30 April 2013

Many miles down the road

Back from Pate with all digits in tact and a few bucks less.  

Nice weekend.  LOTS of walking.  Picked over a ton of junk.  Ate way too much.  Drank a fair amount of beer.  Found a few bargains.  Brought home more junk.  No new toys/projects (yet). 

It's been a while but another Pate is in the books.  

My dogs are tired.  My quads were sorer more than when I ran the half marathon in January.  I think I almost hiked 20-30 miles over the two days, but that may be the beer talking.  As ShadowRun astutely pointed out, Pate is much like a live version of American Pickers.  Except that Mike and Frank would never do a swap meet (prices too high, not enough meat on the bones for them).  A swap meet like Pate is a cross between a yard sale, garage sale, flea market, and an antique roadshow with a definite leaning towards car stuff.  You see all sorts of junk at one of these swap meets.  People come primarily looking for car parts (that special widget you need for your restoration project) or something special.  There are a lot of vendors who can sell you an entire car (or the partst to make one).  I saw lots of OEM parts dealers - places where you can buy repo parts for your '39 Ford or '68 Mustang.  I prefer exploring the nooks and crannies of a meet - plowing into a trailer full of junk and crap to find that one gem or just that one part I need.  I spotted a lot of places that would sell me the exact part I needed for Maria, but I wanted original stuff.  I found one guy that had a $1.00 bucket full of Mustang stuff.  Need a new power steering unit?  Found several rebuilds for reasonable $$.  Almost bought a new carpet set for the trunk but my cheapa$$ gene kicked in and I passed on the deal.  

All modes of transportation

Check out the dog.

Supposedly off of the British Consulate in Mexico (so he says).  
Was more interested in the priced  being asked.  

Yea.  Right.
And, of course, you can always find a few cars at these things.

Old classics

New classics

Always looking for new shoes for Maria
Smokey and the Bandit
Classic Boattail Vet
And, of course, for those looking for the next deal for your back yard or bar:  

At Pate, you can find pretty anything.  

Including the kitchen sink...

Once we finally pulled it in, we chose to pack it in for the night and leave early in the morning.  Given the storm front that parked over Houston for the past few days. we chose wisely to enjoy a cool, sunny evening with a good glass of scotch while pondering our treasures for the day.  

Good road trip.  Spent two hard days with my brother on the road.  I've got to unlearn a few new tricks.  Learned how not to fix a hot water heater and not to park a trailer (have the bruises to show).  One good outcome is that I finally got to push through my latest read (Grisham) so I can focus upon my next conquest (Treadwell).  I might actually get to read it before my next big road trip across the pond.  

24 April 2013

Old cars and stuff

I'm headed north this weekend to Fort Worth with my brother.  That alone might scare some people.  The last time we did a road trip north was last June and I wound up coming home with a new toy.   

