I can’t believe it has been almost two months since we’ve returned from the trip to the Keys. Two months since I’ve had a slice of Key Lime Pie! But, in telling you about the trip, I’ve relived the delicious parts. Continue reading
Ain’t nobody here but us chickens
Ain’t nobody here at all
So calm yourself and stop that fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us…
1947 Louis Jordan
I met my first gypsy chicken, that’s what they call them down there, when we pulled into the RV park in Key West. Well, actually, the park is on Stock Island… just a kiss away. I thought the greeting committee – three hens and a rooster – were someone’s wandering pets.It wasn’t until we went to dinner at Blue Heaven the next evening and there were hens and chicks loitering under tables hoping for treats, and roosters crowing from the tree-tops, that I realized the chickens ‘were a thing!’
I noticed more and more of them at the RV park, where they’d emerge from under the shade of the RVs, curious to see what you were doing and if you had food to share. They are brave, I’ll give them that. A large, gleaming rooster walked right up to me as we strolled down a street with Cuban coffees and a bag of plantain chips. He knew what that crinkling and crunching sound were. Of course I shared, and in return, he posed for me.
Not everyone loves the gypsy chickens, as you can imagine. They are messy, and the roosters crow at all hours of the day and night – nope, they don’t only crow at sunrise. And since they have no natural predators, they strut around like, well… Mick Jagger. The residents are prohibited from shooting them because of laws dating back to voodoo practices among the Haitian settlers. Nor would they make good eating, since they are wild, feral chickens.
It seems that every few years there is a push to get rid of the chickens, but there is always a push-back from the people who like them and the pest control they provide, keeping scorpions and cockroaches at bay. AND the fact that the tourists really enjoy them doesn’t go unnoticed. They do lend an exotic Caribbean feel to the island.
I can’t imagine the island with all of the chickens gone… it wouldn’t be the same at all.
The chickens were a part of what made our stay there so enjoyable. That, and Blue Heaven Restaurant (the outdoor courtyard was pictured above the pie) with it’s colorful history, our amiable waiter, Rocky, and their divinely inspired Key Lime Pie.
As we plan our trip to Florida, all sorts of stumbling blocks have shown up, followed immediately by (depending on how you look at it) serendipitous solutions… or just plain dumb luck. I’d like to think there are guardian spirits out there who favor the adventurous and the flexible. Continue reading
I am a fan of HGTV’s show “Fixer-Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love their on-screen chemistry; it’s almost as good as Hepburn and Tracy… I love her style; very chic and comfortable (although a little over-wrought on the tchotchkes for me). I really admire the way she took a dream and manifested THIS… what an inspiration!
Waco is a three-hour drive from Austin, but since we are camping Not to far away, we decided to do a field trip/reconnaissance mission yesterday and check out two campgrounds AND the Gaines establishment, Magnolia.
It was easy to find – just look for the silos – and as well put together as any of her homes. It was also very, very crowded. I hear it’s even more so on weekends. There was a short line at each gourmet food truck lining two sides of the “park,” and there was a line to get in the door of the bakery. While there was no line to get into the beautiful market, it was a beehive once you walked through the doorway… it was BUZZING!
This compound is the only thing like it in Waco. It may be the only thing like it in the country, actually. We were starving, so we headed to the gourmet food trucks and began by ordering sandwiches, the Mr. trying out a barbeque sandwich and chips at one, while I ordered from an Airstream specializing in organic grilled cheese: Gouda, bacon, and basil on gluten-free bread, from another.
The young woman at the counter asked each customer where they were from, and was genuinely interested in their answer. I enjoyed listening to her conversations as I waited my turn. My food was delicious, heavenly, in fact! We shared a picnic table in a sunny spot as we ate, and enjoyed the blooming flowers and some world-class people watching.
This 1940’s-50’s Willis parked beside the silos intrigued the Mr. since his father had one when he was young, with wood panels. We’d love to have it now!
Both campgrounds turned out to be a bust, but the drive around Waco lifted our spirits and reminded us of Austin in the 1980’s. Great old architecture, lots of open space, no snarled traffic. The Brazil’s river and it’s bridges were a bridge to our past. We always wonder at each place we visit, could we live here? We’d need another visit, earlier in the week and earlier in the day (say 10:00 am) but Magnolia Market has definitely raised the bar here, and Waco is capable of rising to the occasion!
Our motor-home is finally out of the shop! She spent a little longer there than anticipated because the man who was supposed to be working on her ended up in the hospital with pneumonia (or, as my Mother used to jokingly say, phenomia). Continue reading
That gap between where you want to be… and where you are.
Four trips down, and back up, two flights of stairs. One last look-around… and we are ready to roll! Let’s lock up, and leave the apartment behind. Continue reading
Date: January 8
Location: West of Austin, TX
As I write this, we are prepping for another 16 degree night at a park, “glamping” again. Why? Well, I’ll tell ya – we chose not to winterize our RV because here in Texas it can be in the high 70’s and then tumble down to the 30’s or 20’s in one day.
Yes, home. We are temporarily grounded with a broken right rear-view mirror on the RV. Can’t drive one of these without one of those. Continue reading
Since the ride to Santa Fe is thirteen hours by car, we decided to break it into a two-day drive in the RV, stopping halfway in Lubbock, Texas. Continue reading
I live in Austin, right smack-dab in the middle of the the state. The Heart of Texas. On a road trip it takes a whole day of driving to get outside of state lines, and when you’re driving westward, as we were on our way to Santa Fe for Thanksgiving, it can get flat-out boring after a while.
If you are squeamish, you may want to STOP reading now. There is no delicate way to put this, since there is no synonym in Webster’s Thesaurus for roadkill.
In my boredom, I began doing something I’d never done before; I whipped out my phone and kept a Roadkill Tally in the Notes.
I’m sure this isn’t a new car-game, but I think HASBRO could make money off of this. As I began adding things to my ever-increasing list, three things stood out to me:
1) There is a really wide variety of critters here in Texas.
2) The deer and rabbits disproportionately outnumbered everything else.
3) While there was a ridiculous amount of roadkill in Texas, there was a definite deficit of dead things in New Mexico.
This came up, of course, over cocktails with our friends when we finally arrived in Madrid. Randy had noticed that too, “Why do you think that is that when you cross into New Mexico there’s no roadkill?” Truth is, it’s not something you want to ponder too much, so we dropped the subject, but not before I dropped the bomb – I saw a dead Mountain Lion!
I had wanted to turn around and go back when I saw it, not out of morbid curiosity, but because I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’d never want to run into such an amazing, yet deadly, creature if he were alive. In the end, we didn’t go back because it’s not easy to turn around a motor-home towing a truck.
My Roadkill Tally:
30+ Deer, 7 Coyotes, 8 Opossum, 9 Skunk, 10 Raccoon, 2 Cats, 40+ Rabbits, 1 Mountain Lion, 2 Roadrunners, 2 Fox, 1 Giant Toad, 1 Owl, 3 Ring-tail Cats, 1 Armadillo, 1 Turkey Vulture. (Mind you, this is not counting “the indistinguishable.” Remember, I’m not morbid.)
I hope that Mountain Lion now has an endless desert with lots of prey, and no highways in his heavenly hunting ground.
*Note – Article title is respectfully filched from John Updike’s brilliant book.