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Travel

Lexington Kentucky Travel Review

On August 5, 2010, in Travel, by admin

Today we explore the world of business travel. Our destination this time was Lexington Kentucky, home of what seems to be a million horse farms.  Uh, should we call them equestrian centers?  I have no idea. I know very little about this sport.  What I can say is that Lexington Kentucky has two things that are painfully obvious:  their love for University of Kentucky basketball, and their many horse farms.  In fact, the city seems to be branded by these, as there are statues of horses throughout the city.  Now of course, you wonder, business travel to Lexington Kentucky?  Well I cannot really go into that, but suffice it to say, this was the a business travel destination.  Not knowing anything about the city, the first impression was the fly in.  Acres upon acres of horse farms surrounding the airport. Each farm had matching fences, same color, same height, apparently same wood. Yes the pic about depicts the standard issue fence.  Secondly, each pasture was averaging around 50-100 acres, near as I could tell, and there would be like 3 horses on them total. Spoiled ponies, really. The view was breathtaking from the air, and equally as impressive on the ground. Now as far as hotel goes, I had no idea where I was going, and I was put in a down town Hilton.  Here is where the basketball comes in.  It was right across the street from the University of Kentucky basketball arena.  Once I got to this central city, all the horse images all but disappeared and the talk and wardrobe of choice had to do with University of Kentucky basketball, and coach John Capelari (spelling?) sightings in the city.Though no where near basketball season, this is all they talked about.  Arena holds 24,000.  They stand all game. They are loud. They are rabid.  We Big 12 ( or Ten, or Big 12 going on 10, whatever) could use to tear a page from their book.  We have the teams, now we need the true fans.

My business destination was strange indeed.  We had to drive through miles of horse farms to get to our destination.  Very cool indeed. Along the way we saw a

few tobacco farms.  My traveling buddy had never seen tobacco in the field before.  Not much of that in Waco Texas.  I had not seen it since a kid. Western Wisconsin used to have some tobacco operations when smoking was much more in vogue. These fields were laced in between the horse farms.  And in the end, the thing that struck us was that all of the fields, for miles around, were all well manicured. It appears the folks cut the fields where their spoiled ponies roam. Now none of this is particularly earth shaking in its own rigtht, but we found this very interesting.

The restaurants were excellent.  A down town spot called Bellini’s served us dinner the first night. Excellent high end Italian food that well made up for its lackluster and unimaginative name. Lunch the next day as at a joint called Malones. Decent, nothing to write home about, but still enjoyable.

Couple of this with an airport that is easy to get in and out of due to its smaller size, coupled with truly nice people in the services industry there, and this was a pleasant experience. I am certain my travels will take me back there….and I look forward to it.

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Reddgranite and DWF Home Again

On July 12, 2010, in Concert Reviews, by admin

I am never more amazed at the result when I join my friends in the Dazzling Weasel Faces for performances. The latest was our annual, uh, make that semi annual trek to my home stomping grounds in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The fact is, I only am able to join DWF maybe 4-5 times a year. Would like it to be more, but life drives us down a different freeway too many times.

This year, we were all able to pull it together. Of course, I am from Kenosha, Wisconsin, so this trip doubles as an opportunity to see family. This was a rich experience as we are all from different areas of the country.  This weekend, we converged on Kenosha, with a beautiful side trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin….if not more than any thing, to show my Texas comrades Lake Geneva. The thing is, my life is in Texas, but you never really lift your foot from the cement that is your home. There is always one foot there….and every time I go, we just pick up as if I never left

Performance wise, this was an advanced set of nights.   Friday we played at Tailgators ( no website, obviously another opportunity of for Open Media Concepts ( my web development company) to do a website for them. My 87 year old mother came to this performance.  It was special..she knows the DWF from college days when they were young and retired. Some 33 years later, she is still there to hear us play together once again.  The performance kicked.  If anything, all of us were concerned about blowing our wad on this one when the Saturday night performance loomed. Thanks to Eric and Tailgators…..great stage to play and we hope to return next year.

