Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Let's Go To Luckenbach Texas ...

... with Waylon and Willie and the boys ...

Some of you out there are probably singing along right about now. Most of you probably don't know what the hell is going on here. In any case, I suggest downloading a little Waylon Jennings (specifically the song about Luckenbach) to have some accompaniment music for this post.

I didn't have any events the last three days, but it really wasn't worth it to me to drive home from Houston on Sunday just to have to drive back down to Austin tomorrow. So I decided to borrow my friend Sarah's family for a few days since they live in San Antonio. Today was a very special day. Sarah's mom Candy and her sister Laura and I went on a Texas Hill Country Roadshow Extravaganza.

First we went to the Sister Creek Vineyard in Sisterdale. It's this really old cotton gin that they turned into a winery. Before we did the wine tasting, we took a tour of the place. The first thing I noticed was this flag:

Is it just me, or does that seem dirty to anyone else? Come on, admit it. You were thinking the same thing. Apparently that's supposed to be a cannon. That's bogus. Every cannon I've ever seen has had wheels on it. I don't see any wheels. I know. I need to get my head out of the gutter.

Moving right along, we found these cavernous empty vats. According to our self-guided tour sheets, they are for bottling the wine. I found that they were also pretty good for making some killer echo sounds:

We checked out some more stuff back there, but it didn't take very long. Sister Creek is just not that big of a place. Before we left we stopped to try a few of the wines. I thought they were pretty good, but then again, you're talking to someone who equates "expensive wine" with "gallon jugs." Here's Laura and me enjoying some wine tasting:

We left the winery and headed toward the famed Luckenbach, Texas. I've heard the song at least a hundred times, so it was high time for me to go check this place out for myself. Besides, Candy said it was cool. We pulled up and the first thing I said was, "Is this it?" Sure enough, it was, all ten acres of it. We stopped to take a picture outside the general store, a 150 year old building held together by splinters, mud-dauber nests, and old cowboy melodies:

The general store offered a surprising amount of Luckenbach merchandise for such a tiny little town (Population: 1). The best part though, was the bar. You know what they say: When in Rome (or Texas) ... so I bought a cold delicious Shiner Bock to accompany me on the rest of our stay. Actually, Candy bought it cause I didn't have any cash. We walked out back to the stage where some notable and not-so-notable country greats come to play. I can imagine how lovely it would be to sit out there on a summer night singing along to my favorite Willie Nelson songs with a little help from my good friend Shiner. Another time, perhaps. Today we just stood on the stage and acted like idiots:

We moseyed over a particularly treacherous-looking bridge to check out the idyllic campground next to the river. Someday soon I would really like to pitch my tent there and stumble back over that rickety bridge to it after a rockin' outlaw country show. For today, we just climbed a tree for the hell of it:

We stopped back by the store on our way out so I could get a sticker to put on my trailer. I was feeling friendly after finishing my tasty Shiner, so I started chatting with the guy behind the counter. The he asked, "Do you have a feller, Arkansas Girl?" I replied with, "Nope, do you wanna be my feller?" He said he would very much like that. So I guess if I ever get the urge to drop everything and move to the middle of nowhere in South Texas, I could shack up with this dude:

I probably won't though.

We rolled out of Luckenbach and went to see the home of Lyndon Baines Johnson. That, however, is a whole 'nother story in itself. Let me just say that it was hilarious. I think I will also take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Candy for laughing so hard at her I cried. After that little episode, we met up with Ed, Sarah and Laura's dad for dinner where I had one hell of a good hot dog on a bun. Once our bellies were full we pointed our pony toward the house and called it a night.

I'm leaving tomorrow, but I have to say, it's been a great three days with my surrogate family and I look forward to coming back here (and back to Luckenbach) in March. Oh, and I'm sure you'll be able to see some other pictures and get Laura's side of the store here.

How about that? Two posts in one week. I'm on a roll! You'd better watch your back, Christopher.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Busy Being Fabulous.

So, I had resolved to start blogging more often just to spite my nemesis Chris. Then today I realized that it's been 20 days since my last post. Clearly I have no resolve. I really don't even have a good excuse for not posting. I have been busy, but not that busy. I have had plenty of things to post about. I'm just a slacker lately, I guess.

