Thursday, July 30, 2009

Saying good bye to another friend. Not nearly as difficult as saying good bye to Tuley but a rather melancholy day no less.

In April of 1999 I drove to Westford Vermont to pick up an old Land Rover that I had bought sight unseen. It was offered for sale by a very reputable Land Rover company called Rovers North. It had recently been decommissioned by the Britsh Ministry of Defense. Rovers North brought several of these trucks over to the US in the late 90’s. This is what it looked like on the way back to Springfield. Several months of sweat, some blood and a few tears and I had a pretty decent looking truck to play around in.

I didn’t drive the Rover much anymore and it was time for someone else to enjoy it. Ironically it is going back to New England. It was purchased on E-Bay by a fellow in Nashua, NH.

So with that I am now down to just one single Land Rover. This is the least amount of Rovers I have owned in sometime and Erin seems to be OK with that. I’m retiring the eleven year old Discovery with about 178,xxx miles on the ticker from daily driver duties.

The Discovery is going to receive the much coveted garage space and will undergo a slow mechanical restoration.

And finally this now resides on my half of the driveway. Toyota Tacoma Off-Road package with the electronic locking rear differential and tow package with the integrated engine oil and transmission coolers. For the first mod I have ordered WeatherTech liners for the floor.

Tuley Mars

There is a hole in our home. There is a hole in out hearts.
On Monday evening we had to let go of our sweet Old English Sheepdog.

Tuley had not been feeling well for the past couple of weeks. A trip to the vet last week resulted in a diagnosis of dehydration. By Monday afternoon he was not able to get around and his condition was worsening. A rush trip to the emergency vet and blood work showed that Tuley was suffering from chronic kidney failure. Due to Tuley’s poor health and advanced condition, there was only one decision that could be made. The look or desperation in Tuley’s eyes as described by Erin was all that needed to be said.

Several years ago I was faced with a similar decision with my 16 year old German Sheppard - Kaiser. My vet at the time said something that I will always remember. He said that you must do what is best for, and be the voice of your beloved pet. Never mind how hard the decision will be for you or for your family. To allow a pet to suffer one minute longer that what is absolutely necessary is one minute too long.

I found this poem/verse when Kaiser left me. It fits here.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.

Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Good bye dear Tuley Mars. You will be forever in our hearts. Thank you for teaching us to be a little more patient, a little more tolerant, and to love more unconditionally.

We miss you Chubs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let's Go To Luckenbach, Texas

For anyone who doesn't recognized "Luckenbach," it was made famous to many in a song recorded by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings in 1977. While I was looking for information on Fredericksburg prior to our trip, I found that Luckenbach is just a few miles away so we decided to check it out. A brochure we picked up said that you shouldn't count on signs to get you there as they're stolen as quickly as they're put up. Luckenbach wasn't in the GPS, so we relied on a simple map on the brochure. As we neared Luckenbach, we saw a sign on the opposite side of the road for "Uptown Luckenbach." The crude signs for a gift shop were compelling and we found ourselves pulling off the road. Below is what we found.

We hesitantly made our way up a walk toward the building that appeared to be the gift shop. It looked like we'd just walked onto someone's farm - which we had - and were a bit apprehensive. Until the old farmer himself headed to the gift shop from the barn. In Texas style, he waved big and smiled at us. We joined a couple from Colorado in the tiny shop. There were t-shirts and hats, stickers, magnets. All a little on the hokey side. The farmer was chatty and explained that so many people stopped at his farm to ask directions to "downtown" Luckenbach that he decided to sell them something while they were here. He asked if we'd like to see a fast armadillo. I personally detest armadillos, so I wasn't really sure that I wanted to see one, but before we could answer, he pulled a Shiner Bock bottle from behind him. Dremel tool in hand, he began to engrave an armadillo in the bottle.In less than a minute, he added "Luckenbach, Texas", our names, and the date and handed it over. Now that is a fast armadillo! He said he gives them away for fun. We put a dollar in the tip jar - of course, but the experience was certainly worth more! I wish I'd had the nerve to ask for his picture with the bottle, but I didn't. Maybe next time. He said that usually no one is in the store, and you just leave cash in a jar if you find something you want. It was just priceless. We also bought a patch and a magnet - handpainted by the farmer. Four dollars well spent!We headed on down the road to the real Luckenbach, which boasts a population of 3. Luckenbach's main draw now is the former post office turned gift shop. There's also a dance hall that can be rented out. Wedding reception in Luckenbach? If only we'd known! There's a bar and live music, a snack bar, and an ATM machine cleverly disguised as an outhouse. Not a lot there, but if you ever make your way to Fredericksburg, you should go. Don't forget to stop at Uptown Luckenbach though - you've got to see that fast armadillo!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was another major stop of our trip. There's just no description for it. It was truly amazing. Pictures don't begin to capture the depth and texture, but here are a few to try.
Do you see the guy in blue? He is standing way out on a small cliff. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but I thought I'd take his final picture. He didn't fall though - at least not while we were standing there.

The guy in this picture (who looks familiar) was a little more careful than Blue Guy, despite how it appears here.

Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. - Teddy Roosevelt


A lot of air-conditioning and a few Cheez-its later, I was feeling much better. When we got out of the car in 75 degree Flagstaff, I completely recovered. That is a summer temperature that I could get used to! I forgot my camera in the car, so don't have any pictures of the very cool and funky Flagstaff, but I hope we can go back some day. We ate at the Flagstaff Brewing Company where several dogs were leashed to the fence surrounding the outdoor eating area, calmly waiting for their owners.

