To my faithful blog readers, I'm sorry that I've been absent for so long without any word of where I've been or what I've been doing. Work got busy, and then before I knew it, I had a trip to Houston to take for work, and then a mini-vacation in Louisiana.
Houston was great . . . the temps were very mild, in the 15-20 degree Celsius range. Yes, on the positive side! I really needed that warmth, although there were a few times that I was chilled (embarrassed to admit it, though). My co-worker and I took the opportunity of a trip to eat out at some nice restaurants. The first night we ate at PF Chang's, which is an asian-fusion restaurant. I ate at a PF Chang's in Indianapolis 5 years ago, and remember the food as being absolutely wonderful. I was so looking forward to our meal in Houston, but I am sad to report that it was lacklustre at best. Our waitress was outstanding - great personality, very attentive, and funny as heck. But the food wasn't anything special, and that was disappointing for me. The second night we went to The Cheesecake Factory (not to be confused with the Cheesecake Cafe here in Alberta) and the food was great. Service, eh, just okay. But our meals were really good.
The Wednesday night was a small group meal, with some folks that we work with in Houston. We went to a small pub/restaurant called The Goose's Acre, and the food was wonderful. I had macaroni & cheese, but it wasn't the standard meal that your mom makes. Gourmet cheese & noodles, and soooo yummy. But the most wonderful thing about The Goose's Acre was my new favourite drink - the Jager Barrel. Jagermeister & root beer. OMG, what a fabulous drink that doesn't taste boozy at all! I sucked two down without even noticing it - but then I stopped, for fear of being sloshed in front of co-workers. Thursday night was a whole group meal at a Brazilian restaurant called Americas. The food was absolutely wonderful - I had a piece of steak done churasco style (my spelling is probably wrong) and it was delicious. For dessert I had these warm beignets with coconut ice cream that was pure heaven. I would recommend that restaurant to anybody.
Friday the workshop ended, and I flew to central Louisiana to visit with some long-time friends of mine. We met online through a Cocker forum, and have met once before. They are fabulous people, and their hospitality was unmatched. I was made to feel like a member of the family, not just like a guest. We ate many excellent meals, most of them homemade. Crock pot roast beef with potatoes, fried catfish and pistolettes, chicken & sausage gumbo and more. I'm sure I gained weight from all of the wonderful food, but it was worth every mouth full! And my friend's mom (a TRUE Southern belle!!!!) made me a red velvet cake from scratch. It was actually melt-in-your-mouth good. Wow - I didn't know cake could taste so good.
On Saturday my friend and I went to the annual dog show in her city (talk about good timing for my visit!) and we had a really nice day. We watched the Cockers, I met some local Cocker people, and we spent most of our time watching obedience. I saw my very first corded Standard Poodle in the flesh, which was cool! Saturday night we went to Tunk's Cypress Grill (I think) and had a succulent meal. Crawfish linguine - yummy!
Sunday was incredible. In the morning we took a 3 mile walk with the dogs, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the morning. I know it was cold for most southern folks, but I loved every second of it. The scenery was beautiful (photos on Facebook and my Zenfolio site), and we just chatted and enjoyed each other's company. The best part of Sunday was the hot air balloon flight, though. My friends crew for Bob Pulaski and his balloon Ski Lift, so they convinced him to do a flight so that I could go up. We watched the weather fervently, hoping for clear skies and low winds. Mother Nature definitely cooperated, and I had the experience of a lifetime. The flight was unbelievable. For those of you that say you're afraid of heights - you have nothing on me. I am possibly the only person that was terrified of the "Soarin' Over California" ride at Disneyland, and I hated the CN tower with the glass floor. It scared the crap out of me. Somehow, being up in the balloon wasn't scary at all. The basket is extremely stable - no swaying or moving around - and it's so pretty and peaceful up there. I was even able to look over the edge of the basket without feeling sick, dizzy or afraid.
Our flight was just over an hour long, with a few fun moments. We did run into some trees (technically called "dragging") in an attempt to slow the balloon down a bit in anticipation of landing. We chose three landing sites that then became unavailable to us because the winds changed our direction. Our landing had a bump and a bounce before we ended up on the ground with the basket on its side (and us on our hands and knees LOL). We were followed by spectators almost the whole way, and by the time we landed, about 7 or 8 vehicles were following the chase car to watch us land. It really was an awesome adventure, and I highly recommend it to anybody.
Monday and Tuesday were quieter days. We took things easy, spent time with my friend's parents and co-workers, and just enjoyed the dogs, cat, chickens, ducks and each other. It was a great visit - not rushed or busy or strenuous. Relaxing and just what I needed.
Wednesday I flew home, with a nice, long 6 hour layover at the Calgary airport. I ended spending a bunch of time working, since I really didn't have anything else to do. It was nice to get home, although I did enjoy my time down south. Since getting home I've been busy with the usual stuff - work, committees/Boards, etc. I finished up the first session of Zumba classes, but am already signed up for the next two sessions. So life continues on as usual, busier than all get out.