Thursday, April 30, 2009

Facebook and Moose Track Adventures

I've been pretty late in joining the Facebook game but now that I am on there, I'm so glad I did it. One of the pluses is that it has brought people back into my life that I haven't been in contact with for years. Some of those people are ones I went to school with just a few short years ago. Ok, so maybe it was more like ten years ago...or something like that.

One of those people is Joan. In chatting with her, I discovered that she and her husband and two cutie pies own a place that we have added to our must see list. It is in Minnesota and is a resort and has guided trips too. It is Moose Track Adventures and is in Ely.

If you are in the area, be sure to check it out and tell Joan and her family we said hi. I'd love to hear back from you if you do go!

Auburn, Austin and Ace explore Marathon

Today the kids and dog biked the whole 1/2 mile or so into "town" to get some ice cream, birthday gifts for dad and take pictures. Here is Austin's contribution to the blog today:My personal favorite of this darling town is the alien on the fence. We couldn't decide whether they are informing us that they have aliens inside the fence, informing the aliens that they are alien friendly or trying to scare people and/or aliens by faking us out. That is just not something you see everyday...even when you are traveling cross-country.

Living the life in Texas!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Big Bend National Park in Texas

Today we visited Big Bend National Park. This park was so immense; it has over 800,000 open acres. Since we only had one day to explore, we visited the Chisos mountain first and then drove around a bit heading down to the Chihuahuan desert.

It took most of our trip just to do that. It was breathtaking in a way we haven't experienced yet. Once down in the desert, Austin and I went for a bike ride and Nathan and Ace went on a hike.
To say that biking and hiking in the desert is different than other places seems like such a silly, understatement to put here. It is vastly different though in a way we didn't quite expect. We took tons of water and it was not nearly enough. We stopped at the drinking fountain and drank like people who were dying. Twice. Even Ace seemed to be feeling the heat in a way he normally doesn't. It was really cool to experience it and I have a whole new respect for it.We stopped a few places to walk up to places where we had a great view. I had to snap pictures of this thing that I don't understand. The guys doing the thing that guys do-trying to throw each other off a cliff. No, I don't know why they do this which is why I said I don't understand-but they don't seem to know either. It's a guy thing. Sort of like chicks going to the restroom together.

They start out pretending they are hugging and then they try to throw each other or wrestle the other person to the ground. This lasts until I say stop, enough already or why-why-why must you do this every place we visit? They crack up. I remember why it's always important to have people of the same gender in your life.
It is always interesting to me that no matter how much this trip has changed us, we are still so much the same people and the same family that we always have been. Hopefully that means we are growing some, but not losing ourselves in the process. Oh, I really, really hope that is the case.

Living the life in hot and sunny Southwest Texas!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Exploring Marathon, Texas

Austin and I went out to explore a bit today. We started out with a trip to the post office to mail some paperbackswap books out. The town here is adorable. Meaning it is cute as can be and so tiny. It is less than a one stoplight town, but what is here is enough to carry us through our short visit though.

While driving around we keep talking about the mountains in the background and I wonder out loud if we can figure out how to get to them. We take this road and that road and as we get closer we stop to take pictures.The first time I stopped right in the middle of the road and Austin must have panicked over that because when I returned, he had the emergency flashers on.By the time we had stopped five or six times he was cracking up at that because we had not encountered one other vehicle on this remote road.The closer we moved to the hills, the more impressive they were. We forgot to keep taking pictures at some point because we were so engrossed in the beauty of it all.

We went all the way to the end of this road and it just got better and better the further we went. We were definitely glad we tried to get closer!

We also did some household things today, like hanging laundry on the clothes line that they have here. I love hanging laundry out to dry and today was the perfect day to do it. We are feeling nice and relaxed after having a lazy day today and are geared up for a hiking day tomorrow.

