Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back to San Diego!

Gray and I got on the road toward San Diego a few days after the new year began. I don't know about him, but I was glad to be almost home. It is great to spend time with family and friends at home, but in a lot of ways it's nicer to be in your own bed with all of your own stuff and not imposing on anyone. Also, heading home meant Josh would be back soon! 

We were set to meet two friends (three kids and three dogs) in two separate cars, but plans changed and Gray and I made the trip back to California with one friend in her car and her two dogs. It was nice knowing someone else was right there with us if we had major car trouble in the middle of west Texas, but the company was almost more awesome! 

We met Casey in Texas, near Houston. Naturally before we met up with her, we had a MAJOR flat tire in the middle of nowhere. I was lucky enough to stop to check it before it was totally flat (10lbs remaining) at a gas station AND be within 100 yards of a tire place. If that doesn't tell you that God was watching over us, I'm pretty sure nothing can! The guys must have felt sorry for me, because they patched the flat within 15 minutes and didn't charge me anything for the repair. Totally blessed. 

Fletch stayed in the car while the men went to work. 
Our first official stop was Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. I have always wanted to see these caverns, so I was pretty excited that Casey was into the extra miles to see it.  It was worth the trip because the caverns are huge! I'm not sure it was the best cave experience I've ever had, but it was pretty fantastic. 




I think Gray enjoyed the caverns too! 
We took 4 days to get home, but didn't make any other really exciting stops. I only took a handful of photos, so I'll share a few from the coolest rest stop ever. They had tons of random stuff to buy, but Gray LOVED the metal sculptures that were out to one side of the gas station. Fletch was also interested in them, which was kind of funny.
The horse was the first thing Fletch noticed. 

Gray loved climbing on the lizard, but wouldn't even get close to these snakes!
Now that we are back in San Diego, I wanted to count up the states we visited and miles we drove in the last 6 months. It seems that we went to 26 different states and traveled over 12,600 miles (that's over 9 days of driving time by Google's calculations). I'm not counting air travel (that would be another 2,800 miles or so) or water travel to Mexico. :) I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but we saw countless things that our great nation has to offer and made too many memories to count. 

I think my favorite things in all of that travel were Yellowstone NP, The Battle of Little Big Horn NP, Mt. Rushmore NP, Yosemite NP, Sequoia NP, Muir Woods NP, and the Four Corners Monument. Yellowstone was hands down the most amazing. If you are ever considering a trip to Yellowstone, just go. You will love every minute of it! The landscape in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota alone is worth a trip because it's breathtaking in that part of America. BUT in the end, there is no place like home. :) 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yucatan Cruise

My sister had the crazy idea that we should go on a Christmas vacation. Mom and I talked her out of a Christmas cruise, in favor of a New Year's cruise! We left on the 26th headed to New Orleans and got on board a Carnival cruise ship. We stopped in Cozumel and Progresso.  

Carnival has scheduled activities for kids basically every day you are on the ship (even days at port). Gray and Claire spent a few hours in the kid zone every day. We found that it was easier to have dinner without them (by feeding them first and dropping them off) and that they had tons of fun with the Carnival people. They went on treasure hunts and had a prince/princess party. They made tons of hats and had face painting,  it was so cute to see what they did every day. 
The kids loved sitting in the window in our cabin. 
Our first stop was in Cozumel. Jennifer found Chankanaab Park the last time they were there, so we went to it for a few hours. They had a little show with sea lions and seals, which was really cute and the kids loved. The park also offers swimming with dolphins, but we skipped that and headed for the beach. Jennifer, Bob, and Lexie snorkeled for a little while. Gray, Clarie, Mom, and I stayed on the little beach for kids because Gray loves the water. The water is much warmer in Mexico than it is here in California, so Gray stayed in over an hour. I think he would have stayed longer, but he got a little chilled so I made him get out. (He will have full body shakes and be turning blue, but not be ready to get out of the water at home.) We left the park and did a little shopping before heading back to the boat. It was a pretty relaxing day, and everyone had fun. 
Ma'am and Gray in Cozumel. 