Saturday found us at Cooler Near The Lake.  Again, no website (OMC calls once again). We played here two years ago with spanking results. Tonight, it was also good.  Maybe not as good as we would have liked, but the crowds were great and receptive…and we ended up blowing out our play list and going for 4.25 hours…..so many originals were played this night. Also, one thing we normally do not do is improvise much, since we all live in different cities, we NEVER practice, rather, just depending upon our musical instincts to get us through. I really enjoyed the improvising on Locomotive Breath, Banshee (which kicked) and a late entrant as we were running out of songs, Sea Breeze! Marty and Dave did a phenomenal job in improvising during my opening (lasting about 3 minutes easily on a 3 minute song) as I gathered the lyrics in my mind. The response bewildered me….as if it was a well known song (written by me on the shores of Lake Michigan about 1.5 miles from the Cooler in 1973) .  Then Marty and Dave got going on Beatles tunes, because some of the folks in the back of the room really dug it….I hate the Beatles….but I had to lend my harmonies…..

Just a great night.  Not the best of our efforts music wise…. but it all added up to a pretty special evening. Look for reddgranite and the DWF to be in Vegas next July with the annual Cooler By The Lake Las Vegas trip.  Jody is a killer planner, and……and I think OMC needs to help her out next year with a website to coordinate and collect bookings…..and with any luck, the Dazzling Weasel Faces with Redd Granite will be playing Vegas next July…….

Peace

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People Can Really Be Annoying

On June 27, 2010, in People Are Strange, by admin

People Can Be Annoying

Nothing can be more obvious on how annoying people can be than on a crowded airplane. People are crammed next to each other so close even your family members will be jealous.  There is more human contact on an airplane than in most family reunions. Just back from travel after a long break from business travel, it reminded me of the many experiences on travel. This is a not so blatant commercial for Bose noise canceling headphones. (nope, no ads for Bose below…just have to go to their website and purchase www.bose.com) .  I can catorogize the offenders:

THE SNORERS. These are the obvious group. You can usually see who they will be in advance of sitting.  They are the usual overweight, many times older business men with hair coming out of their nose and ears…(sorry, this would have been an ad for Sharper Image nose hair removers, if they were still in business).  They sit, spend far too much adjusting their shit in the space before…ad a few snorts along the way, then settle in.  All is good until after take off, and for the marathoners, after beverage service.  soon, you hear it.  The buffalo snorting, long drawn out annoying snore.  You look back, and of course, there they are. Head back, mouth wide open, druel down their cheek, snoring, completely oblivious to those around.  Bet these are great guys to be married to.  No wonder we have a high divorce rate.  CAUTION. For you who bit on the Bose plug, beware, many times the buffalo ass snorers overrun the noise canceling feature of the headphones. These are the most common annoying people on commercial airlines.

THE ARM REST HOG. This one can come in many flavors.  Fat (which we will deal with in a second) skinny, chicks, petite, you name it.  All it takes is a good dose of “its all about me and you don’t exist as a result” to be one of these.  BTW, my wife says I am one of these….OK.  I accept.  Many times these are business guys so engrossed in their little business world, pounding away SO IMPORTANT e-mails that I am sure just cannot wait.  As they type like a Banshee in heat, their elbows get further and further on the arm rest, reducing you to a bean stalk with your arms crossed on your lap.  Advice to counter, just do it yourself.  Sooner or later, they will get it, or confrontation will happen, and thats when it gets fun.

