It’s NASCAR Championship weekend again which means the largest influx of tourists we have at one time every year. (As in thousands) Helicopters buzz in and out to bring VIPs directly into the Speedway. The truck championship is tonight, the Xfinity Car is tomorrow night, (I think it’s a night race), and the Monster Energy is Sunday afternoon. As I have previously posted, I did go with Hubby to the races twice and then gently and lovingly explained to him that now having had the experience, it really would make more sense for me not to go. He loves everything about it – the pre-race events, the entire race, and so forth. By this, I mean getting to the Speedway at like 10:00ish in the morning and staying until the race is over. He simply can’t have as good a time if I am with him. I have something good to eat for when he comes in and we both enjoy our weekend more. The past few years, he’s taken photographs for the newspaper and for his own pleasure.
This year is special though. The newspaper arranged for him to have actual press credentials which are much more tightly controlled for this weekend than for the rest of the year. This allows him access he normally can’t have and it’s perfect for him. He has all these new lenses and what have you and is even planning to have a second camera with him for tomorrow and Sunday. Quite honestly, I don’t know how he lugs all that around at one time for hours on end, but it’s part of the whole deal. As we discussed this morning, it’s a “bucket list” type thing even if he doesn’t have the $10,000 camera lens to go with it.
We usually travel to GA for Thanksgiving, but circumstances are such this year we will be staying here. We’re planning to host for a few friends, but it will be evening instead of afternoon since Hubby will be working. He wants to get the turkey in time for 24 hours of soaking in a brine, then we will plan to fry it if he actually makes it home in time. If he’s going to be delayed he’ll call and the bird will go into the oven. Notwithstanding the fact you aren’t supposed to count calories or carbs for Thanksgiving or Christmas, one of our guests is diabetic with increasingly restrictive diet warnings from the doctor. I’m considering how to lighten up the classic green bean casserole. My thoughts at the moment are to caramelize onions, cook the beans in ham flavoring until they are very tender, then combine them in a skillet to blend the flavors for maybe ten minutes. The final step will be to put a fair amount of grated Romano cheese on top and pop it in the oven for like another ten minutes.
Neither Hubby nor I like sweet potatoes sweet, but we do a savory version with cheese and some chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (just a little). Not much I can do about cranberry sauce or rolls and I do have to think of everyone else. With a couple of carb friendly dishes though it should be workable. I do a diet cranberry cocktail juice and diet ginger ale served in a festive martini glass as well. I don’t see how I can manage any sort of really low carb dessert although I am definitely open to suggestions. There will be a dessert of course and we will keep it to one so there isn’t this tempting array that requires way too much will power to resist.
With Veteran’s Day approaching, I was invited to speak to a group on Wed about my “Inadvertent Pioneering” time in the Army. I am usually asked about why I haven’t written my memoirs yet. I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts it isn’t time for me to do that yet. I do capture bits and pieces and occasionally do a post here about different incidents. One amusing vignette had to do with the .45 pistol I had when I was in command of a large unit at Fort Campbell, KY (I think I’ve posted about that.) For those who aren’t familiar with the .45, it’s the same pistol you see in war movies from WW II through Vietnam. It was replaced with the 9 mm. Anyway, for reasons that aren’t terribly important, an individual convinced me I should be able to field strip and reassemble my pistol with my eyes closed and I ought to be able to do this in under 1 minute. I decided to develop this skill and so, when I was at my desk with enough spare time, I would check my pistol out of the arms room and work on this. As usual in the office configuration, my First Sergeant and clerk were in the outer office that led into mine. They became accustomed to this and the First Sergeant would time me.
At this point, the fact that I had one of the largest company-sized units at Fort Campbell and was the first female to do so was still somewhat of a curiosity. One day I was going through the pistol field strip and reassemble with my eyes closed. I called, “Time?” to my First Sergeant and opened my eyes to see one of the other company commanders from a different unit standing in my doorway. “There was no way I wanted to interrupt you,” the visitor said. (I was under a minute by the way). The gentleman had come to introduce himself because our units did have occasional interactions, but it was fairly obvious what he was really doing was checking out the “female” aspect as much as anything. It wasn’t a bad first impression to make.
The trip home went fairly well until close to the end when a wreck slowed traffic to a crawl and rain pounded for a while. Both situations were manageable and we literally swung into the house to drop bags off, then went to catch the last hour of early voting and proceeded to the annual Rib Fest. The organization, This Is For The Kids, does the Rib Fest and it was founded by a local man who was also later elected to City Council. Each year in leading up to the Fest, they ask for nominations of non-profits that focus on children. It has grown over the years and I ordinarily cannot attend because it’s usually held the same weekend that I travel to Louisiana. That’s how it was scheduled, but it was another of the events re-scheduled due to Hurricane Irma. We didn’t stay long, although did bring ribs and roasted corn home for dinner. In fact, since we wanted to sample from all three rib places, we had leftovers we enjoyed last night as well.