I've been working on doing this trek for a couple of years but work/life kept finding ways to keep us busy at home and we never made it.  Finally, the stars have aligned and we have gotten our acts together to make the trip.  Many, many moons ago, when we lived up in in north Texas, I used to attend the PATE swap meet every year.  My brother started going to it back in the late 80's and roped me into going to it.  After one turn, I was hooked.  A swap meet is a flea market for old cars and car stuff.  Lots of people show up to sell their treasures/antiques/junk/crap.  At a larger swap meet, you can find anything from original car parts to entire cars.  Pate is one of the granddaddies of them all.  When you look at swap meets help throughout the US, this is #3 in size, duration, and participants (Hersey, PA, Carlisle, PA are 1 & 2).  People show up from all across the states to sell/buy old car stuff.  Anything you could ever want related to cars/trucks can be had (think of it as a flea market/garage sale for guys).  This swap meet has been held continuously for decades (this year is the 40th).  The swap meet used to be called the South Central Swap meet.  When started, it was looking for a place to host a sizable event of this stature.  Looking for a permanent venue, the found a guy called Aggie Pate who owned a good track of land near Cresson, Texas.  Now, at the time, Cresson was not much of a town.  A few hardy souls, a church or two, post office, gas station and very little else.  The area could be considered remote, a good hour south of Fort Worth.  
Pate 1978
The original meet was a hodgepodge of vendors set up in Pate's pasture and grew to something monumental.  Over 5000 vendors, 5 days in length, thousands of participants, all camped out in a pasture for days looking for the best deal.  With that many vendors in one place, it can literally take you days to cover the entire grounds.   Given the number of vendors and size of the place, I would estimate that we wind up walking several miles each day just to cover the whole meet.  Camping in a field for 5 days presented challenges.  Weather was all over the map.  Whenever somebody asked me what to wear, I used to tell them to plan for hot/dry/cold/wet weather.  There were the dust bowl years where we were begging for water and then there were the mud years when it rained from opening day until we pulled out on Sunday. I even recall a small tornado one year.   
Base camp
During our run in the 80's & 90's, my brother and I hooked up with some guys from Corpus Christi and Oklahoma to camp out the entire week.  We had an assigned spot in Pate (corner of 4th & Avenue O) that became our spot.  We'd show up on Wednesday and stay through Sunday morning.  Everyone would bring stuff to sell and something to contribute to the general group welfare/menu.  Each night, one person had responsibility for the meal.  I've had hobo stew (cooked in a milk can), steaks, burgers, brisket, among a few meals.  You didn't have to bring much food, but you never went away hungry.  During the days, we would head out to cover the swap meet to see what deals could be had.  I've bought/sold/traded a lot of stuff (junk) over the years (bar lights, beer signs, tools, antique tractor, etc.) but to really appreciate the swap meet, you need to have a project car to work on.  When I finally found Maria, I was on a hunt for Mustang stuff.  Scored a pristine set of original wheels for her one year (with tires).  You are not going to find a lot of 68 Mustang parts in your local AutoZone, but at this place you can find anything.  My brother had several cars over the years and we would always try to help him out in finding those rare parts for his project.  I spent one whole Pate looking for a "Waterfall Chrome Radio Cover" for his 1936 Ford Cabriolet.   
New shoes for Maria
Eventually, Pate died and his sons sold off the property and the swap meet was looking for a new home.  It was moved to the Texas Motor Speedway north of Fort Worth where there was plenty of acreage and open space for this kind of deal.  We followed the crowd up there, and it was nice and clean, but it just wasn't the same flavor to the old guys.  We attended Pate religiously for years.  Eventually, my brother transferred overseas and I landed a new job where I am now.  My new job was tied to shipments and quarterly numbers and our fiscal calendar usually ended around this time each year which made it impossible for me to break away for the weekend.  With my change in role over the past few years, I am no longer required to hang around until close so I challenged my brother last year to go back to Pate.  Things didn't work out for one reason or another, so we set our sights on this year.  This year is no less hectic for me, but my brother has the bug big time.  He's already loaded up his trailer and has his gear/supplies ready to go.  For me, it seem like everyone knows I am taking off this weekend and I have been inundated with a ton of last minute projects/reports/assignments.  Despite that, I still intend to pull the plug and head north early Friday.  We're not as young and energetic as in the past, but it should be an interesting ride.  Despite the change in location, you can still find pretty much anything.  

