Upside-down penguin!

CAUTION: This post includes an abundunce of adult beverage consumption and happy people in swim attire.

You (and I) met Shanda back in Florida just a few months ago.  Some of my favorite posts with her include First live album! Absorb some authentic Heritage and Grass-bottom dance floor. During one of our first encounters we vaguely spoke of traveling and by the time I was leaving the states, she was researching flights to meet me abroad!


She’s here, she’s here! What better place than on the magical island of Barbados! Picking her up at the airport provided an opportunity to bring back an inside joke of our classic Upside-down Penguin… meh, just go with it. 

 
“Ok Miss Shanda, you have exactly 12 hours to eat, sleep, suit up and be ready for a traditional Bajan boat cruise  to kick off Cropover!” No seriously… rest up.

I don’t feel the need to describe much of her first day visiting as the photos speak for themselves. Ready… set… lets go!

   
    
The bright smile next to me and Shanda below is a new friend visiting the island as well. Lily is on a similar gypsy journey touring the amazing Caribbean. You’ll definitely be seeing more of her!   

  

 Homemade Sangria!   

  

Not homemade Sangria…     

Check out the color of this water! (No color effects required)

  
    “Thought 50 life jackets and a ring would be enough to save me from a hangover, but…” says Ryan below.

  

  

  
Notice our custom mugs? Still supporting the one and only Heritage!
Dance, dance and more dancing!  Curious of the sounds coming through the speakers?  Here are a few songs that will give you an idea. Try Machel Montano – Happiest Man Alive or Farmer Nappy – Big People Party. Either that or simply search DJ Private Ryan and sample a soca music mix.  

  
 
What a proper welcoming for this sweet southern girl to experience the unique vibe of Barbados.

…it’s only just begun!
 

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Saltwater smiles

By now you should be familiar with WhatSUP Barbados, my favorite stand up paddle boarding company in all of Barbados and top rated by Tripadvisor!

   
On this day, he was scheduled for a group of energetic kids to rent the boards for a birthday party. Hold up. How cool is that? Where I grew up, it was roller skating, bowling or a pool party… but paddle boarding on the clear island sea? Yes please!  

   

  
This sassy (but very sweet) girl asked if my camera was water proof. I responded  with clueless confidence “Of course!” not realizing at that moment the very purpose of her question.  She was just being courteous enough to ask before splashing me.  Let the games begin!

  This is a live Conch that Ryan found to show the kids. Did you know, these queens are continuenly builing a larger shell around themselves as their body grows? On average it reaches 22 cm by 4 years old. Thanks Uncle Ryan for the fun facts, so cool!  

   
I purposly held it under water for the bottom photo to show you just how clear this water is!
 

Back to the paddling! Here are some random shots from the day. Happy kids, beautiful sun and salt water smiles! 

    
    
   

  What a rejuvenating, refreshing and a wonderful addition to the journey here in Barbados! 

  

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Happy as a cherry!

The cherry tree of Barbados produces a fruit that has the bragging rights of being extremly sweet, while containing heaps of nutrients with minimal calories. Malpighia emarginata is also known as Acerola, West Indian cherry and Wild crepe myrtle… yeh, I’ll stick with calling the Barbados Cherry.

Check this out, these little juicy delights pack in more vitamin C than an orange, sour cherry and blueberry combined! When measuring Vitamin C (based on weight), Oranges have 53 mg per 100 g. Barbados cherries sore with 1,678 mg! 

  

 I have the pleasure of staying with one of my longest known Bajan friends, Jason (you’ll meet him later). In his backyard is one of these hard to find Vitamin C power-house trees. Score! 

 Typically, we all just grab a few cherries within an arms stretch as we pass under, leaving the bottom fruitless and the mid to top overflowing. Wouldn’t you be tempted? Check out these gorgeous clusters of goodness! 

   

 Well, since I have an abundunce of energy and plenty of time, I felt driven to gather from greater heights. All I needed was a ladder… perfect! 
 The rest of the photos explain themselves.  Just a chipper girl in her happy place, collecting miniature bundles of sweet, red, juice filled bubbles of health. Ok, that all seems a bit much after writing it, but you get the picture.  I love this!
   

 Hi fella (or misses) I’m diggin your shell, keep on keepin on my friend!  

