Day Trip: Austin (2016.04.19)

City Of Austin Power
The old Seaholm Power Plant, with new residential high-rises beyond it
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)


The Cheesecake Factory, Austin
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

It began a couple of weeks ago, when my wife learned that one of her cousins will soon move from Attleboro, Mass. (a suburb of Providence, R.I.) to Austin, Texas, along with his wife and son. And not just “a” cousin, but the godfather of our son Benjamin. Then a few days ago, we learned he was coming to Austin for a couple of days to look for an apartment. We tentatively scheduled a meetup, then made it more specific. My wife and I found a good place to eat near their hotel, and a few other things to do afterward.

At the last minute, it turned out the cousin and wife wouldn’t be able to meet with us, but since we had already decided to go to Austin for the day, we went anyway. Chances are, we passed within a 100 yards of my wife’s cousin and never knew it.

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Day Trip: Colorado Bend State Park (2016.04.14)

And That's Me
The author, sitting atop a boulder near Gorman Falls
(Image by a nice lady I met on the trail.)

I got that restless feeling again — the urge to travel, to see new things, to walk in a wilderness. The least expensive way to satisfy that thirst is to visit a state park, so I googled state parks near Central Texas. Colorado Bend State Park came up early in the search, so I checked the route, gathered a camera and two lenses, and set out.

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2016.03.15.TUE – Part Of A Dream


This building, in Hillsboro, Texas, does not resemble the house in my dream, except for the large wall of windows, but it was next to a gas station, and it was one of which I said at the time “it should be turned into a house”.
(Copyright © 2012 by Wil C. Fry.)

There was more, but this is what I remember from my dream:

I was in a house with my family (the one I grew up with). The property’s layout made me think it used to be a gas station. It was at an intersection of two highways, with a large awning extending from the structure toward the intersection, and cars were parked under the awning. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows, along a curved wall, faced this parking lot, shaded by the awning. Inside these giant windows, which spanned the entire long wall, was a sprawling living room, with several seating areas. Behind this large open space were two small dining areas next to an open kitchen, which was separated from the living room by a bar/counter. The kitchen was large as well, but was divided into multiple rooms, with industrial-style deep fryers, ovens, and sinks — with the ceiling-attached pull-down hoses you might see in a restaurant. There were walk-in pantries, freezers, and fridges behind the kitchen. I don’t remember seeing bedrooms, closets, or offices, but I knew they were behind these dining areas and kitchens.

At first, there were a lot of people in the house, filling the living area, with people constantly going in and out of the front doors, and cars coming and going. It was some kind of event, but I can’t remember what, or who was there. Just as the crowd was thinning (and the remaining people would be my immediate family — Dad, Mom, siblings, and I), I complained of hunger, and my Dad said he would order some food to be delivered. He ordered hamburgers, fries, onion rings, tater tots, and other similar items. Then the rest of the crowd finally left.

I remember feeling intense hunger. My siblings and I continued to complain as the food didn’t show up on time. We stood around the kitchen, griping. I suggested cooking food in our own kitchen to stave off our hunger. My Dad said, “Oh, quit complaining.” My brother said, “It’s like we’re sleeping on the street.” Dad scoffed and said, “This is nothing like sleeping on the streets, and none of you have ever slept on the streets, so you wouldn’t know.”

As the dream ended and I was waking up, I said aloud: “It is EXACTLY like sleeping on the streets, and I KNOW, because I HAVE slept on the streets.”

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Coming Improvements In Killeen

More improvements are coming to Killeen, according to the city’s “CIP” (capital improvements program), which I found here (9.6MB, pdf).

Several will affect us here on the south edge of the city, initially with construction frustration and eventually with improved infrastructure:

  • Featherline (north-south road right next to our neighborhood, to the police headquarters) will be widened from a narrow, two-lane country road to a five-lane (+bike lanes & sidewalks) from Stagecoach to Chaparral. This will be a huge improvement to our daily travel, especially combined with the coming Chaparral improvement listed below.
  • Chaparral (the closest east-west road to the south of us) will be widened to a divided four-lane avenue, with additional bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. It is currently a narrow two-lane country road without curbs or shoulders, like Stagecoach used to be.
  • Cunningham (one of our north-south routes) will be widened at the part where it’s still narrow, to a three-lane (+bike lanes & sidewalks) road, and then extended to connect with US190, giving us another excellent route to the highway — where we find most shopping and dining.
  • Trimmier (one of our major north-south routes) will be widened on its southern end, from Stagecoach to Chaparral, into a five-lane road (+bike lanes & sidewalks), where it is now a winding, narrow, two-lane country road.
  • East Trimmier (nowhere near Trimmier Road, but close to us) is expected to be widened as well, from Stagecoach to Chaparral, into a five-lane (+bike lanes & sidewalks). It is currently a narrow, two-lane country road. This would help connect us to the southern edge of Harker Heights, including my wife’s church and some shopping.
  • Rosewood Drive, which has already been extended north to connect to US190, will now be extended southward to connect to Chaparral, providing a dependable north-south route on the eastern edge of the city. This affects us much less than the others listed here, but will still provide an outlet for traffic, thus reducing congestion elsewhere.
  • Stan Schlueter Loop (currently our most-used east-west route) will be extended from Clear Creek Road all the way west to Copperas Cove, connecting to the new US190 Bypass there. It’s planned to be a five-lane (+bike lane) extension, roughly on the route of “Old Copperas Cove Road”, which has been gated off since we moved to Killeen.
  • Reconfiguring the mall’s intersection on W.S. Young, with a new traffic light arrangement, is hoped to reduce congestion in that area, which is often the worst congestion in the city.

