Archive for July, 2011

My vacation: visiting a duck pond in Victoria, Texas

When my sister, Sabrina, asked me if I wanted to visit a duck pond while I was in Texas, I spent several hours thinking it over.

Yeah, right.

She had to go to Victoria, Texas to run some errands, so it was the perfect opportunity for me, the young’uns and other nephews and my oldest niece to tag along to see what we could find.

It was very warm that day as we drove the hour from Beeville to Victoria. First, we visited a mall where my sons got acquainted with the Texas-versus-Texas A&M rivalry…

While my nephews made it clear which teams they supported…

One sporting goods store told me they sold only University of Texas merchandise since nobody bought Texas A&M. Oddly enough, even though this was in Victoria, I could not find any University of Houston memorabilia (Houston is only about 120 miles away and is much closer than Austin).

Here I am showing a Houston Astros hat I liked but didn’t like its price

Then, we went to the duck pond. We saw a healthy sampling of Pekins and Mallards and even some Muscovies frolicking in the water. Some let us get close but not too close.

We also saw some rodent-like creatures (similar to beavers) swimming in the water. They and the ducks completely ignored each other.

Pictures were taken, including this one of me and my sisters:

I spent much time recording video of this trip, and at the very end one of my sons found me a nice, shiny rock to take as a memento of the trip.

And, lastly, we went to a sporting goods store and Charles found a military gas mask did his impersonation of that The Empire Strikes Back line “Luke, I’m your father!”*

* Actually, after Luke Skywalker tells Darth Vader that he (Darth) killed Luke’s father, Darthie replies, “No, I am your father!”

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My vacation: Dad’s mancave

Back in the early 1990s, when my grandfather came to live with us due to his declining health, my Dad had a building constructed and moved onto our property to house my grandfather’s possessions. Grandpa referred to it as “The Cabin.”

Grandpa died in 1994, and eventually the cabin evolved into a sentimental place for my Dad to store mementos. Tools, pictures, music, etc. Dad also modified the building so it could become his workshop.

And now, it has become Dad’s “mancave”.

I stayed out there during my time home. It has air conditioning, a refrigerator where water and soda are kept and a TV. Back when my parents still had a landline, Dad has a vintage telephone hooked up that could receive phone calls.

It’s a place Dad goes when he wants to have solitude.

And as I stayed out there, it was a little emotional.

Out there was Dad’s life, his career. Photos, books collected (mostly western paperbacks), vinyl albums, eight-track players.

Dad will soon be 75, and he has always been a very private person. Being out there gave me a glimpse into his private side, something perhaps very people get to see.

Now, I just wish I could be tidy and organized like him. 🙂

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A visit with the ‘Blue Ghost’–the U.S.S. Lexington

July 14, 2011 1 comment

The “Blue Ghost”, the U.S.S. Lexington

Anybody who says they do not believe in ghosts obviously has never been to Corpus Christi Bay.

Once you go there, right next to the Texas State Aquarium is a large, long ghost.

A “Blue Ghost”, to be exact.

My family and I–including my brother-in-law, Joe, a Navy veteran–drove to Corpus Christi to visit the U.S.S. Lexington.

I’ve been there before, but this was the first time I went with my two youngest sons (my oldest son went with me and his cousins back around the turn of the millennium).

It was a warm summer day in Texas, a bright day. When I wasn’t using my camera phone to take pictures, I was wearing my sunglasses.

We looked at aircraft, watched a few videos, looked at a few cockpits and also went out onto the tarmac. I was nervous at first since going onto the flight deck meant climbing three flights of steep stairs. Climbing ahead of me was my Dad, who is almost 75 and has had two knee replacements. Thankfully, he made it up ok.

Grandpa Zowie with Charles and Robert.

Charles, my now-13-year-old, is a fledgling military historian and looked at the aircraft with intense interest and read their descriptions.

“DAD! I just knocked a kamikaze out of the sky! This relic was really loaded!”

The “Blue Ghost” got its nickname from two sources: one, it was painted with a blue-gray paint and the Japanese thought they’d sunk it a few times–only to see it again in the ocean.

Robert in one of my favorite vacation pics, taking a look at Corpus Christi Bay. In the distance, beyond the land in the horizon, is the Gulf of Mexico.

And, before we left, I used an empty Gatorade bottle to scoop up a sample of sand from Corpus Christi’s beach. It will be displayed at my house along with three other rocks (one from my parents’ house in Beeville; more on the other two rocks in future postings). Someday when I return to Texas permanently, the sand will be dispersed back onto the beach.

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My Vacation: Visiting with my family

July 12, 2011 1 comment

Six and a half years.

That was the last time I saw my parents, my sisters, my nephews and nieces.

Gosh, that was far too long.

That first day on July 1, in the evening my parents, sons and I went to my sister Sabrina’s house to visit.Sabrina gave me some sweet, store-bought tea from a plastic container. It was surprisingly good (to me, 99.99999% of “fresh-brewed bottled tea” is glorified instant).


It’s not Bill Miller’s, but it’s good!

I hugged, and we all laughed. I forget what, but at one point something was given to me and my sister Misti began laughing. Well, then I began laughing and was unable to continue what I was saying. It was the kind of laugh where you take deep pauses and then gasp for air due to laughing so hard.

Me and my sisses (left to right): Sabrina (the oldest), Rich (the youngest and the brat), Misti (the middle) 

It had been months since I’d laughed that hard, the closest being while watching The Big Bang Theory and The Office.

That visit was a reminder to me about the tight sibling bond I have: I love my sisters very much and consider them close friends. I just hope the day comes when we can see each other on a regular basis.

As far as my parents go, it was a special visit since my Dad is a cancer survivor. I used to wonder if I’d ever see him again and would worry he’d receive bad news from a screening. Both he and my Mom are in their 70s. Mom, well, with her hair grown out and, um, possibly colored, you’d think she was in her mid 60s, tops.

Nana and Grandpa Zowie with me and two of the three Zowie grandsons, Charles (older) and Robert (younger) Zowie. 

Next blog posting: our visit to see a ghost in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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My vacation: traveling to Austin, Beeville

July 10, 2011 2 comments

It had been about 13 years since I’d last flown in an airplane, and much had changed for my vacation. What hadn’t changed was my fear of missing my flight, so I ended up getting only one hour of sleep the night before. Then drove down to Lapeer where my two youngest sons and I got a ride to the Flint Bishop airport.

Airport security was surprisingly easy to get through. No pat downs, no interrogations. Robert’s medication made it through with few problems.

Charles, my now-13-year-old, was afraid at first of flying, but after we changed planes in Atlanta, he wanted the window seat. His 11-year-old younger brother, Robert, obliged.

Changing planes in Atlanta was surprisingly easy: our next flight was only about two gates down. Piece of cake once I overcame my OCD tendencies and assured myself that the flight we needed was really at a nearby gate. No having to change concourses as I’ve had to do in the past.

Us right before taking off to Austin.

And we had a surprisingly short flight to Austin. At one time we thought we were flying over the Mississippi River but actually were approaching Austin. Must’ve been the time zone change.

And once we landed, this sign was beautiful:

Once my parents and my sister Misti picked us up, we drove to Lockhart, Texas and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. One friend, Lance Tindol, teased me about having Chinese food in the Barbecue capitol of the world.

We then stopped in Leesville to pick up my nephews, and I got to say hello to this adorable, nameless Basset Hound that I dubbed “Flash”…


And then we were off to Beeville, and being home for the first time in almost seven years…

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