How I spent my spring vacation

1. I read 2 books and listened to 3 others in the car: When the White House Was Ours (good, but brought up unpleasant memories of the 70’s for me); The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (absolutely loved this book); two P.G. Wodehouse “Jeeves” books that made me laugh out loud numerous times; and Bless Me Ultima, which I did not like and thought was repetitive and heavy-handed and took 10 hours to listen to—why didn’t I stop at 2 hours you may wonder? I just kept thinking it would get better, but it didn’t.
2. I drove 38 hours.
3. I witnessed Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Branson, MO where hundreds of people spent $50 apiece to eat a whole chicken with their hands and watch people square dancing on horses (the show also included long horned cattle, doves, pigs, magic, and patriotism). We were served by people in Union uniforms (we were on the north side, and the people on the south side were served by people in Confederate uniforms—disturbing, to say the least). It was TOTALLY worth the money.
4. I thought I saw Van Halen at the SXSW festival in Austin, but then realized it was a van that was nick named “Van Halen.”
5. I DIDN’T see Metallica at SXSW, which was posing as a band from Norway.
6. I got scammed out of $20 by a skinny blind man named Nate who told me he needed it to buy a new cane. He asked for help to cross the busy street in Austin. I helped him across the street, gave him money, and sent him on his way to get his cane. Two hours later I saw him asking someone to help him across the very same street. I have lost a bit of my milk of human kindness (not to mention my balm of Gilead).
7. I took 23 minutes to get out of a maze that it took most children about 12 minutes. It was actually kind of scary, but then Rachel told me that if I just followed either the left or the right side of the wall, I would eventually go through the entire maze. That worked like a charm.
8. I went to a “cattle drive” in Forth Worth at the stockyards that consisted of about 6 people on horses accompanying 5 completely disinterested (and possibly drugged) long horns down the street. I found out they were also available for rental, which gave me great pause in terms of thinking about what type of event would be made better by a cattle drive. A wedding? A bar mitzvah?
9. I bought a swimming suit and then never went swimming.
10. I drank a Dublin Dr. Pepper, which is Dr. Pepper made in Dublin, TX that has cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Tasty!
11. I bought Greg beef jerkey that had Dr. Pepper as the second ingredient.
12. I visited the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, MO, otherwise known as the “American Sistine Chapel”: http://www.preciousmoments.com/content.cfm/park_chapel But where is the 17th chapel? I was happy I didn’t get in trouble for taking flash photos (like someone I know). I bought Liz some Precious Moments socks that I know she will treasure appropriately.
13. I got to meet Chippy the Cat.
14. I heard Mike playing in the band DMStith. I was proud of myself for being up so late (it started at 1 am EST).
15. I bought a mug that said, “I childproofed my house, but they keep getting back in” for my friend Ariane who has two sets of twins.
16. I essentially ate my way across 4 states and back. Favorites included Greg’s chiles rellenos, Chezch food in West, TX, black beans at the Magnolia Café in Austin with a sign that read, “Sorry, We’re Open,” a chocolate malt at Whattaburger, and the salad bar at a churrascaria.
17. I shamed myself by asking what “English Peas” were at a diner in Missouri. The waitress looked at me like I was brain damaged and said, “you know, the small green ones that come in a can and you mix with mashed potatoes.” I’ve never heard them called anything but peas, and I thought “English Peas” were somehow special. I ordered them, and they were right out of a can, just the way she described them. Yum.
18. I got to see daffodils in bloom. It’s spring a few hundred miles south of here!
19. I saw Milk, and thought it was good (although too long). I must be getting old. I want movies to be no more than one hour and thirty-eight minutes).
20. I saw hundreds of exotic butterflies at the Butterfly Palace.

All in all, a totally satisfying week!

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4 responses to “How I spent my spring vacation

  1. I’m having a chuckle regarding your SXSW experience! That homeless guy, Nate, always gets people about his broken cane thing. He isn’t really blind. Two weeks ago, Charlie Hodge, a talk show host of the Half-Time Show at KLBJ, was talking about this guy and how he got bamboozled by him, too!

    Sorry you didn’t get to see Metallica – it was one kick-ass show! I just so happened to be lucky enough …

    Glad you came to visit Austin. It’s generally not as crazy here, though the homeless are a problem. At least it was only $20 – I’ve seen the homeless guys direct people into parking spots for a dollar or two, only to have the tow truck show up after the person leaves to haul the car and charge the person $200 to recover it!

  2. Thanks, Joseph! I guess I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one. So Nate’s not really blind. I wonder if he’s also not really from Indiana: “Can you see your way for one Hoosier to help another?” I don’t suppose you’d like to go to the Denny’s by MLK Drive and ask him where he’s from? 🙂

    I loved Austin!

  3. Oooh, I can’t wait for the Precious Moments socks! I was appropriately reprimanded for accidentally taking a flash photo at the Precious Moments Chapel. I mean, if everyone did that, then the paint might fade over time and then people of the future would not get to ridicule it as we did.

  4. Exactly! We must think of the future multitudes. You’ll like the socks–they are pink and white.

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