Hawaii – Part 3

…continued from Hawaii – Part 2

On day 4 of the trip, mom spent some time perusing lists of things to do on Maui and found a snorkeling excursion in Wailea she thought we would all like. After discussion, we ended up booking the snorkeling as the main activity to do on the 6th day of our trip.

After the excursion to Honolulu on day 3, followed by the fun yet somewhat stressful expedition that was the road to Hana on day 5, we were in serious need of an adventure that didn’t span the bulk of the day but still got us out and enjoying what the island has to offer. Snorkeling ended up being the perfect activity.

Day 6

Our group got up nice and early on the morning of our 6th day of vacation, and promptly loaded into the Jeeps so we could start the trek around the island to Wailea.

We had pre-arranged our snorkeling adventure through Swim with Turtles Maui, which was located near the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott. We opted for a private guided tour where we kayaked out to a cove, anchored our kayaks (single anchor in the sand, not in the coral reef), and spent the next couple of hours snorkeling around in the water between Wailea beach and the Molokini Crater. We were fortunate enough to see some eagle rays, tons of tropical fish, a few turtles, and some eels.

When we finished our snorkeling adventure, it was time to re-bandage Ryan’s foot. The rest of the group took the opportunity to change into dry clothes, and we all met back at a small restaurant by a hidden pool at the Marriott.

IMG_0382

IMG_0397

After lunch the group made our way back to the west side of the island and spent the afternoon relaxing. That evening, we had reservations for Duke’s, the restaurant that sat on resort property near the boardwalk that connected the string of resorts along Ka’anapali.

Ryan and I went down to the restaurant a little over a half an hour before the rest of the group so we could grab a drink just the two of us as a mini celebration of our engagement.

Day 7

Earlier in the week we had requested a late check out from the condo we were renting and we got that request approved. As such, we had some more time that morning to wander around on the beach, and to make the boys put on something nice for a group shot.

Following pictures, we changed into comfy traveling clothes, finished packing up the condo, and checked out. Our group had previously decided that we were going to check out the Maui Ocean Center on our way from Kaanapali back to the Maui Airport, which was pretty cool.

IMG_0406

IMG_0408

Our flight home was a trip from hell as it was not only a red-eye, but there was a young child screaming and kicking Nich’s seat the last 3 hours. The parents approach to taking control of the situation was arguing loudly with one another – a bold strategy I must say.

Trip Reflections

This vacation was impactful for a number of reasons, and was hands down one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

  • Pearl Harbor absolutely blew me away and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on that day tour. My dad and brother toured the memorial the last time the family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I always felt like I had missed out by choosing to not go with them
  • Snorkeling was something I had always wanted to do but was a little scared of. I’m glad I got over that mild fear because it was such an amazing experience!
  • I don’t know how I go so lucky as to have a significant other who is as up for just about anything my dad is AND as equipped to make the “just about anything” happen because LORD knows I would not have been equipped to do that Road to Hana trip (as much as I liked to think I was)
  • We could not have gotten a better group together – everyone had a buddy, everyone got along, and everyone had similar goals for the trip, so it was super easy to plan excursions

I’m so grateful to my parents for the opportunity to go on a trip like this – here’s to more fun adventures as adults!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

img_0411.jpg

Hawaii – Part 2

…continued from Hawaii – Part 1

After allowing Day 4 of our trip to be a mostly “down” day, we were prepared for a pre-planned full day adventure for Day 5. When booking the trip, we knew we wanted to go to Hana. As such, we rented cars for the trip from Maui Lifted Jeep Rentals as there are very few rental car places on Maui that 1) allow you to take the cars to Hana and 2) have vehicles that are fit for the task of handling the terrain.

Day 5

Our group had decided prior to the trip that we wanted to do a full loop of the east side of Maui when we made our Hana trek. I was tasked with finding some locations to stop along the way, and upon doing so realized a full loop, starting with the road around the south side of the island, would be the best way to accomplish our mission. I went into the day anticipating it would be long with lots of beautiful views and had absolutely no inclination as to what would occur that day.

