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Everything Really is Bigger in Texas and So is This Blog Post!

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

I know it has been a long time since we last posted, so I am hoping to catch y'all 😉 up with recent events. Between two weeks of little to no cell service plus another 2 weeks spent with friends and family, we didn't leave much time to write blog posts. This one is going to be less words and more pictures.

After leaving Tuscon, we made our way to Guadelupe Mountain and Carlsbad Cavern National Parks right on the border between Texas and New Mexico. Along the way, we stopped at White Sands National Monument and El Paso for a quick stop at a Harvest Host location for the night.

It may look like and feel like snow, but it was White Sand National Monument (now a National Park)
Passing through El Paso and a Harvest Host stay, we found a petting zoo where Lila fed many animals including 2 ostriches.

We thoroughly enjoyed our FREE BLM spot that sat between the Guadelupe and Carlsbad parks and stayed for 5 nights while we took in everything they had to offer.

BLM Campground

At Carlsbad Caverns we walked down into the massive caverns via the natural cave entrance. The entrance takes you 800+' down in 1.25 miles of twists and turns.

Natual entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns (National Park)
Hard to take a picture in a cave but this was my best one. Many, many more amazing sights not pictured.
Silly girls!

We went on the "Left-hand" Tour through the caverns that Lila read about in one of her National Geographic books about National Parks.

Lila was excited when we got deep in the cave and all the lanterns were turned off. Total Darkness! Only possible in a cave or deep space....she loved that fact!

Lila was very excited to get to the top of her first "Highest peak in a state". This hike was 8.1 miles long with 2,867' of elevation gain and she handled it very well, especially considering how cold and windy as it was.

Almost to the top...
We did it! Lila made it to the top of Texas's highest peak - Guadelupe Mountain
She is getting taller!
Christmas in the trailer. Edward "The Elf" made it too. Almost all those presents are for Lila from family and a few from Santa.

Sunset over West Texas

We left Fort Davis and headed through Marathon, TX to Big Bend National Park and stayed at the Rio Grande Village area for the next 7 days including New Years Eve. Unfortunately, Lila got sick for a few days so we only went on one hike, one trip to Mexico via the National Park, and one drive through Big Bend with a great stop at this ghost town called Terlingua. Luckily, we were there for Sunday Funday.

Heading to Mexico via Big Bend National Park crossing
Why walk when you can take a burro
I think this girl wanted to take a burro more than Lila. Me not so much!
Main street of Boquilas, Mexico
Sunday Fun Day at Terlingua outside Big Bend in West Texas

Sunday Fun Day is where the locals come to the front porch area of this restaurant/hotel and play whatever instrument they have and sing as well. The local antique/trinket store sells beer and as Jen shows above you can tip some back while you listen to music and mingle.

View of the Sierra del Carmen mountains from my afternoon run
Hiking through the Chiso Mountains in Big Bend.

I don't know if I have mentioned it but I think I have almost wore out my hiking boots. 😲

View from the bottom of the trail. Now for the climb back up to the truck.

We met Lindsay, Matt, Safia, and Elliott from Canada at Davis Mountain State Park around Christmas then met up again while in Big Bend. We spent New Years Eve, Day, and Night together with them and had a great time. They are on an 8 month road trip going clockwise around the US and Canada and will be home in Ontario when we pass through, so we are planning on visiting them again on our way through.

Natural Hot Springs (over 102°F) along the Rio Grande in Big Bend with our friends from Canada. (FYI, that is Mexico on the other side)
New friends from Canada that we celebrated New Years with and plan to see in Ontario on our way back through.

After Big Bend, we headed to San Antonio area where we stayed at a Boondockers Welcome in Boerne, TX (pronounced Ber-nie) We had an amazing stay with this couple, Rob and Liesl, and their dog, Reggie. They had a great bonfire one night for us and later in the week they asked us if we cared if another couple with a van stayed on their land. We said, No, of course not. Later, they invited us over for drinks and a meet and greet with the new (young) couple from Germany. During our stay, we visited the Texas Hill country, LBJ National Historic Site (Ranger Badge), and the Alamo. We also got in a great lunch and dinner with a friend I haven't seen since high school.

