Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eldorado: The Place to Be!

I would like to tell you more about the West Texas town of Eldorado, where Tanner was born and raised.

Let’s start with the facts. Eldorado is the county seat of Schleicher County. Eldorado is the only town in Schleicher County. Eldorado is the best town in Schleicher County! Boo-ya!

The town sits at the top of the Edwards plateau (Welcome to Eldorado: Top of the Divide Elevation 2,439!), and it’s surrounded by plenty of beautiful West Texas landscape -- and deer, lots of 'em. The proof is in the bar ditch, on the side of the road, in the middle of the road and on grill guards, in bits and pieces. The proof is also in the hunters who flock there during deer season.

About 1,800 people live in Eldorado. For comparison, my high school in Katy, Texas, has about 1,100 students in each graduating class. But size is not everything. It’s about personality! Or maybe I should say it's about THE personalities. A large part of what makes Eldorado great are the people.

Tanner (left) with Matt, Ross and Andrew

Most of Tanner's childhood friends are still his closest and most loyal friends today. Built on a foundation of shared experiences, faith, heart-to-hearts and plenty of mudding, hunting, bbq-ing, road trips and farting competitions, those friendships that have survived going off to different colleges, getting married, having babies and settling down in various big cities and small towns are priceless. Relationships like those are one of life's greatest treasures, and for Tanner, those treasures began and grew in his home town.

Eldorado Eagles - Class of 2002!

Eldorado was small and safe, so boys could be wild, adventurous and out on their own without parents worrying. It was remote and and surrounded by rugged, beautiful country, so it was the perfect place for hunting, off-road excursions, swimming-hole trips, and camping. It was tight-knit, a real community, so that your friends' parents simply became your second parents, letting you sleepover and raid their pantry, carting you around and cheering you on at games (or complimenting the "interesting" things you made in welding class, in Tanner's and Jason's cases).

Scott (left), Andrew and Tanner head off on a road trip

Growing up in Eldorado was like growing up surrounded by your extended family. It's an extended family that celebrates with you or takes care of you when your struggling. It's a family that follows you even when you leave Eldorado. It's a family welcomes your wives, husbands and children with open arms.

One big family

I love Eldorado because it had a huge part in making Tanner who he is, and I love who he is! Outdoorsy, country, adventurous, fearless, mechanical, tough, fiercely loyal, loving, hard working and with a great sense of humor and passion for life!

I love Eldorado because Tanner's friends became such an important part of my life. My best friend, Summer, introduced me to Tanner after she began dating Andrew, one of Tanner's best Eldo buds. Summer and Andrew got married two years before us, are expecting a baby, and despite the fact that they live in Colorado and we don't see them as often as we'd like, Tanner and I could probably say there are few people on earth we feel closer to. Andrew's mom, Liz, also helped me plan my wedding, and his dad, Andy, married me and Tanner.

Tanner and I with Andrew and Summer

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't end there or anywhere near it! Tanner lived with Andrew, Jason, Thomas and Scott all through college. The stories of Jason and Tanner together as little boys are hilarious, and those two are so alike, it's scary. Jason and Tanner have inhaled welding fumes side-by-side for years, and now they work side-by-side in the oilfield at the same company! Jason and his wife, Susannah, are two of our go-to people in Weatherford for everything from a fun night out to "Can you please feed the horses?" And we know we even could on Jason's parent's, who live close by, for a favor anytime if needed to.


And now

Although Thomas passed away in 2005, I feel like he is with us both everyday. I can't imagine my life without his family, the Ballew family, in it, and I love popping over to see Ray and Debbie -- and which ever kiddo happens to be in town -- most every time we go to Eldo.

Andrea, Tanner and Thomas in college

With Debbie and Ray at my bridal shower, hosted by the First Presbyterian Church

I could go on an on. From Wesley and Matt meeting us out at the River House whenever we're in New Braunfels to catching up with Jeff and his beautiful new wife, Lori, at Summer's baby shower in Katy to random visits from Tana or facebook-ing with Hallie, the people of this lil' West Texas town have become such a part of my heart.

But that's all from my perspective. And this is supposed to be a newlywed blog. Contrary to how it may appear at times, I am in fact not married to myself. Ha! I have heard COUNTLESS Eldo memories, recollections, tall tales and highly entertaining stories from Tanner over the six years we have been together. On a recent road trip to none other than Eldorado, I got Tanner started on the subject of home sweet home, then pulled out my laptop and transcribed as he talked. I've done it a few time since then, and I'm putting together a nice compilation of Eldorado stories and childhood memories that I plan to share on my our blog.

Be prepared! And keep an eye out for Ye Old Eldorado Stories, because they're good... and the pictures, they're even better!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wild Night

It all began innocently enough. I was taking a casserole and some other things over to a friend's house. The casserole was Mexican Lasagna 2.0. Mexican Lasagna 1.0, an aberration in my carefully balanced ecosystem of procrastination, was sitting happily in the refrigerator back in Eldorado, which I only realized once I was on the road and about two hours outside of Eldorado.

