Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Catching Up

Greetings Friends and Family.

Have you missed us - that is, Tuzigoot, Susie, and Rob?  When last we posted we had limped home in October from our trip to New England after spending a week in Marion, IL getting Tuzigoot's transmission cooling system repaired.  After we got home, we had the transmission flushed and replaced a few times to improve performance.  We're now on our first Tuzi-trip since then - we're in Fredericksburg, TX as this is being written - and I detected no transmission problems on the trip down.  But, before we report on F-burg, a flashback to the last few months.  Warning: This report is kind of long, but there are lots of pictures.

We made a trip in December to NYC to see Mandi, Paul, and Kaci and the Christmas lights of Manhattan.  Actually, we came to see the Broadway musical version of the classic movie, Christmas Story - an early Christmas gift from Susie to me since that movie is one of my all-time favorites.  Turned out to be a weekend in which Mike, Karen, and Jason also came to the city to visit her brother, Jeff.  Together we did Rockefeller Plaza, a couple of toy stores, and general gawking with Jeff in the lead.

After dinner we went back to Rockefeller Plaza to see the lighted tree.

 Then, there are the department store windows:

and street decorations

And here are a couple of Christmas Story shots: Ralphie and Randy.

Speaking of Broadway, I'm going to link again to my favorite Broadway link.  Still hoping to find someone who likes it enough to let me know.


First night in the Big Apple we surprised Kaci at her place of work -- Tao.

Great weekend: fun, family, and Christmas in the City. 

Spent Christmas in Albuquerque.  All of Susie's kids were here.  

Then, the Sunday after Christmas, the twins, Landon and Julian, were baptized in our church.


You may remember Joyce and Jay Rush.  They've popped up every once in a while in this journal.   Most recently we did a Penn State weekend with them on our fall trip to the NE.  Joyce is the sister of  Susie's late husband.  J and J spend several months a year traveling in their RV to participate in Habitat for Humanity builds and this winter were in TX.  They had a free week between builds in Feb, so we arranged to meet them in Fredericksburg - in the Hill Country.  To get in the Hill Country mood, click here.

We took several country drives looking for scenes like these:

We brake for bar-b-que.

That's the Guadalupe River, I believe.

A country church - Lutheran, tracing its origins back to the German settlers in this area.

No Hill Country drive is complete without a couple of Texas county courthouses.

Joyce and Jay in a park in downtown Fredericksburg.

On one drive we came upon a location where several cars were parked along the road.  We pulled off and went to investigate.  People were looking at this bald eagle nest.  You can see one of the adult eagles on the branch to the right of the nest.  We could occasionally see heads bobbing in the nest. 

As is their wont, Joyce and Susie struck up a conversation with a young couple there.  Their pick-up had a NM license and a Hobbs, NM sticker.  Our son-in-law, Paul Venable, is also from Hobbs.  Turned out, can you believe this! that they knew Paul.  He had sung at their wedding.  Wasn't long until all this was recorded on Facebook.  And Paul is still singing

It being February, we didn't see any scenes like this, but we could imagine.  So, for your viewing pleasure:

One day was car day for Jay and me while Joyce and Susie did downtown Fredericksburg.  Just down the road from our RV park was a shop that restored and customized cars: Street Dreams Texas.  Check out their website.  Some of my pix:


Jay is in the process of restoring a Ford Torino (ca. 1970?) and was looking for a body part.  He had heard of a salvage yard near Kerrville and wanted to check it out.  The Sweet Dreams manager knew all about it and gave us directions.

We found it - acres of decaying cars, trucks, farm machinery, school buses, .... .  There are probably some Fairlane parts in this carcass I might use in the future.  Note how the wheels have sunk into the ground.

Nobody was around though - except the ghosts that haunt these relics.  We couldn't find any Torinos, but maybe we didn't look behind the right tree.  On the way out, we met a pick-up coming in.  The driver told us the owner of all this was elsewhere at a car auction.  You can never have too much of a good thing.  As we drove home, Jay commented that in one day and in a span of about 30 miles, we had pretty well seen the full spectrum of automobilia.

Speaking of Luchenbach (you did click the Hill Country link up there, didn't you?), we made a drive out there one evening.  Here's the General Store.

There are scheduled jam sessions in the back room, so we went to check that out. Here's a sample.  It gets better several seconds into it.

I had seen an entertainment guide that said there would be an evening country music program in Luchenbach, at a venue across from the general store.  Nobody showed up, though, so we went in search of dinner.  Jay had heard of a renowned hamburger place, out in the country somewhere near Luchenbach, so we got directions and set out to find it.  It was dark, there were no signs, the road wound around, there were intersections that invited you to turn one way or another, but Jay followed his internal compass and never wavered.  The other three of us were willing to turn around, but Jay would not be deterred from his quest.  Lo and behold, we turned a corner and pulled up to the Alamo Springs General Store and Cafe.  It was crowded.  There was a band playing at an outdoor stage.  Everybody was friendly.  The specialty is a two-patty burger that you can adorn from these choices, copied from their on-line menu.

