Friday, July 29, 2016

Hot Springs, Arkansas: Adams Family Vacation -Day 3

We got up pretty early this morning so we could drive up the road into Lake Catherine State Park. The property we are staying on backs up to the park, which makes it really pretty and tranquil out here. We had selected an easy 2 mile hiking trail that led to a waterfall.

The trail was beautiful and the kids had a lot of fun exploring the woods around the trail. It was fairly easy terrain most of the way, although there were a few higher sections that had Nick on edge. His anxiety when doing outdoor things with small children is high enough that I don't have to worry as much since he's doing it for both of us. It's good to be cautious though.
We stopped along the way quite often for pictures and to explore, so the trail took us a couple of hours to complete. Once we made it to the waterfall, which really wasn't much of a waterfall at the moment due to the creek that feeds it being low, there were plenty of large boulders and rocks to climb on and explore. Jason and I did a little bit of climbing and the little kids stayed with Nick and Heather and threw rocks into the water.
We stopped for a snack break for a while and then finished up the trail just before lunchtime. By then we were all pretty hot and sweaty, and everyone was getting hungry. We came back to the house for sandwiches and to regroup. That's when we split up for the afternoon.
Jason and Heather took the kids back to the state park to go fishing for a little while. Once they got tired of fishing, everyone changed into their swimsuits and they had a good time playing in the lake for a while.

Nick walked across the street from our house to the Diamondhead Golf Clubhouse and rented some clubs and set off to play his first round of golf in about 3 years. Dad was tired so he took a nap, and I changed clothes and headed into Hot Springs for a while. I went to the old downtown area where the bathhouses are located and walked around, playing Pokemon Go and wandering into shops. I bought some handmade soap and bath salts for myself, and after a couple of hours headed back to the house.
Tonight was fajita night, so we got supper ready around 6. After dinner, Heather and I walked the kids down the street from the house to a really cool old-school playground. All of the equipment is probably from the 70s or so, and the kids thought it was so cool. We are talking metal slides and everything. It was a lot of fun.
We could hear thunder in the distance and started to see lightning, so we headed back to the house and I made chocolate chip cookies for everyone before we got the kids all bathed and into the bed. Tomorrow we are heading to an alligator farm and the Garvin Woodland Gardens.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hot Springs, Arkansas: Adams Family Vacation -Day 2

Today we visited Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, an amusement/water park in Hot Springs. We arrived just as they were opening at 11:00 this morning and were in the car headed to the house at 6:00. It was a long, tiring, but really fun day.

We started off this morning riding all of the dry rides in the Magic Springs part of the park. They have a lot of kiddie rides and then we did a few family-friendly bigger rides. Everyone got pretty hungry for lunch and the kids just wanted to get in the water, so we ate lunch and started to cool off in the pool shortly after. Nick had a couple more thrill rides he wanted to do, so I went along with him. The first one he talked himself out of due to safety issues with the restraint system, so we headed over to The Gauntlet, which is one of those coasters where you hang below the track and your feet dangle. 
I didn't really intend to ride it too, as I am not a huge fan of roller coasters and they typically mess with my head and overall well-being pretty good. But he sort of talked me into giving it a try, so I did. I was a nervous wreck once they strapped me into the dangling seat of death. Then we took off, up the first hill that would send us flying, twisting, rolling, upside-down, and around in circles for what felt like 5 minutes, but in reality was probably like 45 seconds. I screamed the entire time and kept my eyes shut for about 85% of the ride. Every time I would try to open my eyes we were upside down or about to hit something before flipping again, and I just couldn't force myself to watch. It didn't keep me from screaming though.

