Thursday, 15 February 2018

Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. People love or hate or love to hate Valentine's Day. I've never been big on the holiday myself, but we had fun yesterday being ourselves and giving/getting gifts that fit us a little too well.

One day, Anne was watching me dispense my daily vitamins from a wee hardware container that I use because I can dose out 18 days and with the way we travel, it's important to have everything as organized and prepared as possible. I have the container rigged with a piece of paperboard to hold back the other 17 days. Anne joked, "There should be a dispenser that just drops the appropriate daily pills on demand." With this image, we both pondered for just a moment and realized something like this DOES exist! Anne quickly got online and found that while they are usually sold commercially, individuals can order them. We chose a size, color, and the type that would spit out the correct sized pods.

I was so excited I could hardly wait, but with this ingenious gift on its way, I had to come up with something that would cheer her in the same silly way, or at least, I had to try. I am crafty. Crafty silliness is one of my specialties. Just so happens that Anne likes Heath Bars. I decided I would make her a bouquet of Heath Bar roses. But I had to go to town to fetch them... Heath Bars don't just grow on trees. Wouldn't that be nice?

Anne's order arrived, or part of it did and it was magnificent! I couldn't wait for the second part... oh, the suspense!

Such a cold drizzly day, Stoli and Macy held down the couch all day. Can't you see the LOVE?!
I secretly bought a bag of Heath Bars, and on one of our drizzly cold days here at home, I set up craft-time in the container and went to work creating my masterpiece of roses and to decorate my new vitamin dispenser. I had never made roses out of tissue paper, skewers, and Heath Bars. It took some imagination, some styrofoam, and green ribbon. In a couple of hours, I had a dozen roses in a coffee can vase. Sounds pretty second grade level, doesn't it? Who can argue against the fact that ten year olds are often more sincere than adults? I stand by my sincerely made and silly crafty gift.

A dozen "roses" for my Anne.
Anne's face lit up with surprise when I presented my gift. She is impressed and/or amused by my craftiness which is an alien skill to her, or so she says.

Finally, part 2 of the vitamin dispenser showed up! I decorated it, and we tested its workings and it's AMAZING! Every morning I pay 50 cents to receive my batch of vitamins. It makes every morning fun, and that's exactly how life should be.
The ultimate vitamin dispenser keeping me healthy and strong.
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! Love those around you in the best way you know how... crafty, humor, seriousness... Whatever your style, love love love!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Seals and Pelicans...No Dead Horses or Bears

* THANK YOU to all of our supporters on this trip!!  I am blown away by our readership, Facebook and Instagram support for our blog and travels.  We have even gotten fan mail!!  I told Abby that I have a new person to write an email almost every day!*

Well, let me just start off by saying, I am still recovering from our journey.  As mentioned, I came home a little under the weather, but it wasn’t long before it was business as usual on the ranch.  There is ALWAYS work to be doing...a project in place, or two...three, is not unheard of.  Abby had to recoup pretty quickly as she was expected in Houston for a couple of days opening the window for me to get back to my pond clearing project.  Around here, you treat any nice day like spring cleaning, because spring will come fast and the objective is to stay one step ahead at all times.  A little daunting!!  Besides, we have more trips on the horizon and that will mean nature gets the upper hand and will try to use it for her advantage.  We usually get along with nature, but this will be my first “official” spring season here and while everything is perfect right now, soon will come the Texas bugs and their nuances and then the animals with their, so far, idle threats.  Amazingly, I look forward to every second of it.

But for now… A recap of our trip to bring some closure for me.  Here is how it goes:
So far.....

On this trip to California and back, I got to....

Abby's salmon with bagel
...Visit Georgetown on the way out and see some people and have an impromptu beer and share a slice of pizza with Abby at 600 degrees and another meal of yummy fajita nachos shared at Dos Salsas because the weather was so freaking cold before we left, that the Eggcellence became a somewhat bunker when we were not working or feeding elsewhere.  I got to visit briefly with my father and catch up on the way to west Texas.  Then I got to hike some of the west Texas hills, go star gazing at an observatory, eat a hamburger at a soda counter in Ft. Davis, have delicious beer in Alpine, an amazing bar dinner in Marfa and in between delight in Abby’s amazing bagel, salmon and cream cheese breakfasts’, egg drop soup and many other concoctions designed from what we picked up at the store for our fridge in west Texas.
Patagonia Lake

Then I got to go to Patagonia Lake where I had not been since college, do some bird watching, visit the small town where we snacked at an old saloon, ate ice cream in a local shop, scale a tall bridge at the park (not really), see where many of the fruits and vegetables come into the United States via MEXICO (amazingly, no wall required) and California, visit U of Az., as well as have lunch with my beloved uncle, have a beer at the pub I fell in love with Abby that night a year ago, grill some delightful foods picked up at a local market and watched the Arizona sun set and rise.  Incredibly, I got to ride shotgun, sans actual shotgun, to California and look at the sand dunes (I want a dune buggy for my birthday please for anyone noting), see San Diego seemingly grow out of the mountains, cross myself in gratitude that I was not driving on more than one occasion, try several San Diego breweries for their wares, get a private tour of the surrounding areas (be a Californian for a day), see and smell seals and pelicans on the beach, look over cliffs at surfers in 10+ foot waves....
Abby walking on the beach

....visit with my cousin and have her and her husband’s well prepared food as well as dine out with them for some memorable experiences, watch the Eggcellence NOT roll down a San Diego street while moored, do some writing and keep up with clients via email in a Starbucks every morning a block away, meet a sweet dog named Wilma, eat fish n' chips ON the beach...
Mmmmm n' chips
...leave San Diego at 5am and watch the sun come up on the way back to Arizona, this time the northern route.  Back in Arizona I got to know a new town, have super good tacos, do a bit more hiking, drink some “stately” local brews, drive to neighboring towns like Sedona and Jerome, have the best breakfast in a beautiful, calm environment, take a luxurious train ride, grill some more good foods and sit outside and eat by the fire before running out of wood or it becoming too cold while watching another Arizona sun set.  I got to thank the universe for not sliding us over the mountain pass and into the abyss of tall pines while leaving northern Arizona in a snowstorm...much fun had there...and watch my dog pee in the snow and then learn that snow is water within a few minutes of putting it in her bowl in the truck (no, not the pee snow, but rather fresh snow).  I got to visit with Abby’s more than gracious parents, see their newest projects, EAT and plan new adventures, about which you will find out soon enough!