Have you heard of Luckenbach, Texas? Everybody's somebody in Luckenbach.

Many famous singers have played in Luckenbach including Waylon Jennings who sang a song about it.

Another fun day of music but I don't think it was Sunday ;)
Lila wanted to play tic-tac-toe so she made us a board with what she had
Everybody is somebody in Luckenbach...
Who is going to win this stare down? Welcome to the Texas Long Horns
Getting ready for her future plane (at the LBJ Ranch)
Welcome to the Alamo! Sunny today (Steve picked this day for outdoor exploring)
Visit with a high school friend (Tony Keogh and wife, Morgan), that I haven't seen since high school. They took us out for lunch and had us over for a great dinner later that night.
Pronounced Bernie - Great small town in Texas! Where we stayed at a Boondockers Welcome and met an amazing couple!
Dinner with Rob and Liesl, our new friends from Boondockers Welcome!
Lila's play pal every morning and night, Reggie.

Before we left for this trip, one of our neighbors from home wanted to meet us on the road somewhere. Kelli (the wife) is a HUGE Joanna Gaines fan and really wanted to go to Waco, so we said we would meet them there. We decided to get an airbnb with them and stayed in one of the houses that was featured on the show. We spent the whole 4 days trying to give Kelli the full Magnolia experience.

Either you know what this is or you don't, but if you are in the area I highly recommend a visit for breakfast. We went twice in 4 days. Yum!
Magnolia Silos - shopping heaven for Fixer Upper/Magnolia fans
The kids playing Harry Potter Uno and watching the lightning storm
I will say the turf field outside the silos was pretty fun to play soccer on while the girls shopped
Dominoes at Magnolia Table while we wait for a table

Texas BBQ - I really wanted to see what all the talk was about Texas BBQ so I found the Top 50 list and tried to make an effort to hit a few of them while we were here. Nick (Kelli's husband) also wanted to find one. So I found the best one in the Waco area called Helberg's which is on the Top 25 new BBQ joints in Texas. I think it will be on the Top 10 next time the list goes out. WOW!

Lots of smiles before we dig in. Did I mention that most BBQ places in Texas offer FREE beer? Yes, FREE!
This was the best BBQ we've had so far in Texas.
I don't drink soda much, if at all, but why not stop at the Dr. Pepper museum where it all started.
Future CEO... doesn't look like I got approval from her for my proposal (See below)
She changed her mind. My proposal was this...
Waco Mammoth National Monument - Burial site of the Columbian Mammoths
Look at those new Jr. Rangers we recruited!
Zoo day in Waco
Last night in Waco!
Another Top 50 BBQ joint - It was as good as Helberg's but not sure it's better in my opinion
Oldest Dance Hall in Texas
Inside of dance hall. Check out the original acoustic bats in the ceiling.
Visit to the LBJ Library in Austin
Another visit to Luckenbach with Papa Sam. Sam bought Jen a new hat and Lila a scarf. I don't think Lila wanted to be in the booth with mom.
Inside the dance hall at Luckenbach during the 13th Annual Blues Festival
BBQ place #5 Micklethwait in Austin. If you include the Jalepeno Cheese Grits, I think this place beat out Helberg's when it came to sides, but not on the meats.
Texas Big! that is how we would describe the capital building in Austin

Before we headed down to the Alamo with Sam, I told Jen that I think it would be a better idea to go to the LBJ Library today, since the weather report says it's supposed to rain pretty hard. It wasn't raining in the morning and she told me we can't let the weather report dictate what we will or won't do. We did get in a little heated debate on the topic and I decided to go cool off on a run. Later, I got back and said, "Yeah you're probably right. I'm sorry. We should just go to the Alamo"

See the outcome below:

It rained so hard that Sam bought us these rain poncho's. That amount of water I standing in is from less than 20 minutes of rain.
Great choice, my dear! ;)

Let me know how you like the "more pics, less talking" format please. I will be much better from here on out on keeping up with the blog.


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