FAT PEOPLE. Sorry folks.  I do not mean to be mean.  I am no small guy, and carry 20 lbs too much.  But in the end, many people just have no business stepping on a airplane.  These large beasts try to fit in seats clearly designed for stick figures.  This one is on the commercial airlines.  Blame them for their corporate greed that tries to cram every penny of revenue into an airplane. But in the end, we suffer.  You sit next to one of these, and well, there is no arm rest. no nothing.  They spill over into your area by up to 40%….space you clearly paid for.  I remember coming back from Europe, sitting next to a lady roundly 150 pounds overweight.  The good news, she was a charming lady and conversation was good.  She was apologetic. The bad news?  I spent the trip wedged under her massive arms and right side. The normal too cold airplane became a  way too warm blanket of body fat. I clearly had to ‘go to another place’ in my sweaty existence for those 10 hours. Whew.

THE ‘I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO MY MUSIC TOO’ KIDS. No, its not enough they want to go deaf, they somehow feel they need to draw you into their musical word of Hip Hop or whatever, sucking the very IQ down that you have spent a life time building up.  You hear the high end treble coming from their little white ear pods.  Kids, get your own Bose Noise Canceling headphones, then we would not hear your crap.

THE CHOMPERS. Oh, this by far, is my favorite.  you know them.  Whether it is gum or their shitty smelling sandwich they brought on the plane, when they chew, they smack.  They are the pigs in dirt in the barn, chewing their cud so viciously. Even worse are the gum chewers.  There are those out there so unaware of others that they regularly chew their gum, purposely popping it.  You the the type.  They have that type of chew that signals their type A, and “involved” personality….they have their act together, and they chew to celebrate. Go ahead.  Put a bullet in my head.

But, in the end, all of the above except the occasional heavy snorer can be cured with Bose Noise Canceling Headphones.  But, in the end, you have to remember to take them with you on your trip…..and that my friends, (and those I have offended in this post) is where I failed this last trip

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Back from a wonderful three day weekend at the above resort. A full review follows. However, first things first. This was a trip for our 25 wedding aniversary. It has been a wonderful ride…and we can both look at eachother and say 80% of the time.  Hey we are honest, you all should do the same.  It is refreshing. We went to the Resort at Artesian Lakes , formerly Chain O Lakes resort in Rayomar, Texas.  This is deep east Texas for you Russians who constantly spam this site and have no idea where Texas is. In our family, this resort has always walked on water.  Well, somewhere along the way, they must have taken thier eyes off of God, as they began to sink.

First, a little about the resort that makes them unique.  This property is built around a series of small lakes that were created when a back jam on the Trinity River swirled over a long period of time to create this web of small lakes. The resort has many small cabins facing the lakes, many providing privacy from others. This is what you come to expect from Artesian Lakes, and this is where they went wrong.  I digress.  Also on the property is a restaurant called Hilltop Herb Restaurant.  This was a in nearby Cleveland, Texas that was move many years ago to this property.  This is the star of the resort.  Great menu items, all created around the fresh herbs they grow on site create a vibrant train of tastes that never cease to amaze at their creativity.  Long ago we discovered their margaritas.  Creamy, smooth, sweet, these are to die for.  Their secret?  The recipe includes their Lime Tarragon Jelly. Yup.  That’s right, he said ‘jelly’ with tarragon in it.  Is he high?  If anyone requests, I will post the recipe and the link to get the jelly.  Sidebar.  Tonight I tried another jelly of theirs, Jalapeno Jelly, on my pork chop.  I added a touch of tarragon here as well. Heavenly. Their food overall is tremendous.  There are a few misses.  The biscuits and gravy are poor. Their rib eye, while prepared perfectly medium rare to my wife’s requests, had a great taste, but a piss poor fatty piece of meat. I had scallops.  Masterfully prepared and tasty. The one interesting point over the years is that this restaurant does a lot of buffets.  They used to be fixed menu based upon chefs creations.  A step backward, undoubtedly to cater from the many ankle biters this resorts now touts.