NOW, on this is only fair to say what I did NOT get to do, because those things are going back on the to-do list.

On this trip to California and back I did not get to....

....See several people I wanted to in Georgetown, visit Rentsch brewery, go to the library, spend a little more time with my father in the hill country, visit all of the breweries in west Texas, sit inside the Holland House Hotel in Alpine (one of my favorites), go to Big Bend (totally separate trip!), go to Juarez and eat questionable tacos, set the parrots free in Mesilla at that restaurant I can’t think of right now...oh yeah, La Posta, finally see ‘the Thing’ on the way through AZ, zip over to Tombstone and play old west, fish Patagonia lake, see my uncle for a little bit longer, hang out on Mt. Lemmon, hike a few extra trails in southern Arizona, camp the north rim of the Grand Canyon (again, a totally separate trip with a nod to Robert P.) or visit with a friend Melisa B. whilst in the great cactus state.  Nor did I drive in California (oops, that isn’t on the next list), hmmm...not much I didn’t get to do in California, oh...go to Baja and beyond, hit a ton more breweries there (wineries reserved for the northern trip), surf the killer waves dude, spend more time at the SD parks, stay longer and drive my cousin more crazy.  I did not get to dune buggy the OTHER sand dunes leaving the northern route (even mo’ bettah), hike Sedona,
Good news...NOT a dead horse!
see any ghosts or spend the night in Jerome in the attempt, visit even more breweries, bring home a little more surplus from THAT brewery in Cottonwood, fish the lagoons at Dead Horse State Park, see a dead horse (okay, also not on the next list), kayak the only river in that part of Arizona, feel better or stay and help Abby’s parents with their fun projects, or see ANY bears on this trip AT ALL.
Does this need a caption?

So, in a nutshell...this trip was exploratory as in to say, we will be incorporating specific and private trips into the next years of travel, but I am already learning that while PACKED full of constant doing, there is not enough time to do the big stuff on this year’s tripping, but we can now easily gauge what is involved for return visits to some of the areas, otherwise not explored and dubious.

So, THANKS again, to all of the sponsorship we received on this, our first venture out, as well as all of the input, kudos, thumbs up, emails, and support and interest.  It is received with MUCH gratitude!!     

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Home Sweet Home

We are all home. Anne, Macy and I made it home last week, and we went to Austin yesterday to run errands and bring Stoli home. All four of us in our home stayed warm and cozy last night. Even though Stoli was way too excited about being home to sleep, the rest of us managed a few winks between meows and fifty pound cat paws stepping on one of us to get to the other. He is usually a very good night time cat, but it takes a night or two to adjust every time he comes home from his Auntie Pat's house.

It is incredibly difficult to narrow down what I want to tell you about the trip. Anne mentioned a couple of towns that were quite inviting with good cafes, libraries, and generally good community feel. I am always looking for my true home. I don't mind being a homeless-on-the-road traveler. I've done that in the past and in some ways, I enjoyed that life better than having a home. There was never an obligation or draw back to the home, only to the next gig or town or adventure. With a home, one does at some point need to return if for no other reason than to make sure it hasn't burned down! Luckily, our return was mostly uneventful. There was a multi-day freeze while we were gone which is very unusual for south Texas. I had prepared for this as much as I could, but, alas, the outdoor-shower water heater (designed for outdoor use) must be even more fragile than I thought. Its internal water tubes burst in the freeze even though I had released and bled the water before we left... there must have been just enough. Oh well, could have been much much worse!

We learned a few things about the way we like to travel. We planned three nights for Patagonia Lake State Park in southern AZ which means two full days. That was too short. We decided that three days (four nights) needs to be our minimum. Even if it turns out there is nothing to do, nothing is something. We could use a day or two of staring at nothing but birds and clouds. From this discovery in southern AZ, we decided to extend our northern AZ stop to our new standard. Northern AZ in January can be hit or miss, but this year, there were warmer than normal temperatures and everyone was enjoying the sunshine everywhere we went. We watched the weather, and by the time we arrived at Dead Horse State Park, the weather for our final day was looking colder and rainy with 20's overnight. Frozen rain on the roads is not how I wanted to drive to NM, so we seriously debated. We decided to hope for the best and go on the Verde Canyon Railroad on that rainy day and if it meant leaving late on our departure day to wait for temperatures to rise, so be it.
Turned out to be a gorgeous day for a train ride!
Leaving the railroad station, it was cloudy, misty and a bit chilly. As we traveled into the canyon sipping our wine, the sky cleared and the scenes were clear and gorgeous. There are outdoor cars for seeing up the canyon walls. I feared these would be too windy and cold, but with a coat, we were fine for short looks at the amazing scenery.
Anne looking for cool stuff. Our bartender behind her is hoping for bald eagles which we got to see near the end.
We went to bed after packing up most of the camp satisfied with our gamble. It had not rained much and the roads would be fine even with a really serious freeze.

We had chosen a road that was not the interstate, but a highway that seemed dotted with towns and major enough to not be called a "backroad." We left our camp at 5:55AM. We are early risers for travel... and insomniacs many nights. Up and over our side of the mountain and down the road we had chosen. What should await us 10 miles down the road? Signs that seemed to have tar on them. A few signs later, we realized that the reflection from our headlights onto these signs was being obscured and blackened like tar BY SNOW. We had a winding descent that I took carefully and steadily.
Anne took this while I drove.
This snow became ice in places. The snow and ice would clear up only to begin again around the next mountain. We had very easy spots and very slow-going spots. The whole trip for the day was supposed to be about 8 hours. At 8 hours, we rolled into Pie Town, NM. The wind was blowing so hard that it was unclear if there was new snow or if that was ice, or what was going on. We thought this might be the end of our day.
Here is Anne looking down the side of the mountain. She might have been praying or cursing... not sure.
We coasted into the parking lot of Pie-o-neer. We hoped there might be some internet so we could take a look at the weather. We carefully made our way to the front door. Locked. How about the other front door? Locked...  but wait! I could see someone walking toward the door. She opened the door and began to tell us, "I'm sorry we're closed...." and then she seemed to take pity and invited us in. Grateful doesn't begin to describe how that felt. Very soon behind us arrived another couple. We began talking and found that they had come from the opposite direction. This meant we could swap weather reports. In good weather, it appeared we had another 3 hours and 15 minutes to our hopeful destination. The Angel of the Pie-o-neer made us all coffee and sold us some pie (which we later ate and it was delicious! NM apple pie with green chilis.) The other couple claimed we would be just fine with the rest of our drive, and so, we drove on, and it cleared up completely within about 5 miles!

