Category: travel

End of the Road

We’re back! After 8 weeks of travel through 8 states with a 1 year old in tow, we are finally back home in Dallas.  I can’t wait to share our incredible adventure with you, as well as my new role as a full time mama.  First I have to unpack my suitcase, my least favorite part of travel.  

A Toddler + Mini Horse = Cuteness Overload

 The Bear went on his first pony ride last week here at Trail West
It was a great success, and possibly the cutest thing ever.  
Toddler + Mini Horse = Cuteness Overload
 Mack, the mini horse, looks a little nervous.  
 If you look in the background of this pic, 
you can see the baby mini horse.  Cutest thing ever.  
 Destined to be a cowboy? 
I think yes.  
 Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
But do let them ride mini horses.  

Playing at the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, Colorado

Growing up in Little Rock, the Arkansas River was very much a part of my life.  It is huge and wide and powerful and full of barges and riverboats and crossed by massive bridges.  Not so a thousand miles away.    

 The lovely little town of Buena Vista in Colorado has a river park on the Arkansas where kayakers and swimmers can play and enjoy the rushing water.  We watched the playboaters and waded around one afternoon.

 The Bear thought it was pretty awesome and we agreed.  The views from the bridge above were breathtaking, all rushing river and rugged mountains.  Several hiking trails pass through the park and we plan to check those out later.  Jed plans to try his luck fishing there later on this month.

 The sounds of a river running over rocks is one of my favorites in the whole world.  It is therapy for my soul.

Where are you playing this summer? 

Settling in to the Mountains

We are one week in to our adventure and it has been an amazing trip so far. The pics above were taken from our porch with my phone. Ridiculous. We are so blessed. The altitude has been a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are trying to stay hydrated and breathe deep as we climb up and down the hills around camp. I’ll get some better pictures posted soon. Week 1 of a camp assignment is always crazy as we try to figure out our jobs and adjust to community living. Bear is loving all the big kids here and trying his best to keep up with them. We are praying for the wildfires around Colorado and New Mexico to extinguish, and for slow, gentle, soaking rain. The drought here is pretty epic right now and creates dangerous conditions. We are fine and camp isn’t threatened, but lots of other folks are in danger.

Scenes from the Road – Texas

The first leg of our trip was a great success. Everything fit into the car which was no small miracle. Packing is Jed’s spiritual gift. The Bear was GREAT in the car minus the fact that he only napped for 27 minutes all day. We stopped for lunch and play time at Lucy Park in Wichita Falls thanks to a rec from the Berres. It was perfect. Bear loved the duck ponds and chased duck after duck into the water. He even started saying duck (du du). Our next stop was at an awesome fair park in Childress, TX, where the bathrooms were glorious and the baby swings in the shade. Travel magic, people. We found a great hotel deal on Priceline and rolled into Amarillo right on time. If you are rolling with a toddler we highly recommend the Ashmore Inn. There was a nook in our room just perfect for a pack n play. We got a dinner rec on Twitter and hit the Coyote Bluff Cafe for fabulous burgers and fries. I love fun local joints like that.

• I’m posting from my phone so it may not look exactly right. Thanks for understanding.

Our Crazy 8 Week Road Trip with a Toddler

This summer we are embarking on an eight week road trip across Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and possibly Florida.  With a one year old.   To the casual observer this might seem totally crazy, but we are really excited about it.  The trip will be a combination of work, play, and family time.  I am referring to it as Gypsy Caravan Summer Tour 2012, in reference to a summer spent similarly in 2006.  We have gotten a lot of surprised/horrified reactions from friends because of the length of the trip and the age of our child.  There is this idea out there in the world that you can’t travel with a toddler.  I believe that we can and hope that I won’t be proved wrong over the next 2 months.  
I plan to sit here a lot.  

We are packing our bags and finishing up details for our trip right this minute.  I hope to chronicle it for you here on the blog.  We have our housesitter lined up, and Jackson the Wonder Dog is at Camp Grandma and Grandpa for the immediate future.  There was a small baby biting incident a few weeks back that I’ve yet to write about.  Let’s just say Jackson is lucky that my parents love him and have a big backyard.  We have a big checklist going of all the things we need to do and pack before we leave.  The excitement is building.
We’ve had a TON of questions from friends and family about our trip, so I decided to address a few here.

 Can’t. Wait.  

Where are we going?  Our first stops will be Amarillo, TX, and Salida, CO, on the way to Young Life’s Trail West Lodge in Buena Vista, CO.  I will be working at Trail West for a month as the women’s summer staff coordinator.  After our month at Trail West we will be staying a week in Vail, CO, possibly a stop to see friends in Pagosa Springs, CO, then almost a week in Red River, NM.  We will then head to Little Rock, AR for a wedding and to see family.  After that there may be a beach trip involved, but that is yet to be determined.

