Tag Archives: Babette

Privilege Creek Ranch: A Southern Thanksgiving

Babette and I arrived in Austin just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving. During the last portion of our trip I continued to quote the great John Hughes film Plans, Trains, & Automobiles as it seemed fitting. We had been invited to spend Thanksgiving with my Texan and his family out on the family ranch near Bandera, Texas. Privilege Creek Ranch has been a beloved family destination for multiple generations. I had heard so many wonderful things about the ranch and its splendor.  The Texan told me stories about how he had spent summers out there with his granddad fishing on the lake and hunting on the acreage.  I had built up the ranch in my mind to be this absolutely astounding and beautiful piece of Texas land where the family would gather and share  many wonderful moments.

We made our way down the unpaved winding road, my Texan driving, Babette in the back, while I rode shotgun. I was still in awe that it was some 70 degrees on Thanksgiving. The sun was shining and we wound around until we arrived at the ranch gate. I was so excited! We continued on and finally arrived at the house. Such a warm and loving welcome. We were with our southern family at last.

Final preparations were made, and we gathered to give a prayer of thanks. All were in joyous spirits, and we laughed as each person squeezed around the large dinning room table that wasn’t quite large enough for elbow room. Everyone accepted this humorous eating challenge with excitement. It was a wonderful feast with plenty of left overs. After dinner, many retreated to watch football, some to walk the grounds, with others preparing for pie, coffee, and other goodies. This dessert portion of the afternoon was actually doubling as a wedding shower for a pair that had eloped within the previous month. Laughter and love filled the room as each person shared advice and warm words for the newlywed couple.

After copious amounts of cake, pie, and sweet treats were consumed, it would be assumed that all would return to football or a nearby couch. Not the case. This would be the first round of Thanksgiving hunting. Prior to my departure, my grandpa had gifted me his Winchester 30-30 from the 1920’s. The Texan rounded up the rest of the gear including shells, targets, ear plugs, a 10-20 rifle, and his 30-06. We took the ranch SUV out to the shooting range and set up. After a thorough course on gun safety and operations by my love, Babette and I were ready. AMAZING! What power!? Not too bad of a kick, and I at least hit the target (that was 100 yards away) at least once with the 30-30 and once with the 10-20. Loved it. Of course the Texan was an amazing shot, but he was very supportive of Babette and I spreading our gun wings…..

While we were on the shooting range, we could hear shots in the distance, which we assumed to be the rest of the family who had headed out to the dear blinds. We didn’t return to the house until dusk and when we did, we discovered that 15 year old Zachery had got a buck. While he and some of the other men were bringing it in, we had some bits of delicious leftovers, and plopped down to watch the Cowboys play the Redskins. Apparently, there was a secret cellar in the “Trophy Room” where we were lounging. The Texan took us down there and we discovered a treasure trove of collected items from the ranch including fossils, arrowheads, old bottles, horns, and other dusty items. After we emerged, the Texan disappeared. I didn’t find him until I ventured outside, where he and Zachery, along with two of the other cousins, were beginning to skin the deer. Oh Boy. This is not for the faint of heart. Nor are my photos (you have been warned). I watched (and documented) the entire process and can now say that I know what it sounds like when a severed deer hoof is thrown into a bloody bucket of its insides. Yep.

That night Babette, the Texan, and I stayed awake laughing until the wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure about what exactly, but I remember commenting on the dried deer blood on the Texan’s shirt as he went to hug me… I laughed and accepted my southern fate, and gave him a big hug right back, deer blood and all.

There had been discussion about getting up at 5:30am to go hunting during round 2–this time actually going out to a deer blind and not just the shooting range–however we were simply too tired when the alarm went off. Around 9am, I strolled out to the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and fresh fruit. The hunters returned around 9:45am with 3 more deer who had not been so fortunate. All of the deer made there way into the walk-in cooler, right in between the left over turkey and pies.

For our final ranch activity, the Texan took Babette and I, with several other family members, on a drive around the land. It was a beautiful, warm, and sunny day. It was a perfect way to end our first southern Thanksgiving at Privilege Creek Ranch.