Living the life in Southwest Texas!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our trip from Lakehills to Marathon, Texas

Today we drove from Lakehills to Marathon, Texas. Austin joked that he thought we were going to execute a plan to ditch him the desert at some point, because we drove for miles without seeing a house, store, gas station or any other signs of civilization. We would never dump him off in the middle of the desert of course, but I can see why he was a bit nervous. This was the first sign of life that we saw for hours:I was mesmerized by the scenery while driving. Each place we have been to has been beautiful. I can't recall one place we thought wasn't pretty in its own way. But this is so different than any eastern scenery that it was just captivating to us.

We arrived at the RV park to see this:We went out and explored the little bit that we saw right near us, and we loved it. Ace found this:and when he got too close, he did not love it.

Living the life in Texas!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Video of Austin with the deer at Lake Medina

We will miss these sweet creatures when we leave here:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Government Canyon State Natural Area

This week ended up being fairly uneventful since we all were sick. It started with Auburn and passed through the whole family with Mom being the last victim.

Today, Auburn and Nathan went on a hike while Austin and I stayed home to rest. They went hiking here. I'll have them give the details from their hike.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pretty Visitors

These were two of our visitors we saw outside our window today:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Sea World in San Antonio

We spent another fun day at Sea World today. The weather was just perfect!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gavin the Falconer

For the past few weeks, I've heard lots of buzz about Susan Boyle. I love this cheeky chick who knocked everyone's socks off because they didn't expect much from her and well, she is just so fabulous! We were recently having a discussion about her in one of the online groups that I am a member of and I shared that I love it when I come across things like this. I went on to share that it seems we are encountering things like this more and more since being on the road. Then I realized that perhaps it is because I long for them and therefore might be even more open to seeing them when I do encounter them.

For whatever reason, I am tickled pink that we are able to share in these wonderful moments when we look beyond the gift wrapping to the gift inside. Gavin has been one of those gifts this week. Unlike my first impression with Susan Boyle, I was impressed right off the bat with Gavin. Talking to him for about ten minutes let me know he was bright and mature. Then I played pickle ball with him and he knocked my socks off there.

As if that weren't enough though, one night after pickle ball his Grandpa shares with us that Gavin is a falconer. I didn't think I heard him correctly. I mean really, it just isn't something you hear everyday no matter who the person is. "A falconer-as in the people who train the birds?" Yes, it seems I did hear correctly. He is a falconer. I got the Susan Boyle goosebumps at that moment because you see...Gavin is ten.So with his permission, I'll share some of the fascinating things I have learned about his being a falconer because he patiently answered all of my questions about this. There are only three falconers that fly long wings like peregrine falcons in the whole state of NJ. He is one of those and his dad is another which means there is only one other falconer in their state beyond them. Wow! In order to be a falconer there are many steps to take. This is a federally regulated thing and so you have to be licensed in order to do it. You have to apprentice for two years and you have to have the correct gear for yourself and the bird, proper housing and ability to care for the bird and all of that has to be checked out and approved. There are three levels for falconry and some states set minimum age requirements for each level. I asked Gavin if it was rare for someone his age to do this and he said yes, that people were always surprised to see a kid his age doing it.Not only is he a falconer, he has his own falcon. He has trained this bird himself. When I asked his mother how long that process took, she said about eight months of working with the bird every single day. That was just the beginning stuff though. It is apparently an ongoing process so he is still training the bird. I'm in awe of his devotion and dedication to this. He also knows all kinds of cool stuff about his bird that he shared with me, but I'll save those facts for the other blog.

Gavin's Mom wrote and shared some more information with me:
Gavin is not yet a licensed falconer because the age is 12 (to be able to take and pass the exam and be an official apprentice which lasts for two years) and he is only ten. Gavin has been handling and training birds under his dads guidance for many years so the apprenticeship will be a formality for Gavin and probably for the children of many falconers. As an apprentice Gavin will have to trap a wild hawk or falcon; or remove one from its nest. Gavin has assisted his dad in the trapping and training of more than one bird already. Gavin's dad (David) is a master falconer which is a level you can reach after five years as a general falconer. Gavin's dad has been a falconer since the age of 14 (used to be the starting age) - so for 27 years. Gavin and his dad have two Gyr-Peregrine Hybrids and might be getting a Prairie Falcon shortly.

