and a recap of the texas trip
my house is quiet, my coffee is hot, and the sun is shining! what a great way to start the day!
i'm still wanting to capture moments from my trip last month with robert here on my blog. it would have been easier if i had done it along the way, as i intended, but i was just enjoying other people too much to sit down with my computer and compute. so...still wanting to capture those moments, here goes!
we left sunday night, feb. 22 and drove south to charlotte, nc where we stayed overnight with my dear friend linda. this is the same linda that i visited in august, intending to stay one overnight and staying a week instead! her reaction, when she saw robert, was how much he resembled keith. of course i think they look nothing alike, but they have similar personalities and qualities, so no wonder i adore him! it was difficult to leave to continue our trip south, but we did, with the comfort that charlotte is close enough that we can make weekend visits any time we want!
monday took us through several states, and we ended up in southern mississippi at grandma's house. grandma has been gone for just over a year now, but it will always be her house...the one place from my childhood that i visit again and again. i have so many memories there of playing with cousins on the property, running back to see the pond, riding bikes, climbing trees, eating watermelon and sitting on the front porch, the cousins all in a row, seeing who could spit their seeds the farthest! there used to be a horse in one of the pastures and we fed her sugar cubes (we never rode her, not sure why). grandma always hung the clothes out on the line to dry. and being a city girl, it was my first exposure to burning the trash in a big barrel out back. i remember making homemade ice cream on the porch, with little ones taking a turn sitting on the top as the ice cream got thicker so it would be easier to crank. and older cousins setting off bottle rockets at the end of the sidewalk around the 4th of july. i remember when hurricane frederick came through in the late 70s/early 80s and the Big Tree in the front yard went down - across the street instead of across the house - thankfully! i don't remember when they paved the road (it was a dirt road in most of my memories). i was told that grandpa used to make cane syrup, and for a while i think there were brick remnants of where they used to do that, but i didn't see them this time. i remember grandpa's old truck that my daddy drove for a while when we lived in florida, and he let us ride in the back. it's still there, not good for riding in, but good for taking pictures of! i remember the living room filled, almost wall to wall, with cousins sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, while the grown ups got the beds in the bedrooms. i remember grits and biscuits - grandma always had yellow grits, and i think they were from the neighbors gristmill at the end of the road. and her biscuits...nothing in the world like them! maybe it was just because of the love she put into them when she made them for us! i could remember for hours, and i'm looking forward to doing just that when i go to the Big family reunion this summer! i was glad that i got to share this special place with robert, and i'm even more glad that his is planning to come with me to the reunion!
uncle danny introduced robert to chorizo for breakfast, with eggs and hot tortillas, which is his specialty. after some target practice out back (i'm a better shot than robert!), we had a short drive to new orleans, where we decided to spend the night since it was mardi gras, fat tuesday, and if you're there, you might as well experience it, right!? we found a reasonable room at a quaint little hotel right in the heart of the french quarter and called it home for the night. the parades and festivities blocked many of the roads most of the day, so it certainly was an exercise in patience and determination to actually Get to our hotel! but once there, we headed over to bourbon street. what a crazy place! we started collecting beads (and a feather boa) and walked through the crowd, watching the costumes and people. we drank, we danced, we laughed, we kissed. robert won a couple free t-shirts and a silly jagermeister hat in a contest! i got my face painted and glittered. and we headed back early and called it a night.
of course we started our morning with a short walk down to cafe du monde for coffee and beignets, which were fabulous! we popped into a couple of shops, took a few pictures, and walked over to the mighty mississip, where a saxophonist played, and sang a song, just for us. it was everything a trip to new orleans should be!
while we were driving we saw some funny? ironic? interesting? signs along the way. in mississippi, there is a realty company named cumbest realty. we thought maybe someone wasn't thinking about the spelling there, or if it was someone's name, maybe they should have gone a different direction when naming their company. but it's memorable, right? and then there was the tanker truck we passed that sported a diamond-shaped sign on the side that said "fresh acid". as opposed to what? stale acid? of course i learned that i needed to have the camera easily accessible so next time we saw such nonsense, we could record it for posterity!