The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You

As the sun was beginning to set, we neared the border between New Mexico and Texas. Of course I had my heart set on a picture of the ‘Welcome to Texas’ sign that I assumed was going to be larger than life. Everything is bigger in Texas right?! Well apparently not if you cross over in Farwell, Texas on I-84.

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You can imagine my disappointment.

Just as I was about to have a major rant, Texas pulled through in all of its glory.

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Hallelujah!

4284061We had finally made it! Captain didn’t quite understand why I had woken him up for this photo op but he obliged. Holden just sat in the cat tent/cage meowing uncomfortably as he had done for the majority of the trip. A sense of great accomplishment came over Babette and I which solidified our plan to drive straight through to Austin without stopping in Lubbock. We had just about 8 hours of driving left. Babette was finishing one of her shifts, I would drive another three hours, and she would bring us into Austin.

I sent the Texan a screen shot of us, finally in the same state.  I was overjoyed to have made it to my new home state safely and with no major barriers.

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The west Texas sunset was gorgeous that night.

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Babette and I made it to my new Austin home at about 1:30am Wednesday (or very very late Tuesday night) just in time to prepare for Thanksgiving, Texas style! Our road trip was epic. There are so many details that I can’t possibly cover, as I still feel as though I’m recovering from this move half-way across the country. Suffice it to say, she and I are closer than ever and we have perfected the southern accent 😉

I am finally at home with my Texan.

Sigh.

The Hoover Dam and Albuquerque, New Mexico

After leaving Vegas, we made a quick stop at the Hoover Dam. Too bad this was when I was able to get the ‘Welcome to Nevada’ sign…

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

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Made our way through Arizona with a brief stop to visit some of Babette’s family, and finally made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico late that night.  It was so late and we were staaaarving. Rough because we had quite the hankering for this “New Mexican” food we kept reading about, but all of the restaurants were closed! We finally found Frontier Restaurant and had some enchiladas that were meh. By the time we made it to our lovely Econolodge in Old Town Albuquerque (total amount paid for hotel rooms during entire trip was $135) the town appeared deserted. I’m pretty sure it was only about midnight but there wasn’t a soul in sight. Very odd…of course I checked the Life360 when we arrived in our room and decided to turn off the “unsafe” alerts about chi-mos because it was just getting to me. At that point, I called the Texan to check in and wished we were there already. The next debate was whether we would wake up early and plow through the next 12.5 hours to Austin or if we would stop in Lubbock. I had previously checked the Life360 about Lubbock and it was no bueno. Babette and I compromised and decided that if we slept in until 9am, and were well rested, we could push through and get to Austin by midnight or 1am the next day.

The following morning Albuquerque was more alive and we walked around Old Town and looked at some turquoise, silver, and native art. Having a leisurely morning, we were prepared to make the final trek.

Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

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It was pretty funny because Babette and I finally set our pride aside on this last day and decided to drive in 3 hour shifts, trading even if we felt we were awake enough to continue. The previous days, either she or I would drive the 10 or so hours…no real reason other than stubbornness. We decided that if we had been rotating like this for the duration of the trip, we could have made it in one sitting…probably.

Now we just had to make it into Texas.

