6-29-09 Monday (Italian Spiders)

Last night Jim said, “Let’s get up early and go to the Grandy’s breakfast buffet.” Sure. We went. I wasn’t thrilled with any of it. That was OK though because fortunately, I didn’t each much of it.

Off to Fort Worth we went to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This was on the list of things to do because the tripadvisor.com reviews were positive. Another plus is that it’s all free. No coupons needed! Unfortunately, no cameras or cell phones were allowed. Just imagine millions of dollars. See, now it’s like you were there. OK, so a synopsis:

Arrive. Empty pockets, oh that’s where I put that gum. Metal detectors and x-ray machine – do I have a metal plate in my head? Tour bus to the factory. Many interactive displays. 15 minute video in a small uncomfortable theater shown on a small screen with an even smaller framed video. Back to the displays – how very clean and modern this all is. Take a guided tour up above the factory where we can see down into various phases of the money printing procedures. Learn interesting facts. See lots of currency. Desire currency.


Result? We enjoyed it. It was worth the time.

We planned our menu, went to Walmart, and then returned to meet up with John and Derek for dinner. We used a $25.00 gift certificate on restaurant.com to Birra Poretti’s - “A great Italian Restaurant, a heck of an Irish bar.” We all enjoyed our meals. I loved my chicken marsala. The chicken was amazingly tender and it was all so flavorful. The others? They had something Italian. They have no website but plenty of reviews on-line.

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Miscellaneous stuff:

Tomorrow is a long travel day to Little Rock, AR with a stop to a diamond mine on the way there.

Today, we passed a street sign for “Tucker Blvd”. I took a few pictures of it. What does it look like it says?

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On closer inspection, the “F” was created by the bolt holding up the sign.

And finally, on a walk with Dasher, some kids showed us a tarantula in grass. Jim kicked it and said it was dead. The kids ran over it with their bicycle. They didn’t have an explanation when I asked why they would do that. Pick a continent!

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6-28-09 Sunday (Whale Sightings)

It’s going to be a relaxing day.  Just over a year ago, Jim finished mentoring Rachel through a management training program.  Rachel was promoted and eventually got her own branch in Georgia. Only a month after her move, CitiFinancial downsized putting Jim, Rachel and a slew of others, out of work.  Rachel has since moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is working for CitiFinancial.  All of that story, just to tell you that Jim had lunch with Rachel today.  I voted to stay home so Jim and Rachel could talk shop, and I could swim.  Swim, I did.  Well, more like soak.  I kinda laid on the steps like a seal, some may even say a beached whale.  I enjoyed the whole 1/2 hour I was out there.  It’s hot.  The pool was nice.  Children everywhere.  I was done.

It’s not that I don’t like children, I just prefer them to be on a different planet, or oh, a different continent is OK too.  There were 8 children, the oldest a 17 year old girl, frolicking in the pool.  After being splashed a dozen or so times, well OK, once, I moved to a different area.  I was eventually used as a guard rail for some small child who need to get to the pool’s edge.  That’s when I moved to the steps, exclaiming “Bah Humbug”.  Well, not really.  The 17 year old did ask me if I want to play their pool game.  I declined – politely (shocking, I know) – and then fantasized that perhaps she thought I was only 20 or something.  Screaming pool children woke me out of that dream world.

Somewhere in the timeline, we went to Camping World to kill some time.  We wanted to get these lamb skin looking pillows that are made to wedge up in the ceiling vents to prevent cold/heat from coming in/out.  While the A/C’s are working well, we’d still like to get it cooler in here than 75-80.  They were out of the pillow thingys so we got these covers that fasten to the vent housings.  We bought 3.


With our vent shades in place, we walked to John and Derek’s for dinner.  We had very tasty enchiladas.  Beef, mushrooms, olives, peppers, tomatoes, all worked in harmony.  I even had seconds.  I know, hard to believe.  We also had corn casserole which was very good.  Here’s the recipe.  I think I’ll make this sometime but I want to play with the ingredients a little.   I want to make it sweeter like that corn mush they serve at Chevy’s.

