27 July 2006

My Dallas Trip

I meant to post something earlier but I had sooooooooo many work emails and thus soooooooooo much work I hadn't had a chance yet until now, so here it is.

I arrived in Dallas (where I grew up btw) at 4:30pm and later that evening I had dinner with my baby sister (with whom I stayed with over the weekend) and my two uncles (and their wives, my aunts). We ended up at a buffet, which had me worried since the last time we ate at a buffet with them (6 years ago) the food was *horrible* though I wisely kept my mouth shut at the time. I was pleasantly surprise to find the food at this restaurant to be quite decent. :)

My older uncle by the time my sister, my niece Mia and I got to the restaurant, had already imbibed at least 3 beers so he was having a grand ol' time. My younger uncle got to the restaurant about 15 minutes or so later. I honestly had forgotten how much he eats (and he's so skinny o.O) that my eyes sort of bugged out when I saw how much food he had on his plate. My older uncle gave him a hard time about that essentially joking "Did you leave anything for everyone else?"

Dinner was pleasant and we talked about life as I was caught up on what was going on with them. I hadn't seen them in 6 years so there was quite a bit to catch up on.

After dinner, since I was staying with my sister, we said goodbye to everyone and went home. We stopped by a Tom Thumb (grocery store) so I could get some evening snacks (or my dietician would kill me) then went home to bed.

The next morning I guess I woke up around 6:30am Dallas time. Since I live in California, that means it was equivalent to 4:30am my time. O.o After lounging around for a few hours catching up on email, checking web comics, etc. etc., I took my sister and my niece out for breakfast. I was looking for a non-chain breakfast place that looked like it was busy. We struck gold after searching for about 15 or 20 minutes and oh my the food was good. My eyes were hungrier than I was but Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm is all I have to say. :)

Since on this trip to Dallas, the first in 6 years, I was visiting friends I haven't seen in 12 years (when I left), I had a very very busy schedule. After breakfast, we headed back home to recover^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hrest since I was so full I was filling a little on the ill side. After a couple hours of rest it was time to head out again. This time to the park where the Duchy of the Midnight Sun is located.

What is the Duchy of the Midnight Sun? Well, to answer that I'll have to talk about Amtgard. Amtgard is a form of LARP (Live Action Role Playing) that I did over 12 years ago while in college and it is a ton of fun. Essentially think of it as aerobic exercise where you get to hit each other with foam padded "boffer" style weapons or launched padded arrows from a bow. We used to play from 2:00pm till sunset and then go out for food or head to someone's house to just hang out and relax.

In Amtgard, regions are designated as Kingdoms and you have Kingdoms such as "Emerald Hills" and "Dragonspine". Individual parks, within kingdoms, depending on the number of people who play, are designated as a Duchy, Barrony or even a Shire.

One of the interesting things about Midnight Sun is that back when I still played we were the *Independent* Duchy of the Midnight Sun since we had no allegiance to any Kingdom. This was primarily due to politics that we did not want to get involved with back then. Midnight Sun is now, however, part of Emerald Hills.

So, after arriving at the park, there was *no* one I knew from before. I knew I wouldn't see some of my friends since that weekend they were in Missouri for a conference but I was hoping to catch at least Mike and his wife Mary. I talked to one person and she called Mary (since Mike doesn't have a cell.. slacker) who handed the phone over to Mike. I was able to convince Mike and Mary to at least come down to the park so I could see them before I had to leave.

So I waited.. and waited.. and waited... 4:00pm rolled around and I was getting nervous. I was supposed to leave by 4:00 so I could make the party that originally brought me out to Dallas but I decided to wait. I saw a vehicle drive into the park and I stared intently at it. Was it them? HUZZAH! It was! :)

I spent a little bit catching up with primarily Mary but also some with Mike. I went to school with Mike (in fact I was one of the people who introduced him, Aaron and others to Amtgard) but Mary is a great friend. Mike remembers a time after he and Mary started dating that I invited myself to a trip to Denton with him so I could see her. heh

Soon it was 4:30 and I *really* had to leave for the party that originally got me out to Dallas. :( Not that I didn't want to go to the party (after all I *did* fly from California to go to it) but I also wanted to stay and talk some more but I knew I'd be heading out to the UTD Campus (where I went to school and where Mary now works) on Monday so I'd have more time to catch up.

Back to my sister's house I went so I could change into all black for the party. Why all black? Well this was a surprise 40th birthday party being held for a very good friend I had lost track of and his wife requested we come in all black. Admittedly, when I saw the request I groaned... All black.. in Texas heat. O.O

But in all black I did dress and once again I was in the rental zooming off to the house where the party was being held. I wasn't sure what Connie had in mind exactly but after arriving I found out. Turns out that I was one of six special guests that Rory hasn't seen in some time.

I don't remember all of whom the other special guests were but I remember that one was his old scout master back from Arkansas who I believe he hasn't seen in 20-25 years and another was John Adams, a dutch man, who performs John Denver's music and knew John Denver himself. I also believe there was a member of John Denver's band there too.

What made us special guests versus regular guests at the party was that while everyone else was saying "Surprise!" we remained hidden. Connie let Rory know that there were special guests here also but he had to guess who we were and only had 10 questions. We, of course, thought of various ways to disguise our voices in case he remember them. I elected to have a *very* strong Texan drawl over emphasizing the one I was beginning to pick up again.

All in all the party was great. I got to see Rory and Connie and my old friends Chuck, Fred and George (Connie's brother). I had a wonderful time, took some great pictures and now have great memories. I was one of the very last to leave and Connie invited me to breakfast at a place called Cafe de France in Plano and of course I accepted. :) I left soon after and went home.

