Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome back! Let me continue my story of the great vacation with the grandsons. Let me see, now where were we? I think Day 6 – yes.

It started with a two-hour boat ride on the Wisconsin river. Two stops for refreshments and a look at some great rock formations. The boys got wonderful pictures and may have learned something about Geology.

The afternoon was spent at another water park. Yessirree – four hours of sun and water, AGAIN!!!! By now I was practically glowing in the the dark!

While driving into the parking lot and going over a speed bump, we heard a strange noise from the truck but, seeing nothing, we parked. Walking to the entrance, we came upon a tire next to a speed bump in the parking lot. Gramps and I looked at each other. This couldn’t be our tire, could it? Gramps went back to the truck and sure enough, our spare had fallen out. What were the chances?!! So we loaded it back in the truck, shaking our heads at the unbelievability of the whole thing.

This being the 4th of July, we later joined the residents downtown for a spectacular fireworks show. Nothing beats fireworks, patriotic music, red/white/blue colors and the national anthem surrounded by families of every color and nationality under the sun. Another great day!

Day 7 was a really slow starter – I think we all slept until 11 am. Being a tourist is hard work! By early afternoon, Gramps and the boys were off for some golf lessons. They planned a round of golf, but all three decided it was too hot. So back in the pool they went. It seems boys and water are a natural combination. Just add suits.

That evening we had a campfire at the RV site and roasted huge marshmallows. The boys looked up a list of the 100 best jokes, and told us one joke after another until I thought I would die from laughing – mostly fourth-grade jokes but still pretty funny.

My favorite? OK here it is. The Lord said to John, “Come forth and I will give you everlasting life.” John came fifth and got a toaster.” I know! I’m still laughing!!

That night was the best ever. We talked, we laughed, we interacted, we got to know each other better, we looked at Jupiter’s moons through the binoculars. How perfect! We kept the fire going as long as possible because we didn’t want the night to end. I wish all nights could be as wonderful as that one was.

Ready for another absolutely miraculous coincidence? The next morning Gramps was getting a new tire put on the truck to prevent another flat. A piece was missing from the spare tire carrier that had fallen off in the parking lot two days earlier. So he drove to the parking lot and there, on top of the now infamous speed bump, was a little washer. Just the right size washer, mind you, that fit the holder for the spare. Really?!! No kidding!! He found it days later in the parking lot of a water park in a resort town on a holiday weekend! One single 1″ round washer!!!!!

Now I need to tell you that throughout the week it rained – everyday. But sometimes it rained at night or early in the morning or if it rained during the day, it only rained for about 5-10 minutes. The timing was unbelievable. It never interfered with our fun or ruined any activity. Uncanny really.

Day 8 was devoted to a Drum Corps performance in Whitewater, about two hours away. We met some friends there and had a tailgate dinner with one of the Corps. Both of the boys play musical instruments – one the sax, the other tuba and drums- so we knew they would enjoy the musical extravaganza of Drum Corps. Well, it was perfect weather and a great show. Shawn, who had never seen a Drum Corps performance before, was enthralled. He sat on the edge of his seat all evening.

The next morning we all got up early for the long trip to Kansas City to put Shawn on the plane back home. Thanks to modern technology, the boys again entertained themselves in the truck for hours.

We also reminisced about our days in Wisconsin, the fun things we did and some of our favorite jokes from campfire night. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the memory of it.

Shawn got on the plane for his second time in the air. He was evidently a “pro” by then, of course. How funny to see a thirteen-year-old who thinks he knows everything about a subject, but still needs help.

Mac and Gramps and I got home the next night with no problems.

Were we alive? Barely! Were we exhausted? Completely! Were we still laughing and telling grand stories? You bet! Was it the best vacation ever? Absolutely! Would I do it again with two thirteen-year-olds? In a heart beat!

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Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 1

It started out like any other camping trip. No serious problems really. Day 1 both propane tanks turned up empty, so we had no hot water or refrigerator cooling on the road. Day 2 was a quick stop for propane, then we had our obligatory flat tire on the way to the airport to pick up grandson Shawn. (Grandson Mac was already with us.) That makes about five flat tires we’ve had on camping trips now. It turned out to be a blessing though, as we were able to limp into the airport, and Gramps was able to get the tire changed there in the time we waited for Shawn to arrive. Perfect!! (We are actually getting pretty good at changing flat tires after all those previous flats!!) Like I said, no real issues!!!

