Seagull on the beach

We saw this seagull on the beach near Brackett’s Landing North ferry dock at Edmonds, Washington. Guess he didn’t want to get his feet wet.

Excitement during coronavirus isolation

COVID-19 can make people sick, kill people, wreck the world’s economy and isolate millions in their homes. But….  It cannot stop a good old fashioned thunder and hail storm.

It was in the low 70’s, our first really warm day of the year. We had heard some thunder with a little rain, then calm. All of a sudden and with no warning the hail started. Good sized hail!

Impressive hail stones fell

Sign of spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was over in a few minutes. The sky began to clear and you could smell the freshness in the rain cleansed air. Fortunately there was no apparent damage to the house or our vehicles. This storm gave us a nice change of pace during our isolation.

Remembering a distillery visit in Texas

I thought it was time for something different than a post about the COVID-19 pandemic. Allow us to share a few photos and text about a nice local distillery we visited during our winter residence in Texas a few short weeks ago.

Fast Eddy logo in neon

The Hill Country near Austin is home to several breweries, wineries and distilleries. Near Dripping Springs one will find the Fast Eddy Vodka distillery. We stopped there one day near the closing time. The place was absolutely packed as there were the normal amount of cars and two huge tour buses that had filled the place with folks.

 

 

 

The bar of course had samples of the many varieties of flavored vodkas bottled at the facility. There was a very large distillery room with lots of tables. We looked at the merchandise, but did not really find any shirts we liked. Our purchases were limited to a couple of glasses with the Deep Eddy logo.  We passed on samples as we had been out all day visiting breweries. I was not really in the mood for even a sample of vodka.

Here is the Deep Eddy website. Notice that now the place is closed due to, you guessed it, COVID-19 restrictions. When we go to Texas in the future, we do plan on visiting Deed Eddy again.

Solstice Outdoors is a fun Texas art gallery

Out side of Dripping Springs, Texas in the Hill Country near Austin is a thriving landscape design business that also doubles as a place to view and purchase unique outdoor artwork. Solstice Outdoors Ltd. is based in a former ranch home surrounded by 2 acres of what is now a whimsical display of outdoor works of art and decoration.

Solstice homestead

Outdoor fire pit complete with pyramid and butterfly seating!

 

 

 

 

 

Through an online mobile search Sher found this place while we were prowling about the Dripping Springs area. Thanks to google maps we soon found this surprising gallery of both indoor and outdoor craftsmanship. Each of the rooms in the house were used to display local artist’ works, including jewelry, tapestries and pictures.

Bull/man iron soldier

Another metal man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most unique part of Solstice is the “backyard”. As soon as you go out into the yard you are greeted with a variety of ‘creatures” in all sizes and materials. The company offers landscaping design and construction. Walking through the grounds was like walking through an outdoor arts garden.

This face is kind of creepy, IMHO

A different medium for a longhorn!

 

 

 

 

 

Often we don’t have a set itinerary some days when we explore an area. It is always an adventure to find things by just driving around looking for signs, or hitting up the mobile search for “things near you”. The day we found Solstice Outdoor, Ltd. was one of those days.

Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington is a vibrant college town in south central Indiana. Originally platted in 1818, the city father’s realized that a cemetery was a need, thus in 1819 a small piece of ground west of the village was laid out. To identify the grave yard the initials “G” and “Y” were carved into a large oak tree at the entrance.

Entrance marker to Rose Hill

A unique brick and stone monument. Note the entrance gate in the background

 

 

 

 

 

Note the Hand pointing up: symbol for deceased going to heaven

Monument to Civil War Vets

There were no burial records until 1897 after the eight woman Ladies Cemetery Association took over the running of the property in 1892. This civic minded group renamed the cemetery Rose Hill after the wild rose bushes scattered around the property.

 

Infantryman on CW monument. Note that vandals have knocked off the musket

Ornate multi-level family monument, has Greek and Latin lettering for Jesus

Other improvements and additions have taken place through the years. A nice fountain was moved to another park in Bloomington in 1991 after vandalism in the cemetery. A storm destroyed some planted trees in 2000. But the main reason we find this and other cemeteries interesting is the headstones. There are marvelous examples of symbolism on many of the stones in Rose Hill. Also named iconography, there are a host of symbols carved into many stones, mostly older limestone ones.

Sentimental inscription on a mother’s stone

Bloomington is about an hour south of Indianapolis. The cemetery is east of the I-69 interstate, take the 3rd Street exit. This is a 28 acre historic cemetery with origins in the early 1800’s. History buffs, take notice. This is a great old grave yard.

