Change of Plans: Marathon not a Sprint

After being on the road for almost a month now, Kristi and I started reassessing where we were planning on going next.

Our plan previously to head to New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

Travel pace

However, we have learned that the itinerary might be a little too ambitious. It could be done, but should it be?

One primary goal of this adventure was to “reset.”

At home we have habits, responsibilities, kid activities and chores.

On the road we have the same responsibilities but on a much smaller scale.

As such, we like the “travel for 2-3 days, rest for a week or two approach.”

Some people don’t want to say more than a few days or a week at any given place. Not us. 1-2 weeks feels about right.

Less than a week feels a little too rushed.

By week 2, we have settled in and could say longer or are ready for the next adventure. Either way, we are happy.

Spring break

Another thing that happened that made us rethink our plans was spring break.

So apparently, the desert, like Florida beaches, gets booked up pretty quick during late March, early April – not just the camping spots but also the activities.

For instance, Carlsbad Caverns, one of our “must do” national parks is selling out so quick that they now require you reserved online.

The next two weeks is sold out.

New plans: New Mexico

This leads me to our new plans.

We were going to stop every couple days in New Mexico for some sightseeing, but instead, we are going to travel for 2 days to “get there,” and use the park as home base for about a week while we check out the sights in the area.

We won’t be able to see everything from that spot but we should get a good portion of activities.

Arizona

Then we’ll travel on for a couple more days to reach Arizona. Again, we’ll park it for a couple of weeks.

We have a long list of to-dos in Arizona that we are looking forward to.

Lost Las Vegas

Next, we were planning on heading to Las Vegas for 2 weeks to swim and maybe visit some national parks in Utah (Zion) and Grand Canyon.

But we decided we wanted to go to Colorado more…

So instead of trying to hit Nevada, Utah and Colorado in 3 weeks time, we decided to start heading back east and north one state to Colorado.

Colorful Colorado

With Colorado as home-base, we should theoretically be able to visit a couple of parks in Utah (Moab) and check off some “must do” items in Colorado itself.

From there we’ll likely sweep back through another part of New Mexico, the Texas to hang out for a week or more before we travel 3 consecutive days home from east Texas.

That’s the plan for now.

Texas Craft Beer Post

One of the simple joys in life is local craft beer. I read that somewhere online which must make it true.

Anyway, if I can’t visit the breweries, I like to pick out a mix and match 6 pack or something similar to test out the local flavors.

Since one of my favorite breweries is in Texas (Spoetzl – AKA Shiner) I ended up doing both a tour of the brewery (6 pack) a mix and match (another 6 pack).

My buddy Josh introduced me to Shiner Bock years ago as the crown jewel of Texas.

Anyway, here are the findings of my ice cold, refreshing yet extremely important “research”…

Delicious and refreshing with a hint of agave. Think Corona on a hot day at the beach but better.
Too hoppy for me. If you like IPAs, worth a sip.
If you like German beers (I do), this one is smooth (and only 95 calories if you are watching your dad-bod). Double score.
I work with a lot of attorneys and love blueberries so this one was a match made in heaven.
Like a birthday party in my mouth. Just kidding. A little sweet to have more than one of these. But would be appropriate as a birthday cake replacement.
I love orange. I love cinnamon. I don’t love sours. I got this one out of sheer curiosity. But I couldn’t finish it. I might find a couple to bring back to friends who enjoy sours and get their take.
Tasty and light for a bock but got a little sweet towards the end.
Now I’m not a huge fan of grapefruit but they make it work. And it’s only 95 calories (probably due to the grapefruit) so we’ll call it a “healthy choice.”
Like a “shiner bock light” is the best description I have.

Given that it is our last couple of nights in Texas I figured I’d try our last couple of new Texas beers.

Yes that says “margarita” and “lager” – reminds me of a bud light lime except slightly more sour.
Tastes like great, great grandpa’s beer yet reminds me of the movie “Strange Brew”

If years of schooling and multiple degrees have taught me anything, it’s that it isn’t scientific unless you can prove your results by replicating them.

As such, maybe on the way back trough Texas we’ll try again.

Texas Weather: Florida’s drunk cousin?

Since we left we’ve spent a bit of time in Texas. One thing I’ve learned about the weather here is that it is similar to Florida’s weather but like Florida’s drunk cousin.

At any given moment on a calm day the wind can pick up to 20-25 miles per hour.

Or start hailing.

Or whatever it pleases…

After all, they do things a bit different ‘round here.

