Sunday, June 29, 2008

When the day is dawning on a Texas Sunday morning...

We followed our Cadillac Ranch visit with a quick drive down Amarillo's remnant of Route 66.

Several antique shops and tattoo parlors now line this stretch, but since it was Sunday, everything was closed.

A few of the stores gave a hint of the road's storied past, like this bar housed in an old gas station.

After that trip down memory lane, we met T and friends for lunch. It was good to get to visit with them a little more while we were in town.

From there we headed to Palo Duro Canyon. Several had told us it was a must-see, and even though I'd been there with my parents 20-something years earlier, we wanted to drive through the state park before heading home.

I had to laugh when Dede suddenly remembered her fear of heights as we neared the first scenic overlook! She did a great job with the winding roads, and even though it wasn't Colorado-scary, I was really glad she was behind the wheel!

We were blown away by the rock formations and the many colors! Here's a sampling of what we saw during our brief visit there.

Unfortunately, in all our travels, we never came across this guy and these groovy dancers! Guess we were about 30 years too late...

Down on the ranch.

Tourists that we are, Dede and I felt obliged to visit Cadillac Ranch while we were in Amarillo.

What an odd cultural icon! There's a gate between the I-40 frontage road and the cars, but it's common knowledge that the public is welcome 24/7.

While we were there, we saw several families adding graffiti to those famous Cadillacs buried there. Now where else would you see a mom showing her kids how to tag a car—and it all being perfectly legal?

A big storm came through the night before (after the outdoor birthday party, fortunately), so the field there was MUDDY!

To get close to the cars, you had to brave your way through gobs of sticky mud.

See all that standing water? That kept us from getting too close!

Just a short, carside visit left me with little mudpies on my toes!

Dede and I both had a couple of close calls in the slippery stuff! In any case, we're glad we braved the mud to experience this bit of roadside America.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The birthday boy.

Our reason for heading to Amarillo this weekend? This guy's birthday!

T and I have been football buddies since 1988 when we met at the University Avenue church in Austin. Several of us who lived off-campus would eat lunch in the student center there at the church, and his affinity for ESPN and, of course, the Longhorns, helped us bond. When my friend Greg and I first got our season tickets in the fall of 1991, T was living in Amarillo, but within a season or two, he had joined our motley football crew. Now he's the ringleader, coordinating the tickets and heading up our tailgates.

T's wife, Amy, came up with the idea for this backyard party after watching HGTV's Design Star. She did a great job with the decorations and all the food. A local singer entertained everyone with music from a variety of artists, from the Beatles to James Taylor.

It was great to see a lot of our tailgate friends, but it was more than a little strange to see them in this setting as opposed to a parking lot on the UT campus! I kept feeling like a football game should follow the night's festivities.

Dede and I surprised T, as did these two friends (shown with T's dad). Ned has been T's best friend since they were in first grade. We were so glad to get to see him and his wife. Ned has accompanied us to more than a couple of Texas-OU games.

Another highlight was getting to see T's mom, dad and sisters. His sisters razzed him appropriately, and his parents gave him back his first bicycle, a worn-out old thing they'd tracked down. Too funny!

Happy birthday, T, and welcome to the 40 club!

Out of bed and off the map.

With my stomach bug a fading memory, my friend Dede and I headed west for Amarillo this morning. And for the first time in a long time, we drove right off the front side of the map!

In Childress, it was fun to make the big flip to the panhandle side!

Heading west

Once we got into Amarillo, we made the obligatory stop at this tourist destination:

The Big Texan Steak Ranch!

This was as close as we came to eating the famous "free" 72-oz. steak dinner!

We did, however, enjoy our prime rib and ribeye. (I was able to eat about 4 oz., which is a miracle considering my condition Friday!)

It was fun to watch these guys attempt the 72-oz. steak dinner in an hour. (The challenge requires the contestants to eat a full meal: the giant steak, shrimp, baked potato, salad and roll. Whew!) The guy in the headband? Didn't make it. It was so funny to see him try and try and then surrender. (Two of these guys were successful, though!)

The dining room

The Big Texan is definitely a Texas icon, and our visit there helped us realize that yes, we made it to Amarillo!

A bad day.

For a couple of weeks, I'd been looking forward to this weekend. A friend and I planned our great escape to Amarillo for a friend's birthday party, and we planned to leave Friday afternoon so we could enjoy a full day there before the big event. We planned to do some tourist-y things, but mostly we just planned to enjoy some time away from our usual responsibilities.

You can see where this is going.

I woke up at 3 a.m. Friday just sick as a dog. And not just any sick: STOMACH sick.

Later that morning I texted my friend to let her know I wasn't feeling so hot, so she said she'd check back at 3 to see if I could make the trip or if we'd have to wait until Saturday morning to try the drive. I was so disappointed, and I just hated having to disappoint her, too! Around 2 I started packing and got in the shower, optimistic that I was feeling a little better, but no. I could barely even make it from the shower back into bed because I was so nauseous and weak.

KitKat knew something wasn't right! She kept me company Friday.

After a quick phone call, it was decided that if we made the trip Friday, I would only end up puking all the way up 287. The trip was postponed. I then settled in, praying for quick relief. I was just drifting back to sleep when...

...nothing. The TV turned off, the room went dark, the fan stopped. Just GREAT.

For the second time this week, our power was out! This time there was no storm, just a tree service working near powerlines a few houses down the street. We tried to ride out this outage, but my messed-up stomach couldn't handle the heat. We packed up and headed to Brett's parents' house, and in the frenzy to get ourselves out of the sauna, I just about passed out.

Brett's mom took good care of us, even though she was recovering from a migraine, and she barely had time to make our bed before I collapsed in it and took yet another nap. When I woke up, I called the house, heard our answering machine pick up, and knew we had electricity again!

This morning I woke up feeling MUCH better, which confirmed that the bug was of the 24-hour variety. And as it turned out, my illness helped us surprise our Amarillo friend all the more! He didn't know we would be at the party, so when he opened his front door, he kept looking at me: "But you're sick!"

I was so glad to say, "That was yesterday!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome home, Katie!

Look who's home from camp! It was so good to see Katie get off that bus. Why is it that whenever we're separated from the kids for more than a couple of days, they look so much older when we're reunited?

At home Ryan gave Katie a welcome home gift: a Disney Channel DVD.

We also celebrated with cupcakes. We started these "welcome home" parties the first year Ryan went off to sleepover camp, and it's a fun tradition we've continued!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Take 3 Titans and call me in the morning.

So you go to the clinic for a couple of blood draws, and the doctor wants you back in five hours for another test. How do you kill five hours?

You go to Six Flags to ride the Titan! We ended up riding it three times in a row.

On this trip Ryan and I were surprised to find villains among the costumed characters.

The Joker and this Green Lantern villain were awfully creepy!

Cheetah (here with the Riddler) made a comment about the bats on Ryan's shirt, a reference to the Dark Knight, one of her Justice League foes.

This was our first time to see Granny there, too. At least she didn't give us the heebie jeebies like the bad guys did! (Her ginormous rear end was a little unnerving, however.)

Of course, we had to meet up with some old friends.

We're afraid the giant chair may not be with us much longer (as evidenced by a giant crack in its seat). We feel obligated to pay it a visit whenever we're in the neighborhood.

Since this was a more leisurely Six Flags trip, it was kind of nice to take our time and hit just a few of our favorite rides. Besides the Titan, we also rode the Rattler, the Shock Wave and...

the Superman Tower of Power.
It was a hot day, so Ryan made sure to make use of the misters.

I'm sure we weren't the best-smelling folks when we returned to the clinic, but we surely had a good time in the interim!