There aren’t too many words that can do the proposal justice, and as such I have opted to include pictures of the progression of the walk Ryan took me on:

IMG_0296

P1010238

P1010245

P1010249
In this picture, Ryan is acting like his foot is bothering him more than it is, and I’m concerned with how close to the edge he is standing.

P1010252

P1010266

P1010261

P1010270

 

P1010311

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The vehicles that made this proposal possible

Following the proposal, we continued our trek around the island. Preston and Nich had opted to ride with my parents on the first leg of the journey, but chose to join Ryan and I for the rest of the drive.

Our next stop was at the Kīpahulu Visitor Center in Haleakalā National Park. The visitor center is home to the trailhead that marks the start of the hike to the Seven Sacred Pools.

P1010345
Ryan has been wearing the carbon fiber ring pictured here since the end of March 2019 – he had gotten me a Swarovski ring set for my birthday just a few weeks prior to that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the Seven Sacred Pools, we continued our loop. As it was now early afternoon, we stopped in Hana for lunch.

After we finished lunch, we got right back to our adventure. The group only made one other major stop along the way, and that was the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.

IMG_0369

IMG_0263

From there, we made our way across the north side of the island on the Hana Highway, counting down the mile markers. Ryan, Preston, Nich, and I spent the drive back towards the middle of the island singing and doing Yoda impressions.

My dad and Ryan were major troopers on this trek as they drove the whole way! For those who are unfamiliar, the Hana Highway and the road that connects around the south side are almost entirely one lane roads that are paved less than 2 car widths across, have hundreds of blind corners, steep drop-offs, and several dozen one-lane bridges.

We were all relieved when we returned to the condo that evening, and all but mom (who was already up way past her bedtime) headed down to the restaurant on resort property for drinks and appetizers to celebrate the day’s accomplishments!

 

…to be continued…

 

Hawaii – Part 1

Since my father retired, my family has been making an effort to make big trips together more. Back in 2018, we had decided to make a big trip in 2019 as it is the year my younger brother graduates with his Bachelor’s Degree.

The original trip we had planned over the CSU college system’s spring break was a cruise to Mexico, which we backed out of almost 2 months later for a variety of reasons including food options, freedom to create our own schedule, and the desire for more available activities than drinking.

We knew we still wanted to go somewhere tropical, and decided that a trip to Hawaii better fit the kind of vacation we were looking for.

Seeing as my brother and I are older now, we each got to bring a friend – a travel buddy if you will – so that everyone had someone to do things with. My younger brother Preston brought his best friend Nich, and I brought my boyfriend Ryan.

IMG_0017.JPG

Day 1

As soon as we got off the plane in Maui, we grabbed our baggage and wandered out to the shuttle area so we could work on getting our rental cars. We ended up renting our cars through Maui Lifted Jeeps and they were P E R F E C T for our group and the trip we had planned.

With the cars loaded, we made our way to the west part of the island to where we were staying near Ka’anapali. As soon as we were checked in, Ryan and I wasted no time changing into our bathing suits and heading down to the beach with my mom.

The view from our room – the wall of windows from the living room to the balcony folded away entirely to create a true indoor/outdoor space!

Day 2

The following day, myself, my mom, and Ryan got up early (still on California time) and went for a walk on the beach together. To stick with the relaxing theme for the day, Ryan and I had scheduled a 90 minute couples massage for 11am at the spa on the main floor of the resort building we were staying in.

Later that day, our group made our way to Lahaina for a late lunch and to walk around by the Banyan Tree.

IMG_0080

IMG_0061

IMG_0068

That night was the season premier for the final season of Game of Thrones, so naturally, the 5 of us on the trip who were invested in the show gathered in the living room as soon as we were able to stream it.

Day 3

The following morning around 4:00 am, dad, Preston, Nich, Ryan, and I made our way back to the Maui airport. The five of us had opted to spend one day of our vacation on Oahu to do the Pearl Harbor memorial. Preston and my dad had gone to the memorial the last time my family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I had regretted not going ever since.

