Monday, October 29, 2012

Thank God It's Monday!

Hey Friends,
  I thought weekends were about R & R.  Not THIS weekend apparently!  Here's how it went;

  Saturday morning was the 4th annual OkC Mah Jongg Tournament.  Mah Jongg is a game of skill & luck originally from China & imported to the US in the early part of the last century.  You can read about it here;  I've been playing with a group here for a little over ten years now.  This was my year to host the tournament along with my co-host Trent.  Up to Saturday that just meant securing the space, purchasing prizes & sending some emails.  Trent is "techie" so he took care of graphic design & talking me down off the roof when I would get panicked about the details :).  Our players provided an amazing pot-luck lunch. We held the event @ the IAO Gallery 

   So, early Saturday Trent, Rod (the original organizer of the event & local Mah Jong GURU!!!) & I arrived at 8:30 to set up.  At 10:00 our players began trickling in for check in & to bring their yummy dishes.  Most of the entrants came out of two of the groups I play in on Mondays.  A few I had only communicated with via email or phone so it was nice to have a face to go with a name.  Ernesto was on hand to substitute in the event we needed an extra player.  You should have seen the look on his face when he was told he wasn't playing.  It was the same look I've seen when he gets hooked on a slot machine in Vegas!

   Play began at 10:30 and there were two rounds then we broke for lunch.  After lunch, one more round then it was time for the awards; beautiful hand made glass plates designed by Tracey Bewley, a local artist.  So a big shout out to our winners (for those who value their privacy I use first names only)  Norma from Edmond took first place, our own Marcy (who is coincidentally remodeling her kitchen so won't that plate look nice in her new space?) won second & Norma's daughter Debbie got third.  An honorable mention goes out to Bryan who actually tied for third & the winner was decided by a roll of the dice.  Laura got the coveted "golf award" for the lowest score & won a handy new Mah Jongg bag in which to store her winnings.

  It was a fun day & we walked out the door about 4:30.

Ernesto & some of the cutthroat competition!

  I then went home to lie down for about an hour before getting in costume to march in the Gazette's Halloween Parade.  This is also an annual event locally & one of my favorites!!  This was our second year to march & we were with the Dead Center Film Festival group this year.  Their theme was Fairy Tales gone wrong & we went with a Mexican themed Day of the Dead Catrina look.  I didn't carry a phone or camera :( so here's our only image. (Thank You Bryan!)

  We were running late so just had time to find a parking space, locate the parade route & hop in place.  Everyone looked so great both in the parade & the spectators.  Everyone out in their spooky best!!  The most gratifying thing was the look of recognition & appreciative comments from the many Latinos in the crowd.  Afterwards we tucked in the Iguana Lounge for some food to match our costumes.  We actually made it home by 10:30 but it was the end of a LONG DAY.

 But our weekend wasn't over yet!  Sunday evening we invited a group of friends for what is ALSO an annual event; Pumpkin Carving in The Wayback.  This is usually our last harrah of the year.  Once it gets cold we aren't back out there again until Spring.  We fixed a big ole vat of soup, some cider then let the creativity begin...  

  So here it is Monday & I for one am ready for the rest!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tour de Trees, A Win/Win Weekend!!

Hey Friends,
  This weekend has been on my calendar for a bit. Two of my FAVORITE activities combined for Tour de Trees, the bicycling/camping weekend put on by the Oklahoma Bicycling Society.  I met some of the lovely OBS members this summer on Freewheel & have been on some weekend rides here in OkC.  Most notably the Donut and Pre-Donut Rides from Will Rogers Park.  I've loved getting to know people & finding riders who go my pace.  Ernesto is kind enough to scale it back to ride with me but I know it has to kill him as my comfortable pace is about 14 mph.   Ernesto rides anywhere from 18-22 comfortably so it is a testament to his chivalry that he"ll hang with me.  

