Thursday, 12 October 2017

My Birthday

I have so much to tell you all! First, this blog. Anne and I have a huge travel schedule planned for 2018. Part of the purpose is to write a travelogue type book together. This blog will keep everyone updated on our travels as we go along, and hopefully, you will just have to have a copy of the book when we are done! We have decided to write weekly posts here publishing every Thursday, so that if you subscribe via email, you can look forward to an interesting update in a timely once a week manner. We will be taking turns. I may post some video while Anne may post a great recipe. Every week will be different. You should "follow by email" or click the "follow" button if you do google-type things... right over there in the right hand margin :-)

Second, yesterday was my birthday! I'm 43 now. Isn't this the traditional year of adventure? Doesn't this mean I'm wise and ready to share my wisdom? Seems like the perfect recipe for travel and book writing. I have a habit of creating goals and projects in my life that last three to six years each. I feel a bit like a cat with nine lives. There were teacher related years followed by animal care related years. The music years could be split into a few different phases. I'm not done with music entirely, but this travel writing project is going to put a large portion of the music making on hold. I am very excited to introduce you to this side of my creative self. Yay, 43!

EggCamper the day we found and bought it.
Third, this project, named "The Eggcellence." The name came about because our camper is an "EggCamper." As I understand it, the company is currently not making them. This makes me super glad we found this one when we did! For our Texas friends who know the "Casita" name, it is very similar only taller, slightly wider, quite a bit lighter, and everything on the interior is fiberglass meaning super easy to wipe down clean. Because Anne and I really don't care for eggs all that much, we have been trying to come up with a tag line for our project that will let people know it's not actually about EGGS. This week's tagline test run: "The Eggcellence: It has nothing to do with eggs." I hope Anne can offer something better in next week's post, or maybe you can in the comments.

My parents brought home this cute baby 43 years ago!
Fourth, yesterday was my birthday!! What? I already said that? OK, well, I didn't tell you that Anne made this amazing lime ice cream pie thing. She doesn't usually make sweet stuff, but she made an exception for my birthday, and it turned out incredible. Also, we camped in Georgetown, TX at Cedar Breaks Park. A cold front came through giving us fantastic Texas hiking weather. If you find yourself in the Austin, Texas area, this is a great camping place. Great for tents and RVs, it is a fairly small park right on Lake Georgetown. The views are lovely and there are plenty of trees. Happy birthday to me! Did you subscribe? You could do that as a birthday present to me. Heehee :-)

Monday, 25 September 2017

Shiner, Texas

by Anne Walker

I like a good car ride.  I am crazier than my dog Macy that way.  I can wag my tail just as well as her when it comes to staring out the window and eyeballing the passing scenery, trying not to drool on the windows. “This road eventually takes you to San Antonio” Abby explained.  I wasn’t really listening as much as fantasizing about the taco she promised from the hole in the wall Mexican restaurant we were heading.  “What?”  A brewery tour, Shiner being the biggest and oldest brewery in Texas with a fascinating story of being a little player growing up in a big world and a breakfast taco??  Madness!!!! Abby also recalled a fried chicken place called Fridays in town.  Imagining a brewery tour, preempted by a breakfast taco and followed by a crispy bite of fried chicken, is how my day started.

Driving into Shiner, we acknowledge a beautiful Catholic church,  literally impossible to miss and warrants a second look in the future.  A couple of blocks later, we are turning into our hole in the wall. Hole in the wall places, are anything I don’t like to look outside of my blinders, but this place was open, airy, bright and most importantly, safe.  I scan the menu.  Abby announces her usual bacon, bean and cheese.  Ohhh, I see they have machacado, my favorite for breakfast taco.  I took a chance on a great decision.  We hadn’t had much to say while consuming our tacos.  Enough for me, was watching Abby enjoy her food.  I gave her a bite of my breakfast, almost feeling that I should charge her for it’s absence from my mouth.  Instead, I let her buy breakfast.  Happy and satiated, we left for the next leg of our giant mini road trip, a couple of streets away.

Here is where I realized the downtown tour, two blocks of mostly vacant building surprising me given the amount of tourism the brewery must bring.  Out Abby’s window, I spy a giant factory that begged the question.  “What is that?...a giant water treatment plant?”...making no sense for this tiny town.  Abby replies politely because she easily could have tacked the word “stupid” to the end of her sentence…”that’s the brewery!”  She knew to park on the back side of the brewery for our tour.  I figure, it was just a low key operation and a simple way to park.  Wrong.  We were in tour group TWO for the initial tour of the day, despite our being there a half hour early.  The entire guest parking area was full.  I have been on tours before at breweries and a couple of distilleries, all different because of the different products and production size, but similar in the processes involving fermentation and packaging.  The most impressive thing about the Shiner brewery is the volume of its production and well, there is a pretty cool lab you get to see.  I couldn’t help wondering if it was real or just for show.