  Note to self and other cherry pickers: Palms up!  The ripe ones fall into your hands (or plummet to the ground if you’re not ready).   

  

Natures snack is soon to be served! I ended up putting these lovely delights next to some plain greek yogurt topped with self love, raw pumpkin seeds and pure gratitude. Again with the cheesiness, but I’m just feelin it today!

  

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Smell with your eyes open

Getting directions from a Bajan is similar to listening to someone explain a story in a different language or maybe like having a toddler tell you about their new toy. They know exactly what they are saying and look at you as if you should too.  “I’m speaking clearly, why don’t you understand”? Now looking back, his instructions made sense only if you’ve walked the path before or possibly were born and raised here. Oh well… off to the market we go!

Last year I can remember arriving around 9am and having slim pickins, so this time I’m on it bright and early.

“So go out the back gate and turn right”. (Back gate of the yard? the neighborhood, the round-about?) 
Since I didn’t see a gate in his yard (turns out there is one… oops), I walked out of the front door and headed in the direction he had pointed.  So far so good!  

  His street started to bend so I looked left and behold, a gate! I think. The rickety linked fence stared back at me with a locked, rusted, jagged prison gaurded resemblance. Hmmm… I don’t know about this.  Eh, lets go for it!

Side note, probably not the most brilliant idea to hop this trap wearing flowing pants during a windy island day. No need to worry, I survived.   

 “Follow de road”  Got it. “Walk till you see the fountain and turn left”. 
 Ok, easy enough (there was even a cute little arrow confirming for me). Step two, success! 

 

No thanks, I’ll keep walking. 

 
I’m not sure if it was the euphoric state of mind I developed while walking in silence or simply the view that was before me (probably a combination of both), but at this moment, all was in alignment. This is a small piece of what I believe people mean when they suggest to “stop and smell the roses”.  

Getting to the market was my goal, but this… this was just as magical. 

 
Back to the directions.  “Once you get to the golf course, don’t follow the road, take the pedestrian path over the hill”. Well this looks very “pedestrian” welcome.  Not much of a hill as I was expecting, but off the main road is what he said, so here I go! 

 
He didn’t mention a split in the path.  Uh-oh.   

 
As I continued along the foot path, things just weren’t feeling right. So what do I do?  Keep walking. 

  

Not looking good my friends…  
A sign! Can you see it?  If that says “Hope st.”, I’m on the right track!  

 
Wrong. I now have the confidence that I shouldn’t have confidence in my current route. I did a 180 degree turn and headed back towards the main road. As I approached the first split, my eyes zoomed in on the hill” he must of been speaking of. Yep, according to my burning thighs, this was definitley more of an incline than the golf course! 

 
Here’s a quick shot of the view once I reached the top.  

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses with your eyes open? 

 
It may not seem like I’ve been gone for long, but I should have been to market by now. Early bird gets the worm… or in this case, early girl gets to pick the best veggies before they’re gone!

Although I don’t mind  getting a bit turned around (in fact most of the time, I love it!) today I was eager to be there on time for the broad selection of organic tropical goodies! Awh, look at this. Help was literally parked at the top of the hill. Thank you Universe! 

These two kind gentlmen not only helped me along the way, but drove me a stretch in order to show me the next turn on my journey! If you look at the bottom photo, you can see that he stood and watched until I was on the clear path.  Angels. 

 
Once I stepped foot on the broken dirt path, things started to look familiar. What’s this? I’m finally here! 

  
With fingers crossed, I held my breath rounding the corner like it was the first day of school and I was the last one to class. Am I too late? Did I miss out on the very thing I came for? 

 
Turns out everone was on Bajan time this morning which means,”It’ll start when we’re ready”.  All righty, so my hour late arrival was actually an hour too soon. Lovin the island vibe! What to do while I watch everyone set up their booth… have a seat at the cafe and absorb it all! 

 
SIDE NOTE: The currency is about half the dollar, so the iced coffee below would be around $4 USD.

  
Slowly but surely, stands arose and the market was in full swing!  You may recognize some of the produts and people if you’ve been following years past. The Holders Market was a part of the post, The rest of Barbados in a coconut shell!    

   
    
 Can you feel me smiling yet?! The music fired up as I headed on my way back home. 
 
