Monday, July 3, 2017

This, That 'n the Other

That is a South Texas way of deflecting curiosity on the part of a person being questioned by another.  My cousin Jean, some 20 years older than I was, used it often.  Very often.  No one in the family knew what she had been up to unless they'd seen her being up to it. 

I bragged about the timing of my sister and bro-in-law's flight and ours.  Hah.  San Antonio Int'l Airport (pause here for a chuckle "Int'l") has two terminals - with a sister in each one.  Her cell phone wasn't working right and I barely know how to use "phone" on ours. 

We finally hooked up in Beeville, our "final destination."  Curse the airlines for using that expression, too. 

Our third couple - my cousin Marvin and his wife Raquel and we were staying in three different hotels.  Getting together was like trying to herd cats.

Roadside armadillos have been replaced
With shreds of blown tires.  I had been misled (talkin' to you, 727) about there being a dead, roadside armadillo approximately every mile marker.  Normally I would be distraught about any dead animal roadside, but I don't think I would have been about an armadillo, sometimes carrier of Hansen's Disease or leprosy.   

Smolisk's Barbecue
Four of us made it to Just Outside the Mathis County Line and when we lined up to order and I asked for iced tea, I was reminded of the way you order iced (ahsst) tea in South Texas.  They will ask, "Sweetened or unsweetened?" you say "Unsweetened" or else you will be handed a big glass with 9 parts sugar and 1 part tea.  I got it right and thus I still have all of my teeth.  My cup came with UN writ large on one side. 

The Yonder Inn, Beeville, was very pleasant.  The décor might have been intended to reflect oil baron style, circa 1935.  Heavy furniture, intentionally dim with several shoulder mounts of deer.  The shaded front porch-patio had several wooden rockers and a wooden swing.  The free breakfast room had a shuffleboard game - the looong wooden counter and the steel sliders and we would have played (all of us) but another group got there first. 

I had asked for a suite because they came with a balcony where I could go out, admire the scenery (a truck stop across the road) and puff away to my heart's content.  At night you could see the glittering lights of Beeville - all five or six of them!  The Yonder Inn's idea of a suite is a mini-house.  A full-size refrigerator and stove, a living room and a separate bedroom.  $116/night.

We would see this again at Starbridge, San Antonio Int'l Airport.  This was not a planned visit; both of the flights back to LAX were sold out.  We were advised to try for the 6:20 a.m. flight because "It's wide open!"  Since we had to get up at 4:30 a.m. for a 5 a.m. shuttle, I could easily see why.  God doesn't even get up that early I have been told by reliable sources.

A great bar makes up for anything
I am enthusiastically touting the Republik bar on the outskirts of Beeville.  This is the second bar we've been in that had:  a regular restaurant for barbecue, a bar, and a huge backyard (?) with picnic tables, a big patio with wrought iron chairs and round tables, a kid's playground and a fire pit for winter warmth. 

We had five St. Arnold's Fancy Lawn Mower beers for a total of $15 which is $3 per draft.  This was a lager and obviously quite tasty.  It was also very warm outdoors and really, they could have been considered necessary hydration.  Two each and we split one.  From the same maker St Ono's Bishop which is 12.1% alcohol.  I noticed that the ubiquitous Moscow Mule made it to South Texas as a row of the distinctive copper mugs hung in a row behind the bar.  The bartender told me they were a new fad. 

We'd seen from the Starbridge shuttle (which had passed us twice at the Hotel Shuttle stand at the airport) a 3-story sign for freeway visibility for the Texas Land and Cattle restaurant.  Upon checking in, we asked about it's proximity and were told it was right behind the hotel and so it was.

Given the theme, I had expected soft lighting, crisp white tablecloths, deep masculine booths, but I was to be disappointed.  We did have a booth, we were issued the mandatory steak restaurant knife, but any air of a luxurious, expensive place was immediately dispelled by the family groups complete with hordes of small children.  It would seem that the great State of Texas has been running a very successful breeding program. 

Waiting to be disappointed at yesterday's flights, we were stunned at the fact that about every five people was a family with up to four kids each.  I was told they were going to LAX to go to Disneyland.  Since quite a few were in strollers the size of VWs it seemed doubtful how much enjoyment they would feel.     When you consider being strapped to your seat with a plane 2/3rds full of small children, maybe we lucked out.  It is a 3 hour flight. 

Back to dinner.  We had an order of onion strings with our drinks (G&T for him Stella for me, later repeated) and they were clearly right out of the fryer.  Piping hot with little flecks of shining fat.  Richie got himself a 9oz. smoked sirloin steak with garlic mashed potatoes and I the crab and shrimp-stuffed mushroom caps.  They were quite good, but they were Texas-sized and I had to have three in a go-box.  We did have a full-sized refrigerator.  Where they probably are to this day.

7-11 isn't what it used to be
Since every American destination calls for a rental car and since it's prudent to top up the tank, we made a point of gas stations with a food store on the way to the airport.  The snacks at any one of these were half the price of the dread At The Airport.  "Candy bar and a sack of chips?  That'll be one mortgage payment, please."

Whoa, Nellie!  I bought a pair of bags of cashews for $8.  Richie got a good-sized bag of Doritos - I think they were $5.  I will now try to remember to stock up on plane snacks at the local supermarket of wherever we happen to be. 

The Armenian Cab Driver
Richie asked our driver where he was from because he had an accent.  I have tried very hard to break him of this gigantic faux pas but to no avail.  He said, "Armenia - I came here 25 years ago as a diamond cutter and I worked at that until the recession when no one was buying diamonds." He has been a cab driver for the past eight years.  When apprised that we'd been to my 96 year old cousin's birthday party, he said that his father lived to be 98 and died just short of his 99th birthday.

I asked him if he had ever dreamed of doing the cut on the Hope Diamond and he laughed.  He said that opals are the worst to try to cut as they will shatter at a dirty look.  Who knew?  If you listen, you can learn something new nearly every day.

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