Giant dark clouds threatened in the background as Abby and I finish our last samples of beer and made our way back over the bridge to her secret parking spot.  I tease about storm napping in the back of the truck. Abby, kills the mood, stating that our destination for good fried chicken was less than three blocks away (of course), “we could easily walk”.  We split a two piece meal and side of mash potatoes and token gravy.  What can I say?  It was good ol’, spot hitting fried chicken. I will sneak out for it again.  I made dessert out of my side of the mashed potatoes.  My beer and fried chicken induced coma, made for a great ride home and the rest of my Friday off duty, back in our now seemingly huge town of Hallettsville.   

Shiner, Texas

by Abby Green

“That’s perfect! We’ll go on a miniature vacation!” Anne had just pointed out the fact that she lived here now and had never gone to one of my favorite tour-guide spots, Shiner, Texas.
There was a strangely great amount of excitement waking up that morning. We fed the dog, put the cat out and had our morning dose of French Pressed coffee. At 9:30, it was time to hit the road. The plan was to start the tour of Shiner at La Terraza De Jalisco. We walked into a building with a front door that did not close behind us. Anne paused to pull the door shut and turned back around to see the simple, plainly decorated, but clearly popularly patronized restaurant. Here, a simple diner type coffee, not bad, not great, not burnt, this time. I knew what I wanted. It’s not that I’m not adventurous. It’s easy to compare or judge a place when the order is simple and familiar. Mine would be one bean, cheese and bacon taco, NO EGGS. Anne was going with adventure. Chorizo or machacado. Both of these were frequently scrambled into the eggs. Some places made them too eggy. Anne isn’t a huge egg fan either. Funny that we chose an “EggCamper” to make our big journeys next year. In the end, she chose the machacado and the waitress noted to go light on the egg. She’s a good one, that waitress.

We continued up this main road and turned right just after the train tracks. Anne asks, “Is that an old water treatment plant?” I laugh and reply, “no, that’s the brewery.” The gift shop and hospitality suite is where the journey begins. The hospitality part means free beer! Each guest can try any four beers they like for free and take a tour of the brewery for free. The most impressive part of the brewery is the machinery. Most people were so mesmerized by “Fred” that not much else needed to be said. The tourists watched through the glass as “Fred” hugged two kegs at a time, lifting them with such precise force, placing them exactly and gently onto the pallet that would eventually be wrapped and shipped out. “Fred” did this in a strangely human set of movements, but with robotic precision that awed the onlookers.

Just a few blocks away, there is Friday’s fried chicken. There is a glass pastry counter filled with whole pies and pie and cake pieces and a dozen different types of cookies. Order at the cash register and your cashier will bring your order by memory of your face. This is the very definition of comfort food, but one really doesn’t need any more than one piece of crunchy greasy fried chicken and a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes with cream gravy.

As we left town we drove by an old Catholic church with amazing brick work. This church would give us reason to return and explore the town some more… and maybe stop in for more free beer! This concluded the Shiner mini-vacation adventure.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Dog

by Anne Walker

Mr. Magoo is a character.  Mr. Magoo, if you can remember back, is a character from the 70/80’s presented in slow moving, poorly edited cartoon form on Saturday morning.  The show didn’t get a great deal of air time at our house because frankly, we were only allowed a certain amount of air time and we all agreed, it was kind of stupid and a terrible waste of those precious minutes.  Goofy old blind guy befuddles his way through life’s quirky ups and downs, married to same, only one tic more intelligent female character.. If you have never seen the show or ironically can’t remember can probably look it up on YouTube.  Wait, I’ll save you the trouble <insert M.M. vid here>.

It was recently that the older model, blind, ambling, forgetful character has come back to mind. See, I have this dog Macy.  You already know don’t you?  Macy is an older model, blind,  ambling, forgetful character.  She arrived at my door a two or four, we’ll just say three year old, mostly well behaved but unpredictable terrier.  A “squirl” dog.  The kind where all you have to say is “SQUIRL!” and she will take off in whatever direction she remembers her most recent chase.  Good entertainment for sure, but she treats every moving object this way, especially people.  People and wheels are especially a very bad combination.  Amazingly and despite many close calls with animal welfare, she has survived to what must be at least thirteen.  That’s like 90 something in people years...sounds about right.  <Note to self, look up reverse people years>.  

