Good ‘ole American Airlines

Well, I’ve got to hand it to them, last year American Airlines lost my luggage for FOUR DAYS! So, they eventually coughed up a voucher which I am using to attend this year’s Junction Kite Makers Retreat. As I noted on earlier on this blog, I recently made my reservation. In order to get my ticket, American required that I mail my voucher back to them – which I did immediately. Needless to say, I hadn’t heard a word from them regarding my ticket so. . .I decided to contact them today (my reservation also didn’t show up online either). Somehow, I’m wasn’t surprised that their agent also couldn’t find my reservation – that is, until I gave her my frequent flyer number. Turns out that American had already issued a ticket but sent it to the WRONG e-mail address. Duh! As a result, they’re reissuing the ticket. It’s a good thing that I called. Now, if they can just get me there and with all of my luggage, I’ll be a happy camper.

Satellite view

Okay, I’m excited about going away. I NEED to go away for awhile. So, as I eagerly await a long-needed break from life, I continue to find ways to remind me that I’m going on a trip. I added current weather conditions for the retreat location on this blog last night and have just added my latest reminder – a Google map that shows a satellite view of the Junction Kite Retreat location. Amazing, isn’t it?! 

View Larger Map

One has to admit that technology is amazing. Just a few years ago, who would have ever imagined we could easily find satellite views of just about anyplace on Earth? Heck, kite aerial photography may be great but it certainly can’t compare to the magic of satellite photography!

Getting ready

On my way home from picking up my boy on Friday night, I decided to stop by Brookstone at the Irvine Spectrum and bought a hard-shelled carry-on suitcase that just fits in airline overhead compartments. I’m not taking any chances of getting my luggage lost again for the duration of my trip. It also has a nice set of wheels on it, as well as a retractible handle so I should also be able to easily carry my CPAP machine too. Of course, I’m also going to take my cellphone with all of my powercords (I had to buy a power cord last year – which was almost impossible to do in Junction).  BTW, according the last U.S. Census (2000), Junction had a population of just over 2,600 people! Talk about SMALL! Even so, it was a great place to visit and I’m looking forward to it again this year. I’m hoping that, once I arrive, we’ll get some weather (last year, after my flight from Hell, I drove through an incredible rainstorm just to get there). I have no desire to do that again but, once I’m there, I really don’t care what happens – it would be GREAT to get a good thunderstorm or two, as well as some wind (which was in short supply last year). Of course, I’m going to carry my camera onboard with me this year – last year, I didn’t get many because it was lost with my luggage.

I’m also hoping to go down to the LLano River (which is located on the grounds) – last year, due to the huge storm that welcomed the retreat, we were told not to go down to the River due to flood water conditions.  One of my goals is to get a few photos of an armadillo or two (I’ve only seen dead stuffed ones which are so common in Mexico). Only time will tell.

Junction, here I come!

Obviously, it’s been awhile since I last posted on this blog. Life has been far too stressful, for such an incredibly long period of time, that I’ve been too preoccupied to even do something as wonderful as flying or making kites. It’s been five months since I last posted here. Anyway, as the title of this entry reveals, I’m going to the Junction, Texas Kite Making Retreat again this year. While I certainly can’t afford it, things have been so awful that everyone who knows what I’ve gone through have all said “go for it” and they did so in no uncertain terms. I hope I remember how to use a sewing machine! (I’m sure I will.)

I made the decision to go just this evening (and it was, to be honest, almost an impulsive decision – although I generally don’t do that) after coming home from a couple of groups at church. I’m hoping (and praying very hard) that things will take a turn for the better this month but I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch. Just the same, if you’re reading this and you pray, PLEASE pray for things to take a turn for the better.

As I noted last year on this blog, good ‘ole American Airlines LOST my luggage for FOUR LONG DAYS. They essentially put a HUGE dent in my experience of last year’s retreat (although I still had a great time, even if I did smell bad) and they sent me a voucher for a future trip. I made the decision to book a flight around 11 PM (it’s 2 AM now – yes, I have severe sleep problems, on top of everything else) and sent in my “reservation” to the retreat organizer. She’s about the only one I know that stays up as late as I do and I’ve already recieved a response! Apparently, there will be a couple of Asian kite builders flying in for some of the classes – is that cool or what?!

Obviously, it’s very late now and I had better try and get some sleep (again, I don’t know how successful I will be but I’ll try to think about how fun it’ll be to go back to Junction this year). In addition to all of the kite fun we had last year (even if we really didn’t have any real wind to speak of), I’m going to make it a point to try and catch a glimpse of an armadillo this time (in addition to all of the deer that populate the grounds). Can’t wait!

New Year’s Day with the San Diego Kite Club, Part 2

Banners in the breezeWell, I didn’t quite finish my post from the other day so here’s “Part 2” – after watching the synchronized kite fliers, the wind picked up a bit and the banners started fluttering a bit more, which is always a good thing at a kite festival. I was particularly fascinated with the red white and blue set that resembled an America flag (pictured on the left). If one looks closely (double click on the photo for a larger view), it’s possible to see some of the goodies set out for the raffle located to the right of the flag banners. Mentioning “raffle,” shortly after I took this picture, I went back to watch my boy work more on his kite when, rather suddenly, our friend Iris, ran up to me to make sure I received my final set of raffle tickets because the drawing was about to begin. Last year, my boy and I did exceptionally well (we won several kites!) so I purchased the same number of tickets this year. While we didn’t win as many things (not that it matters) we still won! In fact, of the two items I had hoped for the most, one was a Cody box kite. Cody’s are very stable American kites that have been around for a long time and were originally invented by Samuel Franklin Cody (no relation to Buffalo Bill). Interestingly, these were used as a man-lifters (yes, they were big). While Cody’s resemble box kites, they have an extra set of wings that make them look rather bat-like. The Cody I won isn’t very big but that doesn’t matter – it still looks cool. Then, my boy had the winning ticket for a “Kite Dynamics Kite Building and Experiment Kit” which can be used to about a hundred different kites, as well as many variations. Again, too cool!

At the conclusion of the raffle, there was also an auction in which we managed to get several more kites at a steep discount from what they would cost retail – we won a box kite, a stunt kite, a Prism Triad, and a “cube kite.” All in all, it was a very inexpensive (but great way) to build our collection.

My kite archMany people usually leave right after the auction but, as there was still sunlight to fly in, we stayed a bit longer. I managed to get my kite arch up with the help of Dan, current president and one of the founding members of the San Diego Kite Club (they were a bit tangled and he helped me undo the mess). Fortunately, the wind came up enough so that the arch could go up for a short while. Unfortunately, the breeze died out but that was merely a signal for us to call it a day. After packing up my kite arch, I decided to take a quick video of my banners with my carp and my Catherine’s Wheel attached. Sadly, one of my banner poles broke so I was only able to put up two of my three banners. I was very happy; however, that my Catherine’s Wheel which worked like a charm. 

Once the car was packed up, I took my boy to Belmont Park where we spent the evening on the bumpercars before heading home. As always, I can’t imagine a better way to have some fun than to be with him.