Chili, Avocado, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Garlic, Blue Cheese, Grilled Onions, JalapeƑo, Bacon, Mushrooms, Green Chiles 

And here's a sample creation:

Tasted great, too.  So, if you're ever in the area,

March and April have been very busy.  We drove Tuzi out to Las Vegas to visit Heidi, Joey, Julian, and Landon 


Landon had just taken his first steps (at 9.5 mos.)  A couple weeks later they were both walking.

We also went to see the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament, which UNM won in one of their best weeks of basketball EVER.  That was followed less than a week later when they played one of their WORST games EVER, losing to Harvard in the first (full) round of the NCAA.  Luckily, we weren't there.  Then, our coach got hired by UCLA, then one of our best players decided to go pro, ... But, wait'll next year.

 The saddest thing, though, about March was that my sister Verla's husband, Clarence Raines, died of a recurrence of cancer.  

We put Tuzi in storage at the RV park where we were staying in Vegas and, right after the championship game, and flew to Oklahoma for his memorial service on Sunday.  Verla organized a very special service and many family members and friends were there.  Clarence was a great comfort to my Mother in her last years and led her memorial service in an inspirational way that I will always be grateful for.

Tuesday, we flew to Albuquerque and then I flew from there on Wednesday to attend a meeting in DC on Th/F.  

My meeting was at the National Academy of Sciences, which is adjacent to the National Building Museum, also known as the old Pension Building.  It's one of my favorite buildings in DC.  Its huge atrium is the site for inaugural balls and other special occasions.  I went over there on one of our lunch breaks and got a couple of pictures and made a quick walk through one of the exhibits.


I flew back to ABQ on Saturday.  Then, on Wednesday, we flew to Vegas, said Hi to the twins, then drove Tuzi home, getting back to Cedar Crest on Thursday.

Here's a shot of Boulder Dam and the dam bypass bridge, framed by the stylish SW Airlines wing.

The first week of April found us in Highlands Ranch, CO, being entertained by Malia and Macy (they were on Spring Break) while Mommy and Daddy went to work.  We drove the car, not Tuzigoot. Some scenes.


Come on, Nai Nai and Grandpa.  You can do it!  I have a video of this, but it wouldn't upload.

The idea is to mimic what's on the screen and the better you copy the dancer's moves, the more points you get. 

We went to a movie - The Croods.  Not sure I understood it, but there may be a theological theme. (warning: plot summary ahead.)  The Croods are a Neanderthal family, led by a stick-in-the-cave, risk-averse, old-fashioned Dad, of course, even by Neanderthal standards. Mayhem in Neanderthalland is a constant backdrop - fire and brimstone flying through the air, strange creatures lurking and attacking, .... .  Along comes a charismatic young man, who charms the lovely Crood daughter and wants to lead the family to a paradise called Tomorrow - a far better and safer place.  But getting to paradise is not easy.  I'll let you guess how it all turned out.

Karate lesson by the gold-belted Malia.

A posed picture.  Two live-wires!  Aren't they cute.

There was one disaster during the week.  Jeff had gone to work one morning, Valerie was about to leave.  I heard a loud noise from the front of the house.  Valerie started crying, Oh, no, Oh, no!  Susie was in that part of the house - I thought maybe something had happened to her.  I hurried to the foyer.  It was flooded.  A 30-gallon aquarium had (spontaneously) burst (a corner seam had failed), dumping water and fish all over.  We grabbed towels and brought in the shop vac and tried to sop and sweep up the water.  Also, tried to rescue assorted fish - ran some tap water in a bucket and put them in it.  Jeff came home a short time later and took the survivors to a pet store.  They thought maybe one of the big fish would survive, but it was grim.

The water also flowed down a floor vent and leaked into the basement and leaked through the floor in other places.  Unfortunately, in spite of our efforts, the entryway hardwood floor warped in places.  It remains to be seen whether it can be sanded and refinished or will need to be replaced.  Wasn't clear if floor damage due to a broken aquarium would be covered by insurance.  All in all, though, it was still better that the break happened while somebody was home, not when the house was empty except for the dog and the cat.

We spent several hours Saturday with Albuquerque refugees, Dori and Pat Helms, who have re-retired to the Highlands Ranch area.  We had brunch, watched one of their grandsons in a soccer game and visited with their daughter, Margie, the mother of the soccer player, then drove around nearby Chatfield State Park, where we have often parked Tuzigoot.  Then, we drove through a residential area south of there, nestled in among very large red rocks.

Sunday, we drove home via US 285 which angles SW from Denver, then down through the center of the state.  Here's a picture as you enter South Park, near Fairplay.

We were headed for Taos, where grandson Andrew, who plays on the Adams State U soccer team, was in a round-robin scrimmage.  We had planned to spend the night in Taos (Andrew had a 7:30 pm game), but we were early enough in the day that the lure of home just being 2-3 hours away was hard to deny.  Had a short visit with Andrew then drove home.

There.  TuzigootJournal is up to date.

 Susie and Rob