6-27-09 Saturday (Supersized)

Oh my!  It’s 105 today.  The Jeep A/C is still doing a good job, as proven on it’s way to Whataburger for lunch.  Yeah, I was the weak one.  When Jim asked what’s for lunch, I about broke a leg springing into action and exclaiming “Whataburger”!  So off we went.

image A fellow blogger friend, Norma, is quite a fitness buff.  So many of her posts revolve around nutrition, exercise, and the like.  Fairly often she’ll get on an anti-fat tirade about our Over Weight America.  Her recent entry was about furniture, and towels and whatnots that are designed for the obese.  I commented on her blog that she must hate reading about me eating so much.  She replied, “No way, Garret...I just hate that you look so trim and slender despite your frequent cheeseburger and dessert adventures!!!”  I must know who paid her for that reply?  Now I must pick on her and any others of you out there who think that.  Since I publish the blog, and I’m typically the photographer, I assure you that the most unflattering photos are omitted.  Notice most of our photos aren’t profile views.

It’s 3:15 and we’re going sightseeing with John and Derek starting at 3:30.  Jim has a day planned for us.  Jim is a good one to take on vacation.  All the planning, mapping, and driving is a plus.  Maybe a new career choice.  Professional Vacation/Sightseeing Accompanier.  If he simply planned it out, that would be a travel agent.  If he showed the sights, he’d then be a tour guide.  So maybe a new thing?  Just don’t hire him and expect anything to happen before 11am though.

John drove us in his truck car to the Stockyard.  Parking was a nightmare.  It was outrageously priced.  Yesterday Jim and I paid $5 to park.  Today that same parking lot was priced at $20!  What a rip.  We paid the ransom and moved on to the Cowtown Coliseum where we were able to use a coupon.  Just read the poster.

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Above: Jim and Derek are in charge of ticket purchasing.

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Above: John is trying to figure out how to zoom on his fancy iPhone.  Verdict?  FAIL.


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After the show, we went to the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze (with a coupon).  Even though it was so damn hot, it was fun.  I think it took like 20 minutes to get through.

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Above: John is getting frustrated.

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Above: Derek waves.

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Above: John sticks his tongue out.  Perhaps he’s trying to catch water from the leaking misters?

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Above: John, are you still lost?

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Above: Jim completed it first but he later admitted some kid told him where to get the final letter.  He’s watching the rest of us fumble around.

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Above: Jim’s badge.  16 minutes.  Mine was 19.  John and Derek were low 20’s I think.

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Above: Derek in his western attire.

Time for food.  We had heard from Alix and her sister that we MUST eat at Joe T. Garcia’s.  I researched reviews about this place to see what the big deal is. The garden looked pretty.  The food gets great reviews.  Everyone agreed to give it a try.  We were all just about drenched in sweat.  We walked 8,956 miles, uphill, both ways, in the snow to get there.  Or so it seemed.  We arrived, and got on line.  While in line for 15-20 minutes, we all marveled at how huge this place was.  They had as many cars there as Walmart.  Geez, there must be something really special about this place.  The food must be orgasmic.  Bunches of people in front of us got to go inside the building.  We moved up in line quite a bit.  Soon, we’ll get out of the heat!  They must only let a bunch in at a time so the lobby doesn’t get overcrowded.  Some hostess, steps out of the building and says a bunch of us are on the wrong end of the line.  The line is around the building.  Why did a chunk of our line go in then?  Why isn’t the way we and a ton of others marked as an exit.  Why aren’t there signs around the compound (it’s huge) with instructions or directions or something.  They even have police officers walking around!  We were pretty pissed off and all agreed to leave.  I doubt I’ll try again.  I’m so annoyed at how we were simply dismissed.  I don’t think this place cares about the 14 or so people who were on the wrong line.  Why would they care, when 15,879 other people were in line.  I can’t believe several people looked sad but then mindlessly walked down the long ramp we walked up in the first place to go around to the other side of the building as instructed.  Whatever.

We melted walked back to the truck car and went to Chili’s.  We all enjoyed our meal.  3 out of 4 of us had a Mexican food afterall. 

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6-26-09 Friday (Time Flies)

Thanks to Shawn Wolter for pointing out that the crick-ette candy really contains crickets.  Originally posted here.  Ewwwwww.  I confirmed it and was grossed out even more than when I just thought it looked authentic.

