The Vagabond Novelist

My Journey. My Dream.

Category: San Antonio

Day 8: A Walk Down Memory Lane

blue map of TexasDay eight started with sleep. I didn’t realize that I was so tired until I went to bed a few minutes after Day 7. My ticket was punched for the land of nod the moment my head hit the pillow.

To say it was a power snooze would be sorely understating how hard I slept. The Vagabond Novelist was ready for another day of adventure.

If you read Day 7 you’ll know that a seven-year-old named Jessi trained me to do her bidding. The Texas school systems insisted on her presence so her mother and I had some time to get caught up.

We went down to an area that might have been called the Brewery district (though I’m not 100% sure). It was on the river and we did what is expected: we walked.

For two miles and well into lunch the stroll down memory lane was wonderful. All the years I’d missed out on were filled in, good and bad.

Tracy and her husband have been married for seventeen years and dated for five years before that. They’re really wonderful, which probably explains how they’ve raised such delightful children.

For lunch we chose the Boiler House. Ordering was tough, but aftDay 8 Lunch with Tracyer Tracy ordered a spinach salad with grilled shrimp, my decision was made. I love shrimp so I had the same thing. I made a good choice (copying Tracy’s choice).

Before I started my Vagabond Novelist life I would eat three to five Caesar salads with grilled shrimp per week. I hadn’t had one in almost three weeks and the moment I heard her order my mouth literally started watering.

I don’t typically get dessert. Tracy declined dessert but I made sure there was a second spoon because I intended to shame her into giving it a try. Damn her girlish figure!

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of people from the Ames High Class of 1985 who would say Tracy hasn’t done her FAIR share of aging.Day 8 Lunch Dessert

The walk and lunch were only half of the Day 8 fun.

Tracy dropped me off at her house and went to retrieve children from their schools. I did a little bit of work and watched ESPN.

The evening plans were to go to the Tower of the Americas. It was built for the 1968 World’s Fair. The best part was that Jessi and Tommy hadn’t been there yet and it had been 23 years for Tracy.

The tower, which has 952 steps (not an option on most days), is 750 feet high, has an observation deck, and a rotating restaurant.

The morning had been overcast and misty but by the time we arrived it was blue skies as far as the eye could see. From the tower that’s a long ways.

The food at the Chart House was delicious, though it is a pricy meal. I had the flounder, which I’ve never had before, but it was good. Since arriving in Austin my adventurous spirit has mandated I try new things every chance I get.

Day 8 Texas TowerJessi had chicken. She let me have a bite and I shared my fries with her. It was a fair trade. Her chicken was yummy, too.

The lava cake alone is worth the trip.

The Vagabond Novelist gives The Tower of the America’s Chart House a solid 32 on a scale of 1 to 37. I would imagine that at night the view might be worth an extra point or two, but it’s definitely better with friends.

Day 7: Profound Friendships

blue map of TexasI had messaged my friend Tracy and let her know I’d be arriving at her abode around 2 p.m. The plan was to find some breakfast and get a bit of writing done before I started catching up with Tracy.

Tracy Holtz Rock has been my friend since she was just Tracy Holtz and going to Northwood Elementary School in Ames, Iowa. Tracy and her twin sister Teri moved to our school in fifth grade.

I had never known twins before and the Holtz twins were not only REALY cute, they liked to skateboard, too. All my friends had a crush on one or the other at some point. I mean, to a 5th grader, a skateboarding girl is the holy grail of awesome.

Riverwalk, San Antonio

What I remember of Tracy and her sister was the light in their eyes. Sure, that sounds like I’m taking literary license, but it was absolutely true. They were fearless. Going down the hill between the school and the street they lived on, which had a tough turn (that usually ended up resulting in a crash), was not for the faint of fifth-grade heart. They were just as good as the boys.

The thing about grade school friends is that junior high school tests those bonds. The summer ends after elementary school and a new world opens up with lots of other kids to meet and hang out with.

The friendship circles we found didn’t really overlap. It made me sad at the time but that’s part of growing up. I had new friends and so did they. It would happen again in high school. I traded my crush on Teri for a crush on Karen Hunter.

I never stopped missing Tracy and Teri, though.

Tracy and her children

Tracy, Tommy, and Jessi

About two years ago, around the time of the NBA playoffs, Tracy and I reconnected on FB. Shortly thereafter she got me hooked on Candy Crush and the San Antonio Spurs. (I don’t hold this against her and I eventually quit Candy Crush cold turkey.) The best part about playing Candy Crush and watching the Spurs was that I was chatting with my friend again. It was really nice. She watched from Texas and I from Iowa, but we chatted over FB and it was really fun. I now love the Spurs.

Tracy and I have tried to get together in the past but timing and logistics failed us. Today was going to be different! A vagabond can make time for his friends.

I pulled up to Tracy’s house and there she was on the curb waiting for me with her daughter, Jessi. We hugged and that friendship gap of three decades vanished. Then I got a hug from Jessi. She’s seven and possibly the best kid in the entire world!

