Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Regency Bridge, north of San Saba.

A few weeks ago, my buddy Ellis, another teacher out here at the prison and a local boy, guided me out to a cool site north of town.

The Regency Bridge, swinging freely between San Saba county and Mills county, has been around for a very long time. Like most of us, it's fallen a few times and had to be repaired, but it's still goin' strong.

If you drive out on it and stop, you can feel it sway. It's hilarious. That's Ellis there. I told him I'd put him in there for scale. That's the Colorado river flowin' out behind him. It's flowin' a lot higher now, from the rain we've had in the last few days.

The evidence I saw showed that the local teenagers, and maybe a few others, use the site for nocturnal adventures.

Many of them have carved their names, or the names of their conquests into the rock or wood around the bridge.

The cliff overlooking the river on the San Saba side seems to be a particularly popular spot.

You can see that cliff there, on the left of this shot.

Built in 1939, the bridge you see here replaced an original that dated from 1909. The first bridge fell, killing a boy, his horse and some cattle. The next was swept away in a flood in 1936.

If you want to see some further shots of the site, click here and go to my FlickR site. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

We had a good time in Dallas, and I picked up a new toy.

We went to see the King Tut Exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art Saturday. Denise and I slept in, got on the road by around noon, drove up to Big "D" and had a great time.

We'd reserved a room at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites on Harry Hines, near downtown, but we didn't have time to get into the room before the tour started. We got to the museum first, found a close place to park and then had to stand in line for about fifteen minutes to get in. The line was tedious, but what we had to deal with much better than what the other folks there had to deal with. We'd gotten our tickets ahead of time, through Ticketmaster. Most of the exhibit goers apparently didn't and so those poor folks had to spend hours in one of those back and forth, snake type lines that eventually let them into the exhibit.

They limited how many folks could go in at any one time, only letting so many in at a time so that there was less of a crowd as you made your way past the items on display. Truthfully, the whole thing was run pretty well, but I think I'd a been really pissed if I'd had to wait two hours in line to see this stuff. First, they don't have any of his famous masks on display (the ones that covered his mummy), or his coffin, or any of the big items that we associate with King Tut. Most of the items are not even directly associated with Tut, but with his relatives.

Don't get me wrong. The stuff is still cool to see. I loved going through the museum. But if I'd had to stand in line that long, in the heat of Dallas in Spring time, I'd a been pitchin' a fit. "What? You mean we came all this way and stood in line all that time and all we get to see is his Tiara?" Both Denise and I enjoyed the tour, but then we were both blown away by the commercialism of it all. The tour, after a few hours of going through the displays, lands you right in the middle of the souvenir shop. Among all the items for sale, you can buy a hat just like the one Zahi Hawass wears. Please, but since when has he become Indiana Jones?

I mean, I'm not against commercialism, per se, but they had all sorts of silly shit on sale, including some stuff I remember seeing, and buying the last time I was in Egypt. They had a beautiful box just like the one I picked up in Hurghada, back in about 1993. I pissed my sister off back then when I came back and gave it to mom. She's still got it. Has it on display in the house. We looked around and fingered a lot of stuff, but eventually decided that we'd get a magnet for the fridge. Denise liked this one...

But I took one look at it and said I'd be damned if I was gonna have Michael Jackson on my fridge door. No friggin' way. Not gonna happen. Nope. So we went with this image for our magnet (in this case, on the cover of a book).

I told Denise, this one's like the young Michael, before he became a gross, middle aged White pedophile. Anyway, check out the King Tut exhibit if you get the chance. They have a show going on in Atlanta too.

After that we headed over to the hotel and got our room. It was very nice. In fact, it was a better room than we've ever had anywhere else, with a king sized bed in a bedroom, a living room with a couch that turns into another bed, a small kitchen with a sink, fridge and burners, and covered gated parking, all for $108 and change. We were in shock for a bit, what with two nice flat screen TVs in the place, and are determined to head back there when we do this sort of thing again.

After freshening up, we headed out to a place I know about near there. A buddy of mine introduced me to Sal's Pizza, on Wycliff, after a gun show at Market Hall. They make great Strombolis there. We were both starving after spending all day on the road and in the museum. Denise ordered a Stromboli and I ordered Lasagna, with garlic bread and fried Calamari as an appetizer. After all that food, a glass of White Zinfandel for her, and a few beers off the tap for me, we were both very happy campers.

