Sunday, September 13, 2015

Returning From Blogging Semi-Hiatus And Road Trip...How Was Your Summer 2015?

Well, I can't necessarily say, "I'm back," because it's almost like I never left.

On June 27th, I wrote a blog post stating my intentions to go on hiatus for the summer of 2015. At the time I wrote the posting, I confessed I'd lost the passion for blogging, and part of the reason had been a series of personal crises over the last couple of related to life-threatening health issues in my family, and the other was the breakup of my marriage.

But, like Michael Corelone in the God-awful Godfather Part 3, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

I've posted almost 25 times since I planned to go on hiatus, because I felt the passion coming back on a variety of topics: the treasonous Iran deal, the Planned Infanticide exposes, as well as the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP horse race, and the plotting by the checked pants, country-club GOP to get him out of the race. So, I blogged when I felt I had something to say, and also took the time to relax, reflect and work on items to take care of before my impending divorce, which should be final in the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing what God has planned for me, and the start of this new chapter in my life.

Part of my hiatus occurred at the end of August through beginning of September, as my 11 year old son and I went on a road trip to visit my parents in Central Texas. I'd been back there for work in March, and was eager to go back as soon as possible with my son, especially since Dad almost passed away in February 2014.

Had I something more than just an iPhone, I might have blogged the evening of August 26th, because that was the morning we pulled out of the parking lot at the bunker under Dulles International Airport headed for Texas. Upon leaving, I heard the news breaking about the tragic shooting in Roanoke, VA, where racist Vester Flannigan killed a TV reporter and cameraman from the station he had been fired from two years earlier. Since we were going down Interstate 81, which would take us through Roanoke, I didn't know what might be happening as we drove through. However, I noticed several state police cars along the medians along I-81. I even saw several of them driving at a high-rate of speed up I-81, which made me wonder if something was going on. As it turned out, Flannigan killed himself off I-66 in Fauqier County, VA, after we'd gone through on our way to Texas. As we drove through Roanoke, I said a silent prayer for the victims and the town.

There's something to be said for air travel across country, but there's something else to be said about a good, long road trip. You get a perspective of America that you don't get from the air, by meeting people at hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, who aren't in your daily circle of people. What I noticed too, even more, was just how unique our nation really is, in terms of every state. When you get into southern Virginia, the mountainous regions give way to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. When you leave Beaumont, Texas, the beginnings of swamplands give way to the bayou country of Louisiana. There's something unique about every state.

In one day, we drove through Alabama...


and then spent the night in Louisiana, before driving over the Mississippi River

 and through the bayou country on I-10 for Central Texas.

To me, Central Texas is the closest thing to Paradise on Earth--a big sky, lakes and the Hill Country closeby. My folks left the Rio Grande Valley (where I grew up from age five until I left home) for Central Texas, just on the edge of the Hill Country, about three years ago. There's so much to do in that area you're never bored. There's shops, big cities (San Antonio and Austin) as well as little country towns like Dripping Springs and Wimberley which are good for weekend getaways.

In the town of New Braunfels, a community built by German settlers in the 1840s (several of whom are on my father's side of the family), you can visit Nagelin's Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas, and get some great pastries.

In the nearby town of Gruene (pronounced Green), you can do the "Texas two-step" and boot scoot at Gruene Hall, one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. Performers from George Strait, Merle Haggard, and Jerry Jeff Walker (Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother) are among those who have performed in the historic hall.

And it's up against the wall Redneck Mother
Mother who has raised a son so well
He's 34 and drinkin' in a honky tonk
Just kickin' hippies asses and raisin' hell

Up in San Marcos, a medium sized college town just minutes away from the Austin City Limits, there's a great car museum, Dick's Classic Garage Car Museum, where you can see an assortment of classic cars.

Everytime I'm back in my home state, I have to have the official state hamburger, Whataburger, several times while I'm there.

If there's ever one that opens in the DC area, chances are it will be me who owns and manages it! But besides big burgers, Texas also has a unique experience in convenience stores called Buc-ee's. The one we went to was in Baytown, just outside of Houston on the way to Louisiana.

It's more than just a 7-Eleven, you can fillup the car with gas, get a snack, lunch, and shop for Texas-styled gifts for friends, family or yourself.

Buc-ee's also boasts of having the cleanest restrooms of any convenience store. From my experience, they aren't lying either!

So, after my Texas fix, a great time with family, friends, a few Whataburgers and Big Red colas, we drove back to Virginia right before the Labor Day traffic rush began. It was a tiring drive, but I would do it over again for the moments shared with my son, showing him part of our nation, and seeing his Texas family.

So, I'm back here in Virginia, the air is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and we're looking to the future.

And I'm back here behind the keyboard. 

I hope your summer was great and interesting, that you had just as many precious moments with friends, family and loved ones. I'd also like to take this time to thank many of you, who commented, sent messages via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook, just to send well wishes and support through this difficult time and new chapter of my life. I cannot thank you enough, and just want you to know how much I appreciate your friendship, readership and support.

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