It’s not as cold today, but the rain and fog have been with us all day. So, since everyone needs food, Kathleen and I went off for a scenic trip to stock up on provisions. It felt like Farmer’s heading into town for our monthly visit.
We had a good omen upon departure, as I heard the interesting bird call I’ve been hearing all week and finally spotted a belted kingfisher! I was all excited, since I’d never seen one at the Hermits’ Rest before.
We wandered over to Temple, and after a few navigational challenges due to looking at birds and farm houses too hard, got some healthy lunch (no photos, it was too good). I was glad I’d brought my fancy new mask, since we had a bit of a wait.
Next, it was serious provisioning. You know we live in the country when a trip to the GOOD grocery store is exciting. I mean, the H-E-B has actual, fresh fish! We bought a lot of shrimp for a fancy meal tomorrow. Our cart was so full!
It was exciting to me to get fresh flowers for the house. Kathleen said Happy MLK Day to me.
The car seemed full, but we’re we done? Heck no. The horses need to eat, so off we went to Tractor Supply to get 200 pounds of horse food, half Apache and Fiona’s low calorie food and half the stuff Kathleen’s four eat. Drew has plenty of his muscle-building alfalfa stuff.
So, that stuff plus a storage bin and some straw for the chicken coop filled every other spot in the SUV, right? Nope. We had to make another stop!
The drive between the ranch and Temple heads straight through the heart of Czech Texas. And when you see the sign for Zabcickville (sp) you feel compelled to stop in for some traditional fare at Green’s Sausage House. They make all their own sausage and process all the meat they sell on site.
While we didn’t get the milk, we got plenty of meat products. And you cannot go to a Czech establishment without purchasing some kolaches! So soft and yeasty. Made on site!
We were finally done, and headed home, with so much to see. Farm houses, cows who climb, hawks…we did manage to mostly stay on the road while the Mexican eagles, kestrels, and huge flocks of grackles tried to distract us.
By the time we got home, we were amazed at how much we had done and seen out here in the middle of nowhere. And everyone has enjoyed their food. We will be FINE for a month or so, other than milk and bananas (must get those often at the sad Cameron stores).
That’s right, blog readers, I am in yet another hotel. I had to be in Austin today for a couple of appointments, and I didn’t want to miss a whole lot of work driving to Austin and back from the ranch. The original plan was to stay at a friend’s house, but their guest room was full of boxes, and my back (and pelvic area) can’t take even a pretty and spacious couch right now. So, I booked two nights in the hotel closest to the Bobcat neighborhood.
I’ve looked at this hotel for what, 25 years now, but hadn’t been in it until last night. It’s an older one that has obviously seen lots and lots of conferences and workshops, but thanks to COVID has a lot of empty space. I got the corner room on the top floor, facing the courtyard, which gives me an interesting view of scaffolding.
I thought it would be quieter, but the bartender, a fun Cantonese woman, assured me that sound travels up and echoes around. Sure enough, it does. But there are not many people around, so it’s okay. She said a month or two ago there was a film crew in the hotel, and it got VERY loud. Yes, I had myself an Old Fashioned at the bar last night. There was only one creepy person there. I ended up with two drinks, because the bartender didn’t like how the first one came out. Fine with me.
I had dinner last night with Anita at a teeny-tiny Japanese restaurant at the Arboretum, which brought back fond memories of when I first moved to Austin and the kids’ dad worked in the office building next to the shopping center. We spent a LOT of time at the bookstore and Thundercloud Subs. Hey, that’s where the Japanese restaurant is now.
We took a walk around the shops after dinner, and they were all closed except this really cool space full of things by local Austin artists. I wanted one of everything, but just got Anita a candle holder made out of tiny skulls. The place is called ArtUs Co Shop, and will only be open through the holidays, sigh. I knew I shouldn’t have put off checking the place out. If you are in Austin and need to buy gifts, go there. It’s like the Armadillo Bazaar only less crowded.
