Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why is this trailer SMILING?

Well it's official . . . I worked my LAST day today . . . now it's time to take care of some logistics at the homestead and then Oscar & I shall hit the road to see friends and family. The first direction we have in mind is easterly, towards Florida, then up through the Carolinas to the mountains of Pennsylvania. Following that it'll be a slow mosey down Skyline drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway towards Tennessee and some yet to be determined route back home. I think we're going to like this . . . a LOT!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mustang Island State Park

Wild mustangs used to roam the North Padre Island . . . there's an ancient beach legend that mermaids will come ashore after hurricanes to sunbathe amongst the seaweed. . . I wonder if we'll find one!

The Wonder Egg took its place among the other visitors to the park . . .

The sand dunes are still robust, even after the hurricane.

Oscar was sooo excited on his first walk on the beach, the first thing he wanted to do was take a drink of water . . . it was a very short one which was quickly followed by some fresh, filtered water I carried for him. (Yes, he has me trained quite well, thank you very much)

Here are some sights we found at the beach this weekend . . .

First flight of the day . . .

Wilson, Thais and Sparrow enjoying the morning waves . . .

"Come on in, Popi, the water's fine!!!!!!!"











I wonder how she got here . . . perhaps this is what happened . . .

"Hey Sparrow, let's fool Popi & Oscar and turn you into a mermaid . . ."

"They'll never figure it out, and the legend will live on . . ."

So that's our saga of the post hurricane beach adventure. It was a great time to visit Wilson & Thais and find the WORLD'S CUTEST LITTLE MERMAID . . . Sparrow! Looking at this picture, I'm not sure Oscar buys the whole mermaid thing . . . what do YOU think?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hurricane, Shmurricane!!

"Hey Pete, lets be daring and head for the beach! Yeah, I heard all about Hurricane Dolly . . . Dolly, Schmolly . . . a bit of wind and rain can't stop us from havin' fun can it?!? I just bought these new 'chick magnet' shades and have been workin' on a few tricks that'll get their attention . . . check this out . . . How many dudes do you think they know that can lick the top of their nose while delicately balancing cool shades on their muzzle? All the dogs in my posse think it rocks!

Whatsamatter, Pete? Cat got yer tongue? I've got my beach ball, beach blanket and some SPF 70 sunblock and am ready to go . . . let's get outta here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wow, Oscar has truly taken this Wonder Egg camping thing to heart. I guess we're heading for Mustang Island State Park tomorrow. I wonder what we'll find blown up on the shore by Dolly?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Mason, TX: Home of Fort Mason, an Army outpost built in 1851 to protect settlers from marauding Comanches . . .

Now home to the Parr Vineyard, started in 2005 to cultivate quality grapes and protect them from marauding birds!

Every southwestern vineyard can benefit from the services of a vaquero riding around on his steady steed, shooting pesky birds before they "dine on the vine." Here, that duty falls to the main viticulturist himself, Robert Parr, as he cautiously circles the crop in his pick-up, skillfully felling the hungry, flying varmints.

Once Oscar realized it was 97 degrees and the ground was covered with paw-puncturing sticker burrs, he said "Hey Pete, I really wanted to work out in the vineyard with Robert, but I'd rather hang out in the Wonder Egg making sure the air conditioner is functioning correctly. So why don't you take my place today, OK?"

So . . . that's how I received a great hands on lesson on viticulture! I found it to be a fascinating, meticulous, creative, and soul filling labor of love. I learned about discerning the most viable vine to become the cordon arm, working towards a well balanced structure, and pruning the vine to stimulate the correct growth pattern. Here are some of the day's sights:

A nicely balanced canopy of Tempranillo -

Rows of Tempranillos disapearing into the Texas countryside:

Legions of young vines with blue "grow tubes" marching off into the distance:

Robert displaying some of his luscious Touriga Nacional:

When we went inside for a break from the heat, Oscar said "Hey Pete, the A/C seems to be working just fine even though it has reached 100 degrees out there. I've been studying about viticulture this afternoon! What say, when the cool of the evening is upon us, you carry me out into the vineyard so I can inspect the progress? OK??"

So . . . when the cool of the evening came, Oscar assessed the crop. "Pete, here we have some 3rd Leaf, 1st Commercial Crop 'Small' Touriga Nacional. That explains the uneven ripening for now."

When Oscar got a load of these grapes he shouted "Stop the presses and BRING ME THE REFRACTOMETER!!!"
I said "The what?" Oscar exclaimed, "Pete, I thought everybody new that by smearing juice from the grape on the lenses of a refractometer and holding it up to the light you can determine the 'brix reading' which is a measure of the carbohydrate (sugar) levels in the fruit. A reading of 23 would be optimum for wine production."

Robert prepared the refractometer and held it for Oscar, who was in Dilek's arms and we all held our breath for his pronouncement . . .
He said "These grapes have a brix reading of 21.5, I estimate you'll be able to harvest them in about a week and a half. And by the way, the grape juice is YUMMY!"

Well, there you have it . . . our viticulture adventure. Oscar thanked Robert and Dilek for inviting us out to see the operation and get some hands on experience in this amazing pursuit.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vineyard Bound . . .

Last night, I asked Oscar where our next adventure was. I told him people were asking on the blog. He smiled at me and said "Chill, Pete . . . you'll know in the morning." He can be SO exasperating at times! I went to bed and could hear Oscar upstairs whistling and clinking glasses . . .

This morning I woke up and he had left me this clue. FUN! Looks like we'll be heading up to the Parr Vineyard just north of Mason Texas where Robert and Dilek Parr have 13 acres of grapes under cultivation. We'll be able to get a close look at their operation.

You can see the in depth homework Oscar did on the vineyard. They have three varieties of grapes that ripen at different times of the season; Tempranillos, Touriga Nacional, and Mouvedre. Each has its own characteristics and special uses. I can't wait to learn more . . . should be a very enlightening trip.