Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August Staycation

In light of last week's emotional roller coaster, we arranged to have a day to take off and just be together. It sort of started off in a funny way, but ended up being just perfect for us. Let me share with you our "day" in pictures... I say "day" because it really involved 2 days and 2 road trips!

The plan hatched when John got home from working at the church on Friday morning, and said that he'd like to drive to College Station to get some beef jerky. Now, for those of you not in Texas... we went to Texas A&M University located in College Station... which happens to have a very large agriculture department. Thus there is an amazing meat market and creamery on campus... which apparently (I'm not a fan) makes the best beef jerky on the planet.
So, we couldn't leave without me getting a photo of John with a piece of his stash.

This is a photo of the football stadium, Kyle Field - this is where my husband will be most Saturdays for the next few months.

This is another pretty view of the campus... while sitting at a red light. HA! Anyway - the building in the background with the dome on top is one that I spent quite a bit of time in during my years at Texas A&M.

We went into one of the bookstores near campus as well - just to see if they had anything that we couldn't live without... and lets just say that when we get pregnant - we'll be going back for a "Future Aggie on Board" sticker for the car... as well as some ADORABLE baby clothes. Out front of Aggieland Outfitters - there is a statue of Bevo - which is the mascot of the university a few miles down the road... also known as Texas... or to us t.u. - because we were the first university in Texas...

We then decided that we'd go over to visit the Bonfire Memorial. Back in 1999, while I was still a student at Texas A&M - one of our greatest traditions came to an end in a collapse. 12 students died in this accident, and it was a great tragedy. It was near to my heart, because I loved this Bonfire... there was a spirit in this event that you can't explain.
When you think of bonfires - you probably think of a bunch of wood piled up, but being an agriculture and mechanical university with a HUGE engineering department... ours over it's 90 years evolved into a 5 story - wedding cake like structure that took several weeks to build. It was burned every year in November, Thanksgiving to be exact, the night before we played our annual game against Texas. You can see actual pictures of our Bonfire by following this link.
It also holds a special place in my heart because my Dad probably worked on it while he was in school at A&M... John worked on it while he was there... and had my sister-in-law still been in the Band - she might have been working on it the very night that it fell.
The school has since built a lovely memorial. At the opening of the memorial - they have engraved one of our favorite poems into a wall. It was read every year at Bonfire, and is also one of John's absolute favorite poems. Since John was in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band... if you read through it - you'll find out why he loves it so much.
"The Last Corps Trip"
By P.H. DuVal Jr. '51

It was Judgment Day in Aggieland
And tenseness filled the air;
All knew there was a trip at hand,
But not a soul knew where.

Assembled on the drill field
Was the world-renowned Twelfth Man,
The entire fighting Aggie team
And the famous Aggie Band.

And out in front with Royal Guard
The reviewing party stood;
St. Peter and his angel staff
Were choosing bad from good.

First he surveyed the Aggie team
And in terms of an angel swore,
"By Jove, I do believe I've seen
This gallant group before.

I've seen them play since way back when,
And they've always had the grit;
I've seen 'em lose and I've seen 'em win
But I've never seen 'em quit.

No need for us to tarry here
Deciding upon their fates;
Tis plain as the halo on my head
That they've opened Heaven's gates."

And when the Twelfth Man heard this,
They let out a mighty yell
That echoed clear to Heaven
And shook the gates of Hell.

"And what group is this upon the side,"
St. Peter asked his aide,
"That swelled as if to burst with pride
When we our judgment made?"

"Why, sir, that's the Cadet Corps
That's known both far and wide
For backing up their fighting team
Whether they won lost or tied."

"Well, then," said St. Peter,
"It's very plain to me
That within the realms of Heaven
They should spend eternity.

And have the Texas Aggie Band
At once commence to play
For their fates too we must decide
Upon this crucial day."

And the drum major so hearing
Slowly raised his hand
And said, "Boys, let's play The Spirit
For the last time in Aggieland."