Anyway, about this cold. Wow is this hotel quirky. The staff are GREAT, though. But the hallway to my room is colder than it was in Colorado, and my room has stayed a brisk 67 degrees since I got here. It’s fine at night, since there are my beloved Hilton linens and pillows to keep my cozy, but while I have been trying to work, I’ve turned into an ice cube.
I told them at the front desk, and they brought me a warm blanket (just as nice as the warm cookie upon check in). But, no one has come to work on the heat issue.
I went to get coffee to warm up, and the front desk clerk said to get nice fresh coffee upstairs. The server rolled her eyes and said they ALWAYS send people up there for coffee without pointing out that it costs $3. I got mine free because I had been downstairs earlier for a quirky but delicious breakfast. They sort of have a restaurant at the hotel, but not really. I did like the breakfast potatoes a lot, even though I think they made me sick. I ate along with an assortment of bald business dudes and younger couples whose male members wore gimme caps. Every single male under 40 had one on.
I think I like cold and quirky hotels, to be honest. They have character, like Valdoro Lodge in Colorado did. I can overlook the ill-fitting hallway carpet and random buzzing noises as well as the outlets that will not charge my phone. I have peace and quiet, which means I got so much work done already today that my boss is probably mentally telling me to stop. I did stop to eat a Kind bar and blog during “lunch hour.”
I look forward to seeing my old neighbors tonight, so I hope to have more to report tomorrow. At the ranch, the horses all got out of the pasture, but Lee says they are fine. Did I forget to lock a gate? I wouldn’t put it past me! And in final ranch news, I am told the pool will get worked on again Friday or Monday. As Lee’s dad would have said, “We’ll see.”
I spent all day going from the Continental Divide down to near sea level. It’s a long way down, but now I’ve got bonus red blood cells to enjoy.
I’m glad I got to ride from Breckenridge to Denver in the daytime, because there are cool little towns, old mines, and many rocks (hence, Rocky Mountains). I want to visit every funky town and all the parks. Guess I’ll have to go back.
Once I got to the airport it was the usual lines, walks, and waits. I just tried to stay away from people. But, all was well, and eventually I got to Austin. Lesson: next time take a nonstop flight.
Thanks to my giant, inexpensive suitcase, in which one will find Lee’s smaller suitcase and all my yarn, etc., I got everything I purchased or made on my trip home with ease. I’m glad Ken and Cathy talked me into that. But wow, that’s a big suitcase.
The most negative part of my trip was listening to a pilot expound on his beliefs about vaccines and other current news events. If I hadn’t just read a similar set of thoughts from someone else I know, I’d have thought he was making it up. But, no, it’s the narrative accepted by many in this country. I’m listening and learning, rather than name calling and labeling, hard as that may be. Maybe it’s good for me?
I’ll be listening a lot in the coming weeks and months, as all heck has broken loose in Milam County politics. I think listening is the best plan for an outsider like me. But hey, now I can vote here. Hmm.
It was really cold last night, but warmed up with bright sun, so I decided to talk a walk at lunchtime. I wanted to do the path on the other side of the Blue River from downtown Breck, just to see what I’d see. It was a pleasant walk, and I took pictures of statues that the town has put up, as well as views of the river.
The problem was that all the smells from the backs of restaurants made me hungry. After checking to see if the distillery shipped (nope), I looked for a place to eat. I ended up in the Thai/Japanese place and treated myself to some sushi.
It was quite a rustic Thai/Japanese place, no doubt because it had to fit in with the town theme, which is that everything is a mountain lodge or a mine.
The lunch was fun. I watched dogs as I ate, since I always try to sit by a window when I’m alone. There are certainly more huskies per person than anywhere I ever have been before. At least they are in their element! They must enjoy the weather.
I then carried on, like someone’s wayward son, and just kept walking until I realized I was at the end of the historical part of town. When I turned back, it was clear that I had also passed the gondola. Should I go up? It would make my lunch hour very long…but when would I have another chance?