The walk back was just as entertaining as the adventure to get there.  Easier on the mind, but not so much on the body.  Who knew after years of breaking them in, blisters would appear from my favorite sandals! I got these beauty’s in Vietnam from the post Lady lady, where you from? Good thing I love to feel the earth under my feet!

 
Look who it is! Greeted with a smile, I walked over to give them the requested update on my Holders experience.  I couldn’t tell if the smirks I was receiving were from a joyful reconnection, or simply being entertained by this crazy girl! Either way, they didn’t hesitate for a photo and certainly didn’t decline my offer of toasted coconut chips that I had brought from the market.

 

I’ll leave you with my final stretch in which I came across a little cheeky friend.  Tourists think they’re cute (because they are) and locals think they’re theives (because they are).

   

   

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Body talk… are you listening?

There’s a health fair that’s made a beginning here in Barbados and I’m so thankful to have been here for it! Introducing natural products that many have known for centuries and are bringing to light for the general public.  From homemade soaps to herbs and teas, there was an abundunce of goodies to look through.   

    
What glorious health-promoting event would be complete without a yoga demonstration by experienced, radiant instructers?  What I didn’t capture was this lovely lady in a superwoman position propped up on the bare feet of another amazing yogi. Stimulating stuff for sure!

  
 I was impressed with the variety of body work represented.  Soul healing, basic massage, acupressure, Reiki, chinese medicine… and that’s just to name a few!   

     

As I walked home from this small event, I had the conscious thought of massive gratitude… being exactly where I needed to be at that very moment in time.  New friends that I was supposed to encounter, rejuvenating energy that I was in much need of and a bit more fuel for my fire of open minded experiences. 

 
Favorite sight of the day?  Naturally…  

 
Tomorrow will be my favorite place to get local fruit, veggies, snacks and smiles.  Off to the Holders Market with hopes to see the same vendors in years past!

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What’SUP Barbados?!

I’ve given the final hugs for this round in Oklahoma before the 26 hour journey to my next destintion. 26 hours you may wonder? This my friends, is how I’m able to save a solid amount on flights. The ticket I chose was nearly half the price of the “easier” route because I was willing to sleep in an airport.  Someday, I’m sure I won’t be so willing, but for now… bring it on! 

   
Thank you mom for the towel (dubbed napkin/head wrap/table cloth/seat cover/fruit container/camera protector/bandaid/glove/dishrag).  I love the quote and tonight it will be used as my clean pillow case as I attempt to rest on the airport floor. FYI: there are chairs and benches, but I offerred the one I was using to a family with little tikes.  Pay it forward, right?  It all comes back around. 

 
Breakfast of champions? Ummm, sure. Oats (thank you Lacie!) with some honey that I permanently borrowed from a coffee shop. 

Another hint for less expensive travel: Try to limit your… no… just avoid airport food as a whole! No exaggeration – a water bottle, sand-which with a whole piece of fruit, $17usd! That’s not even including additional treats or coffee. Pack some snacks and use the water fountains to refill your drink.  Funny how we get excited to save a handful of cash for a cheaper flight, yet spend more than we saved by not preparing for the journey. Go figure.

 
Final flight and now it has hit me like being a senior on the last day of highschool or maybe like a bride on the morning of her wedding (I wouldn’t know haha). Well shoots, probably more like a backpacker that has just arrived to her island-home away from home!

 
My dearest Barbados, I have often craved the sound of your native accent when the locals are joking with one another. I’ve longed for your sunsets that just seem brighter in the Barbadian sky. I’ve been let down abroad desperatly trying a variety of Roti’s, knowing that nothing will compare to a Trini Roti in Barbados (although I might reevaluate that once I have a Trini Roti in Trinidad!) and Doubles… nobody has ever heard of them!  Oh how I love to devour a Channa Double! 

The people who make Barbados what it is, are definitely one of a kind. Genuine is a word that comes to mind when describing a Bajan.  Some are spicy, many are sweet. Sober faced with smiling eyes and a bit feisty if necessary (and sometimes even when it’s not). Whatever personality each one holds… they are genuine to it.  Nothing to hide, no shame, they are who they are. And if you don’t like it, that’s all right with them… 

Just  “guh-long ’bout yuh bizness! (to be said like a proper Bajan).

For more Bajan slang and some not so well known facts, please be entertained by clicking here!

