Saturday, March 10, 2007

Free Willie


What would you do? Let's pretend you have a dog who eats your house when he is indoors and who aggravates your neighbors to the point of distraction when he is left out. You are leaving town for four days, having just liberated him from the hoosegow at a cost of 100 smackeroos (fees plus generous donations to keep the shelter staff from putting him on the adoption/euthanasia list next time he backslides). You have found an angel to feed your various animals in your absence. What do you tell her about the now-free Willie? Mum's the word.

Actually, the trip worked out just fine. Willie only ate a little woodwork around the kitchen bar area and Davis's second flip flop. He was not arrested, detained, incarcerated, nor did he become a ward of the state in our absence. In addition, the Buengers all hung our together without fussing or even disagreeing much. We all considered it a major victory. San Antonio turned out better than I expected. It is still tourista extreme, but we managed to do our own thing a good amount of the time. Translation: no Sea World; no Fiesta Texas; no Splashtown; limited evening meals on the Riverwalk
; only a brief trip by the Alamo (and fie upon the myriad of people who started conversations with Erin by asking her what she was going to do in San Antonio? Go to Sea World?).

We substituted plenty of walking; a lot of visiting with friends; a really bang-up reception hosted by the Texas A&M University Press and the A&M History Department (where Erin and Davis comported themselves like pros and kept the conversational ball rolling right along. Thanks Mary Lenn!); a trip to the Witte Museum; and a substantial dip into the "other" missions of San Antone. NOTE: This first image is not the Alamo. It is the Mission Concepcion. You can tell it's not the Alamo because it has two bell towers flanking the sides. The original Alamo was flat all the way across, unlike the second image below which most people are familiar with (that elegant hump in the middle was added about fifty years after the Battle of the Alamo).

As a side note, look carefully at the two photos above. Now guess which one is the object of a $30 million dollar fundraising effort by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas? If you guessed Mission Concepcion, you would be wrong. If you recognized that $30 million would fully fund all 90 planned NCI trials for pediatric cancer for 2007, you would be correct. Unfortunately, The Alamo sells; cancer trials and lesser-known missions do not.

Erin, Davis, and I actually spent quite a bit of time exploring the city, while Walter did the hard work of attending banquets and meetings. Here are some of the highlights:

Erin discovered a remnant of a tree with seating for two. Rosie wore her sun visor to protect her sensitive skin, but Erin caught the rays, au naturale.

She also fell in love with a family of ducks and duckling that lived not far from our hotel. There were five ducklings. Not enough really to adopt the monikers of the ducklings in Make Way for Ducklings: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouck, Pack, and Quack. But we did it anyway. We just took the first five names and hoped the mother duck would sit again before the summer. This one is Lack. I couldn't tell that he (she?) lacked anything, except the will to hold still.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip for Erin was discovering a long tropical-like leaf floating by. With the help of some handy Duct-tape (not provided by Davis, who found himself in the nation's 10th largest city without his usual stash of DT. Instead, our dear old friend Larry Hill, who is recognized by all who know him as a Fine Figure of a Man, saved the day with a roll of regular colored duct tape that he found rolling around behind the seat of his pick up). With said duct tape, Erin transformed the leaf into a long canoe, suitable for transporting ear-plug people across the hot tub (there was a big pool, but the shade from the super tall building across the street kept the pool temperatures much too cool to swim, or boat , comfortably. Hence the hot tub.)

Luckily for us, we don't have to get back to the grind anytime soon. We have a week of spring break to dispose of before we have to go back to work. . .well all of us except Davis. Davis returns to Rice tomorrow to finish of the last seven weeks of the semester. I have all the confidence in the world that he will acquit himself in fine style. (Check out the Report soon, I will have details of several near arrests and, of course, details about the upcoming Beer/Bike Race.)

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