A Fun Filled July in 2006 !
Anne and Stewart French, Maria Gant

Anne and I had an incredibly interesting, full, and exciting July 2006. This web page is to jog our failing memories in the years to come!

Fourth of July Fireworks
Here is Maria's log of the event. I have glued in some photos and a short video where they fit.

From: Maria
To: william, Bob and Lucy
cc: stewart
Subject: saturday night
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 20:06:24 -0500

hi william and lucy anne,

i know i've shared with you two the many fun adventures we've had as a family unit, concerts and outings and such. last night was a slight variation.

the colony is a small town about 10 miles from here that sits on the edge of lake lewisville. we attended their fireworks show last year, and had a wonderful time. we invited stewart and anne french to join us this year, and they happily accepted.

sam, e and i attended 5 pm mass, then planned to eat dinner and meet the frenches at their house at 7. as we came out of mass, i had a vague sensation of the possibility of rain. the sky was clear, but for some big, puffy white clouds, so there was no visual clue, just a "feeling."

back home alan had talked to stewart and anne, and they voiced a concern of rain, having had a few sprinkles at their house. stewart and alan both checked the forecast and the weather radar, and concluded the rain would not be where we would be. we caravanned from the frenches' house to the shuttle point at the colony's high school. the shuttle took us the 4 miles over to the fireworks festivities/launch area, on a peninsula. the ride was not uneventful; the a/c had problems, and the condensation generated indoor rain. whenever the bus turned, i had to lurch to avoid a soaking. oh well, what's a little moisture on a hot july day? as we arrived i was surprised to see so many more children's activities than last year. there were about 8 bounce houses, small pony rides, etc.

we found our Perfect Spot, and settled our blankets. that took some doing, because the wind was a-blowing. now we looked east, and were dismayed to see the large, dark clouds. it was just about 8:30, an hour until the show. we noticed a lot of boats on the water, with great seats for the fireworks show, being tossed a bit as the wind drove little whitecaps through the water.

darn, we spotted a flash of lightning. the wind was blowing up dust, and our eyes were likely targets. ouch. sam started to ask to leave. "i want to go home, mommy. let's go home NOW." we noticed some rain in the distance, the dark clouds appeared to touch the ground. it still seemed to be 2 miles away, and with any luck, wouldn't come toward us. but, that wasn't our luck. the winds picked up a lot. we watched in horror as the bounce houses nearest to us were picked up and tossed like little toys. we heard shrieks, and within 2 minutes the siren as an ambulance zipped up.

we walked back toward the bus drop-off point, hoping to see a large vehicle approach soon. no such luck. we prayed the rain wouldn't come, but those received a negative reply. soon the heavens opened and dumped torrents of rain on us. samantha and ethan both cried, and we tried to calm and comfort them, holding onto them and all our stuff. samantha moaned "this is the worst day of my life." thank heavens i'd purchased some rain ponchos at the dollar spot at target just two weeks before. we had them on before the rain hit, so sam and e were protected with hoods and long sleeves. the adult ponchos, sadly, had almost zero sleeves, and were so thin that alan and i each poked an arm through the side before finding the 2nd arm hole. 3 fire trucks appeared, and firemen canvassed the area, asking if everyone was ok, and if everyone had accounted for all the members of their families. for about 10 minutes the rain pounded on. the firemen suggested we could gather behind the fire truck, for some protection from the wind and rain, and we did. 10 more minutes passed. the kids were crying, we were all soaked, and the rain continued. finally a bus appeared, but it and the next were filled before we could climb aboard. (i recognized the first bus as the one we'd come over on, so didn't mind not riding back on the bus with internal rain). finally, we all made it onto the 3rd bus. (it was quite a big crowd at this event.) we all started to relax, and joke a bit. samantha perked right up when i told her we could have hot chocolate when we got home.

soon we were back in the parking lot at our cars. stewart pulled out 5 dry towels from the trunk of their car. the rain has stopped falling as we rode the shuttle. we had clean, dry jammies for sam and e, and soon they were comfortably tucked into their car seats, cuddling up with their lovies. we were home by 10, and had the children in bed by 10:30.

the newspaper today tells us one child suffered a broken arm in the bounce-house incident, but all other injuries were minor scrapes and bruises. it wasn't fun, but it was an adventure, and a story that we can all now laugh about.

the forecast for the next few days says 50% chance of rain, so we'll just have to wait and see whether we'll catch the fireworks 7/3 in Addison, and/or 7/4 in las colinas.

happy 4th!


From The Dallas Morning News, 11:45 PM CDT on Saturday, July 1, 2006, By SAM HODGES.
Children injured as storms ruin festival

High winds cause bounce houses to collapse in The Colony
11:45 PM CDT on Saturday, July 1, 2006

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

One child suffered a broken arm and others received minor injuries Saturday night when severe storms caused several bounce houses to collapse at a Fourth of July celebration in The Colony.

