Article #5, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101, “Sweet Dreams Winery”

 

Honestly, I was in the mood for a nap, after eating all that pie at the Oxbow Bakery & Antiques and wasn’t really sure if I wanted to experience a winery with such a full stomach. I tried valiantly to keep my eyelids open and view the gorgeous tall pines, that are more prevalent on the east side of Palestine Texas and especially here on ACR #441.

 

ACR #441 Near Sweet Dreams Winery Entrance

ACR #441 Near Sweet Dreams Winery Entrance

 

Then we made a right turn down a country road and the winery materialized. It’s name is “Sweet Dreams” Winery and that was just about where I went after completing the wine tasting at this great winery. If you surf Facebook you can check out the Sweet Dreams Facebook page at this link. If you need directions, this Sweet Dreams link has a map.

 

Sweet Dreams Winery

Sweet Dreams Winery

 

I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we arrived I knew I liked Mike Pell, the owner. The minute we stepped out of the car, he greeted us. He had a very outgoing personality and just a tad sarcastic, which I like. I think he was a little on edge at first, but relaxed rapidly. Plus you can’t really miss the mustache! I have always called these Fu Manchu mustaches, but technically its name is a horseshoe mustache, for obvious reason. I showed Mike a wedding photo when mine was similar and we bonded instantly.

 

Mike     Owner of Sweet Dream Winery

Mike Pell, Owner of Sweet Dream Winery

 

 

Mike showed us the exterior grounds and attractions. He can handle a party of around 250 people I am guessing and has seating for about half of that, with a covered patio, large covered porch and many picnic tables near the covered porch. The exterior is decorated with a plethora of funny signs and decorations. I can tell this man likes to have a good time and more than likely ensures his guest have a great time.

 

Pay Up Front

Pay Up Front

 

We entered the tasting room and Mike relayed the fact that a majority of his wines are made from a vast array of fruit products and his collection is not conventional. I wasn’t aware of this, but he has to be doing something right as his awards are proudly displayed around the tasting room. He is the proud owner of over 20 International awards. My curiosity was peaked, as Kim has always talked about her Grandmother Bordeaux’s fabulous Rhubarb Wine and couldn’t help but think about this, as a comparison.

 

A Great Assembly of Award Winning Wine

A Great Assembly of Award Winning Wine

 

Mike also branched out and has created his own line of BBQ sauce. I was going to purchase and try his BBQ sauce, but we got “involved” in the tasting of several wines and I completely forgot. I really like BBQing and wanted to get his sauce and try it. Next time I will buy it when I walk in the door! Mike also carries a vast assortment of other products like fruit jams and butters, mostly made in Texas.

 

Associated Retail Products

Associated Retail Products

 

You know how when you visit a vineyard you taste three to five various wines? Well, that was what I expected, but as it turns out we ran the gamut tasting everything from Pear, Plum, Peach, Watermelon to a Jalapeno infused wine that had a serious bite. My favorites were the Honey Pear, Bumble Bee Kiss and Midnight in Texas wines. He gave us a score card to take notes on thank God or I might not have remembered the names.

 

Cork Machine and Fermentation Tanks

Cork Machine and Fermentation Tanks

 

Mike then took us on a tour of his operation and explained how the process works. In the photo above you can see a sample of the fermentation tanks, with their spigots. He constantly tastes the various wines he is processing and filters out the sulfites, as he transfers the wines from tank to tank. When they are ready to be bottled, the wine is transferred to the final tank above, with a wooden platform inserted underneath. This makes it the perfect height for Mike to sit in his chair and fill the bottles. Afterwards he corks each bottle with the manual aquamarine colored press above.

 

A Retired Fire Cheif

A Retired Fire Chief

 

Mike is a retired Battalion Chief for the Palestine Fire department and spent many a year risking his life and fighting fires, for the good folks of this town. His men gave him this collection of patches, axe, helmet shield and I think it reflects a great deal of respect that his men had for him. He must have been a great leader and firefighter. The magazine “Sweet Heat” is about his Jalapeno wine, so make sure you remove any impure thoughts from the proverbial gutter!

 

Inventory of Various Wines

Inventory of Various Wines and Tasting Area

 

Mike buys his fruit products as locally as possible and really supports his community. The freeze this year had a major impact on buying peaches and he normally goes to Fairfield Texas. This year he had to make his search extend a little farther away to buy his peaches. He has a phenomenal array of wines and if you are a fan of fine wine I think you owe it to yourself to stop in and give this winery a try and sample his great wine. I guarantee you will be surprised at the quality and taste of his product.