Gray and Lexie loved Chankanaab Park in Cozumel. 
Gray and Uncle Bob watching the seal/sea lion show at the park. 

Gray loved the little bay for kiddos. Plus the water was WAY warmer in Mexico than it is here in California! 

Our next stop was Progresso. We had plans to visit the Dzibilchaltun Ruins, just outside the city of Progresso. We did a little shopping in the market before getting on a tour bus and heading to the ruins. Good Lordy it was hot out that day, but the ruins were very interesting. They let people climb on them and we had a guide that gave some information about what we were seeing. There was a freshwater sinkhole at the ruins that people swim in. We were told it was 200 feet deep, so I wasn't even remotely interested in getting Gray close to that! It was really pretty to look at though... I loved the trip to the ruins, but wouldn't want to go in the summer because if it's hot in December, I don't want to know what it's like in July! 
Making time for a little shopping in Progresso.
Trying out the swings/hammocks. He approved. 
We spend one day at the Dzibilchaltun ruins.

The freshwater sinkhole at the ruins.

Carnival has so many fun things for kids! 
The kiddos!
Build a moose! Gray wanted a pirate moose. :)

Once we made it back to New Orleans, we stopped at Cafe Du Monde for some beignets. I'm pretty sure there is some law that says you can't visit New Orleans without getting beignets. Gray loved his first experience with them and was covered in powdered sugar before it was over with. After the quick around the Riverwalk, we headed back to North LA. 

I think we all had a pretty great time on the cruise. Plus I found out how amazing the kid zone is if Josh and I plan another cruise with Gray anytime soon.
Beignets for the road in New Orleans. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas!

Gray and I spent Christmas at 'home' this year. It was great to spend time with family and friends we don't get to see very often. I think the worst part of living in California is being away from our family and friends. Luckily we have make our own 'family' of military friends everywhere we move, so it's not like we are all alone out here. It would just be nice to be able to spend time with parents, siblings, cousins, etc on the smaller holidays or even family reunions. Alas we will stay here in California for the foreseeable future, so we just have to enjoy our trips home and visitors.

Gray loved the gifts from everyone and from Santa. Speaking of Santa, he didn't have a melt down this year! He actually smiled at Santa and sat in his lap for pictures. He refused to talk to him, but at least he didn't cry. I'm thinking next year, he may even tell Santa what he wants for Christmas! 
Photo of a photo=Not the best quality. 
Gray loved Papa's Harley! 
This was so sweet. :)
Gray and Claire on Christmas morning.
Gray had just woken up. Claire had been in hair/nails already that morning. 
Gray LOVED his dune buggy!
I just wish our yard was bigger so he could actually drive around instead of forward and backward! 
Showing Claire his new wheels! 
Uncle Chris gave this to Gray. 
Opening presents from Daddy! 
He loves the owls on the Christmas tree. And the bells. And the birds. 

One more gift from his temporary Sunday School teachers in Bastrop. 
Gray and Cayden had a little too much fun in the dune buggy.
Luckily Mom lives on a quiet street. :)
We made the rounds and saw just about everyone, even if our time was limited. I'm glad Gray was able to see so many people who love him even though he doesn't get to see them very often!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is anyone out there?

I realize most of the people who check in on me here on the blog from time to time must think I have abandoned blogging all together, but the truth of the matter is we have traveled a minimum of 10,000 miles in the last six months PLUS Mom had no (I repeat. NO) internet in her new house for basically forever. As soon as the internet was set up, we had Christmas festivities to enjoy then got on a Carnival cruise ship for a week. I'm finally back in the real world and have had a little time to catch up on some sleep. I have been packing up my bags for one final trip (until at least February). I'll be posting more about our travels in the next few weeks, but Gray will be on the road for roughly a week before that happens. 

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!