A Weekend of Fun

What an incredible weekend. We had the joy of hosting some friends from Iowa this weekend. Amy and Brian arrived on Saturday afternoon. I am not sure who was more eagerly anticipating their arrival, my husband or myself. We had spent our morning doing lawn work and last aspects of cleaning. Partly because it needed to be done and partly to keep our eyes off the clock. The decision to wait on cleaning the floors was due to our new fur baby, Belle, shedding white hair as quickly as we can clean it up.

After their arrival, we spent the afternoon catching up. They gave us an update on their family while we shared about our move and discoveries in our new city. We also were able to discuss the activities of St Stephen’s Lutheran Church which is how we had come to meet each other. A very relaxing time for sure.

Evening arrived and it was time to find something to eat. We decided to go and enjoy Posado’s Cafe which is one of our favorites when we are hungry for Mexican food. Our trips to this restaurant only occur on weekend nights because we have our own favorite server, Kerry. The staff is starting to realize that we will only sit in Kerry’s section. She did not disappoint us with her service once again. Amy and Brian seemed to like the food which we do as well.

Posado’s Cafe

Once our stomachs were full, we journeyed to downtown Fort Worth. My husband and I enjoy spending time downtown looking through the shops and sitting at the fountains in Sundance Square. The buildings of downtown are all outlined in colored lights which change colors every few seconds. If there is a holiday coming soon, the colors often reflect that holiday (i.e., red, pink, and white around Valentine’s Day). The clock face on the building behind the stage along one side of the square also changes based on the holiday and/or season. This night it had a summer beach theme. So after showing our friends some of our favorite shops, we sat by the fountains and enjoyed the atmosphere and busy life of Downtown Fort Worth. Then we headed home to relax a little before going to bed.

Sundance Square – Downtown Ft Worth

Sunday activities began with a wonderful brunch fixed by my husband. After brunch, we hurried to clean up and headed to the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. We arrived in time to watch them drive the long horn steers down the street. Once the steers had gone by, we then walked into the stockyards to witness a gunslinger shoot out (all staged). Then we checked out some shops, Brian got some beef jerky, and we picked up some excellent seasoning for dips. A walk to see Billy Bob’s took a slight detour so Brian could go through the military museum which interests him since he is one of our nation’s brave veterans.

Cattle Drive at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards

Before leaving the Stockyards, we decided to take our friends to a bar which we had newly discovered on one of our recent visits, Booger Red’s Saloon. This bar is filled with character. Behind the bar there is the butt part of a buffalo coming out of the mirror in honor of their Buffalo Butt Beer. The ceiling fans are operated by a series of belts attached to a motor on one wall. You can choose to sit on a bar stool or a saddle as you enjoy your drinks at the bar. Amy was even brave enough to climb on one of the saddles as we sat at the bar.

Booger Red’s Saloon – Image courtesy of H3 Ranch.com

From the Stockyards, we continued back to downtown Fort Worth where we went to the Water Gardens on the south side of the convention center. This park has three different water features and a “Mountain.” The intention when it was built was to provide an oasis in the midst of a very busy urban area. A meditation pool provides a calm pool of water with water running down the terraced walls around it. The aeration pool has spray fountains which create both a visual and sound experience. The largest of the pools in the Water Gardens has water which cascades 38 feet down terraced walls to a pool at the lowest point. You can walk down a series of arranged stone slabs to the pool and then on large stone slabs around the pool. It is an amazing experience.

Fort Worth Water Gardens – Image courtesy of tr.robinson

After returning home for some relaxation, it was time to head out to another of our favorite restaurants, B J’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. The menu is large and the food is always very good. Then back home to watch a movie and relax

A weekend filled with fun, laughter, and good company had come to a close. We wished our friends good bye this morning and look forward to their promised return visit.

Lanterns In the Garden

The highlight of this past weekend was the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens’ “Lanterns In the Garden” event. We had been discussing attending the event since it opened at the end of March. For one reason or another, we had not found a time to go. This Sunday we made time to go which was good since it was the last night for this year’s event. I purchased tickets for the 8:00 pm time slot and even received a discount because I follow the Botanic Gardens on Facebook.

