I left D.C. a few days ago, first stop: Austin, to see the Kellys and Randal (Ramsay couldn't make it). Departing had a few glitches-- I forgot to take my mini-laptop out of my carry-on bag, so the X-ray guys flagged it and I got a lecture about packing; then the bag wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment. This is a knapsack, but it expands to hold books, maps, cameras, computer, extra clothes (in case my other suitcase goes missing), snacks, water, first aid kit and anything else I might need on a long flight or that I don't want to check. And as I happened to be sitting in the front row with nothing but a bulkhead in front of me, there was no seat to shove it under.
Luckily this was one of the rare instances where we walked outside to the plane, so I could run back down the stairs and check it with the guys loading stuff into the belly of the plane. The flight attendant urged me to "make sure to get a green tag". Well, they had no green tags, and when asked where to get one, pointed back to the airport. This is with the plane fully boarded, and I pictured everyone in it sitting and waiting for me.
So I made a frantic dash through the icy rain to the terminal only to find no one there. I ran back to the baggage guys and plaintively asked "Where?" One of them walked me all the way back inside to the ticket counter and got a green tag, which we attached to my bag. I ran back and got on board just before they closed the doors, and, red-faced and panting, took my seat.
Oh, remember that icy rain I mentioned? It delayed our takeoff for two hours, so all that dashing about was a bit unneccessary after all.
Anyway, C.A. picked me up in Austin and took me to her sister Lisa's, who graciously let me stay with them, as C.A. & husband are selling their house. There I fed their rescued dog Gracie, a pretty lab/greyhound mix (pictured above) who was found running wild, and is still fearful of strangers but is slowly getting better, thanks to Lisa's and her boyfriend Clay's patient kindness. (Apparently she sometimes nips visitors in the bum, just to make her disapproval known-- I guess I passed the test).
The next day C.A took me into town and I got to meet her daughter Ella, who is the cutest, smartest and friendliest 3-year-old on the planet. We met Randal and ate at the great lakeside restaurant, the Hula Hut, where Ella, being the little socialite she is, made new friends and fed the swan & ducks with most of her (and everyone else's) lunch. Even big, tough Randal, who is not easily impressed, was instantly charmed by the little Belle of Austin.
Then the ladies left us, and Randal and I spent the evening catching up on old times. Just when you think you've heard every story he knows and everything he's done, he reveals an even more amazing tale of adventure!
I would relate some here, but that's the subject for another book. But I can tell you that he treated me to a sumptuous tex-mex dinner that filled me to bursting-- I literally could not sip a thimbleful of water more. Meanwhile his dinner got cold while he amazed me with spellbinding stories, myths & legends (ask him about the Tale of the Trip to Austin in the Rental Car with Ramsay, and the Drive Down the Capital Steps), until I had to remind him to eat.
The next day (after yet another abdomen-bloating Texas-sized brunch) we browsed some of Austin's fascinating specialty shops, from costume stores to a place so full of vintage and antique curios, Randal bought about six large bags worth of treasures. And since he has an unerring eye for valuable items , I am sure he made an immediate profit.
All too soon he had to go home to his wife & family (it was, after all, Valentine's Day) and I had dinner with some of the Kellys, and then after a quick visit to C.A.'s house, the Austin leg was over. But I did get to feed Gracie once more (who is still suspicious of me, as any young girl should be), and it slowly dawned on me that I was missing one of my pairs of glasses. So everyone was searching for me as I meekly scooted off to the airport, where, after I had some time to sit and think, I realized I had also left a shirt hung up in one of Lisa's closets! (Note: this had been a good lesson for me in keeping track of my things, lest I leave a trail of items all across the globe on my trek.)
The good news is, the glasses were found, so the kind folks from Austin will forward my things to me, and I am here now in Seattle, where I got another warm welcome, this time by many cousins and other relatives (including my parents), and am now getting reacquainted with some cousins who I haven't seen in years, if at all. I'll be back soon with more, including a bit on flying, airplanes, and the general state of aviation today. See ya then!