Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts

Galveston Island - Part One



I'm finally getting around to writing about the trip to Galveston that we took in May!

Needless to say, vacation this year was really weird.  Because of Derek's work, we can't take vacations in June or July, so we usually end up going on our summer vacation in May or August.  August vacations can be a little tough on me - it's really hard to get back into school mode when we just got home from summer vacation.  So our preference has been to try to vacation in May.

This year that was obviously a little tricky.  Flights were cheap but highly discouraged, and we wanted to be conscientious about going to a state with a similar case-load as our state, and about trying to keep social distance while still having some fun.  We settled on a road trip to Galveston!

The drive was fun, and we really enjoyed the terrain in Texas.  It's so much greener than I imagined it to be.  We also drove through a couple towns that I had been reading about in The Worst Hard Time, and that was really fascinating to me - we went right through the land that was once a part of the XIT Ranch.  We also stopped for candied pecans on the way as a treat.

We reached Galveston late at night, and the first couple days down there were a little rough, with a dirty AirBnB debacle (full story here).  We made a quick trip to the beach the day we left the AirBnB, but we had to drive back to the Houston area to stay the night since there wouldn't be a hotel room available until Monday.

That ended up being a good thing, because I ended up getting a full-blown ear infection, and I had to go to Urgent Care to get antibiotics!  Within 12 hours of taking them, I felt 95% better, which is crazy to me.  I haven't had to take antibiotics in years, and I was impressed - those things really work!

All that to say, our vacation didn't feel like it truly started until four days into it.  I was bummed that we missed a couple days that we could have been spending at the beach, but hey, it is what it is.  Has any vacation truly gone perfectly?  We haven't ever had a vacation that was without bumps.

We did get to see a movie while we were in Houston, something we still haven't been able to do at home, so it was a treat.  We had the theater nearly to ourselves, and we saw "Playing With Fire".  The kids thought it was completely hilarious and begged me to buy it - aside from a little "potty humor", it was cute.  I think the excitement of going to see a movie after so long is what made it memorable though!

Once we were back on Galveston we toured an old mansion to kick things off right, a place called Bishop's Palace.  It was a beautiful old place.  It was a self-guided tour, and we were literally the only people in the whole building except for two clerks in the basement.  It was really interesting to be in there all alone!  I do wish we had been able to take a guided tour, because the pamphlet they gave us was light on the history.  Obviously a Bishop must have once lived there, and I was under the impression that some services must have been held in there too because of all the gorgeous stained glass windows and other paraphernalia.  But that is all speculation, because the pamphlet told us things like "This was Mrs. Gresham's room," which I have to be honest, I found really amusing!  I wish I knew who Mrs. Gresham was.  That's what we get for trying to do a self-guided tour.  The exhibit on the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 was really interesting though!

After checking into our hotel we drove down the seawall and we were able to walk onto Pleasure Pier, which is basically an amusement park on a pier.  All the rides were still closed, but it was fun to walk along it as the sun was going down!  Everything was so pretty.

Then the next day we went right on back to the beach!

(Ready to go!)

(We stopped at a few historical sites along the way.  This was the site of a massacre, so we stopped to look at the memorial.)

(Driving through New Mexico - looks like there was a brush fire behind that hill.)

(The beach!)



(Our first day at the beach before we hung out for a couple days in Houston.)

(The Bishop's Palace.)








(Wyatt was really interested in the exhibit on the 1900 hurricane.)




(Walking on the pier.)



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(Back to the beach!)






Part Two coming next week!




The Kickoff To Summer



Despite today feeling decidedly fall-like outside, Summer has actually begun!  The start to summer has looked different this year for all of us.  Usually the kickoff to Summer is the library used book sale, which didn't happen this year, and another major annual event, our local homeschool conference which I've enjoyed for the past three years, was also cancelled.  But we've still managed to have some fun and get in the summer spirit anyway!  Here's what we've been up to.



