“Whaaaat the blaaaazes are Y’ALL doing in Teeeexas?” I keep hearing over and over.
Well, they don’t say it like that exactly, but my ears have been Texasized now so that’s how I hear it. Plus, I really like to use my new accent, even if it is just in type.
Okay, here’s how it went down. This is mostly true with some exaggeration. (I am in Texas, after all…)
As most of you know, we left Alaska near the end of November, headed towards grandma in California. We wanted to see a bit of the world. We wanted to visit with loved ones we rarely see. And we wanted to get the heck outta the ice. That and our cabin was not winter ready, blah, blah, blah. (click here for more on that) So we left.
IF I were smart, I would have journaled this entire trip. I didn’t. Hey, I’m on vacation.
So here is the paraphrased version:
We drove from Alaska to Northern California in a week, covering just over 3000 miles. The husband still has a job to go to, so he had to catch a flight back north that Saturday. We spent a week with grandma, making her crazier than she already was, no doubt. The kids and I hit the road north to Oregon to see some family in Portland, including our oldest daughter, Heather and her man, Andrew. We hit some thrift stores in Portland; spent a day at OMSI loving science; loved on my cousins beautiful family and took advantage of their hospitality. We went over to the Oregon coast and ate some icecream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, then headed down the 101 intending to weave all the way down, hit the Redwood forest and be in Sacramento in time to pick up the husband from the airport. Plans changed when my truck broke down near Pacific City in the dark, narrow highway. Old friends, just nine miles away, saved the day and AAA paid off. We spent three days camping in our friend’s driveway in the SNOW at the beach. We ate, we visited, we ate some more. The truck was fixed up for far less money than originally assumed and we hit the road again. Thinking there wasn’t time to make the Sacramento airport, I told the husband to get off the plane in Portland and headed back to my cousins. But my cousin, more wise to Oregon weather than I, said, “I love you, but leave.” So we hit the I-5 south, only stopping for pizza my aunt and uncle delivered roadside, and made it over the Siskiyou Mountains before another storm hit. Thanks cuz.
The husband came home and said, “Let’s go see some stuff.” So we packed up the next day and drove straight across highway 44 to Reno where we spent two days throwing money away at Circus Circus, shoving quarters in as fast as we could. Enough about that. We then went south on the 395, spending four days haunting museums, exploring the desert, and looking for abandoned mine shafts. Japanese internment camp; railroad museum; desert museums; rock formations galore…it was a semester of history and science education in three days. It was awesome.
Meanwhile, grandma had driven down to spend the holidays at my sister-in-laws in Palmdale, CA and we were greeted with open arms by a slew of relatives. Again, we shipped the husband off to earn the mighty dollar. Poor Dan. The family took us to experience thrift store shopping; a first train ride; daring the Los Angeles subway system; to City Walk at Universal Studios; to Ventura Beach; and treated us to Starbucks coffees galore. We ate, and we ate some more. We had a heck of a time with the family. The husband came home and brought with him our son, Billy. We spent two days at Knotts Berry farm because Disneyland was out of the budget, and it was good times had by all.
What now, we wondered. A reader offered us a free place to stay in Texas. Texas? What the heck…Texas? We came this far…why not?
And so we went east.
We went to the Grand Canyon then south through Flagstaff. We bypassed Phoenix because I lived there once when I was a pregnant/married/ignorant/teenager and I didn’t care to relive that insanity. Onward through Tucson to spend a day at Tombstone then across the I-10 through a thousand miles of desert, across New Mexico and into Texas. Whew.
Upon arrival we discovered the offered abode had been vandalized. Refrigerator full of maggots, mold, messes left behind by teenage burglars. Discouraged, I pouted. My kids rolled up their sleeves and began to clean and I followed their lead because my kids are mostly awesome part of the time. Three days in we decided it just wasn’t going to come together and were directed by a nice lady realtor to a cabin up the Frio River, some 80 miles further up the road. And so we went east again.
Life goes in circles sometimes. Ours has taken us a full 4,287 miles, and landed us again in a little cabin in the woods. By day we explore the dry river beds, do a little school work and cook ribs on the porch in our flip flops and shorts. By night we bundle in for a dvd and butter coated popcorn. It’s a rough life being a Winter Texan.
It’s odd, this feeling of freedom that comes with the nomadic life. Sometimes it’s troubling not knowing what the next day will bring. But then I just slam back some sweet tea, turn on the barbecue, and it all just melts away.
NEXT STOP….The beaches of Southern Texas. Stay tuned!