Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Texas Vacation: Part II

Continued from yesterday's post: Texas Vacation Part I

(I got to meet a blogging friend in real life! Oh, but that's not 'til the end. I'm getting ahead of myself...)

Day 7: It rained cats and dogs so we hit up a local museum about the explorers, and ships that first came to the area. Here's the most memorable part of the museum:


I will NEVER take toilet paper for granted again!

No wonder over 300 of the 410 people on the boat died of disease before they even reached the new land. Once on shore, the survivors were promptly attacked by Indians and only two members of the ship survived: a priest and a slave. That's a high price to pay for exploration, folks!

That evening we took the whole brood out for pizza and cosmic bowling.

Day 8: We left the Island and drove the entire day until we reached Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Day 9: We toured Carlsbad Caverns! That was a really neat experience. We entered through the natural opening, and hiked several miles inside the cave.  In the evening, people sit in the amphitheater at the mouth of the cave to witness the flight of thousands of bats.

Once inside, the first part of the cave smells strongly of bat guano, which was mined for fertilizer in the 1920's and 30's. 

When we passed that chamber, the air clears up, and there is a transfer of air that feels like air-conditioning.  With a temperature of 53 F degrees  year round, and a 90% humidity level, it was rather pleasant in the cave.

After hiking deep into the cave and seeing everything, an elevator takes you up 750 feet back to the top.

After lunch, we continued our drive toward home, with one very special stop! As chance would have it, we were traveling directly through the stomping grounds of one of my fellow blogging friends, Jennifer from Cow Camp Tales! We have been blog friends for a while and finally got to meet in real life! 

My family was travel weary, smelling like bat guano, and my hair was awful from the humidity in the cave, but none of that mattered. I was about to meet one of my blogging friends!  

Jennifer and her family were just as nice and down to earth as I thought they would be.  Our husbands got to know each other while we chatted about everything under the sun. Her kids are just precious! We got to meet some of her family, see her husband's gorgeous saddle that's almost finished, and go out for frozen yogurt.  I just wish we lived closer so we could hang out more, and not just type through a computer screen. When you follow a blog, you get to see snippets of life from far away places, but it's not the same as seeing friends in real life. You can't hear a voice or see mannerisms in pictures, and you can't laugh together. That's the best part of friendship. We couldn't stay very long because we still had another 6 hours of driving ahead, but I'm sure glad we made the stop! 

My blogging friends are awesome, and I wish I had the chance to meet every one of you!

With nearly 50 hours on the highway, and over 3,000 miles on the rental car, we pulled into our driveway late that night. We had a fabulous trip and made lots of great memories with good friends.

Still Sporting my Island Tan,


Monday, April 29, 2013

Texas Vacation: Part I

I'm BACK!  

Did you miss me? After we finished calving season, our family was ready for a little rest and relaxation.  We put the cows out to pasture, found people to feed the horses, chickens, and dogs, and peeled out of the gravel driveway in a rental car, headed for warmer weather. Tropical breezes, sand, and warm ocean waves were on the horizon.

Destination: South Padre Island

This trip was filled with friends and fun from beginning to the very end.

Day 1: We drove 6 hours to arrive in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Day 2: We stopped in El Paso, Texas for a morning of shopping at one of my favorite trading posts.  I fell in love with so many things in that store, but the trunk of the rental car had only a millimeter of space left in it. I would have put some purchases in my lap, but with over 40 hours of driving round-trip, that would have been brutal.  Sadly, I left it all behind for another trip when we can drive the truck.

Here's what I saw:

Aren't these stars pretty?!?  

They had tack galore, and beautiful saddle blankets. 

Did I mention that they had an entire warehouse of nothing but western furniture?

They had these bar stools, too. I'm not sure those would go well with the decor in my house...

Oh, and there was this fake, two headed steer from Mexico. We decided that it looked better in El Paso than it would in our living room.

From here, we went to the boot outlet and then made the 8 hour drive into San Antonio.

Day 3: San Antonio! Here, we visited fabulous friends that my husband grew up with.  We met for breakfast at a lovely bakery downtown, and the time just flew by.  San Antonio is GORGEOUS this time of year! Afterward, we drove an additional 5 hours to the island.

Day 3-7: South Padre Island, Texas! It was the perfect set-up: we vacationed with some of our dearest friends from home. Our three kids, and their three oldest kids are around the same age, and play nicely together. Our friends gave us the bottom condo, and they took the top beach house, and we spent the whole week together on the island.

Here we are at the beach at sunset.

These are our fabulous friends.

Day 4-5: We played at the beach. The gulf water is so warm that the kids stayed in it for hours at a time.  It was so relaxing to walk along beach and play in the sand.

Day 6: The guys went fishing!

They were able to keep 14 of the fish they caught that afternoon.

That night we had a fish fry at the house with their catch of the day.  It was delicious!