Las Vegas: Sin (Read Highly Debaucherous) City

We made it to Vegas around 7pm. The strip was glowing. We checked in to our very glamorous Motel 6 (which was pet friendly) and got dressed for the evenings festivities. Captain was a champ and Holden hid under the bed. We decided to head to Fremont St. since we were informed that this was where we would find “Old Vegas.” Upon our arrival, we walked into the light show that happens at the top of the hour. Everyone was standing around starring at the ceiling while smoking and drinking from those weird tubes that look like miniature water towers…liquor towers I suppose. Babette and I shuffled down a few yards to pop into the Starbucks which was more cost effective and more desirable than the liquor towers. While inside the Starbucks, which adjoined a casino–because everything adjoined a casino–I noted that there were people smoking inside. Also of note, there were lots of children running around. You know, small kids, like 5-8 years old. Babette and I continued to wander down the street, past the weird non-official performers, with no real desire to enter any of these “old casinos.” All of a sudden two adult men began assaulting one another. There was quite the crowd of on-lookers, but the men began to run and dash about while attempting to maul each other so I shuffled Babette away. It’s generally my concern in those situations that a firearm might present itself, which may lead to stray bullets. Needless to say, whether my fear is rational or not, there really isn’t any good reason to stand around watching drunk men assault each other. Did I mention there were small children around? So apparently a whole slew of parents were trying to decide between Disneyland and Vegas for their family trip and they went for Vegas. Like a lot. It was at this moment when I checked my Life360 app. My dad had requested that I use this app to be able to check in and track my trip and safety along the journey, but the app has several features that both should and shouldn’t be used. In the midst of this sinfully aggressive and child-filled street, I checked the app which showed the surrounding registered sex offenders, crime alerts, and fires in the area. Useful yes, but once you see how many registered sex offenders with FULL PROFILES AND PICTURES there are, you began to worry that everyone around you is a chi-mo. This isn’t even funny. It was really not funny because of all of the parents who decided to bring their young children to Vegas as a vacation, the parents who had liquor towers in one hand and a child in the other.  Sure, I may be a little conservative about this whole Vegas ordeal, but I’m okay with that. Perhaps I’m just past the point in my life where it seems appealing to spend $50 on a liquor tower, only to stumble around between the sex offenders and pre-traumatized children…but that’s just me.

So we cabbed our way to Caesar’s Palace for dinner, never to speak of Fremont St. again (not really). Dinner was fabulous. We made our way to the 1 cent slot machines and in total gambled $20. The earnings documented below were quickly lost. I figured that was a pretty good limit, and that allowed for enough time to have one complementary martini. We were high class slot jockeys. I couldn’t help but continue to quote one of the most notable Simpsons episodes ever, $pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) from Season 5.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGc3ZEBmzEQ]

I’m glad that we went through Vegas. One of those things one does for the experience. I can say with confidence however, that it really is the most debaucherous city I’ve visited.

It is safe to assume I will plan for Disneyland when it comes time for family vacations.

“Y’all can go to hell, I’m going to Texas!” -Davy Crockett

It begins.

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Busy Falling in Love & Moving to Texas: Part Deux

It’s been a whirlwind romance. It’s been a whirlwind several years. I won’t re-cap in great detail—you can read back through the posts if you’re very curious—but I will say that the last few years (and more recent months) have been filled with self-reflection, radical acceptance, and courage.

As I have been preparing to drive halfway across the country with two cats and my best friend—for a boy I’ve fallen head over heels in love with—I’ve done a lot of reflecting on how I have come to be in this position. I fully intend to document the adventure that will begin this Saturday November 16th as Babette and I head south, but for now I’d like to highlight just a few of the life lessons that I have learned within the last 5 years.

(In no particular order of importance)