So on Day 2 we had two 13 year old grandsons in the back seat of the truck. Now that was an issue! I’m talking entertaining two teenage boys in a vehicle for 8-9 hours. Yeah! (Thank goodness for I phones, Netflix, earbuds, video games, chargers and just plain sharing of devices.)  That turned out to be a long day, facing an enormous thunderstorm all the way to Iowa City, but we didn’t reach it.  Arriving at 11pm, we were fortunate that the one remaining spot in the campground was ours – reserved.

Next day was shorter, and after setting up camp near the Mississippi, we enjoyed a great day with relatives, but only after Shawn fell trying to spin the bicycle in the RV campgrounds and gouged his left knee. Who says thirteen year olds are coordinated? But the boys were lucky enough to see a river barge pass through the locks in Dubuque.  When out tour continued at the riverfront, our wine-tasting was made more memorable by a severe thunderstorm and a tornado warning.  The boys held the restaurant door closed!  Perfect ending to a perfect day!

How about keeping enough food and milk to feed said boys in a refrigerator the size that would fit in a Barbie Doll house? Uh huh! And then there’s keeping enough sun screen on two teenagers at a water park, so I don’t have to explain to their mothers why I am sending home two crispy fried critters. Now that is a real problem!!! Can I get an AMEN to that?!

Day 4 – we arrived in the Dells and chose a list of activities.  First was the famous water skiing show, so we didn’t spend much time not having fun. That night we started a rousing game of Monopoly that wouldn’t end, so we put up all our individual holdings to finish the next night.

Of course, I have to mention here that our RV space was right next to the railroad tracks. Now I personally love the sound of a train going by. The rest of the family, not so much. Some sleep was lost due to the frequent passing of the loooong trains carrying grain south.

Day 5 the two boys spent the morning testing their Go-Kart skills. Pretty good actually! They sped around passing each other, waving each time they went by and smiling from ear to ear.

The rest of the day was spent at the Mt. Olympus Water Park (Just so you can get an idea of its size). Now I’m talking in the sun, in the wave pool, being buffeted by a 9 foot wave every two minutes for 5 ½ hours!!! Who can do that?!! Well, two thirteen-year-olds can! And of course, Gramps and I in chairs with cameras taking pictures of both boys the whole time.

What a day! We all looked rosy and sunkissed, were exhausted and starving. Back to the RV for dinner. Now just so we all understand . . . “starving” to a 13 year old means eating while dinner is being fixed, eating dinner and then snacking all evening until bedtime. No kidding!!!

In the evening, while snacking, we resumed the Monopoly game from the previous night. Tension was high! No one had a monopoly! Trading was about to begin! Everyone had a plan! Everyone was determined to win! Then the dice rolled – cut-throat Monopoly began!

But, as usual, Gramps had the best properties, the most money and won by a huge margin. He always wins- we can’t figure it out. This is a game of chance, right? So how come he ALWAYS WINS!?! Ah well, we had a great time. I found being in Jail to be the safest place – no rent to pay to Gramps and his many houses and hotels!

Day 6 started out slow, We slept in, late breakfast. Then took the boys to a hands-on science laboratory. Lots of interactive fun there and we even learned a thing or two. Took a video of Mac on the Gyrotron, spinning around. He did fine – I got a little sick just watching him turn every which way but up.

We ate lunch while watching women’s soccer on TV. We hit the proverbial tourist’s wall about then and came back to the RV for some rest. As my Dad used to say, “Having that much fun can kill you!”

As I look around the room now, everyone is on their mobile device, in a reclining position. One is playing a game with a scowl on his face, another is watching a movie, laughing out loud and the third is playing solitaire with a look of satisfaction. Does it get any better the this? Surrounded by my family, feeling such contentment and love, and so completely ignored by everyone!!!

I’m going to end this now and check in with you all later when I have recovered my dignity.