I’ve gone on record as not being a fan of children under the age of 29, and I’m considering upping that to 40.HoltzKids

Jessi, however, is a force of nature. She’s smart. I mean seriously off-the-charts smart. When I asked her what her favorite subject in school was, with no hesitation or shyness, Jessi said emphatically, “Math!”

As I said, BEST Seven Year Old in the World! I love math.

Jessi has an older brother, Tommy, but I only got to meet him briefly, as he was off to play basketball. I respect that. I love hoops, too. I wouldn’t fully understand his level of awesomeness until much later that evening.

Day 7 Jessi and her Dad

Darren (Tracy’s husband) and Jessi

We went to dinner and had fajitas. I had a margarita that was purple and blue. I don’t remember the name exactly but I think it was a salty pear or something.

When we got back from the restaurant, Jessi had my itinerary planned. It was time for us to play Minecraft.

Jessi is a Minecraft machine. I like the game and have played it for years, but I don’t have her skills. You should see her fingers flying across the iPad screen — but of course you can’t, because they’re moving beyond the speed of light.

I created a new game and she logged into my world. It was fun. The plan had been to watch Spurs vs. Warriors with the rest of The Rock Family downstairs, but Jessi and I were building a cave home.

Day 7 Jessi and TVN

Jessi and me

Sometime during the third quarter, Tracy came up to check on us. I took a little break (unapproved by management) and talked with management’s mom. I was curious if either of the kids had played chess.

A few minutes later we had the chessboard out. Jessi had never played so I got to teach her something new. Tracy, Jessi, and I set the board up on the floor and I began a lecture on proper opening theory.

Jessi was into it.

There was a moment, as I sat across from my lifelong friend and her daughter, watching them both staring at the board with a level of intensity usually reserved for Grandmaster play, that I saw that flash in both of their eyes.

Time screamed back to the seventies, did a loop, and rushed back to 2016 almost as fast as Jessi’s hands on an iPad screen.

Bedside surprise. I'm known to love guinea pigs.

Bedside surprise. I’m known to love guinea pigs.

In our lives we only get a handful of friendships that rise to the level of profound. My college roommate from 1985, my co-author buddy, and my fifth and sixth grade friend, Tracy Holtz Rock, are mine.

Having them in my life means that loneliness isn’t even a possibility. Profound friendships aren’t constrained by distance or time.

Day 6: The Early Bird

blue map of TexasI don’t know if it is the energy of the road or my daily chats with The Miracle Morning for Network Marketers co-author, Honoree Corder, (heretofore referred to simply as my author buddy), but I’m getting out of bed at around 8:30 a.m. everyday. And I’m crushing it in a way that could be best described as miraculous.

8:30 a.m. may not seem early to most, but I’ve long been an advocate of the school of thought that getting up before noon was unnatural and wrong. Sometimes, even noon was a little too early.

Now, here I am up and ready for my day.

I’m also surprised at how well the writing is going when I start out first thing. Loving data as I do, I probably should have tested different start times to figure out when I was best able to use my words.

The thing about the early start is I forgo the daily ritual: beginning to think about writing around 3 p.m., checking social media, watching Netflix for a couple hours, taking a nap, “liking” guinea pig photos on Facebook, making sure there isn’t anything I NEED to see on Hulu, having dinner (and the post-dinner slumber), revisiting Facebook just in case, and then around midnight diving into my story. It’s hard to believe I never considered there might be a better way.

For those of you that think the last paragraph was me being silly, it wasn’t. That was my life. Okay, it wasn’t like that every day. There were a lot of days where book business management stuff curbed my procrastination, but the point is that now I get right into the work.

The Riverwalk, San Antonio

The Riverwalk, San Antonio

On this particular day when 4 p.m. rolled around I had gotten quite a bit of work done and was ready to find food like the ancient nomads did: I Googled restaurants “On the River Walk in San Antonio.” I chose Waxy O’Conners.

Nothing says Southwestern USA tradition like an Irish pub.

The bar had a lot of empty seats so I bellied up to it and settled in. I had two objectives: food and Warriors vs. Grizzles. Cori and Christine were able to help with both of them.

Before my burger arrived, two gentlemen sat down next to me. I started to mingle, as I am want to do.

Day 6 Waxy

Alex and Mike

Alex and Mike were in town to see the historic game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. If the Spurs come out on top they will have had an undefeated season on their home court. This has never been done.

If the Warriors win they will tie the Chicago Bulls for 72 wins in a season and have a chance at 73 to set a new mark.

I planned to watch the game with my friend Tracy Holtz Rock. My Vagabonding journey includes spending a couple of days with Tracy and her family. They love the Spurs.

Alex and Mike, who had driven over from New Mexico, weren’t just going to the game; they were going to be watching it from one of the owner’s boxes. It’s good to know people! I was almost as excited as they were.

Day 6 at Waxy

Barbara and Sandra

As the evening continued on, two lovely ladies, Barbara and Sandra, sat down on the other side of me. They were visiting San Antonio on a mission of fun. We had a delightful conversation.

People are interesting. I love hearing their stories. Life on the road is everything I imagined. San Antonio Rocks.

The Vagabond Novelist gives Waxy O’Conners a 31 out of 37.

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