We made it to my parents' home and made a full recovery... and washed the poor snow-filthy truck.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Proceed with Caution, but Proceed.

sometimes you have to get near the edge to move forward
I never think about moving but….

On this trip, I have more than once placed myself in the current environment and imagined the possibility of being a part time resident.  By part time, I mean more than three or four days.  In the past two weeks, I have done this with two specific places, which could not be more polarized and opposite in every respect.   Except for the one fact; that I could not afford real estate in either.

Part of traveling is noticing the outside world and how it differs from my own world.  Interestingly, my world is perfect and lovely and not complex.  These are the traits that help me consider only “part time” residential upheaval.  I miss home on this trip.  I miss the morning stretch that leads to coffee, that inevitably leads to the to-do list that leads to blood and sweat of those projects and the introspection during, as well as the sense of accomplishment after.  I even miss the limited choice of dining experience.  Mexican or Italian?  So far it has only been Mexican...damn margheritas.  This trip on the other hand, has been nothing less than FOOD and drink.

Anyway.  The contrast of home life and travelling that so far has found interesting places changed or ones that I have not before been, inspiring, is more cultural.  I think this is what happens to “adults”.  Once we discover a personality and calibrate our moral compass and put the final touches on values, we match our living situation to suite.  I realize, not everyone has this option, but I argue that to a certain degree, never having been a fan of the syndrome that has folks sitting around in their own muck saying, “I wish” or “if only”.  But I can remember many times before, travelling and just sort of being a tourist about everything.  A temporary person in a temporary place.  This time, everything seems like an opportunity, a judgement for compatibility.

 I note the environment, the smells, the light, the flora, the water, sounds, people, their attitudes, do they look happy, content, curious, ambitious.  I read many years ago and have since seen copycats in print and in concept about the ‘Happiest Places in the World’.  It mostly, of course, is about the people being happy, not the actual place. The happiest places consistently seem to be where the people have nothing at all except their gratitude.  Some take a lifetime to develop gratitude, some have it handed to them at birth.  The rest of us just grow up accordingly, adding a little more each day as life instructs organically.  Finding small unique opportunities in small places, apparently appeals to me.

Because you might be getting annoyed if you have read this far… Patagonia, Arizona.  We spent an unfortunately limited amount of time here camping the Eggcellence in a spot closest to a necessary hot shower at Patagonia State Park.  For one very short day we wandered into town which is very small.  Not important.  What is important is what has been done with that small space in the attitudes of the people we met.  As if the book boxes practically on every corner don’t say enough about the small community, there was a tiny market with a grand selection of farmers market wares, greater than I had seen outside of Austin.  We got a small bag of greens and some brussel sprouts to go with dinner that night along with a goat cheese.  A small coffee shop where we had an ice cream cone but others were delving into delightful looking sandwiches and soups, was a must stop.  The town even comes complete with a saloon, original in it’s design.  Seriously, not one thing has changed since it opened.  Not one molecule of dust on the faces of long dead animal corpses staring down from the rafters, has been given a second thought.  But, the beer was cold and the bartender was friendly and the cheese crisp with green chilis was hot and a reminder about easy snacks.  I felt like a local, stealing glances at the dude ranch patrons there for a lunchtime field trip from their trail ride.  Then I realized that the locals don’t care and stopped paying attention myself.  No, there wasn’t much to this little town, but there was enough to imagine owning a small bit of space there to visit often.  There is even a pretty neat little motel there I wouldn’t be ashamed to put up a visiting family member or friend.   Before we even left town that day, I already wanted to come back a few weeks later to an advertised dinner theater and several upcoming events at the quite lovely Opera House.
sculpture outside Patagonia Opera House

I am skipping the San Diego connection because what can I say...where would I even start?  Besides, I think Abby covered some highlights and the most important thing in my opinion, having a host that is able to streamline you to the best destinations is a Godsend.  I wanted two things on this trip, some good ice cream which led to delicious gelato at a place called Bobboi in La Jolla.  I also asked for some good Ramen.  Done.  I was told that I can say I had some of the best Ramen in San Diego, not far from the house at a place called Tajima.  Delish.  Imagining being in the giant surf of the Pacific Ocean was another highlight.  Remembering that many things are not that far removed as we make them out to be in our busy lives. 

Fast forward back to Arizona, this time the northern route for my second favorite townish spot I wouldn’t mind finding a small place to call home a few months a year.  Cottonwood, Arizona.  It lives just below Clarksdale and Jerome, the old mining towns and south from Sedona.  It is a neat little town with a little bit more of a leg up than the previous mentioned, Patagonia.  It is home to some tasting rooms, good restaurants, pleasant people that seem to like being there.  It is not pretentious or assuming.  It doesn’t feel touristy so much as some of the other parts of northern Arizona.  What it does not have, is a farmers market.  A disappointment, but I see it coming down the pike someday soon.  Even the bartender at a lovely place called Crema in old town Cottonwood seemed disappointed with that aspect of the town.  Meanwhile, Jacob was responsible for delivering us the best pre-train breakfast of eggs benedict with avocado and chorizo along with an amazing breakfast cocktail for each of us.  If ever in Cottonwood, I highly recommend for it’s food, staff and ambience.
having breakfast at the bar at Crema before our train ride

While I am on the subject, the tacos at Adriana’s Mexican Food restaurant are also a great find.  My favorite was the carnitas.  Still craving that taco again.  The restaurant is owned and operated by a husband, wife and young son who do an amazing job.  The town of Cottonwood is also home to a brewery called THAT Brewery.  Let’s just say, I brought home beer.   If you want a little more variety, there is a place in Old town called the State Bar, where you can taste beer and wine hand picked from around the state, as well as a Saki made from a local source and reported to be very good.  I did not try it, but I would not doubt the claim. 

I will end this here because I don’t know how to put closure to what seems like a never ending adventure!  A little bit of down time and regrouping at Abby’s parents house is a good way to wind down an exhaustive trip.  The first trip!!  We'll keep looking back for a short while as we recap this trip I am sure!!
leaving Arizona in the driving wind and snow

Thursday, 18 January 2018

One post per week???

