Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Daily Deer...

Since we have opened up the fence between our two lots, I've been in the process of training the deer to to pose for pictures in the back of the house instead of on the side.  The training process is fairly simple involving the moving of the camera and the feed. 
Anyway, the lots behind us are totally uncleared and the deer seem to spend a lot of time back there during the day.  This pictures above gives an idea of how thick it is.  Before it was fenced, I've chased Gracie through there and the end result is stickers for both of us.  The deer seem to have a much easier time with stickers.
This is a friendly buck who came by for a snack. 
And I am still pretty fond of these little deer.  You'd think that by now I would have grown tired of all these pictures, but I still find them entertaining.  And the deer respect my fence, so far.  If they start coming over to eat plants, we may have an issue, but for now, they've been well behaved diners. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Night In Lytle Report: Dinner and a Room...

All it took was a quick picture of the hotel room posted on Eva's Facebook page, and the comments began to roll in; oh the in-room Jacuzzi and that king size bed.  To fully appreciate the stay in a hotel, not 5 miles from our house, and on not any particular date of importance short of it being Friday, you have to recall that we bid for and won the overnight stay at Lytle's new Best Western, several months ago at the Lytle PAWS for Summer event.
Before I tell you about the hotel, let's take a quick inspection of our dinner for the evening, the Steak and Shrimps at the Armadillo Cafe, a fairly new restaurant attached to the Days Inn, Lytle's older hotel of record.  Shrimps.
 We've been to this place in previous versions of itself and thought it was okay but had always wished for more.  In theory, when you change names and I assume management, something is supposed to happen that makes it better.  On this night, we thought it would be a good idea to give the advertised special a shot.  The problem was, neither of our waitresses seemed to know what the advertised special was, or what sides might come with it.  That proved entertaining enough for a while.
 I'm not even going to waste a minute on this other than to say, the steak (which I ordered "medium") was way over cooked and not very good to boot.  Boot being the operative word.  The "shrimps" was/were rubbery and not otherwise good.  The toast was good.   I liked our primary waitress because she seemed like she was having a good time in spite of knowing the things you know when you work where you do. 

I'm sure these people mean well.  The next time I want steak, I'll just go to my house.  That isn't a restaurant name, it is literally, my house.  I make better steak without even trying than any restaurant in the tri-city area, so far.
Okay, on to the beautiful Best Western Plus Lytle Inn & Suites.

I have to be honest here; we expected the place to be a dump.  Since it opened, the place has been booked solid and when you drive by, you can't help but notice that the majority of the vehicles parked out front belong to oil workers.  Not a bad word to say against the fine men doing their best to keep the industry going south of us, wanting nothing more than a hot shower, warm bed and free breakfast before heading back out for another shift.  But if you have ever dined at Bill Miller's when a dude covered in sweat, grease and grime comes in and sits at the table next to you, you can only imagine what the hotel maids have to deal with.
When we won the free stay at the hotel, we never intended to actually use it.  It was for a good cause and we thought perhaps one of our kids or family friend might enjoy a night out at our place and then stay a few miles up the road at the Best Western on us.  That didn't happen and we needed to use the room, considering it had technically expired a few weeks ago.
 What we found was that the Best Western was in superb shape, both extraordinarily clean and maintained, but full of wonderful amenities and very nicely staffed.  Everyone was friendly, even at 5:20 Saturday morning when I slipped out to go home and let Gracie out.  At first, I was taken aback when the lady at the counter gave me a cheerful "good morning" as I walked through the lobby, suddenly becoming conscious of my jacked-up hair as if I was making the early morning walk of shame (though, technically, I don't think that applies to men).  I could only think to respond with, "Uh, my dog needs to pee".  The lady giggled as though she hadn't heard that one before.
We used to have a ritual of spending anniversaries or even New Year's Eve at a really nice hotel near the airport, complete with indoor pool, in-room Jacuzzi and the full breakfast.  No need to make a trip to San Antonio.  We didn't bother to swim, but the full amenities were here in Lytle.
We had no complaints at all with the room, the bed, the TV, and the little kitchenette.  Everything was great and I would never have a problem with recommending this place to family or friends making an overnight stay in the area.
 Breakfast was better than most of the free meals you get at hotels.  We had a nice stay at a La Quinta recently with free breakfast, but the Best Western deal was much, much better.  This picture is Eva's modest serving of Waffle, eggs, sausage and fried potatoes.  My breakfast was about double this size. The breakfast lady went to each table asking people if they needed something else or cooked differently.  Don't like scrambled eggs?  She'd cook you something else.