When the five of us got off the plane at the Honolulu airport, we were taken from the airport to the memorial via transport my dad has arranged when he booked our Pearl Harbor tour.

Once at the main visitor’s center, we swapped our receipt for physical tickets and made way to the ferry that would take us out by the USS Arizona Memorial – the dock for the ferries was still undergoing construction when we went, so we were unable to get out and walk over the top of the sunken vessel.

Once back on land, we wandered the grounds a bit before making our way to the shuttle that would take us to the USS Missouri and continue the loop to the Aviation Museum on Fort Island. On USS Missouri, we jumped into a tour group to learn a bit about the history of the ship and it’s significance in not only WWII, but in relation to the USS Arizona. For those who are unaware, the ships sit in the harbor bow to bow where Arizona marks the true beginning of the war in the Pacific theater and the Missouri marks the true end as the Japanese surrendered on her deck.

IMG_0106

After the tour, we wandered the ship’s innards before heading back to the shuttle stop so we could get food and visit the Aviation Museum.

IMG_0096

IMG_0097

With the Aviation Museum explored, our group got back on the shuttle to the main visitor center. On our return, we made our way directly to the USS Bowfin to explore the submarine.

IMG_1140

IMG_1143

IMG_0183
Preston wouldn’t stop making faces, so here’s his punishment

By the time 4:00 pm rolled around, we were all exhausted from our adventures (and because we were up so early that morning to fly to Honolulu). We flew back to Maui that evening and all promptly passed out in our beds.

Day 4

The next morning my mom and I got up and walked on the beach together. This day was set to be a “down” day because the previous day had been so packed and we had equally lengthy plans for Wednesday.

IMG_0203

IMG_0219

On our return to the condo, Ryan and my dad cooked omelets and turkey bacon for everyone. With leisure in mind, my mom, Nich, Ryan, and I headed back down to the water.

IMG_0220.JPG

Ryan tried his darnedest to get Nich to follow him out on these rocks he had gotten me on our first night in Maui but he was unsuccessful. Ryan ended up cutting his foot pretty bad in 2 places on some coral and had to head back to the condo shortly after. Nich and my mom stayed down by the water for awhile longer, but I figured I should join my travel buddy upstairs.

For those of you who don’t know, my dad was a paramedic in his early 20’s, and was arguably one of the best fit people to assist Ryan in his injured state. I won’t get into too much more detail about what happened, but I do have a picture that properly summarizes what happened after my dad did the initial clean out and went to bandage the wound:

IMG_0201

That evening, Ryan and I got dressed up and went out to dinner with my parents at a nice restaurant in Lahaina. We sat down about 20 minutes before sunset, and we ended up having such a lovely time that we were at our table for several hours.

IMG_1145.JPG

 

to be continued…

 

Disneyland for Grandma’s 80th Birthday

When I moved back to California, I wanted to have more time for Disney trips, so I made it. The more I shared my adventures with my grandma, supplemented by my mom’s experiences in the park, the more vocal grandma got about wanting to go to Disneyland herself. In 2017 we decided that we would take her for her 80th birthday that was in August of that year.

Unfortunately, that fall stayed too hot, and by the time it cooled down enough for us to be comfortable taking her, the holiday madness in the parks started. With that, we decided to make the trip in the spring. We opted for the period of time after spring breaks ended and before Grad Nite season started. This meant our trip would have to take place in the last two weeks of April.

In planning this trip, we decided that we would dedicate Monday to driving down, Tuesday and Wednesday to being in the parks, and that Thursday would be for driving home. We also went into the trip with a list of pictures we knew we wanted, food we wanted to try, and rides that were important. We are proud to say we accomplished everything on our lists!

IMG_0014
Everybody loaded in the Subaru ready to go to Disneyland

My mom and I picked up grandma at her house just before 10 a.m. on Monday, April 23rd. From there, we made our trek down to Anaheim. Quite a few stops were made along the way, and we finally made it down to the hotel just before 3 p.m.

