Monday, October 27, 2008

bonus pics

Well, I managed to save some of the photos off my bad card using eImage Recovery, so here are a few random ones from the trip.









Friday, October 24, 2008

Camping Trip

So me and my buddy Tuco headed down to the Ozarks for a weekend camping trip. We stayed in the Ozark Scenic River on Jack's Fork, and we found a gem of a truck camping site. I'm not gonna tell you which one it is, but you can easily figure it out (or ask me) if you want to.

Sneaking out of work a little early, we headed down. Taking Tuco's truck, it rained on us almost all the way down. No worries, though, the forecast was calling for a clear weekend, so I remained hopeful on the drive down.

We got to the camping area. There is a main campground, at which there were some trucks, horse trailers, and RVs/campers. We kept going and forded the creek to get to the isolated camp spots. We were fortunate enough to get Camp 9, and it was a fine camp site.

We were rewarded with this view when we woke up.


We had decided to just explore the general area that day, and, after a hearty breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches, we decided to start exploring. Bee Bluff was very near, and that certainly seemed to warrant a look, so we headed that direction.

First we saw a deer in the creek. I'm not sure if she was just out for a bath, or was crossing the river and we spooked her. Either way it was pretty cool.


Now the night before we had walked down the road a bit, until we got close enough to Camp 10 to see that there was a fire there. We both thought that Camp 10 might be a better spot, and we headed down to take a look at it. I also checked out the pit toilets, which constitute the main furnishings of the campground. When leaving, we heard a woman calling. She explained that her car wouldn't start. Her and her daughter had come out the night before and gotten stuck there. She was a local, and just needed to get her car (actually a small SUV) started to make it a few miles back to her group, which had RVs set up nearby.

We spent some time trying to push start her car, but just couldn't get any traction on the dirt. Of course neither one of us had jumper cables. We then found out that she had a roll of parachute cord. We took five strands and twisted up a rope, and finally got her car started by pulling it with Tuco's truck.

Now, that was fine, helping someone out and all. In this case, it was particularly sweet, because she was leaving Camp 10, which, as we suspected, was the prime campground at the site (or so we thought). After she left we immediately moved all of our stuff to 10.
That Jack's Fork behind the tents there. The camp was right on the river, and adjacent to a huge gravel bar.


Here is the view out of my tent. Pretty sweet.

After setting up we continued our exploration. We headed down to Bee Bluff, and it was awesome.

What was also very cool is what we started calling Camp 11. This is an unofficial camp spot right next to Bee Bluff, and it was superb. It was about a 30 second walk from the spot where the picture above was taken. Of course, since it was unofficial it didn't have the swanky grills, fire pits, and picnic tables of the other sites, but it was still the prime spot in the area, and is certainly where we will stay when we go back down.

We headed back to camp to start our beef stew. It turned out to be really good, and we had another good meal. We had a good night, just drinking and talking and stargazing. We had pulled our chairs out onto the gravel bar for prime viewing, and conditions were great.

One strange thing that happened was when the two gius paddled by in a canoe about 10 at night. They had headlamps, so they were doing fine. They said they had been on the river all day, and were headed to our take out, so they were happy when we told them they were almost there.

Here the sunrise over the river Sunday morning.


The next morining we made some fried potatoes, and some sausage and pepper and egg scramble to go over the top of them, with gravy consisting of the leftover stew. What a great breakfast it made. After cleaning up camp, we decided to head out. The woman we had helped had told us about the back way out, which we decided to take. I was driving starting off, and it was great fun to take Tuco's nice new truck down all the narrow dirt two-tracks through the woods. We had an uneventful drive back, and all in all it was a great weekend. Tuco is looking to buy a kayak, and as soon as he gets it we will probably be back down there. I know Tuco will whether I make it or not. The only bad part of the trip is that my memory card in my camera crapped out, and I have been unable to recover any of my pictures. Tuco was kind enough to send me some of his for this blog post. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shopping

Today L went shopping without me. I lazed around in the morning, and for lunch I headed down to the Buckhorn Tavern. This place was very close to our apartment, and bills itself as the oldest saloon in Texas. The name comes from the legend that the original owner would trade either a shot of whiskey or a beer for deer antlers. As you can tell, the strategy worked, as the walls are covered with stuffed animals of all kinds. The marble and wood bar is original, and very cool. This place had good food and beer at good prices. I recommend it, for the ambience if nothing else. Of course, if you are a staunch ASPCA member, you might want to avoid it.