So nowadays, Mr. Macy Magoo gets a grain of salt.  I have to keep looking back to make sure the one and a half foot, mostly white dog with black spots is with me..a new level of learning not to be codependent with my dog.  Will it hurt her if she takes the long way? Likely not, so don’t worry about it, she find us somehow.  Or else she will smell her way off to pasture one day and there won’t be too many of these sort of stories from our traveling dog, newly named Mr. Magoo.  Exact age and birthday unknown, but who cares, she’s entertaining.  

Who is Macy?

by Abby Green

Macy wearing flowers, not that she needs any more cute.
Macy smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. I’ve never actually seen her do this, but I know she does. Every morning she hacks just like every smoker I’ve ever known. If she could speak, she would sound like Phyllis Diller. Macy is a terrier mix, and as expected is feisty and protective even though she’s old and her back legs don’t seem to be fully attached any more. We sometimes call her Mr. Magoo because her sight and hearing leave her wandering toward sounds or things frequently in the wrong direction. Since leaving the big city, she seems younger. She runs across the yard and frolics. Yes, she frolics and smiles, practically giggling. She loves to run across the yard sometimes rushing the cat who does not think very highly of her.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Cat

by Anne Walker

Stoli as some of us know, is the name of a vodka, but also the name of Abby’s cat.  Way to give away your drinking problem Abby...just kidding, she doesn’t have a cat...just kidding again, she has a cat, not a drinking problem and definitely not a problem cat.   Rather, Stoli is a handsome, kind and gentle cat that likes mostly to roam via a schedule you could document in your iPhone.  Six am….time to get roaming.  He naps in places unseen, then naps more back in the container home.  He eats in the middle of the night it seems, then idles around the bed until he decides with whom he will grace his presence and in what form.  Stoli, wrapped in his charcoal soft fur, is a most luxurious sleeping mate.  He stays perfectly still for hours only pressing slightly against you enough to let you know there is a bond, but nothing too contagious.   

Cats definitely belong to their owners and Abby begot Stoli, so there are things an outsider doesn’t know.  I know that I miss Stoli when he is not around and am genuinely glad to see him when he isn’t being cross about something.  He isn’t usually cross but is the same bad days as the rest of us…..

Who is Stoli?

by Abby Green

Stoli's favorite mode: coma.
If Stoli was a human, he’d be a toddler who runs around wearing a teddy bear costume screaming, “look at me!” all the time. He’s a 16 pound butterball of snuggly kitty sweetness. He talks back in a high pitched, squeaky voice whenever anyone speaks to him. He announces his arrival even in the middle of the night. “Hi…  I’m here… you awake?… Is there space over here?” Whether there is space or not, he will flop in a full body throw down and go to sleep. He’s the best night cat I’ve ever had. Except for the occasional announcement or walking across our bellies to get from one place to another, he sleeps curled up beside one of us or between both of us. During the day, he can go outside to catch grasshoppers, or usually, he just curls up and sleeps some more on the couch or bed. He has an exciting life.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Our Home

by Anne Walker

Our home is where we live.  That seems kind of obvious, but may not be the case for everyone, but certainly me.  Home, is where I spend the most time and I am pretty happy there as long as Abby is with me.  She makes home, home.  The BIG home is a 10 acre ranch in Texas that requires lots of love and care, as well as patience and ingenuity.  There is a cabin where I spend a great deal of time, because that is where the kitchen is.  I like the kitchen in the cabin because the floor plan is open and it is just one big room, much like the house I rented before Abby and I got engaged.  Shhhhh...she doesn’t know we are engaged yet...back to the story about home.  We also spend much of our writing time in the cabin.  The property also has a container home that Abby poured many sweat and tears over in it’s creation and eventual deliverance.  The container home is where we sleep mostly, but is fully furnished and very comfortable.  

Home is also the Eggcellence.  The Egg camper we have chosen for our travels is given a proper name to ensure it’s entity.  Also, if we lose it we have something to call it when we are walking around aimlessly…. “Has anyone seen  the Eggcellence??....oh Eggcellence...where art thou?!?”..... The Eggcellence is also fully furnished and very comfortable.  There is a bed, my favorite part, and a writing table and a nifty kitchen with a coffee maker that makes coffee while you are waking up and you don’t even have to get out of bed to pour it….although it is safer if you do.  My dog has her own condo under the bed where she spends most of her time when we aren’t out doing something like a giant walk Abby insists upon.  

But mostly home is wherever I live with Abby.  Whatever adventure we are on, we are definitely on it together, creating what I hope to be...the greatest story on earth.

Our Home(s)

by Abby Green
Container house... more updated photo coming soon.
Our Home: Each morning we wake to the sun coming through a large oak tree outside our window. We live on a 10 acre property with two cabins and a variety of mature oak trees. One cabin is a container house built out of a high ceiling 45 foot long shipping container. Abby built this cabin over the course of about 3 years with the help of friends and family, and this is where we wake up and start our day. The other cabin was already here. It is made of three storage sheds under a huge industrial roof like you might find at a county fair grounds. About an acre and a half is fenced off for people, cars, and cabins, and the rest is left open and mostly wild with brush for animals and hiking should we ever get around to establishing trails or keeping animals. We have future plans to build our own designated author’s studio. Life is ever growing and evolving out here.