Our cabin was excellent. The neighbors sucked. We purchased a package that was marketed for privacy and personal catering.  When we pulled up, the cabin next door had six vehicles parked, and clearly a coven of rednecks ( not meaning to offend…but could not think of any other description) lining every wall of the cabin.  I guess I should be thankful.  I learned a new language.  How often does this happen?  I learned “F”Bonics.  This is where chief redneck uses the F Bomb for two thirds of his words, and mixes in some other language I presume to be English.  I could not tell.  Look, I am not prude and do not care….but when I am looking for privacy, I do not need someone forcing their lifestyle on us. Further, the resort seemed uninterested in doing anything for this since they had rented three cabins.  Oh yes you money people, the almighty dollar had spoken once again.

But, inspite of this, the weekend, for the rest of it was terrific, and we will go back ( the resort did offer us “substantial” discount on our next visit and said they had marked our file as such….we will see).

This was a nature laced trip….from feeding the two alligators bread from the balcony to the birds and the squirrels that would come right up to you to get bread…in fact, I had to protect myself from the squirrel so he would not get on my chair. Check photo.  Very cool.

Feeding Gators

Overall, I still highly recommend this resort.  I do now suggest that if you are considering going, do not go during summer season between memorial and labor days.  I think fall would be the best time overall

www.artesianlakes.com

Peace

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Got back earlier in the week from my most recent trip to Vegas.  While we stayed at the Stratosphere again this year, that was one of the few things that was a repeat of previous trips.  Got in Thurs afternoon,  grabbed a late lunch at the hotel at Roxy’s Diner, a 50’s drive-in themed restaurant with wait staff in 50’s clothes but alas not 50’s prices.   As I have mentioned in previous postings, the days of cheap food and cheap buffets is long gone from Vegas—there are still some deals to be found, if you know where to look, or am willing to go off-strip.  The “Strat” is on the strip but way down, about between downtown and the main part of the strip.  The Strat has a food court with a MacD’s and a few others, so budget options are available. Later that nite grabbed a slice of pizza in the same area.  I like the Strat, while the rooms are not fancy or large, they are clean, in good condition, and the beds comfortable.  My view from the 9th floor was of the scenic parking garage.  Didn’t care—Most of the time in Vegas I just need a quiet clean room, where I can sleep, take a shower, change clothes.  Except for an afternoon nap, I am not in the room much anyway.  The staff at the Strat is friendly, including the dealers at the table games and that is much appreciated.  The hotel, while large, is not huge compared to Vegas strip hotels, where you need a Sherpa guide to get you from one side to the other.  When I stepped out of the elevator from my room, I was 10 steps to a bar on one side, 10 steps to a Starbucks on the other, and about 10 steps further was the Sportsbook (ahhhhh—yeah!).  Friday morning, friend Jay and I headed out to some newer properties I had not visited before. These are built  several miles south.  One place “M” was higher-end, with impressive modern décor, a very nice pool area, tall ceilings in the casino, and very nice restrooms.  The second place we hit was “SouthPoint”, a more middle-end place. It appeared bigger than “M” , was much busier, had a slightly western flavor, but not excessively so.  I liked it.  Both resorts were stand-alone places.  There is no shopping or retail within several miles of either one.  From there it was time to hit an old favorite—In-N-Out Burger…ahhhhhhh…for those of you who have never had the experience, well, they are great for fast-food burgers. Menu is limited, either hamburgers or cheeseburgers. Fries, Drinks. That’s it.  But quality, fast service, clean, well-done.  The place is ALWAYS packed, from 10:30 in morning till close at , what, 1 or 2 am….

From there it was a drive to a another new (for me) resort, Green Valley Ranch.  This is a higher-end resort as well. Beautiful décor, high ceilings, very nice pool area.  The bathroom floors were marble.  This resort has several nice restaurants and shopping across the street. Not close to the strip, but an impressive property.  Landscaping was incredible, lots of roses, and other flowers.

