Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2 hours north

It was Saturday, early afternoon. A blue funk had fallen over the household.

With funds having run dry from our A-Kon adventure the weekend prior, our exuberance had begun to wane. The hot arid wind blowing across the treetops didn't help much either. A dusty atmosphere, thick on our tongues. The sun, white hot. The sky, platinum. The heat measuring 103 Fahrenheit.

I could feel the tension. Something had to be done to lift the heaviness from our souls. There was only one refreshment that could ease our unpleasant state. Road trip!

And so, with renewed giddiness, we packed hastily those things one might need for the road. And tossed in the camping gear, just in case.
Scarcely a cloud to be found.

As we rolled along the glaring highway, I scanned the sky. Incredibly bright it was. Though, off in the distance I could see a small tower of clouds forming. Funny, I mused. Wouldn't it be interesting if that was developing into a storm directly over our destination spot? Then I cursed myself for forgetting to bring the polarizer lens for my camera, to help cut the glare of the road a bit. And to help bring out the definition of that distant cloud.

When sans polarizer, I often resort to shooting black and white photos selecting the in-camera red filter option. It helps some, but still. Frustrating a skoche.

The road unfolded, we neared the border, and there it was. The cloud formation, growing taller, flattening out around the edges. And yes, it appeared to be very near our goal area of interest. I had to consult the weather radar to be sure. Yes, there it was, the only severe thunderstorm on the map! Sitting on top of the highway we traveled.

Now this might sound tragic. After all, this was a lake-swimming overnight-camping trip of sorts we had planned. Sort of. One might think rain might ruin such an occasion. But no, my excitement only grew. We'd not seen rain in what seemed like forever! We had to celebrate the moment.
Ominous, no?

As we came through then around the storm to its northern side, I noticed the clouds somewhat striated in the tower. Perhaps there was some rotation there. I later learned a small tornado touched down in an area we had just driven through. Perhaps this photo is of that very storm system.

No matter. Because whatever rain that may have fallen, or lightning that crashed to the ground, was well to the south and east of the lake. Our camping spot.

It was getting late in the day. Quickly we searched for a good place to set up the tent. The choices were few, as it was Father's Day weekend. Though we did manage to make our home for the night near the lake's edge. Good for swimming.

It took us no time to get the tent ready. With sweat pouring down our faces, it was time for a swim. And so we did. The little ones enjoyed riding the small waves made by the occasional boat passing by. The sandy beach was a pleasure as well. Even the eldest daughter enjoyed the cool water.

Time for a snack. Back to camp we went.

"Take my picture by the grass!" he said.


The night fell fast upon us, but we were not yet through. Though the wind was a bit stiff, a fair fire had to be built. Even now we wonder if it were a wise decision. The land was parched. Grass browned in places. We were very careful to mind the flames and sparks.

A useful tip for those who like to pack lightly, or for those who tend to forget an important item like a lantern...

Make yourself a handy sack lantern! Here I have used a small flashlight, a Wal-Mart sack, and a roll of paper towels. Just stick the flashlight in the paper towel roll, puff up the sack a bit and put it over the light. The glow is just bright enough to see what you're doing. Cozy.

Finally exhausted, we all five crawled into the tent. Sleeping was not easy. The heat and humidity made for an uncomfortable time of it. The youngest daughter and I stayed awake most of the night. We made good use of our time watching a raccoon scavenge around picnic tables. Sara remarked that she'd not seen a raccoon like that before. I suspect she thought they'd be a bit more cartoonish and friendly looking. Even still, she admitted he was sort of cute.

The wind picked up, yet it offered no cooling relief. It only blew the tent around wildly and teased that it might refresh us. The moon rose and shown itself brightly through the fabric walls. Lovely. I found myself gazing at it for a good part of the night. And then, it was over. The sun began to cast pink on the clouds.

A quick bite to eat and down the tent came. We wasted no time. The stifling hot of day would soon return. Laughing and silly, homeward bound we were. Ah, another successful trip on the road. I look forward to the next one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pleasant Chaos--A-Kon 22

Turn background music off here, then come back up! (^.^)/

It has been little more than a week since A-Kon 22 and already the dates are set for A-Kon 23.

Where to begin?

First, in honor of the event, I'm listening to Ephixa's Lost Woods Dubstep Remix. I can not tell you how many times I heard this at the convention. And so, it has found a sunny place in my mind.

There, the mood is set.

What is A-Kon? It is a 3-day event of mad fun! Where you will find loads of anime-related information. You can meet people in the gaming industry. Artists. There are educational panels on a variety of anime topics. One can play games. Many people cosplay favorite characters. If you like, you can be in a cosplay skit. Also, you'll find loads of anime-based merch. There are rave dances, an abundance of glow! And the concerts... my favorite! This year two Japanese bands! That alone is worth the cost of registration. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One might say our family had been preparing for the convention for nearly a year. Costumes were planned. We pre-registered months in advance. It's much cheaper that way. And we reserved our hotel room well in advance. Rooms go fast!

