Tag Archives: Huntsville

Living Large

Big Sam up ahead!

Big Sam up ahead!

When we drive to visit our beloved baby boy at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, one landmark along Hwy. 45 lets us know that we’re almost there: The big, white statue of Sam Houston.

Every time we pass Big Sam, I say to the Mister, “That’s on my Sam Houston bucket list. I want to see the statue up close and personal.”

Our final chance to check out Texas’ former president (chiseled concrete version, of course) was last Saturday when we made our last trip of C.J.’s freshman year to pick up most of his assorted knickknacks, paddy whacks, and gaming systems and haul them home. C.J. will follow with the rest of his stuff, which should easily fit in his Ford Fusion, when he’s done with finals Wednesday.

It’s a tiny visitor center.

It’s a tiny visitor center.

Once we were back on the road after lunch at the Farmhouse Café and warm goodbye hugs, it was obvious that the Mister either was up to something or missed the turn to get on the interstate (both of which are equally likely).

Happily, he had listened to me (it does happen on occasion) and was headed for Big Sam!

Sam gets a-head. This could be for photo ops.

Sam gets a-head. This is on the ground for photo ops.

It seems ironic that the visitor center, gift shop, and grounds are so small, given that Super Sam is 67 feet tall (plus another 10 feet for the base). But the statue is bound to dwarf most large parks.

We snuck up on Sam from behind.

We snuck up on Sam from behind.

David Adickes sculpted and donated the mammoth monument in October of 1994. It took about two years to complete.

Look up!

Look up!

The dapper giant really is breathtaking, especially on a cloudless day. You can’t help but be impressed by its magnitude and Adickes’ skill.

Lots of helpful info

Lots of helpful info

It’s also nice that there’s a handy plaque listing Sam Houston’s many accomplishments for those of us who haven’t taken Texas history at least twice (fourth and seventh grades for our sons, as well as in college).

I’m glad I was able to cross another item off my Sam Houston bucket list. More importantly?

The Mister was a tad grumpy having to look into the sun.

The Mister was a tad grumpy having to look into the sun.

The Mister and I snapped a selfie with Big Sam! Smile, Sammy!!

Half and Half Putting

Ready to practice

Ready to practice

The Mister and I attended a wedding (casual attire; loved it!) last Saturday afternoon about a half hour from Huntsville. When we were done, I called C.J. to see if he’d like us to visit and take him out to dinner.

Is chocolate my favorite food? Yes, indeed!

So we drove north. With about a half hour or so to kill before we were hungry, we, naturally, first went to Eastham-Thomason Park for the guys to toss some discs. While the Mister chatted up another student who was playing, the kid and I hung around the practice basket and talked while he putted.

C.J.’s been plagued by poor putting lately, and his initial short-distance attempts failed to clang the chains with any consistency. So he decided to try a new approach.

There’s no need to look!

Hi, Mom!

Let’s call it blind putting. C.J. took two putters and, without looking at the basket, sent each on its way, one at a time. Without fail, he canned the second putt after completely blowing the first.

Peekaboo!

This one misses.

It was pretty funny! C.J. would throw that first disc, and I would tell him which way he missed. Then . . . boom! . . . the second one would find chains and the tray.

Made it!

Made it!

Of course, making 50 percent of your close putts isn’t a great number when you’re playing in a disc golf tournament. And I’m pretty sure that the kid’s doubles partner, Eric, won’t approve of this new technique if they play together at Am Worlds in April.

But it sure beats missing so much of the time!

One-Word Wednesday

It’s still winter in Huntsville . . . .

It’s still winter in Huntsville . . .

Stark!

. . . but not for long!

. . . but not for long! Spring is around the corner, I hope.

Accidental Special Effects

The disc golf course is on Little Egypt Road.

The disc golf course and park are on Little Egypt Road.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville to visit our baby boy. We wanted to see the new apartment that he, RJ, and two other pals plan to move into this fall (a pause, please, when we consider four boys living together and the subsequent chaos and mess, plenty of which will come from our own cutie), as well as sign the necessary paperwork.

Because it was such a nice day (spring has finally sprung in south Texas!), the guys naturally wanted to play disc golf. C.J. specifically was interested in trying out a course called Little Egypt in Conroe, which is close to Huntsville. So off we went!

Woods, woods, and more woods

The woods proved challenging.

There was only enough daylight to complete 13 of the 18 holes, but the guys got a good taste of the layout. Which was not yummy at all! Trees as far as you could see impeded plenty of drives and upshots, adding to the frustration of rusty putting.