I was home for a little while between trips to Florida, but winter sucks, so I left a few days early this time around to get my time in the sun. I met up with my pal Andy in Panama City, Florida to do a little paddling. Andy used to be a military kinda guy, so we went to Tyndall Air Force Base and paddled from there (after eating delicious grouper sandwiches). We paddled to this island and then got out and walked around a bit. I've been to the beach numerous times in the past year, so you'd think the novelty would have worn off by now, but I'm still absolutely fascinated by the ocean every single time. This beach was exceptionally pretty.

There's this huge pile of crap that people keep adding more crap to and it has turned into this:

It reminds me of something you'd see at Burning Man. Which, by the way, I plan on going to one of these days.

The next day I cruised on down to Tampa to meet up with Kellen for a seafood festival. Kellen and I are both incredibly stupid sometimes, so we ended up stuck in traffic for several hours. Long story. At least we had some Girl Scout Cookies to keep us happy. And besides, Kellen's the kind of friend that I could be anywhere with and still be having fun.

We took some pictures at the festival and there are stories to go along with them, but Kellen is also a slacker and hasn't sent them to me yet. I do have this one though, of this truck we were behind in traffic for awhile:

It's really an entire package deal, with the stickers and all, but my favorite part is the light taped to the license plate. See it there, at the bottom, held on with duct tape? Classy.

Well, I've got more stories and more pictures, but I need to get some work done and get over to San Antonio so I can party with Sarah's family. But don't worry. I'm going to get back on track and blog more than Chris ever dreamed of blogging. I promise.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Older and Wiser.

I'm home. I was only gone for three weeks, but it felt like three months this time around. Spending a month at home and then having to leave again probably didn't help. Either way, I was still pretty stoked to be sleeping in my own bed with my luxurious flannel sheets.

Anyway, I turned 25 last week, so my friend Leah reminded me that I haven't given her any advice in awhile. Leah is more responsible, way smarter, and much more mature than I am, but I just happen to be a month older than she is, so I feel obligated to give her advice on a regular basis.

My first bit of wisdom for you, Leah, is this: do not wager with me if you are not prepared to face the consequences. My sales rep in Atlanta learned this the hard way. He lost to me in a round of bowling, so he had to wear a tutu. He thought I would forget or that I wasn't serious about it. Who's not serious now, Shawn?

I have one more bit of wisdom I'd like to pass on to you, Leah. If you decide to erect a huge chain link fence across what is CLEARLY a 4-lane highway, put up some signs declaring such. If anyone from NASA in Huntsville, Alabama is reading, then you especially should take note. You almost killed me, you assholes.

My coworker Tori and I were trying to get from the bike shop to our hotel. We were doing fine until the navigation system said to turn right. We turned right, which put us on this 4-lane highway. Then we saw our hotel which did not appear to be accessible from this highway. I looked down at the navigation screen and it told me that we were "Off-Road." Great. So we really didn't have any choice but to keep going until we found the next exit at which point we could turn and go back the other direction. We drove for awhile and started getting pissed off because there were no exits and we were getting further and further from civilization. What was a normal looking highway started looking dark and desolate. Finally we saw one lonely little light up ahead. Great! An exit! So I was approaching what I foolishly thought was an exit at approximately 75 miles per hour. We were on a highway, after all. Then I realized that the lonely little light was illuminating not so much an exit, but a chain-link fence stretching across the highway. Consider the following: chain-link fences are not that visible, especially when it's dark out; it takes some distance to stop a vehicle traveling 75 mph; it takes considerably more distance to stop a vehicle towing a trailer weighing a couple thousand pounds. Fortunately, the distance between the point at which I realized there was a fence and the fence itself was greater than the distance it takes to bring a Volkswagen Touareg towing a 7,000lb trailer to a complete stop. It's not much greater, though, it's only about 2 feet.

So, luckily, I did not plow through the chain-link fence. Tori and I stepped out of the car for a moment to investigate just why the hell someone would put a fence across the highway. Then Tori noticed the NASA sign. So we took a picture:

Tori also noticed some signs that said "Military Installation. No Trespassing." So we decided we'd better get out of there. There was no place to turn around, so I had to back the trailer up for about a 1/4 mile until I found a place to get it turned around.

So back to my original advice ... put up some freakin' signs! Prior to almost crashing through the gate and breaking our country's space program, we didn't see a single sign warning us that maybe we shouldn't drive on that road, or that perhaps we should know that there's a huge fence blocking the highway ahead. Seriously, NASA, you're literally a bunch of rocket scientists. I would think you'd realize that you should alert motorists to the road hazard you've created.

So anyway, there's your "older and wiser" advice.