Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vacation: Day 7

We woke up and were happy to leave our gross roach motel. (I might be exaggerating a little...told you I'm a hotel snob!) We had about 30 miles to drive before we reached the caverns.

Harper demanded our undivided attention so she could "read" this book to us. Precious girl.

We went down an elevator that took us down 750 feet into the caves. We did a self-guided tour since Harper was too young to do a group tour and both kids did so great. They thought it was the coolest thing ever.

hehehe...I'm so mature

This was our view as we were descending down out of the park:

But it wasn't long before I was stuck in my own worst nightmare. A two-lane road with tons of oilfield trucks and nasty rain. I think the 2 hours of riding on this road shaved years off my life.

We stopped at some little rinky-dink town for lunch at Pizza Hut. We were happy for some familiar comfort food. Thankfully the rain let up and we made it to I-10 where the lanes doubled and divided and I felt like I could relax a little! We continued on all the way to San Antonio. It was another long day of traveling and boy did it feel good to be back in a big city. Priceline came through for me in a big way and I got us an awesome room at the Hyatt for...wait for it...$60! This made me feel so much better. It was a really nice hotel and probably one of the best rooms I've ever stayed in, and we paid half of what we paid for the dump the night before. Not to mention we got a free yummy breakfast the next morning which saved us another $20+! Yeah baby! I'm not sure I should be this excited about a hotel room, but I am a dork so there you go.

Our night continued to get brighter when we found a perfect restaurant right across the street from our hotel with no wait on a Friday night AND great food and service. More comfort food to welcome us back home. You guessed it, tex-mex!

Harper being silly...she wouldn't stop licking me. My kids are weird!
the restaurant even had a playground outside so the kids could blow off some pent-up energy

We came back and showered and spent 2 hours trying to get the kids to actually lie down. They were bouncing off the walls after being in the car all day. And remember when I said Harper's hair was so much straighter in New Mexico without the humidity? Another sign we were back in south Texas:

welcome back, curls!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vacation: Day 6

Day 6 was mostly a travel day. We left Red River and traveled south through New Mexico to Carlsbad.

We saw this sign as we were leaving Red River. Please tell me it's not the funniest sign ever and I will call you a liar.

They take their cattle seriously. Among the expected mountain goat, deer, and elk crossing signs we saw as we were driving through the mountains, I think there were even more cattle crossing signs. Not to mention the warning sign of the possibility of them tumbling off the side of a cliff onto your car. But what was funny is we never once saw any cows. What's even funnier is that someone took the time to put UFO stickers on every single cow sign we passed. I was curious so I googled it and Wikipedia gave me some creepy reading material for our road trip. I had never heard of cattle mutilation, but it was both disturbing and fascinating to read about. So if you're bored like I was, click on over there and read up. Creepy!

We decided to stop in Santa Fe and check out the city and grab some lunch. It seemed very urban and the people we came across weren't super friendly. In fact, Harper and I almost got run over while we were crossing at a crosswalk. Good times. Not sure if Santa Fe is a snobby town or we are just used to friendly Texans, but we weren't super impressed with our experience. The city itself is beautiful, though.
Camel Rock

 We walked around the museum district and stopped in to see the Loretto Chapel that Trip Advisor suggested.

There is definitely something beautiful about traditional churches. I grew up Presbyterian but now we go to an interdenominational church where things are more contemporary. I love our church and how it is very bible-focused. Between church, BSF and home our kids have a lot of exposure to the Bible and know a lot about Jesus. But what they haven't had a lot of exposure to is the traditional artwork that you would typically see in old churches and cathedrals. This chapel had several art displays illustrating Jesus' life and death on the cross and Harrison was intrigued and asked me to read each one to him. We got to the ones where it showed him carrying his own cross, falling down, and then being nailed and beaten and ultimately murdered on the cross and he turned around and hugged my neck as tight as he could. I think it's one thing to hear about Jesus dying on the cross but to actually see it portrayed like that is a lot harder. I wasn't sure if it was too graphic for him but I think it helped him process what all of that means and how much Jesus really loves us to go through all of that for us. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded and said, "the good news is that he didn't stay dead and now he's alive in Heaven with God." Such a special moment. And yes, very good news indeed!

There were a lot of little shops and we did some window shopping. Harper was fascinated by all the jewelry on display. We went into one store and I was able to find out some information on a bracelet and ring I inherited from my grandma. I learned that they are vintage Zuni and they were handcrafted by native americans back in most likely the 50s. I was so happy to learn these details and only wish I could have heard them from my grandma when she was still living. I have no idea when or where she got them and would love to know the personal story behind them.