 
 
Now that I’m finally here, I’ve chosen to start not with a Roti or Soca party, not even a rum punch or Banks beer… but a sunset paddle with friends. I’ll go into description of these wonderful comrades later, as for now I just want the pictures to do the writing.

A perfect welcoming to a magical place.   

    
 

   

   

   
  

When we got back, everyone was trying their yoga stands so naturally I joined in!  Turns out a floating device on water doesn’t make for a very stable handstand surface.  Kudos to Ryan for catching the shot right before I bailed! Try, try, try again! 
    
What’SUP Barbados is a standup paddleboarding experience that should be on your “must do list” next time you’re on the island. If you desire an experience that works the body, relaxes the mind and rejuvenates the soul, please contact my amazing friend owner/operator, Ryan Rodriguez – Phone: 1(246) 243-7878.  I’m sure he’d get a kick out of a name drop too… mention herhappytrials to get an extra smile!
 

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Can chickens smell a chicken?

My father is an exceptional plasterer. I suppose he should be since he’s been doing it from his teen years. Even though experience says a lot, there’s a reason he’s still requested for work after 40 years of building a reputation. I explain this because we just found out he was hired to do a job in New Mexico. So with a short notice (and super-woman for a wife) his entire family was packed, kitchen and all, to hit the road for an extended out of state stay.    
As I say good-bye, they’re explaining the chores that I had offered (silly me) to take care of. Just two pups, a few feathered animals and a garden. Couldn’t be that hard… right? Ha. Ha. Ha.

The first day wasn’t to bad as it was mainly just checking things out. Food, check. Water, check. Pick the garden and walk the dogs… check, check! 

Ticks: Small arachnids (that I have a hard time finding a reason for their existence) that live off of the blood from mammals, birds, humans… pretty much anything that bleeds. I got my first after day one, so here’s my attire for future chores. 

 Day two: I remembered my cell phone today because yesterday I had left it at my Grams’s. Her mindful thoughts brought her all the way out to make sure the length of time I had been gone wasn’t due to any mishaps. (This is necessary for a story below).

First up, I fed the pups after a long walk up their country dirt road. Meet Shadow, the black dog that just appeared into the family’s yard one day and Captain, the lovable beagle my sister waited patiently to get.
   
 The 4 legged kids are fed and happy, so now it’s on to the feathered friends. Check for eggs and make sure the feed and water is full. Easy enough…

This is the view of the main chicken yard.

 I opened the wooden door to reach for the feed and walked in with confidence, chickens can smell a chicken right? Why I get goosy when a rooster heads for me, I have no idea. When I entered, like always, I lightly pulled the door behind me. Click click. It shut.. and locked. No big deal as I turned to look for the pull string that would release it from the inside. Non-existent. So there I was, trapped in a chicken coop on a hot sticky Oklahoma afternoon.    

  MacGyver time! Feathers? Too weak.   

  This metal device? Too angular.  

A stick! Too large.  

 I could crawl through the… nope. Turns out the chicken door is smaller than the doggy door I’ve had to climb through (don’t ask).

 After a solid 15 minutes of sincere efforts to make an exit, I finally decided to call upon my grandma to come let me out. Call her with the phone that I left sitting on the truck! Can you see it?! 

 Great, she won’t be heading this way anytime soon since yesterday she did for no reason. Especially after this mornings joke of “I’m bringing my phone this time so you don’t have to worry”!

After debating on kicking in the door or just waiting for anyone to come over, I glanced down and saw my last hope. Success!   

Since I made the great escape with time to spare, I made my way to the garden for an afternoon playing in dirt. Corn, okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, 3 types of peppers and one happy camper! 

 
  I learned quickly to make sure I ate before picking veggies. 2 tomatoes in the basket and one in my belly. An okra for home and one for now (yes, I even like them raw!). Have you ever enjoyed the sweet taste of yellow sun-kissed corn right from the stalk while standing waste deep in the garden? Me neither.  
Side note: If there are no chemicals that would harm these guys, there’s no chemicals to harm you. Hooray for organic gardening! 

 Even this mini crawler made it all the way home. “No worries little fella, I don’t blame ya… I’d live in the garden too if I was your size!” 