I love that life brought such a neat and interesting person into our path, and I especially love that it was something that so knocked our socks off because we just didn't expect it.

Here is Gavin with his mother, Sherri and his sister, Reagan. Keep up the great work, Gavin, and I hope you knock lots of other people's socks off as you move through life sharing your gift. We think you rock!
Just a little plug for the cutie pie, Reagan. I think one of her super powers is that she has the ability to know when the camera is shooting. Nathan took hundreds of pictures this day, and most of us were completely unaware. Reagan, on the other hand, was looking straight at the camera every time. Beauty and brains with this one!

Living the life full of unexpected gifts in Texas!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Ambir

Today was our second dd, Ambir's birthday. She is my Easter baby and is full of so much of the goodness that spring brings each year that it is most fitting that she was born at that time of the year.

Happy Birthday our precious girl! We wish we were there to celebrate with you, but you were definitely with us in our hearts and minds all day today. We love you.

Remember the Alamo

Today we headed over to San Antonio with some friends we met at TT when in Florida. We have been looking forward to being able to see the Alamo, and it was as touching as we'd hoped it would be.
Originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the current site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officals secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their land to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields and particpated in the growing community of San Antonio. In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for "cottonwood") in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post's commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack.
The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico's ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.
San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Marín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós' men — and strengthened its defenses.
On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna's army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas.
On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did.
As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound.
Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

This was a very inspiring place to us, and we encourage anyone who is in the area to come and visit and learn more about the history involved.

San Antonio Riverwalk

While in San Antonio today, we experienced the Riverwalk there. First we walked it, and then we rode a boat with a tour guide. Each provided a different experience, so I'm glad we did both. They claim that this is the #1 entertainment destination in Texas and after visiting, this does not surprise me in the least. Its history dates all the way back to 1536. The Riverwalk is considered a city park so it is a public space which means it is free and open for everyone to enjoy. Auburn will be happy to know that dogs are welcome on the Riverwalk.The boat tour provided many interesting facts about the riverwalk. There is a spot called Marriage Island where an average of one marriage ceremony a day is performed. There is a hotel that was built in an interesting way-the first four floors were built on site and each floor after that was built eight miles away and was built room by room and then fitted into the building like a puzzle piece. I'll stop there, otherwise I'll ruin the tour for everyone that hasn't taken it yet.We ate lunch while here and it was neat to be sitting right on the water, close enough to the duck to pet them, while eating. There were dining boats where you could eat while doing your tour which we thought were interesting too.This was Austin's favorite feature of Riverwalk. It is a building that provides an optical illusion of being a flat wall, rather than a building. He is still talking about this.We truly loved this place. I can see why many of what I assumed to be locals, used this as a place to walk or jog. If I lived here, I would too.

Fiesta San Antonio

After we visited the Riverwalk, we headed back over to the Alamo Plaza where they were kicking off San Antonio's huge yearly event, Fiesta San Antonio. Fiesta began in 1891 as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the battle of San Jacinto. It has since grown into a Texas sized fiesta that draws 3.5 million visitors, of which 20 percent travel from out of state and from other countries.We attended the Fiesta Fiesta at the Alamo. We picked up a few medals that people collect and trade.Then we headed over to hear the 82nd Airborne All American chorus perform. It was deeply moving to hear these men sing "Proud to be an American" with the Alamo as their backdrop.Viva Fiesta! Living the life in Texas!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bandera, Texas

Today we visited Bandera to eat lunch. It was such a pretty town, I snapped a few pictures to remember it by:

Bandera is the cowboy capital of the world y'all : !While we were admiring this church, a sweet lady came up and shared some of the history with us. The stones are handcut and made out of limestone.She then pointed us to this gorgeous church, that was similar:Both of the churches were historic landmarks.We didn't stay long today, but we'll probably be back again since it's the closest decent sized grocery store.