For this trip with grandma, we decided to really splurge and stay at the Grand Californian – proximity to the parks, bell/valet services, room service, and amenities played a big role in our decision here. Of the Disneyland Resort hotels, this one truly is my favorite.. since the room renovations, the showers are to die for!

Once we got settled in the room, the three of us went into Downtown Disney for dinner. We made our own “family style” experience at La Brea Bakery, and it was just the right amount for each of us.

From dinner, we made our way through Downtown, pausing to go into some of the shops. We made it to the other end and found our next destination: Trader Sam’s.

IMG_0023

Despite it being around 6:30 or so, we lucked into a table inside! This meant grandma got to experience the activities that accompany some of the drinks (for those who are unfamiliar, this includes brief changes in lighting, yelling by the bartenders, and other special effects).

IMG_0033
Teacup chair by registration for the Disneyland Hotel.

IMG_0034

When we left Trader Sam’s, my mom wanted to go into the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel to see their teacup chairs. This was a brief detour because by this point we were all very tired from the traveling of the day. We made it to the room and called it a night shortly after.

In the Parks – Day 1:

The next morning we all got up early and started getting ready while we waited for room service to arrive. During our trip the parks closed a little earlier and opened a little later – this kept us from having to rush ourselves and grandma first thing in the morning, and kept us from staying in the parks too late.

We were at the entrance to Disneyland about a half an hour before the park officially opened. After getting through the gates, we took advantage of the fact that the park wasn’t technically open yet and wandered through the Emporium that sits on the corner near the City Hall at the start of Main Street.

After stopping to look in the shop, we made our way down Main Street to get castle pictures before it got crowded.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneyland_Park_8224179002

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneyland_Park_8224179003

We crossed the bridge into Fantasyland and went to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. When we finished there, we decided to move on to the Mad Tea Party, which grandma got a kick out of!

IMG_0048

IMG_0052

When we finished our spin on the teacups, grandma expressed interest in the Matterhorn, and after mom and I weighed the pros and cons (i.e. how jerky it is, the lack of real padding, etc.) we decided to get in line.

IMG_0058.jpg

She ended up liking that one too!

When we were done there, mom wanted one of the chocolate churros that are a limited feature for Pixar Fest inspired by Coco (which I still haven’t seen), so we stopped at the churro cart in Frontierland. Once the churros were consumed, we went to Adventureland to do the Jungle Cruise.

Following the cruise, we made our way through New Orleans Square. While walking through the square, we witnessed a proposal at one of the caricature stands, which was adorable! Once we had passed through, grandma and I made our way to Haunted Mansion while mom waited elsewhere. When the ride was done, we met with mom where I waited in line for one of those Toy Story Alien popcorn buckets.

IMG_0071.JPG
I kept referring to him as my child, since he is about the size of an infant

That day we had reservations at Carnation Cafe for lunch, which was phenomenal! From there, we headed across Main Street to the silhouette shop.

The silhouettes at Disneyland have to be one of my favorite souvenirs, and I’m so glad my mom brought up wanting to do one while we were in the parks with grandma.

IMG_0133.jpg
Left to right: me, mom, grandma

It had been a long day already, so we started our trek to the hotel so that at the very least, grandma could have some down time. On our way back to our hotel, we stopped in World of Disney, followed by the Starbucks Reserve in Downtown.

Once we got grandma back into the hotel room, I decided to look at ride wait times for some of the more intense rides that were not a particularly great idea to try and take grandma on. At that point in time, the wait time for Guardians of the Galaxy was allegedly only 45 minutes. I decided I was going to go, and I knew mom wanted to as well, so we left grandma to rest and wandered into the park (which was particularly convenient coming from the Grand Californian).

Turns out the wait time was closer to 90 minutes, which was okay overall because grandma got to really rest. When we finally got through the ride, we made our way back to the hotel room to pick up grandma so we could head back into California Adventure with her.

Our first ride stop when we were back into the park was the Little Mermaid ride. After that, we decided to take grandma on the Silly Symphony Swings. She LOVED those – they would end up being the only repeat ride with grandma the whole trip.

