Summer Road Trips : New Braunfels, Gruene, San Marcos

Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Tx
In college days, we used to go to the New Braunfels (central Texas town, near Austin, settled by German farmers in the 1840's) area to "tube" down the Guadalupe River on hot summer days. This activity is still popular today; groups of "tubers" link together with a lazy ankle resting on one another's inflated (18 wheeler giant sized inflated ) tube, with one extra tube designated as the beer cooler holder, and down the river you go. The Guadalupe is spring fed from a source back in the hill country and water temp is a constant 68 degrees even when the air temp is 100 or higher. It is a lovely way to spend a summer's afternoon, with a slight buzz and numb cold bottom, drifting along as the current takes you, looking at the bright blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds.

Around 1979 the first Schlitterbahn Water park was born, right on the banks of the Guadalupe River, with the original water rides, slides, and swimming pools fed out of that wonderful clear cold water diverted from the river itself. Over time the park grew to include two additional sites, a few blocks away ( now a free shuttle bus hauls barefoot wet swimmers from one to another) , with newer and improved rides. (Later additions now include S'bahn water parks in Galveston and South Padre Island. I like the original New Branfels park the best, esp the older original areas with giant oak trees and shady spring fed pools.) The most recent addition has rides with names like "Master Blaster" that are truly roller coasters with water flumes , combined. There are also man-made beaches, giant wave machines that propel thousands down man-made rivers, as well as restaurants, tiki-huts, swim up bars, souvenir shops, little kiddie playlands, picnic areas, and many other features.

Upon the recommendation of a friend of mine who has kids the same age and whose children loved going to Schlitterbahn each summer, it became, years ago, a family tradition to take my own children down there each year for a little summer road trip. We soon learned that a day at the water park requires two nights at a local hotel : one the night before, so as to get an early start that morning (when the lines for the popular rides are shortest) and to have a place to crash that night (all day in the surf and sun is too exhausting to drive back to the DFW area). Most years I just searched for a bargain hotel on one of the various travel websites, but lately, I have become a fan of the all-suites hotel chains; that way the kids can have a separate room and stay up all night watching tv and I can get the beauty rest I need. A complimentary make your own omelet-waffles-eggs and all you can eat fruit-pastry-cereal breakfast that comes with the suite makes for a great start to the day. My friend, I have two magic words for you: "Embassy Suites".

Tommy and his friend Eduardo at S'bahn New Braunfels

Typically, we arrive at the park as it opens, start at the modern end with the really cool rides, and work our way back towards the old section, ending the day lazing away the hottest part of the afternoon in the old section, where the big oak trees shade the spring-fed pools. We are worn out and leave around 5 pm ish, where we go back to the hotel, shower, and get ready for dinner.
There are many dining choices in the area, everything from German food to BBQ to Tex-Mex, but I tend to fave the tiny little town of Gruene ( pronounced "green" - more German settlers' influence) just up the road apiece from New Braunfels. I once attended a sales meeting somewhere near here back in my regional manager for P & G days, and we all went out, ate BBQ and then went dancing at the Gruene Hall, ( the oldest dance hall in Texas) afterwards. It was a ton of fun and I have loved this little spot ever since. A few years back I discovered one of my absolute fave restaurants in the entire state, the GristMill. In spite of the inauspicious name, this is a charming place, located in an old mill ( the roof is completely missing, and the entire restaurant is al fresco, shade provided by massive oak trees) that sits along a high bluff over-looking the Guadalupe River. Food is of the steaks-CFS-seafood variety and is pretty good, with full bar, great salads, a million dollar view and tons of charm.

Two tired boys, ready to eat their weight in chicken fried steak

After dinner, there is plenty of dancing at the Gruene Hall, next door ( if you have any energy left) or a little bit of light shopping at the stores in Gruene (antiques, kitsch,Texeana, and ice cream). Leave some money, time and energy for the fabulous outlet malls in San Marcus - the best in the state, maybe the country. It's just about the perfect road trip.


Summer Road Trips : Blanco,Tx

Fields of lavender near Blanco, Texas (34 miles south west of Austin in the Texas hill country). The Blanco Lavender Festival, which has changed dates while attempting to catch the lavender actually blooming, was June 13 this year.