Next morning I headed off to Cafe de France to meet up with Rory, Connie, John Adams, John's fiance, and two other people whose names currently escapes me. The gentleman is involved in british vehicle reconstruction and the woman is his girlfriend. I had some wonderful french breakfast food and we just talked about things in general. :) After lunch we (Rory, Connie and I) said goodbye to the others since they had flights to catch and I followed Rory and Connie back to their house so I could see the kids. :)

Rory and Connie now have four though I have only met Austin originally 12 years ago... After all, I remember when he was born. I also remember when he got sick :( During his sick time I would go to the hospital and just be there for moral support of Rory and Connie because they needed me as their friend. I would ask them if I could bring them food or anything to drink and would just pray with them. We were all worried that he wouldn't make it but thank God he did.

So, I got to see Austin and his siblings Brandon, Jessica (Jessie), and Adam. I told them that it was wonderful to meet them all and I told Austin that it was wonderful to see him since I remember when he was just a wee little thing. I don't know if Austin knew what I was saying but I think that in his heart he felt the love we all have for him. We even got him to smile. :)

Soon I had to leave yet again, this time for (yup you guessed it) another friend's place who I hadn't seen in 12 years. After arriving at Billy's house, I got to meet his son Caleb (I think it was?) and see his mom who remembers when since I was (at most) 7. I'm sure she still remembers me as the little child I was. :)

Lunch was fun (sheesh. Did I ever stop eating on this trip?!) and went to a place that was *VERY* Texan. The bathroom doors had the words "fillies" and "stallions" on them! This was also a place where you order the entree (roast chicken, fried chicken, pork ribs, catfish, chicken fried steak, etc) and they brought out additional vegetables. The main meat entree wasn't all you can eat but the vegies were and oh my... it was gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. We caught up and I found out about other friends, many who were not doing well. :( I'll keep them in my thoughts and prayers and hopefully things will get better for them.

After stuffing my gullet (and thus myself), I said goodbye to Billy, his son and his mom and just went driving down the roads I used to travel frequently so I could see the changes and just reminisce about the old days. Sheesh. I'm telling you, I sound like an old woman now. :p Afterwards, I headed back to my sister's place.

About 11:30 I decided that I *really should* go eat some dinner so I called my friend Mike Gallagher (who I had seen on months before) and we went to Denny's. I verified we were still doing lunch together in the morning and we just talked about things in general such as the price of housing, etc. I then headed back again to my sister's and passed out till morning.

Morning! This was also the day I headed back to California so I packed my belongings, stowed my camera into the suitcase and loaded up the car. I then headed for Yahoo Dallas, where Mike works, and we went to lunch at one of his favorite places... which just made me think that I was back in California. o.O It kind of surprise me but the food was good. heh

On this trip I didn't think I would have time to drop by my old Church but I lucked out. It turns out that Yahoo Dallas is in Deep Ellum and well... my old Church is *right* by Deep Ellum. So I did get a chance to see it after all. I stopped in front of it, breathed in deeply and let all of my fears, worries and stress flow out of me. It always has had that affect on me. I then went off to my last stop on this trip, UTD (UT Dallas) where I went to college.

UTD, even though it says Dallas, is actually in Richardson right on the border between Richardson and Plano. I spent many years there and have fond memories which were replaying in my head as I pulled into the campus. I parked in the metered area since I couldn't stay long if I wanted to make my flight. The other nice thing about the metered parking area is that it's *close* so I wouldn't have to walk far.

After arriving at the campus I went searching for Mary (remember her? I talked about her way up at the beginning) and together we went to Aaron's office since I missed Aaron at Amtgard (he was one of the people who was in Missouri). We talked and caught up. :) Mary and I then headed back to her office where we talked some more and she told me what she was working on for her Ph.D. My hour or so was soon eaten up and I regrettably had to leave again. We hugged and off I went back to my sister's place.

At my sister's place, I got to finally meet her (soon to be?) boyfriend who gave me a lift back to the airport in the rental (since he was going to drop the rental off the next day). It was nice to meet him and he seems to be a good guy. He quickly got me to the airport, using his superior knowledge of the side roads in Dallas. I thanked him, went into the airport, got checked in, had some dinner, got on the flight, and headed home to my husband's waiting arms. :D

I had a very satisfying weekend even if I didn't get enough sleep the whole time. I miss Dallas and my friends dreadfully but the ache will soon disappear. I've promised several friends that I'd be out at least once a year to see everyone and I'm going to try my hardest to keep that promise.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day to you, mam. My name is Greg Shaffmaster, and I've been actively searching the Internet looking for other people interested in Amtgard in the Santa Clara/ San Jose area. I happened to catch you mention Amtgard in your blog, and was wondering if you and your family would be interested in helping found a park in the San Jose area. Myself and my friends have years of experience under our belts and a new set of ideas to avoid the political stuff which mucks up the game. Please, if you're interested, email me at gshaffmaster@hotmail.com and I would be more than happy to open a dialog with you.
Thanks for your time, either way.
Greg Shaffmaster

Friday, 04 August, 2006  
Blogger Cowboysfan3 said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. What a fun time had by all. Glad to see you're back safe and sound. Take care. Bye for now.

Sunday, 20 August, 2006  
Blogger Cowboysfan3 said...

Knock, Knock. Just wondered if you were there. Have not heard from you in a while. Hope things are going well. Be sure to check my Blog, I just updated it. Look forward to hearing from you. Bye for now.

Tuesday, 03 October, 2006  

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