From the swings, we moved on to Cars Land as it was nearing dusk. The only ride we did in Cars Land that day was Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. After our ride, mom wanted a Neapolitan shake from Flo’s V8 Cafe. We walked through Cars Land with the lights on, and I made sure we walked around the back side of Flo’s toward the wharf so that grandma could see they way that the Cadillac Range gets lit up at night (a personal favorite of mine).

We got back to the hotel relatively early that night, which was good because it was a long day. According to my phone, we had walked just over 5 miles that day.

In the Parks – Day 2

Day 2 of fun in the parks started similarly to day 1 in that we got room service and went to Disneyland first. We only had one objective for that park when they opened at 9 a.m. – get a picture with the Mickey flowers in front of the train station.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneyland_Park_8224497904

After we got our picture, we hit California Adventure. Once through the park gates, I took our park tickets and got FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers while mom and grandma took their time walking up Buena Vista Street. From there, they met me at the entrance to Cars Land so we could get a picture with the Buzz and Woody cars by the “Welcome” sign.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disney_California_Adventure_Park_8224488863.JPG

With our picture taken care of we made our way to Toy Story Midway Mania, which only had a 5 minute wait time. Once that ride was marked off the list, we made our way back around the pier the long way (construction is still heavily underway) to the swings so grandma could ride them again.

IMG_0083.jpg

Mom and grandma went on their way to do Soarin’ and I made my way to the Starbucks location in the park. When we met back up, we headed towards Hollywood Land. On our way to our next destination, we took a little detour to take a picture by a mosaic wall near Schmoozies, ride Mike and Sulley to the Rescue (a ride mom and I had never been on) because grandma likes Monsters Inc, and to grab a hot dog.

IMG_0143

Around that time was our return time for our Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses, so we made our way there through Bug’s Land so that grandma could experience that. Mom and I also paused to get FastPasses for a second round of Guardians later that afternoon. Following our race, I wandered to the Cozy Cone for a bacon mac & cheese cone and my mom went back to Flo’s for another Neapolitan shake which grandma had a little bit of.

At that point, we had finished most of what we wanted to do in California Adventure, so we headed back across the plaza to Disneyland. Our first order of business in the park was to take the railroad on a round trip. Once we made it back, we walked up main street and got pictures in our Minnie ears with the “Partners” statue.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneyland_Park_8224594981.JPG

That day was particularly warm, so we made our way towards Adventureland to get some Dole Whip and sit through a Tiki Room show. After the show we walked across the park to the Monorail. We rode the Monorail to Downtown Disney, and made a stop in the new Disney Home Store as we made our way from the station to the hotel.

With grandma at the hotel to rest once more, mom and I made our way back to California Adventure for our Guardians FastPass return. After the ride we got back to the hotel (much faster than the day before) and gathered grandma to get dinner.

We walked back to the park entrance of Disneyland and jumped on the train for a 3/4 trip to Tomorrowland. Dinner was at Pizza Planet (which is fantastic rebranding in my opinion) where mom got pasta and grandma and I got slices of pizza. Mom also got one of the Alien macaroons. After dinner, we got back on the train to go to Main Street and head back to the hotel.

IMG_0109.jpg

Based on my phone’s tracker, we walked just over 6 miles the second in-park day of our trip.

 

We had room service delivered Thursday morning before we left and were thankful for bell services to help us get our stuff back down to the car. As might be anticipated with typical LA traffic, it took us an hour and a half to get the 30 miles from Anaheim to Downtown LA. We ended up making it home in just about 5 hours.

We all had a great trip to Disneyland, and I’m so grateful that I have those memories with my mom and grandma!