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article #4, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101 “The Best Pie I Have Ever Had”

As we walked toward the Oxbow Pies & Antiques entrance I had flashbacks of the Jersey Lilly at Six Flags amusement park in Arlington Texas, when I was younger. I just knew Judge Roy Bean was going to be inside sitting at the bench. I was curious about the theme as I have never seen an operation combine a restaurant and pie shop for a retail outlet. I am a “Pie” man from way back and have loved pies over cakes for my entire 63+ years. I was almost drooling as I entered, awaiting my impending pie tastings. Yes I said “plural”, as I couldn’t leave this place without trying at least a couple of different pies.

 

Oxbow Pies & Antiques

Oxbow Pies & Antiques

 

 

I opened the door and was faced with a myriad of antiques and worn wooden tables for eating your meals and pies. David Wolfe and his Mother Becky the proprietors, stepped forward as we entered and introduced themselves.  As expected, they were both genuine down-home people, that make you feel comfortable immediately. I apologized, as we were very late for a scheduled lunch. As you approach the counter you see this display of pies, which immediately make your mouth start watering.

 

Fresh Pies Display Case

Fresh Pies Display Case

 

We sat down and they started us off with a half of a chicken salad sandwich. It had grapes in it just like my Mother used to make. It was delicious with just enough Mayo. Thank God they didn’t serve us a complete sandwich. A great appetizer!

 

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad Sandwich

 

Then came a good old Frito Pie. For those not raised in Texas, we fill a heaping bowl of Frito’s with chili. I inhaled this magnificent concoction and I could not believe the taste of the chili. It was just like the chili that covered my enchilada’s, when I would go out with my parents as a child and eat Mexican food. It set my taste buds in action and I was in heaven. I hadn’t savored that flavor in years, but it brought back childhood memories immediately. Of course the cheese and onions enhanced an already fabulous dish. The Wolfe’s have been in the restaurant business for decades and their products reflect the experience. I absolutely loved this course. It may not be the healthiest, but Kim and I both scraped our bowls clean and there was nothing left.

 

Frito Pie

Frito Pie

 

Becky asked if we had enough room for pie left and I just laughed. I really didn’t care if I was full or not. The primary reason I came to this place was to sample their infamous pies. So I ordered a slice of Chocolate Pecan Pie and a slice of Pineapple Meringue Pie, as I have never heard or seen this pie. I have eaten chocolate and coconut Meringue pie, but never Pineapple Meringue Pie. I dove into the Chocolate Pecan and offered Kim a taste. She prefers the regular Pecan Pie but decided against ordering pie (I know exactly why she did this, as she always “samples’ my food–Just ask anybody in our or her family). It was very tasty.

 

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

 

I saved the Pineapple Meringue for last and tried to guess what it would taste like. Would it be like an upside down cake or what? I was mad with curiosity. I shoveled the first bite in my mouth and almost fell off the chair I was sitting in. I paused for a moment and let the bite lay on my tongue. I just gloated to myself over the gorgeous flavor and sat back to enjoy the rest of the slice. It was an outstanding piece of pie and one I will never forget. Each bite rolled around my mouth and caused my senses to explode with glee. It is now, simply stated, my favorite kind of pie. Good-Bye Cherry Pie!

 

Pineapple Meringue Pie

Pineapple Meringue Pie

 

Before I move on I want you to look at the height of the Meringue on this pie. It was at least 3″ high, maybe more. I don’t believe I have ever seen one that high. I asked Becky how she does it and she said a lot of egg whites and a lot of whipping. David makes the crusts (which are unbelievably good) and Becky makes the fillings. They both are early risers and are in the shop before sun up. If you are ever near Palestine you have to stop and sample a slice. I suggest you take home a whole pie and of course, my recommendation is the Pineapple Meringue Pie.

 

 

A room Full of Antiques

A room Full of Antiques

 

 

The shop has tables with benches and tables with chairs scattered all throughout the store. When you walk in you do not realize how large the shop really is or how many quality antiques are housed in the shop. Many of the antiques are for sale. I was a little taken back as Kim and I could have probably spent 3 to 4 hours looking at their treasures. One of my favorites was this old Root Beer and Coca-Cola soda barrel.

 

Soda Barrel

Soda Barrel

 

The restaurant and pie shop has been written up in Texas Farm and Home magazine and has a four page layout. I fell in love with this place and next time I visit the Oxbow Bakery & Antiques shop I am buying a whole Pineapple Meringue Pie and not sharing with Kim!