That night, we ate at the Italian restaurant in the Strat, Fellini’s.  Good food, reasonable prices (for Vegas), quiet, very good service.  The food was very good.  From there we cruised to The Hard Rock Hotel, off the strip. Place was packed, noisy.  Lots of rock memorabilia, guitars, etc on the walls. Interesting place.  There was a large private party going on, and we just parked ourselves at a bank of slots by the entrance to the party, and watched the invitees enter.  I don’t think anyone was older than 45, most in late 20’s early 30’s.  The guys were in jeans and mostly t-shirts and the women, well,  it was either micro-mini skirts or leather dresses (or both) with stiletto high heels. For about 45 minutes the parade went on. Truly jaw-dropping.

Sat am we got a little late start, but decides to head up to Mt. Charleston. That is about 35+ minutes north of Vegas. On the way out of town, we stopped at a restaurant I had seen on the Travel Channel and the Food Network but had never tried: “Hash House a Go-Go”.  Located in an old house, the place was packed, but being a smaller party was able to grab a table outside, under the covered porch.  This was the best place we ate all weekend.  The prices were high, but HUGE portions. Lots of interesting menu items and combinations. Great place for brunch.  I got the Chicken and Waffles (How could I pass that up?). Two large pieces of fried chicken, tender, moist,  on top of four incredibly large waffles. The waffles had a little fruit on them, but inside the waffle itself was a large slice of applewood smoked bacon.   My order could have feed 3-4 people. I maybe got halfway through-maybe. Service was great, knowledgeable, but not fast.  They make everything from scratch, have no microwaves or toaster ovens in the place. Hand-squeezed lemonades topped off the meal.  Very impressive.  May be time to look at a possible franchise for the Austin-Waco, area….hmmmm…back on the road to Mt Charleston and the national wildlife preserve in that area.  The Mt itself rises to over 11,000 ft.  The temperatures as you climb from the valley remarkably drops.  Not having been up there in over 10 years I was amazed at all the beautiful “log-home” style houses there were in the area, including some humongous places.  We stopped at the Lodge, where a number of folks were sitting to eat an early lunch, and looked at several tables of truly unique native-American jewelry and craft items.  We drove through a camping and picnic area on the mountain, passing shady areas still covered with snow, stopping on occasion to enjoy the views of the mountains and the valley far below.  Truly a different experience from a usual Vegas trip.   Early Sat evening was spent at the party-pit at the Strat.  Most casinos have some variation of this area, a few tables set aside with female blackjack dealers in  costumes of scanty attire,  varying depending on the theme of that hotel.  At the strat, the dealers wore VERY short “Daisy Duke’s” shorts and either a bikini top, or a lingerie top.  They were, in a word, attractive.  The surprising thing was, the tables were all $5 blackjack tables. Usually, the “party-pit” tables are $10 or more.   Once I was up a little bit, I stopped playing and just stood behind Jay and made fun of him while he was losing.  Once done, we headed downtown for the evening.  For those of you who have not seen the Fremont Street Experience, it is amazing.  It is a long dome of millions of lights, about 3 stories tall, that cover several blocks of the main part of downtown. Starting at 8 pm, and every hour on the hour till midnite, they turn off all the outside casino lights and  have a light/sound show that is mind-boggling. Every show has a different theme.   Jay wanted to go down there cause the 9 pm theme was his favorite group, “The Doors”.  They played 3 Doors songs. The show lasts about 7-10 minutes. The downtown area is a large pedestrian mall with sidewalk venders, some cheap drinks (hard to find) and great people watching.  They usually have 2 bands playing live music, one band at each end. This nite they only had one, an Alice Cooper tribute band (I am completely serious). The lead singer looked the part, but couldn’t sing.  After a while wandering around, we decided on a late dinner at the Chart House, a new restaurant at the Golden Nugget, my favorite hotel downtown.  Nothing like eating Prime Rib at 10 pm at nite in Vegas.