I had opted to bring my lightweight Nikon V1 to document the event. Fortunately, being able to up the ISO to 800 and 1600 meant that I could snap decent, in-focus pics as day turned to dusk.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

Well, except for the disc. When shooting under low-light conditions, which leaves you with a slooow shutter speed (these were mostly around 1/50th of a second), you’ve got to pick your poison: Either the person will be in focus or the disc.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

Naturally, I prefer crisp-looking people. But I was intrigued when I checked out my photos in Photoshop: The out-of-focus discs looked so elongated! Almost like spaceships.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

These formerly round, odd-looking aliens added a new dimension to my disc golf photos. I guess that just like with life, disc golf can be a blur!

One-Word Wednesday

It looks like fall at Eastham-Thomason Park in Huntsville.

It looks like fall at Eastham-Thomason Park in Huntsville.

Red!

But every other tree and bush around was green.

But every other tree and bush around was green.

The Beauty and the Cutie

Aunt Dorothy is surrounded by Mike, Carol, and the Mister.

Aunt Dorothy is surrounded by Mike, Carol, and the Mister.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville for two reasons. First, we joined his brother, sister, and sister-in-law and visited with a true beauty, the Mister’s aunt, who was celebrating her 94th birthday in a facility there.

Practice makes better!

Practice makes better!

And then we moved on to this cutie! We picked up my younger son at Sam Houston Village and drove the short distance to Eastham-Thomason Park so that he and the Mister could throw some discs.

Teeing off into the gloaming.

Teeing off into the gloaming.

It was fun spending time with the Mister’s family. And, of course, we can never get enough of our beloved baby boy (or his equally beloved big bro). What a wonderful afternoon and evening we enjoyed!

Simply gorgeous!

Simply gorgeous!

The fiery sunset? Icing on the proverbial cake!

A Wet and Not-So-Wild Weekend

Avoiding eye contact with people, aliens, and cameras

Can you tell that the kid isn’t a morning person?

The best-laid plans of mice, men (dads), and moms too often can get waylaid by the weather. That’s what the Mister and I experienced as we tried to enjoy our first Sam Houston State Family Weekend with our younger son last Saturday.

Come along for the ride as I recap most of our unusual day.

The museum is minutes from our son’s dorm.

The museum is minutes from our son’s dorm.

One of the highlights of our visit was checking out the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and grounds (the Mister and I are history buffs). 

The kid tries his hand at tomahawk tossing.

The kid tries his hand at tomahawk tossing.

Before we entered the building, our son got to test his skill with a tomahawk. Good athlete that he is, he hit the target twice and probably would’ve sliced off at least a toe with his third effort.

Sam lived a colorful life.

Sam lived a full and interesting life.

After the kid’s weapon wizardry, we went into the museum to learn more about his university’s namesake. All three rooms were packed with photos, paintings, artifacts, and information; it was fascinating!

Santa Anna . . . or Elvis? The kid wasn’t quite sure.

Santa Anna . . . or Elvis? The kid wasn’t quite sure.

What most intrigued our son, though, was a talking diorama of the injured General Sam Houston interrogating Mexican meanie Santa Anna after his defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

Note the sword behind Sam

Check out the sword behind Sam.

More specifically, it was the sword behind Sudden Sam that sparked the kid’s interest. Oh, how he wanted to touch it! I told him to fight that urge, as I turned away. Next thing I heard was a loud, female, somewhat robotic voice saying, “Get out of the diorama!”

Yep, the kid had touched the sword, which set off a sensor. Embarrassing yet so funny that I’m sure we’ll be reliving that moment again and again and again. Hey, son, get out of the diorama!

Bowers Stadium

Bowers Stadium (note the ominous clouds)

After we ate a catered lunch and dropped the kid back at his dorm (supposedly to study), the Mister and I walked to Bowers Stadium to watch SHSU hopefully defeat rival Eastern Washington (they were nationally ranked #4 and #3, respectively, in the Football Conference Subdivision).

Along the way, it was drizzling a bit. Unbelievably (for me), I actually had not only found two ponchos (just in case) but also remembered to bring them with us! Really, folks, that’s pretty miraculous when you’re suffering from CRS (Can’t Remember Stuff) disease.

Again, note the clouds.

Again, note the clouds.