Snow and power outages

Two weeks before we arrive, much of the state of Texas was without power and in below freezing weather for days.

When we arrived, we noticed a lot of palm trees dead from the freeze.

Everyone who was here is still talking about the winter from hell.

Austin Umbrellas

A couple of years ago I was in Austin for a conference. From my hotel room, I noticed that it had started to rain.

I really wanted to grab a bite to eat. I had an umbrella. Being a Floridian, I thought a little rain would be no problem but when I walked outside and around the corner from the shelter of the building, I realized that this rain was different.

The umbrella wasn’t helping since the rain was coming in sideways.

Like straight sideways – hitting my face from under the safety of an umbrella.

It was pretty impressive as the wind was so powerful and consistent that I had to lean into the wind to walk.

This rain and wind was different than what I am used to.

Driving with Texas crosswinds

Fast forward to the past two weeks.

Driving through Texas with 12-15 mph crosswinds winds with a trailer felt like swaying side to side on a cruise ship in rough waters.

It was so bad that the first night I still felt the swaying while I was laying in bed.

Dust tornado

Since we’ve been here I’ve seen 5 or 6 dust tornados like this one. Some smaller. Some larger.

“Hailnado”

Then while in Texas we had two hail storms with tornado warnings.

Otherwise the weather was beautiful. Low humidity. 75 degrees.

Maybe the devil went down to Texas, not Georgia.

Fun with plywood

We are finally moving on to a new destination.

As we look through the pictures of friends and memories made, we realize that one common occurrence each day was a piece of found plywood.

At first it was a fort.

Then the fort got a cannon.

This was their “Alamo”

Then it became part of a raft that they tried to push down the street (but broke apart in transit).

Then they hoisted it into a nearby tree for a tree fort, but couldn’t get it entirely up there.

Construction in progress

The moral of the story is to always bring a piece of plywood or similar when camping with kids.

Lazy weekend

With Kristi’s bike being broken, we had to go into town a bit more than we had expected last week.

We are an hour or so away from town so every time we went out, it would take several hours and we wouldn’t get back to camp until late.

Also daylight savings time happened during this time.

So we cancelled most of our plans and decided to slow down this weekend before we hit the road again next week.

We might try to visit another tourist trap or museum this week but if not, no big deal.

Instead we are just trying to enjoy the weather. It’s been between 45 and 70 degrees and sunny most days.

Instead we just did some bike riding, deer feeding, fishing, shell finding, rock skipping, painting, play-grounding (if that is a word), and otherwise stuck pretty close by.

Here are some random photos

Harper feeding the deer
Kristi’s new friends
She’ll finding
Fishing
My wheels. “Voguing”
Mona Lisa butterfly
We even found some local Texas BBQ nearby. Weekends only. Sells until sold out.

Well, it looks like we are out of carrots again. A grocery stop is in order.

Road school history lesson gone wrong

While in San Antonio, we decided to give the kids a history lesson on the Alamo and the Mexican American war.

Makes sense, right?

After all, we did get to actually tour the Alamo.

A couple of days later we rented the movie on the Alamo (which is supposedly historically accurate and not too gruesome).

We’ll the kids and the their friends found a metal pipe and a piece of plywood, and decided to build their own Alamo in the woods.

The Kids replica of the Alamo, cannon and all.

The cannon (pipe) fired by filling it with ash and blowing on one side.

Pretty cool, actually!

All was well until we heard the kids running around screaming, “kill the Mexicans! Kill the Mexicans!”

Obviously, the kids have no idea that what they are saying is offensive. They don’t have a racist bone in their body.

The Texans were just portrayed as the hero’s in the movie and the Mexicans were the enemy.

And they were just pretending to defend their Alamo.

However, we did have to tell them to tone it down, and had to explain to the neighbors about our seemingly harmless history lesson so they didn’t think we were racist.

Here is one example where a road school history lesson went sideways.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Week 2 – Bike fixes, More deer, school, etc.

Just as the family was getting used to our daily bike rides, Kristi hit her derailer on a stick when we were on a trail ride and snapped that thing in half. It even twisted her chain so her rear wheel wouldn’t move.

In fact, the derailer (usually hangs below the cassette on the back wheel) was above the cassette.

It was mangled. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it.

Luckily I found a place in town that would fix it but had to wait until Thursday to get it fixed.

Bummer.

More deer, almost out of carrots

Other than that we’ve just tried to have a normal week, do laundry and go to parks and playgrounds in the campground.

