Once upon a time there were three special stories, each filled with exciting memories of a summer. Memories so vivid that you can practically see them, memories that bring a smile, memories of traveling, summer camp, lazy days and sun-kissed skin. Many of us long for the magical moment that summer begins with its relaxed lifestyle. The days breeze in almost as fast as they leave closing another chapter of summer. A “Summer to Remember” shares stories of travel, young love, family heritage and . . .
Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost
We’ll have to admit, we anticipate the arrival of summer as much as our students do. As we get closer to the end of school the days seem to crawl by as we complete our duties as teachers at Abilene High and ACU. Our summer adventure dangles out in front of us, reminding us that it won’t be long until our days are filled with lush landscapes, intriguing architecture and PAINTING. You see, we are artists. We decide on our adventures by evaluating how much time we will have available for painting. Our idea of fun and excitement is discovering a beautiful view, then sitting and staring at it for a few hours.
Jack and Jill’s Travel Backpack Packing List:
- Travel watercolor sets
- Various brushes, pencils, erasers
- Watercolor pads
- Jeans, shirts, underwear, socks
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, deodorant
Many of our summers are spent traveling abroad and this one would be no different. Jack and I would travel to Wales and water color on location.When we paint on location, we are able to fully absorb our environment. The act of painting heightens sensory awareness and the artwork becomes a record of the temperature, the sounds, the smells and the textures that surround us. As we visually document our surroundings, the memory of our journeys are permanently embedded into our psyches.
Our days were filled visiting beautiful, historic sites in Wales. This country is a plein air artist’s dream; stunning, colorful, bursting with history.
Jack and I love to explore destinations, which are NOT frequently visited by foreign (American) tourists—such as Cymru (Welsh for Wales). It is bountiful with craggy coastlines, ancient castles, Neolithic tombs, isolated beaches, unbelievable tide levels as well as colorful towns and remote fishing villages.
Wales is to England as Texas is to the United States. The people are proud, possess a rich heritage and welcome visitors with a smile and friendly conversation.
Our journey would take us next to Tintern Abbey,located beside the river Wye. It is a ruin–a skeletal gothic structure carpeted with lush grass. As we walked through the towering arches, opened to the morning sky, miniature white flowers began blossoming beneath our feet. In all of the world, Tintern is one of our most beloved painting locations. To sit within the broken gothic walls and to watercolor—this is true serenity.
St. Govan’s, a stoic one-room stone chapel built on the side of a rocky ocean cliff, was another stop on our travels. It is nestled within the cliff, halfway between the grassy plains above and the threatening sea below. It was built in the 6th century by a man that–found refuge from Irish Pirates amongst the giant boulders. Crediting God with his survival, he built this craggy room of worship and lived there the rest of his life. It is a bit frightening to descend the 74 stone steps, coated with sea mist, but it is the only path to the chapel. Once settled on the pebbled precipice, we retrieved our field paint sets and pads from our backpacks and proceeded to capture this remarkable setting. It was daunting, yet spiritual, gazing at the seagulls above us as the thunderous waves crashed below us.
Our journey also took us to the village Tenby. Hugging the coastline, with its sherbet colored buildings; Tenby is a popular destination for Welsh families on a summer holiday. It provided us with numerous opportunities to paint in relaxing surroundings while we gazed at the golden light setting on this unique community. The fleeting aroma of fish and chips was blown to us on the ocean breeze…this is contentment.
We are artists. We want to experience life fully, so we paint: being acutely aware of the present arouses an appreciation of how we see, what we smell, where we are, and whom we are with.
Jack and I are kindred spirits and we choose to take the road less traveled. We paint.
– Jack & Jill Maxwell
Going to Italy was a dream we worked on for a couple of years. My wife’s family originally came from Italy, so the usual tours and the typical tourist spots would not do. We wanted an in-depth visit to get to know the people, the culture, the food, and their way of life, which meant we needed to get out of the major cities and typical tourist sites and meet the local people. We wanted to cook and eat with them. We wanted to see where they grew their food, raised their animals and prepared their meals. We wanted farm to table. We wanted our children to experience the local people and the local environment, where the food they would eat would come from and how it was prepared. They needed to see and experience their heritage.
My wife, Dana, did a great deal of research and frequently found references to a company called Insider’s Italy ran by Marjorie Shaw who specializes in unique trips to Italy. After sending Marjorie an enthusiastic, heartfelt email, we received a phone call from Rome. Marjorie was so touched by the email that she had to call us. It was a perfect match. She knew exactly what we needed and would prepare an itinerary that would meet all our expectations. We would take food tours in Rome, stay in unique hotels, such as a converted 13th century monastery on the Amalfi coast with lemon trees in the courtyard, cook pizza and gnocchi from scratch at the home of a family on the Amalfi coast, have lunch and drink wine with a physician who owns an organic vineyard with 300-year-old vines. We would also visit a local cheese maker who makes Buffalo mozzarella, take walking tours through the countryside and eat peaches from a local farmer. This is just a sampling of our experiences on that trip. We made the trip with Dana’s father, our good friends, Dr. Scott and Linda Crocker, and their two daughters. We enjoyed our trip so much that we had to go back a second year. We made memories in different locations in Italy. Cooking, eating and getting to enjoy local Italians was just as important on the second trip; we had so many more memories to make, more cooking to do and, of course, food to savor.
