Friday, February 11, 2011

A Little more Love from Texas - Road Trip Style

Texas means a different cuisine to my family. Not that we aren't adventurous in Minnesota, just that there are things here that just aren't the same where the snow gets higher than my waist for months on end.
In point, BarBeQue (BBQ) - is a different animal here, and we have a seriously devoted daughter to the finer adventures in a culinary fashion - so with her advice we found a wonderful, nearly hidden gem of Fort Worth - Off the Bone Barbeque This was one of the best moments of the entire trip while Rachel and Paul were with us. This petite eatery, just off I 20 and 820, was just honored in Dallas Magazine as the Best! - great news. The location does not jump out at you, it's not overly shiny or corporate, just friendly and clean. You can enjoy your tasty meats with their sauce, but they are served "dry", but still moist and bursting with deep flavors that just fill your mouth. Portions were generous but not ridiculous and a bargain for the price. The smiles on the faces of my family, and the instant removal of the hungry grouchies were more than compensation enough for putting up with "Ms Garmin" and her strange sense of direction. (She first took us on dirt side tracks to a bar straight out of a bad biker movie...We didn't stop!) The Garmin gremlin will be fodder for another post. Food for our family is more of an adventure, a gastronomic theme park even, when we travel. If at all possible, we avoid the national chains and fast food. (One notable exception, in France we found the sandwiches at the gas stations on the Autoroute to be delicious and budget friendly) Thanks to the family toys - ie - IPhones, we found that article on the internet and then got the address, phone and even directions (Yeah! Google maps!) However, having a good guidebook and a paper and pencil are still handy when technology has an occasional fail! So we haven't gone paperless yet, but the car clutter is definitely down.
Another amazing meal was shared Sunday morning with Amy, Mike, Zoe and Anderson at the
Twisted Root Burger Company. We dined at the West Ellum location.
Here is that spot's philosophy in their own words:
Three chefs, sick of eating frozen, tiny, and under-seasoned burgers, opened a real burger joint to make it the way they do at home. Fresh and seasoned meat, hand-battered buttermilk fried stuff, fresh-cut sweet potatoes, homemade pickles, in-house made Root Beer, homemade ice-cream….even homemade condiments. It’s like eating at our home!
It was even a chance to dine outside! - but the snow was waiting....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Road tripping with young adults

When your children are young, you pack a car with snacks and maybe books on tape, before there were DVD's or VHS's for your car...We even talked a lot. Imagine that - actual conversation. Thanks to I Phones and I Tunes....We can choose to share or choose to slip into our own musical worlds while we drive. It's a good thing we seem to share a lot of the same musical tastes.
Stops are another thing - my goal was to enjoy the journey and visit my family on the way to rejoining Steve. They wanted to get to the Warmth of Dallas as soon as possible. So, they toured Downtown Chicago and had to kill some time there...
(Not impossible, but without a car...) Meanwhile I was able to get my mom out for some errands and to visit with my father's sister, my Aunt Lois. It was great to get to visit and to get the two of them together. I'm a grandmother myself now, and it's beginning to be apparent that time is passing and precious. I don't take time with my family for granted as I put myself on a path of adventure, but also away from some of those I love the most. Saying that, even those hours in the car are precious. Today, it's snowing in Dallas (Yes, I told God my plans...and I am sure he's getting a good chuckle at this moment) So I'm savoring the time to write this and
say GO PACKERS - I love you Dad...
avoiding Texas drivers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Road at Last

After many months of searching and speculating, on January 2nd my husband left for training with the VA Travel Corps in Phoenix. The next three weeks at home were filled with packing and a few very special moments. I attended the 6th birthday party/concert for 89.3 The Current with Rachel on that last Friday, Saturday was our Saddle Club dinner and Sunday a dear friend and her husband had their son baptized. Sad to leave my son, his wife and my grandson, but it was time. On Monday Jan 22nd I left to join Steve in Dallas TX. This first leg of the journey, took me to my childhood home of Chicago. I visited with my brother and his family, checked in with my mother, who is doing better than expected and spent the first night on the road. I am lucky to be traveling with my daughter and a friend of her and my son's - Paul; so we share the driving duties.
Central Illinois - Miles and miles of Miles and Miles - I57 is sparsely populated - I55 goes south via Springfield and St. Louis. We chose the faster, sparser route to Memphis (Cue Paul Simon and Marc Cohen singing Graceland and Walkin' on Memphis)
I had to see Graceland this trip.
As a child, I had spent many an after-school afternoon watching Elvis movies on television in Chicago.
Anyone else remember those days of afternoon movies from 3-5?
Elvis week was always well promoted and I'd talk with the other girls about moms who watched with us. I'd seen some of his specials on TV in the 70's and occasionally heard him on the radio. He was a little before my time, but I still knew who he was - that he had a daughter- that he met the president. His wild jumpsuits, his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, his group of friends ( it was a new concept back then) all were part of the culture of growing up in my part of the south side of Chicago.
Then he died.
He died rather young, with a little girl and I would guess a broken heart after his divorce. The sadness for a lot of our mothers was a visible, tangible thing.
The only time I have felt anything like it was at the death of John Lennon. I'll never forget the sight of one home's picture window on my bus route for school. It was a velvet Elvis, oversized, with a large candle always lit. It stayed that way for over a year. I don't know who lived in that house - but everyone knew who lived at Graceland.
My father, an aviation buff even knew of Elvis's planes and pilots.
When Graceland opened to the public, a seed was planted in my brain. The house was more than just a spot where he lived. It was the center of his universe, his family, his work. It had become a sort of continuing representation of his talent, his soul if you will. I became immensely curious to see it.
Photographs and mentions only fueled my curiosity. It sat and simmered until my first brush with Memphis - in 1988 I was driving north with my husband and son after finishing our active military duties in Texas. I wanted to stop, not sure what he'd think about my desire to see the Jungle Room for myself. We kept going.
The route for this trip was a happy accident of the route on my IPhone - I noted that to add Chicago as the first stop - took us through Memphis.
I was going to see Graceland for myself.
Or Else!