 

My Revolt Story

Ink Master has been among my favorite competition shows since it’s inception, and in 2014 it introduced me to a few tattoo artists I have dreamed of being tattooed by. One of these artists is Season 4’s runner-up Walter “Sausage” Frank. Since Ink Master, he relocated to Las Vegas and opened a shop, Revolt Tattoos, with Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton (another truly gifted artist). I have driven through the area numerous times since the shop opened, but I had yet to find a design nor actually set foot in the shop. His tattoos are striking, bold, and legible photorealistic designs, and I knew someday I would find myself wanting something sizable, detailed, and meaningful enough to contact him. I also knew my Revolt story would happen organically, when it should, but I never could have guessed what the price of that inspiration would be.

After Colin died, I knew I was going to get something tattooed on my body in remembrance of him, and initially I was decided on red roman numerals on my side of his date of death. Later, after his mom found a zoo worth of owls in his room, my plan changed. I started my artist search around Fresno, but realized that anyone who could accomplish the photorealism that I wanted would be expensive and I would have to wait. It then dawned on me that if I was going to be paying as much as I was and waiting as long as I would be, I might as well go to one of my “dream” artists.

I first contacted the shop in December 2016. I filled out the basic contact form, explaining my flexibility in timeline and in design so long as there was a photorealistic owl. Additionally, I was open to color so long as it was mostly neutral toned. For how much I like to be in control, I was pretty open about what the tattoo would look like.

Through our communication, an appointment was booked for me to come in on October 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.

From the inception of the idea, I decided I was going to make a small trip out of this appointment. I chose to not fly for a number of reasons, but fortunately for me, I have made the drive between Fresno and Vegas half a dozen times and find it relatively easy.

As it turned out, Emily’s bridal shower was the Saturday before near Pasadena, so it made sense for me to go down then, stay in the LA area, and then head to Las Vegas from there (my last post, “SoCal Adventures,” details that part of the trip). As it turned out, I made my way to Las Vegas on October 2nd.

October 2nd in Las Vegas turned out to be a dramatically different day than I had planned. The original itinerary I had included going to the Luxor to see the Bodies Exhibit, and possibly walking The Strip. With the shooting the night before, everything was closed and eerie, so I loitered in LA a little while longer than intended. I took myself to breakfast at Twisted Sage, a place my darling Sarynna had showed me on my trip with her to Azusa nearly a month before. From there, I headed into Vegas, drove past the Strip on I-15 before getting off the freeway, after which I checked into and sat in my hotel room for awhile before heading to a Yard House that was south of The Strip right off the freeway.

The following day, I had my appointment which was far and away the most well documented tattooing experience I have ever had.

My mom and aunt drove into Vegas that morning from Fresno, arriving at the hotel around 9 a.m. They ate breakfast, took their stuff to the room, and then we made our way to Revolt.

I met Walter Frank for the first time just after 10 a.m. as we discussed in more detail what I was looking for. Through our talks and looking at pictures, we decided moving the image to my hip from my side would be a better decision as far as fit, size, and longevity were concerned. This move required me to change out of the yoga pants and athletic shirt I had originally worn to the shop and into a dress which would allow easier access to my hip.

Almost 2 hours later, we had a sketch, he prepped his station, and we were ready to apply the stencil.

Checking fit/size vs. my body
Walter’s Station

The shop offers live streams of their tattoos, so I took this opportunity to share the link to Walter’s station so that friends and family not present could watch the process unfold.

The course of the next 5 1/2 hours consisted of lots of tattooing, lots of jokes about ass, and walking breaks. I’ve included the “progression” pictures below:

**BLOOD WARNING**

I wanted the owl’s eyes to be Colin’s eyes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, his eyes were a dark brown that became a vibrant green in direct light. The group present acted as voting committee of how to best do them in the likeness of his eyes as to not get too muddy with the black of the outline and the pupils. We opted for a green color toward the center, becoming brown at the edges.

Applying the wrap that would cover it for the next 4 days

Walter was such a great artist to sit for. He humored our questions, sass, and the emotions associated with what we were there for for nearly 6 hours that day.

Whole gang post-tattoo

We ended up leaving the shop around 6 p.m., heading to Yard House for dinner. That evening was highly emotional, and we were all spent by the time we got to dinner. We all were asleep by 9 p.m.