"No problem!" my laid-back, level-headed, don't-sweat-the-small-stuff, keeping-it-all-in-perspective self cheerfully thought -– right after I broke into dramatic, heaving sobs and called Tanner on his cell phone to break the awful news of my terrible predicament.

Anyway, who cares how I got there. The important part is I eventually arrived at, "No problem!" and continued my trip home. I would simply make another casserole that evening and deliver it promptly at 8:30 p.m. as planned.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, except for the unwelcome onslaught of PPP -- premature pee problem. Why is it that the body decides it reeeeeally need to go to the bathroom about 30 minutes from your destination? You're sooo close. Close enough so that going to the bathroom seems like an epic pain in the butt, a pesky pimple rearing its ugly head 30 minutes before it's time to leave for prom. But you're also far enough away from home to where there is a legitimate threat of going in your pants. To further complicate matters, I have such a guilty conscious that I can't use a convenience store restroom without purchasing something, and at 30 minutes from my stocked, albeit mouse-infested (a story for another day), pantry at home, buying anything seems like a waste of money.

Aaaanyway, lest I digress, I made it to my office in the late afternoon without wetting myself, rushed to the grocery store after work, skiddadled home, made the casserole, and headed out to deliver. After forcing my friend to stay on the phone for ten minutes and give me inch-by-inch directions, I arrived with my goods. I filled my arms and headed into the house, expecting to drop everything off, chat for a bit and then hit the road. After all, I had to get back home and pack for my work trip to Oklahoma the next morning. Well, we got into some great conversation, time flew, and it was after 10 p.m. before I made it back to the truck. I grabbed my phone from the console and saw a text message from Tanner, who was back in Eldorado and asking about medication for the dogs.

"Oh, I'll just give him a ring!" I thought. "I miss him; I want to hear his voice; and my clumsy nubs can't tpye on my iPhone, aywnay."

Ring. Ring. The call connects.


Erin: "Uhhhhh. Hello?"

Turns out, while I was in lala land without my cellphone, an armed burglary occurred across the pasture from our house. Helicopters with search lights were swooping and criss-crossing over our little country road and the pastures around our house and our neighbors' houses. Our neighbors and close friends, Molly and Rob, had called Tanner. Rob's dad, Glen, is our town's constable. He lives next to Molly and Rob and two places down from us. They had heard on the scanner that the suspect was armed, dangerous and on the run. They knew I was home alone, but saw that my truck was gone and all the lights were out.

Long story short, an epic phone chain ensued. Molly called me several times. No luck. Then Molly called Tanner, who called me 2 million times and couldn't get a hold of me. Tanner called a guy to get the number of the friend I was visiting. That guy didn't have the number, but he had the number of a girl who did. Tanner called that girl. She gave him the number and then she also tried to call me a few times. Tanner called the friend I was visiting, but my friend didn't recognize the number. I saw him pick at his ringing phone several times with a puzzled look, then put it down. Tanner left him a couple frantic voicemails, then waited it out.

After two hours of this, I had 4 million missed calls, 3.5 million text messages and a very worried husband. Oops. Well the suspect was still on the run by the time I finally returned to earth, so I decided to go stay with Molly and Rob, who offered me a room for the night. But of course, I needed my toiletries from my house. I had to get up bright and early and catch a ride with Molly to Fort Worth in order to pick up my company truck. No time to dilly dally the next morning. But of course I left my back door unlocked and all my lights off when I went on my errand. Which meant, of course, the constable and his deputy had to search the house before Molly and I went over, just in case the robber had holed up there. Of course, I had left the kitchen dirty and the BRAVO channel on TV and was irrationally paranoid that something horrific like the Real Housewives of Orange County would be blaring at full volume. (For the record, that is NOT what I was watching when I left the house.)

The house, hay shed and Tanner's shop all got a legit search with flashlights and guns drawn as Molly and I waited in the truck. When I heard the deputy report over the scanner that they were searching the house of "lady on such and such Lane who left her door unlocked," I felt an odd mixture of embarrassment for taking up the police's time, gratitude for having the constable as a friend and neighbor, amazement that I was in a police SUV and relief that he didn't mention anything about the dirty pans on the stove, trashy TV blaring in the living room and mice infestation in the pantry.

Despite the hectic chain of events, I got my belongings from my house, and everything ended peacefully around midnight with me settling down to sleep in the borrowed bedroom of Molly's and Rob's 5-year-old son. As I dozed off in a shrine to Thomas the Train, I found myself thinking how nice it was to realize how much Tanner cares about me. Next time, though, I'll orchestrate an easier situation through which he can show his affection.


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