Project car

All sorts of transportation

There's always something different each year

Just what I needed for the garage

21 April 2013


I have an eclectic taste in music.  Over the years, I've been all over the road.  From Country to Classical to New Age to Jazz to old folk music.  Back in high school, I was into Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper and Yes.  It spoke to my nature at the time.  In college, I fell in love with country music.  Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rusty Wier were a few of my favorites.  When I joined the Army and ran off to Europe, I lived off of more country music (Hank Williams, Mickey Gilley, Eddie Rabbit, Clint Black) and 80's hits.  But after 4+ years in Deutschland, Danke Shoen started to sound old to me.  When I finally migrated back to Texas, landed in Dallas and began my affair with New Age/Jazz.  Red Dust & Spanish Lace (Acoustic Alchemy) became my theme song for a while.  Got into a lot of instrumental new age stuff.  George Winston, Phillip Aaberg, Joe Sample, Chic Corea, Yellowjackets, Fourplay, were all in my playlist.  I found one station in Dallas that had no DJ's and played this music pretty much 24/7 and I recorded several hours worth of tapes for road trips.  Eventually, we moved back to south Texas and my daily work commute jumped significantly (1 hour) so I had a lot of windshield time to listen to various stations.  Talk, sports, rock, country, would bounce around the dial at times.  At some point I got hooked on Flamenco Guitar (Jesse Cook, Govi, Ottmar Liebert).  I would hear one song I liked and go out and find the CD at the bookstore.  When I watched "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?", I became hooked on folk/gospel music.  When I finally made the switch to the iPod, my playlist exploded.  Now a days, you'll likely find a whole hodgepodge of tunes.  Rodney Crowell, Robert Earl King, Sting, Chris Isaak, Phil Collins,  Nina Simone.  A good number of songs I picked up along the as running tunes, while others fit the mood of the moment.  I just added a couple Harry Belafonte tunes on a whim (Day-O).  That's the interesting thing about the changing landscape of music and technology.  Years ago, if I liked an artist, I would go out to buy the album and try to record it to tape.  Then CDs became the new medium for music and I spent years converting over my albums into CDs.  Now, with on line music and the iTunes store, if you hear a song you like in a movie, you can go out and pick it up for less than a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato.  As I continue to drive Elvis around town, I am finding the advances in technology interesting.  Not only can I link my iPhone to the car radio (can it really be called a radio anymore?) but I can play my music directly from the phone.  And since Elvis came with Sirius (satellite radio), I have discovered a whole new range of things to listen to.  I can spend the drive home listening to comedy bits on Blue Collar Radio.   

As much as I try to keep up with the times, the changes in technology is still amazing.  It is interesting to learn the things you can do with your smart phone.  I stumbled across this clip from one of my sites and the tune got stuck in my head (earworm).  An old tune but the way this guy did it made me run out and buy it on iTunes.  

Of course, I'll keep the comments about hookahs to myself.  

17 April 2013

Run On

I've been debating posting about this.  Better people out there have been way more eloquent.  I have to admit, I don't handle these situations well.  I am torn between sorrow and rage.  I mean, what kind of f'd up world are we living in?  I really don't know what to say to comfort those in pain.  Anything I say I feel is either stupid or lame, but I want express my grief/sympathy.  ShadowRun and Abby put it way better than I ever could.  I've been reading all the tributes and comments on the web and really haven't found the words to do justice to how I feel.  I feel a connection with the runners and spectators in Boston.  Whenever they hold one of these events, I feel their pain/exhilaration of accomplishment.  With my running, I have signed up for several blogs/sites that provide inspirational tips and suggestions.  One that hit yesterday from long time runner Roger Robinson of Runner’s World seemed to sum it up for me:   

Marathon running has a long tradition of celebrating, commemorating, and affirming life. The original Olympic marathon in 1896 was to commemorate the man who carried the news of a victory for freedom. The first Boston Marathon a year later followed that idea by honoring the ride of Paul Revere, not on his actual route, but always on his day, Patriots Day in the State of Massachusetts (that's why it's on Monday). The Kosice Marathon in Slovakia and the Comrades Marathon in South Africa were created to commemorate the dead in World War 1. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon affirms life after the bombings in that city in 1995. This very Boston Marathon mourned and honored the school kids who were gunned down a few months ago in Newtown, Connecticut, not far from here. Out of respect for them, the race was started for the first time in 117 years not with a gun but with an air horn.  Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It's the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It's the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It's the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It's the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.  If you're losing your faith in human nature, look at marathon crowds, standing for hours with no seating, no cover, no bathrooms, to cheer thousands of strangers. I found this eerily true.  Many times in my last 5 runs, I lost steam, found it hard to keep going only to hear people whom I never met cheering me on.    

Every year I seriously question my resolve, my rationale for doing this.  Every year I find some reason to make the trek, mostly self centered.  I have to admit that I am considering doing one more just in memory for those in Boston.  I feel humbled to be in the crowd of such people.  I can only aspire to hold up my end and give my all.

