Watch out..it's a long one..but worth it I think..
Not unplugged in the way that rock bands do acoustic versions of their rock tunes.. unplugged in such a way that I "went off the grid".."exited the twittersphere"..."unplugged from the net"..."detached from the matrix"...
Lent at church presented some special challenges.. some changes to our weekly worship schedule, a Maundy Thursday drama service, daily noonday services during Holy Week, Easter Egg Hunt on the front lawn of the church, Running back and fourth to Conroe for family events, a youth Sunday service that had the first rehearsal on that Sunday morning (I don't like operating like that), the tension of my daughter doing a sermon that morning (which went very well), and then running to Stafford Tx to a dance competition after church and then turning around and coming back home to go to work the next day..
All very good, honorable, wholesome, healthy things to be a part of.. but between all of that and trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh for my Ex job and a special event week last week at work (while I was shorthanded a manager..and found out I was losing a full time clerk) I was a little physically and mentally drained..
Hannah had a dance competition scheduled this weekend. I was looking forward to watching my daughter's last dance competition and a chance to have some down time.. I knew I wouldn't be watching dancers all weekend so I'd get a break but I'd get to see my daughter dance one last time...
...then last Thursday I found out the dance competition was cancelled.. Hannah was bummed. I was bummed. I really wanted to watch her dance one last time... but no go..
Then I realized I had already put in to place everything I needed to leave town for the weekend. I had people lined up to cover worship Sunday morning, I had no plans at the house for the weekend. I decided it was time to take some kind of break.
Donna and I was not sure what to do but I did some searching around on the Internet and found out Gary P. Nunn was playing at Gruene Hall on Saturday night. For those of you who do not know who Gary is.. you're too young or don't listen to Texas country music or both but he's and old Austin (Tx) picker that we have a couple of his records and we had seen him a few times in our younger years (like 25 years younger) and we decided it would be fun to go dance country and Gruene Hall. Watch the youtube video on the bottom of his web page..maybe you've heard that song.. or London Homesick Blues (I wanna go home with the Armadillo) .. He also wrote The Last Thing I Needed (The First Thing This Morning) which was a big hit for Willie Nelson a ways back in the old days.. anyway...
I got a cheap hotel in New Braunfels on priceline.com and our plans were in motion..
We left Friday night right after work and headed to NB. I notified all my tweeps that I was going off the grid. We stopped in Caldwell, Tx at Sonic and seemed to have some communication issues with the young lady on the other end of the intercom..she was going to charge us like $30 bucks for $15 bucks worth of food.. then she wasn't sure if she brought me a regular coke or a diet.. grrr..
Anyway..we get on our way and make it to La Quinta in NB and the guy checking us in quotes us a price about $45 higher than what our room price was...besides we had already paid..but he asked for the card which I assume was for "incidental" items.. that happens often.. we let him know our room is supposed to be..well a lot less and so he says he'll take care of it..
We hit the sack and get some sleep.
I wake up for some stupid reason at 5:15 a.m. and find the hotel bill under my door.. it shows check out for Saturday..not good.. and it shows me charged and paid for a night in a room..I'm thinking we already paid for this so now I'm wide awake..
I try to go back to sleep but no luck so I got up and did my morning routine and went down to the front desk and got the key to the business center. I checked my on line banking info and there were 2 charges to my card from La Quinta in NB. One really big and one half that but still significant (more than you would expect for "incidentals") GRRRrrr.. I print the info and head to the desk.. they are bewildered and show that they have not charged me for anything and so I press a little more.. they assure me I'm not charged and those will come off my card. They give me the business card for the general manager and tell me to call if it does not come off in a few days.
I head back to the room and read some of my book for my licensed ministry class. The book is Soul Feast and so far has been a very good read..
Donna finally gets up and we decide to go get some breakfast at iHop.. yeah I know.. weak but we wanted no surprises for breakfast..
Well we get there and once again there is some kind of communication sphere surrounding us preventing those outside the sphere from comprehending us and us from comprehending those outside the sphere..
