A Memorial Day Celebration

Like thousands of citizens across the nation, I celebrated Memorial Day weekend. After taking care of the lawn and the house Saturday morning, we headed out in the afternoon to a wonderful brew pub located on Magnolia Avenue, just south of downtown Fort Worth. This area has been revitalized and has many nice shops and restaurants located along the avenue. We were looking for a pet-friendly venue and found it at Brewed. Their website makes two statements:

FORT WORTH’S GATHERING PLACE

FOR COMFORT FOOD, CRAFT COFFEE & COCKTAILS.

and

The Locals’ Living Room

I would say that both statements were correct.

We allowed our dog, Leroy, to join us on the outing. The establishment allows dogs as long as you sit on the patio in back. We found a terrific table located under a beautiful tree. With a nice breeze, it was not too hot for men or dog on this shaded and beautiful patio.

Each of us chose a local, craft beer to drink. When we first arrived the menu was still their brunch menu but within minutes they were changing over to their regular menu so the waitress gave us new menus. We wanted some appetizers to enjoy with our beers. After reviewing the options, we choose the “bucket of bacon.” (Now I am falling love with this place.) Really, a BUCKET OF BACON. What could be better? There were three differently season slices of bacon plus pork rinds. All three of us, yes Leroy got some samples, enjoyed this appetizer. We followed this one up with pretzel sticks (not the thin ones but ones the size of bread sticks) which came with both mustard and melted cheese to choose as a dipping sauce.

Leroy
Bucket of Bacon

Our Sunday adventure led us to a small community located an hour southwest of Fort Worth, Granbury. Both of us had read about this community and a special field which contained more than 1000 U.S. flags in honor of military personnel. They also featured a festival in the community in recognition of Memorial Day.

Field of Flags

As we were driving into the community, we came first to the field of flags. This was truly a breathtaking sight to see. We pulled into the parking area, so we could get out of the car and explore this display. On the edge of the display was a tent with volunteers so if you were looking for the flag of a specific individual, they could check a list and tell you exactly where the flag was located. In one location, they had placed large pictures of some significant soldiers and sailors on easels. Each picture also had some information about that individual. Another display gave information about the 74 sailors who lost their lives during the Vietnam war when the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Frank E Evans, turned into the path of an Australian aircraft carrier and was cut in half. Walking between the rows and rows of U.S. flags reminds a person of the sacrifices and service of those who served to protect and defend the United States of America. A great reminder of what Memorial Day weekend is about.

Our journey then took us into the heart of the community and to the courthouse square. Vendors had tents set up on the streets around the square. We arrived toward the end of the afternoon, so they were starting to close up shop, but we were able to walk around and get a feel for all the vendors at the festival. Our research had also told us about a lighted boat parade which was scheduled to take place on Lake Granbury. Since we had never been to the community or this celebration before, we stopped at one of the local shops around the square to ask where the best place to view the parade might be. A shop keeper gave us all the details which led us to decide to park near the city beach we had passed to view the parade.

The parade would not start for another three hours, so we chose to walk back toward the square looking for a place to sit down, get something to eat and something to drink. The Filin‘ Station was located on one of the corners of the square. We decided that would be a place to check out. We were not disappointed. An old gas station converted to a small restaurant with a great patio gave us that hometown feeling which fit our day. Our waitress, Peggy, was a returned American Airline employee who definitely knew how to make you feel comfortable and provided great service. The food was excellent and beer from a local brewery made for a nice respite from the day’s heat.

After spending some time at our new discovery, Peggy gave us to-go cups filled with water, and we were on our way back to the city beach to stake out our location for watching the lighted boat parade. A perfect spot just off of the beach in a grassy area provided an excellent view and some shade to sit under while we awaited the parade. A cool breeze off the lake made us very comfortable. When dusk arrived, the parade began from a location at one end of the lake area. We could see it traveling along the opposite coast line. In little time, it had reached a nearby bridge where it turned and moved down the coast upon which we sat. Our expectation had been for ten or twelve lighted boats. We were surprised to discover the parade had over thirty entries which were spectacular to see. A perfect way to end our day before returning home.

If you are in the area during Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to check out Granbury. You will not be disappointed. We plan on returning for one of their many other festivals during the year.

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.

Traveling Happiness

I am a person who enjoys traveling. One reason that I enjoy traveling so much is that I love to experience and discover new places. Whenever I am in a new community, I am looking for the cultural aspects of the community. The museums, the parks, the festivals, and the unique neighborhoods are a draw for me. Sometimes it might be an amusement park, a zoo, or a city square that I will explore. Each community has its own flair and character that sets it apart from any other place to which I have been. The more time I have in a new location to discover these elements, the happier I become. Many of these opportunities are free which is also a great benefit.

Another exciting part of traveling for me is the actual process of getting to wherever I am going. Whether it be by car or plane (I have only traveled by train and bus once each), there is something about that experience that energizes me. If it is by plane, I find energy when I am in the terminal awaiting my departure. Seeing the different individuals throughout the terminal and creating in my mind scenarios about where they are traveling, why they are traveling, and who they may be traveling with provides me a creative way to pass the time. Boarding the plane and awaiting take off gives me a feeling of setting off on a great adventure with unknowns which generate energy within the suspense.

If I am traveling by car, the possibilities of seeing new sights launches me on moments of discovery. Making those stops along the way allow me to interact with the people and differences of each location for even a brief amount of time. On a recent trip, I learned that cotton is grown in Kansas when I thought sunflowers was that state’s unique crop. I also became aware of the magnitude of the oil wells which exist in the state of Oklahoma. New information which would have been unlikely for me to know if I had not traveled through those states in my car.

The ability to travel also gives me a sense of accomplishment. When I have been to a place and am able to check it off of my list of “famous places I would like to visit,” I feel accomplished. I also enjoy when I encounter a statue, monument, building, or street which I have heard about in a movie or on television. Again, I have a positive feeling of completion in my life.

With traveling there are also some negative aspects. Times when delays or unexpected hurdles occur. Long periods of just sitting on a plane or in a car. Missing an exit while you are driving. Having your luggage not arrive at your final destination when you do. All these negative aspects are small to me in comparison to the great feeling of euphoria which I experience when given the opportunity to travel.