The trip to Dallas to pick up our new Casita went well. We stopped in Clarendon and had lunch with Brianna and Quenten which turned out to be a good thing as they ended up moving (to Claremore...what's next? "Clareless"? "Clarefree"? "Clare-by-the-sea"?) the week I was at Winfield. We picked up the camper- another undramatic event, except that I had a blown fuse which was promptly fixed at the factory- and headed north to my half-sister's place near Pilot Point, TX. I'd asked for all kinds of advice for traveling through Dallas and we ended up taking 45 to 75 to 380. That was a good route but I have to say, north Dallas was the worst part of the whole trip! Lots of traffic, lots of construction, fast drivers. However, it still all went without event and we even managed to stop at the Cabela's in Allen, TX.
|The Motherlode of Egg Campers|
|Checking out floor models while waiting|
|Getting together for the first time.|
|Out in the lot, ready to roll!|
We'd stopped at Cabela's in Fort Worth on the way in and were disappointed. The place was full of screaming kids, merchandise was on the floor, and we just didn't find anything we wanted. Plus, we only had an hour before they closed and when they close at 7 pm, that means they empty the floor at 6:30 pm. The Cabela's in Allen TX was a lot better to us. The former is 250,000 sq ft and the latter "only" 100,000 sq ft, but the Allen store was cleaner, neater, and.... better. Maybe it helped that it was Monday morning and not Sunday afternoon. We scored all kinds of stuff on our list including a Benjamin Titan NP air rifle with a slightly cracked stock for less than 1/2 price. Derek's been wanting one of these for ages but I didn't want to spend $160 on one. This one was marked to $80 and we put it in the basket along with a pair of camo overalls for $20. We found a lot of things and the stop here was well worth our time. We also managed a stop at In 'n Out Burger but, honestly... it was just okay. I like Five Guys' fries better.
|Cabela's in Allen TX|
After that, it was to my sister's place, whom I haven't seen in 12 years or so, although we talk on Facebook. Her and her husband train, raise, and sell horses and we had a fun, although way too short visit. Derek and I slept in the Casita for the first time and started figuring things out.
|Derek, Bryan, and Ky after a successful meal|
We took off at first light for Winfield and stopped at Bass Pro in OKC on the way. Prior to this trip, I'd bought a Garmin GPS and, while I'm good with maps, this proved to be a useful purchase for navigating big cities. The main thing is that it warns you of upcoming exits and you get a little picture of what the exit looks like. Armed and empowered with this technology, we navigated into Bass Pro where we spent more money!
|Bass Pro in OKC|
And then, on to Winfield! Our GPS was pretty helpful here. I'd never come to Winfield from the south and didn't realize that I-35 turns in a toll road. So, we bailed an exit early and the GPS helpfully suggested a road that ran straight to the road I wanted. Finally, around 2 pm, we parked the Casita and breathed a big sigh.
One of my antelope hunters had given Derek a really nice fly-tying kit and I knew there plenty of experienced fly-ty'ers in our camp.
|Coy and Derek tying flies|
|Proulxs and Donohues|
|The Casita. Camping.|
|The Famous John Beaver|
|Dugas and Moe|
|"Are you SURE you want to learn to play banjo?"|
|The evening flight of turkey vultures coming to roost|
Winfield was fun. I didn't place in either contest and there was no question about that. I did better in the mandolin contest than I did guitar and got a lot of nice comments. One of the most appreciated was when Steve Kaufman- the original and for a long time only 3-time winner of the guitar contest- came over, pointed his breakfast banana at me and said "You played great in the mandolin contest! Smooth, clean, interesting... that was good!"
|Advice from Steve before the contest|
Wanna hear my contest tune? Video!
I drew next to last in the guitar contest and that gave me about 2.5 hours to listen to the other guys, get tense, and think about what I should've done. I played pretty good, but my arrangements and execution, honestly, are not up to Winfield standards. But I paid attention and brought some lessons home. This year was tough. Of the 5 finalists, 4 were previous winners. And at least 3 previous winners did not make the cut, as well as a few professional musicians there to try their hand at the contest. So, it was no dishonor to not make it. I think I could've played better and done more, though. Next year, maybe I will.
|Here comes that train!|
|Warming up for the guitar contest|
|I didn't play well, but here I am.|
|Derek slept well.|
That was Winfield. It was a fun but tiring week and we drove 1400 miles round trip. On the way home, I decided that 2015 would be my last year. Next year, I'm going elk bowhunting or fishing or whatever. It's getting really hard to hear in noisy environments and I had a hard time participating in anything other than very small group conversations. So, I'm done. Of course, when I got home, I started learning new tunes and practicing. Maybe I'll go but just not say anything.
This is long enough. Next time, I'll talk about cattle shipping and the End of The Year. Maybe I'll even have a photo of me opening a box of the Revised and Updated 2nd Edition of "Falconry Equipment". We'll see.