After dinner, I drove Denise around Dallas. We went around Turtle Creek and Downtown, looking at all the lights and sights. I drove her down Mockingbird and she spent some time going through Stein Mart while I perused a comic book store nearby. I needed to catch up on some Spawn and Daredevil, and see whatever else was available.

We'd talked about going to a movie, so I took her over to Mockingbird Station. We parked and wandered up to the Angelica, but the movie Denise wanted to see wasn't playing, so we decided to blow that off. I couldn't interest her in the cool Irish pub next door ether, so we turned and wandered back down and drowned our sorrows at the Marble Slab ice cream place down the street. After that it was back to the room, George Dickel, the comfy couch, the large flat screen TV and the cool cable channels that we don't have at home.

We woke up Sunday to the sound of my phone going off. My buddy Waters was already up and wondering if I'd bought anything at the Gun show. Having no life, he keeps farmers hours... up at friggin' dawn, no matter what, so callin' me at 10AM and findin' out that he'd woken us up was something of a shock to him.

He'd been up there and spent about 5 hours at the show Saturday, while we were going through the museum. He'd gotten himself a bayonet for his new AKM (a fun story yet to be told - wait for it), and had seen some British manufactured .303, but had passed on it. Now, having thought about it for 24 hours, he'd decided he wanted it. So he gave me instructions and told me where to find it at the show. I told him I'd pick it up if I could find it (never did). Then we went back to friggin' bed. I think we rolled out of there, bags in hand, just before noon.

Our next stop was Denny's, and the Moons Over My Hammy, with a big glass of milk. It's a great little breakfast sandwich, with sliced ham and scrambled eggs, Swiss and American cheese, grilled on sourdough bread, with a side of hash brown taters. I also had another side of bacon, just to make it extra healthy. Denise and I had the same thing, only she goes for coffee and OJ.

Then it was off to the Gun Show. The big Market Hall show is always a fun adventure, and this trip was no disappointment. The crowds have been extra thick since the last election, and the prices have been fun too. I'm just glad I got most of the stuff I want before this recent unpleasantness.

However, Waters has recently sparked an interest in me for getting an AR-15. He has one, but bought himself another one a few weeks ago, thinking it had a lower serial number than the one he already had. When he told me he was gonna bring his old one up here and sell it, I decided to buy it from him myself. Well, while I was walking through the show I saw a guy with two of these rifles, both priced under Waters gun.

I checked them out and called Waters to tell him about them, figurin' he'd say somethin' like "I guess I can take a few bucks off this one", but he didn't bite. In stead, he said something like "Well, what are you gonna do with two rifles?" So I walked around and though about it some more. I told myself that I'd probably be better off getting Waters' rifle, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that he's a good friend and we'd shaken hands on the deal. Then I walked back and looked at this other one again.

Yep, I ended up pickin' up a new toy. It's an AR-15 SP1, made back in the early 1970s. It looks just like the early Air Force rifle another buddy of mine used in Vietnam back in the mid-to-late 1960s.

There's ol' Mushy, back when he was a skinny kid, striking a fearsome pose with his very early production M-16. One reason why I was jazzed to have this model, rather than one of the new M-4 type rifles, is because it's just like the one my buddy used back in the day. But, of course, it's not the only reason I wanted one like this. I have my own connections to the Air Force. I grew up around it (my dad was in for 32 years and 9 months), and I've always wanted an AR-15 with these Vietnam era grips. you really don't see that very much any more.

The extra special thing about this one is the low serial number. if you can't make it out, it says 22033. For some reason, Waters wanted one with as low a serial number as he could get. Originally I didn't care one way or the other. But, you know, now that I have this one, I kinda like the fact that it's got such a low number... and I paid $200 less than he did. I guess I'm a prick like that.

Waters called me late Sunday, just as we were getting home and floated the idea that we could trade guns. I'd get his more recent (early 1980s) production rifle and he'd get this one. He paid $1500 for his, while I paid $1300. What do you guys think?