About 9 p.m., high winds at the city's Liberty by the Lake event at Stewart Creek Park caused three bounce houses to collapse with children inside. Frantic parents and other adults ran to the inflatable play areas to pull the children out. A 10-year-old suffered a broken arm and was taken to a hospital, while many others had bruises and scrapes. The celebration, which is by Lewisville Lake and was to include a fireworks show, was immediately canceled. Meanwhile, the storms briefly brought hail to downtown Dallas and knocked out power to about 9,000 TXU customers in the greater Dallas area. Most of those affected were residential customers in the city of Dallas, but about 1,000 were in suburbs to the southwest and north, said Carol Peters, TXU spokeswoman.

"We're assessing damage to see just what we need to do to restore service," Ms. Peters said late Saturday.

A severe storm formed about 7:30 p.m. between Hutchins and DeSoto and moved north through downtown Dallas, bringing winds of about 45 mph, said Joe Harris, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The same storm dropped 1-inch diameter hail in downtown Dallas about 8 p.m., he said. Hail that size "can ping a car roof, basically," Mr. Harris said. "It can rip leaves off trees." The storms delayed the arrival of two Southwest Airlines flights at Dallas' Love Field. A spokesman for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport said operations there were not much affected by the storms.

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) contributed to this report.
E-mail shodges@dallasnews.com

Pool Party
Friday, July 7, 2006

We were expecting a _lot_ of people this year. Our Houstonite family were expected to show in force. Anne and Stewart prepped grapes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries apples, watermelon, Anne made ice tea with cloves, Stewart made Karen's potatoes, guacamole, pea salad, rotisserie chicken. Our refrigerator was packed full!

Trina and Steve came in early. They brought with them fresh Texas peaches from Cooper Farms, sold by the side of the road at the Fairfield Exit off of I45. They also brought chocolatey cookies, and an ice cream maker! Later, Doug & Manasi, Melanie, Haley, and Brandi arrived, followed shortly by Russell & Glenda. Everyone made themselves at home and dug in, eating chicken and fruit and potatoes, while we talked and caught up on events. About 11:30pm we all packed into the cars and headed over to the Homewood Suites where we had setup rooms for the weekend. The front desk had closed up for the night, but they had left us some personal notes at the entrance on how to gain access. We walked all around looking at the various rooms, then Anne and Stewart left while everyone else divvied up the rooms and settled in.

Saturday, July 8, 2006
Pool Party!

Anne made 3 gallons of sun tea with cloves for today. We also had homemade peach ice cream made with those wonderful peaches that Trina and Steve brought. People came and went all day long. We all slowly adjusted to the water. Although it was hot out, the water along with the breeze made it seem almost cold! Brrr... Here's a photo of the "toe brigade"! Another one of Doug and Russell horsing around. Just floating around was an excellent way to pass the time. We served up 68 hot dogs (all of ours, and all that Marc and Ann brought over!), chicken thighs, pea salad, guacamole, Julie brought over 2 batches of brownies, one with caramel and chocolate chips, and one with raspberry. Many, many other things that people brought. Those pink cookies were _so_good_! Trina took underwater pictures without getting her hair wet (how'd she do that?!). We had lots of diving fun, Stewart managed to keep up with the kids! Sarah showed her Great Danes to Mary. Jocelyn loved the kitties (they had fun visiting with _everyone_!). Here they are waiting for guests to arrive. John brought giant "friend" cookies; Jim and Valerie came again this year and brought their kids Kayley (sp?) and Kiera (sp??), full of energy. Kiera spent most of the day diving and diving. When everyone would jump out to take a break or relax on the deck she just picked up more steam! Here's a photo of Tom taking is real easy, reading the paper and watching all the action.

Late that evening, after it started getting dark, we setup the DLP projector in the bathroom window. We showed "Second Hand Lions" projected on a screen mounted by the pool. Although someone could choose to float in the pool and watch the movie, it turned out to be _too_cold_ to do that! In fact, we had to turn on the spa heater about 6pm and heat it to 100 degrees to keep everyone warm. Thanks to Marc for bringing over the movie!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Our Houstonite family had various plans for the day today. Some headed to visit friends in Fort Worth, others dilly-dallied around before loading up and heading back to Houston. We made goody-baskets for all of them sending most of the remaining food back with them to keep them happy on the drive. After everyone left, we sat back and watched 3 days of recorded Tour-de-France.

What a wonderful pool party weekend!

Biking With Tom and Lucia
Monday, July 10, 2006

Anne has a sister Kathy who lives in St. Louis. Her oldest son Tom is in college in Eugene, OR. Tom and his girlfriend Lucia were in Dallas visiting her parents after attending a wedding in San Antonio. Being a bicycle messenger in Eugene, Tom was jonesing for a ride (so were we!), so we packed the car up with our 2 new bikes and 2 old bikes and headed down to White Rock Lake. Lucia's parents live on the south side of White Rock Lake, less than a mile from the hike and bike path that circles the lake. We gave them our new light bikes with the GPS enabled trip computers. We took our old, reliable touring bikes. We figured that would be the safest since we didn't know their level of training. We parked at our standard place on the south side of the lake, under the trees, beside the building with bathrooms and a water fountain. After getting them fitted to the bikes we headed out around the lake clockwise, which is the standard direction most people ride. We talked and talked, finding out each others interests and activities, and how life was going.

