Friday, January 1

End of the Year of Travels, 2015

Whitley and I swinging for a photo. She loved all the new smells, horses, and walks.

Pre-Christmas Trip east to see family
Entrance to the Hideaway in Brookhaven
Frost in the field for a chilly morning walk, after enjoying the warm firepit, pizza, and s'mores the prior evening
Our rustic cabin

Four sweet beautiful horses (including a miniature pony)
Traditional Red Barn
Hiding out in the deep South for Christmas and the Holidays.  We found some true gems this December that need to be remembered and revisited.

Staying the night at a perfect, beautiful remote getaway called the Hideaway before headed up north to visit family.

Wonderful concert and lively encore presentation at Duling Hall (former elementary school auditorium) in Jackson to hear the Vamps.  Loved them playing All the Saints Come Marching In and Elvis, Blue Christmas...

November 2015 Trip
Chili Appreciation Society International, Terlingua, Texas, November 2015, Larry Jo Taylor played Friday night as the air chilled and the winds began to blow all weekend long
When the option of driving to west Texas came up for the famous Terlingua Chili Cook-off with other Houstonians, the answer was yes!  We pulled together our camping gear, watched the weather reports, and booked a hotel room before we left.  It is a ten-hour drive if we are lucky.  

First stopping in Kerrville for the night, we stayed in dog friendly hotel, La Quinta, for an early rise in the morning before headed to Terlingua.  Lots of dogs and hunters stayed at the hotel that night. The parking lot was full of trailers with four-wheelers since deer season began that weekend.  We made it to Alpine for the last grocery store for bread and cheese, and saw lots of blue haired, tattooed people going into this local store.  Finally 2 more hours until Terlingua on TX 118, enjoyed a beautiful drive through old rock formations, mountains, desert, but saw no live wildlife.  This is a geologist dream location, once with seven volcanoes in the area.
La Kiva Bar, Terlingua, TX, Feline Penisaurus Erectus
A destination stop in Terlingua is La Kiva bar (soon to be restaurant); read the back story about the prior owner, Glenn Felts in Outside Magazine (update 7-2015).  When you go through the old mine shaft door and down the concrete stairs, you came into an oasis.  Eye candy everywhere, I was gawking and in awe of the decor of rocks, wood beams, and ancient looking trees that were used at tables and furniture.  The back patio will be a great spot for music on a warmer evening.  The bathrooms are so modern, sadly no more unique toilets. 

Ate at Starlight Theatre in Terlingua (facebook) with entertainment by Ghosts Along the Rio Grande: classical singer Ann Wade, Kris Wade & Jacob Jaeger.  I enjoyed two spicy hamburger beef street tacos (had to take other two home).

Camped at Rancho Topanga Campgrounds, dog friendly on leash (owners, Gus and Pat Foli, have three yellow labs and a brown dog, chickens, and an African Grey parrot).  Enjoyed her delicious green shelled eggs, best scrambled eggs ever.  See Big Bend National Park and ear plugs for the singing mexican...

Stopped at Fort Clark campgrounds (no pets since it is a bird sanctuary) last horse US cavalry found in Brackettville, TX,  on the Mulberry River.  Fort was named after Major John B. Clark (first infantry died in Mexican War).

Explored CASI, on November 7, 2015, Chili Appreciation Society International competition, congratulations to James Burns from Point, Texas (must appropriate name Burns).  Enjoyed hot chili and meeting people from Hawaii and all over.  Saw Clemson's white paw and orange flag flying by an RV near the CASI stage.  Sorry we missed Gary P. Nunn at the other big chili cookoff (Behind the Store) but it was cold and windy.
My Exodus Chili recipe
3 cloves of garlic, smashed to a paste (sit for four minutes before browning)
3 small finely chopped pearl onions
2 pounds of Ground Sirlion (chunky, large chili size grind)
1 package of William Chili seasoning (no salt) (or a mix of chili powder, cumin, ground mexican oregano)
1/2 can of beer (great IPA or stout, personal preference required, I like Wasatch Pumpkin Stout)
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 can of tomato paste (no salt)
1 can of diced tomatoes (no salt)
1 can of triple beans (drained and rinsed, if desired) 
Brown the garlic, onions, and sirloin in a dutch oven on medium heat, constantly turning with wooden spoon.  Spoon out the excess fat and water as the beef cooks, into a heat safe container like an old glass jar.  Water must be gone before browning starts. 
Once beef browns add the Chili season (or your own special mix of seasoning).  Reduce heat to medium low.  Slowly and carefully (because of steam and splatters) add some beer to cover the bottom of the dutch oven, and mix until all browning is in the beer.  Mix in the worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and some beer (as desired).  Add the rinsed beans if desired.  
Try not to let the chili boil, keep it at a simmer of 185 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or more with a partially covered lid to let any steam out.  Check and stir the chili every 5 to 10 minutes.  Add more beer if the chili needs more liquid or if heating it up the next day on the stovetop.
Stopped in Del Rio for the night to relax and shower at the remodeled Ramada motel with hot tubs, saunas, and powerful showers.  Enjoyed light dinner and drinks at White Horse Lounge

Off in the distance is Big Bend National Park and Boquillas, Mexico that we can see the lights at night, bring your current passport.
October 2015

Tacky Ball at the Houston Yacht Club to announce the Mosquito Fleet's
2016 Mosquitodore JT, Mosquito-adorable Yachty,
and Little stinger canine, Whitley
We are at a deep loss without our canine member, Bud, from the night before.  Having our close friends at Houston Yacht Club, who most knew him, consoled us in our time of deep sorrow.  We love you and miss you, our sweet Bud.

December 2015, 
Mosquito Fleet's cruise to Moody Gardens and Dickens on the Strand
Christmas Tree of lights by our boats at Moody Gardens marina for the Festival of Lights, HYC New Mosquitodore ready the table and linens for drinks and appetizers to watch the sunset across Offatts Bayou.  Dinner and drinks at Shearn's Bar (Moody Gardens) the next night.
What a change on Sunday compared to the cold, windy, and wet conditions of Friday morning to Offatts Bayou after Dickens on the Strand. Mosquito-adorable at the Helm
After leaving Moody Gardens Festival of Lights weekend in December 2015, the winds and waters were calm for Mosquito-K9, Whitley, to stand at the bow and search for shy dolphins.

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