My three nephews and I drove to Lake Ray Roberts, which is in a rural area among the horse farms northwest of where I live. I would say I took a wrong turn, but actually, I failed to make a turn when I should have, so I will instead say I took a wrong straightaway. The result was that we went through Gunter rather than Tioga. This had two delightful consequences. One was that Gunter proved to have the best doughnut shop I have visited in years, and although I do not partake of pastries often right now, we all enjoyed wonderful home-made pastries. My only challenge was convincing the staff that I wished a plain croissant, rather than one festooned with ham, sausage or other link-like products.
The second delightful consequence of my alternative mapping was that we ended up on a gorgeous country road over to Collinsville, a small town just north of where I should have been, that is, north of Tioga. We passed by rolling hills with borders of wildflower--evening primrose, susans, and Indian paintbrush. We also passed by numerous small horse ranches, with names like "Lazy R". It was gorgeous, but it cost us forty minutes, and thus was not universally popular among my traveling clan.
I chose Lake Ray Roberts when the weather forecast was for eighty degrees and a cloudless sky. The Johnson Unit State Park there has walking sidewalks through scraggle woods, where one can see the zebra longwings, a butterfly more common to Florida rather than north Texas, but which, in a quirk that some might call "continental drift demonstrated and proof of bygone linkages of landmasses", while others might call "intelligent design demonstrating a really offbeat sense of humour", they appear in a little sliver of the horse farm country of Texas. The park also has a wonderful swimming beach and a reputation for good fishing, which led me to think we might have a really warm, Summer-y day of swimming, blitz chess on picnic tables, fishing and butterfly watching.
The weather, though, did not cooperate. It was 60ish, but felt colder, and it was very windy. Still, we walked a bit, and then we broke out fishing rods. Although the wind and the waves made fish-catching seem highly unlikely, two of my nephews caught two each, while the other nephew and I merely enjoyed the weather. "Uncle Bob! What IS this fish?" and "Oh, it's a carp!" were the highlights of the conversation, fishing-wise, as each of two nephews reeled in surprisingly large carp. I took photographic evidence and then instructed "do the release gently, just like in the fishing shows". Now that I think about it, I wonder if the fishing shows have an Uncle Bob, to unhook the carp.
After the fishing, we went to the "famous" barbecue place in the tiny town of Tioga, where the brisket was suitably tender and the sauce suitably saucy. Then, on the way home, we stopped by the local mall, where one nephew bought a book about vampires and a Green Day CD, one nephew bought a book for Dungeons and Dragons, and one nephew bought a smoothie. At home, I took my niece and nephews for a swim at our community pool, but the water was chilly indeed, and we got out as storm clouds gathered.
Last night my sister, her children, my wife and I feasted on grilled t-bone steaks and home-made vanilla ice cream. I went to Blockbuster's to choose the DVD we would watch. Because my niece is but 8, I wanted something both G rated and yet not annoying, and yet again not something everyone has seen.
I finally found the perfect film, and we all capped off our evening watching "Yellow Submarine".
After some years absence, I found the film entirely delightful. My niece watched enrapt through the whole show, and I hope that the Beatles will be a gateway experience for her to discover real music.
The storm last night thundered and a bolt of lightning hit our neighborhood someplace, knocking out power. But today, all is calm, powered, and delightfully light-rainy. We'll wish my sister a happy Mother's Day (this being my first such day without my own mother), and proceed to rest.