So, up I went. Perhaps it was not a great idea to go on a swinging high-rise conveyance after a large meal of fish. I did end up getting a bit gondola-sick going down, but the views were worth it! I still like that wetland area that the gondola goes over the best. The mountain views are second, and the woods (still stubbornly free of animals that I could see) are third.
I stumbled out of the gondola car at the end, and decided I needed a break, so I went in a place called Cashmere and Chocolates. Living in Texas, I do NOT need any cashmere items, but being me, I could always use some chocolates. I got one that looked like the Earth!
I survived the walk back, happy to have hit my exercise goal again (I’d have to raise it if I lived here, because my heart rate finally speeds up at this altitude). I’m glad I allowed myself to be spontaneous and eat nice food and see the scenery again. There’s plenty of time to finish work now!
(I wrote this post during a particularly lengthy update process on my work computer that failed, so I had to do it twice.)
My eyeballs are all blurry from trying to make job aids on a very small computer screen. That hurts my eyes. But, it could have been worse. I could have been supervising my move from the Bobcat house. But on the contrary, Anita did that for me. She deserves a big reward. Well, I did pay to move her stuff from Austin. A small token of thanks.
And then, the relatives in Cameron helped with the unloading. I am incredibly lucky to have such a fine support system. I’m sort of at a loss for words to express my gratitude. Yes, me, all inarticulate.
According to the team in Cameron, Anita’s and my stuff totally fill the place they are stored. As soon as I get home, MY work of unpacking, downsizing, and organizing begins. It did feel weird to miss my own moving day. And I hope to heck it’s the last one! For sure!
The moving company we used is Square Cow Movers. Or moovers. They are small and local. Sort of. They are also in Denver. There was no hassle at all booking the move, and from all reports, they were just great. They even helped move this giant refrigerator.
I highly recommend that company. And the price was reasonable, too! It feels good to have positive things to say about a company.
Over here in Colorado, a nice guy at the condo place found me a good box to mail things home in. That makes up for the unfortunate fact that they installed a family with children who never stop moving the entire time they’re awake upstairs from me. The parents are also stompers, thumpers, and droppers of heavy objects. That’s good, I think, because it makes me want to go home.
It was a bit cold for hiking this afternoon, so I shall visit the hot tub and rest my eyes. And I’ll soothe my muscles from not helping with the move. Ha!
Yet another day of fun and new sights happened yesterday, which was good. I’d gotten irritated that the Cowboys football game stopped showing on the television here, because the team was doing “too well.” I went off to climb the hills around here, and just when I discovered it was perhaps too muddy, Cathy asked if I wanted to go with them to Leadville, Colorado to have dinner at one of their favorite restaurants.
Well, Leadville was the last of the places I’d really hoped to get to see on this trip, so I turned right around and came home to change out of my muddy attire. Why did I want to go there? Well, it is the highest-altitude community in the US where people are living. And it has a cool history as a spunky mining community with not only saloons and that kind of fun, but a Jewish temple and a more museums per capita than any city in Colorado. Here’s an example:
Of course, the scenery all the way to Leadville was beautiful. I was surprised to discover that, as the crow flies, it’s pretty close to Breckenridge. But, you have to go around all these mountains to get there. It’s fine with me. I enjoyed looking at mines, trees, hills, and rocks, though we picked a bad time to drive directly west, and I picked a bad day to decide to wear my glasses that don’t adjust to the sun. Enjoy some sights, though:
When we got to Leadville, I felt as if I’d found MY place in Colorado. It sure looked like a lot of hippies lived there, judging from the art, statues, rainbow flags, and brightly colored houses. Plus, there were houses here that non-wealthy people could live in. And double-plus, there are 360-degree mountain views. Awesome is the RIGHT word for it.