The Stagecoach Inn in Salado, Texas

I took my mom to the Blanco Lavender Festival this past weekend, and the story of our adventure proves there is no dull moment, even for a pair of little old ladies, which we are. Sure, it seemed like the quintessential female bonding experience, and in many ways, it was. That stuff just never comes in the form you expect it.
We started out early Saturday morning and were on the road by 8 am. Normally it's about 4 hours to Austin, driving slow (and I don't), so I figured we'd be there before it got too hot this fine June day. Weather forecasters predicted near 100 degree temps in central Texas......My first mistake was to be tuning the radio dials as I sailed past the 35E vs 35W highway split, and instead of turning onto 35W and leaving DFW through Ft Worth (about 30 miles less distance, and countless hours of traffic, stress and stomach lining less than taking the 35E trough Dallas route). As we approached the downtown Dallas 35 and 20 interchange, we saw that the entire freeway was shut down - on a Saturday morning? Took an off-ramp into south Dallas to avoid sitting on the freeway for hours (my motto has always been, "better to be lost and driving aimlessly for hours, than sitting still for hours") and saw that the cause of the backup was a jack-knifed tractor trailer on the on-ramp to 20, which caused the police to shut down all lanes going anywhere, to clear it. Drove aimlessly through south Dallas for awhile - fortunately all the pimps, whinos, drug dealers and street grifters were safely asleep this early in the morning - and eventually got back on the freeway, heading south.
By 11 am, we were in Salado ( in spite of heavy traffic from the Belton/Temple area, going southward, as we traced our journey down 35 towards Austin) and I was feeling so cocky I thought there was plenty of time to pull over and have lunch at the Stagecoach Inn in Salado. Mom was a little unsure if we could spare the time, but the food was so tasty and the atmosphere so charming, cool and relaxing, we were later glad that we did. Mom regaled me with stories of her college days at Baylor, where she used to sneak out of her room to eat at the Stagecoach Inn, because she didn't like the dorm food. I think it was the naughtiest thing she ever did. Our lunch break was serendipitously the most fun we had, all day. Because we beat the noontime rush, we were back on the road by 11:45, so temptingly close, and yet, so far. Temperature was starting to climb as we headed south, into the high 90's.
We had noticed, as we were driving, what seemed like an awful lot of motorcyclists on the road this morning. I have friends who are Harley enthusiasts, and they ride with a club that toodles around back country roads on Saturday mornings. As we drew closer to Austin, we noticed more and more cyclists, and these folk didn't have quite the same "look" to them as my neighbors (he is a dentist, she is a graphic artist - suburban Yupsters). Still I didn't really mind - we can all share the road, I thought charitably- but as we drove through Georgetown, the traffic slowed to a crawl. Now I know Austin is not the charming little town it once was, and traffic is frequently a nightmare. I had carefully avoided weekday rush hour or weekend "get out of town" traffic - this was a Saturday morning, after all. Surely the number of folk on the road wouldn't be THAT bad. Well, it turns out, (I learned this as I tuned the radio once again, this time to an Austin NPR station), this very day and place was home to "the largest motorcycle rally in all of Texas", comprised of members of the Republic of Texas (check out their website someday!) motorcycle "club". By this point the highway was overwhelmed with folks on their motorcycles, coming from all over the state, all weaving in and out of traffic. Traffic made the road a virtual parking lot as we attempted to drive through downtown Austin. Music was blaring, folks were shouting, giving each other the finger- my mother was visibly tense from the scariness ( to a little old lady) of it all. As soon as you would try to steer around the bikers, one would cut in front of you and you had to slam on your brakes to avoid running into him. Blanco is only 34 miles southwest of Austin. We didn't get there till 3 pm.