To be continued.....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Slade Ranch

Last week we took a walk along the Little Colorado River on the Wenima Trail until we came upon the old Slade Ranch property. It was sold to the Game and Fish through the Heritage Fund in 1995, and hasn't been a working ranch in many years. The property and surrounding hills are filled with rich history. It's just a fascinating place and would have been a great homestead in its time.  I'd love to return to it in the late summer after the monsoon rains come, and take pictures of it again. It has a small orchard, rose bushes, a little yard, and beautiful view in the summer months. It was an overcast day so the photos are dark, but I think you can certainly get a feel for the ranch's character.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

7 Random Things

1. Calving is finished! Hallelujah!

This little guy needs to grow into his ear tag. 

2. I took the iPhone photo below while walking toward the barn at 1:00 am to check the "heavies". It was so bright out that I didn't even need a flashlight. It's so hard to climb out of the bed for the night watch, but once I'm outside, the brisk night air wakes me right up! For the first few days, it's dreadfully hard to get back to sleep, but after a week, the delirium of round the clock checks makes me able to sleep anytime, anywhere.

I'm so glad that it's all over! Like childbirth, I'll have another year to forget the pain, and then it will be time to do it all over again. HA!

3. Gripe Alert:
If you have followed along with this blog for several years, you KNOW my disdain for the weather in the month of April. It's such a tease, and the wind.... well, it NEVER stops blowing.  Last week was beautiful with temperatures around 65 F.  Yesterday, we seriously had 70 mile per hour winds, and it knocked over trees, barrels, fences, and small children.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the wind blew in a snow storm overnight. It's still snowing, and my flowers are confused. My MIL always talks to her flowers when they bloom in April and tells them, "Go back to bed, it's too early for you to bloom." I used to find it odd, but now I find myself telling the flowers the same thing.  When I see the buds on the trees, I'm all like, "Fools! You need to wait! A giant snow is going to kill off your leaves! Take heed! Take HEED!"

4. This week, I cracked two eggs into a bowl, and they BOTH had double yolks in them! That's four eggs for the price of two...except, I don't  pay for my eggs. They're home-grown. That's right, everything's bigger and better in.....Texas Arizona!

5. As my real-life friends already know, I spent the majority of last week priming and painting new 4-rail, steel pipe fencing. It's total drudgery! Painting any type of cylinder shaped object is daunting, for that matter. That job is right up there on my list with cleaning mini-blinds, folding socks, picking lice off of monkey's backs, and milking cats. Word to the wise: wear long sleeves and gloves. I learned the hard way. Here's my exact Facebook post from the first day, dripping with sarcasm:

"WOW! Removing oil-based paint and primer from skin is sooo easy! All it takes is a large rasp, medium grit sandpaper, toxic chemicals, and the teardrops of a unicorn. Who knew?!?"

6. I was checking my baby's school work the other day, and I noticed that she erased one of her answers on her language page.  When I asked her about it, she informed me that we couldn't be sure that the picture was a bull because it didn't show between the legs.  Then she said, matter of fact-ly, "Don't they know that cows can have horns, too?"


7. Baseball season has officially arrived. With 3 kids on three different teams, and my husband coaching one team and assistant coaching another, we are about to enter the crazy zone. This time of year, we practically live at the ball fields every evening.  I need to really beef up my crock-pot recipe selection or we'll be living on Taco Bell for the next few months. I'm open for good recipe suggestions, if anyone has any they'd like to link my way.

Wearing snow boots and dreaming of flip-flops,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Redneck Genius Saves Easter

We had such a blessed Easter this year. It was a gorgeous day to celebrate our Risen Savior! During church I couldn't help but glance at our family lined up in the pew. The kids are sprouting up so tall! It makes me feel all sappy when I remember how tiny they used to be.

After church, we went to my in-laws' to celebrate with them, and check the new calves.

We ate a ham from my daughter's 4-H pig for Easter Dinner. Although I started cooking the ham while we were at church, it still had 2 more hours to roast, and we had an hour drive to get to my in-laws' house. Not wanting to hold up dinner, and not wanting the ham to cool down on the drive over the mountain, I wasn't sure what to do. 

Enter my Redneck Genius Husband.

He suggested that we load up the generator in the back of the truck, and plug in the roaster so that the ham could continue cooking on the trip over the mountain.

At first I just laughed because the idea was so crazy.  But then I thought of my ham getting luke-warm while we drove... totally gross, and not safe to eat, and I started to think about how much longer it would be before dinner, and I decided....Maybe this isn't such a bad idea. Why not?!?

So, we plugged the roaster that held the giant ham into the generator, and after making sure the lid was wired shut, and the ham was safely tucked inside, we headed down the highway.

The ham continued cooking happily until we got to our destination. Once there, we plugged it in the kitchen and let it cook the final hour at the house while we baked the bread and potatoes. It all worked out beautifully! The ham was tender, moist, and cooked to the correct  internal temperature. It may have been unorthodox, but it totally worked.

Crazy? Absolutely.

But you have to admit that it was a good idea.

Props to my husband for thinking outside the box, and saving Easter dinner.

I should submit this joke to Jeff Foxworthy:

"If you cook your Easter ham with a generator in the back of a truck while driving down the highway....you might be a redneck."