Just one post per week sounds like a really amazing idea so that we aren't overly pressured to come up with stuff to say, but now that we are on the road, there is so much to tell you that it is sincerely difficult to decide what to say and what to leave out for now... because of course, all those left-out pieces will be reassembled for the book later!

We've been in San Diego since Anne last updated you. The highlight? FOOD. The food and beer have been amazing in this city. I've always considered Austin and Houston to be pretty good on their food and beverage options, but here, it seems even more prominent and everyone takes advantage. Places where food was plentiful, people scurried like ants everywhere to snatch up the last available parking spot... which leads me to the biggest difficulty of the city.

The biggest disappointment in San Diego is the lack of public transportation. The parking situation was INSANE. Everywhere we went. Luckily, for two days, we had Mariah to drive us around. Her patience and understanding of the city gave us the opportunity to see much more than we would have on our own. We would have had to give up in frustration circling and dodging other drivers.

The Farmer's Market in Hillcrest with a Mango Chili Limeade - heaven!
Back to food. The farmer's markets are not just for take home foods, but rows of delicious EAT-US-NOW foods. I don't think there was a single booth I would have skipped, but I'd need an entire year of Sundays to try them all. Miss the Farmer's Market? Not to worry! There is Liberty Station where you will be overwhelmed by the smells and variety of top quality deliciousness. I live for this sort of thing. If we ever decide on a new place to live, one of my requirements is a variety of delicious food within walking distance from our home. Usually, that makes a place expensive, but I'm willing to dream and look for as long as it takes.

I am patiently waiting with our roasted lunch at Liberty Public Market for Anne to return with our beers.
We visited both Stone Brewery and Ballast Point, both of which are becoming big on the scene of beers and now available in stores across the country. At their breweries, there are specialty or small batch brews and brews that don't make it to the mass market. These are the beers we take advantage of. Stone has a widely available beer called Xocovesa which is a stout that married a Mexican hot cocoa. It is delicious and becoming more and more widely available... so I skipped drinking it here at the brewery. Instead, I had Unicorn Milk which is a stout getting serious with a Chai Latte. It was quite tasty.  Ballast Point has a wider variety available in stores, but I still managed to have a tasting of three of their Victory at Sea series. These are serious beers, but in small tasters, perfect.

Stone Brewery is a gorgeous, elegant place with excellent beer.

Ballast Point is in busy Little Italy. We people watched while we tasted tasty beers.
We are now in Arizona at another state park and we have already visited a local brewery and locally owned Mexican food restaurant with, honestly, some of the best food and definitely most delightful service I have ever known. I'll save the details on this for now just in case a crazy stalker is reading this. I'll leave you with one last photo from The Shore Club where we enjoyed the view and said good-bye to San Diego.

Shore Club view on a beautiful day.
Hope you're staying warm wherever you are...  seems that our home in Texas has been in a serious state of deep freeze. Glad we left when we did! Ha :-)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Changing Progress..

There was a time not that long ago, that I would get up in the middle of the night and rant to my heart’s content and make all of the taxing, brain sucking, demands go away.  No, this was not in an LSD rage, it was online to my writing partner.  I would write, sometimes starting with a thoughtful sentence.  Type it, consider it, check it for grammar and spelling.  The next sentence would come more easily and then another on top of that ferociously until an entire paragraph went by and before I knew it, the chaos in my words began making sense.

Now, years later,  I am married to that writing partner.  The writing has changed from free flow thought and midnight rants, to assignments with deadlines and purpose and platforms and frames and outlines.  Or, has it.  No one has placed those parameters, but me.  I say that with impunity as I sit here on the floor of the Eggcellence, sharing the front space of Macy’s condo with her.  She is in no way disturbed, breathing heavily just this side of a full on snore.  She is comforted, I think having me down here sharing her space, while she slumbers on the fantastically comfortable pillow that Abby has made for her.  It is her pink and grey fluffy super dog pillow and matches perfectly one of her sweaters Abby has also made.  In the right setting, you can not tell where the pillow ends and the dog begins.  Camouflage dog.

This morning, we are in west Texas having finally made our departure from home.  It wasn’t a direct shot.  We got here via a few freezing phalanges days, in Georgetown.  Leaving home was a catapult into an easy drive we have made too many times...that leading to what seemed a bit like going to work, rather than hitting the road.  The work was brief however, and as usual, Abby and I made the best of the cold weather, the errands and various things that needed to be accomplished by sprinkling in a little fun with a meal here and a beer there in between our simple meat and cheese charcuterie at camp, nestled within nights of mostly restful sleep.

This night’s slumber, clearly less restful for me.  I have already gotten up and taken a midnight stroll to the bathroom here at the Davis Mountains State Park.  It was such an invigorating walk, I came back to the camper and despite the most comfortable bed on the planet and my body appreciating every square inch, but my mind had gotten the spark that comes with gazing at more stars in the sky, than the treasury debt of the United States government.  And now I am up.

Through broken reading glasses, not sure how that happened today (but thank you Kim W. for the 3 for 1 gift - can’t wait to look for the other pairs in the morning) and sipping an unidentified beer in the dark, I stare at this computer screen in disbelief and oncoming disillusionment.  It goes something like this: Who do I think I am, to be so content?  How did this happen?  The shame and guilt which has underlined most of the themes previously modeling my life are suddenly uprooted and exposed for inspection as these things are put under the microscope.  Meanwhile, in the present moment, I am afraid that one wrong keystroke in the dark will undo all that I have written here in the last few moments and who will know or care?  That also happens to be the endgame for the previous thought.

I am 49 years old.  If I am lucky, I have another half of my life to live and as Abby and I sat across from my father at his house today on the way here, I can’t help but feel like I have a pretty good shot at that.  He is 83 and as animated on a chilly January day with his little dog as I have ever known him to be.  More so than even that, in fact.  What is his secret?  Frankly, I believe, he doesn’t feel guilt or shame.  He is independent as if afloat on an island, in the middle of a vast desert, in his own country on a continent of another planet, when it comes to these sort of anchors that weigh many humans.  One might think that cold or indecent, as I have off and on for years.  Truthfully it could be considered a mental affliction by many practitioners that believe they know right from wrong.  But in truth, the heathen that he is, has mastered the art unbeknownst to him or perhaps, he is totally aware, but not in the universal God like way,  that not in control.  And he doesn't’ really care.  He might just be the smartest man I know.  He couldn’t teach me my math homework, but he is welcome to teach me this.