And the band poured forth the anthem,
In notes both bright and clear
And ten thousand Aggie voices
Sang the song they hold so dear.

And when the band had finished,
St. Peter wiped his eyes
And said, "It's not so hard to see
They're meant for Paradise."

And the colonel of the Cadet Corps said
As he stiffly took his stand,
"It's just another Corps Trip, boys,
We'll march in behind the band."
I actually do get goosebumps when I hear that poem myself... but it just comes from the pride and joy that is in that place.
This is a view of the memorial - there are 12 doorways pointing to the student's home town. Inside the granite doorways - they also put in a bronze doorway that has a photo of the student that passed along with some personal notes and things that their families chose. It was very moving and very personal.

This is a granite stone placed in the exact spot where the center-pole for Bonfire was erected every year. It is also engraved with the date of the collapse and the time that it fell. It is a day that I truly will never forget. I also will never forget the amazing things that happened on that campus and in the town in the weeks after the accident. I will never forget passing the site for the first time and breaking down into tears... if memory serves - I called John on my cell phone while he was at work in that moment.
We capped off this day by driving around, stopping into Kirkland's Home - my favorite store, and dinner at this lovely restaurant, Abuelo's. It was a great afternoon.

The next day we bummed around the house until noon... and then headed out to visit the George H. W. Bush Library. (aka in our house as "41" - the 41st President) The library is located on the campus of Texas A&M, and is absolutely gorgeous...

On the drive into the library... I had to take another shot of the place where my husband will go most weekends until November... and will spend several hours on Saturday night this weekend.

This is the front walking into the library... the only thing missing from the picture is the incredible flowerbeds that surround this fountain... they were amazing.

A shot of me as we are starting our tour through the library...

A funny picture of me behind one of the White House Press Room podiums... or at least that is what it is set up to look like... this is just before you can walk into the Oval Office and sit in the room decorated exactly as it was when 41 was there. We didn't get any personal photos of that because the only way they'd let you take that picture was if you paid them to do it for you.

John standing in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall... which came down during 41's Presidency... this is next to a really cool exhibit of Bush's office at Camp David... decorated exactly as it was when he was in office.

John in the Situation Room getting a briefing on Desert Storm - before we went through that exhibit.


A picture of us outside the museum - in front of a wonderful sculpture of horses running over the Berlin Wall...

This is a lovely pond and garden out the back of the museum. The Bushes have an apartment on the grounds... so I can imagine them enjoying this space. Also on the grounds are some classrooms and a conference center - what a view for the folks attending classes over there! Just off to the left of this area is a walkway over a bridge that goes back to the place that George and Barbara will be buried someday.

Inside this fence is the location where George and Barbara will have their final resting place. It is a beautiful area. Their eldest daughter, Robin, is buried there. She passed just before her 4th birthday suffering from leukemia.

John and I on the bridge crossing back over to go to the car.

After a long walk through the museum, and to the grave site... I needed a treat. A dipped cone from Dairy Queen hit the spot... only I ordered a MUCH larger one than I needed. I ordered the medium... I made it through the first layer... and a little of the second before having to scrape the rest of the ice cream and chocolate off so that I could have some of the cone. It was divine though...
While enjoying our ice cream treats... we drove through a community in the area just to see where it was... I lobbied to buy a house... but lost my argument.

This house happens to be one of the Southern Living homes that is being given away... it's mine!!
That sums up our staycation for this time around. It was just wonderful. I never stop being completely amazed by how much I love that town. It just feels like home... and touches my heart in ways that I can't even articulate.
We did discuss retiring there - to which I was informed that there will be a farm... with cows, horses, chickens, pigs, and a garden. I'm exhausted just thinking about all of that... and sad that I'll probably have to at some point face the fact of eating one of my beloved animals... because you know I'll have to name them all - and will be heart broken when one goes "missing."