14 April 2013

Go Fly A Kite (Part Duex)

Excellent weekend.  Nice weather.  Dogs behaved well.  Ate too much.  No issues with the trailer (pilot light on the water heater blew out but got it restarted with no problems).  Aside of all the sand we tracked in, was a pretty good weekend.  I like close-in rallies.  No long drive, late set up.  I had planned to take off Friday anyway so I could take my time getting down there.  Was able to load up and head south by noon.  Pulled in about an hour later and set up camp.  When you pull a trailer of this size, my dad taught me a system on how to set up camp.  Level the rig, drop the stabilizers, hook up the power, check the voltage to make sure the current is not reversed (yes, this is a problem in some parks), fire up the a/c, hook up the sewer line, hook up the water, unhook the trailer, check to make sure nothing leaks, switch over the refer from gas to electric power, pull out the awnings, open up the trailer.  And, oh yea, let the dogs out of the truck to go pee.  Dogs know the routine by now.  They are very patient with the set up knowing that they'll get a chance to explore once I have the base camp set up.  Lots of new things to smell/see/pee on.  

Overall, I'd say the rally was a success.  Lots of sun, lots of wind, lots of sand, lots of food, lots of drink, lots of camaraderie   A good time to kick back and relax.  Took advantage of the nearby beach to expose the dogs to a new experience.  Both have never been to the beach or the ocean so it was a whole new world for them.  Put in a few miles exploring the dunes at high & low tides.  

Base camp

Not quite roughing it.  Can you my rig? 
Sunrise on the Gulf
Exploring the beachhead
 Of course, exploring the beach at high tide, you find lots of interesting things.  Some more enticing (aka smelly) than others.  
Zombie fish
Saturday we held our kite contest.  I haven't flown a kite in years.  Couldn't find the kite I bought a few weeks ago for this rally so I had to fall back to the cheap one I got from the rally hosts.  
Look!  Up in the air!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!
Grayson getting his feet wet (and other things) 
Of course, with our club, there is always a party looking to break out.  One of our campers loves to boil seafood.  He went off and picked up a whole bunch of shrimp and we had an impromptu shrimp boil on the beach complete with margaritas.
Impromptu shrimp boil.  Who do you think is the center of attention here?
Of course, the dogs, loved to the chance to find new things on the shoreline.  Found this carcass this morning.  Not sure what it was but think it was a dolphin that was pretty much picked clean.  Grayson and Claire had to find out more...  
Grayson was highly interested in this seaside find.  
We even managed to find a few gems along the shoreline.  

Geode we found washed up on the shore.
My main purpose was, of course, to wear out the dogs.  Think I may have succeeded.  

Hiding out from the sun
Claire crashed
Looking ahead to a mountain of work and reports this coming week.  A long weekend that I am going to have to pay for.  Still, in my mind, a good weekend.  
Sunrise again

12 April 2013

Go Fly A Kite

Finally able to get my "stuff" together to rejoin on of our Airstream Rallies.  We haven't been out in the trailer since the New Year's rally.  Been too busy at work or dealing with the in-law's issues.  My brother is hosting a rally down south in Galveston (about an hour south of here) for the weekend.  I figured that I didn't have any more good excuses NOT to attend so I signed us up.  This rally is in a campground near the beach and the theme is kite flying.  Another storm front blew through yesterday and the temps dipped back down to the 40's but the weekend is looking to be dry and warm.  Now I finally get to test out my skylight repair.

I plan on taking the dogs down for their first beach experience.  We live about an hour from the gulf and I have never taken any of the dogs to the shore so I am curious to see what their reaction will be.  Both are not real swimmers, so I am sure they won't know how to handle waves.  Hope to post pictures if they cooperate.  

08 April 2013


Spring has sprung down here.  The oak out back is shedding all its leaves and fuzzy pollen leaving my patio furniture covered up.  Flowers are coming up all over, need to put out some fertilizer, remulch the beds, plant new flowers.  

Was trimming up the photinia out back two weeks ago when I noted a few "transients" had set up house in the bushes.  

Went back out this weekend to check on their progress.  Seems like we have a family moved in behind us.  

Mom!  What's for dinner?

Of course, the dogs were just enjoying some time in the sun.  

Yard dogs