Sunday was a totally full day with yet another rescheduled event, the one-man play “Gospel of Mark”, at the Seminole Theatre. It was first done in the Middle Ages when the all-powerful Church felt religious plays were what the populous needed. The drama of this particular play was such that it actually provided a degree of entertainment and inadvertently laid the foundation for modern theater as we know it. The way it was explained to me is because plays began to be “too secular” and the Church sent them beyond their walls. With less restraint, religious themes gave way to others. This play endured as a piece of theater history and has been done on Broadway and in London by notable actors such as David Suchet, who played Inspector Poirot in several movies and the television series.
I have my usual commitments to take care of and am helping out a friend who is in the hospital so not much downtime is planned for the next few days.
The big dive trade show we are at is set up like most with a mix of exhibits, seminars, and different programs. I had submitted Richie Kohler as a speaker even though he fell into the “other” category compared to the industry/business side. Marketing, inventory management, etc., are all unquestionably vital to business. He crafted his presentation, “Forty Years of Shipwreck Exploration”, to speak to the “heart and passion” of diving which is at the core of the business since other than the industrial/engineering aspect, it is absolutely a discretionary expenditure for people. If you can’t spark and retain the passion for diving, the business dissolves.
We had no input as to when he was to be scheduled though and the show planners put him into the 8:30 a.m. slot this morning. Considering that two of the largest social events were last night, there was a fair question about how many people would show up. He was set up in the large room although I hadn’t checked to see how many seats were available. When I arrived a few minutes after 8:00 to coordinate a couple of last minute details, there were already a few people seated. As the room filled to capacity, more squeezed in. It was a long presentation of a little more than an hour while Richie took everyone from his beginning days of teen-aged diving through his numerous transitions of both advances in technologies and opportunities he had never dreamed of coming his way. Spontaneous applause broke out twice when he touched on subjects of special poignancy. The only way to describe the morning was indeed as a rousing success. By the way, even though we chronicled many of his adventures in Mystery of the Last Olympian: Titanic’s Tragic Sister Britannic, his website of http://www.richiekohler.com has far more than we included.
I intended to post yesterday and time just sort of slipped by with getting into the hotel, getting checked into the trade show, etc. Today has been spent walking all around the show and having the first autograph session as well as working with Richie Kohler on the new project. We’re still trying to firm several things up and I’ll explain more once we settle those details.
We’ve seen several people we know and met a few new ones already. There are of course exciting new “toys”, officially known as new products. There are some tech items that are well beyond my understanding and other items you wonder why no one had come up with them before. In other cases, like the waterproof bags to hold your cell phone that I’ve seen advertised, and not in person yet. I did pick up a new tee shirt because I erroneously thought I had left another top at home. I did pack it after all. On the other hand, one more tee shirt can’t hurt. We wound up staying at the hotel for dinner last night instead of going out. We’d never eaten at the main restaurant with the buffet option and it was pretty good. Nothing too special because I stayed away from what looked like a lovely dessert station. They had prime rib as one choice and that made Hubby happy. We’re not certain of where we’re going tonight. Apparently there is a group dinner coming together and we’re waiting for the call to know exactly where.
The autograph session tomorrow is a little later and I haven’t checked yet to see if there are any seminars I want to attend. Hubby did three today and hasn’t decided about tomorrow yet.
In what is unusual timing, we leave for Orlando Tuesday morning until late Sat afternoon. The paper has been stopped and house sitter is all set. The largest scuba trade show in the wold takes place in Orlando every other year and we always go. Hubby will attend a string of professional seminars and catch up with friends we may not have seen since the last show. What is different about this show is it is not open to the public; only to individuals in the scuba business. Hubby’s qualifications are obvious and mine are because I focus so much of my writing on scuba. The convention center in Orlando is huge and you do get a lot of walking in. Richie Kohler will be presenting on Friday and we’ll have an hour of book signing Wed, Thurs, and Friday. We will also be spending time together to discuss the other book he wants to do. (More about that after we talk.) Richie tends to be really popular though and I suspect he’ll be whisked off to a number of things he isn’t anticipating. I have plenty to keep me busy and unlike the trip to Louisiana, I should have consistent, reliable connectivity.
The area is quite the “foodie” place, too with a large shopping and entertainment complex within comfortable walking distance of the hotel. Comfortable distance for us, but I admit we tend to be more walkers than many people these days. I haven’t checked the weather forecast, so our plans could be disrupted if it’s messy. I don’t know if there will be any new restaurants open, although there are plenty to choose from and we’ve not been disappointed in the ones we’ve tried. We might branch out this time to more ethnic choices – depends on who we’re with and how we’re feeling.