We exited the ride and I felt very funny. Not dizzy, not nauseas....but definitely felt fuzzy, like I was floating almost. Very light. Breathing hard. Dry mouth. I needed water but I couldn't hardly walk up the hill to the water fountain. Nick said I looked drunk or drugged heavily, both of which I think might have been more fun. But I survived, although it took me a good hour to recover from the side effects of that coaster. No more danglers for me.
We joined the others in the wave pool and then spent the afternoon riding water slides and swimming. The kids all had a blast, but by 5:30 or so we were all pretty much done for the day. We changed and headed home to grill hamburgers for supper, and then Jason started enough of a fire that we made s'mores with the kids before everyone showered and headed to bed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hot Springs, Arkansas: Adams Family Vacation -Day 1

My day began at 3:30 am when my insane husband woke me up. He likes to start road trips super early, as usual, so I obliged although I had only been asleep for 4.5 hours. To be fair though, we needed to be through Dallas before the morning commute traffic clogged up the interstate so it worked out quite well. I went to sleep in the car, and when I woke up an hour and 45 minutes later we were stopping in Sulphur Springs so we could potty and Kate could eat some breakfast.

From there we headed to Texarkana, where we were originally going to meet up with Dad, Jason, Heather and the kids. They were a bit behind us since they didn't leave super early like we did, and Nick and I were both getting hungry since it had been a few hours since we ate breakfast, so we stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat while we waited. We then decided to just meet at the Crater of Diamonds State Park instead, so we left Cracker Barrel and headed there. 
 I have never been to dig for diamonds before. Actually Pop was the only one with any previous diamond hunting experience. We rented a basic kit from the visitors center and walked out into the diamond field: 37 acres of dirt and volcanic rock.
 It had rained a couple of days before we arrived, so dry sifting was going to work out very well as the dirt hadn't completely dried out yet. That left us with wet sifting, which we tried out for quite a while. The kids mostly dug around in the dirt and picked up pretty rocks, since they didn't really understand what it was that they were looking for.
 It was hot. There is pretty much no shade anywhere out there to get a break from the sun. I am not totally thrilled with digging in dirt and getting filthy, so I thought I was choosing the smarter option by volunteering to wet sift but I ended up even dirtier than had I stayed out and dug.

This photo pretty much sums up Crater of Diamonds State Park:
 We ended up staying for a couple of hours because once you get started, it's a little bit difficult to pull yourself away. Jason was determined, and I was kind of enjoying the wet sifting, so the only thing that really made us want to leave was that everyone was starving and they have nowhere to eat out there. Food trumps diamonds, in this case.
We drove into Murfreesboro and ate at a local place, Em's Cafe. It was delicious! Then we headed on to Lake Catherine State Park, which is where the house we rented for the week is located. We arrived and everyone started exploring the house and backyard. We unpacked, and then Heather, Kylie and I prepared a grocery list for the week and we went into town to Walmart. Nick, Jason, and the little kids walked around the neighborhood and played Pokemon for a bit while we were gone. We are now set for the week and prepared to have some fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July is flying by

July is flying by! We have been busy little bees this month. Kate and Trey have gone on Munzee excursions with me, we've gone to various places in town playing Pokemon Go together, Kate did a princess dance camp, we met the Hooks in Garland one day to spend the day at Hawaiian Falls, Kate had her first ever sleepover with a school friend for a birthday, and I spent more time photographing down in the Stockyards with Lola. Now I'm supposed to be loading the car for our road trip to Arkansas that begins in just a few hours, but instead I'm working on picture dumping and getting things in order online. Priorities, you know.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Scavenger Hunt fun

Saturday one of my photography clubs hosted a photo scavenger hunt down in the Stockyards. We started at 8 am, because it's July in Texas. Because of the horrible events in Dallas which cost 5 police officers their lives a couple of days before the walk, we also had a #backtheBlue photo challenge. Each of us was given a small sign with #backtheblue on it, and we had to walk around and ask people if we could take their photo with our sign. I ended up having way more fun with my sign than I did finding items on the scavenger hunt list, which I sort of forgot about at some point.
 Several officers came through and stopped to visit with us and for photos. Even the mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, rode into the Stockyards on her bike to say hello and take a group photo with us.
 One of the couples in attendance, Ray and Tracee, started talking about something called Munzee that they do and I got interested in what they were talking about. Turns out it is a virtual scavenger hunt where you use an app to search for QR codes on stickers that people have placed all over the place. It's sort of like geocaching, only you just use your smart phone to find a sticker rather than hunt for an actual cache. I used to love geocaching, so I was all kinds of excited about this. Once the photowalk ended, I went with Ray and Tracee for a little while and found some Munzees. I was pretty hooked right away, so I'm excited to have a new hobby for me and Kate. Anything to get us outside and get some exercise is awesome, am I right?
That's my referal QR code if you want to get started on Munzee! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 4th Fun

