One Tank Trips

One Tank Trips

So, where do you like to travel for a day trip that takes less than a tank of gas to get there and back from Fort Worth?  I call that a one tank trip. I have a few suggestions to share in this blog but I am really interested to learn from you some unique, out of the ordinary, places to go in the north Texas region on one tank of gas.  Please share in the comments below.

So, my short list,  in no particular order:

Drive out to Eagle Mountain Lake and hike in the newly developed Eagle Mountain Park.  Pack a lunch as they have picnic tables, benches and clean, modern amenities.  Great views of the lake, deer crossings, birding and great trails. The park is located just north of the fort. It is free and open 7 days a week.

This summer, I explored  Cedar Hill State Park. The park has lots to offer including hiking, boating, fishing and picnic grounds but I enjoyed floating in the cool water of the lake in an area dedicated to swimming. There is no sandy beach so bring some shoes you don’t mind getting wet.  To get there from Fort Worth, head east on I-20 and follow your GPS to the front entrance to the park.  There is a nominal fee but Texas state parks need our support now more than ever. Take your floaties when the weather warms up or go now and enjoy the trails without sweating to death.  You can also visit Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center just down the road from the state park.  They offer hiking trails and a nice visitor’s center for learning more about native grasses and plants of our region.

Cruise to Denton, Texas, up north near the Oklahoma border, and shop in their vintage stores in the vibrant downtown and be sure to stop by their farmer’s market on Saturday morning just a couple blocks off the square. Check out the booth that offers a wide-variety of agua fresca and salsa. There is live music by local artists to entertain you while you shop and nosh.  Opening day for the market this year is April 6th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Follow them on Facebook

McKinney is an enjoyable, revitalized community with lots of great shopping, restaurants and they have a great butcher shop named Local Yocal Farm to Market just one block off the old-time town square. It’s less than an hour drive. We missed it on our visit, but there is a Saturday Farmer’s Market if you get there in the morning.

Check out Booked Up located in the Texas panhandle, just two hours northwest of Fort Worth in Larry McMurtry’s hometown of Archer City, Texas.  Booked Up carries between 150,000 and 200,000 books on any subject imaginable.  Wear good shoes as this day is full of standing as you pour over the shelves of books. All stock has been purchased over the last four decades by writer Larry McMurtry.  Remember the book, Lonesome Dove?  He wrote it.  There is a cafe on the square where you can rest your sore feet, grab lunch or stop by the DQ on the highway out of town.  There is almost, always, a DQ in small town America especially in Texas.

Are you a foodie like me?  Drive to Carrollton to the best Korean market in the metroplex.  It is called H Mart and is located about 40 minutes from the fort if you can skip peak traffic times.  Plan on getting there early to avoid the crowds.  Be sure to take your shopping list as this store is overwhelming with asian product lines.  They have at least 80 varieties of kimchi alone.  Plan to revive yourself at the french bakery inside the store.  Lovely pastries and the latte is the drug you need to keep going through all the stuffed aisles of eye-popping merchandise.  This place smells good too.

Take a short road trip to tiny Venus, Texas, south of Fort Worth on highway 67 for brunch at Casa Jacaranda on the square.  Everything in this mexican restaurant is house-made and prepared with so much love.  Alert.  There is a bakery inside — you won’t be able to pass up a sweet treat no matter the new year’s resolution.  Walk around the square to burn some calories and admire the architecture and imagine what it was like back in the outlaw days of the Great Depression.  Several of the scenes from movie, Bonnie and Clyde, were shot on the Venus square. These buildings still stand. Unfortunately, most of them are vacant now.

Of course, there is always Waco so you too can join in on the Magnolia craze by shopping at the Silos, taking the self-guided tour of the fixer uppers or eating at the Gaines family’s new restaurant.

And Fort Worthians, we could go to Dallas.  Currently, at the Dallas Museum of Art, there is an exhibition by Ida O’Keefe I plan to take in this week-end.  It will be interesting  to compare and most likely contrast Ida’s work to her more famous older sister, Georgia.  The Klyde Warren Park is just across the street from the museum so you can grab lunch from a food truck and relax on a bench soaking up a little Texas sunshine before or after touring the museum.  The Nasher Sculpture Center is just next door and it is always a treat with its outdoor sculpture garden and small galleries. Both museums have cafes offering wine by the glass, coffee or a just a place to rest a while. I can’t walk by a museum gift shop without buying at least a little memento of my visit.

Where do you go when you have a free day on the calendar?  My resolution is to find more of those kind of days in 2019. So help me out, by sharing some suggestions.  Why not fill up the tank and take to the country roads, y’all?

 

 

 

 

 

My mother-in-law’s tuna salad

My mother-in-law’s tuna salad

RM’s mother is lionized in his family for her tuna salad recipe.  Whenever we visit her home in Topeka over these many years, the meal on the first night of our stay was always tuna salad with a side of applesauce.  The meal is flawless for guests arriving from a long road trip, like the eight hours the drive takes for us from the Fort, because she could make it ahead, prepare the quantity needed for the number of her guests (it scales up and down easily), chill it in the refrigerator and then just wait for her guests to finally arrive.

This trip from the Fort to Topeka varies for us dependent on age of the travelers, construction, distractions, speed, start time, road conditions, amount of liquid consumed and other delays on the open road.  My mother-in-law never really knew when we would show up in her driveway but she was always ready with tuna salad.

The tuna salad works also for arriving road warriors because after being cramped in a car all day nobody is very hungry especially due to the quantity of sugary and salty car snacks purchased and consumed along the way and just general inertia.  A light protein salad just works for us Kansans born with mayonnaise in our veins.  Plus it is a tradition.  There is nothing spicy in this dish either so you don’t have to worry about acid reflux in the middle of the night just look out for the second-hand smoke from Grandpa’s cigar.

