Monday, December 31, 2007

Texas Report, Vacation Continues

First and foremost, a belated Merry Christmas to all of you I didn't get a chance to wish as much in person. I hope you're getting ready for a festive and reflective New Year. I suspect mine will be more of the latter than the former.

So, our trip to the Lone Star state was everything a vacation should be--gently scheduled activity mixed with guilt-free downtime, good food, and quality family time. My dad and stepmom's new home is lovely and comfortable, and we made the most of sleeping in, watching the enormous high-def TV (I do miss me my football), helping ourselves to their culinary creations, which included some fab dishes whipped up by my stepbrother and, getting acquainted and reacquainted with family and friends. Highlights included:

A sightseeing adventure to the Bass Pro Shop. I had anticipated giving the good ol' boys the slip and perusing the camping section in peace, but that flew out the window as we approached the Texas-sized lodge-style palace devoted to offing critters in comfort and style. The windows and doors, inside and out, were trimmed with a thick piping of antlers, and more were stacked into a Christmas "tree" in the foyer, upon which several longhorns gazed from a ledge above. I was fascinated by more fanciful taxidermy that awaited us inside--a herd of elk soundlessly thundered from the mezzanine to the left; on the right, lions brought a zebra to their pride of lionesses (as if!); down the center, an eagle nested above a waterfall spilling into a pool filled with real pike. Santa held court surrounded by stuffed reindeer--were any children disturbed by Rudolph's strange lack of motion? My favorite, in a sad way, was the bobcat leaping up to strike a pheasant over the jewelry case. The shop stocked everything from firearms to clothes to boats to rustic furniture; there was a toy shooting gallery and a huge seafood restaurant to boot, supplied, methinks, by the manmade pond just outside.
The Alamo was puny by comparison, but its simplicity was welcome. The building itself wasn't large, just a few rooms with hunched doorways, and there were few artifacts, though Davy Crockett's elaborate vest was lovely handiwork. The grounds were peaceful. It was hard to imagine a siege there, and how it was a significant battle point--the city has grown up around it, obscuring how the battle must've played out.
We left the Alamo and wandered down the River Walk, which put me in mind a bit of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, though I can't put my finger on why, exactly--maybe the lights in the trees and restaurants and narrow waterway plied by small boats filled with tourists. We wandered to the big turn and back down again, stopping to have coffee overlooking the river and I thought how pleasant and lively it would be to live on the River Walk, though I'm sure the tourist hordes would quickly become tiresome.

Christmas Day was great. No rush to get up and open presents, so we ate a late breakfast and then sat around the tree distributing our treats to one another. Everyone was so generous, I received so many fun and thoughtful things, including (drum roll please) a fine pair of longhorns for the Cadillac! I had been talking about shopping for them while I was in San Antonio, but I had no idea if they'd actually be for sale anywhere. My dad and stepmom had come across a guy selling them at a market and so picked them up for me. They're being shipped from Texas now so I don't have a picture, but I have to say, I'm thinking they're so fab that they'll only adorn the Monster Mobile on special occasions--someone might steal them! And I don't want them ruined by being out in the weather too much. More extended family and friends came over for Christmas dinner--a lot of young (20 something) folks, including my stepsister's daughter, whom I hadn't seen in close to two decades! That'll make you feel old.

Dad and I bucked the day-after-Christmas-shopping trend and instead took in Mission San Jose and then Margot at the Wedding (good cast but odd and not always in a good way) at an art-y movie theater, which meant that we could have lunch and a glass of wine while relaxing in the comfy seats in the auditorium.
Lunch at Beefy's (M bought me a tshirt, so we'll have fond memories forever) and dinner at the Alamo Café, where we watched them press and grill fresh tortillas while waiting for our table.

My imagination of what the countryside would be like was pretty close to reality--dry, light colored earth, lots of brush and low-growing oak. It's a big city, with high-end malls in the burbs and grittier ones near the bases. The weather was nippy in the mornings and evenings, but warm during the day, which was nice for the sightseeing.

Our flights both ways were uneventful, just the usual level of humiliation at the "security" measures, and we even managed to get seats with a bit more legroom there and back, which were especially important to M's comfort. We actually stayed at a motel close to the airport the night before our flight, a tactic I've never done before, but it worked really well, and I think I may do it again if I have a really early flight.


Oh, it's so nice to be home and hanging out rather than at work. I did check my work email a couple of days ago and while I'm going to have a big issue (which is ultimately A Good Thing) to deal with when I return, nothing completely horrible happened (I think), so I think I can enjoy the last few days of my vacation.

It's been wonderful being reunited with the dog--who apparently had a great time with my mom and stepdad while we were gone, he seemed a little sad for a few days--not having a set schedule, and not feeling like I have so much to accomplish in a very few weekend hours. On Saturday I met up with longtime gal friends in San Rafael, we had a blabbing lunch and saw The Savages, which was better than I'd expected. I've done a little puttering and chores, but mostly M and have treated ourselves, sleeping in, and eating out--he introduced me to a Vietnamese place near his school that I can already tell I'll have cravings for regularly, and Saturday night I took him to the burger bar where we could watch the last half of the Giants-Patriots game. We'll make bread from recipes in the latest MS Living, and probably try that marinara recipe from Food & Wine that we both liked with some homemade pasta. I felted a few projects, and want to finish lining the red purse I felted ages ago. I haven't exercised at all, but I'm ok with that, though I think it would have helped my mood a bit--there were a few more gray days there, inside and out than I would have liked. I've started the final (supposedly) installment of Harry Potter. I'm also hoping to clean out the hall closet before work starts up again on Wednesday, but we'll see…


Oh, and happy belated Solstice! Three cheers for the return of the light.


At 5:44 PM, December 31, 2007, Blogger Michelle said...

Glad you had a good time in Texas. I'm lovin' the felted slipper! I bought a new knitting book and some yarn this week and am ready to get productive.


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