Day 197, Wed, Nov 13 – The kids and I took a field trip to the Texas Motor Speedway. I must be honest and say that none of us follow racing to any degree, so we really didn’t know what to expect. But just seeing this speedway from a distance was mind-boggling. It is huge! Once we found the tour building, we jumped in a van with the tour guide, and he proceeded to fill tremendous details. For instance, there are 1000-3000 sq ft condos at the second turn of the track, and the prices range from $300,000 to $900,000. The Texas Motor Speedway is the only track owned by Bruton Smith that he built from scratch (was not already in existence). The speedway is in the process of getting the Big Hoss TV screen, which will be 79% bigger than the screen at the Cowboys stadium, so it will be nearly as large at the condo building that is next to its spot! In the center of the track are RV hookups, repair bays, a care center with a helipad (and 5 doctors and 7 nurses on call during races), the only Sunoco fuel station in the state of Texas, and Fuzzy’s Taco shop, which is the only food on site (all concessions are outside of the seating area). There are 45 pit stop areas, which are between the light poles (see pictures). In the stands, the red seating is roughly ground level prior to the removal of I can’t recall how many cubic tons of dirt so that the track is out of the wind as much as possible. Behind the stadium seating, there are 194 catered suites seating 64 in each. There are two dirt tracks next to the main track, one of which the Bandero cars race. Generally the tour guide will take the van out on the track so the tourists can get a feel for the 24 degree angle in the turns, but the track was being used by Team Texas on the day of our tour. However, because of this we got to watch several cars make their way around the track, and the tour guide explained to us where the cars need to be in the lanes during the straights and the turns. We learned quite a bit and had a great time. I highly recommend such a tour to everyone.
Day 199, Fri, Nov 15 – The kids and I joined the NICHE homeschool group for a tour of the Dallas Museum of Biblical Arts. Most of the tour was spent discussing just a few rooms of art, so the museum provided us with tickets for free admission later, although I don’t know that we’ll get the chance to use them (though I would certainly go back!). We spent nearly an hour discussing Tapestry of the Centuries, a 9×18 foot canvas painted by Vladimir Gorsky which comprises the people and events that shaped world history from the birth of Jesus Christ through 1999 AD, just prior to Y2K. The kids also participated in a scavenger hunt in a room that included The Resurrection Mural by Ron DiCianni, which depicts the moment Christ walked out of the tomb after conquering death. We also enjoyed a quick run through the Bible collection, which was quite extensive, and included original printings of the original 1611 King James Version, all of which were slightly different in content. I was able to view and read about the “wicked” Bible, which was printed in 1631 and included a terrible error: The 6th commandment reads “Thou shall commit adultery.” This mistake eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the printer. There was other incredible art with plenty of great stories. It was a great field trip.
Day 201 – Jacin was supposed to land in Dallas from Denver at roughly 11:40 pm, but his plane was an hour late, so he officially landed today, Sunday morning. So we got to bed pretty late, then up fairly early to hit our last church service. Justice’s youth group had recorded a good-bye video that they presented in worship, and her life group had a good-by party. We will all greatly miss Irving Bible Church. It is a God-fearing, bible believing church with authentic people who do great things for the community. After church, the boys dropped Justice and I off at the Grapevine Mills Outlet Mall, where we spent the rest of the day trying on much and finding little, but just enjoying some girl time as a way to celebrate her upcoming 14th birthday. We also picked up the recent IronWorks magazine which features my sister, Jessi Combs, on the cover as well as a great article inside.
Day 202, Monday, Nov 18 – I worked a bit and we took our time getting packed and heading out of Dallas. We were originally going to leave first thing so we could make it to Grand Isle in one day, but rather than be in a hurry, we did some last-minute running and said our good-byes to our friends in the RV park. We drove until dark, making it to a Louisiana Welcome Center near Alexandria, where we stayed for the night as the tail lights on the pickup were pitching a fit.
Day 203, Tuesday, November 19 – We woke up and had a quick celebration for Justice on her official birthday. Nation had bought her an old-fashioned fountain pen, and I had picked her up some little things we found together during our mall trip. Then we hit the road, and we made it back to Grand Isle! It took us a while to get settled in the RV Park, after which we were “bombarded” by neighborly love from everyone else who is staying here, and officially invited to our first “family” dinner of boiled shrimp (and everything else you throw in the pot for flavor: potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, spices, etc). I had work to do so made my way back to the RV, but the boys visited for quite a while with our new neighbors. It was so refreshing to sleep in a quiet town with no traffic noise. We are so thrilled to be back!
