New Mexico & Beyond

After Tombstone, on January 6th, we drove east to Las Cruses, New Mexico. We had intended to start with Santa Fe and then head  south, but it was cold and snowy in northern New Mexico so we didn’t want to pull the trailer around up there.  While camping in Las Cruses Lance and the four older kids went to White Sands National Monument.  It’s a unique spot with rolling hills of only white sand.  They brought some sleds and did some sledding on the big hills.  When they came home they were excited to tell me all about it, they had a great time! https://www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm

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They even saw a rainbow while at White Sands National Monument

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Abby and Elise ready to go!

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Lance got in on the sledding too!

We ended up leaving our camper in Las Cruses while we drove up to Santa Fe.  We arrived in Santa Fe on January 8th and checked into a hotel for the next couple of nights.

The next day was a special one for Sam…..it was his Christmas present activity and he was VERY excited! That boy loves snowboarding and, even though he hasn’t gone very many times, he has no fear and is pretty good at it.  He and Lance took a shuttle to a ski area in the mountains about an hour away and spent the day together there.  They came back that night pretty tired, but with lots of fun stories and memories.

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Sam and Lance had a great day on the slopes together!

The next day we stopped to see the capital and drove around a historic area of Santa Fe. We had hoped to spend a couple of days exploring the old town, but with the yucky weather we settled for the view from our  car window.  We headed south, back to Las Cruces to pick up our camper, but stopped on the way in Truth or Consequences.  It’s a small town between Albequerque and Las Cruces and we were intriqued with the name.  Turns out the story behind the name isn’t as interesting as we assumed it would be, but it was still a nice place to stop and stretch our legs.IMG_8440IMG_8444

Some of the adobe buildings we saw in Santa Fe

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Now our kids have been to Truth or Consequences 🙂

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After hitching up the trailer we kept driving into the night. We don’t drive somewhere new every day, but when we do we like to keep the time in the car to around 4 hours or less.  That way we have much of the day left to enjoy where we are and it also means we don’t have to travel with crabby kids as often!  This time, however, we just kept on driving.  If you’ve ever driven through Texas it doesn’t take long to realize…..hey, this state is HUGE!!  Since we didn’t leave with the camper until bedtime and the babies were falling asleep anyway we decided to just keep on trucking.  Lance even got us a few hours past our goal for the night and we finally pulled over around 3:00am.  Morning came quickly, but it sure was nice to know we would be arriving in San Antonio much earlier than we had anticipated.

We stayed at a nice KOA in San Antonio. Our site was right across from the playground and not too far from the downtown area and all the things we wanted to see.

I had read about some unique restaurants in the San Antonio area and that first night in town we decided to try one of them.  Chacho’s & Chalucci’s is a Mexican restaurant, but what makes it really special is the humungous indoor playground that kids can explore while you wait for your food.  I had also read that they have a big indoor soccer field, but that was not open while we were there.  Abby, Sam, Elise and Ben all were kept busy playing there before we ate and after we were done.  One thing they are famous for is their nachos plate.  It’s the largest plate of nachos I’ve ever seen piled high with chips, meat and different kinds of cheese.  Lance and Joe ordered one to split for dinner, but they could barely make a dent in it.

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I think Rose’s eyes were bigger than her stomach!

The next morning we went to LuLu’s Café where they are famous for their gigantic cinammin rolls.  Each one is 3 ½ pounds of delicious soft roll and gooey frosting.  We ordered two for all of us to share and, once again, there was a lot left.   http://www.luluscafeinsa.com/

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This is all for me?  Thanks guys!

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Ready to dig in!

After breakfast (or maybe I should call it The Sugar Coma) we went to the Alamo and Riverwalk. We had been listening to a book on CD about Davey Crockett on the way to San Antonio so it was especially interesting to then go and see where the battle took place and picture the fight going on.  We didn’t spend a lot of time on the Riverwalk since Ben and Rose were getting pretty cranky and tired.  We instead drove around a bit through the historic district and admired the big old houses.  After that we went to San Jaun’s Mission which is part of a National Park that connects five missions together with trails.  This ended up being our favorite site for the day.  The ruins were really cool to walk through or play tag in, both of which happened while we were there.  Since it was such a nice warm and sunny day we spread out a blanket and had some snacks and soaked up the sunshine.  There was also a little chapel which is still used for services to this day and we were able to check that out too.     http://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/san-antonio-missions-national-historical-park

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Our family in front of The Alamo.  You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so that’s why we don’t have very many.

