Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Mini-vacation of the Summer

Last weekend started off with a death march:
  • Up at 5am and out of the house by 5:30 to get to Steiner Ranch for a swim meet.  Steiner did everything they could to make it miserable:
    1. Tents as far from the pool as possible
    2. No working loudspeaker in the guest tent area to let racers know when their event was starting
    3. Only one working toilet in the men's room
  • Each of the kids swam two individual events and both of the boys swam relays
  • At 10am, we broke down all our swim meet gear and headed home to prepare for a dance recital at 2pm
  • Peyton danced beautifully and the recital was really nice.
  • We went home to rest for a few minutes then Jen and Peyton headed back to see the second performance of the recital.

Then we ate dinner and slept.

Sunday, we got up and got to work on the house.  Cleaning, laundry, dishes, preparing to pack...very busy.  After knocking out some really good work we  rewarded ourselves with some early vacation.  Off we went to the 4pm show to see Star Trek: Into Darkness.

SPOILER ALERT - The movie was very, very good.  Many good performances but, in a surprise to no one, I loved Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan.  Fantastic.

Then, home to pack and get some sleep.

Monday morning we jumped out of bed, packed up the family truckster, and headed to Great Wolf Lodge.  I love Great Wolf Lodge.  When you have kids (and me) with skin that burns on a long walk it is hard to beat an indoor water park.  We were lucky enough (Thanks, GrandTrudy!) to find a Groupon.  I quickly realized why there was a Groupon for the dates: Cheerleading camp at Great Wolf Lodge.  We had to share the park with hundreds of middle school cheerleaders for one of our two days but it wasn't too bad.  Lots of screaming and sullenness but the lines still weren't too long.

We took a break in the afternoon got grab a snack, get a little rest, and play some cards.

Only negative on this trip was dinner our first night.  Last year, our experience in the on-site restaurant was very good but this year the food was sub-par and service was slow.  The rest of the experience was good enough to easily offset the restaurant.  The kids had a great time and everyone was exhausted by the time we rolled out of bed Wednesday morning.

As with all Shockley/Daniels vacations, this one had an educational component.  After considering our options, we decided to hit the Sixth Floor Museum.  I didn't have high expectations but was pleasantly surprised.  The building is well-preserved and the exhibition and audio tour are top-notch.

An elevator has been added externally so after a quick trip up to the sixth floor you walk in through what was previously a window.  The original freight elevator is to the right and the floor and beamed ceiling have been preserved much as they were fifty years ago.  The exhibition contains a great overview of Kennedy's presidency and his trip to Texas.  The audio tour narration and writing is excellent by any measure.  One of the best features is the ability to tailor the level of detail to your liking with a number of optional informational bits available.  Overall, this tour is an A+.

The most surprising, eerie, haunting feature was the corner and window used by Oswald.  The area has been walled off and sealed in glass as close as possible to how they found it the day of the assassination.  Spooky but amazing.  There are very few places where you can see a moment in history captured this way.  Truly chill inducing.

After three hours in the museum (I know, I know...this borders on child abuse but I promise they really loved it.  Even the 14-year old seemed moved) we took a quick walk around Dealey Plaza.  Great day.

After our foray into culture, we brought it back down a notch and grabbed some lunch at In-N-Out.  Good burgers and fries but the rest of the world has run down In-N-Out's lead.  Just in Austin, P Terry's and Hat Creek are definitely in the same neighborhood.  We grabbed a quick bite then hit the road to Austin in time to pick up our dogs from the kennel and get the kids in bed so they can be up bright and early for swim in the morning.  Can't wait for the next  one.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cheat Day - April 13, 2013

I am doing a terrible job of taking pictures.

The breakfast Gringa at El Taquito is the best breakfast taco in Austin/Round Rock.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I am moving to New Orleans!!!

Okay, maybe not.  But I would.  I know it is a wild-ass, out-of-control kinda place but I really love it.  Crazy Bourbon Street activity aside, New Orleans is a great city with culture, art, and fantastic restaurants.  The down-side would be ballooning up to 500 pounds and being bed-ridden.  It is a city that promotes a total lack of moderation.

We have gone the last four years and have certain places we can't miss.  Acme makes a nice char-grilled oyster and the rest of the food is not too bad, either.  If you like po-boys, the Peacemaker is one of the best in town.  it can be a little tourist-y and you pay a small premium for the reputation.  If you are going for the char-grilled oysters and there is a long line you should check out Felix's across the street.  Shorter lines and great oysters (but be forewarned, a little strong on the garlic).  On friend's recommendation, we also tried Drago's this trip and the oysters were great there, too.  To summarize the Char-grilled Oyster situation (at least for this visit):

Acme - Good oysters on the smallish side with just the right amount of cheese cooked to a just-right crispness

Drago's - The champion on this trip.  Short wait, delicious oysters and good service.  Don't be fooled by the fact that it is a huge restaurant in the Hilton.  Still great.

Felix's - HUGE oysters, lots of butter, and strong garlic.  I love these but they leaned toward Italian instead of cajun.

Our first morning, when we finally make it out of bed, starts with a walk straight to Mother's.  If you haven't had the black ham you don't know how good ham can be.  Two egg breakfast over easy, grits, and black ham.  Run, don't walk.  If you are on your cheat day (like I was) you should have the bread pudding for breakfast.  I know no self-control.

Mister B's is a great spot for brunch.  The food is great (Eggs Benedict for me) and the atmosphere and music is everything New Orleans should be.  Sweet sounding jazz trio that makes you forget what year it is.  The service is perfect.

Opinions on Emeril's restaurants vary but we have always enjoyed Delmonico.  Not for everybody, but great service in a beautiful old Garden District house is work the trip. 

Back on track - April 10, 2013

Not getting old...yet

Turkey and spinach from a Jason's Deli sandwich for lunch.

Wholesome goodness from Freebird for dinner.  Delicious.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30, 2013 - Cheat Days are Awesome

Chorizo and Egg - I would eat it everyday if it wouldn't kill

More tacos.  Chicken fajita.

Manicotti at Mandola's at the Triangle.  Really excellent.