And so, off we went early Friday, the first day. Truck packed with food, frocks and full of excitement.

When we arrived, parking was close to impossible. And a touch pricey. It was to be expected. A-Kon is a huge event. And well, it is Dallas.

After finding a place, far, far away..... We managed to get the hotel room and make the trek to the infamous pre-reg line. A very long maze-like line that encircled the entire room. And that room is very large. Though, because we brought our young children with us, A-Kon staff took pity on us and placed us near the very front of the line. Nice! This occurred more than once throughout the convention, I might add. Benefits. Haha! Also, it is worth noting, small children are very much welcome at the event. There are very few exceptions regarding this.

We received our pre-reg badges and moved on to the madness.

Here is just a glimpse of us and some of what we saw.

Yes, I dressed up as something. Though the only photo I have of the ensemble is blurry! This, because everyone was in a tremendous hurry to hit the convention floors. I snapped the photo with kids under foot, their way out the door. Did I mention it was hot?! Whew!

My costume, in the beginning, was to resemble Riese, from the steampunk series of that name. It wound up being a mish-mash of pieces, though still very much steampunk. I even made my own aged-look brassy-like goggles. I do have the exact ammo belt Riese has. I'm very proud of that. Actually, in our household, we have two! Husband sported one of them, complete with snacks, cellphone and cash. Mine contained a brass nautical compass. Handy, no doubt.

The eldest daughter and her friend dressed as popular anime characters and had many photos taken of them. My little man chose to be a ninja. Little daughter, opted for Sailor Moon. Her ensemble was a last minute decision and put together rather quickly out of what was on hand. She received many compliments and relished it every bit.

And so, we went with the flow. The huge crowd, like a river winding through large rooms and small corridors.

The big event on Friday, the concert. Two Japanese bands. Blood Stain Child and D for the first time in the U.S. What a privilege it was to see them!

And now, I have learned what visual kei is. Men dressed in feminine clothing with a full face of makeup can be very appealing and oddly quite masculine.

The interesting thing is they are indeed beautiful to look at, though their music is very metal and hard. A fascinating contradiction. I was transfixed and instantly a fan of both groups. Though D is particularly seductive.

The voices of Blood Stain Child clash, but in a vibrant harmonious way. The harshness of Ryo's voice is the edge. The beautiful Sophia's sweet melodious voice is like light winding through the rubble.

Then there is D. The visually stunning D. Their performance took my breath away. They instantly commanded the stage and my attention was fixed. And though the songs are sung in Japanese language I do not know, the beautiful voice of Asagi is so full of emotion, I was pulled into understanding. I could go on and on. But, I'll spare you the gush and keep the sweet memory to myself. Let's just say, the audience was very much a part of the journey. And it was lovely.

My only regret, the one thing I'm very sad about missing was the autograph sessions with both bands. We may never see the groups again, I realize. Every opportunity to savor the experience must be taken. And I missed it! Never again, I vow. Next year will be different.

As for the rest of the convention...
The rave, my second favorite thing to attend. I've always loved dance music. And glow sticks! The two combined, well, it is almost a heaven.

There were so many events. To be sure, I missed many of them. And, as the year before, I have learned what I overlooked and pledge to not miss so much!

In a nutshell, that is my experience. I suppose one can never get too old for such random fun. \(^.^)/

Monday, June 20, 2011

summer wind

Outside the window, I see the limbs and leaves of the trees dance in a dry hot wind.

It is summer. It has made itself known, leaving its mark in the cracks of the parched earth. The sun, relentlessly piercing through a dusty haze, baking the streets, sidewalks and lawns.

You can taste the air. Powdery on the tongue, stinging the throat. What moisture the heat doesn't steal away, the wind strips.

It is said we may get a spot of rain tomorrow, though I'll not hold my breath waiting. No, in the meantime, I'll do my best to find appreciation for the extreme warmth.

Indeed, there are moments when I feel the scorch of sun on my face and shoulders and relish it. Perhaps, it is because it reminds there is a freedom about summer. It is the time we skimp on clothing and travel to random places. And, we swim.

Such a free feeling, floating in the sweet coolness of a pool or lake.

It seems the summer has only begun, yet we've managed at least a couple of adventures already.

One such was a trip to Dallas for the three-day affair, A-Kon 22. I almost think this particular subject requires a separate post! There is too much to mention, I can scarcely think. So, I'll save it for later.

Shortly after the A-Kon convention ended, the itch to venture the roadways hit. On the spur, and almost too late in the day, we quickly packed the truck and pointed north, making way to the closest lake we're most fond of. The journey would take us more than 2 hours, though not unpleasant, the drive is part of the allure. A complete departure from the seductive madness and thrill of A-kon.
It was hot, 103ºF! In my haste, I'd forgotten my polarizer lens, so the glare is evident.

This subject, too, will require more attention than I am able to give it at the moment. Tonight, maybe, when there are less pressing matters to tend to.

For now, I'll consider taking the children out in the hot for a swim~~~