Sunday, November 6, 2016

Summer 2016 Road Trip Stage 1

Maggie was sitting next to me yesterday evening as we watched the Ohio State game and informed me that I needed to update the blog. After getting over the surprise that she had actually been looking at it, I asked her why. She said it was because I didn't have anything about the road trip on it. Sadly, I've failed to put more than road trip info on it.  But, in a renewed effort to use my Sunday mornings more productively, I'll try to rectify that.

SEARLS FAMILY ROAD TRIP STAGE 1 

Last year, our school librarian put fliers in our mail boxes about the National Park pass that's available for all fourth grade students. The pass grants anyone in the car with a fourth grader free entrance to all National Parks and some National Monuments.  I shared the flier with the family at one of our weekly dinners and we decided to make plans for a family road trip.
Originally, we were going to just drive up to Mt. Rushmore, but the more we talked about it, the more our trip kept growing. So much that we ended up driving through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and back to Texas.

We took 2 cars; mostly for comfort, but also to keep Maggie and Sophie from bickering the entire time. Seth had just got his learner's permit and we wanted him to get some road time in while we were traveling. I switched cars with Ron so we would have the cargo space his Jetta wagon offered, and Leslie took her "not a van" car.  Scott came in to Temple, we loaded our cars, then drove over to Gatesville to pick up Seth. Rebecca snapped a shot of us in our first road trip shirts just before we took off.

Mimi, Uncle Scott, Maggie, Sophie, Leslie, and Seth... ROAD TRIP!
First stop: Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico!

When we lived in El Paso, our family had visited Carlsbad Caverns. But, that was a long time ago and we really didn't remember much about it.  The cavern tour we took was okay. I felt like we were being herded like cattle because there were a lot of people there. There were so many people stopping countless times to take pictures of the cave formations and that made our progress really slow. If I were to offer any advice, go during the week. Maybe the crowds wouldn't be as bad.
We had intentionally gone later in the day so we could watch the bats fly out. However, it started raining fairly heavily and we opted to leave early. We figured if we really wanted to see bats flying, we could go down to Austin and watch them fly out from under the Congress Street bridge.

We got strange looks, smiles, and compliments on our shirts 

Maggie filling out her Parks Pass application!

Leslie and the girls inside the caverns.

Seth and Scott

One of many beautiful road side stops near the caverns.
The facilities at the caverns are very nice. We learned a lot about the caverns and the geography of the area. The grands had several hands on activities to participate in. One area had mock tunnels that the kids could crawl through, It was a pretty tight fit and it looked like you could get stuck in it very easily. Maggie and Sophie went through first. I was watching them and said something to Scott about how tiny the opening was. He said, "I've crawled through way smaller places in buying buildings." He then had to show the girls that he could crawl through as well.

Uncle Scott impressing us with his fire fighter training by crawling through tight spots.

another road side stop for a little rock climbing
We stayed in a little town called Artesia. It was the cutest little place in the middle of nowhere. Of course, most things in Texas and New Mexico are in the middle of nowhere.  I loved this little place and if I had knows how cute it was, we would have planned to stay longer. I thought it might have originally been an artist colony because of the many art shops and sculptures. After looking it up, I should have known the name was a dead give away. It was founded because of artesian wells in the area. Regardless,  it had the most amazing collection of sculpture along the streets. I tried to get a picture of as many as I could.
The Arteisa High School mascot is the bulldog. 

The community has a history associated with the oil industry. The sculpture of the oil rig was pretty elaborate.

This one was outside the city library. Amazing art work.
The morning after leaving Carlsbad, we stopped in Roswell and Sante Fe. Roswell was downright freaky strange. The kids didn't know whether to be fascinated or creeped out.  The one thing I did manage to do here was help the grands decide on what kind of souvenir to collect. We found some cute penny press books and decided to collect pressed pennies. That in itself became a major activity for the rest of the trip! Anyway, it was amazing to listen to the conversations of visitors at the "research center." The place is a magnet for some strange people. Don't know that I'll ever go back but at least I can say I've been there.

Seth and the girls outside the "institute." 

I think Leslie and Scott's expressions speak louder than words 

Mimi and the grands

A kind stranger took our picture with this guy. Crazy!
On our way out of New Mexico, we stopped in Sante Fe to visit the old city center. It was really hot that day and because it was a weekend, the crowds were pretty heavy.  We saw lots of beautiful flowers, art work, jewelry displays, a mock gun battle, and ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We trekked all over the place trying to find a penny press. When we finally found one, the shop refused to break a dollar so we would have some change. I ended up having to buy some candy bars so the kids could get their pennies pressed.
If I were to share my most vivid memory of Sante Fe, I would have to say it was the stench! There are many little alley ways between the old buildings and as you pass the entrances of the alleys, you get an overpowering smell of dirty bathrooms! It was horrible! They really need to do something about that!
The gang in one of the plazas outside a little market area.

Lots of cute little garden areas all over town.

Less than impressive Mexican lunch. Seth ordered a Mexican hamburger: a hamburger patty on a tortilla. Strange!

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