With the SUV packed full, our car towed behind, a couple baskets of toys to entertain the children, and lots of prayer, we began the first leg of our trip to El Paso, Texas. We decided not to do more than three to five hours of driving a day, which ends up being about five to seven hours on the road with potty and sanity breaks. On the way to El Paso, we stopped for Adeline to pee and she found herself with a view of passing trains; it was quite a site. Another one of the stops along the way was an animal feed store, which was awesome for the kids since there were a ton of animals to interact with.
When we arrived, we had dinner with one of my friends, Gaby. AB-S0-LUTE DIS-AS-TER. This was the first time we met her boyfriend and he must have thought we were the worst parents on the planet. Our kids were so done with being in the car all day, and then we took them to a nice restaurant and expected them to cooperate...worst idea ever. Actually I knew they'd probably act like wild animals, but we went for it anyway. The kids were hitting each other, screaming, and running all over the place. Whoops! Again, we survived. Sorry, Gaby =). Before we left the next day, we were able to see another one of my friends, Danielle, and her adorable boys at the playground. Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to think of taking any pictures from El Paso.
The next stop took us to Midland, Texas. On the way, we pulled over for a potty break and came across this old abandoned public school. It probably wasn't the safest place to explore, but between Midland and EL Paso there's not another single option!
On the third day, we arrived in Waco, Texas. For the first time I decided to try Airbnb, a website that allows you to rent personal homes instead of a hotel. We were a little skeptical, but it turned out to be a great experience and it will be my first search option for future vacations and military moves. (If you're interested in trying Airbnb, the company sent me a $20.00 off coupon for family and friends to use. Send me a message or leave a comment and I'll email you the link for the coupon.) In Waco, I booked an adorable backyard bungalow. Turns out, it's a guest house to one of the homes featured on the show Fixer Upper. I LOOOOOOOVE this show and I had no idea when I booked the property. Only while reading the guest book did I realize it from reading all of the comments. This was all fitting because the reason we stopped in Waco was so I could visit the Magnolia Silos. For those Fixer Upper followers, we stayed in Trip and Kelsey's bungalow (season 2, episode 2). On the inside, the home still looks the same from the renovation. From the backyard where we stayed, the curtains were open to their living room and I couldn't help but peek =).
Early the next morning, we went to the Waco Zoo. It was freezing and drizzly so we had almost the whole place to ourselves. Then, we went to the Silos. I think I heard the singing voices of angels when I walked through the door ;). I wish I had a million dollars to decorate our home in everything they offered. Once of my friends, Meredith, is a Fixer Upper fan so I called her on Facetime to "walk into the store with me." Even though we're thousands of miles apart it was fun to experience that together. I purchased us each one of the metal signs Joanna designs for many of the houses she decorates and Addie chose a concrete letter A.
Then, we drove to Saldo, Texas where we stayed at another Airbnb place. It was in a gorgeous area, rigt by a creek, and we even had deer in the backyard. That night, we had dinner with my friend, Vanessa, and her family. She made us a phenomenal Puerto Rican dinner and I loved seeing our children play together. In the morning, we drove through Belton (where we used to live) and visited our old lake house. That place was such a find! During the day, one of my friends since elementary school, Kyle, came over to our rental with her daughter. We've known each other for over 20 years, so it was really sensational to see our children play together. That night, we met our old neighbors, Bunnie and Wally, for dinner at our favorite Mexican joint. They had just returned from Disney World and showered our kids with sweet gifts and princess autographs--so thoughtful! On our third day in Salado, Addie and I hit some of the shops and then we met a couple of my former teacher friends, Liz and Danielle, in Harker Heights. Salado was a packed stop on our journey, but it so refreshing to reconnect with such fabulous people that I miss dearly.
Next, we drove to College Station, Texas. Our friends, Derek and Kelly, live there while he attends grad school in preparation to teach at West Point, like Tim. They have a two month old miracle named Samuel who we were ecstatic to meet. While there, we ate wonderful food, roamed around downtown, visited the George Bush Library, and enjoyed catching up with another. In another year, we'll all be at the Academy together--yay! Before we left, Tim spent the morning with Addie at Uhaul because we found out on the road that they did a faulty install of our tow hitch in Tucson. Luckily, all was fixed, but we lost half a day.
Then, we went on to Lake Charles, Louisiana. I booked a cheaper hotel, but it turned out to be in the most awesome location. We were right on the lakefront, which had a beautiful path and the coolest playground I've ever seen. The night we arrived I saw a horse-drawn carriage parked across the street, just calling Adeline's name. We took her for her first carriage ride and it was truly memorable. The carriage driver was pretending she was Cinderella and Addie was waving to everyone on the street, like she was a real princess. The horse's name was Adamae (love that!) and Addie kept wanting her to go faster, so the driver added "step up" to appease our little princess. He pulled right up to the hotel door to drop us off after the ride. It was super cute! The next morning we walked along the lake, splashed in the fountains, and played at the gigantic playground before heading out to Biloxi, Mississippi.
On the way, we stopped by LSU to visit Mike the Tiger and stretch our legs. The kids loved the animal and could have stayed there all day following him around the cage. Once in Biloxi, we stayed at a nice family-owned hotel, which was right across the beach--my heaven. We had dinner at this great Southern restaurant, where we all ate alligator! While there, we also enjoyed the Southern charm of the people. Once you get into mid-Texas and on, everyone is supremely kind. We definitely saw that in Biloxi. While at dinner, we struck up conversation with the couple sitting next to us. When they stood up to leave, they told us that they had taken care of our meal, thanking us for Tim's service and our family's sacrifice. It was unbelievably thoughtful. Welcome to the South! The next morning, we walked over to spend a little time at the beach. We had it all to ourselves and even let Wilma run free. The kids loved playing in the sand and putting their toes in the water, just like their mama. Tim finally had to drag us out of there so we could make the last leg of our trip.
Finally, we arrived in Enterprise, Alabama. Whew!!! What a trip! We got the keys to our new place and started settling in, AGAIN. After a couple hiccups with the house we're renting, we finally feeling at "home." And to think, we'll do this aaaaallllllllll again in three months...
To the many of you who prayed for our safe (and sane) travels--a thousand thank yous!