I found myself amused when I went to see the highest-elevation high school, hospital, churches, Odd Fellows Hall…you name it…in the US. I really loved the look of the town and the different sights. I’d love to come back to go to some of the museums and ride the narrow-gauge railroad that’s up there. I keep coming up with excuses to return here, don’t I?
Finally, we went to dinner, fashionably early as always. The restaurant, Treeline, was beautiful and in an old building.
More important, though, they had amazingly good food. I had a pasta with lamb, where the lamb was marinated in red wine and olive juice. Huh. I wonder how venison would be cooked that way? There were also crispy and saucy grilled vegetables that I loved.
There was SO MUCH food, and such good wine! And the prices were very reasonable considering the quality and quantity. I’m so glad Cathy and Ken brought me! That sure zonked me out, though. The good news is that I didn’t have to get up so early this morning, so I have been very perky so far today at work.
Take care, friends. I appreciate all the feedback that people are enjoying my photos. I know some of you are really struggling (especially Anita, who just moved all her stuff to Cameron and has to supervise the moving of my stuff the next two days). If I could give everyone a fun and stress-free weekend like I had, I’d do so!
I ended up spending the entire day yesterday with my patient friend, Cathy. I crammed a week’s worth of fun into that one day! I also crammed more than a week’s worth of exercise points in, but I feel absolutely fine in the leg department today, so my hiking boots must have done their job.
We left off in yesterday’s post after lunch. We went to check out the outlet mall, because Cathy hinted that it doesn’t suck. And that’s right, it doesn’t. The first place we went was not an outlet store, but a little jewel of a co-op gallery of art by local artisans. There was beautiful mosaic art and a lot of photographs, some by a photographer Cathy really likes.
Imagine her happiness to find out that Stephen Johnson was working in the store that day! She found out he lives in her neighborhood, and they shared stories of seeing moose and other wildlife nearby. I enjoyed his stories very much and got some images of his photos. This is my favorite, partly because of the story of the pregnant cow moose, who he sees every year with her babies.
That was fun, as was finding a few items at the Columbia outlet that may help me ride Apache more in the winter. I got a head covering thing that would fit under my helmet, and a warm reflective shirt. We’ll see!
Then we adventured out to find some cool green hiking boots Cathy wanted to get from Facebook Marketplace. She loves Facebook marketplace. I have to say they are pretty darned cool boots.
After heading back to my house to change and get my knitting, we went back to Cathy’s. I feel bad for how many times I caused her to drive back and forth from Dillon to Breckenridge! She baked some brownies and I knitted, then we went for a sunset walk, which she does most days. You know, I hadn’t walked enough yet. Cathy needed to, because as she admits, she is a jock.
It got colder and colder as we walked, but it was fine. We got to see some clouds and sun and mountains, which made it worth it. And, oh yes, I got to look at all the houses in the neighborhood, which are rustic and have interesting garage doors and other exterior details. Of course, I peeked inside when I could, too. There were some fine light fixtures.
When we got back, there was a special treat! Cathy’s friend, Sarah, had invited us to have a girls’ night fajita dinner. I was happy, because I’d enjoyed talking to her earlier, plus I would get to meet two more women. So, off we went.
Everyone had fun getting to know each other and eating. Sara’s new neighbor across the street was really subtle in her humor, so I enjoyed her a lot. And the other guest is an artist and was making a beautiful butterfly installation for the place where she works in Breck.
It turns out Sarah teaches Pysanky eggs at the art center, so I got to see some of them. I would love to learn that technique to do with some of my eggs. Thank goodness Cathy took a picture, to prove there were people at dinner.
In addition to meeting so many fascinating women today, I believe I had my biggest exercise day since back when I’d hike with my older son on holidays. I still can’t believe I feel so good…well, other than my digestion telling me I ate too much rich food. Today may be a recovery day, though I intend to get in the right amount of walking in (after football).
My exercise goal is 30 minutes, and I have a hard time getting it at home. Not here. Thanks, altitude!
