Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Road Trip: Week 2

After our fun time in Texas, it was time to hit the road again. We left Grandma Cuca there :( and took off Monday morning for New Mexico.

Our fun stop: The Abilene Zoo
 Another cute, small, easily walkable zoo.

 My favorite part was the giraffe bridge, where you could
get to eye level with the giraffes.
(And we could have fed them...but my kids didn't want to. Crazies.)

Our other BIG fun stop: White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Back story: When I was in junior high, my dad was called up for active duty during Operation: Desert Storm. He was stationed in El Paso, TX at Ft. Bliss. During spring break, my family went to visit him and we stopped at White Sands. I am a sand lover and this place was HEAVEN for me. Huge sand dunes where the sand is so white that they look like giant snow drifts. I've always wanted to go back. And THIS was the year. I couldn't wait!

Another back story: We have some friends from college, Trevor and Marlena, who live close to White Sands. We've exchanged Christmas cards over the years, but have not seen each other in 13 years. I e-mailed Marlena a couple of months ago to see if she'd like to meet us at White Sands. Not only were they up for that, they also offered to let us stay at their home. Awesome! My kids (or at least one kid in particular) thought I was crazy for having us stay with "strangers." But all of us had a FABULOUS time and the kids didn't want to leave in the morning!

Marlena, me, and 8 of our 9 children.

Mom jump!
(Not bad for two not-as-young-as-we-used-to-be ladies!)

M&T had brought sleds, so we had fun sledding down the dunes.

Some of us were more graceful than others.

These two were instant besties.
We may need to find another excuse to visit NM soon!

Our attempt at a group jumping photo. :) 

Cool sunset with occasional lightning. Loved it.

In the morning, we got to meet their Boston Terrier puppies.
Oh. my. gosh. I was *almost* convinced that we needed a pet.

We said our good-byes and it was off to AZ.
My homeland!
First stop: Sister Jones' home

She is a dear friend who used to live in NC, but now in AZ.
She and I had a great time catching up...

 while the kids loved swimming in her awesome pool.

 The longer I live in NC, the more it feels like home,
but part of my soul still longs for the desert.
I love it. 
 But maybe not the Phoenix area.
It is HOT.

Our next visit was a reunion of sorts:
Hanging out with my two best girlfriends since FOURTH GRADE,
Monika and Marianne.
Here we are at our 8th grade graduation dance.

And here we are 23 years later!
Marianne and I have seen each other regularly over the years,
but we hadn't seen Monika in almost a decade.
We had SOOO much fun catching up, laughing, strolling down memory lane together.
And it was great to meet Moni's husband and kids.
We met at Peter Piper Pizza, so the kids all had a blast playing games while we chatted.

The kids and I stayed with Marianne and the next morning we were off to Sedona!
 We packed a picnic lunch, ate at a park, and played horseshoes.

Had fun window shopping in the fun southwest shops.

Then it was off to our big splurge:
a red rocks jeep tour!
My attempt at a group selfie.
I'm so bad at them.

 The red rocks are amazing.
 Our tour was perfect--bumpy without being too intense.
We only had one crazy sharp drop that made the girls scream.

So, so fun.

Afterward, Marianne and Patrick headed home.
The kids and I stayed in Sedona then headed to Williams, AZ in the morning.
We met my brother, Mark, Taylor and their kids there...
to ride the train to the Grand Canyon. Woo hoo!
I had never taken my kids there.

It's as gorgeous as I remember.

B was so good with Marcos and Gabriel.
Gabe joined us in our jumping picture tradition.
(If you look close, you can see Marcos lying in the background behind B.)
I got to meet my newest niece, Ami!
Love her smiles and those cheeks!
On the ride home, we had all the kids sit together.
They had fun sharing tablets and ipods.

When we were getting close to Williams,
our train was ROBBED.
(What a fun way to get a tip!)

We spent the weekend in Winslow,
which I still consider my hometown.
Love that place.

We took the kids to the creek,
a favorite high school hangout.

 B couldn't wait to go cliff jumping.

He was picturing bigger cliffs than this...
but we had young kids with us,
so he made the best of the rocks that were nearby.

 The girls were hesitant at first,

 but soon jumped in and had a great time.

It was Ami's first time!

She, too, took a little convincing...but warmed up to it.


I was so proud of Whit for jumping.

Uncle Mark was super nice and took B back to
the creek the next day to try some bigger rocks.
 He conquered Flat Rock.
 And did flips off Captain America.
(Even though this pic looks like he's slamming his head
against the rock, he was not injured at the creek.)

We got lunch at the Root Beer Stand,
one of the places I worked during high school.

Standin on a corner.

 A girl in a flatbed Ford.

I LOVE walking around the desert behind the neighborhood where we grew up.
 The sky. The horizon. Home.

 We took the kids to our old stomping grounds.
We named them First Hill,
 Second Hill, and
Blue Canyon.
I was shocked when Mark told me THIS was Blue Canyon.
When we used to ride our bikes our here as kids,
it seemed so cool to have our very own canyon.
As an adult, it just looks like a little downhill slope
with trash in it. Boo.

We also stopped by the new skate park in town.
 Gabe showed us his moves.

Then we visited La Posada,
the awesome historic hotel that has been remodeled.
 C loved the book store there.

B and W played a quick game of chess.

At night, when we'd put the kids to bed, Mark and I
would stay up and play games--Settlers and LRC. So fun.
Loved hanging out with my little bro.

After a fun couple of days, we said goodbye to cousins, Aunt Taylor, and Uncle Mark.

I decided to stop at Four Corners.
The kids had never been there, either.
My advice: Don't go on a weekend late afternoon/early evening.
What I thought would be a 15 minute fun stop,
turned into an hour long wait in line.
We weren't the only ones who wanted to stand in four states!

 We each got our own state for a few seconds.

The kids endured the LONG wait and then we were back on the road.

It wasn't long before we drove into
The end destination this year.

We stopped for a few minutes in Moab.
 I can't resist the rest area with the all those red rocks.

The kids can't resist climbing them!

The first two weeks of the road trip have been fantastic.
Can't wait to see what adventures lie ahead.


  1. Gosh it looks like you guys are having an awesome time! Those white sand dunes are beautiful!

  2. Some great pictures. Your kids are getting a fabulous education. The White Sands pictures are amazing.