We are planning more activities, July 4th fireworks, a Drum Corps performance and of course, daily trips to store for food.

Check in later for the rest of the story.

Granny

What An Adventure!!!

So Gramps and I decided to go on a little camping trip to Iowa, spending a few days with his two cousins and their wives along the Mississippi River.  Just a week to get away from the heat here in Texas, visit with family and enjoy the outdoors.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Doable, easy, no big problem.

Well, that’s what I thought too, at least on Day One. The first day of travel was uneventful. A peaceful day of driving and arriving at a pleasant State Park in Kansas.

After a couple nights in another campground, we headed for the Iowa State Park and the group campout, although with one camper tire that had turned up low on air.  After re-inflation, things started to fall apart, although we didn’t know at the time how much.  Other drivers passing us started pointing.  I thought they were rude.  Gramps finally realized something was wrong and pulled over.

Sure enough, a flat tire. Not just a flat tire, but an exploded tire!  We were driving on the rim and the tread was wrapped around the axle.

Gramps was unable to get the lug nuts off the wheel because it kept turning – brakes wouldn’t hold it, chocks no good, pry bars…nothing.  And we couldn’t call for help because we were in a “No Service” area – cell phones wouldn’t work.

Well, we were just going to have to rely on the kindness of strangers, so we flagged down a nice gentleman who drove Gramps to the nearest spot where the phone would work and he could call for roadside assistance.

As things happen, a nice burly man stopped on his own accord and offered to help while Gramps was gone.  He was able to get the lug nuts off and started to replace the wheel.  I could not call Gramps to tell him to return because, as you recall, I was in a dead zone.

By the time Gramps did return, the tire was almost in place and a service tech was on his way.  We finished getting the spare on, thanked all our helpers and drove off to find cell coverage, and cancel the service request.

We soon arrived at the State Park, set up, had dinner and fell into bed.

During the night, a big thunderstorm came up and we noticed a leak coming from the skylight.  So we put a big bowl under it and went back to bed.

Before sunrise, I picked up my clock to check the time (5 am!!) and found my hand in a pool of water on the top of the bedside table.  At the same time, I felt water dripping on the back of my hand. We had another leak!!  We got up and sopped it all up with paper towel, then put another bowl in place to catch the drip coming from the ceiling.  No more sleep for us.

That same day, we discovered the carpeting in the living area was sopping wet.  Not just wet, but saturated, soggy, boggy wet.  We finally discovered that the water tank fill hose is in that corner and we had used that inlet to fill the tank with about twenty gallons of water the previous day.  Searching further, we found a large cut in the hose, which meant that most of that water leaked into the camper and got sucked up by the carpet.

Well, we tried sopping it up with paper towels until we ran out.  It became clear that paper towels were not going to do the job, so to save the flooring, we started removing carpet. Gramps cut out a four foot square of carpet – can’t tell you how ugly THAT looks!!!

Then we decided to put the fan down on the remaining carpet to help dry it out. The only problem?  It’s a 12-volt fan, without an outlet in that area.  Time to go to Wally World!!  We needed a 110-volt fan and certainly more paper towels.

By then the cousin couple from Michigan had arrived, so we all began setting up their unit and cheerful visiting.  All was well for the rest of the day.

Next day, we found the truck carpeting along the sill was saturated.  Did it leak in the all-night rainfall?  Yes, we tried paper towels by the roll.  Then Gramps pried the carpet up with screwdrivers and pliers to allow air circulation. By the end of the day he had added a hair dryer that eventually ran three straight days and nights and never did dry out the carpeting.

Then the camper lost battery power, which meant we had no 12-volt lights or water pump, and no water service.  We started hauling water in a big tub from the fill station to the camper for the toilet and the sink. That was a fun day!!!  Meanwhile, battery trouble-shooting continued.

Suddenly the next day, the battery power come back on all by itself.  No one knows why or how.  We were just glad that finally something good had happened.

Finally all three families had arrived and we had nightly campfires together.  We had drinks for everyone, big dinners made by one couple each evening, long talks, lots of laughs . . . and bugs.  Biting bugs.  Bugs that bit some of us but not all of us.

