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Texas Hill Country & Storm-Chasing

Part 10:  Weekend at Wichita Falls

Had a nice, uneventful drive up to Wichita Falls (except I ate too much at the Dairy Queen—those Moolattes are hard to pass up...).  It's starting to remind me more of Michigan with Robins and Bluejays on the way up!  Found the Fairfield Inn fine and checked in with childhood buddy Karen Newman; I opted out of her son Clay’s ballgame but we agreed to meet for breakfast at the IHOP the next morning. Clay joined us there as well, and it was a great reunion (I can’t believe how big those guys have gotten)! We probably bored poor Clay to death talking about middle-age maladies!  After that we all headed over to their house, as she insisted I do my laundry over there, which was fine, because it gave us time to chat and catch up.

               

Jip in front of the Newman household, along with another hapless Orange Sulphur that Jip ate...

After laundry and a quick visit from the plumber, Karen took me on a tour of Wichita Falls, where we saw the actual "falls" (which is really a man-made replica; still pretty, though…), then visited several parks, including Lucy Park and Lake Wichita. She then showed me a nature center that had a butterfly garden, and it just so happened that the place was open (usually it’s closed except for special events), and they even let us into the brand new butterfly conservatory that wasn’t supposed to open to the public for another week! So that was a great honor, and it was a great place that Karen, being a teacher, vowed to bring her classes to: they were in the process of "growing" butterflies, and some were even in the process of emerging! They also had very life-like models of local animal life.

                  

Childhood buddy Karen Newman poses at the top of the Wichita Falls that gave the city its name… (actually, it’s a man-made replica of the original falls)

      

Sidewalk leading to the Nature Center; it wasn’t supposed to open for another week, but the guys in charge gave us a sneak peek!

    

No, that’s not a real night heron...

     

The plan is to "raise" several hundred butterflies; here a Sleepy Orange is emerging from its chrysalis (adult at right)!

         

This Buckeye has a spectacular pattern above, but can you find him in the leaf litter once he closes his wings?

 

Karen poses near the exit

     

 Variegated Fritillary outside the Nature Center

     

Scenes at Lucy Park

        

Reed beds at Lake Wichita

                                 

Reakirt's Blue and Eastern Cottontail

After that I treated her to her birthday lunch/dinner at Logan’s Steakhouse, and that was great! The afternoon was spent watching The Queen, which I thought was fabulous!  That evening we all went out for some wonderful ice cream, but my acid reflux didn’t like that at all (and Karen said that was typical for dairy and fat…)

Karen had been fighting The Crud/allergies for at least a week and felt miserable the next morning, so I went ahead to their church (Faith Baptist, which interestingly would have been the church I would have attended had I been there on my own anyway, seeing as it was right down the street from the hotel), and it was great!  (Click here if you'd like to read my notes on the Sunday school lesson and sermon...) 

Since I had worn jeans and sneakers to church (I couldn’t find my knee-highs), I went straight to Karen’s afterwards, where we chatted some more and then headed over to their mega-market for some meds and lunch. We ate at home, then headed over to Fran’s (her mom); she’s just as spunky as ever, and while we chatted about the End Times Karen zonked out (she had taken some Benadryl) and I got my doggie fix loving Nikki! J

   

Karen and her mom Fran outside the latter’s house, along with Fran’s "baby", Nikki

Later Robert wheeled in from Abilene where he had been taking care of some family business, and it was amazing how much David looks like him! Clay had another commitment, so he couldn't join us (too bad, as I never got a picture of him L).  Fran wanted to treat us all to dinner, so we went to their favorite Chinese buffet (I was still full from lunch, but that didn’t stop me… L). After that we said our goodbyes and I went back to the motel to catch up and prepare for the next day.

   

L-R: Fran, Karen, Robert (her hubby), and David (their son); I replace Karen in the right-hand shot...

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