(A summary of my mini-vacation originally posted to a good friends e-mail list)
I had the BEST time in Kerrville! Anybody know James Avery jewelry? I went to the workshop, though it wasn't working hours for the craftsmen. Bought a discontinued pendant to put in our Lord's Acre auction in October; couldn't afford the pieces that could only be purchased there, as they were all in gold. But discontinued is the next best thing; I wanted to get something that was made there and could be purchased only there, and I'm sure it will sell better because I got it in Kerrville.
My little B&B cottage was all I could have hoped for. I spent some time hiking (slowly and leisurely) through the various gardens: herb, bamboo, sculpture, and some without names but lovely as could be. There were wind chimes all over the place, and there's always at least a light breeze. The sound was scrumptious! It was a long drive, and I was tired, and I had my first ever jet tub bath. Total relaxation! Comfy bed, VERY quiet at night. Because it was outside of town and Kerrville isn't very big, I got that totally dark night sky that I've missed since moving to the metroplex (Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area). Woke up on my own Sunday morning, ate more of the fresh fruit the proprietors provided, enjoyed a cup of tea, packed, and then headed for church down at the bottom of the long hill from where I stayed.
THAT was the only blot on the weekend. I had called ahead and decided to go to their 11:00 service. The drive down took longer than I realized it would, so I was a minute or two past 11:00 when I got to the parking lot. There were NO spaces! I nearly turned around and left then, but went around again and finally found one. By now, it was about 6 or 7 minutes after 11. Went inside, and they were already a third of the way through the service! And wouldn't you know it, there were no easily accessible seats to slip into. An usher asked a couple on the end of one pew if they'd shift to let me in, but they just stood there. I'd already tried the one end spot I saw, and people had put purses and bulletins and Bibles in the three spots' worth of space. I'm not proud of myself, but I slipped back out and left. I've NEVER done that before. I understand better what some of the "experts" mean about being visitor-friendly. That service HAD to have begun before 11:00. Ours does, too, which is why all our literature and recordings say 10:45. We make sure that end seats are available, especially in the back. (It's easier for us, because we generally don't have capacity attendance, but still...) All in all, it was a humiliating experience and I'm going to do whatever I can to be sure my church doesn't let that happen to people who visit us.
So, I headed back up to the other side of town, into another country road area, to pick up the handbells. They look like brand-new! Loaded them in the car and headed to Fredericksburg, a touristy town on my route home. Had lunch in one of their cafes. It's a heavily German-heritage area of the state, and I had some half-decent German potato salad with my sandwich, along with an overpriced, so-so serving of that Texas staple, peach cobbler with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. It's peach season here, and I thought for sure the cobbler would be made with fresh peaches, but no such luck. But I got one more auction item in the Christmas Store (which everybody said I just had to check out) - a European-style nutcracker (wooden figure) decorated as a cowboy. We're big on cowboys 'round here! It will get some attention in the auction hype because it's from the Fredericksburg Christmas Store. Then it was back in the car to take the "scenic route" home, and I went through a bunch of little towns I'd only seen on maps. Dropped the handbells off just as youth group was letting out, and talked to the pastor for a while. One baby born while I was gone and one due tomorrow, a downright miraculous good diagnosis for a very sick member, two of our older saints having some medical trials, youth director and several of our junior-high youth gone on a mission trip, Jurisdictional Conference over with three new bishops elected (one being assigned to our area)...all having occurred since I left on vacation. Took a while to catch up. I told her about my experience at the church in Kerrville, and I felt better when she said she'd have left over the parking problem!
ANYway, I'm back and getting into the routine again. The weekend needed to be more like a week away, but that was what I could manage. Too bad handbells need to be machine-cleaned only every 8-10 years! (The church gladly paid my mileage, since it amounted to far less than if we'd paid to ship the bells.) VBS starts Sunday night, and we music folks have a workshop to drill the new music this Wednesday. And my adult choir resumes rehearsals after having July off, on the 30th. Summer is definitely coming to a close soon. And I will love having all my groups back up again after Labor Day.
(I would love to go back to Kerrville again, and stay at the same place, for several days in a row. Perhaps when I get an honest-to-god real paid vacation from the day job, I can do that.)