That’s right, I was one of the chosen and in two evenings was covered on my hands, arms, back, legs, ankles and feet.  With so many bites I looked like I had measles. And itch?!!  I felt like a bear in heat.  I was rubbing on everything and everybody.

Then the truck door panel, held on by one screw because Gramps had been working on it, came loose when the screw fell out and so every time he opened the door, the panel fell down a few inches.  It had to stay connected for mirror and window power.  Solution?  Climb across from the passenger door.  No problem!!!

Oh, and don’t use the driver side window either, because it had become unreliable and got stuck in open position once.  So when going through Toll Booths, Granny had to jump out, run around, pay the toll, run back and jump in the truck.  Quite a sight really!!!

Days with the cousins were fun.  We shared meals, we shared war stories, we shared many laughs and hugs.  The campout was over too soon.  Time to get ready to go home. Make plans to do it again.  Stock up on wine from an excellent Iowa winery, stock up on fresh sweet corn. ( We were in Iowa remember!! ).  Get the camper ready to go.

While breaking camp, we found that one of the gray tanks couldn’t be drained due to a broken tank valve.  Yikes!!  I was starting to get a little paranoid.  What more could happen?  I didn’t even want to think about it.

We drove home with dread following us.  What was going to happen?  Where would it happen?

Our first day of the return trip, we got to our campground with no issues.  Maybe our luck had changed.

The last day started out fine and then suddenly Gramps began slowing and pulled over to the shoulder – he heard and saw yet another tire (the old spare) flailing. It couldn’t be!!!!!!!

BUT IT WAS!!!!!  And it was the spare tire we had put on after the first blowout. Yessirree!!! The exact same tire!!!

We were getting pretty good at changing tires by then.  I knew exactly where the jack was and how to put it together.  We had just been through this routine.  It all was very familiar, and even a blessing to have trouble on a beautiful day, good highway, little traffic, and plenty of space for the tire change.  In hindsight, we should not have used that old spare, but rather the new tire.

By now, I was laughing a bit hysterically.  It all seemed so funny, so ridiculous, so arbitrary. Whereas earlier, I was stressed and worried, thinking how will we make it through all this?  If anything more happens, I will surely crack.  But then more happened and I didn’t crack.

It all looked pretty funny now, so absurd.  We had no control of anything, we might as well enjoy the ride.  We sure couldn’t stop or change it.  When my mind changed, it became a lot more enjoyable.  It was almost exciting, waiting for the next catastrophe to occur, to be surprised by the next disaster.

We started making bets on what would happen next.  Would we arrive home in a ball of flame?  Would the grey tank become too full and spill into the camper?  Would the roof come off in a wind gust?

The options went on and on and got more bizarre.  But it kept us entertained that last four hundred miles.

We got home in one piece, so to speak.  But we were limping for sure.

We got the camper into emergency surgery the next day, thanks to our sympathetic RV dealer.  We had only four days to get her fixed before a two-week trip to California.

Four days later she came back with all the immediate needs fixed.  Good news!  We could go to California without a care in the world.  She would work like a charm.

So we got her home, opened her up.   OMG!!!!!! She was full of ants!!!!!!  Ants everywhere!!!!!!!  ANTS, ANTS, ANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It feels like deja vu.

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

I’m back to hysteria again.

Five Days In Paducah

Paducah is a small town in Kentucky that has a very large quilt show in April every year. And by large, I do mean LARGE! My two friends Pam and Kim and I spent five wonderful days taking in the show and the whole town during that great Quilt Show week.

We took our husbands and our campers with us for that extra touch of fun. Believe me, it is the only way to travel.

After two days of light travel we arrived in Paducah, the Nirvana for quilters. The weather was perfect, the surroundings green and lush, the campgrounds charming. We were ready with our lists of “needed” items to buy, bags to carry our stuff and the ever necessary credit cards in hand.

DAY ONE – We visited the Quilt Museum, a must see for any visit to Paducah. The display is constantly changing, which keeps it exciting. We saw some spectacular Japanese quilts.

The local School of Art and Design had a display of quilts from Korea. The oriental influence was seen everywhere!