Day 204 – Jacin set his alarm for 6:00 so we could catch the sunrise on the beach and run together (yes, really, this was his idea). So we were up early with 68 degree temps and enjoyed a nice jog on the beach. The weather showed that today might be our last sunny day for a while, so after getting ready for the day, we played hooky and explored the beach and checked out the nearby communities today. It was sunny but windy, but we had a great time together. We also spent some time checking out the library and we got an official Grand Isle Public Library card. Justice has been reading through books too quickly not to take advantage of this great resource, and we are thrilled that it is here.
Day 205 – Jacin and I went running again. We enjoy the time together first thing in the morning. The kids jumped back into schoolwork, though it will be a light load today and tomorrow rather than jumping into a new full week of lessons now. Jacin cleaned the roof of the RV and fixed some plumbing, then after school work was complete, we took the kids to the park for P.E., where we dinked around on the equipment (I was scoping it out for workout possibilities). Then we walked down the road and found some abandoned rope swings. Jacin and I showed the kids how to climb ropes, then Justice got brave and decided to climb on an (old) elevated platform so she could get to a higher rope. Suddenly, we heard a crash, but when we turned to look, Justice was not there! She had fallen through and hurt her ankle, so we headed back to the RV to rest a bit. We had a fairly quiet rest of the day. We finished the evening by watching a great old movie, “Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines.”
Day 206, Fri, Nov 22 – Jacin was too sore to run far today (we did a few sprint drills on Wed that are catching up with him, along with the pullups and other things he tried at the park yesterday 😦 ), so we took a nice long walk on the beach this morning. After schoolwork, we hit the library again, this time being allowed an unlimited supply after returning our first three checked items, so we stored up for the weekend on books and a few movies. The library is nice and small, which allows justice to really pick through the books and decide what she thinks will be a good read, rather than just guessing with an overwhelming selection. We then stopped by a local welder’s house to have him fix a broken fender bracket from the RV (which didn’t hold up when Jacin tried installing it later). Then we headed to Elmer Island for an afternoon of beach fun. Elmer Island is just up the road from Grand Isle, and is only open on Fri, Sat, and Sun each week. It is the only local beach that can be driven on, so we took advantage of that and really checked out the beach. When we got to the end, there were a few people fishing, so we let Nation have a go at it. I collected seed pods that were strewn about the sand, Justice walked the beach looking for treasures, and Jacin had fun catching hermit crabs. It was 75 degrees outside, warm enough that we were all rolling our pants up as high as they would go and doing the same with our sleeves. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and we are so blessed to be spending time at the beach this time of year, when the temperatures at home are so terribly cold. This is truly a dream come true! Nation and Jacin ate fried fish and clams with the neighbors, and Justice and I had homemade chicken noodle soup.
Day 207 – Jacin talked to some neighbors inquiring about work on the island, and it sounds like he may have something lined up in a few weeks. Then the boys headed back to Elmer Island to fish while Justice and I stayed back to read and work. The boys watched as several men brought in some HUGE redfish as well as a couple of sharks, and Nation got to hold one! Then, they invited Nation to take over their pole and catch a fish. He brought in two 3-foot long red fish, with great effort, and the men let him keep them. The boys brought the fish home to clean, which was quite an experience. These fish have scales like armor, and cutting through them sounds like cutting through thin rock (like mica schist). Lanny, the RV Park owner, showed Jacin how to get to the meat and what to discard. I am on a gut-healing journey, so I asked Jacin to save me a carcass to cook into broth. Well, the head alone filled the biggest pot I had, but I was able to sneak in a few fins and some carcasses of smaller fish caught by Lanny. While the fish broth was cooking, Jacin took both kids back to Elmer Island in hopes of holding more sharks and having more adventures. However, the wind had come up and the fishing fun was over. When the family returned, they were welcomed home by the inviting smell of boiling fish heads (which I will NOT do again inside the RV!!!). We spent the next several hour trying to air out the house, everyone bundled up in clothes so we could keep the windows open and the fans running. Live and learn, right?
Day 208, Sunday – We had a nice quinoa pancake breakfast, then everyone got ready for church. We headed to the First Methodist church just a few blocks away, and it literally took us one minute to get there. There were less than 20 people in attendance, and the pastor preaches a sermon in a church up north along the bayou, so the congregants start the worship without him, and when he arrives, he takes over. It was a good service, and we are hoping to get the kids involved in the Wednesday night youth programs, although they won’t be meeting this week due to the holiday. Hopefully the kids will have a chance to meet others their age before the next youth activity. After church, Jacin and I headed up the road 35 miles to Walmart to stock up on things that we can’t get locally (which for restricted diets turns out to be quite a bit). Stocking up with limited RV storage is a bit challenging, so it will be interesting to see how long we make this trip last.