We’ve had a busy day.  Went drove into Fort Worth for today’s adventures.  First stop was Log Cabin Village.  Web excerpt: Six log houses, dating back to the mid 1800s, were selected from the North Texas region, moved to the present site, and restored in the 1950s to early 1960s. The Village was then donated to the City of Fort Worth, and it opened to the public in 1966. The Foster Cabin, an impressive 1850s plantation log house, was added in 1974 and the 1870s Marine School in 2003. The restoration of the Reynolds Smokehouse, relocated to the Village in 2004 from Azle, was completed in 2005.

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Damn it’s hot out!  We hoped into the Jeep and off to lunch we went.  By the way, the Jeep air conditioning is MUCH better now that we topped off the R134A.  Yay.  Now back to our show.  So, we went to Zippy’s for lunch.  We had a buy one, get one, of course.  We had Texas style cheese steaks which were good.  Texas style?  Yeah on Texas toast is all.

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Next – the Fort Worth Water Gardens.  I don’t know what to think of this place.  Way too much concrete I think.

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And while leaving the Water Gardens:

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Damn, that’s a lot of tape.  I’m thinking they spent a lot of money on tape and could have had glass.

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Above: Montgomery Plaza.  It was built in 1928 for Montgomery Ward.  In 2001 it went vacant.  2004 it became a cool shopping plaza with condos on the upper floors.

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Above/Below: Yes, it has horns on the front end.

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What else can we see today?  How about a cattle drive in the old Fort Worth Stockyards?

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Above: Why yes, that IS a barbed wire Christmas tree.

Above: In the video, I just thought these were cool.

Derek called to see what our dinner plans were.  We were just getting ready to grill up some burgers so I invited them over.  They brought baked beans.  We ate, hung out and then went to Cold Stone for ice cream.  Well, of course it was my idea.  Ugh. 

We have a big day planned tomorrow and we’ll get some group photos then!  I’m sure it’s gonna be a scorcher!  At 9:30pm tonight it was 90 degrees!  Holy shoosh!

6-25-09 Thursday (Forget the Memory)

It’s a pretty laid back day here in Arlington.  There’s probably tons of things we could be doing.  It’s 101 per weather.com and surprisingly the humidity is low.


I was strong willed today.  We had sandwiches here at the coach rather than going out to eat.  We’ve been so bad about that.  Coupons or not, eating out isn’t good for us.  After lunch we went to Walmart to get my cholesterol prescriptions. 


Above: Look at how large the selection of costume jewelry is at Walmart!

image It’s so damn hot here.  We bought a can of R134A that I’m hoping will solve the lame Jeep A/C cooling problem.  Jim picked out a solar-powered car fan.  Over the years, I’ve had customers that have had this.  I’ve asked if they liked it and most have ranted and raved.  Some people even had 2 (one on each side) installed.  So, this fan is supposed to suck the hot air out while it sits parked and baking in the sun.  We’ll see.

I’ve also installed the memory upgrade into Jim’s laptop.  Jim’s laptop was definitely needing an upgrade.  Sometimes the harddrive would just go and go and go and meanwhile whatever he wanted to do, didn’t really matter to the possessed laptop.  We often joked that his laptop was busy calculating ways to take over the world.  He’d get frustrated and I’d be annoyed hearing the sighing.  He was reluctant to have me upgrade it.  Price was an issue but it turned out to be $30.00.  Also, it’s been our bad luck that 1 upgrade always lead to others because part A didn’t want to work with the old part B.  It was a domino effect really.  The cheap upgrade would soon merit a mortgage loan.  This time -- $30.00.  Yeah baby!  Now if I could just get my sound card to work in my laptop.

Wow, ask and I shall receive.  I seemed to have made my sound card work again.  It’s something with the computer’s BIOS.  Hmmmmm.

The solar fan seems to barely move, if at all.  Perhaps the window tint is preventing it from getting enough sun?  It can also run off 12V so we may utilize it that way OR it may go back to the store.

It’s been a sad week.  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and then Michael Jackson have all left us. 

Jim and I have went to a Redbox DVD rental unit, got a movie and will just kick back this evening.  Jim has been working on some plans for the next few days.  John and Derek have been here a while and haven’t done a lot of sight seeing.  We plan to drag them along too.