From the hack to the house with the rock.

Last night Monte and I went curling. Yes, that’s right. After spending many hours apres-ski on the couch in our condo on countless ski trips watching curling in the Winter Olympics, we tried the real thing. And we had a blast, eh!?

CurlAustin is a club that has its own ice (called the “Pond”), competitive curling leagues that anyone can join, and it also has for-fee 2 hour group lessons. They had us curling, safely, in no time. They are located right next door to Austin Beerworks, which is convenient for grabbing a frosty post-bonspiel beverage.

We joined six other newbies, divided up into two teams, and finished several ends. It was loads of fun. I highly recommend giving it a try.

It’s good to be yellow. We won this end with 4 counters (two of those were mine!)

The season.

Julie and I headed downtown for the Junior League of Austin’s “A Christmas Affair.“ Lots of gifts on display. It was held at the Palmer Event Center. The view of the Austin skyline from there was lovely. My how this town has changed in 25 years.

The season is upon us. Time to get in the spirit!

Finally.

After a long, self-imposed exile from restaurants and bars, we’re loosening things up a bit. Last week we enjoyed our good old “blue-hair special” at Chuy’s. Yummmmm.

And last night we popped in at Donn’s Depot to listen to the Nash Hernandez Orchestra. It was a great time.

Sunday drive.

Monte and I drove out Highway 290 on Sunday. It was a really lovely day for a drive.

Autumn means pumpkins!

Autumn zinnies!

Autumn wine on the veranda!

A good day.

Summer’s gone.

Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden it is October 1st! We’ve been busy the last month or two.

We have happily welcomed out of town visitors, after a long COVID-induced drought of sorts. In July we enjoyed Patrick, Nga, and Nick. In September we had visits from Jake and Natalie, and then Noreen.

We enjoyed our visits with them, but somewhere in there Autumn slipped in. The high temperatures have begun dipping into the low 90s, so I guess I’ll have to brace myself for wearing pants and shoes soon.

The best way to beat the heat when guests visit is to hit the lake.

We went on a brief brewery crawl with Jake and Natalie. Outside seating, of course.

When guests are here, the gameroom actually gets used for playing games. Lots of billiards and darts played. I actually hit a double bull to win a game of darts!

We always eat well when guests are here. BBQ, TexMex, homemade pizza, and more. Julie made sushi rolls one night for Noreen, Monte and me. Delicious.

I wonder who will show up next?

A few scenes from July.

I need to get back in the groove and post more frequently. Here’s a quick recap of July.

Pat, Nga, and Nicky visited us for a week. We split our time between being tourists and lake bums. We walked around the University of Texas campus one afternoon.

We’ve spent much time on the boat, enjoying the lake with friends. We rafted up overnight with Kurt & Kevin, and Brett one weekend. It’s nice to be on the hook with a breeze blowing through the boat.

Doray dropped of some eggs from her chicken coop. I love the varied colors.

When Pat and Nga were visiting, I bought a fiddle-leaf fig plant. I asked Nga to pick it out, and she selected a good one. It’s already putting out new leaves.

On to August!

Sunrise to sunset.

I enjoyed my Saturday to the fullest. I got up early to go birding for a few hours at one of my favorite spots – Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. I watched the sun rise above the prairie.

I headed down the path to the river, as the mist lifted. Everything was very dewy.

It was nice to be out looking for the birdies.

After returning home, I cleaned up and we headed to the lake. Monte and I enjoyed a long sail in mild-ish winds. As soon as we got into the slip the winds really picked up (of course). So, when Kurt and Kevin stopped by a little bit later, we all went back out, in more sporting wind. It was another great sail, though with 4 people in the cockpit, we wore masks.

We were tied back up in the slip in time to watch the sun set on a very nice day.

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!

Congratulations UT Class of 2020!

I ventured downtown over the weekend to snap a picture of the University of Texas at Austin’s Tower bathed in burnt-orange light, to honor the graduating Class of 2020.  My friend’s daughter graduated this year and I took this shot for her.

Congratulations to the Longhorn graduates!

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Out and about.

Last night I ventured downtown to celebrate Lori’s birthday.  It was nice to catch up with everyone that could make it.  In the midst of the state of emergency declarations and the cancellation of SXSW, it felt odd to be walking along not-busy streets of South Congress where it would have otherwise been packed shoulder-to-shoulder with crowds.  We are living through some weird times.

Happy Birthday Lori!

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Friday fun.

Michael & Amber gifted us several tickets to see an Austin band with them and a bunch of their friends tonight, Extreme Heat. They are a self-described funk and soul band that’s been playing in Austin since 1977. And they are one of the Austin Music Award nominees for Hall of Fame artist this year. I really enjoyed the show. They were great! We asked Mike and Joel to join the party as well. Nice venue, great tunes, a little dancing. Very nice.

2019 moments.

This year sped by, but it was jam-packed with short adventures, wonderful visits with friends and family, lots of good food & wine, and a few projects squeezed in.

