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.
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.
My sister left this morning to return to Houston and I’ll go back out to see Daddy tomorrow until lunchtime, then relocate to Shreveport where I’ll meet my friend for dinner and be closer to the airport. There is a local spot in the next town over which serves breakfast and lunch as a combination of hamburgers and donuts. It actually makes sense and Southern Maid are very much like Krispy Kremes. They are a regional chain and I had been told Hamburger Happiness was a worthy companion. Oh, they also serve Blue Bell ice cream. No calories in this place. I did finally go in and resisted all the extra temptations. There were no more than a dozen tables and I suspect the place is jammed at breakfast. The hamburger couldn’t have been more old-fashioned and it was delicious. The young man at the counter couldn’t have been friendlier and I can confidently send anyone in. This is a situation where the “next town over” is very close, as in the two town limits signs are on the same post.
As another first, I was drawn into being the fourth for a game of dominos this afternoon. The assisted living facility where my dad is doesn’t have a lot of amenities, but Bingo and dominos are among them. I often watch folks play when I’m visiting and I haven’t played since I was a kid. There was no question I was definitely the novice in the group. It was fun though and I did better than I expected. Didn’t win, mind you although I finished in a respectable second.
Okay, I generally post only about my trips in these situations, but I am going to deviate from that. It was a good day visiting with my dad and sister. On the other hand, after the longest gap since 1997, my new novel, To Play on Grass Fields, is out. I need to explain about this book though. It is very different from any of my others. As I mention on the website, it is darker, more intense, and has a strong political tone. The easiest way to explain it is if you ever read and enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, you should be okay. That is not to say it is anywhere nearly as long or has the making of a classic, but merely to give an idea of what it is like.
I developed the idea for the book more than twenty years ago when I was in Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in the waning months of my career. I retired soon after returning from that deployment in a coincidence of timing, not because of. The position I held while in Haiti gave me insight into some discussions I would not have ordinarily had. Those conversations and my own observations stayed with me and I struggled with how to articulate what I wanted to present in the book. Now, as with most novels, while there are absolutely true elements woven in, it is written for drama with what is referred to as “literary license”. Therefore, revelation about the incident in the Caribbean should not be taken as literal.
If this book does not appeal to you, don’t worry. I do intend to have Shades of Deception, the new scuba-themed novel out in Jan or Feb. If I can ever figure out one more sub-plot to Small Town Quilting Treasures, I will have that out next summer.
Oh, I did have my catfish meal which is a “must” when I come back to Louisiana.
Sorry, I was going to upload the cover of the book, but am having computer issues. (That will ne explained in my next post.)
I normally take this trip early in Oct to be with Daddy for his birthday. There were complicating factors this year and my brother and sister-in-law were there for the actual day to celebrate the 93rd. I had already made my decision to go later and while my sister had planned to be there for the event, she hadn’t planned on Hurricane Harvey. The flooding was less at their place than many others, but still a couple of months for repairs and being displaced (not to mention the terrible mess). She and my brother-in-law arrived last night in Louisiana and I will join them tomorrow afternoon. The last three trips back I haven’t had the chance to see the branch of the family that lives about 2 hours south of Daddy. I’ll head that direction as soon as I get the rental car and catch up with however many cousins show up at my aunt’s house. It might be quite a few if the normal group is around.
This trip has been one where everything was terribly jammed all week and I couldn’t prepare the way I wanted. That mean last night was late for me and although the 5:00 a.m. wake-up is normal, that usually comes with an earlier bedtime. Ah well, so it goes. No significant delays in the first flight and the second leg looks okay so far. I won’t have connectivity again until tomorrow evening so am dashing this off before I head to the gate. More to follow of the adventures.
Pink Mangroves by Mimi Dickson
I was an infant in the first town we lived in, but it was the third one I can remember that was large enough (and that wasn’t huge) to have an art gallery or two. As it turns out, there are more there now although that isn’t the actual subject of this post. People who come to Homestead are a bit startled to see we have no galleries. There were some and during the real estate bust, a number of properties closed or changed hands and one of the impacts was to lose the galleries. Notwithstanding the fact I do buy lottery tickets, we still haven’t found that individual with a couple of million dollars to come in and open a gallery. It is difficult for local artists and in response, one of the Council members established an “Artist in the Spotlight” Program several years ago. An artist is selected and has a two-month exhibition. It was hosted by the Community Center which is a nice facility. After the historic Seminole Theatre re-opened, they installed a very nice hanging system and the exhibits are held there. A number of artists in Homestead Center for the Arts have been featured, and in fact, we will have three in a row spanning August through January. (The painting in here is currently on display.)
One of the excellent restaurants I’ve posted about (Chefs on the Run) has always displayed local art and as of last week, the Capri Restaurant (which also has Pub 935) joined in. The back room, known as the Gallery Room, had photographs and paintings, and I had noticed they seem to have been there for quite some time. We engaged in a discussion and I had not realized the owner’s mother had been one of the founding members of the Homestead Art Club. The Art Club had declined due to different factors and one of the HCA members revived it a few months ago. Membership is flourishing and they have now entered a partnership to display art and have a new exhibit every three months. Neither of these options is ideal as the artist has to be contacted for a sale and that reduces the chance for “impulse buys”. On the other hand, their work is displayed to the public and they can take pride in seeing it. And yes, sales do get made. By the way, if you do happen to know of anyone looking to open an art gallery, this could be the place.