The Eggecellence EggCamper.
Home number 2: The project, The Eggcellence, is named for the EggCamper we bought for our 2018 travels. It is an adorable fiberglass pod that came sleek and white except for the red and black plaid curtains. I made a quick IKEA run and a hundred dollars later, outfitted the entire thing in black, red, and white. I installed some shelves, the dog made herself at home under the bed - it is a large cave under there, and we added some stadium folding chairs for back support at the table. The goal is to make this space as comfortable as possible, inviting writing opportunities, especially for that long adventure to Alaska.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Abby Green

by Anne Walker

Oh boy….Abby.  I have known Abby for….acckkkk, correction…. I have come to know Abby over the past five, well...going on, six years.  All I have to do is say Abby, or write it in this case and my body starts doing all sorts of things I can not control.  She gets me excitable.  I can’t explain it because it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I don’t really have any experience with this before in any of my relationships to humans.  Abby and I began our writing relationship online five years and haven’t stopped writing.  Obviously, over time, she has become much more to me than that.  I knew she would, she swore it wouldn’t.  What can I say….I knew how I felt about this human I could not see or feel or touch pretty much from the beginning and I wasn’t going to give up.  

One day, we will get married.  We will be two people married to each other and I will still be a lifestyle trainer and writer and she will still be an Irish singer and instrumentalist.  We will have our animals and our ranch and the Eggcellence and our property in Colorado to fulfill.  She will make breakfasts dujour and I will try to hold up my end and give her new delights to try at the dinner table.  We will grow and learn together and share those things whenever possible.

Who is Abby?

by Abby Green

Abby, Anne, and Macy out for a walk. Life is good.
I work as a musician and in-home organizer. I am highly organized toward goals and I move on decisions when I make them. Sometimes I am so one-tracked in my thinking toward these goals that it frankly never occurs to me that there is any other path toward success at all. This is the thing that seems to annoy Anne the most. I am a 5 foot 9 redhead with pale skin and blue eyes. I am the main breakfast cook using leftovers and whatever happens to be in the fridge to create breakfast taco surprise. No two tacos are ever the same, but somehow, they’re always good… mostly because starting with delicious dinner leftovers that Anne made is an excellent way to start. I am currently not performing solo, but I’m not finished with music. I have several projects in the works with other musicians and a multitude of CD ideas just waiting to be recorded.

Friday, 15 September 2017


by Anne Walker

My name is Anne.  I can’t say too much about myself because I feel I am in a constant state of configuration.  To date, I am mostly well adjusted with several neurosis that I constantly work on (not really, but I tell people I do so they will give me a break).  These will be obvious enough if you are a constant reader.  I am resisting every urge as I write, not to mention at least a few.  Maybe that is one of them...resisting urges….and sometimes failing.  

I have spent the last twelve years of my life being a “personal trainer”.  I don’t even know what that means these days, but I can tell you, I don’t follow the industry standards that describes many personal trainers.  So, instead...I refer to myself as a lifestyle trainer.  I am not a big fan of gyms, or fads or ridiculous goals.  I believe in health and well being.  Hopefully I can share more about that over time and excise as many successful examples as naturally evolve in the day to day.  

Oh, and I like to eat.  Pretty much everything.  I like beer too.  I like good things in general and the experience that comes with getting to know those things.  For example, Abby Green.  She is a very good thing and I like her very, very much and intend to spend the rest of my days with her being productive, but sometimes lazy...and learning how to have fun doing the everyday things.

Who is Anne?

by Abby Green
Laughter with coffee. Perfection.
Anne is a personal trainer. I’ve never met a personal trainer or anyone in any related field before Anne, to be honest. That’s because I am a lazy person, but this introduction is not about me. Anne is a spirited 5 foot 2 blonde brunette with gorgeous hazel eyes. She works very hard in every area of her life and becomes quite annoyed when things don’t go her way. Sighs, groans, and growls can be heard emanating from her if her positive path is broken by someone else’s demands of her attention and time. Anne likes food and is an excellent cook. We eat a variety of good things when we go out, and she is the main dinner cook in our home. She creates healthful and delicious meals. Anne is also lead gardener around here. She keeps things trimmed and tidy looking. Anne has the most amazing smile and laugh. I’ll do just about anything to hear that laugh. Her laugh makes the world lighter and gives me a soothing reassuring sense that all is well in our souls.