Once we got to our seats, that drizzle turned heavier. On went the ponchos just in time, as the dark skies opened up with torrential rain, thunder, and scary lightning. Naturally, we left our metal seats and looked for an overhang. All of them were packed with soaked people.

When the announcer said the game would be delayed for at least an hour, the Mister and I decided to bag it and spend time with our beloved baby boy at his dorm. Eventually, the storm moved out, and SHSU came away with a victory, by the way.

A crowded desk

A crowded desk

Although we would’ve loved watching the game, we enjoyed being with the kid more. He insisted we watch the first season of “Seinfeld” (he’s become addicted).

Father and son get the comfy digs.

Father and son get the comfy digs.

It was just like old times with our son . . . except for the cramped quarters and soggy shoes and socks. While the Mister napped, the kid and I had fun tossing around his Tigger ball. Later we threw a little football and mini discs. Just like home, except that the mess stayed while I left. I liked that part a lot!

After we had eaten dinner, made a Walmart stop, and enjoyed some great SHSU volleyball, it was time to bid adieu to our bearded boy and drive the 90 minutes back home. As I hugged him tightly, I was glad we got the chance to see how comfortable he is in his new environs, as well as enjoy some of what makes the campus unique (thanks to General Sam).

Next time we get the chance to see the Bearkats’ football team in action, at least it will be indoors against Stephen F. Austin State, the Battle of the Piney Woods, at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

No ponchos necessary!

Discin’ in Huntsville

You can see a basket just past the trees on the left.

You can see a basket just past the trees on the left.

A lot of times wherever we go, we just happen to find disc golf courses.

Well, especially when the Mister decides we need to find them!

The kid and the Mister tee off at hole 1.

The kid and the Mister tee off at hole 1.

Last Sunday when we visited our younger son and his roommate, RJ, at SHSU, we walked off some of those Chili’s calories by throwing the Mister’s discs at a local course. And when I say “we,” of course, I mean them.

Hey, someone has to snap photos!

The kid advises the novice.

The kid advises the novice.

RJ doesn’t play disc golf, but that didn’t stop my son from trying to indoctrinate him into his favorite sport. It would be nice to have some company when he decides to practice.

Lots of rusty chains on the baskets

Lots of rusty chains on the baskets

Our disc golf pal Eric had told us about a nine-hole course at Huntsville’s Eastham-Thomason Park, which is pretty close to the boys’ on-campus dorm. Thanks to the Garmin, we easily found it. The kid’s bag was in his room, but he still enjoyed tossing the plastic again.

Looks like the advice worked!

Looks like the advice worked!

RJ’s a good athlete, so he started to get the hang of throwing after awhile. All he needs is lots of practice and continued help from his roomie.

How low can you go?

How low can you go?

The course was typical of ones that are shoehorned into parks. The above basket was almost on the ground, probably to discourage players from flinging their discs into the creek behind it. A spray park and walking path raised the possibility of hitting innocent people.

Fishing for a disc

Fishing for a disc in a different part of the creek

Still, a disc golf course within a mile or so of his new home is important for my son. It gives him a great outlet for releasing the stress of studying (and I sincerely hope I’m not making an assumption that he actually is studying!), as well as a way to sharpen his skills.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t bean someone in the noggin’!

A Little Traveling Music, Please

Still can’t resist my older son’s beautiful blue eyes!

Still can’t resist my older son’s beautiful blue eyes!

The Mister and I pulled on our traveling pants (big pockets for lots of snacks) Saturday and yesterday and put about 560 miles on the Honda Odyssey.

Our goal? To take our sons out to lunch at their individual colleges.

Result? Mission accomplished!

Our older son was first on our list. Saturday we drove the 190 miles to San Antonio, picked him up, and went to see “We’re the Millers,” which was surprisingly good despite the awful, woeful, disgusting abundance of foul language, even by Jennifer Aniston (you’re better than that, Jen!). Then we enjoyed lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and chilled for a bit at his nice apartment.

Love that Sirius XM!

No commercials rock

Finally, the Mister and I hugged our senior collegian goodbye (we probably won’t see him until Thanksgiving) and made the three-hour trip back home. We lightened the load by attempting to harmonize to songs played on Sirius XM’s the Bridge station. Usually putting that capital L to our foreheads, though, is the Mister’s inability to remember most of the lyrics despite his fine singing voice coupled with my out-of-tune pipes despite knowing most of the words.

Our finest moment? Our rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Even Simon Cowell might have been impressed! And, yes, we were 1 for what seemed like 236 songs. At least we weren’t shut out!