I'd already gone and bought an early production, three pronged muzzle break so I could put it on Waters' gun. That cost me $8, but I went back after getting this rifle and finding out that I wasn't going to need it. This rifle came with the right break already attached. They were cool about it and gave me my money back. Now I need to get a nice bayonet for it, and a few extra items.

Before leaving the show I stopped at one table and picked up a few mags to go with it. Here you can see the 20 rnd mag, and you can see the 30 rnd mag in a few of the other shots above. Of course, the 20 rnd mag is the one that really goes with this rifle, but I loves me a banana clip. You can take the AK guy away from the AK, but you can't... something or other.

Anyway, we drove home late Sunday, stopping for dinner at Las Casas in Temple. They serve sub standard, bland Mexican food, but they make one item we like, so we keep going there now and then. We both agreed after this latest trip, it'll be a long time before we go back.

We got home around 7PM and spent the rest of the day relaxing. We woke up today to heavy rain and the forecast for more of it this week. Maybe the drought is finally over. We'll see.

Well, you guys have a great week, and I'll fill you in on the drama between Waters and I later. Cheers!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just a few words, between speak.

OK, for those of you who are kitty impaired, here's what went down.

Yella cat: Dude, you're in my space.

Black cat: Uh, really?

Yella cat: DUDE, you really in my space, and that's not cool.

Black cat: Uh, really? well...

Yella car: DUDE! DUUUUUDE!

Black cat: Man, if you make me get up I'm gonna...

Yealla cat: DUUUUUUDE! Dude, like, you're really in my space.

... and so on. See, Simple. If only the Israelis and Palestinians could get along like that.

Uh, wait, I guess they do. Cheers!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

love this. Just when buisness in Iraq was dryin' up.

Makes you wonder if there'll ever NOT be a need for a professional, somewhere.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Last Friday night out on the town, and a great weekend.

Friday night started as so many other have before. Denise and I headed over to Salado so I could let my Cousin Pat cut my hair. She does such a good job, and it's always a treat to see her. By the time we headed out of there it was rainin' cats and dogs. It was almost too bad to drive in, but I wasn't gonna let that deter me.

We drove from Salado up to Temple and took Mom over to Dynasty and had some wonderful Chinese food. It's always fresh and delectable. You've heard me rant about it before. I wish I could take you all by there to let you sample their wares.

General Tso's Chicken, shrimp fried rice, an egg roll and a few tender fried chicken wings. Mmmmm, good? You're lookin' at the first of two plates. Yep, I was a baaaad boy. After takin' mom home, and gettin' soaked in the process, Denise and I headed south towards Austin.

I'd learned Thursday morning that Jimmie Vaughan was going to be playing a concert Friday night at Antone's, a famous Austin Blues venue. I've heard of the place for years, but never ventured down. This time I was determined, so much so that the worst rain storm in as long as we could remember wasn't going to get in the way.
In the end we were happy to witness some great music being made.

I arranged for two tickets to be ready for my lady and I at the door (this shot was taken Sunday afternoon, after the rain had long since passed). The web site said the show began at 8pm, but it turned out they really didn't really start playing till 9PM, and there were two lead up bands scheduled in stead of one. It would be 11PM before Vaughan would take the stage.

So, my girlfriend and I had a lot of standin' around, and some expensive drinkin' to do, waitin' for the show to begin. Good thing about that, we got there early enough that we didn't have to elbow our way up to the front when the show finally got rollin'.

The first band of the night was a local blues/jazz trio (who's name escapes me now... sorry guys), but this time they were joined by a familiar face. The young man you see there with the red guitar is Gary Clark Jr. You may remember him from the report I did on the Derek Trucks Concert I attended in Dallas a while back.

He was fronting his own band that night, playing his own music. This time though, he and the others took us though a short list of classic Blues and Jazz instrumentals, and then he gave voice to a few other old Blues numbers. It was a great gig, and the crowd rewarded their efforts with a loud applause.

The second band on the list is a local group of ladies, calling themselves The Bluebonnets. They were billed as a Blues/Rock band, but to be honest, I kept thinking they were a perfect mix of bands like The Bangles (knock down gorgeous chicks),
L7 (balls to the wall attitude), and maybe the Pretenders (knock your socks off skills with the instruments). I loved their music, and I wasn't alone.