After dinner, we continued to Williams where we stayed before continuing to the Grand Canyon. This was the view outside our hotel window. Flagstaff is on the original Route 66, and both it and Williams seem to be suspended in the 1960's. Many of the signs and hotels looked to be from that time, but are well maintained and still in use. This isn't a great picture, but you can see one of the cool signs


Sedona, Arizona is also known as Red Rock Country. It is breathtakingly beautiful. It was also quite warm. Blazing, cussing, hot is more like it.

We stopped downtown and visited the touristy shops. We also checked out the Pink Jeep tours - David is a big fan! He was a little dis appointed to learn that he would not actually get to drive the jeep if we took a tour, but we are still planning to put it on our agenda when we return to Sedona some day. My hair enjoyed the dry heat by being a little less frizzy, but the rest of me didn't do so well. Hence the half smile and pale appearance in the picture below. I really would like to go back though. Maybe in the spring. Or fall.

On The Road Again

Let's see...where are we on our trip? You're still eagerly awaiting the story of Luckenbach, but I need one more picture for that and I currently have a kitty who missed me on my lap and can't get up to take the picture. So...we'll come back to Luckenbach. After we left Fredericksburg, we headed west across Texas. It is a long, long way across west Texas. And there isn't much there. I kept David informed of the population and origin of each little outpost using the guide we picked up at the welcome center. I thought it was kind of interesting. Eventually, we arrived in Tuscon and found a place to stay. We got up the next morning to head to Sedona. Along the way, we stopped at a rest stop with this uplifting warning sign.
I was glad that we didn't see any of those poisonous creepy crawlies first hand. You might have heard me screaming from several states away.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Scenes from Fredericksburg

Good night from Tuscon

We left Fredericksburg this morning (sniff!) and drove 800 miles across western Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and have arrived in Tuscon. Tomorrow we head toward Sedona and then the Grand Canyon.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Fredericksburg happenings, included a trip to Luckenbach.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


This post may also be titled, Please Send My Cats as I Have Moved. I have wanted to come here for a long time, and my wonderful husband made it happen on this trip. Houses in Fredericksburg are often featured in Country Living, so I knew it had to be something special. So far I haven't been disappointed. We drove around tonight, saying "look at that house!" and "did you see that log house?" I have to keep reminding myself to close my mouth. It is a cool place.
For supper, we ate at the Auslander Biergarten. I am usually a big fan of eating outside, but we were already so hot from walking around that we opted to wait until there was a table in the air conditioned dining room. It was worth the wait! I had a delicious chicken fried steak and David had Käsewurst. It was excellent.
On the walk back to our hotel, we saw the late day sun shining on these two outbuildings across an empty lot. Everything here looks like it should be a postcard. We will be here all day tomorrow, and I am already planning to return. Maybe when it's cooler. :)

Everybody's Goin' San Antonio-n

This morning, we said good-bye to David's family in College Station and headed toward Round Rock. After filling ourselves with donuts, we stopped in Austin at the University of Texas. Since David and I went to a relatively small college, it's hard to imagine going somewhere so huge. The stadium covers as much space of the whole campus of our college (or at least it seems like it). We went to a large store with everything UT you could ever want. After that, we continued toward San Antonio to see David's mom's sister Evelyn and her husband Don. We had a nice visit with them before heading toward Fredericksburg - our last destination for today.

The Best Donuts

Have you ever wondered where the best donuts in Texas (and maybe the world) are made? Wonder no more! The Travel Channel has featured them on Man vs. Food, but David's family has been eating RRD since they were in a tiny bakery under the old water tower in Round Rock. They can still be found near the old water tower, but in a much larger building. The change hasn't hurt business as the line was out the door when we arrived.
We waited patiently and ordered our donuts. RRD are as sloppy and unround as Krispy Kreme's are pristine. And yes, I made David wait for a donut while I set them in the grass to photograph them. Mean, wasn't it?
He didn't have to wait long. We broke into the still-warm donuts while we sat in the car. YUM!
It's only 830-some miles from home, so I'm not sure why we don't come more often. It's really not too far to go for a donut this delicious.
See how yellow they are? They're the brightest donuts I've ever seen. Oh, and the best. Did I mention that?

Seventy Years of Wedded Bliss

The main reason for our trip to Texas is to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of David's Uncle Paul and Aunt Georgene. That's right - seventy years. Don't they look happy together?

We also got to see David's dad's brother and sisters. From left to right are Jo, Marilyn, Betty (Bub's wife), and Bubs. It's always great to see this crew.
Uncle Bubs is a champion story teller and can usually be found surrounded by an audience. This trip was no exception. :)

Independence Day - George H. Bush Museum and Library

Happy 4th of July!
On the morning of the 4th, we had some free time so we went to check out the George Bush Library and Museum (the elder George Bush) near the Texas A&M campus. When we arrived, there weren't many people, so we went in and looked around.
For $9, they would take your picture sitting in the chair in the replica Oval Office. But for $0, I would take your picture shaking hands with a Chinese statue. A bargain? I think so!
By the time we left, there was a long line of people waiting to go through security. Outside, they were setting up a place for an orchestra and some military display vehicles in preparation for the evening fireworks.
The museum was a neat place to visit, especially on the 4th.