The day following my appointment, we all made the drive back to Fresno.

I am so happy with my experience and the end result. This trip helped create a small light in an otherwise grim situation. As much as I don’t like the fact that my reason for going to Walter was to memorialize Colin, there is no one I would have rather had as my artist.

3 1/2 weeks later

Baylor Graduation and a Road Trip

Early flights are things I only willingly sign up for in special cases – this was one. Maddy, who has always been more like a sister to me than a friend, was graduating from Baylor after completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science in just 3 years. I was not only flying out to go to her graduation, I was to help her move from Waco, TX to Phoenix, AZ where she is set to start her Master’s Degree in the fall.

My mom, her parents, and I flew out just after 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 11th to start our journey to her. After we arrived in Dallas, we waited for her grandpa to land, got the car, and started our ~90 minute drive down to Waco. I had been to Texas during summer prior to this, but I forgot that the weather there can be just as bipolar as the weather in Colorado can, and before the day was up we experienced 2 rain storms and otherwise lovely weather.

After the parents checked into the hotel they were staying at, Maddy joined us and we made our way to the Magnolia Market Silos. As “Fixer Upper” fans, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to stop into the shop and check out what the grounds had to offer.

Prior to this trip, I did not expect the Silos to be located within the city. The property was, however, every bit as precious as I was expecting. We chose to go on the Thursday before graduation ceremonies started, and because of that it wasn’t too busy to fully enjoy the experience.

During our visit we got food from the on-site food trucks, bought our fair share of merchandise from the market, and made sure to hit the bakery and seed shop.

From the Silos, we decided to keep the shopping theme rolling and headed toward Spice Village, which is a single shop that contains and sells products for a bunch of smaller shops. Their products range from jewelry to clothes to home goods and novelty items. On the way in, we stopped for a drink at the bar next door called Cricket’s where Maddy’s mom got wine and the rest of us ordered their frozen Jack & Coke (which was delicious!). We spent a good hour or so wandering around there before heading to the hotel to pick up the rest of our group before heading to dinner.

Dinner for that night was at a BBQ restaurant called Uncle Dan’s that Maddy had stumbled upon about a year before – she accidentally walked in the back door and ran into the Uncle Dan who welcomed her and let her continue on her way to get to the dining area. We were all left stuffed, but not too stuffed to go back to Maddy’s apartment to sample the eclairs she had made that morning. From there, the parents headed back to the hotel, while Maddy, her friend Kailee, and I ended up having a game night.

First thing the next morning, we got up and met the parents so we could get the “Maddy” tour of Baylor.

Our tour led us around the campus starting on one side of Pat Neff Hall, looping up the center mall, and around to the other side. On that far side is a statue of Judge Baylor, the namesake of the University. Apparently a tradition is to climb the statue to sit on his lap (it’s pretty worn down) and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to do it myself.

The last stop of our tour was at the Armstrong Browning Library, which was also a small museum of sorts and a study area. This building is gorgeous, featuring tons of stained glass windows and marble. We didn’t spend too much time here, but it was definitely worth the stop. I linked the history of the building above in the library’s name.

eP5121740.jpg
The large room to the back of the building. The archival rooms are at either side of the foyer.

After we toured the campus, we went to brunch at IHOP. Once we had finished, it was about time for us to go back to the apartment/hotel to get ready for the ceremony.

Baylor’s graduation ceremony was relatively quick and efficient. Once it was over, our travel group and a few of Maddy’s friends met for dinner. When dinner was through, Maddy, Kailee, Julia (another friend of theirs), and I went back to campus and to the Waco Suspension Bridge to take more pictures.

On campus, the girls climbed the Judge Baylor Statue. After we started taking pictures on the Waco Suspension Bridge, Maddy and I were inspired to take pictures that were reminiscent of a picture she and I took years ago. On the way back to the car, we stopped at the Chisholm Trail sculptures.

From there, we made our way back to Maddy’s apartment where a group was gathering to have another night of games.