So on our recent return trip from Topeka after visiting Dave’s parents, RM was reminiscing about the tuna salad and he was missing it.  His parents have downsized now and are living in an apartment.  Dave’s mother doesn’t cook anymore. It’s been a while since he tasted her tuna salad.

So, today, as RM was feeling down from allergies and the last heat wave of 2017, I whipped us up a batch of tuna salad for lunch.  I even mixed and served it in the same metal bowl his Mom always used when preparing this salad.  Somehow that bowl makes it taste better.  I think it’s because it gets super cold in the refrigerator before serving.


So, here is the recipe so that it might live on in your family’s recipe box too.   If you don’t like tuna just substitute chicken, salmon or ham.


Sally’s Tuna Salad for 4

  • 1 can of top grade tuna drained and flaked — I use Merinos
  • Small 7 ounce package of pasta — I like the La Moderna small shell pasta boiled and drained
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs diced
  • 1 rib of celery diced with the celery leaves
  • handful of basil and chives chopped – Sally used dried but I like fresh from the garden
  • 2 T brown mustard – Sally used yellow
  • 1/4 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise or to taste
  • 2 T sweet relish
  • lots of salt and pepper – the right amount of salt makes the dish
  • a squeeze of lemon (this is my addition)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl,  mix by hand with spoon, taste for seasoning, and then chill it thoroughly  in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (the day before is better).

Serve with fresh tomatoes, apple sauce and crackers. Iced coffee compliments it well. Hope you like it as much as RM remembers.

Home Alone

Home Alone

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Home alone this Christmas.  Not exactly alone, but RM and I are spending Christmas eve and Christmas day alone together for the first time since C1 was born back in 1987.  That is nearly 30 years ago.  We didn’t plan this, it just worked out this way this year.  Where did the time go?  Seems like yesterday, that I was giggling along with my girls to the relatable scenes from the movie, Home Alone. Take a heap of a Christmas movie, add a dash of kid-appropriate fun, a sprinkle of family drama, and a pinch of caper action, and you’ve got Home Alone.

Over these years, we have celebrated these holiday times in many intriguing ways. Traveling to see family in Kansas, going skiing in Colorado, traveling to New Mexico, staying home as a family of five, hosting guests, visiting friends, hosted by our daughter in Mesquite, recovering from health concerns, or just hanging out but always with our children and many friends, exchange students and family over the years.  But this year, since our girls are traveling and visiting with friends, we both rather relish the idea of two consecutive days, just the two of us, reminding ourselves of why we first decided to spend a lifetime together as a married couple in our little cottage on Ashland.

When we first started dating back in the early 80’s, we played long and competitive games of Scrabble, we cooked together (still do), read out loud to one another, completed each others crossword puzzles when we got stuck, worked on home improvement projects, did crafts, listened to Beatles albums (the older ones),  watched MASH, and scoured flea markets and antique shops for items for our new home together.  Now, we do pretty much those same things since we have successfully raised our children. We both have full-time jobs that we enjoy that provide us with purpose and financial resources to make our lives meaningful and relatively stress free.  We do engage in social media, blogging and subscribe to Spotify and Netflix. I guess I need to get on Twitter so I can find out what our future President is tweeting next. We support our chosen personal passions, for me the interests of women and children, for RM, woodturning and working on his two small businesses on a part-time basis.

But we still just enjoy the simple things.  With the dip in the temperatures, our time together may just be two days in front of the fire, watching football and cooking shows, or perhaps starting a small project from our list of to-do’s, going for a walk if the weather warms up, or reading a book. Whatever, we do, we will appreciate the precious gift of time together, and home alone.

Happy Holidays to each of you and please wish for safe travels for our girls and their families and friends and to you and yours as well.

 

Memorial Day Memories

Memorial Day Memories

Memorial Day week-end is officially the start of summer for most of us, especially for kids.  I have so many fond memories of this relaxing three-day week-end including some that I am sure I share with you. Here goes!

  • Boating and water skiing on a nearby lake.  Our favorite was Lake Perry outside of Topeka, Kansas.  One time I camped there with a childhood friend and nearly drowned in our tent from a torrential thunderstorm and a nearby tornado.  We barely escaped to sleep the night away on higher ground.
  • Swimming at the Holton public swimming pool, trying to learn to do a one-and-half, and listening to the radio always set to V100.
  • Working as a grocery clerk and thinking everyone else was outdoors having so much fun without ME!
  • Visiting graves of relatives and leaving bouquets of peonies.
  • Churning homemade ice cream and brain freezes.
  • Visiting my grandmother in the assisted living apartment in Newton – taking her out to lunch at the local truck stop.
  • Spending the entire day at the Lockheed pool, catching my girls off the side, over and over again.  Remember the concrete turtle in the wading pool?  Remember my sore arms the next day?
  • Playing my flute in the city’s  memorial park to honor our veterans.
  • Flying the flag and decorating the house in red, white and blue.
  • Hoping I will one day attend the Memorial Day Concert in D.C.  But we often watch it on the telly.
  • Working in the garden.
  • Making Texas sheet cake.
  • Spending quality time with family.

This year, RM’s older brother and his wife are visiting us and we plan to vacation in Fort Worth enjoying the Botanic Gardens, our great museums and restaurants, and walking along the Trinity River.  What are your plans?  Be safe, use bug spray, and wear sunscreen.  Happy beginning of summer 2016.  What adventures will it bring?

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