Wait, I thought you were becoming a stay at home mom.  What’s with working all summer?   Yes, my last day as a Young Life staffer is June 30th.  I will be working at Trail West as a volunteer.  We believe in the mission of Young Life wholeheartedly and are thankful for the opportunity to serve at Trail West.  After that I will be a full time mama.

How can y’all afford this?  Did you throw the Dave Ramsey budget out the window? Nope, we budgeted FOR the trip.  That’s the beauty of a budget, you can add stuff to it.  We have a vacation fund as well as some very generous friends who are loaning us places to stay.  Our month at Trail West is free because we are working, and our gas to and from camp is reimbursed.  We budgeted for food, gas to other places, hotel stays on the road, and incidentals.  We plan to do lots of free stuff and have lots of free quality time.  If you have free fun ideas for us in any of the places listed above, PLEASE pass them on by emailing me, tweeting me, or commenting below.  Our neighbors are also housesitting for us in exchange for lawn mowing services.  Thanks neighbors!

That’s great and all, but are you seriously hauling a one year old across the country?  Yes, yes, we know it is crazy and we think it will also be awesome.  Our little boy is such a joy and hopefully we be so on the road with lots of park stops on the way and hotel pools to swim in.  I will be tweeting all summer with the hashtag #toddlertravel so you can see how it goes.  If you have any travel with toddlers advice, I’d love to hear it.

What about your life in Dallas?  How can y’all just pick up and leave for 2 months?  We will obviously miss our friends here.  I have a gypsy soul and need to just GO sometimes.  Dallas is hot as hell in the summer time, and sooo humid.  We live in an old rent house that is very difficult to keep cool.  Jed is a teacher so he is off til mid August.  I love being able to just leave.  For years I kept my passport in my purse, just in case.  That habit faded with marriage, a child, and a job that needed me 24/7.  My longing to wander will be satisfied for a little while by this adventure.

Do you think we’re crazy, or do you wish you were packing right now, too?

My Harry Potter Adventure

Welcome to Hogsmeade.  
Harry Potter Nerd Alert
Warning…  Warning…  
I’ve read all the Harry Potter books three times.  
When I finished the last one I was distraught and didn’t know how to go on, so I gave it an hour and then read the last few chapters again for closure.  So good.  
Please respect the spell limits.
Enjoy the butterbeer.  
I had two frozen, and they were delicious.

On a recent trip to Orlando for Young Life’s All Staff Conference I had a few hours of free time and decided to embrace my nerdy obsessive side and venture over to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure to explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It was all I had hoped for and more.  
Jed does not share my Harry Potter obsession.  It is an issue we are working through in our marriage.  During our full day of free time we went to Epcot and the Magic Kingdom so that he could have fun, too.  Thankfully my friend Jen shares my obsession and was willing to nerd out with me for a bit.  We were like giddy schoolgirls.  In wizard robes.  Just kidding, we didn’t have wizard robes.  But I wish we did. 
   

It was magical.  
All aboard the Hogwarts Express.  
The ride inside the castle rocked.  Seriously, the scenery from the line was amazing.  They really did a phenomenal job.  There are only three rides, and the lines were short so we rode all of them.  Hagrid’s house was in the line for the Flight of the Hippogriff ride.  Flight of the Hippogriff is more of a kiddie coaster, so I was thankful we only had to wait 10 minutes.  The Dragon Challenge is a super fun double coaster with tons of flips and twists.  It rocked.  So did the 5 minute line.    
The village of Hogsmeade is so cute and magical.  The shops stay true to the Harry Potter books, and I had to buy some candy in Honeydukes.  I wish we had time to eat at The Three Broomsticks or Hogshead Pub.  We did go in and explore, and they were both so well done.    
If you are a fellow Harry Potter nerd, The Wizarding World is a must do.  It isn’t cheap or in any way frugal, but it is a trip into the world of your imagination straight out of the books.  If you aren’t a Harry Potter nerd, you are missing out on so much and I can’t help you.  Read the books and join the fun.  The movies are great, too, but the books are pure magic.    

