West Texas, Family Style

Lately I’ve been soaking in as much life and as many moments as possible with my family -and my soul has been happier than ever.  We got a new van (all hail the mighty Nissan NV Passenger van that seats a whopping 12!) and we decided the perfect opportunity to break it in was a family road trip to the southwest corner of Texas.  My hubby had some cycling routes in the area on his wishlist so we loaded up his bike, the kids and my camera and settled in for the long drive.

It was AWESOME.

Hotels.  Everything is so much cooler when it’s not yours, am I right?  Even drapes.

The next day the kids and I luxed it up (I’m claiming luxed as a word if it isn’t officially one already) with an early morning dip in the indoor pool after a carb-ladened breakfast buffet (because those double chocolate chip muffins are breakfast, am I right?) and some quality electronics time while Brian scouted his rides.  After his return, we loaded the kids up and he prepped for one heck of a hard climb -from Fort Davis to the McDonald Observatory.

We dropped Brian off and I prayed to high heaven that despite the spotting cell service in the mountains we’d be able to meet up when he was done.  Thank goodness it worked out perfectly.

Knowing I had at least two kiddos due for naps, I brought my camera along and pulled over here and there to grab some of the outlandish views.  WHO KNEW TEXAS HAD MOUNTAINS, HUH?!  As a born and raised Alaskan, I had always grown up with the image of Texas being a flat dessert with deadly snakes and cacti everywhere -just as many people assume Alaska is covered in ice and snow and the whole state is continual sun for 6 months and continual darkness the other 6 months.  So it was a real shocker when we moved to the Austin area to find, whaddya know, it’s GREEN and LUSH here.  And then Texas surprises me with these beauties.

Confession:  I strongly considered us moving here.  Yep.  Grabbed the real estate magazines and everything.

Why?  Oh, whenever I travel somewhere I always want to move.  But this was a little different.  It was so other-worldly.  Vast, barren, hardly populated.  It looked like John Wayne should just saunter around the bend in the road on a horse and say he was looking for somebody.

I do love the mountains.

But I also love a good grocery store.  Sadly, that wasn’t to be found in these them parts.

The epic starry nights out here were something I’d been hearing about for years and, I have to say, they were the biggest highlight to the trip for me.  I think Wilder’s (age 10) was having both Fruit Loops AND pancakes for breakfast, but the starry skies were big on my wishlist -and we got to see them spectacularly on our last day of adventuring while at Big Bend National Park… (coming up.)

Looking back on the tiny town of Alpine in the distance as we headed to Big Bend.

A little family hike with our motley crew along the Rio Grande.

Waverley and Wilder.  Pretty standard.

Truly and her carrot.

On their self-proclaimed Pride Rock doing their best Simba roar.  Tennyson (3) is just glad to be there.

Are you ready?  I do not claim to be a night sky shooting expert by any means, BUT I was SO DARN EXCITED to get to witness a small glimpse at the enormity of the heavens out in the wide, wide wilderness of Big Bend.

We recently watched a documentary on space that said if you look up at the night sky through the hole in a straw, that small point of sky holds trillions of galaxies.

I need a moment.  That just boggles my mind.  And it certainly helps put many things in life in perspective.