  

3 things I learned about myself while taking care of my family’s property:

1. I jump just as high if a monkey were to jump on my back or if a grasshoper leaps to a leaf in front of me.

2. I don’t want to live anywhere that ticks do.

3. When I grow up and have my own place… there will be a garden.

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You know you’re a country kid when…

Weather in Oklahoma brings thunder storms, blistering sun with random flash flooding… and that’s just in July! On sunny days you can usually find the kids anywhere there’s water. Wouldn’t you with a heat index of 108?! On this bright afternoon I found my two littlest sisters playing swimming games with our cousin Tonya (the dark haired cutie). Rachel, the youngest, was most keen on jumping the highest while Sarah and Tonya were convinced that talking to each other under water was the coolest thing ever!  

  

   You know you’re a country kid when: A- you’re swimming in a feeding trough and B- you have to block your pet turkey from joining you!

  

The boys? Some days you’d catch them mowing lawns as a summer money-maker or out on the job with dad getting covered in stucco. If the weather permits, more than likely you would lose sight of them to a pond full of fish that “needs to be caught”. 

These are called Catalpa worms. Aparently you can freeze them until needed, then hook up and throw your line out. I’m not necessarily a fan of any hooking or throwing, however I don’t mind a fish dinner and I love spending time with my bro, so here we go!

   
  

  
 
A hot summer visit to my Grams’s house wouldn’t be complete without some solid work in the yard.   

  
Because I respect my grandma (and value my camera and want to keep my life), I won’t be posting any photos of her push-mowing the lawn. Just know that my 80 year old hero maintains the energy of a woman just a portion of her age while doing laps around her great grandkids. 

Fun fact: She just became a great-great-GREAT Grandma! Here’s a pic of our newest member Asher. Congratulations Dutch and Lauren! 

 When the sun chooses to let the clouds roll by and the streets begin to flood, we tend to find ourselves indoors with games, arts and crafts!  
   
 We usually choose old fashioned coloring books (not a coloring app on your tech device) and games like Hungry Hungry Hippos (calling all kids from the 80’s and 90’s) to rounds of Phase-10 and Skipbo! On this rainy afternoon we decided to color some rocks. 
  
To you, this is a photo of a cute family (if I don’t say so myself). To me, these are precious moments in time that can almost bring a tear to my eye when I allow myself to indulge in the love that I have for these kids.

 Joseph, Ben (Dalton), Hannah, Sarah, Rachel and never forgotten Elizabeth… I love you.   You’ve seen them in posts since the beginning of my travels and oh my how they’ve grown!  

 
 

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All American Holiday – part 2

In the previous post, Fish fry and fireworks, we saw an example of what some choose to do when celebrating Independence Day of the USA. Now lets move on to two more common ways that people spend the 4th of July.

Camping! This term is used loosley as there are many different types.  There’s vacationing in a cabin with running water, bedrooms, toilets and well… a solid roof. Then you’ve got the hardcore backpackers that make a path into the wilderness and chop up their wood to ignite a fire. The single flame that will provide heat to cook with and warmth to nestle next to while curled in their sleeping bags.

The average idea of camping involves tents, picnic tables and make shift kitchenettes. This year, my cousins took the middle ground and invited me to join them at Keystone Lake!   

 
If momma bear in the photo below looks familiar, that’s because you saw her with “little bear” in her belly in the post When it rains, it freezes.  Now look at the whole family!

   
  
Even though I didn’t stay long (due to my connecting event described below), we still made time for a handstand shot! Joining me this time is Reggie, my pretend boss on the job seen in Time to work hard(ish)! 

 
It’s business time (hooray for travel funds)! I brushed the dust from my hair, put on mascara, through some peppermint oil on and away I went! Only 30 miles up the highway, I was clocking in to work. Nailed it!

Instead of representing Ford at the Vans Warped Tour, I’m now the proud ambassader for Chevrolet at a local baseball game! Remember the Drillers?  The team I spoke of in the post Tulsa, more than just the Drillers… I’m now working the tent inside the game for this wonderful holiday celebration! Ironic?

Welcome to the Oneok Stadium in Tulsa Oklahoma.

   
   
Our position today is inviting the guests to sign up for a chance to win 2 dugout seats with $25 Driller dollars. Just by entering they get a complimentary Chevy tote bag.

   
 Naturally Chevy provided a few eye catching vehicles to draw the attention of the baseball fans strolling by.