By this point, the temperature had climbed to 104 (on my car thermometer that measures outside air temp). Our tempers were short; mine from all the stop and go traffic, my mom's from the unexpected frisson from being in close proximity to thousands of rough looking bikers wearing leather, with scraggly beards, tattoos, etc. It turns out that many of the motorcycle enthusiasts decided to take in the Blanco Lavender Festival as well, perhaps on their way to their ROT rally. Maybe the old lady riding on the back of the bike wouldn't stop her whining till her man placated her with some arts & crafts, ice cream and lavender sachets. Whatever the reason, it was an unusually diverse group of folk taking in the flowers, food, arts & crafts at this festival. Popularity for this little festival has grown to the point that there was no parking for miles. All the lavender had already been picked by the time we arrived. The crowd was filled with little old ladies, like ourselves, wearing purple dresses and big straw hats, and also the leather halter top wearing wrinkled old biker broads with sagging boobs and tattoos. Their men sat impatiently on their bikes parked on the square, revving them constantly so that no one could even hear the country music being played at the festival. The exhaust from all those bikes just added to the heat and grit being blown around. Together, we all shopped the festival for tchotchkies and food. Mom and I sampled some lavender lemonade, which was quite tasty. (Most booths had run out of lavender ice cream, hours before.) It was so hot, and so crowded, however, it dampened our enthusiasm for shopping. (Support the arts!) We faded quickly in the heat and started back to our car. The few blocks away that we had parked had seemed like nothing on our way in, but on our way out, stretched for miles. The sun poured down on us mercilessly; I felt like someone who was in the French Foreign Legion trudging through the desert. Fortunately, just as mom was about to drop into the dust, a little old farmer on a golf cart, wearing overalls and a straw cowboy hat, showed up and offered us a ride to our car. Just in the nick of time.

We decided to take a different route on our way home. After careful consideration and some studying of the map, we chose highway 281 through the Texas hill country. It proved to be an excellent idea- full of beautiful scenery, two full wide lanes, not heavily trafficked, where I could comfortably drive my usual 80-90 mpr with no cops to slow us down. I vowed to never head south again but on this particular road. My mother discovered, to her dismay, that the chocolate bars she had earlier crammed into her purse had melted into a gooey mess all over her good handbag. This fact just made the day seem like a near total failure. We got quiet and listened to the radio for awile as we drove. That optical illusion of water puddles appeared on the road, when it shimmers in the heat and sun. By now the number of bikers on the highway had diminished. At one point, late in the day, we saw a lone biker come flying south towards Austin. My mom shouted out at him, "Buddy , you are late for the party ! " as she waved her fist out the car window.


We concluded our trip with a stop in Clifton, which only took us 2 hours to get to from Blanco, in order to visit my dad who is in a nursing home there. My parents have been divorced now for 30 years, so I dropped mom off on the old timey downtown main drag of Clifton so she could kill time shopping while I saw my dad. In all the trips I've made to that town the past several years, I have never taken the time to stop and explore it - just there and back , check "visit dad" off my list of of the many things to do in my life. Leave it to my mom to find all these adorable art galleries, cute shops, and a really great little cafe, the White Horse Station, where we ate dinner before heading home. Thelma and Louise we are not.


We got home late, around 10:30 pm. All in all, it was an exhausting, but interesting, day. I discovered, much like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz", that I have more lavender growing in my own backyard than there was at the Blanco Lavender Fest, and maybe don't really need to venture that far from home for it, ever again. Certainly not if it coincides with the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally, or a day forecast to be anywhere near 100 degrees.


Summer Road Trips : Outer Banks Pt 1

We are fortunate to have the tradition on my husband's side of the family to vacation each year in the Outer Banks of North Carolina . (We go other places as well, but are always in the OBX at some point in the summer, like the swallows return to Capistrano each year.) When people ask me, "Are you going anywhere this summer?" and I tell them where, I often end up having to explain myself, for this is not a common destination for Texans. Most natives will take a vacation in the Rockies, San Antonio, or South Padre - places closer to home - or else go as far away as possible and head to Florida, Hawaii, South America or Europe. Hubster's family hails from the mid-Atlantic area, Pennsylvania and Washington DC mostly, and people there tend to go to the Outer Banks if they don't want a long journey. The OBX are the closest beach areas that are clean and pleasant and family friendly. Sure, there are boardwalk beach towns all up and down the Jersey-Delaware-Maryland coastlines, but these have evolved into the places one goes for a day trip, to eat hotdogs and play pachinko machines, rather than a destination to stay for days or weeks at a time. Many have heard of Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach, and the Outer Banks are very similar to these places; they just happen to be off the coast of North Carolina.

