Baseball Games, Shooting Stuff and A New Adventure!

Happy Friday world!

Well, we head off for our newest epic journey (ok two weeks is maybe not THAT epic, but we’re pretty awesome and we’re going to tick off a few things as we go) tomorrow morning and I am pumped!

We’ve had some wonderful adventures recently, so I actually have something fun to share: phew! Monday before last saw us dressing in people clothes (no uniform for James and out of tracksuit pants for me) to attend a luncheon held by LifeTroops, an Oklahoma faith-based outreach program designed to help service members during their healing from military traumas. There, we had the chance to meet MAJ Andy Cullen (retd.) and his wife, Zoe, as well as their four children, who had recently flown over from Australia to promote their new book. Having recently published their co-authored nonfiction account of Andy’s battles with PTSD, Resurrected: A Story of Hope, they are currently touring the US to talk about their experiences and spread awareness of the mental health concerns prevalent amongst the military community. It was fantastic for us to connect with them. Their tale of Andy’s initial diagnosis (with both a traumatic brain injury and PTSD) and subsequent battles to achieve some kind of normality in a world seemingly turned upside down is both terrifying and encouraging as a military spouse, but wonderful and redeeming too, and all the more incredible for its happy ending. Their talk was inspiring, and we’re looking forward to buying and reading Resurrected: A Story of Hope… Plus, it was really lovely to hear some more Aussie accents! James got interviewed by the local news and did a great job of speaking up about the importance of Andy’s work in addressing PTSD and mental health awareness.

The cover for Andy and Zoe’s book, Resurrected: A Story of Hope.

As a result of that interaction, we were fortunate enough to be given free tickets through LifeTroops to Friday night’s baseball game featuring The Oklahoma City Dodgers versus The Nashville Sounds. Score! We took the chance to head up to OKC a bit early (though not as early as we’d have liked: we didn’t leave Lawton until close to 1pm and we didn’t eat breakfast OR lunch) and pick up some supplies for white water rafting. If you’re living anywhere near OKC and haven’t hit the OKC Outlet Shoppes yet, we can now highly recommend them! Columbia in particular had some wonderful deals on (and a military discount!) and between there and a few other stores, we managed to pick up some new clothing, new headlamps, some great waterproof sandals for the raft and some new sunnies for me (they’re super cool). Mission success! Or at least we think so; I guess we’ll find out in a week’s time!

We had a bit of free time before meeting up with everyone else at the ballpark, so despite being almost painfully full from our far-too-big lunch, we decided to head over to The Melting Pot and eat some fondue. “Only the sweet menu please,” we told the server, being 100% sure we were not there for any cheesy business… And wow, did we make the right choice. We got a single serving of the Banana Fosters fondue and it was awesome. James tried to hide it from me that he’d given them the go ahead to light the fondue on fire while I was in the bathroom, but his conscience won out. Apparently they put some cinnamon on it while it was burning and it shot up little sparks! So the only solution is that we will now have to go back for more tasty fondue, which I’m not overly distressed about.

The moment I found out that James had let the waitress light the fondue on fire while I was in the bathroom.

The sight awaiting us at the ballpark.

Anyway, we hadn’t been to a baseball game since moving to the states, and (since baseball isn’t a sport in Australia) thus we were excited about the experience… But also somewhat trepidatious, since it didn’t seem like a super stimulating sport. We met up with the rest of the group which was probably close to fifteen people or so total, grabbed our tickets and headed in. Our tickets got us free OKC Dodgers caps (please see our great photos) and $5 each off concession stand items… Then, when I put them to good use buying some water, I got a cool little plastic baseball helmet for free on account of my accent!

James posing with our free little helmet.

Heeeeeeey batterbatterbatter!

Later, we decided to buy some Dippin’ Dots in two more mini baseball helmets and now we have a full set: if that isn’t success, I really don’t know what is.

Helmets AND ice-cream!

Out of nowhere, a cat strolled casually out onto the field (ok, ok, the peripheries of the field) and sat down to clean itself, clearly quite comfortable with, or perhaps oblivious to, everything going on around it. What ensued was chaos. There were people running after the cat as it dodged and dipped and ducked and tried for the love of all that is good and holy to get away from these horrible predators. I was less than impressed when one of the Dodgers (who I won’t name, but immediately dubbed ‘Cat Killer’ despite the fact that he missed by a mile) threw his baseball bat at the poor little thing. One can only imagined our friendly little visitor was shocked out of its mind with all these randoms humans invading its turf! It sprinted through the home team dug out and escaped without anyone managing to lay a hand on it, before some brave but foolish young soul scooped it up and tried to keep it captive—getting a few decent scratches for his trouble I’d imagine—before it wriggled free and disappeared again. Talk about some excitement!

Poor little bastard.

It was great to be at a sporting event again though. I took the opportunity to give every single Dodger’s player who stepped up to the plate a proper Aussie-sounding nickname, which was a lot of fun, and then cheered over-enthusiastically using names they were probably very confused by. Despite not getting home until close to midnight, we had a really great time and now I’m probably less reluctant to go back to a baseball game in the future.        

James had organised to go shooting on Saturday morning, so we dragged ourselves out of bed at a semi-decent hour (very reluctantly and sluggishly on my part) and drove down towards Wichita Falls. In Burkburnett we met up with Robbo, who, with a car boot full of weaponry and ammo, took us out to the range and set us up with all manner of different firearms.

We both got the chance to shoot an AR-15, two different .22s, a handgun and two pistols (a .40 and a .45). It was awesome! Having not shot in ages, I found myself with a sore trigger finger relatively quickly, but it was a lot of fun to spend some more time playing around with the pistols, which I’d never had much of a chance to do while in the Army. I managed to get a few decent shots in too!

James being a badass and shooting a .22

James shooting the AR-15 with Robbo as his spotter.

Afterwards, we drove into Wichita Falls for lunch at Heff’s Burgers and some take-home cupcakes from Ganache: it’ll surprise no one to hear that we got home that afternoon after our feast of burgers and fries, and collapsed for a good long nap. I finished one of my university books over the weekend, being The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper and can strongly recommend it as a brilliant non-fiction book examining racial bias and police brutality in Australia. I also recently finished A.B. Facey’s A Fortunate Life, an iconic tale of Australia and the incredible life of Albert Facey: these are both uni novels, but since I’ve recently decided that my major project for my ‘Writing Non-Fiction’ subject at uni will be the start of my granddad’s biography, I know that I really need to read more nonfiction, specifically biography and the more opportunity I have to do so and develop my skills, the better I’ll be!

OK pulling out some beautiful sunrises again recently.

I’ve scheduled a post for Monday, but I’ll be back next Friday with an update of our magnificent adventures!

–Ana.

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