A Bad AirBnB Experience

Alright, you have to allow me to tell this story before I get to the fun stuff.  The last week of May we took off for a road trip to the Gulf Coast!  Coronavirus tensions were higher then, even though it was just a few weeks ago, so we packed up all our food and activities in the van, and planned to drive with as few stops at possible.  I figured when we got there we'd check into our AirBnB and just keep to ourselves and enjoy the beach.

I decided to book an AirBnB since when we were planning our trip it was still questionable whether hotels were open or not.  I figured it would be nice to have a whole house to ourselves anyway.  

We arrived at the house at maybe !0:00 PM local time, and basically got the kids settled and went right to bed.  When we woke up the next day, we started looking around...and realized the house was not really clean.  I guess since you pay a cleaning fee on the AirBnB website, I always just assume they hire a cleaning lady, and I also assumed they'd be extra thorough in cleaning since they had just allowed rentals again after the virus shutdown.  And the "recent reviews" said it was "sparkling clean".

Well.  The host basically admitted to me that all they did was steam mop the floors and clean the bathroom.  There was clutter on top of the cabinets and in all the closets, the closet door was hanging by a hinge and a light fixture was broken, there was dead flies and dust on all the windowsills, thick grime in the dishwasher, grease splattered in the microwave.  Dust on all the shelves.  At first we thought we could maybe do a quick dust job ourselves, but the more we looked around, the more grime we found.  So I requested a refund (only got a partial one), and we decided to look for a hotel instead.  The host was rude about it.  

Here's the kicker guys.  I was going to leave a review to let other people know that the place was not actually clean, but then I realized that your review is not published on AirBnB until or unless the host decides to review you as a guest.  So basically I could write a negative review, and the host could just decide not to publish it.  Which explains why all the available reviews claimed "sparkling clean" when it was clearly not sparkling clean.

Let's just say I don't trust AirBnb anymore.

Update: Did a little more research, and it looks like only the HOST will not be able to see your comments until after they review you?  If so, that's much better.  The wording in the AirBnB emails is confusing.

A Lovely Gulf Coast Vacation Anyway

Once we left the nasty AirBnB, (and once I got antibiotics for an ear/throat infection that developed while we were down there - another long story), we actually had a really wonderful trip!  We enjoyed a really nice hotel in Houston for a great last-minute deal, saw a movie at one of the theaters that was open in Houston, went back to a hotel in Galveston as soon as one opened up, and spent a ton of time at the beach.  I even finally figured out how to handle my curly hair in the humidity on this trip (the trick is to not try to straighten it, and just not care at all).  It was so fun and refreshing to go somewhere that felt almost normal, and I was sorry to go home.  I'll share more pictures and all the details in another post soon.



A Birthday Fishing Trip And Date

One thing that is not cancelled is birthdays!  And mine is in June.  We threw around a few ideas for things to do on my birthday, and we finally settled on going fishing.  I love going fishing, and feel like I could really get into it if we had more time/resources.  As it is now, we almost never catch anything because 1) the fishing is not that amazing in our state unless you have a boat, and 2) we have a bunch of noisy little kids with us every time.  But I think the experience of getting outside and enjoying nature is what makes it fun.  







We still really want to catch a fish sometime though.  I think we are going to try another state park soon that has a smaller pond with fish in it.  The fish in this lake were out the in the deeper water where our lines wouldn't reach.  We saw them jumping a couple times.  Or maybe we should just invest in a pair of waders so we can get out there further.  We will catch a fish someday.

Derek also took me on a birthday date!  We went mini-golfing, and then got take-out and ate it in a park while the sun was going down. It was lovely!



Back To Church And Playgrounds

Another great development is that our church was finally allowed to reopen.  It's different than normal, but it's just so good to be with other believers and worship together in person again.  Online church is fine in a pinch, but I strongly believe it's not a substitute for meeting with other Christians in person.  There's a reason the Bible says not to forsake the gathering together with other believers.  Anyway, that's been a nice bit of pseudo-normalcy lately.

