Saturday, January 10, 2015

Big Bend or Bust

We started the year off right!  Cloudy hasn't been to school in over a month and Ben missed the first week back after the holiday break - they are stoked!

Early December we decided we would take a week camping trip during the school break.  It wasn't until New Year's Eve that we decided on our destination.  Our trip started off with an ice storm and a detour to Abilene.  We let the ice melt a day before continuing our journey southwest through the Permian Basin and Chihuahua dessert.

Southwest Texas views from the road

A short hike from our campground to view the Rio Grande (left is Mexico/ Right is Mexico -- I mean Texas). 

The full moon during our trip flooded camp with light, but it took until 9pm for to rise over the canyon wall.  From 6-9 we had great views and saw several shooting stars and satellites zip across the sky. 

As we arrived to Big Bend the attendee at the Visitor Station said to us "Don't Panic, there's no electricity."  If that was the biggest problem we sighed in relief, laughed and said no problem.  He then told us the good news, with no electricity in the park it was a free day.  After a brief chat and directions to our campground we asked about the nearest gas station.  He looked at us like we didn't hear his first statement.  With no electricity there was no gas pumps, and he assumed when the gas pumps did come back online gas would be rationed.  We averaged around 7-8 miles per gallon and had 1/2 a tank to make it the next 48 miles to our campground.  It was going to be CLOSE!

We had a great campsite, a little strange to see Border Patrol as often as we saw Park Rangers though.  There were plenty of trees to hang hammocks from, but national park rules here didn't allow hanging anything from natural objects.  Pete improvised and used our Nebraska hammock stands and the truck to tie hammocks for the boys.

Our first hike was to the Boquillas Canyon.  We saw a Mexican peddler selling souvenirs, and slid down sand hills.

From our camp we dropped in the canoe and paddled up river for 1/2 mile until we hit a rapid, then floated back down.

We took a trip to Hot Springs where we saw a river raft, which gave Pete the brilliant idea of dropping in and floating down to camp.  While he and Ben paddled, Cloudy and I hiked.  

View from the paddle trip

view from our hike 

Hot Springs bath.  105 degrees of awesomeness.  

Hike out to the Window View.  The closer the boys were the edge, the more on edge I became. 

Balanced Rock hike.  One of our favorites.  Seems smart enough: stand under a giant boulder balanced in the air while I take your picture.  

Santa Elena canyon.  

On the way to Santa Elena we blew a tire in the truck.  On the way home the next day, we blew a tire on the camper.  

More pictures are posted on our google+ drives. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Let's play quick catch up. 

November 2014:  Ben had the entire week of Thanksgiving off so he went to school with me and LOVED my Political Science class (we were talking about nuclear warfare - it was extremely interesting!).  His highlight of the few days on campus was the library, leveling up on Ingress (nerd!!) and purchasing muffins at the cafe.  
Thanksgiving was at our house with grandparents all around.  Pete smoked a turkey and we were blessed with a visit from Brittany, Matt and Christin.  10 people sat around our table and it felt really nice to spend the day visiting with some of the ones we love.  

She's mad because she lost at SkipBo (I get it, honestly!) 

Pete and Ben rode in the Fort Worth Parade of Lights with the DFW Unicycle Club.
December 2014:  Cloudy's school had a Christmas pageant.  He played Joseph and they sang. 

Ben also had a school Choir Christmas program.  However, the school only owns 220 chairs and 30minutes before the program when we arrived all seats were taken and another 100 people were standing behind the chairs 3-4 deep and there was no way to see.  Pete climbed through the tables that were lined against the walls for a better view.  It was a little disappointing, not only could we not see the kids, they didn't mic the stage and we couldn't hear them either.  (I've since submitted a few suggestions -- Like perhaps use the brand new middle schools auditorium!)  

 I finished yet another semester of school!  HOORAY.  We had a nice relaxing camping trip to celebrate. There was plenty of hiking and unicycle riding.  We camped on the south side of the lake and really enjoyed the trails (both paved and dirt).  Pete and Ben even braved the waters for a kayak trip across the lake.  

At some point Denton had their holiday extravaganza.  I've been desparately looking to replace my Papillion festivities, and when I thought I read "horse drawn carriage" I was sold.  I convinced everyone to bundle up on a cool 50 degree night and drive to Denton.  I had great disappointment when my "horse drawn carriage" was indeed a horse drawn wagon, we are in Texas after all.  I passed on the wagon ride, moped for the next 30 minutes as we milled around the square.  We ate tamales (again this is  Texas) and Hot Mess (chili dogs with fritos). To our amazement we enjoyed the Holiday Spectacular!  Pete was beside himself when the band started playing (like a kid at Disney).  The so-called "community band" was actually pros from the university, including a few grammy award winners.  

For Christmas break I drove down to see my 98 yr old grandma. Jennifer Lee-Anna and Cloudy went with me and Mimo fell in love with Cloudy and his bowtie, and Jennifer Lee-Anna's hair (she does have some pretty awesome hair).  

We live in Texas and the tree farms are not plentiful.  We didn't have time to drive 2 hours for a tree so Pete found us a dandy out of the Costco semi for $30.   I was down with it because of the price and we were already 2 weeks out.  That didn't stop us from taking our annual tree pose, it's just funnier this way!  

The tree then sat outside for the next week "relaxing" until we found time to drag it in and break ornaments.  We broke about 6 ornaments, including our pickle!!  Ben cried every time one shattered. I believe his words were "This is no fun" (between sobs).  

The next weekend the Haslet Fire Department brought a Santa through the neighborhood.   

Cloudy is still wearing his elf hat from 2009, but he made me modify it with a white fluffy at the end. 

Afterwards we drove west and we stayed with my parents to help with some overdue chores, only to return finish our own chores and welcome PawPaw back.  
Christmas was filled with cookies, cinnamon rolls and plenty of presents for the boys.  

The day after Christmas  Kyle and Kenzie stayed the night with Ben and Megan.  We went on a lights tour, roasted marshmallows on the fire out back and just generally had fun.  Lots of kids practiced their unicycle skills in our driveway, and a few figured it out!  

This week was spent regrouping our sanity, our house, and our pantry.  For in the near future we are headed on another adventure.