Update:  This week has been wonderful.  Since we last spoke, Abby and I have gotten in at least two good hikes here at Mount Davis State Park, and a “Star Party” at the McDonald Observatory.  After a morning of climbing Saturday morning, we took it a little bit easier Sunday, with lackadaisical breakfast and coffee, then a different sort of hike where Macy impressed upon us both, her ability to do just about anything with us.  After, we took showers and headed to the triangle shaped small road trip of Ft. Davis, Alpine and Marfa.  Highlights here included a chipotle burger, split at the General store in Ft. Davis.  My half I enjoyed with an IBC root beer, Abby had a cream soda and we also splits some onion rings she ordered “extra crunchy”.  After giving Macy her bite of onion ring it was off to Alpine where we abandoned all other sightseeing for a game of Scrabble (Abby wouldn’t let me keep score, but I am quite certain that I won) at the Big Bend Brewing Company.  I recommend this brewery, the beer you see in the store as the Tejas brand and if you are lucky also under the Big Bend label.  I enjoyed a couple of the La Frontera beer.  Abby, a couple of the Dark Sky porter.  Unfortunately, they could not sell us beer from this brewery, or I would definitely have made a purchase.  Then it was on to Marfa, where we would not succumb to the “legend of the infamous lights” but rather sought out a recommended biergarten.  Closed for the season.  Ugh, this was not posted on the sight, but rather, Open Now.  So it was back to the Hotel St. George that we saw coming into town.  Who could help it, looks like a giant white hospital.  I always note hospitals when entering a new town.  We sat at the lovely bar and imbibed on good drink and notable fare.  I had a house margherita, followed by a Tejas Clara while sharing Texas Wagyu Beef Tartare and a Short Rib Mac and Cheese with Abby.  As a sacrilege to the Tartare Gods, we sort of shared bites back and forth when the little loaf of bread ran out.  Amazingly, it worked.

Today, we sit in the library in Fort Davis to “work”.  Never a dull moment.  Many more notable things will happen between now and Thursday, but only so much time to borrow from readers…but looking forward to a drive to Arizona and a somewhat impromptu lunch with Abby’s parents on the way.  I am certain Abby will get you caught up on her highlights next week!!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Hold onto your hats!

No really! The wind is blowing like crazy and no matter how tightly you think that hat is tied, it's going to blow right off if you let go. The journey has begun, and those previous statements are basically the weather here in Georgetown. Also, it's freezing, as in not-just-Texas level freezing, but actual sub-32 degrees Fahrenheit freezing.

When we made these plans to travel in January, we knew the weather would be a wild card. It could be worse. At least the sun is shining, and it's stayed dry. Here at Cedar Breaks, they turned off the water to campsites during the freezing over nights, but the showers still run hot!
I sneak a photo while Anne chats with friends.
The biggest news is pretty much out there now, but as far as the blog goes, we have only hinted. We got married on December 23, less than two weeks ago. We were together with three other people in the warm loving home of a dear family friend as we said what we wanted to say and pledged to love each other, and put up with each other, and encourage each other to shine in our own individual brightest ways possible.
Wedding cake!
We ate a wonderful boeuf bourguignon, a delightful bundt rum cake with dark chocolate ganash, shared some toasts, and in the end, our officiant declared us married. It was simple, full of sincerity, included food and drink, and filled with laughter...  a perfect representation of exactly how we like to live. We may have a gathering, reception, barbeque, party at the property in the spring. We'll let you know :-)
Beach walk with dog.
Beautiful day for walking on the beach!
Time flies when you're having fun. Back to the present. While in Georgetown, we are running a million errands while we are still basically in home-turf territory. We've stopped in to grab a margarita or beer at a couple of our favorite stops, Dos Salsas, 600 Degrees, and Whole Foods where you can choose one of fifty taps and the grocery shop for overpriced groceries! I really think this grocery store is about as brilliant as it gets. Who wouldn't be a whole lot happier shopping for your everyday mundane household items and foods if only you had a glass of wine or interesting beer in hand?!?

Tomorrow morning we leave on the next leg of the journey. Westward we go!!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Intermission please...


<queue ‘Girl from Ipanema’ [Elevator Version]>

Bridging the gap between the end of the year and 2018, so many things have been happening that this weeks post is somewhat of a breather for all of us. Next week, Abby will fill you in on all of the excitement of this past weekend, in all of its simplicity and the ladder rungs we are ascending to the big leap into our first adventure next week!

In the meantime, this little tidbit of insight from yours truly...

Top 10 reasons I should not live alone: (and why it is okay that I don’t anymore)

1. It turns out that talking to your dog any more than 35-45 seconds at a time, is frowned upon socially and that awareness is important when frequenting those doggie bars and such.

2. Singing the same verse (and only one you know) to a song over and over again, is grounds for insanity. Who knew?? "Yes, I am feeling alright today, how are you?"..."well, there's a tear in my beer and I'm cryin' for ya' dear...."

3. Producing your own in-house cooking show in the voice and manner of Pedro, from Napoleon Dynamite, is not as clever as you may think. Although, sometimes it's still hard to tell for sure... how else can you gain laughter inside and out while cooking mundane ingredients for dinner.

4. REALIZATION: there is more to living, than getting off work and looking to the idiot lantern (TV, so named by my father back in the day) for compatibility, unknown persons’ life updates via the news and as a source of ambient lighting while you mourn the sun setting over yonder. The television suddenly lacks interest at all, in fact. Okay, PBS cooking shows and Jeopardy...but that is it!

5. Did you have a bath today??.... And did anyone notice? Ahhhh, glorious eau de smoke... the only thing that works beyond, "Is that the dog??"

6. Sometimes…. If you lie there long enough in the morning, coffee really does make itself...and by itself, I mean Abby made it.

7. When there is a witness, more stuff gets done. Damn the witness, but she is a good thing, 'cause like I said, lot's of good stuff gets done!!

8. Less money gets wasted at the bar of my favorite eatery where, it turns out, I don’t really like the food and I was just bored and lonely. All the monies wasted when I could have been having intimate meals with another, at home not mourning that sunset.