After lunch, we decided to go check out the Tower of the Americas. This is a large, 750 foot observation tower built for the 1968 World's Fair. In addition to the amazing view from the top, you also get to view a "4-D" film showing highlights of Texas. it was pretty fun, the seats moved, it blew wind and water in your face at times, that kind of thing.


Here are some shots from the observation deck, 750 feet up.

In the lower center of that bottom photograph you can see the roof of The Alamo.

After dinner at Casa Rio, which is an excellent restaurant by the way, we walked up the see The Alamo at night. Wow, it looks dramatic at night.






After that, it was time to stroll home. Tomorrow, we plan to go see the historic King William historic area south of downtown.

The Alamo

Today we got up relatively early and walked down to The Alamo.
We were smart to get there early, because there were very few people there. What I didn't know is that what people usually call The Alamo, pictured above, was really just the church for the large mission that was around it. Much of that original property is now under modern San Antonio, but some of the more significant buildings are still extant, such as the church and the long barracks. Even though a lot of the mission is now destroyed, the site consists of beautiful grounds and several buildings some of which contain very interesting displays on the history of the site.
The grounds.
This is currently a research library.
This is the long barracks. This is one of the original buildings, and has some very interesting displays inside.
Here is another view of the long barracks.

This is a monument in Alamo Plaza, which would have originally been inside the compound.

We also got to hear a really good lecture by one of the staff giving some history of The Alamo. It was really good, since he was a good speaker and it is an interesting story.

After chilling at the apartment for a bit, we decided to head back to La Villita, which is a little historic district that has been converted to shops. While I was not really interested in the shopping, there were some very cool old houses.



After shopping for a while, we had a couple of drinks at Dick's Last Resort, a bar and grill on the river. I liked this place, it had a good vibe and big beers.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Market day

After a lazy morning, we headed down to A Taste of San Antonio, which was being held at Market Square, which is apparently a very old market. We decided that since there were so many street vendors we would eat on the street instead of at a formal restaurant. Wow, were we glad we did. The best thing we had was gorditas.
They were all made right there, with one woman making the casings, grilling and then frying them, and the other woman filling them. We had chicken and bean and cheese, all with hot sauce and guacamole. They were really amazing. We had some other things too, good tamales and fajita tacos, but the gorditas were the standouts. Note the line at the gordita stand; there was always a line there, which is why we chose it.

We also saw a really cool Tejada band, all the members of which wore classic Mexican wrestling masks. How awesome it that?
We saw the wrestling masks for sale, and I still wonder if I should have bought one. What I did buy was a guayabera shirt that I really like. Those of you that know me will no doubt see it soon enough. I might buy more. I like them, they are the original camp shirts.

Here are some pictures of the market.

All in all, it was a very fun day. We stopped at an Irish pub on the way home for a mid-afternoon snack, so there was no need for dinner.

Riverwalk is nice

We are staying at the Wyndham resort in San Antonio. This is a nice place. The building was built in 192, and was originally a hotel. It has really cool concrete floors, and many exposed concrete beams in the room. Here are a couple of pictures of the room.
The bedroom.
The living room.

After checking in and chilling for a bit, we decided it was time for some lunch. We headed down to the Riverwalk and strolled around for a while. The Riverwalk is really cool. Being Saturday afternoon, it was really crowded. There are many shops and restaurants along the Riverwalk, and it's larger than I thought, over 3 miles long, total according to the literature. My internet connection here is very poor, so I am having trouble posting more pictures. I'll post more when I get home.

