting with Mom and Dad, then Emily came to get me for our tattoo appointments. On the way over, she suggested that we each get the word "journey" on our forearms, with each written in one another's handwriting. So I have a printed word in her hand, while she has a cursive word in mine. I then started getting the bee that I originally came for and ended up with the violets that I had been considering, too. The bee represents Emily because her first name - Deborah - means the bee. The violets represent the three babies I lost to miscarriage - Katie, Corrie, and David. The tattoo is beautiful and I would recommend Elia at Classic Tattoo in Wichita Falls to anyone who wants a meaningful work of permanent art. She is still an apprentice, but she is an artist, too, and it shows.

Saturday evening, Pat and I went to Emily's apartment to visit with her and Chris. Em colored my hair for me -- a nice deep red (ruby, by L'Oreal) while we all watched "Crazy, Stupid Love" with Steve Carrell and ate pizza. It was a good visit with them.

Saturday night we spent with Mom and Dad. We were preparing for an early Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, so Dad cooked the giblets and I made the cranberry sauce. Mom told me that her secret to it was adding cinnamon, so I did and now I know what the missing ingredient has been to my version all this time!

Sunday, my brother Jay, sister-in-law Tina, niece Briella, niece Amanda and great-nephew Tucker, Emily, and Chris came over for turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Tina made sweet potato casserole from scratch, while I made green bean casserole, the stuffing, and poured the Heinz gravy into a pot to cook. We had so much food left over! Alas, Pat and I left town the next morning so missed out on turkey sandwiches and reheated dressing. Sigh!

Sunday night, my great friend Rhonda Saenz came over to visit for a a few hours and we all had an enjoyable time laughing, chatting, and catching up on the latest in each other's lives. It was sooooo good to see her as  I miss her greatly.

Monday, as I said, we headed out of town to Austin. I made Pat take the "back way" down there so we could stop at the Koffee Kup restaurant in Hico. Famous for its pies, its regular food leaves a lot to be desired. I should have stuck with the BLT I normally get, but I opted for Chicken Fried Steak since I can't get it here in the 'burbs of Atlanta. It was awful, much to my dismay, but the pie did not disappoint. Pat had Key lime and I had a piece of Doctor's Office. Then we bought a blueberry banana one to take to his sister Chris in Kerrville.

After lunch, we journeyed on to Austin, where we spent two days in the nicest bed and breakfast I have ever been in. The room was appointed with wooden doors all nicely stained, with medallions in the upper corners. There were skylights and beautiful wooden floors. There was a working fireplace, a tiny but full kitchen, and all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore. It was right in the middle of downtown in an historical neighborhood and we weren't far from the shopping district or Sixth Street.

That evening, we went to meet and visit with "Mike TV" and his girlfriend Katy as Mike recorded an hour-long concert. He is doing 40 concert podcasts in 40 days and we were lucky to be in on the 3rd or 4th one. Afterwards, we visited for an hour or so, discovering that we have much in common, and Katy added me to her facebook friends which is great since I was just about to ask if I could add her to mine. :)

Tuesday we puttered around downtown Austin after having a leisurely morning in the B&B. Pat and I spent a good hour or so in Toy Joy - a fun and opulently unique toy store on 2nd Street (also known as Willie Nelson Boulevard). We picked up some Harry Potter candies and treats for Emily, a coloring book for our friend Ami, and a toy duck for my great-nephew. I have a sense of deja vu that he may already have one, but a kid can never have too many rubber ducks, can he?

Then we headed to the Laramie restaurant on 2nd which serves some of the finest brisket I have ever had in my life! The crust was perfect and not too salty, the meat was fork tender but not falling apart, and the marbling was spot on. For a side, I had macaroni and cheese. But the most fun were the appetizers! We had deviled eggs with caviar, along with miniature peppers of some kind that were crisp, crunchy, and looked like little green olives on stems.

Back to the B&B for a long nap for me and some reading for Pat, then we went out to meet his brother Mike for dinner. Mike was in Austin from Oregon for a conference and it was nice to spend a couple of hours with him. This is the third occasion we've been able to spend time with Mike and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday morning we headed to Kerrville where Pat's sister Chris and her husband Clark live. We spent all of the late morning into the mid-evening with her just chatting and laughing. She prepared a veritable feast of salads for us to enjoy including a green salad, chicken and tuna salads, a carrot salad, and an apple salad. There may have been more, but it was all delicious and I need her recipes for them all! (She's promised me a recipe for green bean casserole in time for Thanksgiving here in Georgia that I'm looking forward to.) I was able to get the scoop on a couple of things Pat did as a wee lad, and I had a good laugh with them both about how someone could "ruin (his) happy day!"

We went back to Chris's and Clark's the next morning for a couple of hours before we headed back to Wichita Falls. Then Emily joined us for dinner at the Jalapeno Tree, which is my favorite restaurant in all of Wichita Falls and has the best spinach enchiladas anywhere.

On the trip, we saw a family of deer in Chris's neighborhood, a buck with a huge rack of antlers on the road north to Wichita Falls, and a wild turkey that almost hit our car when it flew across the road.

All in all, we had a most enjoyable trip. We looked forward to spending time with the people we love and we were able to do just that. It was low-key, which we had also been looking forward to. And we came home as happy as when we left. There are still two days left on our vacation before we return to work for a three day work week. Still more low-key and just relaxing. It's been an especially enjoyable week.

* Unknown