It’s Saturday! I was all excited that I can do stuff all day long. Cathy S. Came to get me and we went for a walk with an organized walking group. They were women in my age bracket, but they were in great shape and lots of fun.
We walked along what I think was the Blue River. It was a great trail with bridges, good paths, and fine views. I took one of my hiking poles, and it helped a bit in some places. It was fun to use.
We saw guys fly fishing for trout. That’s such a graceful sport. I looked for wildlife, but only saw a large woodpecker. That’s okay, though, because the trees and water were plenty entertaining.
The funniest part to me was that we ended up invited into a woman’s home at the end. She was a member of the group who had just had knee surgery. She had a great sense of humor.
I really enjoyed the walk and the conversation. I mostly talked to Cathy’s friend, Sarah, who’s interesting, funny, and so smart. But everyone told great stories and laughed a lot. It was a fine way to get exercise.
The weather was pretty good, too. It was chilly at first, but warmed up to 50. It felt very warm.
I wish I had people to walk with at home!
After the walk, we met Ken for lunch in a restaurant with really cool decor, the Red Mountain Grill. I’m glad we went, because it sure was cool from the outside. The décor was Mexican crafts on steroids. It looked way more Mexican than the Mexican restaurant last night. But it wasn’t an exclusively Mexican restaurant.
I had excellent eggs Benedict and enjoyed endless mimosas. I can see why the locals like the place! That was a fine end to a fun morning.
I’ll share more from today when I get up tomorrow morning. It was a wonderful day, though!
Thank goodness I was feeling better today. The current theory is I had low blood oxygen for a couple of days. It was the last day of those extra-early meetings for a while, so I was all energized to help people out and get work done today. Nonetheless, when Cathy and Ken said they were coming to get me this afternoon, I did not say no!
They are such great tour guides, and they seem to like to show off the area as much as I like to see stuff, so it was a fun time for all. First, we headed over to the Illinois Creek Park where I couldn’t find the troll before. There was a well-marked sign that I had completely missed before, pointing the way to the troll, whose name is Isak Heartstone, and has only been there a short while. He’s by a Danish artist and made of recycled wood.
It was pretty icy today, but we slid our way to the big guy. Not too many other people were there, so we could admire his beauty. I love how he’s holding a tree in his hand.
Next, Ken drove us to the other side of Breckenridge, where we took a ride on the free gondola that takes you up to some resorts way up in the mountains (but not all the way up). The scenery we saw was so wonderful. You pass over a wetland that must be great in the summer and becomes cross-country skiing area once the snow gets deep. It was just right today, with some ice and some flowing water.
We looked and looked for moose and elk but didn’t see any. The woods were beautiful anyway. I enjoyed wandering around the ski village at the end of the gondola ride. They even had another statue of Ullr. The first day of ski season was booming, but not overly full of folks. I hate to think how crowded it will be later. I’d not be there.
Back into the Subaru we went, headed to the ski sites that we didn’t see last week. I think I grew tiresome repeating, “It’s so pretty” under my breath. After a stop to get water (because Cathy had skied in brisk wind this morning and was all dried out), we headed out to their favorite ski area, which is Keystone. It was a lot of fun to look at all the beautiful river and statues there. Lots of people were skiing, so I enjoyed all the people in their outfits as they warmed up at little fires and went to drink beer. It was quite stereotypical, but still fun to see. I can see why Cathy likes it there. There will be a LOT of slopes to ski down as it gets colder and snowier.
We then headed up and up to the Arapahoe Basin ski area, which is the highest one in the US, or world, or something. It’s way up there. Lots of young people were at this resort, where there was a lot more snow. But, were we as high in the Rockies as possible? Oh, no.
It was a bit snowy, but the roads we were on were so full of forest and mountain vistas that I never wanted to stop looking. Those lodgepole pines with snow nestled in their branches had me grinning constantly. I could tell it was getting colder as we went up and up on what must be one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever been on. My pictures do not do it justice.