OK, I bought a better internet connection, so here are some more pictures.
This is a very representative picture of the Riverwalk. It is basically lined with restaurants and bars, with a smattering of shopping thrown in. It is very pleasant and quite pleasant.
The restaurants and shops seem to do excellent business. There were a ton of people everywhere.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

San Antonio

Stay tuned for updates from San Antonio, Texas starting this weekend.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Day 1: Lincoln, NE

For a short weekend trip in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary, L and I decided to make a short weekend trip to Lincoln. Yes, Nebraska.

We both too Friday off, and headed out that morning, taking our time, since it is only a little over three hours away by car.

We arrived around lunchtime, and dined at a place called Buzzard Billy's, a Cajun place. My shrimp po-boy was very good, as was the locally brewed brown ale.

We drove up early so we could go to the National Museum of Roller Skating, which is not open on the weekends. This museum was pretty small, and was kind of funny. There was some interesting stuff there, but I don't think I could recommend going to Lincoln just to see it. Some of the really old skates were fun to see, and some of the costumes from the 70s were a riot.

The funniest thing was that the building had a bunch of people working in cubicles for the National Roller Skating Association. I saw at least 12 people working there. Is this organization so huge that it needs a staff of this size? I guess so, but I thought it was pretty funny.

After the museum we strolled around the Haymarket District in Lincoln. This is nice historic district with some old commercial buildings.




I really like the old painted signs.

It was L's idea to take this picture of the three signs, and it is one of the best pictures of the whole trip, I think.

After shopping for a while we had a light snack/early supper at a local brewpub,


and headed to the motel to check in and crash.

Day 2: Cigars and baseball and quilts.

Today, after braving the annoying crowd at the free breakfast, we headed out. There was a little league baseball tournament in town, and our hotel was full of young (junior high age) baseball players and their families. The kids were, on the whole, well-behaved; it was the parents who were the annoying ones, really.

Our destination was the farmer's market held in the Haymarket District just south of the University of Nebraska's main campus.

The market was crowded and pretty cool. It was more like a craft market than a farmer's market, really, but I bet this changes as it gets later in the year. The guy at Bad Robot (great store, check it out) said that the market would expand onto another street the next weekend.

The booths here were the usual kind of thing, with a couple of exceptions. First, the longest line I saw there was for a woman selling egg rolls. The line was long enough when we first got there that we didn't want to stand in it. I did later when I noticed it was shorter. They were OK egg rolls, but not worth the line, to be honest. Another lady was selling Taiwanese-style noodles, but by the time we went back to get some (we weren't hungry at all) they were gone. That made me very sad, because I am certain that they were delicious, and taught me a lesson I will try not to forget.

There was some other neat stuff there, too, like a train.


And this amazing brick train mural.

After touring the farmer's market for a while we split up. L went to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, which she could not say enough great things about. This place is the main reason we came to Lincoln, and after hearing her talk about it I wished that I had gone too. She could not say enough great things about it, and we are planning to return when the revolving exhibit changes in the fall.

I walked all over downtown Lincoln looking for a place where I could drink beer and smoke a cigar at the same time. I was at first going to go to the famous Zoo Bar, which we had been to when in Lincoln before. However, it being Saturday around noon, Zoo Bar was closed, so I hiked all over downtown looking for a place, eventually ending up back at Haymarket at a place called Brewski's. I got a nice seat on the large covered porch and settled in. After a while, just enough time to have a couple of beers and smoke my cigar, L joined me.

After chilling at the hotel for a while, we went out to see the Lincoln Saltdogs play the Wichita Wingnuts (has there ever been a more appropriate name?). It was a great little ball park, and we were able to walk up and get tickets ($11.25 each) on the first row right behind home plate. We were no more than 10 to 15 meters away form the batters. It was cool. I forgot the camera, though, so there are no pictures.