  1. There is no good reason to have a credit card. I’m sorry but there isn’t. There is REALLY no reason to EVER have a joint credit card. Save your money. Pay cash. If you can’t, you probably shouldn’t buy it.
  2. According to society, it is a risk factor for a single woman to own more than one cat. It could be argued that there is a risk in owning any cats as a single woman, but clearly there is some degree of exponential (read convex) growth in terms of the number of cats owned and likelihood of entering cat ladydom.
  3. There are clear blue jobs and clear pink jobs. Sometimes there can be purple jobs, but only if partners are equally skilled, competent, and have agreed that both working at the same purple job will complete it faster. When women and men start mixing up jobs, things get confusing and people get their egos bruised. Best to clarify from the start which jobs are what color.
  4. The risks associated with alcohol consumption more frequently outweigh the benefits. Also, alcohol should never be included on a person’s “self-care plan.”
  5. Having a “5-year plan” is silly. There is no way to predict what turn of events will or will not take place. Please see previous post Series of Unfortunate Events. Best bet is to take all steps possible to be prepared for what might happen i.e. used gained wisdom from self-reflection, radical acceptance, and courage to be content with life and find purpose in daily living. Happiness will be the side-effect. The only plan one should make is to be debt free.
  6. Moving frequently encourages minimal possessions. Minimal possessions decreases risks of entering a life of hoarding….Does frequent moving and minimal possessions therefore increase the risks of becoming a nomad? Is that bad? That seems like a bell curve of some sorts…
  7. You can’t mail liquor boxes (unless fully wrapped covering all labeling) despite their amazing qualities as a sturdy shipping box.
  8. The cheapest way to move to another state is via the United States Postal Service and Wal-Mart. Boxes are about 69 cents each at Wal-Mart and if it doesn’t rattle, it ships media rate…. Just be sure to get delivery confirmation. Those pods, trucks, and everything else costs several thousands of dollars.
  9. It is important to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. Go on random dates, go on blind dates even, interview for jobs so that you can practice presenting yourself in a professional manner, say yes to the invitation to go out even though you would rather just veg at home.
  10. Be hopeful. Be thankful. Be open. Be wise. Be silly.

One random evening…

Sand Island: Swept Away By Summer Love

This past week I took my summer vacation. It was absolutely wonderful. It started off by spending some quality time down on the Willamette River by myself on the boat, and with a friend out on the river. There is no way I have time to detail all of the adventures that ensued that weekend, but basically it consisted of sleeping on the family boat–a Tolman Skiff, cruising the Willamette with a good friend, being boarded by the Coast Guard (yes I’m aware of how that sounds), seeing some horses running and swimming on Sauvie Island, enjoying Jimmy Johns on the deck of the boat, swimming off Kelly Point, and alas spending hours talking to a boy. A southern boy–a Texan more specifically. More on that small (read huge) detail later.

My brother and his wife flew in from NYC eventually and we crammed in some Portland musts including dinner with grandpa, a trip to Powell’s Books, and of course, our family breakfast at Bertie Lou’s Cafe in Sellwood. Breakfast filled with eggs, home fries, bacon, and of course biscuits and gravy marked the beginning of our annual voyage to Sand Island. I’ll probably be harassed if not killed by my family and our extended non-related relatives for divulging the existence of said island, but the fact is, there is no place quite like it, and it must be celebrated.

Looking south on Sand Island State Marine Park

Sand Island is located on the Columbia River right across from the small town of St. Helens, Oregon. One of the state’s beautiful marine parks, it was created to serve as a sand bar to protect the riverfront town from the wake of passing freighters. Over the years, tall cottonwood trees and an unknown number of wild animals such as racoons and deer have made this small oasis home. The Columbia River surrounding the island (as we refer to it) gives the much needed sanctuary from the hot summer sun, and has provided years of memories filled with swimming, sailing, and amazing river sunsets. My family has gone camping on the island every year of my life. We spend 51 weeks waiting to be reunited with its beauty–with daydreams of the sand between our to toes, and the cool evening breeze rocking the hammock as we gaze at the stars. Surely there could be no better place in the great northwest to spend one’s summer.

Looking north on Sand Island State Marine Park

Growing up, our family would camp anywhere from a weekend to several weeks on the island. No electricity, no running water, and no plumbing. Our non-relative relatives also camped with us. They had 5 kids. One couldn’t possibly fathom the amount of stuff they would cart across the river, then again, there were 5 kids. The oldest sibling was a boy my brother’s age, to this day they are still best friends. The second of the five was a girl–my best friend and kindred spirit–Babette.

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The final three siblings were all boys, so I really lucked out with Babette. The 7 of us were wild on the island. Swimsuits were the only clothing item worn from dawn to dusk. It was common to not even bring shoes to the island. Most days, the 7 of us could be found down at the beach creating the most elaborate mud pit you’ve ever seen. After all, it needed to fit all of us.