 

Texas Farm and Home Magazine

Texas Farm and Home Magazine

 

Eventually Kim did have her Pecan Pie and inhaled it just like me. Surprisingly I did get a taste. Here is a handwritten menu advertising the pies available that day. Hope it motivates you to try my new favorite pie shop in all of the country (I am talking the entire USA-It’s that good)!

 

Today's Pies Menu

Today’s Pies Menu

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

Article #3, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101 “A Lesson in History”

When Kim and I first got married 35 years ago, we lived in Galveston Texas. Galveston was and may still be the home of the most historic sites in Texas. We participated in the old homes tour each year and became “Docents” for a house each year. We love historic sites and homes built around the turn of the last century.

 

We recently discovered that Palestine had a myriad of historical sites, over 1800 in total and were amazed at the places we saw on Saturday morning. The first being the old library built with aid from the Carnegie Foundation and was built in 1914. It was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1970 and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, by the Department of the Interior.

 

Carnegie Library

Palestine Carnegie Library

 

 

Next we stopped at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a successor to the original wooden St. Joseph Church built in 1874, on land donated by the Great Northern Railway. The St. Joseph church burned down in 1890 and this building of handmade brick was begun later that year. The design was done by Nicholas J. Clayton, a prominent Victorian Era architect of Galveston, who was also responsible for the Bishop’s Palace and the Old Red Building at UTMB, both infamous Galveston structures.

 

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

 

 

Next up was the Redlands Hotel which is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and was originally headquarters for the International & Great Northern Railroad. It is located in Main Street District and has extended stay apartments available. Located on the bottom floor is the Red Fire Grille, featuring Executive Chef Christian Mailloux. I will devote an entire blog to this restaurant later in the series.

 

Redlands Hotel

Redlands Hotel

 

 

Nearby is the Texas Theater, home of  Palestine Community Theatre,  a live production company. It is an example of Spanish Colonial architecture and was originally a movie theater, but closed after several horrific fires and other issues. It reopened 25 years ago and has become the finest venue for live entertainment in East Texas.

 

Texas Theater

Texas Theater

 

 

The last “building” I am picturing is the Palestine Post Office and Federal Building constructed between 1911 and 1913. At the time it was built it housed the Selective Service, The National Weather Bureau’s Reading Station and other federal offices. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Anderson County has owned the building since 1990.

 

The Palestine Post Office and Federal Building

The Palestine Post Office and Federal Building

 

There are a myriad of other historical buildings, shops and stores, but I can’t possibly cover them all. The downtown is in the middle of a restoration process, that will continue to be bolstered by additional tourism and philanthropy.  I am confident that this pearl of the East Texas Piney Woods will continue to prosper and become a destination for all Texans and visitors looking for a historical treasures.

 

Okay so you thought the post was over. Not on your life. We transitioned to the neighborhoods and started viewing some of the most spectacular old homes I have ever seen. This is one of my passions, as you will see. I couldn’t stop taking photos and kept asking Breezy Lake-Wolfe to stop and let me capture each house I liked. This of course threw us way off schedule and made us late for our lunch date, the subject of my next article. Shown below are a few of my favorites.

 

Love This House

Love This Huge Tree and the Fabulous Porch of This House

 

 

Very Well Done

Love the Size, Double Stacked Porches and All the Windows in This House

 

D

Love the Upstairs Balcony and the Wonderful Painting Contrasts of this House

 

 

A

Love Green Old Houses With Gingerbread Trim

 

 

C

Loved The Circular Driveway, Swings and The Magnificent Front Porch

 

 

K

Kim and I Could Retire in This House

 

 

A Colorful Victorian House

A Colorful Victorian House, With So Much Going On

 

 

L

Love This Street Sign and Iron Fencing

 

H

How Would You Like This Entryway

 

Paranormal alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

G

This Building is an Old Vacated Structure, Inhabited by Ghosts and It Looks Like One is Escaping In Its Wheelchair

 

 

The restoration of old homes and their downtown area in Palestine, reminds me of my time in Galveston. I know a great deal of you will be surprised, but I actually practiced carpentry at that time and helped rebuild many old homes in Galveston, along with a  few of the Historical buildings on the Strand.

 

I feel these two towns are related in their efforts to bring back the luster of their respective cities. I am excited at how enthusiastic Palestine is about revitalizing these gorgeous old structures downtown and the fantastic homes  on the perimeter. I love it when towns decide to take positive steps and own their future. Congratulations #palestinetx for initiating this rehabilitation of your city.

