For starters, we had more room-- since we each took our own cars-- and I thought ahead enough to pack individual buckets of snacks, headphones, movies, and electronics-- which kept everyone busy and happy.
Secondly, we loaded up our Rangers and centered the majority of our trip around them.
And lastly, we bought groceries this year and only ate out once a day which saved a ton of money from last year's trip.
I can't really pick a favorite, because as always-- it was beautiful, cool and peaceful.
And since this blog is actually just my family's scrapbook for life, expect a ridiculous number of pictures!
The biggest hang up to getting started was getting out of Bridgeport.
Two hours later, we finally were full on food, ice, drinks-- and hitting the road.
We stopped in Amarillo, TX for dinner at the Big Texan.
There was one guy at the center table trying to tackle the 72oz steak but we finished eating before his one hour time limit was over, and we aren't sure if he completed it or not?
My guess is 'not'... since the guys at our table couldn't even finish their regular sized steaks!
We split up our drive, and spent the night at the Hampton Inn in Dumas, TX-- compliments of David and his hotel points.
The beauty of my job is that I was able to work from the hotel-- the downfall is that we were all up until at least 11:00, waiting for me to go off call.
We barely slept, from Allison and I getting tickled to the point where we couldn't breathe until 1:00am--
to mom "whispering" at 6:00am the she had been awake for 2 hours.
We had breakfast at the hotel, and then hit the road again.
We stayed at Three Bears this year, which was a smaller cabin than last year but still got the job done.
Maddox claimed that the owners must have been cheap like me because he could tell that our toilet paper was not Charmin Ultra Strong.
For the record, I only bought cheap toilet paper one time-- but apparently it was one of the 7 deadly sins in his book.
The one regret Maddox had from last year's vacation was that he didn't get to ride the go carts.
To make up for it, we rode them as soon as we got there...
Uncle Weeder and Gunner took the gold!
And we rode them again the day before we left...
and Maddox and I won that time!
We played in the park, watched the home-made boat races in the stream, and went on a reckless hike in the worst shoes, led by Uncle Weeder, almost plummeting to our deaths!
We finished the first night with a grocery shopping trip and birthday party for Pop!
We rode the trails to Goose Lake the following morning and Maddox started us out with a firm warning.
"When hiking in the mountains, it is important to watch for three things. Bears. Snakes. And swordfish"
Thankfully, we escaped all three!
The entire time I kept thinking that I couldn't wait to blog because every inch was so beautiful and amazing.
But as I sit here looking through the pictures, I realize that without the crisp cold air, the smell of pine, the patches of snow, and being able to see it all with your own eyes-- the pictures do not do it justice.
We took over two hours getting up the mountain. We stopped at a few old gold mining cabins and it took us a few attempts to making it through a huge spot of snow.
We had a picnic next to the lake and the boys fed the chipmunks their left-overs. They both slept on me during our hour back down the mountain, which was a little tricky at times!
Back to town, they each spent some more of their cash from GiGi and Pop on a race car for Beckham, a slingshot for Maddox... and each a pocket knife with their initials engraved and an army-parachute man.
Maddox became a professional sling-shotter that night down in the stream, and Beckham has already put a lot of miles on his little car. They tangled the ropes of their army men within minutes and their pocket knives are put up for a time when they're a little older!
My brother's family rented an ATV and joined us on a climb.
Lance and David met a couple while they were getting the Rangers ready who asked if they could join us.
Cabresto Lake was even prettier than Goose Lake but the drive up was more of a road than an adventure...
However, our new friends took us off road on the way back (which I think might be illegal) and we had a blast trying to make it through the mountain without a path!
We played in a stream...
We walked through an old silver mining cave...
And we thought we were going to be caught in a storm, so we stopped and packed out in our rain gear-- only to be hit by a few sprinkles. We were told that Goose Lake was actually hit by large hail, so we truly missed the bullet!
Once again, the vibrations put the boys to sleep, and I did my best to hold their heads up while holding my rump in the vehicle.
We were covered in pounds of dust and starving once we got off of the mountain, so we made a bee-line to the Dairy Bar for lunch and icecream.
Then onto the tubes, the park, and night time smores with the cousins.
By tradition, we played a game of Mexican Train before bed. Lance won.
The next morning, David and Lance took the Rangers on one more trail. One that was more technical, and apparently the most fun one yet.
We went walking around to the shops and in to the Wine Festival that was going on in the center of town.
The boys got suckers and mom bought a few treats for herself.
Once the guys got back, we had lunch and then rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain.
Lance found his tree that he carved into last year... and made another one this year.
The wind was crazy and the clouds looked like we were about to be caught in a down pour so we didn't stay up there long.
We made it back to the base in time to see the Old West gun fight, but Beckham busted right out in front of the crowd before it even started, tearing up his hands and giving himself a nose bleed.
The poor thing cried himself to sleep...
and Maddox decided to jump on the trampoline and race the race cars while the rest of the town finished watching the show.
B missed out on the fun, but for a solid two hours after his nap, he refused to use his hands at all-- making Maddox feed him, and screaming if you tried prying his hands from his chest-- so I don't think he would have had a lot of fun anyway.
And then Maddox followed suite-- and fell asleep at Campos, while trying to eat his pizza!
At least someone did.
Mom and I ended up getting some type of stomach virus that night and couldn't sleep.
Maddox picked it up that morning--
The day we were heading out.
My husband spent his father's day driving and pulling over for vomit and dare I admit, diarrhea, adventures on the winds of the mountain.
Thankfully, by the 'Welcome to Texas' sign, we all felt better.
Good enough actually, to indulge in an almost decade long craving.
I wish I could tell you that it was just as magical as it has been in my head since the day our local one closed down-- but I can't.
First of all, there was no wait when we walked in the door but the hostess kept telling us that there was going to be a really long wait-- while seating two tables who came in after us at tables that we would have fit at.
We looked rough-- and it was father's day... so we patiently waited.
We finally took a tall table in the bar and ordered the chips and salsa that we have missed so much-- except it never came.
The food came out-- for everyone but me.
I, however, am the only one who had silverware and the waitress matter-of-factly told us that there wasn't anymore clean silverware in the building.
Mom's chicken was ice cold, and normally she wouldn't have said anything but under the circumstance of the rest of the dining experience-- she waved down the manager who promised to find silverware and bring her a warm chicken.
He brought her MY chicken-- with MY sides. Like, he just gabbed the next plate under the warmer and called it mom's.
When mom told him that it was my plate he was handing to her, and just to forget it-- she would just eat some of mine, he said, "okay great. I'll just take it off of your tab."
As in HER tab. And I didn't even get the microwave nuked chicken until everyone else was almost finished. (the second time that happened on our trip, nonetheless). But neither of us ate the chicken because it was inedible. And I am not being dramatic.
Allison refilled our teas.
And we will never be back.
For the record, we all still tipped-- because we aren't scumbags--
but we honestly thought we were on a hidden camera tv show, because it couldn't have been a more awful experience.
Oh well. At least my craving was settled.
And it, nor a nasty virus tainted our trip.
Overall, it was a wonderful time away and we already can't wait for next year's!