We then went to Hancocks of Paducah-a store the size of two warehouses! At the front door was a sign stating that only women’s restrooms were inside. Men had to use Port-a-Johns outside. A theme we were to see everywhere all week. (I guess there are never enough restrooms when 35,000 women hit town all at once!)

Hancocks had everything! Yardage, traditional, batiks, precuts, panels, trims, paper piecing, sale tables, the works. We were there for a couple hours! We had to look at everything, touch everything, think about everything and then decide to buy or not. We were exhausted!

After lunch we found the Paper Piecing shop. What a great little shop! Everything you need to paper piece and I do mean everything. I found the parts to paper piece my Dear Jane quilt. I got row E. I’m so excited to try it out and see how it works.

That afternoon we found a temporary shop selling fabric at $5/yd. I found several pieces for the hexagons I’m doing on a future quilt. All of us found something we “needed”.

Back to the campground for a wine tasting party. It was grand! The wine was so good, we told our hubbies to go the next day and get some wine to take home.

A lovely sunset and off to bed.

DAY TWO – The second morning was spent at the Quilt In A Day shop. A cute place with very colorful fabrics.

We found another $5/yd place with some great fabrics and even some wool. All of us got a few good pieces there.

After lunch with the hubbies, we went next door to “Jack the Seam Ripper”. Love the name! Kim found a quilt she could not live without and it came home with her.

That evening we had BBQ at the campgrounds. However, BBQ in Kentucky means pulled pork. To Texans, like us, it means smoked beef, but it was tender and tasty. The side dishes were very good.

Another wonderful evening and off to our campers for a good night’s sleep.

DAY THREE – The Quilt Show officially opened! We spent the whole day on the first floor of the Convention Center. Many outstanding quilts on display – mouthwatering and awe-inspiring. We couldn’t get enough of them.

One unbelievable quilt to behold was the wooden quilt. Yes, it was a carved 3-D quilt that looked like it was hanging over a rope on the wall. I don’t care how close you got, it looked real. Only after you touched it, did it finally sink in that this was a wooden object. A real stunner!

Another display that was especially unique was Ian Berry’s. His denim rooms and objects were beyond words. An entire life-size laundromat made entirely out of jean denim! Unbelievable! And the Indigogo Record Shop with all the album covers- spectacular! Beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

A Silent Auction was being held to sell about 20 orphan quilts of all styles, ages and conditions. One precious old blue and white pieced one was calling to me. It had obviously been loved and used and had a current bid of $30 on it submitted by a lady named Judy. I upped the bid to $31 and stood guard to protect my quilt. Bidding ended before Judy could return to increase her bid. The quilt was mine. Judy did corner me  as I was waiting in the payment line to tell me how much she loved blue and white. I assured her I did also and the quilt was going to a good home. She seemed pleased, patted the quilt and walked off.

Kim and Pat bought quilts too. What a beginning to a Quilt Show!

Besides quilts there were vendors to die for! More wool than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I got many beautiful threads for my Sue Spargo projects and an easel for a tray  I got in Houston last year. Its going to look great in front of my fireplace.

The surprise at the campground after dinner was an ice cream social. What fun that was! We got to make our own ice cream sundaes.

DAY FOUR – The second day of the Quilt Show we explored the second floor of the Convention Center. More quilts on exhibit and many more vendors.

We had a great day shopping and viewing, viewing and shopping. More wools were to be found and lovely decorative threads and trims. I got a couple of wool kits to make small replicas of crooks-1 gallon, 2 gallon and a butter dish. They are charming beyond words!

More fabrics for my hexie border on my unmade quilt. Hey, it’ll get made someday . . . . . . maybe! And I found some light batiks that seem to be hard to find. I only realized this since I started to look for them for a future quilt.

A lovely day was had by all. We took our lunch each day to avoid the mad rush and utilized the bag check numerous times a day. That way we were not overloaded with bags and bags of goodies while shopping. And each day our wonderful husbands would pick us up right outside the hotel and take us and ALL our stuff home.