A little peek into our afternoon. I had one kid bossing me around telling me to catch a bubble in my mouth (what their teachers tell them when they want them to be quiet) and another kid telling me that I destroyed his whole family. Haha!

After a long day in the car we finally got to Roswell. So of course we had to stop and check out a little alien culture.

We went into a weird gift shop that had this back room you could pay $3 to go in. The kids were not feeling so warm toward the aliens but Rick and I had fun being silly.

This was as close as Harper was willing to get...and notice her brother isn't pictured. haha!

This took some coaxing, but I love it:

If we had done our thorough research we would have stayed the night in Roswell. But we had planned to tour the caverns near Carlsbad the next morning so we drove on for a couple more hours. I didn't book any of our hotel rooms (other than our condo) ahead of time because I wanted us to be flexible in case there were any traveling hiccups. Priceline is my friend and I can usually negotiate really good deals using their bidding system. Well, we were in for a surprise when we made it to Carlsbad. It was kind of a dumpy little town but thanks to a current oil boom going on, hotel prices were ridiculous. We're talking a Holiday Inn Express for $300. Are you kidding me?!?!? Even the gross truck stop motels were expensive. I'm kind of a hotel snob (I can't help it...it's the germaphobe in me) but I had to suck up my pride because we definitely weren't shelling out that kind of money to sleep in a room for 8 hours. We found an off-brand motel and I promptly declared a no-taking-your-shoes-off rule. They "upgraded" us to the suite. Which I guess means we were lucky enough to score a 20-year old recliner and a full size refrigerator:

We were all kind of grumpy by this point. The kids were wired and sick of being in the car and we just picked up fast food to bring back to our motel room since we were tired and it was late. We had to carry up the majority of our luggage since we didn't want anybody to break into the car and our fancy motel didn't have an elevator. So that was fun. Then Harrison knocked over my nachos onto the floor before I even got a bite. Then Harper somehow got a bunch of sticker burrs in her feet from the carpet in our room?? (See -- my no-taking-shoes-off rule was a good one even if nobody but me followed it) And trust me when I say that this place solidified my reason for always traveling with my own pillow, that's for sure. Rick always teases me about it but I was the one laughing this night. lol. I fell asleep to Harrison counting all of the pretend bedbugs all over me while I prayed that they were truly pretend. ;)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Vacation: Day 5

Day 5 was our last full day/night in Red River. We wanted a low-key day and didn't have anything on our agenda. We ended up exploring the town, did a little shopping, and went for a hike on one of the nature trails. I even got out my good camera! Do you know how long it's been since I've gotten out my good camera?? It's sad, really. Anyway, my point is that I got out my good camera and actually took pictures with it, and that is my excuse for the following bajillion photos.

View from our balcony

If it wasn't 4 degrees outside I could have sat out there all morning

little red schoolhouse...so cute, right?
We went back to the ski area to look at the pictures the professional photographer took the day we were skiing. We didn't get a family shot that day so we had one taken while we were there. Here are the ones we decided to buy (pictures of pictures...and I'm so glad I took these because the prints got ruined today by a spilled glass of water):

one last picture of the ski area

We ventured to a hiking trail. So much fun. I grew up out in the country and used to hike and explore outdoors all the time. It felt good to be back in nature like that. It was a nice reminder that we should be a little more "outdoorsy" from time to time.

This boy and his expressions. I don't even remember what these were about but they sure do crack me up. Especially the second one.

Maybe I don't wanna smile, mom...

aaggghhhh! this camera lady is crazy!!!!
How I love this little boy...and the sweetness in the background

She insisted on using a walking stick even though I'm pretty sure it slowed her down :)

always eating snow

The trail ended at one of the lifts

of course his walking stick quickly became a guitar
sweet, sweet girl

Red River is such a neat little town. It's about 3 blocks wide and I'd guess about a mile long. They call it "Main Street in the mountains" and it definitely has that quaint charm. It looked like a town right out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was perfect!


This place surprised us...best food we had the whole trip
She wanted a picture with Santa outside one of the gift shops

After our hike, those kids were POOPED. They both fell asleep within 2 minutes of being back in the car. This was the only nap we got out of them the entire trip. Another reason to become more outdoorsy :)


We spent the rest of the day hanging out at our condo. Stayed in for dinner, had a movie night, and I soaked up every moment of quality time with my sweet family.

Rick's favorite Christmas movie
Harrison took this picture :)

a great end to a great day!

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