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #50

The Rock and The Love of My Life

The Rock and The Love of My Life

 

I have thought long and hard about what my #50 “Photo of The Day” should be and what it should stand for. After I decided on the subject, it really didn’t take that long to locate a photo. I am 63 going on 64 years old and have shared 37 years of that life with this beautiful lady. She has stood behind me come whatever and I can’t express my love for this lady enough. That’s the reason I am dedicating #5o to her and telling the world how much she means to yours truly.

 

 

Thank you my dear for putting up with me all these years, helping raise three wonderful sons and for making my life a joy! I truly hope we can have another 37 years, that is if we can remember who and where we are! Thank you Kim, for sharing my life and for loving this old man through thick and thin!

Article #2, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101 “All Aboard”

As I mentioned in my first article in the series about Palestine Texas, our first event was a ride on the “Moonlight Special Dinner Train”. Breezy Lake-Wolfe, Marketing Manager for the city of Palestine Texas, picked us at the Hampton Inn and we arrived at the station at around 6:00 PM, as the train was scheduled to depart at 6:30 PM. I immediately recognized that this was a larger operation than I anticipated and asked Breezy to take Kim and my photo for posterity!

 

Kim and the Nomadic Texan at the Texas State Railroad Entrance

Kim and the Nomadic Texan at the Texas State Railroad Entrance

 

We headed into this wonderful piece of history for the state of Texas and started looking around. As a foodie I first noticed that they had a very decent spread of cheeses, crackers, fruit and champagne. It was a nice transition, as some passengers were not dining on the ride, like we were. We refrained and it was a good thing, as the line was at least 50 people deep! Must have been great snacks! Kim did manage to obtain a glass of champagne!

 

Reception with Appetizers

Reception with Appetizers

 

Music was played by a gentleman named Paul, on what I thought was a banjo. After he finished a tune I approached him and asked him how long he had been playing the banjo. He quickly corrected me and stated it was a Banjolin (It had 4 strings and a shorter neck than a banjo). It still was a great way to sit and wait for the train to leave and his music was excellent.

 

Paul the Banjolin Player

Paul the Banjolin Player

 

There are magnificent areas inside of the station, that reflect the train history and depict several annual trips. I was in love with several of the photos, awards and plaques from over the years. I even found a copy of an old ticket for my hometown of Austin, St. Louis and a ticket for a Mr J.W. Boyce and wife from Texarkana Texas to Longview Texas, purchased in 1950 about the time I was born! They had photos of Palestine from circa 1920, past employees and one for the “Polar Express” which runs from November 22 to December 28 this year. It is a magnificent trip for families with children.

 

Polar Express

Polar Express

 

We decided to leave the waiting area and venture out to where the locomotive was located and I wanted photos of this wonderful steam engine, originally built in 1901. You can obtain the history and all pertinent facts at the Texas State Railroad web site. In 1972, the railroad constructed in 1881, was turned over to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the first public rides began in 1976. The railroad was privatized in 2007 and American Heritage Railways operated the line until 2012 when Iowa Pacific Holdings assumed operations. I am not sure if I can accurately describe the feeling one gets appropriately, when you see the steam engine emitting its strong waves of steam. Its almost an emotional experience or at least it was for me.

 

The Steam Engine Waiting for Us to Board

The Steam Engine Waiting for Us to Board

 

I was allowed in the engine compartment and started asking questions immediately about the train. Both gentlemen were more than open and eager to share their stories and answer my questions about the age of the engine, where it as made, by what company, etc. I discovered it was originally assembled in Patterson New Jersey, by Cooke Works and was Identified as Engine #316. I inquired if it was the oldest and they told me it was second oldest behind a steam engine in Grapevine Texas, built in 1886 that used to run on this line. The Fireman was Kenneth McCarty and this is the Engineer Scott Rohal. If you get the opportunity to ride this wonderful train make sure you stop and talk to these two employees. They are very friendly, courteous, and highly informed on the history of the train!

 

Scott Rohal--Engineer

Scott Rohal–Engineer

 

As the departure time neared Kim and I gravitated to what appeared to be the loading dock and as other passengers were lining up, we assumed we were following procedure. All of a sudden, just like in the movies, a loud speaker bellowed out “All Aboard”, “All Aboard for the Maiden Voyage of the Moonlight Special Train Ride”, “All Aboard”! I was taken back, as I wasn’t prepared for this melodramatic sounding and I wasn’t aware this was a “maiden voyage”. Kim and I entered the train and immediately fell in love with all its grandeur and enhanced decorations. Each and every passenger was greeted and treated like royalty. Perhaps I had slipped back in time.