Sunday we drove out towards Red Rock Canyon, about 15 miles west of Vegas. I have been to the area many times in the past several years. The rock formations and bright red striations are well worth the trip.  However, upon reaching the entrance, we decided there was too much traffic so just decided to proceed west on the two-lane Nevada hwy.  We went past a Nevada State Park, that was owned by Howard Hughes for a while, stopped at several small towns along the way.  One town in particular caught our eye, Blue Diamond. Town of about 300 people, on the slopes of a mountain, former mining town. All the yards were neat, the houses trim and in good condition, very nice. We stopped in the town store, little more than the size of a convenience store, and chatted with the owner for awhile.  Very interesting guy.   It was a highlight of the trip.  Finally back into Vegas and a stop at a fast-food chain based out of California—Del Taco.  Very good tacos, cheap.  Had unusual (for a Tex-Mex guy like me) flavorings—lots of cilantro and a little lime. Different.  From there it was back to the Strat, went to hang out at the adult-only pool for a few hours, then up to the top of the Strat tower for cocktails before dinner. The Strat has an observation deck 108 floors above the strip. The cocktail lounge is on floor 107. There is a nice restaurant on top that rotates so you get a complete view of the area. The idea is to watch the sun go down and watch the lights of Vegas come up. Very cool.  A new experience at the Strat is a controlled free fall from the 108th floor to the 2nd floor.  People (who actually pay money to do this) put on a rig that is attached to cords that go all the way to the bottom. You then step out onto a platform and jump off the tower. Similar to bungee-jumping except you are feet first, mostly.  It is amusing to watch the people in the restaurant freak out when they see someone “falling” in a harness past their window down to the bottom.  There is no way I would do that, even if it was free.  Much too perilous.

From there we drove to the new City Center area on the strip, to visit the new resort “Aria”. Very modern design, very unusual architecture. I am not a big fan of modern design, but this hotel had several features that were quite beautiful.  Well worth the visit. We ate dinner at one of Wolfgang Puck’s many restaurants in Aria, called Puck’s Brasserie.  Interesting menu—Italian.  From there was back to the Strat for a last shot at the slot machines and to bed. Had a 4 am wake-up call to catch my flight home.

Overall impressions of the trip:

Lots of new places, some worth repeating. Always like to try new places along with some of the old stand-by’s. Crowds, pretty busy at the Strat, not busy at all downtown, which was surprising on a sat nite, the strip more crowded than it was the previous year, but still not packed. Everyone I talked to said tourist volume was starting to pick up after a really lean 18 months. I made a little money this trip, thanks to the Sportsbook and a nice recovery on my last slot machine. Food was always good, if usually overpriced. Cocktails were plentiful, well-made, and very overpriced.

Would I stay at the Stratosphere again? Absolutely.  I really like the place. Good value for the money, even if inconvenient location.  If you stay there, it is best to get a rental car. Taxi’s in Vegas are vastly overpriced.  Looking forward to my next trip to Vegas, probably in mid-August for a special birthday party.  I am already packed….Viva Las Vegas!

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Low Budget Review Guy Strikes Again

On May 5, 2010, in Travel, by admin

Only this time, it is a geo review of small town Texas. Have a look:

Brenham is a town of approx 15,000 that lies 2 hrs east of Austin on Tx Hwy 290. It is a little more than halfway to Houston in the middle of very gently rolling terrain. The first thing that catches your eye is how green it is. It gets considerably more rain than Austin and the Hill Country. Coupled with a cool wet winter and spring, you notice all the stock tanks full and plants green and growing. The Brenham area was once all cotton growing, the one cash crop from early Tx independence days until the late 60’s when prices dropped. There are still cotton fields, but you are as likely to see corn, milo, soy beans as well. Also, lots of cattle and a few goats. Brenham is just a few miles from Washington-On-The-Brazos, which for you non-Texas history majors, was the cradle of Texas independence. Brenham itself is the quintessential small Texas town, with a large courthouse square (alas, the building itself looks like it was built in the 50’s, ugly, utilitarian, not like so many grand Texas courthouses built in the 19th century and preserved.) Unlike a lot of Tx towns, with empty store fronts and cracked sidewalks, Brenham’s downtown was full of shops, restaurants, stores. On Sat afternoon, almost every parking spot for two square blocks was filled. We found a restaurant which caught our eye, JT’s Longhorn Saloon and Steak House. The bar was built back in the 1880’s and was impressive, but the back bar area, with hand milled wood wainscoting and a huge mirror was a tribute to bygone days of woodworking craftsmanship. They had Shiner Bock on Draught (which I think is the law in Texas) along with 7-8 others, including Guinness. The building appeared to have the original wooden flooring and pressed tin ceiling. After a very good lunch (chicken-fried steak, thank you very much) we cruised around the town a bit before heading out to the Blue Bell Creamery. That is correct, the home of world-famous Blue Bell Ice Cream. We were there on a Saturday, so we didn’t get to take a tour of the facility, but did visit their gift shop, saw a 15 min video of the tour and then, for $1, got a huge cup of delicious Blackberry Cobbler Ice Cream. Sigh….From Ice Cream to Roses was our next destination. A few miles outside of town, we stopped at the Antique Rose Emporium. This business features not only roses from around the world but many other types of plants as well. They specialize in antique roses, versus the hybrid tea roses because antiques are hardier, need less attention, are more bug and disease resistant. Since the wife has numerous roses and was in the market for a couple of new ones (Who’d a thought, what a coincidence, huh?) to put in a new flower bed, we spent the next few hours in this large facility browsing and “discussing” which ones to get. The Emporium has a chapel, and several beautiful outside venues, surrounded by flowers, where weddings are held practically every weekend. We finally settled on some plants and rolled down the highway. Just minutes away is the town of Independence, birthplace of Baylor University. Being BU graduates, it was kinda cool to see the remains of the old school. BU moved to Waco around the late 1890’s. From Independence, we took some back roads back to Hwy 290 and home.

Most of you are aware that Texas weather, from late May to late October, can be brutal. Highs from mid 90’s to 105 and higher are normal. Winters are generally mild, except in north TX and the panhandle. But springtime, ah,springtime in Texas can be magical. With the right amount of rainfall and cool weather in the fall, and late winter early spring rains, Texas is blessed with wildflowers. Blooming anytime from usually late March through late April, the roadsides, fields, farms, are coated with Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Blankets, Purple Verbena, Texas phlox, and dozens of other varieties and colors. This year was the best wildflower season I have seen in my 30+ years of living in Texas. Although it was late starting, due to a late cold snap, the volume and colors this year were spectacular. Even last weekend, the first of May, we saw fields that looked straight out of a French Impressionist portfolio. While the Hill Country gets the most publicity for Wildflowers, I recommend HWY 290 and environs. What a spectacular trip. Brenham has much to offer for a day-trip. There are wineries, lots of antique stores, a monastery that raises miniature horses, a large recreational lake a few minutes away. All that and Blue Bell, what a deal.

Well there you have it.

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Its Snowing In North Texas

On December 24, 2009, in Travel, by admin

As you have undoubtly read elsewhere here in  this forum, I am from the north.  Snow is a regular occurance. Today, on Christmas eve, we see snow coming soen at a fairly torrid pace.  I love the reaction.  Things close, people react, they do not work, instead, watching the flakes outside the window as if this is some manna from heaven. I sit here at work today.  The place has emptied leaving only the clicks of the automatic shut off on the lights clicking off one by one as each office has been vacant for the required 10 minutes.

I guess this is all good in the end.  Driving on this bothers me not.  It is probably very fortunate the fam. did not go up to Wisconsin as we had originally planned. The weather up there is horrible right now.  Cancelled due to no time off on this new gig, so we are home, the three of us, to enjoy a Mexican food feast for Christmas dinner and take in a few movies.  The reviews may end up here as this is quickly turning from a pure music site to personal blog. But there you go.