A quick breakdown:

  • States traveled to/within:  Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia
  • Countries traveled to/within:  US, Bahamas
  • Siblings visited:  Noreen & David, Brian, Colleen, Fran & Art, Susanne, Gene & Jo
  • Nieces & nephews visited:  Rachel, Julie, Neil & Miranda, Jared, Rebecca, Aaron, Jacob, Pat & Nga, Dan & Erin, Patricia & Florian, Michelle, Amy Lee & Chris
  • Great nieces & nephews visited:  Diego, Tionna & Alex, Will, Nick, Grace, Aly, Mae, Austin, Copeland, Anna Sutton
  • Great-great nephew visited:  X’ander
  • Births celebrated:  great-great-niece Aubrielle
  • Iron-men cheered on:  Jamie
  • Weddings celebrated:  Neil & Miranda, Dan & Erin
  • Friend & family visits to Austin:  Noreen & David, Susanne, Rob & Owen, Asha, Fran & Aaron, Rachel & Becky, Irene & Liz & Keith, and Noreen (one more time) 🙂

I’ve picked one photo from so many enjoyable moments of each month below:

January:  Sailing from Venice, FL through the Florida Keys, to Biscayne Bay; on a mooring ball at Garrison Bight Mooring Field off of Key West.  This was a magnificent trip.  The Keys are amazing.  We had enough time to really enjoy Key West and see the sights and maybe have one too many cocktails.  We hopped up the outside of the Keys, anchoring a few nights.  If I did this again I’d spend many more days in the Keys. We ended anchored outside of No Name Harbor near Miami for two weeks, which sounds like a long time but I thought it was a really nice place to be stuck, waiting for a weather window to go east to the Bahamas.

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February:  Sailing from Florida to Great Bahama Island and through the Abacos; dolphins in the Great Bahama Banks.  We enjoyed a really tame crossing to the West End from Miami, then spent several days making way through the bank and through the Abacos to get to Marsh Harbour.   It was a real treat to be back there for a while. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos this hurricane season, and they will rebuilding for the foreseeable future.

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March:  Springtime in the Hill Country means wildflowers.  I simply LOVE spring in the Hill Country.  Monte has cultivated an amazing bluebonnet patch at the chez.  I can’t wait to enjoy next year’s bloom, only 3 short months away.

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April: Spring migration means birding trips; a visit to the bird blind at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.  I spent much less time birding this year than I would have liked.  But I did make several trips to the coast at the peak of migration, and will definitely do it again this coming year.

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May:  A visit to the Pacific Northwest; a view from Mount Rainier National Park.  I have always loved Mount Rainier.  We picked a nice, though not an absolutely perfect day, to go up to the mountain.  The views on the way up and down are almost as stunning as the views from Paradise Visitor’s Center. I also made it back to the Bahamas for a week in May, but this trip to Washington was the highlight.

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June:  Roadtrip to Colorado and back; one stop was Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo.  We had fun on our trip to Estes Park.  And on the way home.

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July:  A two week trip up the ICW from Charleston, SC to Portsmouth, NC; the full moon rising just as we anchored near the Neuse River in North Carolina.  It was an amazing experience to take this trip up the Intracoastal Waterway.  I learned much, saw many birds, enjoyed the changing scenery along the trip, and never tired of the company.   If you ever have a chance to do something similar, just say Yes.

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August:  Summer heats up in Austin, lots of fun times on the lake, including enjoying Cupholder back in the water.  We enjoyed having both Nirvana and Cupholder on the lake this summer.  We love having boat guests for the day and / or night.  We enjoy our boat friends immensely.  And we really need to spend more time out on the lake next year.

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September:  One of several visits with out-of-towners to Barton Springs Pool to cool off.  I have my own custom tour of Austin for friends that are visiting.  Sometimes we walk around doing it.  Sometimes we do an express version by car.  But I love sharing my town with my friends and family when they come for a visit.  If the temps are anywhere near 100 degrees F, then we must visit Barton Springs Pool.

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October:  Let the boat canvas and sail projects commence!  I finally organized my various and sundry craft/project supplies in my new, amazing closet workspace.  Looking forward to knocking another couple dozen projects of my to-do list next year.

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November:  Enjoying the Christmas decorations going up at Donn’s Depot.  You can walk in the door a Grinch, but as soon as you enter Donn’s Depot after Thanksgiving, you can’t help but feel the Christmas Spirit warm your heart.

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December:  A trip south along the coast from Charleston, SC (Rainbow Row, below) to Brunswick, GA, via Beaufort, SC and Savannah, SC.  Our last trip of the year took me to a place I used to live MANY moons ago, and a few places I’ve never been.  I would like to make a followup visit to these parts again.

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So many great moments!  I’m looking forward to the ones 2020 brings.

Penultimate night.

I made a side trip while downtown. The Hope Outdoor Gallery has officially moved from their old location near 11th and Lamar. But some of the graffiti-covered walls remain. I took a few pics through the chain link fence that surrounds it.

I wonder what will be done with this space.

About town.

Noreen and I did some shopping yesterday, then headed to the University of Texas campus.  We went up in the UT Tower on a tour.  Monte and I have done this once before but it was a dark and rainy day, so I was looking forward to getting a better view.

As a part of the tour, you can go outside and walk around all 4 sides of the top of the tower.

My town, looking south from the UT Tower:

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The UT Tower, viewed from the Turtle Pond just north of the Tower:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The UT Tower with the UT Tower Memorial in the foreground, a remembrance of the victims of the shooting that happened over 50 years ago:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the tour, we grabbed lunch on the drag, and then mosied over to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to experience chicken shit bingo.   We didn’t win 🙂  But it was fun to cross that off my bucket list.

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Back home, we mournfully watched the Seahawks lose to the Rams.   Keeto is very broken up about it.

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