 

Texas and Pacific Locomotive

Texas and Pacific Locomotive

 

As the steam bellowed from the locomotive and the whistle blasted through the pines, I felt shimmers run down my spine and reminisced how it must have been at the turn of the last century.  The train continued to announce our exodus from the terminal, with loud blasts of the whistle and Kim and I settled in. There are three types of seating available on the excursion “Premium Lone Star Seating” (which we opted for, as it had a complete dinner–note it is a BYOB, if you are so inclined), “Standard Coach” with upholstered seating and enclosed car and the “Open Air” with bench style seating in an open car (Probably more authentic, but we are spoiled)!

 

Premium Lone Star Seating

Premium Lone Star Seating

 

The staff were great at attending to our needs and immediately started dinner service with beverages and a salad. Rolls were set on the table but to my displeasure, not refilled after the first consumption. Not that I really need the calories, but I wanted one with my meal. I never needed water, as my glass was continually topped off and the salad was a good healthy course with a spinach base.

 

Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Feta Cheese, Almonds, Red Onion andVvinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Feta Cheese, Almonds, Red Onion and Vinaigrette

 

 

The main course consisted of be pork medallions with brown gravy. Side dishes included a special recipe mashed potatoes and veggie bundles of asparagus, zucchini and carrots.  I must confess I started the main course and had to take a photo after a couple of bites. I have to improve on this function, but sometimes it looks so good that I can’t help but dive in! Dessert was individual mini-cheesecakes with strawberry and raspberry toppings. My apologies again. The desserts looked so good I forgot to take photos at all. The mini cheesecakes were fabulous and very tasty!

 

Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes and a Bundle of Veggies

Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes and a Bundle of Veggies

 

 

After dinner I left the dining car we were in and traveled up to the “Open Air” car with the wooden bench seating. It was a cloudy night and I hoped I would be able to capture the full moon. I took many photos and used my zoom, but the clouds wouldn’t lift. Alas, it was not to be and this photo displays the best moon picture I was able to get.

 

The Full Moon in All Its Glory

The Full Moon in All Its Glory

 

As we entered Maydelle the train came to a complete stop. I noticed we passed a fire engine with lights aglow and I feared there had been an accident at the crossing. Lo and behold the engine disconnected and traveled to a turntable right outside our window. It took the locomotive approximately 25 minutes to turn 180 degrees and prepare to hook up and take us back to Palestine. The engine started and then stopped right beside the fire engine. I realized at that moment that the fire engine was reloading the locomotive’s water supply, to provide for the steam. It was a “Duh” moment for sure.

 

A Wonderful Lantern I found in Open Air

A Wonderful Lantern I found in Open Air

 

We flew back home to Palestine, at around 25 MPH I am guessing and returned a few minutes after schedule. Kim and I enjoyed the ride and learning all about the steam engine and the Texas State Railroad’s history. It was a delightful evening and we were were ready to hit the hay. We needed our rest for Saturday, the big day with several events including tours of historical sites and homes, a couple of culinary events and a few vineyards. Not too full of a schedule!  Stay tuned for Article #3 in regard to the homes and historical district! #palestinetx!

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article #1, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101

My travel blogging has been fairly well of the International perspective, until I received a comment on my blog around September 11th, the day after I returned from a five week trip to Cuenca Ecuador. As everyone knows, I have a passion for this city that is unmatched. This comment was entitled “Taste What Lies Behind the Pine Curtain”.

 

At first I thought it was spam and came very close to deleting it. I receive myriads of spam from all over the world and have to make very quick decisions whether comments are real or spam generated. As I read the comment I deduced it was actually a real post and an invitation to try the “culinary attributes” of Palestine Texas, on their nickel.

 

I made inquiries about my blogging and if they knew that my reputation is associated with my posts. I made sure they understood I consequently do not write favorable material, if it is not deserved. My feedback was that I would attend, but there could be no handcuffs or demands on my writing. They wrote back that they would expect nothing less.

 

Dogwood Blossom on  Our Card

Dogwood Blossom on Our Card

 

I knew very little about Palestine and “Googled” it to see what it offered. I was intrigued as it was on the edge of the East Texas Piney Woods and growing up in Texas one learns where the beauty lies. As a child my parents, my brothers and I made the day trip to ride “The Dogwood Trail”. I can still remember the beauty of the white flowering trees.