Well, it is off to drive home in  the weather.  Afterall, it is winter. It should be entertaining watching all of the inexperienced Texans negotate to road conditions. It is pure entertainment from the front row

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And Now For Something Completely Different…Vegas

On December 23, 2009, in Travel, by admin

So a quick note after returning from Las Vegas for a three day weekend to watch my beloved Baylor Lady Bears play in a tournament in Las Vegas.  OK, maybe this was just an excuse to get away for three days, but I always enjoy watching my Baylor Lady Bears play in any venue, but this one excels. This is at a venue we have never heard of, so we start out to to find the venue . It is a casino resort far south of the strip, South Point Resort and Casino.  A quick Google on the iPhone and we are good. The venue had a make shift basketball floor laid into what was an arena that was used for a regular rodeo. Yes, there was a slight manure smell. The discovery increased significantly when we realized that with a bar hovering over the court, well supplied with Belevidere, and the ability to take the drinks courtside, we had an opportunity that will never be afforded at a basketball game at Baylor University. God Bless Las Vegas. Two games later and two wins for the Baylor Lady Bears, and it is off to Las Vegas proper.

The usual haunts include a stop at Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouse in the Golden Nugget downtown.  The Nugget is where we were staying.  Vic and Anthony’s is a superb experience on every visit, this one no exception.  It is greatness, especially when considering this is a Landry’s Resturaunt brand (Landry’s owns the Golden Nugget) with another location in Houston. The food train also visited In n Out Burger, a West Coast phenomina, a stop to Del Taco, another West Coast fast food chain that was very good, and of course, our favorite local and inexpensive pair of resturaunts in the same shopping center, Thai Spice and Pasta Mia.  If you ever get to Las Vegas, these two are a must. Very inexpensive and some of the best food you will find anywhere.  Every visit, it seems that the owner of Thai Spice jokes about me opening a locatin in Dallas, and I would be very tempted in another life. Both of these are on Flamingo Road, right beyond the Palms in a rather seedy shopping center.  But you will not be disappointed in trying them.

We also visited a few new casino resorts as well.  After the Baylor Lady Bears’ close win against ASU, we went to the M Resort and Casino. Signifinatly south of the strip on Las Vegas Blvd., this beautiful property stands alone with little around it.  And that is its main issue, you must drive everywhere for your entertainment not offered in the resort.  Good looking resturaunts, and a beautiful, beautiful pool area coupled with cool new wave designs made this property enticing. We look to stay there some time.  The other we visited was Aria, in the much discussed and high cost City Center.  This is a high end property.  Dark but hip design, technology crawling about, this place is interesting, but not certain it will be worth the price. I look it up on the plane home (yes, my AA flight had internet, and there was much rejoicing, yeah) and it looks to average around $260/night. They aim to please for this amount. The rooms are all electronic with memory. You program your climate, you program the curtains to open and close, you program your programs on TV, all state of the art electronics. And, when you leave, the reservation system remembers all of these settings and automatically sets the room for your next visit. Interesting. Great bars at the Aria, although, things were a bit rough since it was their fourth day open.  We had to go through three specialty drink orders before they found one on their own menu they could serve.  Swing and a miss. Some decent looking resturaunts, not sure if they were open yet.

This week in Vegas is the weekend for those who do not like people.  Very light in visitors. But that represents opportunity for lower costs and deals.

Back to the Baylor Lady Bears….they did not play very well. They barely squeeked by an ASU team that I am convinced will be in the sweet sixteen. We congratulated the coach in the hall for bringing it….and this was good for reasons I shall not go into. The refs sucked bad.  I violated my goal this year of being mellow. A little Polish Clear did not hurt either.  So I had to let them know they really needed to referee Middle School.  I kept it clean in spite of my anger….and I am glad.  So are Rick May and Lori Fogelmann, the Baylor Lady Bears broadcast team who were broadcasting just 15 feet away, and I did not realize it until after the game. Sorry Rick and Lori, my bad….but the refs really did suck.

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