When we arrived about five minutes before our scheduled time, the main parking lot was full. There were plenty of volunteers directing traffic, and we were instructed that we should park in the weekend parking lot. Right before we turned to go to the lot, one of the female volunteers gave us some quick directions by saying, “Right, right, weekend parking.” This became a chant for me since that is the way she said it to us. Throughout the night I would do this chant, and we would laugh.

Once we arrived in the parking lot, we joined a large group of people in line to ride the shuttle back to the main entrance. Eventually, one of the volunteers told us that if we were willing to walk approximately a mile, she would lead us to the entrance. Even though we had taken a bike ride a few hours earlier, we were up for the walk. Some others in the group also took this option rather than wait the ten minutes for the shuttle. The night was beautiful and the walk was nothing strenuous.

Upon arrival at the main entrance, we joined the line. I had purchased our tickets online, so we did not need to wait to buy tickets, but we did have to wait to receive our wristbands after having our tickets scanned. This was the only problematic aspect to the event. The manner in which they had the traffic flowing was not well planned out. The lines crossed each other which created chaos and frustration at times. My recommendation to the organization is to work this out before next year.

Then we headed off into the gardens. We had been to the gardens twice before during the day. The plants and flowers are beautiful. This time though we were focused on the lighted displays as we walked along the garden paths. The displays included bell flowers, colored horses, birds, frogs, alligators, deer, butterflies, tulips, roses, fish, pandas, a dragon, and so much more. The views were breathtaking and the smell of the flowers in the garden added to the sensory experience.

If you are planning on being in Fort Worth next year between March and May, I highly recommend purchasing tickets to this special event. Tickets this year were $18 for adults and less for children. Discounts for a variety of special designations are also available. The gates to the event open at 5:00 pm and the last time to enter is 8:00 pm.

Here are a few of the pictures we took so you have a flavor of what you may see.

A Wonderful Mix

Having spent a majority of my life in Iowa (with two short periods in Nebraska), I was in a state which is pretty homogeneous when it comes to racial diversity. Even though I lived in the capital of Nebraska for a little over three years and the second largest city in Iowa for three years, most of the people who I encountered were white, anglo-saxons like myself. Moving to a metropolitan area of over seven million people has been a delightful change when it comes to diversity.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy the opportunity to sit and watch people. One location which I frequent once or twice a week is Starbucks. I go there for the coffee but I also use the time to either do some research or some planning. An added benefit is the diverse clientele which enters the establishment.

Having the opportunity of seeing and listening to a variety of individuals has given me an appreciation for the tapestry which the Creator made when giving life to humanity. Each person and culture has so much to offer.

The diversity which I have experienced in my new community allows me to expand my perceptions of the human race. I have always tried to be open to new people and new cultures but really never lived in community with individuals significantly different from myself. Each new experience right now is fresh. Over time, I am sure that I will become more accustomed to these new encounters and not give it as much thought as I currently do.

No matter how long it will be until this diversity becomes the norm in my thoughts, I will treasure each experience as it comes my way.

A Trip to the Past

This past weekend was filled with a lot of new experiences. I have decided that Mondays are going to be the days when I share about our travel and new experiences. Since I have already blogged about my love of travel and our ongoing experiences in our new location, you should not be surprised that I want to share these with you. Who knows, maybe you will decide you would like to also go on an adventure and discover some new places we are checking out on the weekends.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Saturday we chose to travel about an hour from our home to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. We first became aware of the event when we attended the Irish Festival in March. There was a booth at the Irish Festival which had information about the Renaisance Festival. My husband and I agreed that this was something we definitely needed to check out. So we left home early afternoon (after having mowed and done some lawn work) and headed to Waxahachie, TX. Waxhachie is located on the southern-most end of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Our trip was eventful the closer  we got to the festival because of road construction. We had the pleasure of exploring a country road which was extremely narrow and was much in need of some maintenance work. When we were within a mile of the festival entrance, traffic ground to a halt. We spent the next fifteen minutes slowly advancing toward our desired destination. Next year we will approach from the north and east versus the south and west as we did this year. (FYI -Sometimes Waze does not know the best route.)