We woke up on July 4th without any plans at all. I went to my Refit class at 10 am, but otherwise we didn't have anywhere specific to be until I decided that we would go to Dad's for the day. Jason and Heather were coming with the kids and spending a few days at his house, so we headed out around noon.
Kylie and Logan were (not so) patiently waiting for us to arrive and immediately made us change so we could all go swimming at Pop's community pool. Heather and I hung out on the edge of the pool and watched while the kids and dads played in the water.
 We finished swimming and headed back to the house to clean up and eat hamburgers. I made guacamole and everyone filled their bellies. Next up was to head to Arlington to play at Dave & Buster's for a couple of hours. We bought tokens for the kids and at the end of the night, we pooled all of their tickets and split them amongst the three kids - they each had a little over 2400 to spend! They were pretty excited and it took forever for them to decide what they wanted. Kate came home with 3 new stuffed animals because she loves them.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Albuquerque to Carlsbad, day 7

We arrived in Albuquerque pretty much just in time for dinner, so we got all settled into our Hampton Inn for the night and then decided to eat at The Range Cafe for supper. Kate was pretty happy to be with Yiayia finally. I did regret that we didn't get into Albuquerque in time to actually see any of the city, but we just didn't get on the road early enough to make that happen.

Saturday morning we got up and hit the road again. Our destination for Saturday was Carlsbad, New Mexico. I had thrown out the idea of us all going to the caverns, not really thinking about it being a holiday weekend and that 12000 other people might have the same idea.
We had a fairly uneventful 4 hour drive from Albuquerque to Carlsbad. We stopped in Roswell for lunch at the Rib Crib. It was pretty tasty barbeque. The Roswell UFO Festival was going on while we were in town, but I was the only one who wanted to stop and enjoy the local weirdness. Another bummer - I say when you're in a random town that you'll not be in again for a while, and a random festival is going on, you take advantage of that happy coincidence. Maybe next time.

We made it into Carlsbad and headed straight through to go to the caverns. Our first clue that it was going to be crowded should have been the line to get into the parking lot. A park ranger was letting one car in every time one car would leave because they were full. Hmmm. Once we finally found a parking spot after being allowed in, we walked into the visitor's center and got our first glimpse of the line to buy tickets. Pretty quickly Nana and Yiayia decided they weren't going into the caverns (the wait for the elevator was over an hour!) so I stood in line to get tickets for me, Nick and Kate. After listening to the guides who were walking around and helping people, I realized that there was no way this was going to happen today.

It was 3:30. The guide said it was an hour walk down into the big room, than an hour an a half to walk around the big room, and the wait for the elevator to come back up was an hour long. You had to be out of the cavern by 6:45 pm. Well that was not going to happen in that amount of time! So we snapped a photo outside in front of the sign and left, since we knew it just wasn't going to work out this trip. But that means that one of these days (when it's NOT a holiday weekend) we are going to have to make the 6 hour drive back out there.
We stopped at the gift shop in Whites City before heading back to our hotel for the night and goofed around for a little bit. The gift shop itself was fairly lame, so there wasn't a whole lot to see. But we made the most of it and then went to the Hampton Inn for the night.

 The next morning we woke up bright and early (like 5 am!) so we could leave our hotel by 7 am to make it to Andrews, Texas in time for worship service. I hadn't been to church out there since I moved away back in 2001, so I thought it would be fun to visit and see some old faces. The congregation there has gotten a lot smaller since I left, which is sad, but I did see some familiar faces and spoke with a few old friends. We ate at my favorite Mexican food place in town before hitting the road again to come home. It was a long drive, but we finally made it around 6pm and everybody was very happy to be out of the car.