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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Adventures in geocaching

It’s been tough to geocache lately, since I’ve gotten most of them where I live in Fredericksburg, Texas. The most recent one was fun: you had to find the sun and planets and use the numbers on each planet to solve a puzzle that revealed the coordinates for the geocache. The person who created that was kind enough to include Pluto among the planets.

After finding one in Falls City, Texas on Saturday, I noted with dismay of all the towns in the Slavic corridor of Highway 181 in South Texas, only Poth has no geocaches. One friend, a lover of puns, called it, “Pothetic.”

I’ve found several in Beeville, Texas (where I grew up) to take my total to 131.

One I’ve not been able to find is somewhere in downtown Beeville near a store that has since closed. The description includes a staircase that leads somewhere unknown. Perhaps it was muggled.

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Visiting a Normal Rockwell exhibit

October 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I went to the National Museum of the Pacific War here in Fredericksburg, Texas to see their Norman Rockwell exhibit. This one focused on select Saturday Evening Post covers during the World War II era. Each cover tells a different picture, including chronicling the life of fictitious WWII serviceman Willie Gillis.

Here’s one of my favorites, of a soldier returning home near the end of the war. I’m guessing he lived somewhere in New York City, judging by the diversity of the people…

rockwell-wwii-end

Amid all the people welcoming him home is a shy, red-headed girl who seems to be very attracted in him. I imagine they eventually fell in love, married and had kids.

I’m not an art expert, but I often find it amazing at how prolific Mr. Rockwell was–especially given that it took around 10 years for Leonardo da Vinci to complete Mona Lisa.

Other pictures I loved included a weary Army cook after cooking and serving Thanksgiving dinner, Gillis’ girlfriend sleeping on New’s Eve (there’s a hilarious story behind that pic–send me an email if you’d like to hear it), a veteran sailor getting his latest girlfriend’s name tattooed on his arm and, of course, Gillis at college hitting the books, in a peaceful environment.

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5k yesterday, 10k today

February 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Last month at work, I was sent to get pictures of people walking in Fredericksburg for a Volkssport event. They walk, they get credit for it.

I was given two maps of the routes: one was for a 5K (three miles to those who rely on the English system of measurements) and another for a 10K (about six miles). I then went out and took pictures of people walking. Some pics turned out not too bad.

And as I took pictures, I thought, Why not walk these routes also as a way of getting exercise?

Friday was a short day at work, so I drove downtown and walked the 5K. It wasn’t too bad, although I was sweaty and a little sore afterwards.

Today, I faced a decision: walk the 5K again or be adventurous and try the 10K?

Something possessed me to try the 10K. I think I was just in the mood to try a longer route to help burn more calories and work towards my goal of losing 120 pounds (I currently weigh 276 and have lost almost 14 pounds; my target weight is about 160).

So, I walked.

As I walked, I made sure to consult the map a few times so as to not get lost. The skies were somewhat overcast, making me glad I wore my hat.

Along the way, I took brief breaks to relax and enjoy the scenery. A few times I saw squirrels, my second-favorite animal. I also had to stop for traffic. At one point, as a biker and his girlfriend were stopped at a light, I hurried on the crosswalk, noticed some debris on the road (it was one of those reflectors they embed into the asphalt, but it somehow became loose), picked it up and tossed it off the road into a pile of dirt. The biker smiled and nodded at me, and I did the same back to him. Those guys have far less margin of error than cars do when it comes to obstructions on the road.

About halfway through the journey my hips and shins began to ache. Around that point I walked a path through a cemetery called Der Stadt Friedhof (according to Google translate: “The City Cemetery”) where lots of Germans from long ago were buried. 

I walked. and walked, and walked. A few dogs barked at me, no doubt thinking I was a cyborg. I also said hello to a few fellow walkers. And at one point, I noticed four women walking about 100 yards in front of me. My age. I tried to catch up but traffic slowed me down. C’est la vie

I was finally able to finish, and it felt great to sit in my car and relax. I started wondering if I should try a 10K again and felt maybe I should save those for when I’m doing more and more walking.

So, in my weekends off I keep thinking I should do a 5K and then maybe do a longer walk around town where I just walk and not worry about how long it’ll take.

Will I walk tomorrow? If I can talk my legs and knees into it.

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Richard’s Vacation: Meeting man’s best friend

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes in life you just want to go for a walk and leave your cell phone behind so that you can just get away from it all. And sometimes, depending on where you are in Texas, you can still take your cell phone with you and get away from it all due to the lack of cell phone coverage.

Maybe Sprint/Nextel just needs to erect a tower in Kenedy, Karnes City or Nixon.

While staying at my parents house outside of Beeville, Texas (it’s hard to describe where they live since Texas–unlike Michigan and other states–doesn’t have townships), I decided to go a few times out on a walk.

“Make sure you take a stick with you,” my Dad told me. “Some of the dogs down the road might get aggressive.”

