A few days ago, I mentioned we were hosting our friend Valentina for a few days.
After picking her up from the airport and getting her settled in our house (she slept in Rebecca’s room), we all went to bed relatively early. (My wife had cooked an excellent supper for us.)
On Friday, July 22, we went swimming in our community’s swimming pool in the morning. There were only a few other people there, so we had plenty of space. Valentina, who’s spent most of her life in NYC apartments, kept saying we were living like kings. It was nice to have a fresh perspective on our life.
We took her on a tour through our neighborhood’s three model homes, which blew her mind (especially the low prices when compared to houses in New York).
For lunch, we ate at Schoepf’s Bar-B-Que in Belton — about 20 minutes from our house. Believe it or not, my wife and I had never eaten barbecue in Texas, despite having lived here for 23 months.
The food was great, and the place felt like an authentic Texas barbecue joint. We each tried something slightly different so we could share and compare tastes. Rebecca sat in the high chair and chewed on an empty water bottle, glad to be part of the action. We got filled up, but not too full, and the wonderful taste sat in my mouth for a while afterward.
Honestly, I don’t remember what we had for supper that evening…
Rebecca enjoyed Valentina’s company — having someone new around is always nice. In the image below, she’s unsure about letting Val use Mommy’s computer.
Saturday morning, we went to the 1st Cavalry Museum on Ft. Hood, but got there before it opened. So we didn’t get to go inside or visit the gift shop, but Valentina took a quick walking tour with me of the military equipment on display outside. She was particularly impressed by the CH-54A Tarhe Sky Crane:
Then we went swimming again. This time the pool was completely empty except for the four of us. Those are my favorite times, when we can pretend for a few moments that we own the entire pool.
We ate lunch at Clem Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q in Harker Heights — about 10 minutes from our house. We all agreed it was slightly better than the previous day’s meal (except for the Schoepf’s venison sausage, which is easily the best sausage I’ve ever tasted in my life). Again, Rebecca behaved very well, but was chewing on a sealed pack of butter and bit right through it, spraying butter up on her face. It was too funny for words, but alas I’d left my camera in the car.
Afterward, we visited the new Hastings bookstore in town, where we each picked up a book or two, and Val bought us Season 3 of Dexter. (We’d attempted to watch it via Netflix, but they’d never send us Disc 2. We eventually dropped it from our queue.)
That evening, we ate supper at Dairy Queen, the one within walking distance of our old apartment.
Texas isn’t the only place you’ll find Dairy Queens (there are more than 5,600 around the world), but more of them are here than anywhere else. Also, Texas DQs have a unique menu.
The next morning, we saw her off at the Killeen – Ft. Hood Regional Airport.
It was Rebecca’s first-ever visit to any airport. She really enjoyed the gift shop.
We crested 100°F every day that Valentina was here; she constantly commented that “It feels like an oven”. She was, however, impressed by the central air (compared to her experience with window units in NYC). She really enjoyed the barbecue, and was constantly impressed by how well her old friend (my wife) had done for herself.
But in the end, she was glad to get back to her daughter and other family in New York City.
Note: as I write this, we’re on our 15th day in a row of plus-100°F temps, and have seen 35 such days so far this year.
For all the images from her visit, click here.
For images from her 2007 trip to see us in Oklahoma, click here.