It was loud, almost Punk, and yet the Blues was there too.
Towards the end of their set, the lady in the middle said "We've got one more song to play and then Jimmie'll be comin' out." Someone in the crowd responded with "Jimmie who?", and the audience cheered. I predict, if they ever get anyone in the industry to pay attention to them, they'll go far. If you get a chance to see them, don't pass it up.

Just as scheduled, at about 11PM, Jimmie Vaughan came out and the crowd went wild. He took us through several classic tunes, and then, with Fridays crazy thunderstorms in everyone's mind, he busted into a tune his younger brother made famous. You should have heard the crowd cheer when we all heard the opening riffs of "Texas Flood". We all sang along with it. It was awesome! Here's a taste, from an earlier show at the same Austin venue.

One understands, listening to Jimmie sing, why his singing has never won him wide acclaim. But there's no faulting his guitar work. He's not his brother, but Lord knows, no one ever was or will be again. God only lays his hand on a few in that way. And hell, the singing wasn't all that bad anyway. After all, it's a Blues concert, not Top-40!

After about 45 minutes, Vaughan welcomed another local Blues personality onto the stage. Vaughan made a CD with
Omar Dykes (of Omar and the Howlers fame) last year, and they announced here that they'd cut another one that'd be on sale soon.

Jimmie was in rare form, at one point tossing the guitar over his head and playing on, unobstructed. I'd seen Omar lurking in the background, his distinctive silhouette in the back of the crowd, so I'd hoped he'd come up. Sure enough, Omar's got the singin' down, fer sure. His voice is a classic. So the show just got better as we rolled into the second hour.

The guys went through several great tunes from their CD, "The Jimmy Reed Highway", and then welcomed Lou Ann Barton up on stage to complete the family (it turns out Barton and Gary Clark also appear on the CD, along with Delbert McClinton). It was wonderful. A local treasure, Lou Anne has never hit it big, but she's played with many local artists who have, like Jimmie, and Omar, and Jimmie's little brother Stevie and his band Double Trouble.

After two hours of playing, the concert ended with a rep from Fender helping Jimmie give a guitar away. They'd sold raffle tickets at the door, the money going to charity. It was a great end to the night. Before leaving though, I stepped over to the desk by the front door and picked up a few souvenirs.

They sell t-shirts and old concert posters right by the door. You can see some of that in one of the shots above. I looked through the stack of old posters and chose two that I thought would look cool on my wall.

They'll both be framed, and hung in a fitting spot. Come over some time and I'll show 'em to ya.

After getting home late, about 3AM, we crashed and didn't do anything Saturday. There's weeds and crap beggin' to be pulled, but they're just gonna have to wait.

Sunday, Denise and I headed back down to Austin. We took in a Gun Show there, where I made a few special purchases.

I'm a sucker for a cool t-shirt, and there were a few on sale there.

I particularly loved this one. I always wondered about the exact mixture of that little cocktail. Cool. You never know when you might need to toss a few back.

I've wanted to pick up a 30 round clip for my M-1 carbine ever since I got the gun.

My 20 round clip works just fine, but there's nothing like the look of that banana clip to set off your inner demons. OK, so they don't really go with the M-1, but with the M-2. Dude, don't be harshin' my mellow!

I wanted one, but I wanted to get a real one, rather than a reproduction. I found a guy with a stack of them at the show. $20 and presto...

, now that's a cool look, eh? Come on, wouldn't you love to play with it?
After the Gun Show, Denise and I headed over to Pappasito's, to pay ourselves back for the good Tex Mex dinner we didn't get to enjoy the last Sunday due to our late return from Kentucky. I won't tease you with pictures... OK, I forgot to take the friggin' camera into the restaurant. OK, sue me. Anyway, you've seen it all before.

Here's a link, just in case you've forgotten what it all looks like.
It was wonderful! We enjoyed a big bowl of spicy beef queso and chips, and then shared a plate of beef and chicken fajitas and rock lobster. I had a cold glass of Shiner Bock, and Denise had a strawberry margarita. She doesn't go for sea food, so I was forced... FORCED, to consume all of the rock lobster myself, and then four butter dipped Brochette shrimp on the side. It was torture! But they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Here's to that.