Ahead of us, I kept seeing the mountains rising up above the treeline, all rocky, snowy, and windy. Suddenly, Ken pulled into a parking area. We were on the top of the world! Of course, I wanted to take some pictures of the Continental Divide. Cathy wanted to take a look at skiers who started from there and went down the whole way (one of their sons has done it). We got out and, um, it was a bit brisk.
The winds were so strong it was hard to walk, and it was blowing bits of ice at us. Ken stayed in the car, and I didn’t blame him. But by gosh, I was going to go look at the highest part of this pass. Who knows when I’d be back?
It was not hard getting photos, but we did our best. I had one very warm hand and one cold one that took pictures. For some reason I thought this was about as fun as fun gets, and kept laughing, even though I’d only ever been colder during Champaign, Illinois winters. What a treat!
On the way down, Cathy and Ken showed me where those skiers who started at the top of the world ended up. They just sort of shoot out of the woods right where the road is. There, people wait for them, or they hitch-hike back up to do it again. That’s extreme snow sports for you.
We went back down and saw another ski resort, but I am running out of names. Update! Cathy reminded me it’s Loveland Ski Area. This one was near Interstate 70, which we took on the way back. It was good to see it in daylight! The sun was coming out from behind clouds, and it was magical.
Were we done? Nope, when we got back down, we went to Silverthorne, Colorado, next to Dillon, where we drove through the neighborhood where their golf course is. They often see cool animals there. We did not see anything, but the golf course sure was pretty in the sunset hour (as were the amazing homes, where I did see two more elk statues).
By then, we were getting hungry, so we tried out a tiny new Mexican restaurant hiding in a shopping center in Dillon, Lili’s Bistro. We were the only Anglo folks that evening. The food was elegant and delicious, though the place looked nothing like any Mexican restaurant I ever ate at before – all gray and minimalist. My mole enchiladas were quite good, as was the salsa and spicy shrimp appetizers. We had such pleasant conversations that only the hard chairs inspired us to leave. I’m glad we took a chance on the new restaurant!
Now to rest, try to finish that baby blanket (hint, it’s turning out GREAT), and get ready for some hiking tomorrow. After a pretty hard few days, I am very grateful to my kind friends for giving me such a fun afternoon.
I have no idea why, but I felt awful today. I was sleepy, fuzzy headed, and stuffy. It made being all brilliant and with-it difficult. Of course, times being as they are, I was sure I had a coronavirus. I took a nap and all that, and got through the day, which was long, long, long.
You know how some days all kinds of issues come up all at the same time? So I was trying to figure out a new part of the software I document, right when someone else really wanted me to edit something right that minute, and I was scheduled to try to figure out how to get Lee verified as my spouse so he can be on my insurance. With my fuzzy head, none of that was working, when the phone rang, and it was my old professor. I got scared he was sick, so I answered it, and he was like, “Hey, are you OK?” I said I’d call back when I was less unhinged.
Nonetheless, I actually managed to solve all the problems once I stopped going around and around in my head. Go Suna. I learned the software thing, found my marriage license online, had a great talk with my former coworker about our work stuff, and had a lovely talk with my former professor. It’s all okay. I even have energy to send to friends and family dealing with their own stuff.
The best news is that the yarn came to finish Ellie’s baby blanket, and I think it’s going to work out. I’m even finishing it as I go, since the darning needle I thought I ordered did not show up.
In the meantime, I’m just striping it up like crazy and making a square baby blanket. At least I am sure it will be blanket sized and will go with the other one. It’s in softer yarn, too, Sridar Snuggly. Too bad I’m so wiped out from a very long (but good) Master Naturalist meeting, so not much knitting will occur.
But hey, snow, yarn, online conversations, phone calls. I may have been stuck in the condo all day typing or interacting, but it is a fine life, with ups, downs, and cute little animals to cheer me up.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