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Rose and me in front of the chapel at San Juan’s Mission which is part of the Missions National Historic Park

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Ben….I guess he’s waiting for church to start 🙂

Now, when you see where we went for supper that evening you are going to think that all we did in San Antonio was eat, eat, eat….. It just so happens that along with huge plates of nachos and gigantic cinnamon rolls there are also pizzas bigger than we had EVER seen!  At Big Lou’s Pizza they are known for their BIG pizzas and we had to check that out so we ordered one pizza for all of us to share.  As we waited at our table we saw a few getting brought out to other tables and we watched in amazement as the pizza took over the table with little room left for plates or drinks.  Finally it was our turn and the 42 inch (yes, that’s right…42 inches!!!) pizza was brought to our table.  The looks on our kids’ faces were priceless!  We all dug in, but just like with the nachos and the cinnamon rolls….we had a lot left.  In this case we took home more than half of the pizza.  That capped off our adventures for the day, we were tired out and headed home to bed.    http://biglouspizza-satx.com/

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That’s a BIG pizza!!

After San Antonio we drove north, to Waco. I had been eagerly anticipating this stop because I am a huge fan of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” and Chip and Joanna Gaines.  They have a store in Waco that I couldn’t wait to check out called Magnolia Market and The Silos.  We got to Waco on Thursday, January 14 and decided to drive by Magnolia, even though we were planning on me going for a longer period of time the next day.  We had fun looking around a little bit and even though we thought we would run into Chip and Joanna at any second, we never did!  After that we took a drive out to Crawford, Texas which is where President George and Laura Bush’s ranch is.  We were able to drive up to the gates and that’s about it….from there Lance had a great chat with the secret service agent manning the gate.

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Lance by the Crawford, Texas sign

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Lance and his new friend….the secret service agent

The next day Abby and I set out for a fun day of shopping at Magnolia!! We happened to be there when they were having a “scratch & dent” sale so they opened up a large storage area filled with those items.  What fun we had looking through things and finding our treasures!  Abby bought a small glass candle holder and I bought a hanging chalkboard, various small vases with a tray, a very pretty butter dish and a couple of t-shirts.  After checking out, we headed outside to their lawn area.  There are several food vendor trucks set up there and lots of picnic tables.  It was a beautiful day so we shared a crepe while enjoying the sunshine.  After we left there we drove to HARP design.  We didn’t go inside, but just stopped and took a couple of pictures.  What a fun day we had!!   https://magnoliamarket.com/

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The warehouse area where the sale was going on

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Some pics of the regular store

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Abby and me at Magnolia

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After doing some shopping

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Our crepe and some of the food trucks in the background

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The garden area at Magnolia was pretty too

We drove to Dallas next. I stayed home with Ben and Rose since they had colds, but Lance and the other kids got to go to church at Stonebriar Community Church which is where Chuck Swindoll is a pastor.  Lance said it was a little surreal hearing a voice that’s so familiar and finally putting it with a face.  http://www.stonebriar.org/home/

From Dallas we stayed one night in Texarkana, which is where we were all excited to meet up with my mom and dad….Yeah!!!! They had been visiting my brother and his family in Colorado so it was a spur of the moment idea for them to meet up with us and I’m so glad they did!

We caravanned together to Arkansas on Monday, January 18th . Our first stop was at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.  This had been on Sam’s wish list of stops since before we left last June!  That boy is completely in his element when panning, digging, or chipping away rock with a hammer all in search of gems, gold or just pretty stones.  If you find any diamonds at the state park you may keep them and there is a list of notable finds that was pretty impressive.  Sam’s hopes were high! It was a cloudy and very cool day to be there.   All of the other kids were done after about 45 minutes….but not Sam!  He spent about 5 hours hunting for diamonds and closed the place down.  Unfortunately, we left empty handed.  Sam was disappointed, but still had a very good day, now he says he wants to move to Arkansas when he grows up so he can go there whenever he wants!  http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com/

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Sam out there busy with his pick ax

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Sam, Lance, Rosie the dog and my dad all on the hunt for diamonds

Our next capital to see was Little Rock. Our camper needed some repairs so we had a great excuse to stay in a hotel.  My parents stayed at the same one and we had fun in Little Rock together.  They left on Thursday to head back to Michigan.

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Abby, Elise and my mom playing Ticket To Ride at the hotel

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Grandpa playing trucks with Ben

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My mom and sleepy Rose

Abby and I enjoy the show “19 Kids and Counting” and she so badly wanted to meet them. After her emails and letters went unanswered we decided to just drive to Tontitown and see what we could see.  It was 3 hours away from where we were staying in Little Rock and Abby and I enjoyed our own mini road trip.  We found the Duggar’s house and could even see them building a tree house.  Unfortunately, we didn’t run into any Duggars while in town, but it was good time with my {little} girl.

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The Duggar’s house

So, I know I’m VERY behind on these updates…I’m writing about what happened in January and it’s already the beginning of April, but I am determined to catch up in the next few weeks!! Just you watch!

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