So, I took a shovel since I could not find a stick. My intention was to use it to shoo away any aggressive dogs. Most dogs, when they see you waving a stick with a scary piece of metal on the end, are smart enough to keep their distance. Others will approach, bark, see you are zero threat to them, their property and their owners and will quickly lose interest.

A few houses down, some dogs ran up to me. All friendly. One was too friendly.

My son, Robert, holds Steffi. She came to my parents’ house and refused to leave.

She looked like a young German Shepherd, so I dubbed her “Steffi” after this famous German tennis star:

According to her husband Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Steffi Graf actually prefers to be called “Stephanie”.

The other dogs quickly lost interest in me when they saw I was no threat, had no dog treats or wasn’t some delicious cat, but Steffi kept following me.

And following me.

And following me.

“I’m not your owner, Steffi!” I told her. “You need to stop following me!”

Of course, she continued. I tried even barking to her in Dogspeak, but that didn’t seem to work either.

We walked past other dogs, including a Boxer owned by a high school friend Tommy and his wife, Amy. The Boxer and the other dogs barked at Steffi, who barked back.

“They’re trying to tell you that you need to head back home, Steffi,” I said.

I turned the corner half a mile from my parents’ house and walked another quarter of a mile down the road. Where I finally stopped walking you could see Beeville in the distance, including the white water tower near the north side of the town (the fat water tower, not the small one that’s near the campus of what used to be Bee County College [now Coastal Bend College]).

My plan had been to go there onto Wofford Lane to have some private time. Listen to cicadas (one of my all-time favorite activities to do in the Texas summer). Maybe even cry. Stare at the sky. Look for horned frogs. Let my active, restless mind wander.

Steffi kept wagging her tail and panting.

So, we headed back and dealt with the barking dogs again and finally made it back to my parents’ house. Steffi’s friends came out and greeted her, but she kept walking with me.

Oh, joy.

I got home and introduced my Dad and my sons and nephews to my “friend”. Eventually, Steffi’s owners came and claimed her.

I never did find out if Steffi was her real name.

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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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Visiting movie set encourages this writer to ‘act’

From A to Zowie

Visiting movie set encourages this writer to ‘act’

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the June 9, 2010 issue of the Clio, Michigan-based Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)

Back in the 1990-1991 school year, I was a senior at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville, Texas. Needing an extra elective, I chose to take a theater arts class.

After a week, I kept asking myself why I waited until my senior year to take this class.

What fun it was to get up and act out skits, scenes from plays and even minor class productions! In one skit, myself and three other guys played police officers breaking up a drug deal. Then, my friend Francis and I acted out a scene from Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. Then there was the mock news broadcast and, at the end of the year, I even had the privilege of acting in two plays: Dr. Frankenstein’s Space Operation (as Bruce, the wisecracking astronaut) and as the head alien on the planet Meanus, a planet—mistaken for Venus—where nobody ever jokes or smiles. I enjoyed acting immensely and made a note to myself to try to get into it again someday.

I was again reminded of this on June 3 when I went to rural Vienna Township to get pictures of Brothers War Normandy, a movie being filmed there and to talk to the director and cast members. They did take after take from various camera angles, posed in character for movie stills and relaxed and chatted between takes.

It made me think of how I need to rework my free time and see if I can find local productions to become involved in.

No, I have no interest in becoming a multi-million-dollar “A-lister”, and winning an Academy Award doesn’t really interest me. What does interest me is getting on stage and trying to convince the crowd I’m somebody I’m really not. For me, there’s something exciting about getting up on a stage (crowds don’t scare me) and being part of a live story to be told.

Who knows, maybe I could even moonlight as a character actor. Being around 5’8” with coke-bottle glasses and a Karl Malden honker of a nose, I could probably get work whenever a director says, “I want Rick Moranis but I can’t afford Rick Moranis! Get me somebody who LOOKS like Rick Moranis!”

When it comes to acting, I’ve had the privilege over the years of chatting online with a few actors. Among them Adam Vernier (who guest starred on Dharma and Greg and was a finalist to play Danny Torrance in the 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror film The Shining) and Gary Kent (who’s also directed, produced, written screenplays, worked as a stunt man and who has worked with notables like Bruce Willis and Jack Nicholson and James Caan).

Vernier and Kent’s collective advice can be summed up this way:

One: Acting is extremely competitive. If fame and fortune are your motivation for getting into acting, don’t even bother.

Two: Find out where acting classes are being offered in your area (or near your area) and sign up. Study and learn.

Three: Get involved in local productions.

Four: Be very careful when turning down work. If you’re reluctant about a character you play, just remember what acting is at its core: being a “faker” as you pretend to be somebody you aren’t.

Five: Be professional on and off the set. Actors who develop reputations as being difficult to work with will have a tougher time finding work.

Richard Zowie’s a reporter and columnist for the Herald. Visit his blog at http://www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.