Molto Moto

Everyone came in to town last week from as far away as Florida and New Mexico for an opportunity to get together, celebrate, and to attend the MotoGP races. We were celebrating a friend who has accepted a teaching position in Little Rock, Arkansas. Besides being a gifted orthodontist, he also plays bass guitar “as a way to stay sharp,” and has become very good at it, even joining a band.

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On Thursday night the band played it’s last show together, with lots of friends and family in attendance, cruising Ladybird Lake in downtown Austin, and timing our return so that we could watch the bats fly out at sunset.

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Sunday was spent at COTA – The Circuit of the Americas track.  This was my first time there, and I was impressed with both the track’s size and it’s sophistication. MotoGP is the fastest motorcycle racing in the world.  Grand Prix motorcycles are “purpose-built,” solely to be raced on the track, often at speeds of 200+ mph for 18-21 laps, leaning over almost parallel to ground in turns with knees touching asphalt!

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Image – mirror.co.uk

MotoGP races take place in more than a dozen countries and on multiple continents. Riders from all over the world, along with their crew, all participate and it was fun to hear so many people speaking so many different languages as we walked around.

There were lots of tents with vendors who would sell you anything from a t-shirt to a shiny new motorcycle – which would you prefer – Moto Guzzi? Kawasaki?  Yamaha? They even let you try them for fit, so I couldn’t resist this Ducati that was just my size. image

What a weekend!

XO Donna

 



Even Better

I’ve been hard at work on my book, and looking forward to a great day. It began with meeting our friends for a brunch to celebrate my better half’s birthday. Our waitress noticed his Pacific Coast Highway t-shirt and began talking to him, she’s originally from L.A. and they talked about that drive up the coast. Realizing it was his birthday,  she brought him a gigantic, freshly made brownie with an enormous scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a fistful of spoons. That brownie was enjoyed by all!

copper cupFrom there, we rode out toward the hill country to Treaty Oak Distillery, where they are producing some of Texas’ finest spirits.  It’s a large piece of land, with picnic tables under shade trees and a little shop selling everything a mixologist needs. Another large building provides places to sit inside, have a cocktail and appetizers, and gab for a while.

We were sitting outside when I saw a helicopter touch down and people exiting. “What fun,” I thought, and went back to my conversation.  A few minutes later, the pilot came to our table and started talking to the guys. The next thing I knew, I was following the pilot back to the copter with my girlfriends!

Heli 1When I was little I used to imagine myself flying on a magic carpet over the nearby orchards, and this was that cool. When we took off it felt like the land fell away beneath us, and with a swoop to the side, we were gone.

We all wanted to see Hamilton Pool, a natural pool created when the dome of an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago.  People can swim there,  it has a beautiful grotto, and there were a few folks enjoying the water when we flew over.

Our reception upon landing, complete with photos and videos, had the three of us feeling like rock stars. That’s one more thing I wanted to do that I can check off my wish list: trains, planes, automobiles, sailboats, motorcycles, and now a helicopter.

I had the great time I was looking forward to, I’m pretty sure we all did.
Everything turned out even better than we had planned.

XO Donna

 

 


Hug a Farmer

imageDespite being a gypsy, sometimes you don’t have to go far to satisfy your travel-bug. It’s especially gratifying to find something new right in your own back yard.

We went to Springdale Farms last week, a few miles east of Austin. My friend Carla volunteers there. She also helps create some products that are sold there. I’ve never experienced any soap as luscious as the Rose Soap that she and Paula make and sell.

It pays to arrive pretty early for the best choice, since all of the farm-to-table chefs arrive at the crack of dawn. But there was still a wonderful selection of freshly-picked, and carefully cleaned produce, artfully arranged and waiting for us, even at our late hour.

imagePaula and Glenn Foore – the owners – were happy to chat with us, and have a delightfully free-range attitude toward guests; we were invited to wander their property, look at everything, and c’mon back with any questions.

Their fields were rich with winter crops. Flowers were blooming already.  There was even a shiny Avion, complete with striped curtains in the window and a lawn chair beside it’s door, parked adjacent to their farmhouse. Heaven.

Without a doubt, the biggest attraction at the farm are their plump, shiny, and exotic hens.  My Grampa had a flock on his farm, but they were scrawny, bedraggled, white chickens. Decidedly not the showgirls this bunch is.

They have a large grassy yard of their own, and we watched as one imageof the men working there took the time to shred some cabbage and broccoli leaves and give them to the hens along with some seed. When there are parties at the farm, the chefs feed leftover cooked vegetables to the hens, which they also love.

It was a memorable break from routine, and  I look forward to returning soon.  If there are farm stands where you live, I encourage you to go visit them. Meet the folks raising your food.  Buy yourself some fresh eggs, or a bunch of carrots or fresh onions.
That’s the way to hug a farmer!

P.S. –  I just found out that Springdale Farms is having an Open House on March 5th with guided tours and live music. They will also be part of the East Austin Urban Farm Tour on April 17th.  I’ll be there – and if you’re in town, come join me!

XO Donna

 


Oh, Ojo!