To and from we’ve seen more friendly deer and some really large jackrabbits.

Day 10 – Almost normal day

Now that we are posted up for at least a week we need to get back on a school and work routine.

So today we did just that.

Except the kids have been begging to go feed the deer again now that we are refilled on carrots.

So after dinner we went on a trail ride and deer quest.

Here is what we found…

That’s right. A field of 20-25 deer.

Once they saw we had carrots they were happy to come right to us.

This has definitely been a highlight for the kids and for Kristi. They have a new respect for wildlife.

A mom and her fawn.

Late into the bag of carrots, a limping deer came wandering in. He definitely needed some food.

Once we stared feeding him, he didn’t want to leave.

The kids named the limping deer trooper. Here is a photo of the kids (and a friend they made) with Trooper the deer.

That is our almost normal start to the week…

Day 9 – San Antonio: The Alamo, The Buckhorn, River Tour & Deer Food

We wanted to take advantage of the weekend so we decided to go to downtown San Antonio on Sunday.

Our “must do” list was river walk, The Alamo and by my brothers recommendation, the Buckhorn Saloon.

GORIO River Tour

We arrived and first hopped on a GORIO river tour.

The tour was shorter than expected (20-30 minutes) but it was cool to be able to grab an adult beverage and just get acquainted with the area.

The Alamo

Next we walked up to The Alamo. The night before, Kristi found a quick video to explain the history so the kids had context when we went there.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there (3pm) the tour of the inside of the Alamo was already sold out for the day (tickets are free but limited).

However, the grounds of the Alamo (walls, courtyard and other buildings) don’t have limits set.

Mom and Dad both enjoyed the experience. I think Brayden did as well.

Harper isn’t a big history buff unless it involves mermaids or unicorns. Her favorite part was likely the gift shop 🙂

The Buckhorn

This was a surprising enjoyable part of the visit. The Buckhorn is supposedly the oldest saloon in Texas. It was converted to a restaurant and museum of Texas wildlife and Texas Rangers.

Some of the deer had dozens of points.

The furniture and decor was very “Wild West.”

And the Longhorns were indeed long.

The ranger museum and Wild West museum were cool also. A lot of cool exhibits and didn’t take hours to go through. It was a little expensive, in my opinion but there are coupons available online, and it was more authentic “Texas” than some of the other tourist traps in that area.

Tex-mex on the river

We concluded our time with a Tex-mex dinner on the river. We tried to get into Casa Mia, a very old and popular privately owned restaurant. But they has a very long wait and we were very hungry so it wasn’t in the cards.

Instead we settled for The Original Mexican Restaurant just next door. Everything was quite good but the salsa was hot. Harper burned her tongue on it.

HEB

Texans seem to really love this local chain of grocery stores, which makes sense. They are run very well and do a lot in the community.

For instance, the one we stopped at had handicap parking and then a couple of spaces for cars with kids and expecting mothers.

If you are from the southeast, think “Publix of Texas.”

We even found some food allergy friendly treats which was an unexpected score.

Although I don’t plan on moving to the country of Texas anytime soon. One thing I really do like about this state is the pride they have for their heritage.

Restaurants often only serve local food and drinks, just about everything you buy is labeled as local if it is, and kids in the 7th grade have to do reports and visit historic Texas sites as part of their education. Mandatory.

It is a really cool culture when you come from Florida – where everyone is from someplace else.

Day 8 – Biking with deer in Hill Country

My kids and I are both enjoying and agonizing over the hills in the campground when riding our bikes around.

It feels great going down the hills but burns climbing them as Harper accurately put it.

Being Floridians, we barely get to see any kind of hills.

That said, Brayden already loves biking (as do I). But this is Harper’s first time mountain biking. I’ve been secretly training them at home for this day with frequent bike rides. Her stamina on the bike has really improved over the past few months.

Harper went down her first mountain bike trail and yelped with glee, and told me that she loved mountain biking.

Music to this dads ears. I do too!

Deer experience

But beyond that, as we have been riding around the campground, we’ve seen deer everywhere.

Brayden has been an ace at spotting them.

As we were on our morning ride, we noticed some kids just off into the woods with about 10-15 deer. They were feeding them carrots.

Our kids, naturally slammed on the breaks to join in.

Here are some photos…

When we got back, the kids were quick to tell mom about their experience, and she was excited to grab what was left of our carrots to go down and do it again.

Now we have no carrots for dinner.