These are all listed as “high priority” projects. The document I linked to also contains plenty of medium- and low-priority projects.

Keep in mind that we only plan to stay in this house until it’s paid off, or shortly thereafter, which we estimate to be about five years. That means, in all likelihood, that we’ll be ready to sell just as most of these projects are completing around us. Hopefully, it will mean higher property values in this area at that time.

2016.02.06: Carmelite’s Birthday Party

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: 2016.02.06

RnB ready to party
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

Saturday, 2016.02.06, the four of us drove to Austin, Texas, for the birthday party of Carmelite, the daughter of one of my wife’s coworkers. The entire day was fun for us. Following are a few brief observations.

• The trip itself was an hour and two minutes going there and exactly the same time for our return.

• RnB played with their Kurio 7S tablets during the round trip drive; BW napped part of the way there, as did M. The tablets (given to us by neighbors) have been a wonderful way to keep the kids from crying/complaining during long car trips.

• Our hosts’ house is almost identical to ours in square footage, as is their lot, but both somehow felt smaller than ours. My guess is the house’s layout had a lot to do with it; a floorplan has a LOT to do with how big a house feels inside. The neighborhood was similar to ours in that it appears to have been planned and built by the same builder, but it’s older, the streets were narrower, and they disbanded their HOA some years back. So driving back into our neighborhood was refreshing — it looked spacious, clean, and upscale by comparison.

• RL was the oldest child at the party by more than a year, and BW was the youngest by a few months. Both were very well-behaved and obedient, making us proud. For that matter, I thought all the children were very well-behaved.

• I didn’t know anyone there except the birthday girl’s family, but everyone seemed nice. I didn’t ask everyone’s age, but I suspect I was the oldest person at the party. This happens more and more often now.


RnB with body paint
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

• It was a tad chilly — upper 50s — but very sunny, so the kids played outside a large part of the time.

• I was one of only two beardless men in the house. This beard fad is getting a little ridiculous, and I don’t think I’m saying that because I can’t grow one. When visiting hipster-heavy places like Austin, I often wonder if I’m about to see a Civil War reenactment, based purely on the number of large beards.

• Though I’m normally not very sociable, or at least feel like I’m not, in these situations, I managed to have a 30-minute conversation with two bearded young men about the new Star Wars movie.

• Despite the negative reputation of “Millennials”, no one spent any great deal of time texting or otherwise bent over their smartphones.

• Our hosts had hired a face-painting lady for the party, so several guests took advantage of that. When it was RL’s turn, she immediately asked for a butterfly on her face, and got one within a few minutes. The woman asked BW if he wanted something painted on his face, and he didn’t respond. She asked if he wanted something on his hand, and he said: “black”. She thought quickly and asked if he wanted a black spider on his hand. He said “yeah”, so she gave him one. He was very proud of it.

• See all 22 photos I recorded for the day.

Year In Review: 2015

Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: 2015.12.31

Power Rock
It’s always difficult to judge, but I think this is my favorite photo from 2015
(Copyright © 2015 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

Like most years since I’ve married, this one was full of positives, enough to bury the negatives. There were illnesses and car trouble, and quite a few “first world problems”, but nothing that could detour us from enjoying almost every day.

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2015.12: Early Christmas Trip


RnB in the minivan, ready to head home, Dec. 14
(Copyright © 2015 by Wil C. Fry.)

A few days ago, my wife and I — and our offspring — returned safely and happily from a five-day trip to Oklahoma for a bit of an early Christmas celebration with family — and a surprise birthday party for my mother (apologies to several other family members with birthdays during the same week).

A few things I found notable about the trip:

  • At 11 hours and 44 minutes of driving time, it was our fastest-ever round trip to Oklahoma and back with children. (Compare all our trip times.)
  • With four nights spent there, it was our longest stay in Oklahoma since having children.
  • The weather was warmer and less rainy than had been forecast, giving us plenty of perfect outdoor time.
  • I used my phone for more photos than I took with my DSLR. I had decided to do this ahead of time. More on that near the bottom of this entry.
  • Despite ignoring my diet for the duration of the trip, I weighed the same when I returned home as I had when I’d left. Lucky me.

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New And Improved ‘My Life’ Blog (2015.11.12)

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: 2015.11.12

As mentioned in the comments under my previous entry, I’m changing this blog’s modus operandi once again. I’ll make no promises that this will be the last or final change. But I’m going to try it for a while.

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My Parents’ Visit (2015.11)


Family Portrait
Click here to see a larger version
(Copyright © 2015 by Wil C. Fry.)

We were pleased recently that my parents came to visit us here in Killeen. During their (short) visit, the main activity was going to the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco.

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2015.11.05.TH: Rain, Ottoman, Car Trouble, San Gabriel Park

A whole week.

(Selections adapted from private journal file.)

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2015.10.29.TH: Rain, Acorns, Night Drive, Enchanted Rock

A week’s worth:

(Adapted from private journal file.)

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2015.10.22.TH: Acorns, Playgrounds, Baby Carriage, Zoo, and More Acorns

Seven days in one entry:
(Adapted from private journal file.)

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2015.10.15.TH: Birthday and Sweet Berry Farm

Seven days in one entry:
(Adapted from private journal file.)

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2015.10.08.TH: Scarlet Fever, Dream, Ikea, etc.

Seven days in one entry:

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2015.10.01.THU

Three days in one entry:

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2015.09.28.TH: New Journal Format

Four days in one entry:

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2015.09.24.TH

Three days in one entry:

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2015.09.21.MO

Four days in one entry:

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2015.09.17.TH

Three days in one entry:

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2015.09.14.MO

Four days in one entry:

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