When I awoke this morning it was cloudy, damp, and quite cool.  That’s what winter is here in Austin. Since it’s been summer for the last two weeks, a day or two of winter is welcome, although it’s confusing the hell out of the plants; the Mountain Laurel is flowering, as are the Daffodils and Iris.

The damp chilled me, and my mind wandered to Ojo Caliente in northern New Mexico, one of my favorite hot spots in the country – and by that I mean geothermal hot springs. My other is 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe.

Iron PoolOjo is special because they are the only place in the world with four different types of mineral water. Clustered at the base of a high ridge, open to a big sky, they contain minerals that have been credited with healing powers by the Native Americans who have valued them for centuries.

They weren’t easy to get to the last time I was there – off a main road, then down a long poorly paved one.  My hope is that will prevent them from becoming another roadside attraction. They have day fees, and provide you with a big robe and locker for your clothes. You must wear swimsuits in all pools except one, and signs everywhere  say “Whisper Zone,” in order to maintain the tranquil atmosphere.

SodaBathsSoaking in the Iron Pool, looking up at the red dirt cliffs, my mind and body relax and I become one with the warm water. This pool is my fave, considered beneficial to the blood and immune system.

When I finally drag myself out, I stroll next door to the Soda Baths, the only covered pool. Sound is muffled in here, and I  really enjoy that, and the old rock-work.  Then, on to the Arsenic Spring, purported to offer relief from arthritis, and a variety of skin conditions. (For all of you who think I have a portrait up in my attic, now you know my secret. Ojo, baby!)

MonksOjoThe Tibetan Monks were there this past December to bless the healing waters, and went from pool-to-pool to do so. That would have been an amazing sight!

When your day is done, and you’re as pruny as you can possibly get, you can traipse into the lounge,  and savor a delicious glass of wine.

I’ll let you know when I’m going. You’re invited, of course!

XO Donna

 


I’ve got this!

imageI bought a long, black, crocheted tank-dress to wear as a cover-up with my bikinis when we go on vacation.

This is actually the second one I’ve bought – the first was for my sister, Andee, when she went to the Dominican Republic for her anniversary a year, or so, ago. She told me she loved it, that it fit well, and she felt like a model in it…of course, she’s 5’11” tall.

Mine arrived, and I was excited until I tried it on and it was  dragged along the ground like the train on a very long, black, wedding dress. Something that Elvira or Morticia would adore.  Then I realized why.  I’m only 5’4″ and these are cut for someone 6 inches taller. Darn!
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I decided to hem it. Why not? Save myself $25 and a long drive to the only tailor I trust. I am sure it will be easy, since I have leftover magic tape from Ikea. It is a mesh tape, like a spider web that fuses fabric together when heat (your iron) is applied. I’ve got this!

Easy-peasy: cut 4″ off of the hem, fold it up to where I need it, place the tape between the fabric,  pin it, fire up the iron. imageMercifully, at the last minute I thought to put a cotton napkin over the fabric so I wouldn’t  melt the nylon-blend of the dress!

Voila! Except the tape melted through the holes in the crochet, and had melted all over our Teflon coated iron, the linen napkin, and the newish ironing board cover. And the dress was fusing to both the napkin and the ironing board cover!

My dreams of  sashaying poolside in my sexy cover-up were about to go down in flames…

I won’t bore you with the details  (unless you need to know, and I can walk you through it, call me) but, believe it or not,  I was able to salvage the whole situation. The dress is now the right length, and looks as good as I’d hoped.

Now to get packed, and perfect my sashay by Saturday!

XO  Donna

 


An Invitation

This past Thursday, the day you usually receive my latest post, I felt that what I had to say was better suited to my other blog.

What??? Oh, yes, I do have another blog called, “Damned Gypsy.”  It is focused on travel, and it will grow as I travel more and write about my adventures.

Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to direct your attention to:

Forsake the familiar

I hope you find something you love!

XO Donna


This darned app…

As soon as it was released, I downloaded the app from my favorite thought-leader. It sends a daily message meant to open your eyes and your mind. I read this one, and thought, “Yup, gotta take care of yourself first in order to take care of others.”

imageThen, when it showed up a couple of days later, I thought, “I guess I needed the reminder.”

When it appeared yet again, my thoughts ran straight to, “This darned app is broken. I wonder if I should delete it and download it again?”  Then, I froze. . .what if I just hadn’t “gotten” the message yet?

I remembered my trip to Long Island: I was worried about getting from LaGuardia airport onto the right bus, to get to the right train station, to get the right train out to the island to meet my sisters. As much as I told myself I could do it, by the time the plane landed, my stomach was in knots.

I found a Metropolitan Transit Authority info booth, told the young man where I wanted to go and he pulled out a map, drew circles and arrows all over it, and left me standing at a bus stop with a ticket in my hand. That was sooo easy, I thought. When my bus came, I clambered aboard, and as he’s yelling instructions to the passengers, I asked the driver if this bus would take me to Woodside, then on to Jamaica, so I could catch a train out to the east end of the island.