Playgrounds also opened this month, so we've been taking advantage!

Nature Hikes

It's been interesting and kind of fun to me to see how everything being closed has allowed people to get back out into nature a little more.  During the little kids' nap time the other day, I took the big three on a nature hike, and there was so many people on the trail!  But I love how even when nature is a bit more crowded than usual, there is still so much space for peace and quiet and exploring.  Seriously guys, try to get outside more.  Also, state parks are hidden gems.





Summer Planning

Every year I pull out a calendar and a list of things we want to do during the summer, and I start plugging things in.  I have a process, because I want to make sure all of the things we most want to do during the warm months actually happen!  I wrote all about my planning process (including some ideas for stuff to do this year) on Rooted Family if you're interested.

Anyway, I have my list of ideas gathered (it took a little more research this year than normal), and sitting down to plug my ideas into the calendar is on the to-do list today.  I really believe that simple little bits of fun can really make the summer memorable.  I started freezing koolaid ice cubes this week so I could make the kids colorful summer drinks (just add Sprite), and it turned out really well.


The kids were so excited when I ave them the drinks.  The girls adorably clinked their glasses together and said "Cheers!"  And Wyatt actually wrote me a card to thank me for the summer treat.  That whole "the way to a boy's heart is through his stomach" thing is a cliche for a reason.  They made my day.



That's pretty much everything we've been up to lately!  Keep an eye out for a vacation post, coming up soon!  

And don't forget to read my post on planning an epic summer on Rooted, especially if you are discouraged about the summer not feeling normal.  You can still make it memory-filled, even in this weird time.


A Rocky Start To A New Decade



A lot of people like to start off their new year with goals or resolutions, reflection on the year that has just past, or planning for the year ahead.  We started our new year with a cold.

On New Year's Day I started to cough a little, and by the 2nd I was sprawled out on the couch and miserable.  It took me about a week to finally feel completely better - which means I felt better yesterday.  Just in time for my kids to catch it.  Clyde started coughing last night (I'm hoping whatever this is more shorter-lived for them).

I've always liked the new year season, though not because I'm a particularly goal-oriented person or a planner.  I'm not really either of those things.  But the new year always feels fresh, and I ride on that feeling of freshness though cold, brown winter days.  When things could start to feel stale, the new year makes them feel...well, new.

Since I was too miserable for the first week of this decade to enjoy any of that newness, my new-year-mode is going to be extended.  I actually prefer it this way.  For me, the whole month of January is a time of reflection and gentle planning anyway.  So the new year in this house starts now.

I felt a lot of pressure to start off the year with a significant post, but this is shaping up to be a regular old chatty post instead.  I've decided I'm okay with it.  I don't think much on this blog is meant to be significant anyway, not in that way.  Ordinary days are significant in themselves, I think more than we know.

Our Start To The 2020's

The last day of the 2010's I spent filling up the last of the petition I've been working on (to stop late-term abortion in my state).  I had run out of people I know to ask for signatures, so I texted my sister-in-law, and she graciously set up a time for me to meet her extended family so they could sign my petition.  The last line was signed.  So a few days into the new year, I headed down to a notary event to get my petitions notarized and turned in.  Even though I had been sick, I was feeling functional - but barely, and I had lost my voice.  I tried to avoid breathing on anyone or shaking anyone's hands while I handed over my petitions, just in case I was still contagious.

Then I had to stop at the grocery store, because by this time we were basically out of food after the holidays.  I wanted it to be a short trip out of the house so I could go home and continue to rest and recover, but we just plain needed a few things.  So I did a little shopping trip at Walmart, and then headed back out to my car.

As I was pushing my full cart across the parking lot, I noticed a flutter of wings overhead, and then a flash of white in front of my eyes, and I looked down and realized a bird had pooped on me.  I was completely grossed out.  Do you know how many germs birds carry?