Saturday morning Maddy, Kailee, and I met the parents at a local restaurant called Cafe Cappuccino for breakfast (it was adorable and delicious). Once breakfast was done, we made our way to McLane stadium to walk the grounds there a little bit.

eIMG_0014.jpg

After the stadium, we headed to Maddy’s apartment to pack the clothing and furnishings she still had in the apartment into her car.

Once we were done with our business in Waco, Maddy and I headed towards San Antonio – the first stop in our drive to Phoenix. On our way, we stopped in Temple, TX at a rest stop on steroids (part of a chain) called Buc-ee’s just for the novelty of it.

Pressing on, we made it from Waco to San Antonio in about 3 hours. After checking into the hotel, we walked less than two blocks to get to the Alamo.

Of the more interesting site facts for me included that most of it was rebuilt (very little of the original building exists) and that the original property holdings were surrounding to the front, not the back as the current lot might suggest. Something I appreciated most is that the original property lines on the current lot were marked by small plaques between pavers.

Once we finished with the Alamo, we made our way to the Riverwalk. Starting somewhere in the middle, we picked a direction and just started walking, taking in everything around us. After awhile, we realized we probably needed to find a place to eat, and after picking a direction to search in, found a place within minutes.

Dinner that night was at Casa Rio, the first restaurant to take advantage of the riverwalk. It was easy to see why their business had lasted so long on the river, and after splitting a liter of peach sangria we walked back to the hotel where we called it an early night.

The next day was little more than driving from San Antonio to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We did stop in Fort Stockton at a seemingly random Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Guadalajara (the closest to an actual website I could find).

Our only regret is that we have no real reason to go back to Fort Stockton, TX, ever again.

The journey continued along I-10 West, and we hit a point in the road close enough to the border that our cell carriers believed we had left the country and sent us “Welcome to Mexico!” auto-texts advising us of our rates (this has since been cleared up).

Late in the afternoon we made it to Las Cruces, NM, and settled for the night into our hotel room. There, we had a somewhat healthy meal at Cracker Barrel (I paired vegetables with dumplings and Maddy got a salad with fried chicken on it), I helped Maddy with the basics of WordPress (her newly created page for her wood signs can be found at Maddy Ave Marvels), and we turned on Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.

On Monday, we were up relatively early (we both originally woke up at 4 a.m., had independent thoughts that we could just get on the road now and decided against it) and on the road to Phoenix.

eIMG_0043

For the most part, this drive was uneventful. We did see a few billboards we took interest in, one of which was for Steins Ghost Town. When we got to the exit we decided to get off and see what it might be. It was noteworthy in that (unless we missed something) we were pretty sure we had stumbled into something that was supposed to be a site to stop at, but had since become a residence for about 4 people and no one took down the billboards.

eIMG_0044.jpg

After re-entering the freeway, we finished our trip to Phoenix. We made it to the house around noon, which gave us plenty of time to unload the car and start unpacking the boxes in the house.

Despite making it to the house early in the day, everything the day entailed did a number on the two of us, and we decided the best course of action for the rest of the night was to have pizza delivered, put on pjs, curl up on the denim couch (aka the best couch ever) and get through a couple episodes of Sherlock.

The next morning, May 16th, I packed for my flight, and we decided we would use the time leading up to my departure to visit the Phoenix Zoo.

We got general admission tickets and spent about 3 hours there. One of the distinguishing features of this zoo is it’s monkey walk area – after taking an anthropology class on primates my last semester of college, it was really awesome to be in a situation where I can get that close to some of the smaller creatures I learned about. I also appreciated that the lemurs had a home on islands in the middle of a gorgeous pond just off of the “Tropics Trail.”

Leaving was bittersweet. This was the first time I had gotten to spend any meaningful amount of time in Phoenix, and what I saw of it was lovely. Truth be told, I enjoyed getting to visit just about everywhere Maddy and I went. Road trips are truly a unique experience, and I’m thankful we had the flexibility in our schedule that a trip like this required. I’m grateful I got to help with this big move, and I’m so excited to see what Maddy does in her life from here!