Painting with a Twist, North Austin version

We decided to look for another opportunity to do a “sip and paint” type studio event. A quick google search revealed four different Panting with a Twist stores in Austin. With this franchise, you have to check to see what painting was on the agenda on what day. Sher and I both liked a Valentine’s Day themed picture that was actually designed for “his and hers” to be combined to make one piece of art.

Front desk with the instructor and assistant

Thus we were off to Painting with a Twist of North Austin. Fortunately there was very adequate parking for the RV and it was a fairly easy drive to the studio. We got there plenty early, met the staff and got our aprons on.

Our work station

Work in progress

 

 

 

 

 

There was one instructor and an assistant. The set up was pretty neat: The instructor stood by the double canvas on a small stage. There she could give step by step instructions on how to create our masterpieces. In addition to seeing the instructor on the stage, there were also two large screen TV’s that you could also see her and the canvas as she painted it. Great idea!

Grinning and painting

Our finished two canvas painting in our RV

 

 

 

 

 

There were about 20 couples who were in our session. The instructor kept a running patter going as she gave us specific instructions on what to paint, how and when. She was good at her job, and was able to add humor and levity to her discourse. There was more than one reference to Bob Ross and his painting techniques during the session which was very interesting. Try one of these fun projects sometime. It is a great way to spend an evening. Here is the corporate website so you can find one of the studios near you.

Best doughnuts on the west coast

If you ask the folks that are patrons of Frost in Mill Creek outside of Seattle they will agree with the boastful title of this post. Seattle agrees that they are the best in Washington State. Sher and I were treated to a trip to Frost by our Seattle family.

The doughnut case

Delicate French style macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frost store is found in the Mill Creek Town Center, an upscale shopping and entertainment complex in this nice Seattle suburb. The store offers doughnuts, cupcakes and French macarons. The macarons are not to be confused with macaroons, a totally different treat.

That is a chocolate filled masterpiece

This perfect apple fritter defines the craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a variety of different doughnuts during our visit. Though they were typical in type, all were extraordinary in taste. In addition the gourmet coffees were a special addition to our mid-morning sweet tooth break.

Artistic gourmet coffees compliment the pastries

The next time we are in the Seattle area, we’ll for sure want to  go with our family to the Frost store. Perhaps we will try a cupcake or a macaron on our next visit. But I don’t know, those doughnuts are pretty darned good! Check out the Frost website and be prepared to get hit with a sweet treat craving.

Seattle area’s Tulalip Resort Casino

North of Seattle just off I-5 is the Tulalip Resort and Casino. There is of course a massive multi-story hotel, many restaurants and shops, and 200,000 square feet of gaming floor with over 2400 slot machines and the usual table games.

The casino is currently offering some very good promotions during March. Lots of opportunities to win Free Play and other promotions including reduced hotel room rates. I wonder if this is due to the corona virus in the Seattle area. Perhaps casino attendance is lower than normal, and offering these promos is a way to keep people coming to the casino.

Beautiful display in the entrance fountain

Statue of Tribal member spear fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

When visiting family in Seattle, Sher and I like to go to the Tulalip Casino, owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribe. It is really huge, and walking the gaming floor does provide some good exercise! We always designate a certain amount to gamble with, and never go over that amount. Sometimes we actually come out ahead.

Lucky spin turned 50 cents into $25.81 !!

 

Tulalip has some great restaurants, and the last time we went we decided to try their buffet. With the senior discount we felt it was a decent enough price. The buffet was good, but honestly had a rather small selection. We have been to better casino buffets for less money. Overall, though, the Tulalip Casino is definitely worth a visit if you  are in the area. Even if you never gamble, it is fun to just see how big the place is. There are also some great displays of Tribal art that are worth seeing. Here is the website.

 

Bastrop Texas

Bastrop Texas is an interesting little town southeast of Austin. We headed there with our Austin family to check things out.  We found a place to park and found a nice map of the town on a large display board. This let us kind of make some plans for our adventure.

Great map allowing for planning the day

Cute gravel alley leading to some shops

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the visitor center that also had a museum as well. The history  of Bastrop is a tale of the old West that is fun to learn. The town is proud of its heritage and rightly so.

Some neat old stuff

A very unique raised flower bed

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the 602 Brewery and Restaurant for a beer and a delicious meal. (read our review of the 602 Brewery here) After our meal we walked around the Main Street looking at the stores and shops. We also took a driving tour that led us to several historic homes in and around the downtown area.

Posing with a tortoise outside Visitor’s Center and Museum

Main Street, Bastrop

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we really enjoyed seeing Bastrop. There seem to be a lot of activities planned during the spring and summer months. There are over 30 festivals planned each year.  The 900 acre Lake Bastrop has a plethora of recreational opportunities. This town is proud of its heritage and is most welcoming to visitors. Put Bastrop on your list of Central Texas places to visit.