9. Reading is funner (huh, turns out “funner” really is a word), when Abby is telling the story.

10. Making dinner (not in the persona of Pedro) for more than one, is quite an adventure if you put enough thought into it and the leftovers magically turn into breakfast tacos...thank you breakfast chef!

11. ….and the bonus reason, learning that nobody really cares what it sounds like when you pee or when you have to excuse yourself to the bathroom at all…. says the person with bathroom neurosis and referencing the person who just doesn't give a shit!

And this concludes our intermission and PSA (personal service announcement). The underlying message is fear not compatibility, because with the very right person, it can set you free. If you haven't found that, be patient and work hard. If you have it, congratulations, try not to screw it up. If you have it and aren't aware of it or forgot, go in the bathroom and look long and hard in the mirror and consider your alternatives to the blessings you have right now. Steep on that for a time...

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Christmas Anticipation

A pile of presents under two one-dollar poinsettias wait to be opened on Christmas day. I have been single for many years and most of those I have spent here alone in my home because of music gigs, or gig exhaustion, or because I chose to take care of friends' pets over the holidays. This solitude meant I could open the presents any time I wanted! This year, there's Anne. Anne is here making sure I behave myself. I'm not allowed to touch any of them. Not even TOUCH them! I wait until she leaves the room to pet the presents. Don't worry, that's where my sin stops. I haven't opened any of them.
Today is Thursday the 21st of December and while the anticipation of Christmas is upon us all, something much more magical is at the forefront of my mind. Today, Anne and I go on a secret adventure-mission. We will return on Christmas day in time to open presents and eat tamales and drink hot cocoa into the evening. Today we load up the dog, a wee bit of luggage, some things to drop off a Goodwill and the recycling center...  and a couple of items specific to our secret mission. The mission is simple yet complex. There has been a long challenging path leading up to this mission. It marks the end of that part of the adventure and declares the beginning of an even longer, more dedicated adventure.

I had better close this post before I give away too much. I need to set up the cat who has to stay behind alone in the container house. He gets a box wrapped in a warm insulating blanket in which he curls up and stays cozy warm. He'll be fine, but he doesn't miss a chance to look at me like I'm beating him as I prepare to leave him for a few days. Don't worry, cat, I'll be back... the presents need to be opened!
Merry Christmas from Abby, Anne and our goofy animals who did not want to sit for this photo!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Countdown Continues....

Is it that time again? When it is Abby’s post week, I always get jealous and have a million things to write about, then comes my turn, it always seems, where life on the little ranch is just a bit less exciting. But wait! There was snow!! Most people all over the world know, snow in south Texas is a pretty rare thing. The way I see it, now we don’t have to drive all the way to Alaska, because now we have done the snow, right?? I have to say, in my...err, maybe 11 times ever seeing snow in the flesh (including the time I almost died in it!), this light powder that lasted the dawn of the morning and nigh into the day, here in Abbyville, was probably the most beautiful display I have ever seen. Had it been the actual day of Christmas, oh my gosh… it would have been surreal.

Today (Wed, the 13th) is my brother Brian’s birthday. Like my mom, he no longer walks among us here on earth, at least not to my knowledge. He passed away eight years ago, which though it almost seems a lifetime, will ever be fresh in my mind in the same lessons and paying attention sort of way, as my mother and the other dozen or so people I have lost near and dear to me in the past 10 years. Losing people is never easy, but it does start to make more and more sense the older I get. Or, maybe the justifications become more strongly rooted as time goes by. Who knows. By next year I may have an entirely different perspective. What I do know is that he and Abby would have gotten on well together. They are both very likeable people with a few oddities in common, like intelligence and a tolerance and propensity for things the rest of the world struggle with.

Oh yes, and speaking of the past, I know Abby alluded to a bit of an adventure I had on our trip to Galveston. It is family tradition, as for many I suppose, to sort of spill by the house in Galveston where so much growing up and history took place. One never drives directly there, but more or less meanders the street surrounding, taking in landmarks and their change or insistence of no change over the years. Then, “oh… and this is our street”....”this house and that house and… well, what do you know, there is OUR house”.... Sort of like that, it just kind of shows up in the middle of the street. Since the storm IKE, things have changed so much on the island and it is hard not to be surprised by the lack of foliage, heck, giant oak trees and for us in particular, a beautiful magnolia tree that once lived outside the living room window. Then, without fail, a drive down the alley which haunts me to my core each time, I have no idea why I do it. Then a turn left over by the elementary school and park I knew as my very own for my youngest years and all of the childhood drama that took place there. There was plenty; a short book of stories I am sure that would make any bullied adolescent feel at home.

On this particular trip, however, driving down my childhood street and past the old house, Abby and I notice a sign in the yard. Is it for sale? Can I look inside the windows? I park on the other side of the street in front of a house that was everything from a small family, whose baby both my siblings and I all had turns sitting (none of us were carried the torch very well, not in our DNA) a small abode that housed medical students off and on. I didn’t even bother to wonder who lives there now as I walked over to the sign to read what it said. It was a homes tour sign for that very night! Hearing noise inside the house and noticing the front door was open, I couldn’t resist climbing the brick stairs I watched getting laid when I was very young and knocking on the double screen door I once painted every summer.

At this very moment, I am experiencing a little emotion as I did that day when someone came around the corner and after I identified myself, knew exactly who I was and had hoped to make my acquaintance some day. The short version of this story is that Abby and I got our very own private tour of the home I spent from my birth until the day I left for college and smatterings afterwards. There were remembered spaces and scars and ghost stories that all jumped out at me with every step we took. I wish we had had more time, but there was work to be done to prepare for the evening. On a different occasion, I would have insisted we stay and help!!

Meanwhile, I made new friends of the people that now live there, who I am very proud to get to know. Also, I have encountered a new writing assignment and project altogether that I am looking forward to. Abby and I will return to Galveston very shortly and that will keep the fire under my britches on that one.

So!! Ast the title states… THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES!! We are on our way out of 2017 which is still packed with projects and excitement as only Abby can provide and on to the big travel and chock full of things to do and get done 2018!! Hopefully you will join us in all of our adventure and share yours with us as well!