“No doll, that’s not how you get there.” The door closed behind me. My stomach sank. The bus was packed like a sardine can, I was wedged in , and we had just pulled away from the curb.
“But, that’s what the MTA guy told me.”
“Those guys don’t know nuthin. Don’t listen to them. Where ya goin on the island?”
“Ronkonkoma,” I answered.
“Here, doll, lemme tell ya whatcha gotta do.” And he started ‘splainin it to me.

imageA voice behind me says, “Excuse me, ma’am, I’m going to Ronkonkoma. You can follow me.”
I turn to see who said that, and it’s a young Tom Cruise in an American Airways uniform. A pilot on his way home. He lead me all the way there, chatted amiably, and kept an eye on me while he stepped away to smoke a cigarette and make some calls. He’d wait for me to catch up as we made the transfers, and finally, we arrived at Ronkonkoma station.

I know I won’t ever see John again, but I will think about him each time I see Tom Cruise onscreen. I sent a little prayer into the universe, and he showed up.

My needs were met, once again.

XO  Donna

 

 


I don’t say “Lawn Guyland”

It’s where I grew up, but I got to Texas as quickly as I could, and I say it just like y’all.

I’m going there early Saturday morning!  If you look on the (very judgemental) map below, I grew up on the south shore, in “Too far from the City, Too far from the Hamptons” Bayport.

imageI’m meeting my sisters at the train station, if I don’t get lost between LaGuardia  Airport (The City) and Ronkonkoma (Extrememly White People).
I’m a tad worried…it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve taken the train, but I keep reminding myself, “You used to take the train into the city to go to concerts all the time. Stoned. You got this!”

On Monday, we are taking the ferry south, across the bay, to The Pines, on Fire Island (Gays) for the week and staying in a little beach cottage for some R & R (relaxation and recreational bartending). Three of the four of us have tended bar professionally at some point in our lives, and we love to mix cocktails for each other.

The real reason for the getaway is that we are finally going to scatter our sister’s ashes. Hopefully we won’t get arrested, drop the urn into the ocean, or injure someone. And since our 88 year-old father, Daddy-O, will probably be there, we need to walk the tight-rope between the solemnity the occasion deserves, and our familial hiding-behind-humor coping mechanism.

Picture any movie with all four Marx brothers  in it, (yes, there are four – everybody forgets poor Zeppo) and that’s us. Should be a lot of fun.

My sisters have already mapped out the best German bakery for pastries and coffee cake, and where to get the best Eggplant Parmigiana. I will take notes, take pictures, and have stories to tell when I get back.

Now to pack. I wonder if the cottage will have a cocktail shaker?

XO Donna

 

 

 


When One Door Closes

I first noticed the feeling when we made it to Durango. It felt like I’d been playing catch-up all day: moving too slowly, hurrying too often, always bringing up the rear, everything seemed harder.

GaneshaAt dinner that night, after one-martini-too-many, I waxed melancholy about the prospect of being “left behind” when we could no longer keep up. I felt the door slowly inching shut.

In the morning, I was thrilled to see Ganesha painted on a dumpster in the alley beside the bikes. (he is the Hindu god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles) I took it as a good sign.

We’ve looked forward to returning for the July 4th parade in Telluride  ever since our trip there in 2004. We expected it to be the same town; with just enough people for a good party and everyone in town participating in their parade.  In that eleven years, our “Mayberry” had turned into Disneyland! There were about 70,000 people there – literally everyone and their dog, and all of their cute kids.

We waited in a queue for the gondola into town for more than an hour.
Then waded through crowds to meet the guys at the Last Dollar Saloon.
Afterwards, we waited for almost 45 minutes for lunch, then waited for a table at which to eat.
We abandoned the idea of window-shopping and fell in line to wait in a blocks-long queue for the gondola back up the mountain. The clouds rolled in, dark and menacing. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped drastically. Just when the sky finally opened up, we miraculously hailed a van that took us home for a hefty fee.
Worth. Every. Dollar.

Antler RanchIn the morning we headed to gorgeous Antler Ranch, where our rooms were right on the Rio Grande.  Beautiful cabins, great beds, and an amazing dinner awaited us. We sat on the porch and relaxed as the river raced by. I could have used a few more days in that place. We saw that they have parking for RVs, so we asked about rates while checking out.

On our way home we chose an empty restaurant thinking we’d get breakfast quickly and stay ahead of the rain. We waited, impatiently, almost an hour for breakfast. Later, standing beside our bikes in the pouring rain, partially sheltered by an awning, we wondered if it would have been any different if we hadn’t waited that long for breakfast.

When it became obvious that the storm was parked over us, we decided to head back to a restaurant we’d passed earlier and wait out the rain. Turk and I lagged behind again, then catching a couple of lights, lost sight of the Doorsgroup. As we headed up the road in the downpour, unsure we were going the right way, we saw our friend coming back to find us. I appreciated the gesture so much that I began to cry.

We’ve talked about the trip a lot since returning home. The paced seemed harder than ever. I felt weighed-down the whole trip. We both had moments of feeling left behind, although our group had waited patiently and pulled us along.

Big love. Much appreciated.

They are planning bigger rides next year, but after much soul-searching we’ve decided to close that door. We’ve begun looking for a motor home, our next frontier.

When one door closes, a new one opens.
XO Donna