The Outer Banks are a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that were largely uninhabited (a few small towns do exist, mostly on the mainland) until very recently. When hubster's family first started going there, in the late 80's and early 90's, wild ponies still roamed freely in many spots and schools of dolphins swam by at regular intervals. Hubster's mother actually owned a beach house there until fairly recently. All the development is fairly new (no charming old Victorian homes, and even the few rattier vacation cabins from the 1950's have been torn down and modern, larger beach houses built in their place). Driving up and down the main drag, HWY 12, one gets a sense of large-ish single family homes, (which people rent by the week), a few scattered hotels, stores, country clubs and restaurants, and that's about it. It is not as exclusive as the Hamptons, but the beach houses tend to be large-ish (4 to 10 bedrooms) and full of all the modern amenities : pools, hot tubs, spas, tennis courts. Unlike Texas, where folks can drive on the beach (means broken glass and oil stains in the sand- whose great idea was that ?), the beaches in the Outer Banks are largely accessible only to the people who are renting the beach houses or staying at a particular hotel or apt. Which means they tend to be uncrowded.

There are a few touristy things to do - visit light houses, play putt-putt golf, visit Jockey Ridge State Park or the Wright Brothers National Monument, play some tennis, get a massage or a pedicure, visit a local historical theme park and take in the play about the first colony of settlers, aka "The Lost Colony", about the group that mysteriously disappeared with nothing but the strange word "Croatoan" carved into a tree as a clue. (Trivia note : Andy Griffith and many others got their start acting in this play.) There are little shops, which mostly sell t-shirts and souvenirs and knick-knacks to bored moms who need a break from the kids for an afternoon. Over the years, we have pretty much done it all. One doesn't go to the Outer Banks to DO anything, one goes to relax and get away from it all.
Here is a bigger map to look at ; each family has their own favorite areas. My husband's family prefers the Corolla area, but lots of different people have their own favorites. We have a couple of special spots, little neighborhoods that we prefer, that are less crowded and more picturesque . I'm sworn under a family blood oath not to reveal where they are.
It is our family tradition to go once each summer - the dates we select vary, depending on whatever else is going on at the time. June is lovely and rarely crowded at all, but the water in the ocean can still be too cold to swim ( important for my kids.) July is "high season" and the rental prices reflect that, but the ocean warms up enough to truly enjoy the beach by that point. Of course, since we are Texans, we have to go back to school in early August, unlike other east-coast folk who don't start till after Labor Day or later, so that means August is not really an option for us. When we lived in northern Virginia, we'd also drive down for weekends and holidays, but it takes us now 2 and 1/2 days to get there from Texas, so that is not really workable for us any more. The cross- country journey to get to the OBX is all part of the fun for my family - yes, most people would fly and rent a car somewhere closer, although there aren't any major hubs nearby - but we have our special "road food" places we simply MUST stop and eat at, all along the way. (Many involving various awesome BBQ joints spread across the south, in a veritable map of meal hopping ecstasy.) We also have some good friends we traditionally visit, on our way back, and would never get to see, any other way. I complain about it a lot ( mostly the having to spend a week with my in-laws part) but overall, it is a fun vacation that I wouldn't miss.

Want general info about the Outer Banks ?
Want to see how much the beach houses rent for, what they look like, etc ? (And yes, many are wheelchair accessible). There are many different rental companies; this is the one we use.

Little bit of trivia : The movie "Weekend at Bernie's", which is theoretically set in the Hamptons, was actually filmed in the Outer Banks. Watching it again for the first time in 20 years, I was struck by the vast sweeps of open space, the distance between homes in this movie. Not so any more.

Summer Road Trips : Outer Banks Pt 2

Our Outer Banks vacations have a rhythm to them that is comforting in its familiarity. The kids always have a great time at the beach and spend most hours of the day or night there; I can't even get them away long enough to go play video games or putt-putt golf ( a nice change from their normal existence). Beaches here are made up of miles and miles of clean white sand, no weeds or swamp or sea grass underneath to give your feet that slimy feeling. The water is clear with rarely any jellyfish. The waves are great for surfing, both long board and short, boogie boarding, or just playing around and body surfing (my personal fave since I tend to become entangled in the cord as the wave flips me close to shore. Rarely can I ride that crest smoothly, all the way in.) It is always that perfect temperature : refreshingly cool, but not too cold.

There is plenty of time to relax, talk, read a good book, nap, or think. Just listening to the waves all day and night is enough to reduce most people's blood pressure. I always bring a stack of books and alternate between swimming and reading.

If you need a break from all that sun, sand, and surf, there is always a light house to visit, some shopping, or ice cream to be had. (Corolla Light in the background, it is the only unpainted light house on the NC coast.) There are companies that will take you deep sea fishing, places to learn hang gliding, services that will teach you horseback riding on the beach or take you in a helicopter to tour the area by air - I can't get anyone to go with me !