This coming weekend looks like it's gonna be a busy one too. Those weeds are gonna be tall before I get to them. Anyone wanna come by and do some yard work? I'll let you play with my toys!

Aaaahahahahahaha (demonic laughter). Cheers!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bein' bad, now and then.

Not too often, but every now and then, I like to kick in the afterburner on the Silver Bullet and feel the rush. You know, the rush that comes from doin' stuff that you know could friggin' kill ya.

There's a few spots along the road leadin' to San Saba that call for this sort of thing, now and then. Long, undulating straightaways where you can see the road ahead for a mile and a half or so and know if the coast is clear. Well the other day, goin' to work, I felt the need, and the coast was clear.

Comin' down a low hill, lookin' out west over the undulating road that leads me to San Saba county from Lometa, I didn't see anyone ahead, so I let the beast off the chain and enjoyed about a minute and a half of real velocity.

In no time at all the dial was close to 120, smooth as shit, with no shaking or sputtering at all from my trusty steed. Then I looked out ahead and saw a car coming from about a mile away, so I took my foot off the peddle and applied the break, bringin' her back to something like a legal speed. I guess I was goin' about 75 by the time I rose back up onto the next low hill and into view. Next thing I know a highway patrolman is passing by on my left, heading the other way. He never even slowed down. No breaks or lights. Life is good!

I know. I won't do it again... I promise.

While I enjoy my journey through the Texas countryside each day, I regularly light up a good cigar. I crank the radio, crack the sun roof and blaze up, and usually smoke it all the way down by the time I reach my destination. It's always sad though, when I've smoked a good friend down to the nub and have to toss it. I've often joked about needing to get myself a roach clip so I can continue to enjoy the pleasures of the leaf just a little while longer. Well, I've finally found something like a solution.

You know those bamboo skewers they sell at the grocery store, that people use to grill shrimp and stuff? Well, when you cut one down and stick it through the end of the nub, I've found that it makes a handy little tool. I can continue to smoke my nub without having to roast the ends of my fingers, or risk accidentally dropping in in my lap.

It works beautifully! OK, it might look a bit odd, but who gives a damn about that? I don't do this in a bar. That's what my pen knife is for! Anyway, give it a try, if you're of a mind. See what you think.

Well folks, it's Friday, and we've got rain wafting up from Mexico today. The land is happily soaking it up, dry from many months of unrelenting drought. As an extra special benefit, my car got a good cleaning on the drive to and from Florence this morning. I called Mom on the drive back and she's expecting us tonight. Denise and I'll head over to Salado later today so I can get a haircut, then drop my dry cleaning off in Temple, and then we'll pick Mom up and take her out to eat.

We haven't been able to do this Friday ritual in a while. Ether she's been sick or I've had to drive to San Saba on a Friday to do THEA testing. So we're all looking foreword to it. Of course, I'd prefer we eat some of that good Chinese food you've seen here before. But I'll be a gentleman and let the ladies decide.

After that, Denise and I are gonna head down to Austin. We'll park down town and walk over to an old Blues venue called Antone's, on the corner of 5th and Lavaca. Jimmie Vaughan is playing there tonight, along with another interesting band called The Bluebonnets. Rain or shine, it should be fun. Our tickets are at the Will Call, and it'll be standing room only. The show starts at 8PM, but we'll try to get there a little early. You know me by now, so you know I'll be tryin' to get some good pictures to show ya.

There's a gun show this weekend in Austin, so Denise and I have plans to head back down there Sunday and take in some of those sights. We missed a planned trip to Pappasito's last Sunday night when our flight home from Kentucky was delayed, so we vowed to one another then that we'd come back this weekend and make up for lost time.

Click on that red link above and check out the Fajitas and Rock Lobster. Toss in about four Brochette Shrimp, dripping with that special butter sauce, a few cold beers for me and a few Strawberry Margaritas for Denise, and you have a picture of what we'll be up against. It'll be a struggle, but I think we're up to it. Mmmmm, it's gonna be gooooood. And yeap, I'll probably take a few pictures of it all to show you.