This day we had to make an extra stop at the Harley Davidson Shop to get a T-shirt for Pam’s husband. He is a rider and that is his idea of a souvenir. We couldn’t stay too long because the other husbands started petting the bikes, talking to them and finally my Sweetie sat on one. That’s when I said we gotta go–before we all end up with a motor cycle!

That evening at the campground we took a class in wool appliqué and made a little needle case. We had a kit with everything. All I took was a pair of scissors and a thimble. I have never taken so little to any class before. Had a ball!

Learned some new things – some I liked, some I don’t think I’ll do again. All good knowledge. ( I’m so in love with that campground – I can’t even tell you!)

Went to bed exhausted!

DAY FIVE – By day five we were experts at this Paducah Quilt Show thing. We knew when to get up, what shoes to wear, what to pack for lunch, what bags to bring, when to stop for lunch, when to take an afternoon break, etc. We were Primo quilt show attendees. Ask us any question and we had the answer. We had seen it all and done it all . . . . . except the DOME.

The Dome  sits out by itself in a parking lot like a big white soft inflated warehouse. Which is pretty much what it is. You can walk to it or take a short shuttle trip. It calls to you like a big balloon full of goodies.

You think what can possibly be over there that I haven’t already seen? Surely there’s nothing new there – nothing really exciting. Surely . . . . . well, surely I was WRONG!!!!!

The Dome was full of more wonderful fabrics, wools, threads, trims, etc., etc. I can’t go on! It was magic! We found embroidery patterns we had never seen before – with a brand new type of mylar.

And French fabrics and trims! Mai oui! C’est bon! Magnifique! Things you can find no where else but found in her booth.

Finally, finally, we were done and headed back to the Convention Center in the last shuttle bus to pick up our stuff in bag check. When we arrived, our bags were the last ones left. Whew! That was close!

Back to the campers to look at all our new toys and playthings. We made some outstanding purchases, some funny buys, some “what did I do that for?” additions, some “wish I”d gotten more of that” sales and some “I hope this works” buys. All in all, a good week.

We saw more quilts than we expected and better quality than we hoped for, variety beyond belief and “expanding our culture” ones that truly opened our eyes and our minds.

Quilts are enjoyed on so many levels, it is truly hard to describe how much we enjoyed the displays. Some quilts were inspiring, some were plain awesome, some were so amazing I couldn’t imagine even attempting those. Some had so much detail you had to get very close, others had to be seen from a distance. Some fooled your eye and some were honest to a fault. Some wanted to be interpreted, hoping each viewer would come away with a different viewpoint, while others asked for no interpretation at all. Some were bright and loud, using every color of the rainbow, and then some used muted pale colors or no color at all.

How to judge a quilt show – you can’t! You can simply enjoy it. And that’s what we did for five days in Paducah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Can Be Done With A Piece Of Blue Fabric

Recently I went to the Houston Quilt Show and the quilts I saw there were spectacular.  Of course I was drawn to the blue and white ones because that’s just how I roll. And I began to think of what could be done if you had just one piece of blue fabric. Maybe not dozens, but just one. Not a shopful , just one.

Well some people are really good at answering that question. I started to see some of the quilts in a new light. Here are some of the pretties I saw in one day.

Is this one wonderful or what?  It is a garden with bugs and all.  Here is a closeup of the ants.Too cute, right?

I adore this one!  All the different baskets and the handles at all different angles. This one reminds me of whirligigs. Maybe I’m showing my age and some of you don’t know what whirligigs are, but they look just like this quilt.  Tee Hee!

How fantastic is this?!  It’s like looking through many little stained glass windows. Or maybe a dozen or more blue snowflakes. Anyway this one is truly great! I really like the assymetrical look of this quilt. I don’t usually think that way, but I love it when others do.All the blue here is in the background. Another thing I seldom think of, but love it when others do it.What a great illusion this creates from a distance. And all those tiny pieces! My goodness!I can’t even imagine how this quilt was made! I’m so impressed! The Flying Geese are beyond spectacular!Another quilt where most of the blue is in the background. Love that starburst!Here is my favorite blue and white. Can’t go wrong with the standard color combination. The piecing that went into this beauty is beyond my imagination. It looks 3-D. A very modern looking design but the blue and white coloring draws me in.There are no words for this one! It looks like it is moving! Hard to accomplih with pieces of fabric. But very well done by this quilter.