  Anyhoo, once I joined the group I read about Tour de Trees & knew it was right up our alley.  About 60 or so riders from all over the state gathered at Lake Eufaula State Park for the event.  We loaded up the T@B and Lucy Friday evening & headed out.  It was past dark when we arrived but we had no trouble finding a great spot under a canopy of Oak trees that had full hook-ups & the bonus of being just a few steps from the bathroom.  We got situated in no time & had a hearty dinner of sausages, rice, salad & of course.......QUESADILLAS!!!  
   We turned in & I read some out of "Wild-From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail"  by Cheryl Strayed.  The book details her coming to terms with her life after her mother's death from cancer, a failed marriage & a relationship that led to heroin use. She sets off on an 1100 mile solo hike to regroup. Soon I couldn't hold my eyes open.  It was pretty chilly but we don't really like to use the heater in the T@B, it gets too stuffy.  The perfect solution has been a dual zoned electric blanket.  My side was set on High & Ernesto's Low.  Perfect until I was roasting @ about 4 AM.  But there's nothing like it for taking the chill off!!  I re-set to Low & drifted back off.

  Saturday morning we woke up around 7 & did the coffee routine plus some instant oatmeal.  Then we readied ourselves & the bikes for a 42 mile tour of the area.  We got a baby cart & modified it for Lucy to ride in & to say she is not a fan is putting it mildly.  If you were to come up on Ernesto while he's pulling her you might think he had a wheel in need of some WD-40.  Lucy has a unique squeaky whine that doesn't let up until she is out of the stroller & in your arms.  We keep hoping she'll adapt...  One benefit (at least that's how I see it, Ernesto may feel differently) is the cart plus Lucy adds at least 20 pounds to Ernesto's bike.  This levels the field, so-to-speak in terms of him keeping his pace at my speed :D

Lucy's Cart

  The day turned out gorgeous.  We had a little bit of wind but the ride was lovely.  We made a big loop & wound up in Checotah (hometown of Carrie Underwood) for lunch @ the Katy Cafe.  I had the BLT & Ernesto got a chicken sandwich with some YUMMY sweet potato fries.  We sat on a bench out front w/Lucy & chatted with our fellow riders as they came & went.  The thing I love so much about bike trips is all the interesting folks you meet.   Some of these people were on Freewheel with us & some we were meeting for the first time.  After lunch we hopped on the bikes for the 15 mile ride back to camp.

   We arrived at our site around 1:30 & spent the rest of the afternoon chillaxing & chatting with everyone who stopped by to see the T@B.  In addition to Lucy it is a real magnet for conversation!!  Our neighbors were a retirement age couple who live full time in their RV & travel around state parks designing the park brochures with advertising for area businesses.  I'm going to guess they are in their 70s.  And I was super impressed with their technical skills.  They meet with their contacts & upload everything to the internet & even have a mobile office in their RV.  The brochures are produced annually & they spend about 3 weeks in each area.  Their stay is free as part of their fee.  Pretty sweet way to spend retirement!!  They have been "full timers since 2003.

   In the evening a pot-luck dinner was planned for 6:00.  I had prepared a white chicken chili at home & had it ready to heat in the crock-pot.  The amount of food was obscene!!  Everything looked so good, it was hard to pick just a few things but I get full really quick so I tried to be conservative. Ernesto zeroed in on some jalapeno/venison sausage.  And the desserts....OMG!!!!
The Pot-Luck Smogasbord
   After dinner a group loaded up in a truck to head to the "Haunted Barn" that is open on weekends in October.  I HATE the idea of people jumping out to scare me so I passed.  Ernesto & I returned to our campsite & built a fire.  It was pitch black & the stars were magnificent.  Ernesto looked at me & said, "It's only 7:30."  I could have died!!  I was sure it was at least 9:00 & I was ready to turn in, LOL!!  So we fought the urge & sat & enjoyed the fire.  A little later some of the brave souls who went to the Haunted Barn returned to tell us of their adventure.  We visited some more & were able to hold out until 9:30 before turning in.

Can We Go To Bed Yet?

  Sunday morning there was a 32 mile ride planned.  When we woke up I just couldn't motivate myself to leave our comfy set-up.  If you followed us this summer on our adventure in the Grand Canyon you know my favorite part of the day is coffee in the morning.  We decided to just hang around camp leisurely & enjoy the weather that was absolute perfection!!  I'm going to guess low 70s & a slightly overcast sky.  We had the windows open & there was a heavenly breeze.  We lingered as long as we wanted then loaded up to head for home.  What a delightful weekend!!!

Looks Like We Won't Be Riding Today.