   
   
You can imagine since it’s “USA’s birthday” most of the people came dressed in red, white and blue and/or some representation of the American flag. 

  
Everybody rise for our National Anthem…

  
Play ball!

   
 Here we go again with the scorching Oklahoma heat. Luckily there was quite a bit of shade offered, however if you asked any of the kids, they’d rather be dripping wet on the sunnyside!

  
Hungry? Sporting events have expanded their food options from the good ol’ peanuts and cotton candy days. Now, along with your typical bites, you can choose from an abundance of snacks.

   
 Side tracked with a random shot! Your eyes see correctly… that’s a Uhaul truck rotating on top of the roof. Advertisement well done!

  
Time for a walk around the ballpark to see if we can gather a few more surveys and get rid of these handy bags! 

 Who’s this?! Only Ryan from the post Tulsa, more than just the Drillers. He’s the one who was next to me when I first heard of the ever so popular Drillers! And CJ? His adorable girlfriend you met when I made it back safely shown in 1,000 miles in 24 hours.

  

As night fell, you could certainly feel the energy changing. The game was coming to an end which meant fireworks were soon on the way! Check out this photo with Tulsa in the back drop. 

   
 Show time! 

  
As I scurried out of the stadium, this sight caught my eye. Although the photo doesn’t show them well, several families and friends gathered outside to observe the colorful sky. Good night Tulsa and Happy Birthday America!

  

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Fish fry and fireworks!

One of my goals with this (unofficial) officially quirky blog is to show you a variety of views in regards to culture, traditions and everyday differences around this beautiful planet. In the next few posts, you’ll see several options in which Americans celebrate their Independence Day, better known as “The 4th of July”.

I’ll start with a quick flashback from years prior. In the 2012 post, 4th of July in the USA I was in Folsom California for a cattle drive followed by a house boat trip with some long time friends. 2013 found me returning to that familiar floating home-of-fun with the same amazing group seen in Jumbled July Shenanigans in California.
Last year I decided to celebrate on the other side of the nation with my mom, seen in 4th of July Santa Rosa Beach Style.

This round brings me to Oklahoma with 3 different ways that “folks around these parts” (to be said with a southern accent) celebrate North America’s anniversary of freedom.

Option 1: The backyard barbeque -AKA- block party, neighborhood social, shindig, friendly feast, cookout, potluck, USA’s birthday party, fish fry, weinie roast, BBQ, grass gather, barefoot dinner, Okie banquet or picnic.

This specific event is an annual barbeque held on the property of the local sherif (yes, this cute little town of Agra knows the name of both cops). With food, drinks, waterslides, a trampoline and fireworks… it’s surely a local favorite! 
 

Lets take a quick walk.  The following photos speak for themselves.  I’ll start with my personal favorite, a country kid with an innocent glare piercing the camera.  I couldn’t of set it up any better. 

     Considering the amount of entertainment provided, this family affair leaves the adults time for enjoying some catch up conversations while encouraging the kids to completely exhaust themselves. 

     With temperatures creeping near 100 degrees (about  37 celsius), a monster waterslide measuring in at 30 x 60 feet (9 x 18 meters) was the main attraction.  Sign me up!

   

A close runner up would be the kiddy pools, or “the bathtub” according to the little girl covered in mud. 

    

Hungry? You’re welcome to the fried fish, pork shoulder, beans, rice, potato salad, fried bread, macaroni salad and more of what most consider southern food. I’ll admit that I did not partake in the “grub” shared by the hospitable hosts, however the line shows that many were eager to fill their bellies!  

       Once the buffet was set and ready, they called attention to the crowd for a blessing of the food and a come and get it holler. The kind eyes pictured below belong to Patty, the woman behind the preparations.

 Here’s a sample plate from my cousin Eric (aka “Dude”). 

 Talk about country style cookin, welcome to the crawfish boil! Yep, they drop corn and potatoes with pounds of crawdads into boiling water and viola! Supper is served. Everyone dip up a plate?  Hardly. Gather around the table and dig in!

   
 

As night crept up, the chairs began to form a horseshoe shape around the soon-to-be firework show. A quick hello to friends Tyler and Austin before the flames begin. Sparklers and Picalo Petes? No way, this colorful display is going sky high!  

    

 

That wraps up the first event of this holiday weekend.  Next up, a baseball game and camping lakeside…
 
  

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