And this was not all the ones that were there, just the ones that I saw. What a lovely day! My blue and white love was well met by the wonderful quilters at Houston.  And I wish to thank each one for filling my heart as well as my eyes full of beauty and craftsmanship.

If this much can be done with blue, can you imagine what can be done with  all the colors of the rainbow?

Camp Out, Pig Out

This is the eleventh year that four friends and Gramps and I have gone camping together for a long weekend in the spring. We have known each other for many years. In fact, one friend Ethel and I have known one another since the sixth grade. We have seen all the good, the bad and the ugly in each other many times over.

It started innocently enough with a group camping trip. We traded meals and that’s when we found out that Bill or Mr. Bill as we call him, was a master cast iron chef. He then became our breakfast guru.

Breakfast soon became a bacon lovers delight. Bacon does go with everything, you know! As in bacon and eggs, bacon and pancakes, bacon and ham, bacon and cheese, bacon and potatoes, bacon and . . . bacon. There are so many ways to eat bacon, as we discover each year.

Breakfasts lasted longer each year. First an hour, then two, now up to three hours including dessert. Yes, we have dessert for breakfast!

We have found that breakfast is so spectacular and lasts so long, what with all the courses and talking and more courses and more talking, that we usually don’t plan lunch anymore.

There is a mid afternoon snack. Something healthy, like brownies or cookies. Then a big dinner planned and served by one of us. It’s really just a big eat fest. Hence, the name – Camp Out, Pig Out. It has since been shortened to COPO.

Since Gramps and I are retired, we are the scouting party and arrive a couple of days early. We set up camp, get nearby sites for everyone and test the local sights and cuisine.

On Friday afternoon the other two couples arrive and set up their rigs. I always serve Friday night dinner because I have the time to cook while they are traveling.

This year we are having homemade grilled hamburgers (nothing better!), potato salad, fresh tomatoes, chips, guacamole and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Sound good?

On Saturday morning, of course, is a mega breakfast, Mr. Bill style. Bacon, bacon and more bacon. Yum! After this artery stopping meal, we usually divide up – men go fishing and/or boating, women go shopping.

In other words, the guys head to the nearest body of water, attach bits of fish/hot dog/bait/etc on the end of poles and sit for hours waiting and waiting. This activity is called fishing and men love to do it, talk about it, plan for it and buy equipment for it. Our men are no different.

Every year they go fishing. Every year they catch nothing. Every year they have a great time. Go figure!

The ladies, on the other hand, go shopping or sightseeing or both. We have been to antique stores, quilt shops, historic homes, museums, gardens, gift shops. And we have been successful every single time!

Oh yes, we have never come home empty handed. What glorious things we have found. What fabulous memories we have made. What fun we have had.

For several years now, Ethel has made matching T-shirts for the three of us ladies. One year as we were out shopping in our three identical shirts, I convinced a shop owner that we were triplets out for a day of fun. The other two were exploding trying to keep from laughing and I was having the time of my life.

Over the years, our COPOs have been varied. We have weathered rain, hail, scorching heat, wild fires and floods. We have had sick people, injured people and the forever healthy people. We have tried cooking all sorts of foods (except fish. We’ve never had fish!) and gone out for food.

 

One year our grandson Mac came with us to the annual COPO. It took about an hour for him to feel comfortable going in and out of everyone’s camper as if he lived there. Everyone became family to him about one minute later. He was fascinated with the super bacon breakfasts. And of course, because he is male, he went fishing with the boys. I’m not sure what he really did all day.

We gals brought treats for him from our shopping trip. It’d seemed only fair. He was nine and he had put up with the fishing thing all day.

Eleven years of these grand memories and here we are again! It’s Thursday night. Everyone will be here tomorrow. Saturday morning will be an eleventh breakfast extravaganza.

Then the guys and a fishing guide will hit the lake for a day of fishing. Maybe the guide will change the day’s outcome.

We ladies are going to a Quilt Show and maybe some antiquing. Whatever suits our fancy at the time.