 

I talked it over with Kim and we decided that we would try this new approach and look into a more local genre. I have written a few posts about Austin and a couple of its attractions, but this was a completely new category for me to cover. Obviously my passion for food made the offer distinctly attractive. We decided to take the city up on its offer.

 

Forest Trails Abound Throughout Texas

Forest Trails Abound Throughout Texas

 

 

As we drove into town the main highway was a typical small town with construction on the highway that was surrounded by run down buildings and generations of decayed equipment. Kim and I started to question whether we had made the correct decision. We turned at the loop and arrived at the Hampton Inn.

 

As I entered with our bags, Kim parked the car. Kimberly, the front desk clerk greeted me with a “Good afternoon Mr. Hinshaw”. I asked how she knew who I was and she stated Breezy-Lake Wolfe (the city’s marketing manager) told her to “Google” me, so she could recognize me when I arrived (of course I had my hat on). I was fairly surprised and broke out laughing.

 

Great Desk at the Hampton Inn

Great Desk at the Hampton Inn

 

Kim joined me after I checked in and we went to our room. It was a very clean, large suite with everything a blogger needs (Wi-Fi, direct Internet. Digital TV. a multitude of wall plugs to charge all my equipment and a coffee maker). Kim noticed we had an arrangement of flowers on the desk.

 

About 5 minutes after we arrived Kimberly called and and inquired if everything was acceptable in the room. I asked her if all the suites were like this and she replied “Yes, but they all don’t have fresh flowers like yours”. I couldn’t help but laugh again and started to feel like we were going to have a good weekend.

 

 

Bouquet of Flowers in the Room

Bouquet of Flowers in the Room

 

Our schedule was set up for us to meet Breezy in the lobby at 5:30 to attend the first event, a ride on the Texas State Railroad’s “Moonlight Special Dinner Train”. We had a few minutes and I caught up on social media and Kim and got ready for the evening. We went downstairs at 5:25 PM and Breezy was already waiting to take us to the train ride. Instantly, I recognized this young lady was a whirlwind.

 

She conveyed every detail and fact available, in regard to each and every part of the weekend’s schedule between the hotel and the train. It was about a 20 minute ride. I knew she was nervous, but her East Texas charm won Kim and I over very quickly and we questioned whether we would be able to keep up with this bundle of energy over the next couple of days. We were delighted with our hostess and felt comfortable with Breezy immediately.

 

Breezy Lake-Wolfe with the Nomadic Texan

Breezy Lake-Wolfe with the Nomadic Texan

 

We had such  great time that I have decided to capture our visit in several blogs and hopefully connect you with this hidden pearl, in the East Texas Piney Woods.  Next in my #PalestineTx series is the “All Aboard” post,  describing our train ride. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

Why Don’t You Just Take Me Behind the Barn and Shoot me?

As most of my friends who truly know me are aware, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and can become very irate over stupid people who perform or state stupid things. I am also a member of several groups that share blog posts and generally help each other out with exposure, as we all have varied traffic levels. I was going through my process today and a post showed up that totally infuriated me. This young man, who I am sure possesses a degree and has a position with a large company, wrote about “Managing Older People”, as if we are a different species. It must be the third eye I am sporting these days.

 

 

Old But Still Employed at a Jimmy Buffett Concert in Vegas

Old But Still Employed, at a Jimmy Buffett Concert in Vegas

 

In the past year I have had friends that have lost their jobs strictly as a result of their age and salary. There is a huge tendency to push  the more mature crowd out the door and hire young individuals with a degree, that supposedly have as much acumen as the veterans. In one such case a dear friend had been with a company for over 40 years and had about two years left before retirement. It was a case of second generation inheriting the responsibilities of running the day to day operations and the descendant made the decision to release my friend, after the person had dedicated his life to building the business with the father. I wanted to throw up it made me so sick.

 

Another friend worked over 25 years for a company that I was employed with for 10 years and had a Bachelors and Masters degree. He was a very intelligent individual who moved his family many times, always at the request of “the company”. He finally received a nice promotion and salary and was considered an astute business manager by all vendors and peers. He walked in one day last year and discovered he was no longer needed. His salary and tenure had worked against him, just like many my age.

 

What Do I Do Now?

What Do I Do Now?