Austin, TX with a Baby

For your viewing enjoyment, I present a photo collage via Instagram of our trip to Austin this week.  
It was in the 30s and 40s, with a hazy shade of winter cast over the city.  We stayed downtown at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel, because we were in town for a state teacher testing conference representing Jed’s school.  Fisher and I did a lot of lounging around in our room because of the cold both weather and illness affecting us.  We shopped and ate and enjoyed ourselves, and would love to go back when the weather is nice.  Downtown is very walkable, and the city has so much to explore.  I would choose a different hotel next time.  The Intercontinental was nice and had lots of architectural interest, but our room was tiny and expensive (paid for by the school) and the mandatory valet parking was very pricey.    
Where did we eat? 
The Mellow Mushroom near the University of Texas campus was our first dinner stop.  We were headed out to Hula Hut at the lake, but traffic was horrendous so we decided to stay close.  We love Mellow Mushroom in Asheville, so we went for what we know.  We had the Funky Chicken pizza and the soft pretzels.  The key at MM is to order a side of the Esperanza house dressing.  That junk is so good.  
The next day Jed had a long lunch break so we went to Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop.  My husband is a cyclist and could entertain himself in a bike shop for hours.  He showed Fisher all the cool bike stuff while I shopped for Christmas presents for him.  If you are into bikes, the shop is a must see.  Many of Lance’s bikes are on display along with a well thought out selection of cycling gear and accessories.  It also has a cafe called Juan Pelota’s that serves breakfast burritos and coffee.  
For lunch we headed to the Taco Shack.  I had a chicken torta with bread that melted in my mouth.  Delicioso.  
At the Taco Shack, Fisher had a big first.  He sat up in a high chair throughout the meal.  Yay!!  He loved playing with his toys and sitting up like a big boy while we ate.  

Fisher and I did a little more exploring, driving around the state capitol and South Congress shops.  We picked up a few cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, one of the famous food trucks on South Congress.  I surprised Jed with them when he got back to the hotel.  

Fisher and I did lots of snuggling on the big king sized bed in our room.  A sniffly baby makes exploring in the cold not so much of an option.    
Our last night in town we went to Magnolia Cafe on South Congress.  It rocked my world.  It was cheap and delicious with a laid back atmosphere and creative menu.  I had baked acorn squash with the chef’s special pecan pesto on top, with a side of curried shrimp and veggies.  Oh my.  I was in broccoli heaven.  
We came back to Dallas and were greeted by gridlock.  We loved the feel of Austin and hope to go back and explore more when the weather is nicer.  Where would you like to explore?   

Glen Rose Getaway – Dessert with the Pie Peddlers

On our weekend getaway in Glen Rose, we happened upon an antique car show in the main square surrounding the court house.  The streets were closed off and lined with fabulously restored antique cars.  This was perfect for us, because I could wander through the antique shops and boutiques while Jed obsessed over the cars.  Every few minutes he would come in a store to see something I wanted to show him, and I would come out to do the same.  Perfect.  We stumbled on a little place called the Pie Peddlers, and had to stop in.  

  The pies are all made fresh daily, and they have a great selection.  Unfortunately we felt that it was a little overpriced.  The slices were $4 each.  I know that is pretty standard or cheap for restaurant dessert, but you know we are super frugal.  We decided to go for it since we were on vacation.

 Jed ordered the coconut caramel, and was definitely the big winner of the day.  It was phenomenal.

 I had the key lime pie, which is my go-to dessert.  It was good, but not fabulous.  I’m a little bit of a key lime pie snob, apparently.

Overall, I would say that stopping in Pie Peddlers is worth it for the ambiance and great service.  The same ladies who make the pies wait on the tables, and are super sweet.  Skip the key lime and go straight for the coconut, chocolate, or coconut caramel.  
What is your go-to dessert?  
Don’t forget to check out the Spring Fling Day 3 Giveaways: 
A Vintage Inspired Necklace at Ask Anna
A Super Cute Apron at While He Was Napping 

Glen Rose Getaway – Dining at Sunset Ridge Bed and Breakfast

On our baby moon getaway in Glen Rose, Texas, we found a really special bed and breakfast inn.  Jed searched long and hard online to find a place that fit our needs and our style.  Sunset Ridge is in our price range and is far more modern than many B & Bs.  I’ll post pics of the place later on, and tell you all about it.  The photo above is the view from our private patio during sunset.  As you can see, the name Sunset Ridge is a perfect fit.  Besides the obvious breakfast part of the B & B, Sunset Ridge offers a four course dinner for an extra fee.  The couple who runs the place gives a few options to choose from, and let me tell you, we chose wisely.  

 We started with homemade Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers and Herb Dip.  We had already dipped into it by the time I thought to take a picture.  The dip and crackers were savory and light, a great starter.  The lighting was also very “romantic”, making it difficult to get a great photo.  Oh well.  You get the idea.

 The second course was a Poached Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.  We were a little nervous about that combination, but it was delicious.

For the entree, we each had a Filet of Beef with Roasted Asparargus and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.  Jed described the steak as the best he had ever had.  That, my friends, is a great compliment.  We got the recipe before we left, believe me.

 See the above photo for evidence of the deliciousness of our entree.  Amazing.

We shared a huge piece of Double Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for dessert.  It was awesome, and we were fully stuffed after indulging in a fantastic four course dinner.  One of the best things about it was that we only had to walk across the veranda to our room after dinner.  Come back later this week for more about our Glen Rose getaway.

Have you stayed in an awesome Bed and Breakfast Inn?  Tell me about it.  

Spring Fling Day 2 Giveaways:
A Tutu and Bows at Time Well Spent
Handmade Hair Accessories at A Very Dandoislion Life