From left to right: Michael, Babette, Stephen, Sammy, Jeremiah, Me, Christopher

Luckily our parents documented these events. It would take hours of swimming and pretending to be mermaids (for Babette and I at least) to wash the evidence of earlier mud fights away. Our parents would force us to bathe in the river, which as we became older, was quite the tradition. My mother always said that there was “nothing sexier than a woman keeping up her appearance while camping.” So Babette and I would (and still do) suds up in our suits and wash our hair as the sun set over the hills.

Several summers, we made treasure maps and wrote notes claiming the island as our own, and sealed them in empty bottles. After adding several layers of duct tape, we would fasten a rope to the bottle and then swim it out to the old wooden pilings off the north end of the island.

The north end of Sand Island, standing on top of the dunes

Once used in the logging industry, lthe decaying logs now jet out of the water like totem poles. Hoisting each other up onto the wooden crossbeam, we would tie the rope off and hide the bottle inside of the metal cables binding the logs. The bottle never did make it until the following summer as we had hoped, but we all liked to imagine that some other kids found it and followed our treasure map to nothing–our punishment to them for thinking it was acceptable for them to spend time on our island. Who did they think they were anyway?!

When night fell more adventures ensued. Capture the flag would span across the entire island, with our little shadows darting around trees and the sand dunes, scaring each other and then shrieking with shear terror/joy. Our dad’s would tell ghost stories around the campfire about graveyard rats, and about “Herman,” the scary man who lived below the glorified outhouse. Strange as it sounds (because how on earth did he live under the outhouse?) we believed that one for years.

When Babette and I had enough with the boys, and were tired of waiting for our turn with the BB guns, we would spend hours painting rocks and driftwood, trying our best to capture the beauty of the island.

Nighttime on the river, circa 1998

This past week we sat together at the picnic table once again, listening to music, drinking iced coffee from the cooler, arguing and laughing over whose depiction was better. We laughed about how we used to argue about who’s tent was cozier, and whether or not straight hair was better than curly. These are the moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I look forward to many more summers to come on Sand Island. Laughing, swimming, and being with the closest of friends and family.

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Below are some more photos of the journey to the island.

Docked at the Willamette Sailing Club

Behind Ross Island, stopping for a dip and some relaxing in the sun

It really is a must to by smutty celebrity magazines while on vacation…

Lusting after the floating homes near Sellwood

On our way to the island, under all the Portland bridges, including the St. John’s Bridge

Close to the island at last!!!!
Warrior Rock Light, Sauvie Island, Oregon

Sand Island. In all of its glory

Sunrise on the island

Sleeping on the hammock might be the best part

It’s an island, so we obviously have to be well prepared…

And by being prepared I obviously mean being well-stocked with coffee options

Painting driftwood

Sailing at sunset

Kelly Green

Was it really 6 years ago that Babette and I were in Galway, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day?

It was absurdly frigid that day. I recall wearing two pairs of wool socks, jeans, two wool sweaters (one purchased from some old lady in Dublin and one I had purchased in the states from the Goodwill Bins–a Goodwill store that sells clothes and items by the pound,which is something that most certainly should be discussed or at least highlighted–but I digress), an overpriced North Face jacket, a pashmina, and still I remember being chilled to the bone. Babs and I had taken a terrible bus from Dublin the night before. Upon awaking in this small town, first order of business of course, coffee.

Neither of us wanted to admit that it was too cold to be walking around. Anyone who knows the relationship between Babette and myself will attest that NEITHER of us was going to admit anything. Alas, we spent the majority of the morning drinking espresso and walking through the town, watching the real Irish prepare for the festivities. A parade, singing, dancing, and of course drinking lots and lots of Guinness.  By the time that it was socially acceptable to begin partaking in said libations, it was about 2pm. Despite the -20 weather, there were scads of people out and about, most wearing wool of some sort. Through the afternoon and into the night, people floated from bar to bar, singing (to be read as shouting) traditional drinking songs which supported more drinking, and giving kisses because everyone is Irish on March 17th.

It was amazing. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with anyone else. Babette, it’s time to plan our next adventure across seas.

Cheers. xoxo