I'm admittedly very slightly germaphobic.

I went straight to my car, parked the cart on the sidewalk, and set my purse down on the front seat while I rummaged around looking for hand sanitizer.  As if hand-sanitizer would be effective against bird poop, but it was better than nothing.  After I finished dousing my pants in it, I turned toward my cart full of groceries and closed the door.

Then I heard a click.

And my keys were still in my purse.  On the front seat of the car.

Thankfully my phone was in my pocket, not in my purse, so I called Derek and squeaked out what happened (remember, my voice was gone).  He called my parents, and they came to rescue me about 40 minutes later.  Not too bad of a situation overall, but a little embarrassing.  I haven't locked myself out of my car since I was 18.

So yeah, that was a good start to the new decade.

New Year's Day Though

I actually take that back, the true start to the new year was a good day.  My cough had barely started, so I didn't realize yet that I was getting sick yet, and we decided to take a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park on New Year's Day.

Unfortunately, the last couple times we have visited the park there ends up being a storm rolling in, and we can't see any of the mountains.  The weather was clear and bright, right up until we entered the park, and within five minutes we could see nothing.  Cars were stuck in the snow on the mountain roads.  And we forgot to bring snow pants, because we thought it was going to be a beautiful, bright day.













We made the best of it though, and we still enjoyed the wintery beauty and saw some wildlife.  We piled the kids out of the car, walked for five minutes in the snow, piled back in.  Then we stopped at a taffy shop on the way home.  I've decided I'm not really a fan of saltwater taffy unless it's fresh.  This was the fresh stuff, and it was so tasty.

Ten Years Ago

Between signature gathering and being sick, I haven't had much time to truly reflect on the fact that 2020 is not just the marking of a new year, but a new decade.  I didn't look through the last ten years of pictures (that thought overwhelms me), or find old journal entries, or anything like that.  But I can remember where I was in life and how I felt ten years ago.

We were living in our first home, with three rambunctious dogs.  I was working as a dental hygienist a few days a week, and it was the heyday of blogging.  Derek was working for our county, and we were scraping together any extra income we had into saving for a ten-year anniversary trip to Italy.  We had been married for two years, and had decided we wanted to start trying for a family, but things weren't exactly working.  I wondered when, or maybe if, we'd have kids.  It was a little premature to worry too much, but worry I did.  My biggest prayer for the new decade was a houseful of children.

And here we are ten years later, in a different house, only one of those dogs still laying at my feet, and five tiny pairs of shoes pounding on the second floor over my head.  We never took that trip to Italy.  And we were okay with that, because dreams change over time.  I've received more than I ever thought to ask for ten years ago.

When I think back over the last ten years, I think of the faithfulness of God in our lives over this past decade.  There have been stresses and joys and sorrows and triumphs, and the Lord has been our anchor through it all.

I don't like to think about where I'll be in the next ten years.  I know my oldest will be graduated from high school, and my youngest will be right in the middle of middle school.  That thought alone is overwhelming to me.  Ten years is too far in the future for me to think about.  I don't know where we'll be living, or what exactly our lives will look like.  But I imagine that in ten years, when I look back again on the previous decade, I'll still see how God is faithful to us through it all.

So yes.  I'm ready to start the 2020's.

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I want to write more about my plans for the upcoming year, or changes I'm already trying to make, but I think I'll wrap up this post here for now.  The kids are awake, and this is our first week back to school in 2020, despite being sick, so I have alot to catch up on this week!  The house is slowly being disinfected of whatever bug we caught, and I'm working with the kids and myself on developing good habits - one of those habits is that blogging has to happen first thing in the morning, so we can start school on time!  So I'm off to pour some cereal bowls and crack open some books.

How was the start to the new decade for you all?

Hopefully smoother than ours, ha!
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