Experiences from both trips made lasting impressions on our girls; during our second trip in the northern Tuscan region the ideas of having our own garden began to develop. The girls became very interested in growing their own food based on the places we visited and the families we got to know, many of whom grew most of what they ate. In order to do that we needed to have a garden, but living in Abilene in a neighborhood we had limited space and many trees; it was a challenge to find a location that would accommodate a garden. We decided to use one side of our yard, so we contacted Mankin & Sons for assistance on making a garden. Micah drew up plans for the garden and it was constructed, making four raised beds and room on each end of the yard for fruit trees, and space for herbs in the middle of the four beds. The girls wanted their garden to be organic, so we use organic seeds, organic fertilizer and try to avoid pesticides. We have started our own compost and it will be ready to use this fall. Our girls have enjoyed planting and watching the seeds sprout and grow and produce something they can be proud of and enjoy themselves, and also to share the bounty of the harvest with friends. Food you grow yourself just seems to taste better. You know where it came from and you know it’s clean (without chemicals).
The garden has inspired them to try new things and to enjoy cooking what they have grown. Yes, the vacations we took built lasting memories and inspired the construction of our garden, which is creating more memories and experiences than we ever expected.
– Dr. Ferral Endsley
It All Began at Camp
It was Memorial Day weekend, 2001. I just finished the end of my sophomore year at Sweetwater High School. My best friend Megan and I went with her church on a camping trip at Lake Brownwood. We were meeting up with Zion Lutheran’s youth group for the weekend spending time on the lake and worshiping God with other teenagers.
We got to our cabin and decided to take a walk with Pastor Snyder, and, of course, to walk past the boys who were playing football. After a little while, the boys ended up following us.
I will always remember the first time I saw Jason. He was sitting on a huge rock and his knee was bleeding. So I youthfully said, as my first words to him, “Uh, did you know your knee is bleeding?” It was true love from that moment on.
We spent the whole weekend getting to know each other, flirting, laughing, and flirting some more! We exchanged our AOL aim names to chat with each other later. When the weekend was over, I went back to Sweetwater, and Jason went back to Abilene. As soon as we got home that evening, we were chatting back and forth. We continued talking all summer long, going to movies, and walking around the mall.
We officially started dating in November 2001, and all throughout high school. We made lots of phone calls and travelled back and forth from Abilene to Sweetwater over the weekends. We both graduated from high school in 2003, and I went to Lubbock for college and Jason stayed in Abilene and attended McMurry University. Well, that didn’t last long and after one semester at Tech I transferred to McMurry.
Fast forward to my 22nd birthday. All of our family went out to eat at our favorite restaurant, Lytle Land and Cattle, to celebrate. Jason was MIA. Everyone was ready to go except Jason. He wasn’t anywhere to be found, and was not answering his phone. So we all left and went to the restaurant without him. I was not happy. It was my birthday, and I didn’t know where he was.
Shortly after we all sat down and ordered our drinks, here Jason came with a huge bucket stand full of roses, roses and more roses. There, inside the middle of all the roses, was a jewelry box. Now, any girl knows what a jewelry box laying on dozens of roses means. There was Jason down on one knee telling me how much he loved me and how I would make him the most happy guy in the world by marrying him! I said YES! My hands were shaking, I had a BEAUTIFUL ring on my left ring finger, and then the planning began!
After graduation, Jason and I both got jobs in Sweetwater. Jason worked as a Personal Banker at First Financial and I taught Pre-K. December 8, 2007 I married my best friend at Zion Lutheran church, and we had our reception at Lytle Bend Ranch. We spent our honeymoon skiing in Ruidoso!
Fast forward to January 2009, we found out we were pregnant! In May, we were back at Lytle Land and Cattle having a baby reveal. We revealed that we would be having a little boy in September – or so we thought. Baby Griffin arrived seven weeks early at Hendrick Medical Center. It was a Friday night and Dr. Mascorro stayed late for me! Thank goodness because when he was born, his lungs weren’t quite developed, and he was sent to Advanced Nursery. After two weeks we were home, loving our little family. Little did we know that 18 short months later Griffin would have a little brother, Kipptyn.
We knew we always wanted to be back in Abilene, so the search began in 2011. Jason was able to transfer to First Financial on Pine Street in Abilene. We closed on our first family home in the great town of Abilene this past April. We can’t wait to share the Abilene Zoo on a weekly basis, McMurry football and baseball games, and a life in a town that we grew to love with our boys.
– The Gazailles