Sunday, July 13, 2008
A Weekend at the Highland Lakes
First, I didn't have to work on Friday, so I took advantage of the last free day for a while by getting my hair cut and colored. I'd been tired of dealing with the length, so I went ahead and got it a bit shorter, and probably about the same shape. I was also tired of how my lovely red hair kept fading to a reddish brown. I had this vision of burgundy hair, but my hairdresser and his hilarious hairdresser pal both said, oh no, that was not good for my coloring. I ended up with pretty much my natural hair color, maybe a shade lighter, with some reddish accents. While not an "exciting" color, it looks more like "me" and I am happy to have a cut that doesn't take much maintenance and a color that won't grow out quite so obviously. I MIGHT get highlights in the front, since I was liking how my gray in the front was lightening up my face. So, the great experiment with blondish and reddish hair has ended. If I had a bit more gray, I'd leave it natural, but right now it's not at the "pretty" gray amount.
Then, on Saturday I did a lot of fun things! My ex was coming to town, and we invited him to stay here with the kids so we could go do couple stuff (it is hard for me and Lee to go anywhere, due to the dog care needs--no way to afford to board 4 dogs, two grumpy and elderly). So, first we drove to scenic (not really) Liberty Hill, where he dropped me off at knitting friend Jen's beautiful new home (really) where a bunch of the ladies from the yarn shop got together to dye yarn with Kool-Aid. I'll have pictures and descriptions on the knitting blog, but here I can say how much I enjoyed being in a group of women with toddlers/preschoolers running around in the mix--reminded me of my old life at the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization. Since a bunch of my friends from there are at a retreat this weekend, where the mothers and kids are doing lots of fun things, I was glad to get a little female bonding in, myself (though there was a very nice husband around, too). Besides, from what I can tell, that retreat probably would have been incredibly stressful for me. So, yay, I had a fun weekend doing something else!
While I was yarning, eating and gabbing, Lee explored Bertram, the next town down the road. He found a lovely nursery (to which we returned this morning to buy hanging miniature roses) and a little cafe where he apparently had the most delicious pie ever, chocolate oatmeal.
He came and got me with my finished, yet damp, yarn, and we headed out to Burnet and the Highland Lakes area. You may remember we went out here not too long ago and looked for houses for sale, then we went to Lake Limestone and looked. This time, we spent a while exploring Burnet (sadly, discovering the yarn shop had gone out of business). I was proud that I didn't buy any pansy items in any antique store, though I really would have liked to get a photo of a black vulture that was taken by the owner of a knife shop we went in--this guy does incredible bird photos. Bird lover, knife lover, surgeon, apparently.
After checking into a nice hotel on a beautiful creek, we bit the bullet and visited a realtor in Buchanan Dam, a lovely woman named Jeanette. After laughing at Lee's original budget, she did show us the more inexpensive options in lakefront property. Mostly it was undeveloped property, but there were also two mobile homes on the lake. Apparently all the mobile homes there are quite old, because all the neighborhood associations say if you replace one, you have to do a stick-built house.
We had quite a good time driving all over the lake looking at some nasty land on spits of mud, land with beautiful lake views but is almost perpendicular, lots of deer, lots of winding roads, and the mobile home neighborhood. It wasn't bad at all, and the place you see pictured at the top of the post is actually quite nice, especially if you love undiluted 70s decor. It's very well kept, has fruit trees, a porch swing with lake view, a very un-fancy dock (but one where you can catch large striped bass), a fence for the dogs, and tons of storage space. It is what I always envisioned in a lake house--not a palace, but a kinda run-down place to relax.
I've included a photo or two of the view of the lake, which is on a cove (actually where a creek joins the lake), not the main lake. This cuts down on screaming speed boats and "personal watercraft." This property is also not far from the nesting spots of a lot of bald eagles. I sure hope we can get this or something like it, once Lee's land is sold. Of course, it is sort of funny that selling 80 acres of farm land would only give a down payment on a trailer by a lake, but that's what that "location, location, location" thing boils down to!
It feels weird to even be considering a second house, but I know Lee doesn't want to pay the huge taxes that would happen if he didn't reinvest the bucks from selling his land. I think our idea would be to enjoy this place and fix it up a bit, then when the time comes to sell my house, we'd have plenty of money to put a nice new house (maybe with two stories, for more lake views) instead of the double-wide, which would be over 40 years old by then anyway. It's fun to dream, anyway, since just a few weeks ago I didn't know if I'd be able to pay the bills on THIS house. And even minor cosmetic fixes to the interior (it's all paneled in dark wood, with avocado AND harvest gold appliances) of the double-wide would bring its selling price up, if we did have to sell it at some point.
Let's move on...after all the house and land looking, we were hungry, so we decided to go to a restaurant called the Maxican, in Burnet. It's in an old house, and serves Mexican, barbecue, and steaks. Quite the mix. Well, it was a total hoot. When we walked in, an elderly lady greeted us with "would you like a back rub?" I was sure I'd misunderstood! But no, our second Jeanette of the day assured us that she gives everyone who comes in a back rub, because we are all special and all deserve one. Turns out she is the mother of the owners, and grandmother to most of the rest of the staff, or at least called grandmother by them. And none of these people appeared remotely Mexican, either. We had lots of fun with our waiter, a young college student home for summer break, and everyone there either knew each other or was just feeling friendly. Plus, the food was incredibly delicious. Even the Spanish rice, which usually I am not fond of, was yummy. The salsa was wonderful, the beans delicious, the pico de gallo not too heavy on the cilantro, and the chicken in our dishes so tender. There was a sauce on both of our dishes that was divine. And the staff was SO proud of the food. They kept saying, "It's really good, isn't it?" And I have to say that it's not every day that when you leave you hug the greeter and promise to come back and see her soon. We really want to show it to Beccano!
Today we ate breakfast, went and looked at more property, and viewed the double-wide again. Then we drove home, stopping first at one of those stores that sells concrete statues, because we wanted a new birdbath. They had the one that was in the real estate office's yard--shaped like a branch with a squirrel going up it. Lee even got me a little squirrel to put IN the birdbath. The prices were much lower than home depot, and we got to look at many amusing concrete "things," and to meet the sweet old couple working the store. They both looked like they'd had long hard lives, and didn't have many teeth between them, but they were very kind and helpful. The old lady even sent Lee back to the car after he paid with two bottles of water "on the house" because, "you two look hot."
I have no idea when I have spent a weekend meeting such a variety of nice people in unexpected places. Plus I got to hang out with nice friends, too!
I hope you enjoyed my lengthy travelogue! I am looking forward to teaching MS Word 2003 tomorrow (now THAT is some software I know) and starting at ALE either Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course they don't tell you when and where to report until the last moment. LOLZ, as the kids would say.