I guess you never really know when coincidence will strike, or perhaps yesterday was another of those “meant to be moments”. I mentioned before I was taking a later than usual flight on the Shreveport to Atlanta leg. I woke up early as always though and in arriving early at the airport, I thought, well, I’ll see if I can get on the other flight, not expecting to have any success. The gentleman checking me in said he didn’t think I could, but he would send the bag up and I should talk to the young lady on the desk. I waited until everyone had gone into the jetway and she smilingly said he’d called her and she had only one seat left in the back of the plane. That was fine.
I proceeded on board and sat next to a woman, who as it turned out had never flown before. It does help to have an experienced flier in such cases although she wasn’t as anxious as one of the other passengers who was across the aisle seemed to be. If you’ve never been through Atlanta airport, it is huge, with multiple terminals and an excellent train system, but it can be quite confusing your first time there. When I learned the woman had only 47 minutes to catch her connecting flight, I was concerned. That was 47 minutes before the next flight left, not boarded. Atlanta is a good airport, but not for tight connections. Then we were delayed in departure by more than 30 minutes, which is highly unusual for Shreveport. I alerted the attendant to the situation and she said several people had tight connections with the extra delay. She gave everyone their gate information and I told the woman next to me as soon as we touched down, I would check her flight status and perhaps that flight was going to be delayed as well. It wasn’t. There were four other afternoon flights to her destination though. The attendant did explain the connection issue to the passengers as we landed (small plane with 24 on board) and asked if those who could wait would allow the rest of us to deplane first. Since I had plenty of time, I told my seatmate I would go with her and make sure she was taken care of. Fortunately, we did come into the same terminal and were only six gates apart. She could walk faster than me and I told her to go ahead and I’d come along just to check on her. Her connecting flight was on another, larger jet, so they did have about another fifteen passengers in line when she arrived. It was nice she didn’t have to go through the hassle of being re-booked and I hope the second flight went well for her.
My on-going computer aggravations are why the Day 2 post didn’t go up when I thought it did. In speaking with Hubby last night, he thinks the core problem is a settings issue (which would seem logical considering what’s happening) and he might be able to fix it without me needing to consult the Geeks. That would be nice, but we shall see.
I am in Shreveport – well, Bossier City – across the Red River. The wonderful steakhouse of Two Johns is on this side and I’m staying near there. I’m flying out a little later in the morning than I usually do. I was a bit tardy in booking for this trip and the earlier afternoon flights from Atlanta to Miami were already full. While in general I’d just as soon have a longer layover in Atlanta, I decided to change it up a bit this time. Either way I did it was going to mean leaving MIA at a terrible time from a traffic perspective. At least I don’t have to do that very often.
Today is son’s birthday and we exchanged email greetings this morning. He won’t be getting any celebration time for almost two weeks as he has overlapping dance performances. That happens to him about every two years. We’ll try to make his Fall show next year if things aren’t as hectic.
The visit with my dad was good. His health is fine although he will never recover full vision in the eye where a blood vessel burst several years ago. He’s been having treatment on it for a long time. Surgery is an option, however, it doesn’t always help and at his age, surgery without a good probability of improving the condition doesn’t make a lot of sense. He opted to not bother with it.
The temperature dropped overnight and I forgot to throw a wrap into the suitcase. I’ll plan to walk briskly from parking lot into heated buildings.
I did check the forecast before I left, but didn’t check it yesterday. The sound of rain and thunder at 6:00 a.m. wasn’t quite what I expected. The worst of it was over though when I got caught up on my momma’s side of the family and headed north. There is a section of interstate between the two towns, but it’s about half state roads without a lot of traffic on a Sunday. That is definitely a pleasant change from where I am usually driving. I had one of the C&W stations on the radio and basically drove the posted speed limit with only one care becoming impatient and that was near the end of the trip. The rain was fairly constant, although never too bad and it did quit when I was nearing my destination.
My sister was at the assisted living facility with my dad when I arrived and we spent the afternoon chattering away. That kept Daddy from having to engage in too much conversation which is kind of nice for him. He knows he can’t remember what is said and this way he didn’t have to even think about it. I’d brought him some of the dark chocolate covered coconut patties I always bring. These were the key lime flavored and one was just the right size. He has three more to enjoy – one for each day I’m here. My sister leaves Tues and I’ll stay until Wed late afternoon when I’ll go to a place closer to the airport and meet an old high school friend for dinner. We always try to get together and are usually able to make it happen.
Dinner tonight was at what is the nicest restaurant in town – an Italian place I have posted about before. It’s in an old bank building and they did a great job of restoration. The food is good with a nice selection. I had a chicken dish in a dose sauce topped with melted mozzarella and sliced roma tomatoes. Sis hadn’t had a good pizza for a while so she did that. If it’s open tomorrow night, we’re going to a crawfish place.