It was a gorgeous day, and so easy that we did it twice! Once we arrived back at the car we headed back out in the opposite direction. When we got on the north side on the second time around we took the turn that went 7 miles north toward 635. We stopped at the tennis center where we always stop and get cold water. It was starting to get late for lunch, so we reluctantly turned back. Back in the parking lot, we packed up the bikes, piled in the car and headed back to our house for quick showers, then to lunch near our house at Tamarind, a Thai restaurant. Both Tom and Lucia are vegatarians and it worked well once we got our order understood. Tom and Lucia even treated, including coffee afterward. Then we came back to the house, watched some of the Tour de France, which Tom and Lucia had not been able to see while traveling, and which was mid-way through and very exciting.

We took the GPS units that Tom and Lucia were using on their bikes and uploaded it so we could look at it with Google Earth (you might have to save this to a file then double-clik it from your desktop). We setup the projector hooked to the computer and projected a huge google earth image on the wall in the breakfast nook. Tom and Lucia took us on a wonderful impromptu biking tour of Eugene, Oregon. We could see their house, their route in and out of town, and all the various elevation gains and losses (the hard and easy parts!). It was almost like biking in Eugene, without actually getting sweatty or traveling.

We also stopped by Richardson Bike Mart to drop off Stewart's bike for (another) rim change. He seems to destroy his rims every 4-5 years. Tom and Lucia had dropped jaws checking out the hugeness of the bike store.

We reluctantly dropped them off back at Lucia's house just as her mom arrived back from teaching her yoga class. Her dad, artist Hank Black, who painted the mural at the Dallas Zoo, greeted us and took some photos of us for our scrapbook. They'll go in here when Tom or Lucia sends us a copy.

Biking the Katy Flatland Century with Russell and Glenda
Sunday, July 16, 2006

We have done this bike rally 3 (?) times in the past. Twice our nephew Russell has joined us. Earlier in the year we talked with him and his girlfriend Glenda about biking in the Katy ride again this year. He and Glenda were all gung-ho for it! Glenda had big plans to take spin classes and practice so she could go the distance. I don't know if she did that or not. She and Russell certainly biked a good ride.

Anne and Stewart drove from Plano to Houston Saturday and went directly to the Hampton Inn in Katy. This motel is about 2 miles from the Katy Mills Mall. We hoped we could bicycle over from the motel to the ride start Sunday morning, in the parking lot of the Mall. Russell and Glenda, who live in San Marcos, TX, about a 3 hour drive, had to work Saturday so they were going to arrive a bit late. That would make for a tough Sunday if they were tired or dehydrated from a days work.

We checked in, took our bikes down and stashed them in the motel, then drove over to the mall using the route we figured out from google maps. Hmmm... This is not going to be an easy ride to the start! The roads are narrow, pot-holed, and had heavy traffic on them. After trying a variety of routes we gave up and decided that we better load the bikes up Sunday morning and drive over.

Anne called Trina and arranged to meet the family at a seafood restaurant near the motel. Trina, Steve, Doug, Melanie, Brandi, and Manasi met us there. We had an excellent meal with fine conversations. As we left Russell and Glenda rolled up in Glenda's SUV. They brought their pups Hurley and Brody with them. We stood around in the parking lot playing with the dogs and talking then Trina and Steve and everyone left taking the pooches while Russell, Glenda, Anne, and Stewart retired for the evening to get ready for the Sunday ride.

We drove over about 30 minutes before the ride started. We were a little late for no obvious reason. We gave Glenda and Russell the light carbon bikes to make the ride a bit easier, while we took the old steel touring bikes. Russell and Glenda also got the GPS enabled trip computers. We fitted them to the bikes and got started pretty close to the last bikers leaving the starting line. That's okay since Russell and Glenda were not very familiar with outdoor biking, or with the bikes, pedals, saddles, gears, or brakes. So it took them a while to get comfortable.

We did the 40 mile route, flat as a pancake, counter-clockwise. Here is the google earth track (you might have to save this to a file then double-clik it from your desktop). Start at the Katy Mills Mall on the south part of the ride.

There was mild temperatures and little wind. Since we were near the end of the riders it wasn't crowded and the people we rode with were friendly and not agressive-biker types. We stopped at all the rest stops. You can see the stops in the google earth track.

As we progressed through the ride Glenda really started getting her legs. She really picked up the pace. Stewart tucked in behind her in her slipstream and rode a good 10 miles like this. It was great fun. At the end Stewart really picked up the pace in order to beat Anne to the finish. He started a bit too early and Anne started catching up, with Russell and Glenda close behind. Stewart missed the turn to the finish line which clinched Anne's victory. Here are some photos of us at the finish line! Russell; Anne & Glenda; Russell, Glenda, & Anne; Stewart, Glenda, & Russell.