It is a tradition in hubster's family, as it is with many who come to the Outer Banks, to make the week at the beach into a family reunion of sorts. The beach houses are large ( 3 stories, 4 bedrooms are the small ones) and it makes sense to pack 'em full of folks. We often have 10-12 or more people staying with us. Here hubster's family share the traditional crab and seafood dinner we eat at least once during this trip.
So if you are tempted to ask me what we do at the beach - well, folk, this is it. It is a lovely tradition ; my kids are spoiled by having this to look forward to each summer. We haven't been yet this year, (these photos are from previous visits. Last year's trip is under North Carolina, "The Great American Vacation" in the side bar index). Check back in early Aug to see this year's pix.



I spent this morning harvesting the lavender in my backyard garden....in theory, it is supposed to bloom in late June, (there is a Lavender Festival coming up in Blanco, near Austin, next weekend, and there was one in Gainesville, 2 weeks ago) but you never know when all the buds will "pop" (depends on the weather for weeks surrounding this event) and you've got to be ready to cut them at their peak of blooming. They smell so wonderful; fresh yet not too sweet. I love to just make simple bouquets and hang them in the linen closet. Lavender seems to be one of the few things I can grow well - I am not a great gardener by any means - and it seems to do well in the climate of Texas, which is hot and dry. I started out with six little plants in 2006, each one in a 4" pot, and now they are great big bushes, 3 feet tall and have completely filled a 10 ft wide flower bed. I love it so much, and feel successful at it, so I think I will expand to another spot in the yard and grow more. Just need to find a sunny well drained spot. (FYI: I planted French lavender, which seems particularly suited to the climate here.)
Some people say all the bees have left north Texas and many other spots; folk are worried about the hive blight going around. My younger son plays violin, and we get his instrument serviced at a mom and pop string maker, called the Luthier Shop in Crossroads, Tx, and these guys also raise their own bees (for the beeswax, a crucial ingredient to string players.) They speak frequently about the dearth of bees lately. All I know is, plenty of bees were feeding in my lavender this morning. Perhaps the secret is to provide them with something they enjoy, and the ones that are left will come to you.

I first became a devotee of lavender when I went to Provence in 2006, and got to experience the blooming season there at the famous monastery of Senanque. A photo doesn't really capture how fabulous it is to experience that much lavender blooming.....walking out into the lavender rows, not only does it smell divine, but the plants seem to have an electromagnetic current running through them, you can feel the faint humming vibration of it all around you, within you. Turns out to be caused by millions of pairs of bees' wings, beating together, for the lavender is filled with bees everywhere, buzzing here and there, gathering nectar. They leave you alone; I have never been stung, as long as you respect them and let them do their job. It is truly something that has to be seen and experienced.
In France, they make all kinds of products out of lavender : soap, candles, sachets, perfume, honey, liquor, food. I have eaten vanilla ice cream drizzled with lavender liquor and it was divine. Perhaps that will be my next project.

Huswifery, or How I Spend my Summer Vacation

There is a famous poem, from the earliest years of American literature, by the Puritan poet Edward Taylor that goes something like this :

Make me, O Lord, thy Spinning Wheele compleat;
Thy Holy Worde my Distaff make for mee.
Make mine Affections thy Swift Flyers neate,
And make my Soule thy holy Spoole to bee.
My Conversation make to be thy Reele,
And reele the yarn thereon spun of thy Wheele.
Make me thy Loome then, knit therein this Twine:
And make thy Holy Spirit, Lord, winde quills:
Then weave the Web thyselfe. The yarn is fine.
Thine Ordinances make my Fulling Mills.
Then dy the same in Heavenly Colours Choice,
All pinkt with Varnish't Flowers of Paradise.
Then cloath therewith mine Understanding, Will,
Affections, Judgment, Conscience, Memory;
My Words and Actions, that their shine may fill
My wayes with glory and thee glorify.
Then mine apparell shall display before yee
That I am Cloathd in Holy robes for glory.

