August 2003 (1 of 3)

Before we get to Texas ...

A brief recap of the early part of the month, which consisted of murky, super humid days and ever-present rain.

I got a call from yet another timeshare resort, asking us to visit. Last time we went because it was a good excuse to visit the Maine coast during the long winter. And the free airline tickets promised sounded good. The trip was great, but the tickets were only free if you stayed in very expensive hotels for several days.

So I should have just hung up this time around, right? But this place was in the Berkshires. And the enticement was free tickets and accommodations in the Caribbean or Mexico. So, I bit again. Off we went on the four-hour round trip.

The sales guy seemed nice enough. We listened patiently for over 1 1/2 hours, then declined to buy (under much pressure from three different people). The original guy acted like it was a personal insult and became quite upset. How could we not buy, when this made complete sense?

It was not a fun experience, and it was not Maine. But we left with a free vacation, I think. I don't recommend these visits as a pastime (unless you really want a timeshare).

Vin ventures upstairs
in the daylight

Berkshires sightseeing train

Mendon outings.

Tina, Erin, Kelsey and Joe came for an overnight stay. It's always fun with them around. With off and on rain, we squeezed in the outdoor stuff and managed to keep busy. We ate out in local Mendon joints (that I hadn't been to before), went to the Drive-In and saw the worst movie ever (Spy Kids 3-D). When the gang left, the line was, "See you in Texas!"

The fleet reaches the island

Waiting for our order

All roads lead to texas ...

Kristin was graduating from college (Stephen F. Austin State U) and John and Lori had been working to gather the clan for months. So we came from near and far: Massachusetts, Louisiana, California, Florida, Oklahoma and Greece (Lori's brother Mark).

We flew to Houston (Mom had already driven down), then made the two-hour drive to Nacogdoches the next day. The first event of the weekend was lunch at Aubrey's, where lots of Kristin's family and friends were getting together. Peter & I met Auntie Da and Auntie Edith, who along with their sister Helen (Kristin's grandmother) were referred to relentlessly (but in fun) by John as the "blue-hairs." We had a homestyle meal (read heavy) and caught up with everyone. It was great to see Mark again after so many years, and to meet Clifford, Ola and their pretty daughter Erin who had come over from Vacherie, Louisiana. A bunch of nice folks.

Mark with Mom Helen, Aunties Da & Edith

John, Lori, Kristin & Steven.

Everybody in the pool...

After a quick look-around the historic red-bricked center of Nacogdoches (the oldest town in Texas),we went to the Fredonia Hotel to check in. We saw Lori's sister Avis, husband Leo, and cutey-pie Cameron just arriving. The hotel is very nice, with an older section of cabana rooms around the pool, and a newer high-rise building. We had cabana #108, with the pool within a few yards of the door. So far, so good.

And guess who had also arrived, after an 1800-mile trip? Kurt, Tina, Erin, Kelsey and Joe were getting ready to go poolside on this 96°day. The kids were excited about their gift packs, courtesy Auntie Lori, of pool toys and beach towels with their names embroidered on. Soon everyone was at the pool, including Kristin who came by with her new cute puppy, Chopper. We were amazed at how well-behaved he was, and how he paid rapt attention to her.

Kristin gives instructions to Chopper

Fun & games with Uncle John

My beautiful nieces

Kelsey finds Chopper irresistable!

In the trees above the pool there was a loud buzzing/clicking sound. And once it started on one side it would quickly travel around all the trees. Locusts, doing the wave. Texas is full of strange sounds.

Because there are so many pictures from the trip, I've done separate slideshows. So when you see one of these, click for more photos:

For dinner Kristin suggested Auntie Pasta's. A good choice, but too good. The place was packed and we waited for about 45 minutes. But it was a neat, sultry atmostphere. The restaurant is in an old warehouse next to the railroad tracks. Great bar area, brick walls, and no air conditioning. So we sweated it out, very hungry.

Waiting at Auntie Pasta's —
Can you feel the heat?

Meanwhile, Krisanne & Ronnie had arrived at the Fredonia; they had come 1100 miles from Sebring, FL. So our numbers were growing. Lori's two other sisters and families were also on their way. (Cheryl & Ira with Kayla and Kristopher from Oklahoma; Shaun & Darryl with Allie and Lauren from New Orleans.) The rest of the night was uneventful except for a soaked carpet in our room. The ancient air conditioner was dripping badly and after we'd gone to bed, CLANG! the front grate fell off. But it continued to chug away, thankfully.

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