 

Today’s writer stated many factors that needed to be used in managing the older generations. He stated that one shouldn’t come across “too strongly”.  He is basically saying we need to be coddled and handled vastly differently than younger workers? I guess its okay to be strong with younger generations. When I was in management, age was not an issue and I managed all generations equally.

 

He states that a manager needs to work around the more mature workers schedule and definitely not plan social gatherings when its inconvenient for the older workers. I guess that mean no parties after 7:00 PM, since we all go to bed at 8:00 PM apparently. He talks about the (fact?) that older workers are not familiar with social media and we probably don’t have Facebook profiles, etc. Huh? I have a Twitter, Google+, Facebook. Linkedin, Pinterest page and I have my own web site. I am 63. I must be the exception.

 

Lover of Ecuador and Travel Blogger

Lover of Ecuador and Travel Blogger

 

He states that a younger manager needs to pay attention as older workers need “more benefits”. This baffles me as I would think all workers need the same benefits. He finishes by stating managing older workers is a tricky task. I sincerely hope that this “writer” never ages or faces the discrimination that is rampant in the business world for the more “Mature” population in this day and time.

 

Carter Vance Hinshaw

Carter Vance Hinshaw

 

My father was a night city editor at a large newspaper in the DFW area and was allowed to work up until he hit 70. I am amazed at how substantially our world has changed in regard to this philosophy. Funny how this phenomena parallels our economy landslide. Maybe we really do have something to contribute if given a chance!

 

In my younger days we were taught to respect our elders. In Japan they still have strong regard for their elders and actually endeavor to take care of them. They insure they are taken care of right up to the end. I have generally found this to be true all over the world, with the US being the only glaring exception. In the US there is a race to push my generation out to pasture as quickly as possible. Consequently I say, “Why Don’t You Just Take Me Out Behind the Barn and Shoot Me”? It might just be an easier end!

Photo of The Day #49

Homes of Hope Project

Homes of Hope Project

 

 

I was thinking back to this photo in Mexico today and how I learned my sons have all become men. This picture shows Kim and my youngest two sons, Chris next to me and Sean holding the little girl. They both worked their rear ends off, to help this family in need Memorial Day weekend and I have never been prouder. Their words of gratitude and praise struck me like a bolt of lightening at the key exchange and closing ceremonies.

 

 

It was an eye-opening experience and one I will treasure the remainder of my life. I only hope that everyone reading this post, has the opportunity to experience a volunteer program and has the additional pleasure of doing it with your relatives, especially your children. If and when you do, don’t be surprised if it becomes an overwhelming emotional event! It was for me.

Photo of The Day #48

American Airlines Waiting to Take Me to Ecuador

American Airlines Waiting to Take Me to Ecuador

 

 

Yesterday I posted a blog post, which stated how unhappy I was with American Airlines and how I was discriminated against on my return flight from Guayaquil Ecuador to Miami. I was totally humiliated. I received a phone call from the executive office and my issue was resolved, after we discussed the situation.

 

 

Thank you American Airlines for doing the right thing for a 40 year loyal passenger. Most of all thank you to my social media supporters for helping with the campaign #AAFixItNow. Without you I am more than positive the resolution would never have had wings!

Where Did American Airlines Go?

This is a “customer complaint” I wrote to American Airlines on September 16th after I got back from my most recent visit to Ecuador. I was assigned a complaint number via Twitter, the only arm of their customer service department that apparently cares to attempt to resolve their issues.

16 Sep

We’ve received your email and have forwarded it to Customer Relations. Your confirmation number is 1-1013447298.

 

**********

 

For over 40 years (yes I am that old and still kicking) I have been flying American Airlines. I grew up in Arlington Texas and as there has always been access to this Airline in the DFW metro area. The headquarters has been located there since 1979 . Until 1973 when the airline transferred to Dallas/Ft Worth International Airport, my flights primarily went out of Love Field in Dallas. It was an ordeal to use this airport and no one was more thankful than me when, DFW opened in early 1973.

 

As a buyer with Six Flags amusement parks I had the great fortune of traveling to SE Asia for two months each year and to all the major trade shows in the US annually. I used the airlines quite a lot. In fact I am approaching the million mile level with your airline and have always been treated great. I have a myriad of friends that have worked as Stewardesses and at the Ticket Desk for American Airlines over the years and was always proud that they headquartered in my backyard.

 

Recently I have noticed a complete reversal in service, attitude and courtesy among the majority of the employees. I am not sure if its the merger with US Airways or what. My most recent flight from Guayaquil to Miami, was an example of this. Its bad enough you have to get up at 2:30 AM to get to the airport, buy having transpire what happened to me was beyond belief on this flight.