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Weeks were like this: Monday, Anne goes to Georgetown to camp and work with clients. Anne comes home on Thursday afternoon. Abby and Anne become regulars at Los Cabos Mexican restaurant every Thursday afternoon. Friday evening, Abby leaves for The Texas Renaissance Festival. Abby returns Sunday night where Anne has a lovely dinner waiting. And the next day, Monday, Anne leaves again.

This was exhausting. We knew this would be exhausting before this set of 9 weeks began, so we wanted to reward ourselves with a little weekend getaway of some kind. I had a credit with AirBnB for hosting over a whole year. Anne grew up in Galveston. Dickens on the Strand in Galveston is the first weekend of December and seemed the perfect combination of timing, location, and fun. I reserved and AirBnB that called itself quirky, wrote it on the calendar, and referred to this wee vacation every time we felt too tired to continue this crazy work pattern.

Thanksgiving weekend was my final weekend working at the Texas Renaissance Festival. We spent a little time recovering, unpacking, cleaning a million things, and then we packed for a different purpose. Macy, Anne, and I hopped in the car and drove a backroads way to Galveston.

We stopped at The Brick House to get our bearings and have a beer and snack of chips with white queso and crumbles of blue cheese. Our bartender told us about Stuttgarden Tavern with many more beers on tap, and she raved about their pretzels. We had a few minutes to kill and it was in the direction we wanted to go, so we decided to go there. They had a great outdoor seating area. I had some sort of peanut butter milk stout thing. It was dessert in a glass.

Stuttgarden Tavern.
As we sat in their outdoor area, we noticed women would leave the lady's room...  but we never saw them enter. We decided there must be a secret underground entrance or maybe this was part of a Dr. Who episode where humans were being created right inside that very room. Or maybe we were too busy drinking our beers to notice people coming and going... naw.

The thing that happened next is Anne's story to tell, plus, this post is getting long and I have a lot more to tell you. Just remember I said she grew up in Galveston. Maybe she'll tell you this part or maybe you'll have to wait for THE BOOK.
Random picture of the dog. She obviously hates travel.
About that quirky AirBnB. We arrived after a lovely evening of adventure and talk with a dear old family friend. One does not choose AirBnB for the perfect cookie-cutter rooms you could get at Motel 6 or the Hilton. One chooses AirBnB for the unique experience. And we got that. I could easily use the word quirky to describe my home. My home is also thought out, comfortable, cozy, cute and in good repair. This place needed WORK! The bathroom floor was the worst part with a feeling like you could fall through with any step. There were various sheets and chunks of fabric tacked or draped over windows. A simple straight stitch and cut them to the same length throughout would have made a HUGE difference even if the variety of fabrics didn't match. Quirky implies an element of cute, fun, and creativity. On top of it all, the only available coffee was instant. Hmmmmmm... Better luck next time.
OUR house is quirky! This is our cabin, not the AirBnB
We visited the beach in the morning. It was lovely. Macy pranced around in the sand like a puppy. Then, off to Dickens.
The beach at sunrise.
We found parking close enough that would be in the shade so we could come walk Macy every couple of hours. The entire festival is about 6 blocks long with main stages set up, but other groups perform in the street as they wish. Many many people dressed in Victorian clothing. The Strand is lined with good shops and food. The festival adds even more food and shopping booths. On one of our return trips to walk the dog, we stopped for lunch at Olympia Grill. We sat on their deck with a view of the water, ordered a salad with grilled salmon to split and my friends Therese and Joe showed up and shared our table. It was a gorgeous day and this was a fantastic way to spend our first non-working weekend.
Enjoying a beer on the curb in our souvenir mugs.
When we got tired, which was early, we went back to our AirBnB. We woke the next morning hungry for breakfast tacos. We searched our phone and found Habanero's Taco Co. They wouldn't serve me a bean, bacon and cheese taco because a) he would have to charge 50 cents extra for making it special, b) it's not authentic without eggs, c) he'd really rather sell me a day-time taco instead. Our cashier made himself sound like the owner (I think he was), and he really said all of these things even when I told him 50 cents was fine. So, I ordered 2 tacos from the regular menu, and they were indeed quite good. They have a pot of beans for helping yourself. Those were also very tasty with good spices and ham bits. With our tummies full, we drove away toward home.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

What's next?...will not be learned here..

Well, thank gosh Thanksgiving is over!!  I guess you heard it was pretty low key around here.  It was an in and out scene with a pork chop, gravy, some purple potatoes and an apple-brussel sprout-asparagus saute.  The meal had no chance at looking good on a plate, but Abby snapped a quick shot before she ate and headed back to her last weekend at TRF.  Woohoo… something else to be thankful for.  Abby looks a little thankful here, if you ask me...or is that exhaustion?

I can say that with at least a smattering of authority, as that is where we had come from, before super fast Thanksgiving dinner.  That was my first Texas Renaissance Festival ever.  I know right?  I have lived in Texas my entire life and I guess my parent didn’t see it as an interesting thing to do for their kids’ education growing up.  I concur.  It was only slightly educational as an adult, in that I learned lots about festival food and how many thousands of people can eat it at the same time.  That time being...ALL damn day.  Don’t misinterpret my tone, the festival was interesting, lots to do and see, performers to watch, characters to witness their behavior.  Abby and her group were fantastic.  I found it a little frustrating that some of the smaller venues had the best raw talent.  This talent somewhat overwhelmed by the loudness of nearby stages, crowds of people yelling above them and my very favorite, people talking on their cell phones.  Seriously?  How much did you pay to get in here?  I was there for two days, the duration of the weekend basically, except when I went back to our campground at Cagle State Park about 40 minutes away to check on her majesty, not the camper, the dog.  I highly recommend the campground if you have a boat and like to fish, or have smallish children you would like to introduce to camping.  It an excellent setup for that with a gorgeous lake and small, inclusive campgrounds.  For us, it was a good place to let Macy sleep away the hours in the Eggcellence, while Abby worked her tail off and I learned even more about human nature.  

We are now in chill out or rev up mode, I don’t even know.  I spent 24 hours visiting Fredericksburg, that went by so fast that I didn’t even get a chance to do the “quiet time” things I wanted to get done. I took this crappy picture while Macy and I were on a sunrise walk towards Main street. Fredericksburg, lit up for the season.... or that's what it looks like if you're a little "lit up".

Oh well, here I am now, sun streaming in the windows through a poinsettia plant and onto an empty plate that once briefly held a Queen Anne cordial cherry.  My first QACC ever.  I have had several FIRSTS lately.  Seems “retirement” comes with some responsibilities…. Next week, begin the workouts again!