Upon arrival, we found a good parking location in the grassy lots which are provided. The parking attendants do a fairly good job of directing you to the right place. After parking the car, now time to hike to the festival entrance. This festival is well-established and has a permanent location. Permanent buildings at the entrance and throughout the festival grounds have been constructed. We had purchased our tickets online which saved us time because we did not have to stand in the line to buy tickets. After scanning our tickets, we were allowed access to the festival grounds and the wonderful experience of the event.

Neither my husband nor myself had been to this festival. In fact, I had never been to a Renaissance festival or fair at all. Almost at once it became clear that many others had been attenders in the past since they had full costumes which they wore in all their finery. The festival is located on 35 acres. The festival’s website gives this description:

Scarborough Renaissance Festival is interactive fun for everyone, 16th Century Style. Enjoy full combat armored jousts, Birds of Prey exhibitions, the Mermaid Lagoon and Renaissance entertainment on 27 stages. Discover exquisite crafts in 200 village shoppes and marvel at the artisan demonstrations. Partake in Renaissance rides and games of skill and feast on food & drink fit for royalty. For the more discerning tastes there are daily wine and beer tastings as well. Plus, every weekend has a different theme and a variety of special events.

Festival website

We spent four hours walking throughout the festival. We started our journey by listening to a female singing group, Queen Anne’s Lace, on a small stage near the entrance. Then our walk took us past shops and to another stage where a show, Birds of Prey, was taking place. It was truly fascinating watching the fowler and his assistants handle hawks and eagles. The next stop along the path was Terra Mythica Castle, an opportunity to walk through a small structure which told the story of three sisters who had a rough life leading them to an evil side. These women now practice a dark magic within the castle from which they were once cast away. After such a dark experience, we decided to experience laughter and frivolity at the Fortune Stage where Don Juan and Miguel engage in a comedic battle which also highlights some great whipping skills. All this took place in the first ninety minutes of our adventure.

After seeing some shows and hearing some stories, we decided that the time had come to continue discovering what the festival had to offer. We also had decided that we were both thirsty and needed to find a refreshing beverage. Our journey continued as we browsed a few of the shoppes and explored what options for a cool drink might be available. Along our way we had to stop and listen to the insultor at the booth where people could buy a chance to throw tomatoes at the person casting the insults. Soon we began to realize that we had only covered half the festival grounds and there was a lot more to explore.

We finally settled on some ales to drink and continued to walk around the grounds. Part of the entertainment was watching all the festival goers and seeing them in their period clothing. There were individuals dressed as French royalty with beautiful gowns and detailed coats. Some participants chose to take a pirate theme. Others were dressed as knights and damsels. Fairies and mythical creatures also were walking about. I told my husband that next year I thought we should consider coming as characters even though there were as many people there who were dressed in 21st century clothing like we were as there were those in costume.

Continuing our trek around the grounds gave us opportunity to wander into a variety of vendor shops and to catch some other festivities. We watched as a large group learned how to do a 16th century dance. Various competitions such as king-of-the-log, Jacob’s ladder, and the cannon throw were enjoyable to view. We also stopped to get some fried bread with fruit topping and “ye olde” root beer.

Our day came to a close by attending the joust. The king and queen in all their finery presided over the jousting field. Four knights participated in the joust each mounted on beautiful steeds. The competition was intended to settle the argument over whether chivalry was an outdated practice which should be abandoned or not. Two of the knights stood in favor of the continuation of chivalry and two said chivalry was a waste from the past. So the tournament is intended to settle the issue. The crowd members choose which knight(s) to cheer for and the battle begins. Each knight mounted on his steed at the start and fully dressed in their proper colors take their places. The lance is handed to each and the charge toward each other two at a time. After losing their lance, the battle continues with weapons on the ground. The two chivalrous knights prevail by killing the other two knights. They receive the accolades of the king and queen (and some of the crowd).

The Scarborough Renaissance is a reasonably priced journey back to the 16th century. The shop owners, performers, and festival cast not only entertain but educate by demonstrating their various skills and talking with those who are browsing or watching. The festival runs for eight consecutive weekends in April and May each year. I highly recommend going to this festival if you are in the area or choose to travel to the area for this event.