this day's drive took us to our final destination - houston, texas. there were Many people for us to visit there, so it seemed like a good place for our vacation. we arrived on wednesday night, just in time to attend joel osteen's church for wednesday night service. a man named marcus wilt was preaching and it was really a wonderful time. the music was amazing, and the sermon was spot on. it really spoke to me. then we headed up to magnolia (a little town not too far north of houston) for a surprise! well, it was not a surprise to us, but it was a surprise to kelley, my best friend since college. she and her husband and their Five kids had no idea that we would be knocking on her door at 9:30 wednesday night for a week-long-ish visit! i have a bad habit of not telling kelley when i am coming to see her, and i get such delight out of seeing her reaction when i show up, that i just don't even like to let her know in advance any more. of course, i must tell you that when i spoke to her on the phone the previous sunday, i did mention coming over for dinner on wednesday night and she blew me off. no idea why. not like we live a couple thousand miles apart or anything! anyway, that was fun, fun, and funny! so her family got to meet my robert, and of course they approved. who wouldn't! he's great!
we hung out, talked, acted like we were actually interested in the things their kids showed us, and laughed at the many "marco-isms". marco was about to turn seven when we were there and he kept us in stiches. while peering through a glass marble one morning, he informed us, "i see chunks of germs!" we thought this was hilarious!!! we keep finding reasons to say it. i won this week when i said it, because i have pinkeye! if that's not chunks of germs, i don't know what is!!! our other favorite was at the dinner table one night, with a fabulous dinner including the Best homemade salsa by andy, when marco looked at the refried beans in the pot in front of him and said, "these beans are precious to me!" =) gigi made us a beautiful wooden plaque in the shape of a heart that got "marco-ed" (as in he decided to repaint it after she gave it to us), so she assured me that she would fix it and it is something i will treasure! and should we be worried that we found this dolly underneath the crib? too funny!
robert was a bit overwhelmed by all five kids and the constancy of it all, as in it never stops. i don't blame him. at least i knew what i was in for!!! so we headed south of houston where his brother jeff, and his partner john live, and enjoyed a quiet, relaxing visit at their place for a few days! it was a stark contrast to kelleys, where a family of seven never quite sees All of the dishes done, and where small children leave a trail, to a kitchen where a dish never stays dirty for more than a couple of seconds, and Nothing is out of place, ever. it was so delightful to meet robert's brother and i had a great time hanging out and getting to know them. one of the days, robert and i headed out to visit his step-mom and i got to enjoy her company too. it was a treat for me to be able to meet his family! we tried to drive from there out to galveston, but the road is in stages of rebuilding, and after almost getting stuck in the sand by trying to drive across the beach to the next section of driveable road, we made a u-turn and decided that seeing galveston wasn't that important, after all.
we spent sunday afternoon hanging out with my cousin, melanie and that was so fun! we had a few drinks and headed over to the potatoe patch, my favorite houston restaurant which has become a tradition for me over the years, going back to when mom used to travel to houston for training with continental airlines. mom and melanie introduced me to it, then i introduced papa to it when he and i were driving back east from california. so we had to introduce robert to it! i'm not going to say the food is the best i've ever had, but it is just the tradition of it all - and i just don't know too many other restaurants where you can get fried green tomatoes and fried okra! true southern food...
another day or so was spent at kelleys, packing up our stuff, and all that jazz. of course we had to stop and pick up some chorizo before we left the south. we put dry ice in the ice chest and started back home. we saw a couple of interesting street signs along the way...i mean what exactly is a baptist pumpkin center? i'll never know. and there was an overturned tractor trailer that shut down the interstate for about an hour. we got out and walked around. some people were playing frisbee in the median. lots of people had their dogs out for walks.
we were together for two whole weeks and we had a wonderful time! i think a true test of compatibility is if you can road-trip together. that's important for me, at least, since i love to take road trips. and i've found another soul who loves the adventure of the open road. but there's no place like home, after all, and we're still in love... what more could a girl ask for?! =)