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Happy Thanksgiving!! I have an amazing number of things for which I am incredibly grateful.

First, food. You should see the amount of food we have CRAMMED in our tiny trailer fridge. I'm writing this on Tuesday, the day I went to buy our Thanksgiving feast. There are about five pounds of pork chops (they were on sale), asparagus, Brussel sprouts, red and green onions, smoked chicken (one of Anne's clients gave that to us), apples, brie, tomatoes, avocado, hot dogs & chili, half n half, half of a lime, capers, and 3 beers. We eat well and I am forever excited and grateful about that. Never take food for granted!
Porkchops, PURPLE mashed potatoes & gravy, asparagus & Brussels sprouts!!!
Second, travel. I never get tired of a city or nature hike no matter the climate, views or if I've seen the place before. It amazes me how many different things I notice and how I adapt to terrain, temperature, hunger, all in the name of enjoying a day of different opportunities.

Third, my "work." The downside to my work is that I enjoy it too much. I charge too little and volunteer too often and then wonder why I'm so tired. I love music and the challenge of arranging things for different instruments and voices. I love researching music history. I also love organizing stuff. I just did a day of reclaiming a client's guest bedroom. From storage of stuff that we didn't even remember she owned (I helped this client move into this home, so the location of this stuff was entirely my own doing!), to a peaceful, spacious bedroom with room for her guests to hang their clothes. I love this process. I love the way clients seem to think I possess some sort of magic wand. I love the variety in what I do and I love helping people smile or find peace either in music or organizing.

Fourth, my partnership. Yeah, yeah, cliche. Fine, skip this one if you want to! Anne and I have been writing thousands and thousands of words per month for five and a half years. The amount of information and the development of respect for each other's individual self is a puzzle piece that I have been missing. Accepting another person for who she is, letting her live and make decisions for herself even if I don't agree one hundred percent and knowing she offers me the same is refreshing and necessary for these independent 40-somethings. Also, we have a chosen set of goals and ideas for our upcoming years of adventures. As life shifts and changes, so will our together-goals.
Venn diagram of our relationship for those of us with visual sensibilities!
Fifth, and finally, for purposes of keeping this blogpost a readable length, technology. I keep in touch with you through technology that did not exist when I was in high school. I love being able to communicate to the world and I love even more that the world can communicate with me. So please, please stay in touch. Write comments and share your stories with us.

Thursday, 16 November 2017


While I do consider myself a bit of a storyteller, I stop just short of ever being a liar.  Except this time, but I would rather just humble myself and say, perhaps I was mistaken, which almost never happens, of course.  In making my transition out of work in Georgetown as personal trainer and into work as a virtual coach, I ended up getting myself a few extra weeks off before the new year. So, I have to now backpedal and admit, my last day at work in Georgetown is Wednesday the 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving.  So, not four more weeks as earlier predicted.  As much as I have loved working and living in Georgetown for the past six years, I am going to spend this year’s Thanksgiving being grateful for my new digs and plans for 2018.  It truly is a new beginning.  

AND TRAVEL!!  I will honor my thankfulness on Thanksgiving for the ability to travel.  I am so very glad that Abby got that map up, because I was getting exhausted by the “where are you traveling?” question.  This query is always followed by the “oh, you are staying in the U.S.” remark, which feels a bit like an immediate letdown for some reason.  Yes, we are staying in the United States, well mostly..considering the fact that Canada is kind of in the way if we want to drive to Alaska.  But no, it has nothing to do with my horrible dislike of flying to the point of panic and tears if I don’t get the requisite 3 strong drinks in me first, or the current consternation of the world, or any disdain for foreign places.  It’s just that isn’t what the focus is right now.  The focus is on showcasing the United States and what it has to offer, whether it is barren roads, desert sunsets, fall foliage, good or possibly even bad eats, or interesting people and their places.  

In case you missed this in the previous post - our 'travel loops' plan.
Besides, here is the real truth, almost embarrassing to admit.  I have only been to less than several states in this country.  A few to the left, a few to the right...not talking politics here...and a few over that direction.  For the most part, I can honestly say that I have never been to the places we are going.  Isn’t that exciting?  Macy, has definitely not been to any of the places and will be very enthusiastic about her travels in the time machine.  Oh, that is what she calls the spot that she sinks into and falls asleep for the entirety of any  trip from point A to B, transporting her magically into a new environment.  Must be nice… although I somewhat enjoy the driving part myself, SOMETIMES it would be nice to up somewhere...BOO!  

Macy in her self-imposed time-capsule (AKA the floor board of the truck!)
Can’t wait for Abby’s and my non-traditional holidays coming up...should be interesting...

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Travel plans

Most frequently asked questions about this project involve where we are going. I quickly want to reply, "Everywhere!" but I realize that is less descriptive than it seems in my own mind. I decided to make a map. This map is not precise. We don't want stalkers or even too many family members knowing exactly where we are. Haha, just kidding, Family! (Mom and Dad are meeting us in Alaska, so they know I'm kidding :-) )

The white dot is approximately where we live. And the loops are approximately where we plan to go. See? EVERYWHERE!

Loop 1: The Great Southwest will include the Fort Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, Tucson, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque and Ruidoso, NM. 

Loop 2: Colorado. This loop seems small but it is mighty. We both love Colorado. There is much to see and do there, and there are many many small breweries that need our opinions of their beers.

Loop 3: ALASKA! We will make our way though part of the middle of the lower 48, up through Canada and meet up with my parents in Alaska. Our return trip will take us down the west coast. This will be our biggest craziest loop and the main reason I have worked so hard to make our travel pod comfortable.

Loop 4: Center of the USA will include Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Oklahoma.... This whole loop is so far into the future that we don't have exact plans yet, but a loop has definitely formed in our minds with friends and family members scattered all over this area.

Loop 5: The Maine loop includes the east coast all the way to Maine. We are sure to include Niagara Falls, and come back some cattywompus* route that might make more of a figure 8 depending on what we decide. 

*I just looked up the word "cattywompus" to see how it should be spelled. Blogger underlines it for me as if it's misspelled. Guess what! There is a Cattywompus beer made by Devil's Backbone Brewing in Virginia... which is within the very loop I was talking about. I guess this means we have to visit. We'll let you know what we think!