Some special on the board outside I want but then I find out not really.. I get something else and ask if I can substitute..no you can't because of the difference in the price of items.. Donna decides she wants the special instead of what she usually gets from Ihop ...then when she gets it the meal is not what she wanted.. oh well.. we didn't starve but we're beginning to wonder how this weekend is going to go..
We decide to head to Landa Park and take a hike on the Panther Canyon Nature Trail.
It was a great morning.. it was still very comfortable temp wise outside and I love the hill country and the rocky terrain and this was a beautiful walk and was very relaxing and was very good exercise as well.
We then headed to the San Marcos outlet malls and we picked up some great deals on some clothes for the kids and we found Donna some boots to scoot in too.
We headed back to the room and took a nap..
..then we got cleaned up and headed up to The Grist Mill in Gruene to eat dinner. I wasn't sure what to order but the waitress suggested the ribs...
Read the bottom of the card very carefully...
Oh my goodness... if you ever go you have to try them..they are fabulous!! Donna and I split a rack and it was plenty for the both of us and it was good...very good!!!
Then we're off to Gruene Hall...
They opened the gate at 8 and the music started at 9:00.
The opening band was Michael Shane Borden and The Diesel Kings.. they were great.. watch out for them... they play classic country music and they rock it too.
Donna and I danced a couple of songs to Michael's tunes and had a great time.. then around 10:00 Gary P started up.
....and he did not stop until 1:00 a.m. He played and played..he is so engaging with the crowd. He's like the house band guy that everyone knows and he knows everyone.. played happy birthday.. old school and Beatles style for a young lady..he let a guy get up on the stage and sing one of the songs.. and he played and sang and was just awesome. Donna and I danced and danced and wore ourselves out and had a huge time.. this was the kind of stuff we used to do a long time ago and I was re-engaging a part of my soul that had been dormant for a long time... I'm telling you I had a spiritual experience out there..
...here's a little video so you can get a feel of the place.. the audio sucks because of the conversations around me in the crowd but you can see what it's like there..
Dancing with my beloved wife and singing London Homesick blues at Gruene Hall with Gary P playing was just awesome.. a tear came to my eye.. no joke folks..
About midnight he said "well we were gonna take a break but then we saw how late it was so we just decided to play through to the end"... and he did...no breaks... 3 solid hours of classic Texas dance hall music.. wow..
We stayed to the end and Gary is just great with those who want to hang out and visit.. he gives each person such gracious and un-destracted attention you know he is interested in you and I'm guessing he's thankful you are there. I visited with him for a few minutes about how we had swapped hats right there at Gruene Hall way back in 82 and that Donna and I had danced to his music on Congress avenue at the Austin City Limits special they had out there a long time ago. I told him we had such a wonderful time and he beamed..I asked to take a picture and he jumped down off the stage and obliged..
Gary P. Nunn folks... buy his stuff.. go see him play.. there are not many folks like him. You can hear a lot of his music on his myspace . If you like Jerry Jeff Walker Gary P. is the reason JJ sounded as good as he did way back in the 70's . Gary was the head of the Lost Gonzo Band that backed Mr. Walker (Ronald Clyde Crosby is JJW's real name) back then..
Anyway.. we went back to the room beaming like a couple of kids. We found something we lost a long time ago and we know we've got to do this again soon...we've got to get friends plugged in to this.. it's such a great social time to have together..
We cleaned up (we were soaking with sweat) and crashed..
We got up.. Sunday morning about 11:00 and went to Ihop... Donna got her usual and I got a Colorado omelet.. and I was told I could substitute my pancakes for toast or hash browns if I wanted.. hmmm what was different??
Our orders were just as we wanted them and we had a great afternoon breakfast together.. then back to Lufkin..
I rubbernecked twitter but didn't post (except that one pic of the "Snake Farm"which I could not pass on...) I answered a few fb questions via my BB but I stayed pretty detached... I am now re-entering the twittersphere and the websphere on a low speed trajectory.. until Monday..
What a great weekend.. I love my wife and I love dancing with her and I love Texas country music!!! I found God in all that this weekend... I mean it. Thank you Lord for a wonderful experience..