Saturday evening will be dinner at Myra and Mike’s camper with the traveling tablecloth we use for every meal. Then we build a campfire and sit up late – maybe lil about 11:00 or so. Hey, we’re old!

Sunday am will find us back at Mr. Bill’s with the traveling tablecloth for super breakfast #2. What a way to end a COPO. Total PIGOUT!!!!

It’s Thursday night and I can’t wait. Hope it doesn’t end too soon.

To Houston And Back Again

What would make 48 women get up in the middle of the night, drive to a deserted mall, then get on a bus and ride five hours to their final location? And do all that with joy and excitement in their hearts? Only one thing I can think of – The Houston Quilt Show!

And so it was. We 48 with bags, backpacks and credit cards in hand, made our annual trek to the quilters’ version of Mecca. The one place that calls to beginner and master alike, to traditionalist and modernist as well, to anyone who has ever looked longingly at fabric or wanted to make something wonderful from a scrap of woven anything – that place. We just call it “Houston.”

Houston has quilts to view of every kind, shape, color and era. One of the exhibits this year was “Dear Jane” quilts. They are near and dear to my heart. Well, Houston did not disappoint! Oh my, oh my!

dear-jane-browndear-jane-frontblack-back

Even some of the backs are absolutely exquisite!

dear-jane-multi

Here’s a Dear Jane that forms a secondary heart design on the front of the quilt.

dear-jane-red

Some are red and white, some are blue and white, some are black and white, and some are multi colored. It is a personal choice.

A person could spend days just viewing the lovely quilts hanging everywhere – the Christmas quilts, the modern quilts, the Millefiori, the dresses (yes, I said dresses!), the 20 foot crocodile and on and on.

boat-quilt

This is Best of Show which looks like a photograph. Here is the artist in front of her quilt.

pillows

This quilt looks like photo up close and the shelves look like real wood. It is a masterpiece  of quilting.

miniatures

The miniatures were especially appealing to me. And I do mean small – these cuties were about four inches long and belonged in a dollhouse. I’m pretty sure they were made by elves.

doilies

There were even quilts made out of linens and doilies and then quilted and beaded. They were exquisite beyond words.

great-wall

Entire quilts can even be done with thread alone as in this one. Beyond description really.

That night we had dinner at the Aquarium. How special is that? Yes, we had seafood for dinner and ate it in front of their cousins in the tanks, but it was so goooood!

grouper

Anyway, the 350 pound Grouper didn’t seem to mind too much. The atmosphere was wonderful and the Pomegranate Kiss Martini didn’t hurt either. We had a grand time making friends and learning about the Aquarium.

hang-fish

After a good night’s sleep, it was back to the show for more quilt Nirvana. Once we had seen all the quilts, it was off to the vendors’ section. Anything you could ever need, want or desire for quilting was there. And all the new things I didn’t know I needed!

What lovely fabrics and wools! Notions by the armload! Patterns to die for! There were shoes, clothes, jewelry, baskets, lights, irons. I got my rings polished. My friend even bought a sewing machine! An entire machine with all the extras, warranty, extra feet, carrying case, etc., etc. and had it all shipped home. What a great place is this Houston!!!

I bought a tin tray and some wool embroidery to fit on the top. I didn’t even know I needed it until I saw it! I was a very happy camper!

Finally the day was over and we tired, but very pleased 48 piled back into the bus with booty in hand. Bundles of fat quarters, quilt kits, rulers and stacks of wool were carefully placed in the overhead compartments. Patterns and books were kept to be read on the ride home.

In the dark of the night, we all looked at the pictures we had taken of the beauty we had seen. Soft conversations were held up and down the rows of seats, as we shared the sights and feelings of the day.

We talked, we laughed, we shared, we laughed some more, all in the darkness of a small bus. We tipped the driver. We gave a gift to the trip planner, coincidentally named Happy.

We knew the trip was coming to an end. Houston was now behind us and reality was again setting in. Our loved ones were waiting at the deserted mall to once again drive us home, where it all began.

But something was different. We still had all our goodies, our bags, our souvenirs, our new projects, and our pictures to take with us. We would remember. We had been to Houston!