RJ and the kid

RJ and the kid

Yesterday we pretty much repeated the procedure, but without the movie. Fortunately, Huntsville is only 88 miles from our house; it takes about 90 minutes to get there. We picked up our younger son and his roommate, RJ, at their dorm and made the scene at Chili’s, which was their choice.

Yum!

Yum!

Naturally, the kid needed a molten dessert pick-me-up. It doesn’t take much to raise his spirits, thank goodness. After a stop at Walmart and a small disc golf course to play a few holes, we returned to Sam Houston Village. There we deposited the boys, gave our freshman a hug (we’ll see him a few times this month thanks to disc golf and SHSU football games), and then it was back to our horrible harmonizing.

Whew! Glad we don’t have to labor on Labor Day!!

My #2 Son Moves On

Almost to Huntsville; you can see the big Sam Houston statue up the road.

Almost to Huntsville; you can see the big Sam Houston statue up the road.

You would think that after three straight years of college move-ins that our family would’ve been like pros when it came to transporting my younger son last Saturday to Huntsville.

Sadly, you would be mistaken.

The boys have their own bathroom.

The boys have their own bathroom.

That’s because we remain procrastinators. As if watching our younger son leave the nest isn’t bad enough, the Mister and I insisted on adding to our stress by waiting until the last minute to get things done (although that’s absolutely nothing new for us). Last Friday night (into early morning) wasn’t a fun time to be a member of our household.

The "kitchen area": Small but usable

The “kitchen area”: Small but usable

Fortunately, we pretty much had our act together when it came time to hit the road for the 90-minute trip north to Sam Houston State University (with only one return for a key, forgotten item while we were still close to home). The Mister and I drove the majority of the kid’s essentials in our Honda Odyssey; our sons followed in the Ford Fusion, which our younger son will keep near his dorm.

Because our sons are so close, we were glad that they had a last chance to talk, laugh, and commiserate about classes. I’m sure they were trying to top each other when saying how much they would miss their parents (as if!).

Hope they have friends stop by.

Hope they have friends stop by.

We got to the kid’s dorm, Sam Houston Village, which is fairly new, around 10:30 a.m. Which meant we had to wait in the heat for the doors to open for about a half hour (move-in was 11 a.m.-5 p.m.). Few cars were able to get close to the doors for unloading (there are three residence halls in the same area, all with students moving in at the same time), so we were glad we had our company’s dolly (which just so happened to be that key, forgotten item).

Looking good at his desk (with his brother asleep on the bed)

Looking good at his desk (with his brother asleep on the bed)

RJ, my son’s roommate who he has known since kindergarten, and his parents had pretty much moved his stuff into his bedroom by the time we got to their second-floor room. The boys each have their own bedroom with separate, locking doors. They share the sitting area, kitchen (microwave, small fridge, sink, and cabinets), and bathroom. It’s very nice, but, quite honestly, we were used to the spaciousness of our older son’s UTSA dorm. This one is tiny in comparison.

Good thing my younger son didn’t have a lot to move in. He actually could rent out half of his closet!

I think this will get a lot of use.

I think this will get a lot of use.

One thing the kid insisted on bringing was his disc golf mini basket. I’m sure he and RJ will have weekly competitions. He also has his disc golf bag with him. Hopefully, he’ll keep his skills sharp at some local courses.

Ready for college!

Ready for college!

After the two families finished moving the boys in, setting up electronics, and making a quick Target run, it was about 5:30 p.m. Time to say goodbye before both of them walked across campus for ultimate frisbee practice. (It’s nice that both of them are jocks.)

RJ’s mom, Veronica, and I marveled at how we met 13 years ago in Ms. Germany’s kindergarten class. Who could have guessed back then that our little cuties would be college roommates! Nice how that worked out.

Brothers and besties

Brothers and besties

And now both my sons are in college. The younger one told me that they plan to Skype; I know they’ll always keep in touch. Now they’ll have even more to share.

As I watched my beloved baby boy walk away from us after my last, tearful hug, a lot of thoughts went through my head. I was so happy that he seemed to be right at home in his dorm. I was glad that he already had an activity (ultimate) where he can meet other students. I was relieved that he had several days until school starts (tomorrow) to walk his schedule and get to know the campus.

But, of course, I couldn’t help but feel sad for myself. Our house would be so quiet without him. I know I’m going to miss him (and his brother) an astronomical amount.

As well as all my blogging material!