Bottom line, it was all good.  We joked about the place probably being all nasty and the truth is, and I have stayed in some seriously first class hotels (at taxpayer expense), this Best Western was perhaps one of the cleanest places I have been.

I'm not going to pretend that Lytle is a tourist destination, but if you find yourself in need of a place to stay in the area, I'd happily recommended the Lytle Best Western Inn & Suites.       

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Daily (Little) Deer..

In preparation for moving our fence line over to the other side of the property - which will give Gracie a full 3 acres of roaming area - I moved the deer camera to the back of the property.  A little deer corn and the deer were quick to adapt.
If you notice just above the deer, there is a a line going across showing where we will be putting the back fence.  This line is just about 3 1/2 feet off the ground, so you can see how small these little ones are.
Not all of them are so small, but I do think that we have runt-like deer around here, given the much larger deer I hear about and see in pictures taken by co-workers.
Mr. Raccoon is pretty large though.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Elwin Allen "Al" Stone

This morning, my dad passed away peacefully with my mom at his side.  In another 4 days, he would have been 83 years old.

Lunch Report: Big Bib BBQ on Austin Highway...

Following our visit to The County Line last weekend, we got a suggestion from long time reader, Maureen, who told us we need to get over to The Big Bib on Austin Highway so we could get some barbecue redemption.
If you are familiar with the end of Austin Highway closest to Alamo Heights, you'll want to face your car much further to the east, beyond the fancy shops and museums, and closer to the hookers, or so I am told.
We have always believed that some of the best eats you can find come tucked away in small little places - a hole in the wall - where seating is limited but worth the lack of elbow room.   The actual seating area could easily fit in the dining room in our house.  They managed to fit two tables for 4, two tables of 2 and a single seater, making it quite a cozy fit.  Not to worry, the real business takes place in the back where they are whipping up some really, really good vittles.
With too many options, we both ordered plates with two meats and two sides.  I had the chicken, brisket, mac & cheese and potato salad.  The order came with bread and some little tubs of sauce.  A really important factor for both Eva and I when it comes to BBQ is that it stand on its own without the sauce.  Without question, the chicken and the brisket hit the mark.  The sauce itself was in all honesty, not that great at least for us.  It was okay for dipping, but not needed and certainly not the highlight of the visit.

The potato salad was nothing short of outstanding.  Eva ended up swiping half my portion, and it was probably a mistake not to get a pint to go.  If you visit, get the potato salad, you won't regret it.

We were split on the mac & cheese.  I posted a picture on Facebook and one of my friends left a comment that the "mac & cheese looks a little shaky..."  I agree.  I prefer it to be a little less liquid and a lot more stuck together.  It wasn't bad at all, just not the texture I'm looking for.  Eva on the other hand enjoyed it and would gladly order it again.
What she would not order again would be the chili she got as a side along with her plate.  I don't even know what to say about it, other than "Don't". Along with the chicken, she got the pulled pork and in spite of the appearance in the picture, it was wonderful.  So moist and delicious, I'd have to say that it was even better than the brisket.  If you even think that you like pulled pork, you'll be happy with this.
As we were eating, the lady behind the counter brought out samples of the peach cobbler for everyone to try.  We had already ordered portions to go, but enjoyed the sample just the same.
Overall, The Big Bib BBQ on Austin Highway filled our urgent need for some good home style barbecue, and if you find yourself in the area, you'll be in for a Tasty Treat.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fire, Fire, Fire... Fire

This past weekend, Eva got the urge to start raking all the stray weeds and such from around the trees on the other side of our fence.  She is clearly ready for the fence to be moved, allowing us to open the full "ranch" up to landscaping and more importantly, free roaming territory to our Gracie.
She left a bunch of little piles full of leaves, limbs and twigs.  Tonight, I set them on fire.  Good times.

I got  a comment from Alan on my last Daily Deer post regarding the planting of some winter rye.  I emptied the large sack of rye I had leftover from last year along the area the deer feed at, but hope to grab another bag this weekend and get some more going.  We'll see if it grows or gets eaten!