So, you guys try to have a good weekend, wherever you may be, and I'll chat with you on the other side.

Oh, and if you haven't seen this, check it out. Wonderful! Try not to tear up, a dare ya. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter in Kentucky.

Denise and I flew out to Kentucky last Friday so we could spend Easter with her family. We flew out of Austin, ridin' a little puddle jumper to Dallas, and then another to Louisville.

Nice view for about $600. The ass end of the plane, and the left engine cowling in full view. I mean, why even have a friggin' window there?

The flight was delayed from Austin about an hour and a half, so we ended up having to get on a later flight to Louisville, arriving there later then we were supposed to. But they didn't lose our bag, so I consider it a win.

When we got there and rented a car, it was raining a bit. The roads down to Radcliffe were wet, but the Red Buds were blooming, so it was a nice ride.

We made some calls along the way and everyone decided to meet up at the same German restaurant we'd eaten at the last time we were there (a few weeks ago).

This time, after a long day, and since I wasn't driving, I decided to have a tall, cool 48 oz. mug of Kostritzer Black Lager. It was great. Filled a spot.

For dinner, I chose the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu... same thing I had last time. Most of the others went with the Jeager Schnitzel. I can't stand all the gravy. I love the cheesy ham oozing out of mine when I cut into it. Mmmm, good stuff.

After eating we split up and Denise and I headed over to her eldest daughters house to spend the night. I spent much of the rest of the night and part of the next day playing with ether her grandson Colin...

seen here engrossed in his ship game (he has various war ships downloaded and had battles between them. That's the $20 Denise gave him in his Easter card, layin' there to his right.

Or with the family whirlwind Sadie. This is her in a calm moment. If anyone needs the friggin' Dog Whisperer to show up at their doorstep, it's these folks. We play hard when I'm there, and I usually end up bloody and slobbery in the end. I love it though, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, we drove down to Bowling Green and spent the day and night at Denise's other daughters house. Lynn is pregnant with her first child, so that's another reason why Denise wants to be up there as much as she can.

This is her husband Dale playing Guitar Hero. These folks have all the gadgets. I can't relate. Never been into this sort of thing, since Galaxiga and Asteroids went away.

Lynn did most of the cooking for the Easter dinner on Saturday, so we could all be there and enjoy one another. It was wonderful.

You can probably make out most of the fare here yourself. Sweet Potatoes in the middle, green bean casserole on the right, and sweet corn on the left.

The main attraction was a huge spiral cut honey ham, heated up for a few hours and served steamin'. Mmmm, good.

Denise took the time to whip up some Yorkshire Puddings for the girls. They grew up eating English food, so they always ask for it when she comes. I've yet to acquire a taste for much of it. Can't help it that I was brought up on good old souther cookin', including jalapeƱos and BBQ. I mess with Denise, asking if I can have butter on my biscuit. She rolls her eyes. I don't think that'll ever stop bein' funny.

We all lined up and took turns at the troth. I think I made about three trips. It was wonderful.

In all, it was a wonderful time. Family and friends, all having a great time and enjoying one another.

After eating I broken out the George Dickel and a few cigars and Todd (the guy in the green shirt in the upper left in the dinner shot, above) joined me on the back porch. The last time we saw him he was about to be sent to Iraq for the third time. Now he's back, in the Marine reserves, and enjoying life a lot more. It's good to see.

He had a pretty good ash goin' on the Kuba Kuba I gave him, until just after this shot was taken. It was gettin' a dangerous lean on it, so I thought I'd preserve it for posterity.

We flew home Sunday, going with US Air, so we flew East to Charlotte before heading back to Austin.

Saw this little toy parked in front of the Fox Sports Bar there in the airport. Had to get the shot.

There were lots of people there watching the Masters, and some flying back in their golfing attire having watched the tournament in person. Lots of dudes in pink and tan shorts, with golf hats on. Not what you're expecting to see in an airport.

Our flight back to Austin was delayed, just long enough to screw up our dinner plans. Nope, no Pappasito's last Sunday, bu there's a gun show this weekend, so we'll head south, probably Sunday, and make up for lost time.

Well, the library is closing, so this'll be it. Have a great week. Cheers.