While I don't necessarily share the religious sentiments of this poem, I do appreciate the notion that simple tasks of a domestic nature can provide one with a meditation on more divine things. I also know that my life runs more smoothly when my home is in order. During the school year, things are too chaotic - always dashing here and there, with nary a moment to think - and my house reflects it : piles of clothing (clean and dirty), shoes, umbrellas, backpacks, books, papers, everywhere. It is hideous, and not tranquil at all. We reached a new personal low on Saturday night, when some friends wanted to pop in unexpectedly to see us, and son #1 was packing to go away for 3 weeks, his stuff all over the den; and neither hubster nor I had been home all day - son #2 had been roving with gangs of 13 year olds, eating junk food and leaving wrappers everywhere. I think our domestic scene frightened our visitors, a young couple about to be married, into never, ever having children at all. I hope they didn't call off the wedding....it scared even me.
Sure, I have Ina, who comes on Wednesdays and scrubs the kitchen and bathrooms, vacuums, makes beds, straightens the everlasting pile of crap on the den coffee table ( where to put it, really ? all that stuff is important: permission slips for kid events, bills to be paid, receipts, rubber bands, coupons, a few of hubster's important work papers, a calculator, some pens, the phone, the phone book, all swirled around together- all the "junk"drawers are too full!). Bless her, Ina even dusts the book cases ( in every room ) in rotation. But for a really deep cleaning, what some call a "spring" cleaning, I rely on summer vacation. It is traditionally the first activity I do as summer begins.
I generally, start off, a room (or closet) at a time, sorting and culling ( collecting trash bags of stuff for Good Will, the trash, garage sales, etc), washing, cleaning, folding, organizing. I don't really enjoy this, but I enjoy the end result. Tell myself, one room a day.....and in a month, I'll be done (16 rooms plus 8 walk in closets and a pantry) .I drag a tool kit with me, and repair things as I find them.... and I keep a pad and pencil with me as I go, making lists of stuff to buy (giant storage bins ! new ironing board cover, large zip bags, shelf paper, more pillow cases, cleaning supplies, new photo frames for den) or do ( replace blinds in kitchen, paint master bathroom, replace throw rug in hallway, etc).
Once started, I am good to go...and often work all night long. It is difficult for me to get started, however.....this morning I putzed around in my garden for awhile. Now I am taking a break to write this......gotta .....get back......to work.......


Random Facebook Quiz

This quiz from Facebook was called "First Share"

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
Went to 2 proms at once, on the same night ! Both Richardson HS annd JJ Pearce HS ( rival schools, both proms held on the same night, on different floors of the same hotel) with my Jr High bf Bill (I went to RHS, he went to PHS) and my best gf Judy and his best guy friend Kevin

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
Yes, Bill, most days

3. What was your 1st alcoholic drink?
A margarita from Chili's. I think I was 15. (Sh! Don't tell my kids!)

4. What was your FIRST job?
Worked the cash register at Jack-In-the-Box on Preston at Valley View mall - followed closely by sales clerk at Sears and Sanger-Harris , both at VV mall in Dallas

5. What was your FIRST car?
1974 Duster, blue (No, I was not Daisy Duke ! )

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
My son, Tommy

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
My son, Will ( he is away at science camp for 3 weeks and I miss him !)

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
Mrs Green. She was ancient but kindly. I still remember some little boy named Jonathan who sat near me and pooped in his pants every day.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
Houston, to visit Mark at Rice and to party !

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Monica, and I am so happy to have finally found her on facebook

11. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
can't remember - does my grandmother's house count ?

12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
My dogs !

13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
My cousin, Barbara's.

14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Flipped on the coffee machine

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Tex Jam at the Cotton Bowl

16. FIRST tattoo?
None yet, but came very close to getting the evil eye ( also known as a wadjet or oudja eye) tattoed onto my arm in the backroom of a bar named Waddi Razzuk's in the old quarter, Jerusalem, late one night in July 1981

17. First piercing?

18. First foreign country you've been to?
Does Mexico count ? After that, then England.

19. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
"If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium" ( oddly prophetic)

20. When was your FIRST detention?
7th grade, the art teacher gave me one for glue on the desk - and it wasn't my desk, or my glue! Only one I ever was given.

21. What was the first state you lived in?

22. Who was your FIRST roommate?
Alice Mao

23. If you had one wish. What would it be?
To wish for more wishes !

24. What is something you would learn if you had the chance?
Well, my therapist says I need to let go and realize I can't do it all, control it all, fix it all. I need to be more zen.

25. Who do you think will be the next person to post this?
Who cares? If I am more zen, I'll just let it be, see what happens, where it takes me.....