 

Breakfast for a $949 ticket!

Breakfast for a $949 ticket!

 

We were served this amazing breakfast. After all I paid $949 for this ticket and it proudly announced breakfast would be served on the flight itinerary. If you count there are 3 bites of pineapple, 5 bites of watermelon,one grape, a sandwich and either jam or butter to apply to your bread. I was awestruck by the quality. After downing the fruit in about two bites, I opened the sandwich and found this.

 

Breakfast Sandwich for a $949 Ticket

Breakfast Sandwich for a $949 Ticket

 

There was one measly slice of ham that had to weigh .25 ounce and a slice of cheese that had to weigh .30 ounce I am guessing. I had to laugh to keep from exploding. After consuming this wonderful nutritious meal I was overcome with the Grand Amoeba, more commonly known as Montezuma’s Revenge. I looked to the rear of the coach and there had to be 12 or more people in line. I got up (I was in 3 or 4 rows back from first class) and went to the first class area to use the restroom. A nice young man (Steward) named Art stepped up and told me it would be two seconds before it was free, as the crew was using it.

 

I asked him if he was sure it was going to be two seconds and he replied well maybe three seconds. I laughed and returned to my seat squirming. When it was apparent the lavatory was free, I got up to go to the first class again and lo and behold a stewardess with short silver hair started walking to me, pointing her finger in my face and telling me I had no right to use this facility and would have to return to the rear lavatory, which now had 15 or more people in it. I was extremely upset, as this same lady had allowed no less than 10 to 12 “coach” passengers to use the first class facilities prior to me and carried on a conversation with some of them, as they waited.

 

As I returned to get in the massive coach line, a wonderful stewardess that had seen the entire episode apologized to me and tried valiantly to calm me down. I believe her name was Kathy. Tall lady with 29 years experience she told me, blond hair and a fantastic disposition. She helped keep me out of trouble! It helped somewhat.

 

My issue is that I was the only individual that this lady would not allow to use the facilities and why she chose me to discriminate against is beyond me. I am not sure if it was my age, my beard, my Hawaiian shirt or my Panama Hat, but she obviously felt compelled to reject me and only me. I was embarrassed beyond belief and cannot tell you how much I wanted to tell this lady off. I knew if I did that I would more than likely wind up in jail in Miami and chose to write you, the management about this incident.

 

I intentionally watched her actions, after disciplining me in front of the entire coach passenger population and she continued to allow other coach passengers to use the first class restroom. I was furious. She again stopped before the curtain and carried on a conversation with a coach passenger, then allowing him to use the first class facilities.  I am mortified that I was singled out, especially since I was very sick to my stomach and barely got to the coach restroom without having an accident in my pants!”

 

***********

 

As of today October 9, 2013 I have received no response, no apology or no solution to my discrimination. I am perplexed and very disenchanted that American Airlines has chosen to completely ignore this situation and has made no contact with me to attempt a resolution. I am asking my travel and food bloggers friends to use social media and blast this over all your platforms, until they decide to address this issue. I appreciate any and all help. Please use the hashtag:

 

       #AAFixThisNow!

 

 

Thank you kindly in advance for your help and support!!!

 

Photo of The Day #47

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

 

 

Okay I have to admit I really didn’t have this idea originally, but the end recipe was all mine. While most of my BBQ Chicken Pizza is made with Monterrey Jack Cheese, I read in a recent magazine, about a well known chef using some Gorgonzola cheese mixed with cheddar. I decided I would do a sprinkling of Monterrey Jack with the majority Gorgonzola cheese on my half. Kim wanted my traditional pie.

 

 

All my pizza’s are made with flat bread. I bake it for about 45 minutes and use a very ample supply of chicken boiled in cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and black pepper. I use a heavy amount of  red onions, along with jalapenos. The bread is basted with a large dose of BBQ sauce and when its finished, it is usually eaten within a day, if not that meal! Try it!

Photo of The Day #46

The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel

 

 

One of Austin’s iconic structures is the Driskill Hotel downtown on sixth street and about a block off Congress Avenue. The hotel was completed in 1866 and was named after a cattle baron named Jesse Driskill. It is filled with western motif and furniture that takes one back to the old days in Texas. One of my favorite items is this lighting arrangement in the lobby. It is so vibrant and one cannot keep from staring, when it is seen in real life. If you visit Austin Texas this hotel has to be on your “To Do” bucket list.

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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