Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Shopping Extravaganza!

Last weekend I went with my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law on a shopping weekend. This is something they've done for a few years and this year invited me to go along. I was not sure I could shop for that long, but I did my level best to keep up. The pocketbook is now very light.

The hotel room.

I couldn't seem to get a photo in before I turned down the bed. But, you know, I guess, to prove that we stayed in a hotel, there's a photo.

Prime Outlets from the northbound service road.

Prime Outlets last Friday in San Marcos, TX

We drove down to San Marcos, TX on Friday morning. We stopped in Temple, TX for lunch, checked into the hotel when we arrived in San Marcos, and immediately set out to shop at Prime Outlets. This was a tactical decision made by the more informed shoppers in the group. You see, in San Marcos, sitting right next to one another, are two gargantuan outlet malls. This one, apparently, is the more popular of the two, so it was decided to hit it on Friday, when less people would be around.

My sisters-in-law and mother-in-law heading into do some serious shopping.

Friday shopping in nice weather.

This outlet had a lot of high end retailers in it - many of whom really had no great sales or "outlet" pricing. My sisters-in-law did a good deal of baby clothes shopping. After several hours of shopping, we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

My niece and fellow shopper, Alexandra, at dinner.

I also planned to take lots of photos. I took my big camera and all my lenses. This didn't really happen. I never even got the big camera out. I got hooked on the shopping drug and forgot after a few hours. All photos that did get taken were done with the purse camera and the camera phone.

Early in the trip, when I actually remembered to try to get some interesting shots.

Some cute snowmen I did not purchase.

Apparently, also at this outlet mall, they used to charge money to give gondola rides up and down this fountain. Can you believe that a) they thought to do that and b) people paid money to go up and down this cement fountain in a gondola? Or, maybe they didn't. Because there were no gondolas in the cement pond this time.

Former site of gondola rides.

I also spent a big chunk of time Saturday going to Austin to visit with my former boss, Bob and his wife Nell. I was very excited to see them, as it had been several years since we last saw one another in person. And, I had plans to take lots of photos of that lunch. But, I got there and got so involved in conversing and catching up and just spending time with such lovely people after such a long time without seeing them that I not once got out my camera. What's more, I talked to them about my blog - I brought the blog up in conversation - and this didn't remind me to take photos.

The only photos I have are the two below - 1) of the restaurant sign from out the car window on the way out of the parking lot and 2) what I think is Bob and Nell in the car in front of me as we left. I can't even be certain of this. It could have been some other patron of the restaurant who got in between us. Which, given this fact, makes that photo a little "crazy person stalker" creepy. I took it in desperation when I realized I had taken no photos of our meeting and needed something to post on the blog. It is a stretch, I know. Just go with it and make me feel better.

1) Cruddy camera phone photo of the restaurant sign through the truck window.
I love and miss this restaurant and appreciate Bob and Nell being willing to eat with me here.

2) Maybe Bob and Nell in front of me as we left.

After lunch, I took a little drive down memory lane before heading back to the shopping mecca. Here is what I captured, while driving myself around town.

This one is for my mother-in-law.

This photo is of the U-Haul place where we rented the world's largest U-Haul (not the plan) to move me back to Dallas and she had to drive it to my apartment in torrential rain because it was a stick shift and I can't - I've tried, and many people have tried to teach me - drive a manual transmission. We rented a smaller automatic transmission model. When we arrived, they had nothing of the sort, and if we'd like any truck at all, we'd better take the manual monster sitting out front. She did a great job. But, it was one of those days.

Then, I drove over to my old apartment complex. When I lived here, it was brand new, and on the edge of nothing- no development around it except cow pastures and a driving range.

Monterrey Ranch, my old stomping grounds.

The only thing that was nearby when I lived there - a driving range.

My apartment - that one, on the bottom.

I know, again, out the window, with the creepy stalker thing going on. But, I had to get a photo for you, my blog reading public, of my old home.

Anyway, now surrounding my old digs is a school, two gas stations, a Garden Ridge, a Target (which had opened before I moved) and a whole new retail development with lots of chain stores and chain restaurants in it. It's a different place.

After stalking my old apartment for a while, I decided to take the scenic drive back to San Marcos via Wimberly on HWY 12. It was scenic.

View through the windshield of the scenic drive.

Another view from the car.

And a third view.

It was so nice that I didn't ever, once feel like actually stopping the vehicle to get a decent photo. Go figure. So, you'll have to use your imagination with the photos above, and trust me that it was a nice drive.

An added bonus of the drive was I got to drive right by my old college roommate, Cathy's apartment when she lived in San Marcos for grad school. I stalked it, yes, again, and emailed the photo to her. I am full of wonderful things that I do for others, yes?

Cathy's grad school apartment. That one, on the top.

Once I made it back to San Marcos, the girls were at the other outlet mall across the street. I caught up with them for a little more shopping before we ate dinner at Outback and called it a day.

Incidentally, my mother-in-law, Cheryl's, good friends were also on this shopping weekend with us. We just kept missing them. Her friend Linda and her daughter-in-law Tiffany were shopping until they dropped as well. We did visit with them Saturday night for a while. Otherwise, we passed like ships in the night all weekend.

On Sunday, the shopping fun was not over. We checked out of the hotel and headed to Round Rock, TX, where there is another outlet mall. We shopped for several hours at this one as well.

Chelsea Premium Outlets in Round Rock, TX

As you can see, this one is laid out differently - it's more like a "regular" mall in that it is in an enclosed square - or enclosed with canopies overhead, at least.

Another view of the Round Rock Outlets.

We were in Round Rock so long it was time for Alexandra to eat again. So, Kim and Brooke fed her outside on a bench. Here, she's sporting a good deal of whatever vegetable that is on her face.

Brooke, Alexandra and Kim

After wrapping up this last outlet mall, we headed for Dallas to recuperate.

I am happy to report, while not as adept at an entire weekend of shopping as my in-law relatives, I was able to scratch several people off my Christmas shopping list - I found some nice things for those I'm buying for this season, which made it a useful outing, for sure. Additionally, it was nice to spend time with the others on the trip, to visit with Bob and Nell, and to enjoy the fabulous weather we're still having this late into the season.

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