Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Off to Texas, Day 3

We woke up in Texas. 
Even though we had a long drive ahead of us, it felt like a huge accomplishment to just get to Texas.  

The boys were actually pretty helpful at packing up.  
And I loaded The Incredibles on the ipad for them so they could watch something new/different instead of Big Hero 6 all day, that made their day.  They couldn't wait to start it.   They even let me pack up our suitcases and run for the cart, while Chris did his flush. This was both the big boys taking their baby brother by the hand when it was finally time to leave the hotel.  They were being such good brothers.  I couldn't believe it.  I guess losing my mind the day before was enough.  

The first of many oil pumps.  The boys thought these were really cool.   

 I was on the prowl for Bluebonnets.  Bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas.  And in the spring they bloom, and people everywhere stop and take pictures of flowers, of their kids in flowers, of their dogs in the flowers.  Everything.  Right up my alley.  I'm notorious about stopping everything I'm doing to take pictures of flowers.  I'd heard they'd been sighted near Houston.  Unfortunately, that was the Entire Opposite end of the state from where we were located.  And it's a Big State.  

 We did find these tiny purple flowers in bloom.  They left a purple haze all through northern Texas.

It was actually beautiful... for not being bluebells. 

And nothing says Texas like a cactus, this was the first of many! 
It's a Prickly Pear.

I had told the boys we were on the prowl for bluebonnets, and other little flowers.  I'd stopped a couple times looking at purple things, and they were all the same little purple ones I'd seen on as we left Wichita Falls.  We had planned on stopping in Abilene for lunch, but the kids started getting hungry long before.  So I told them we'd stop at something that looked good.  We found a Dairy Queen in small town Hansell, so we got out to powder our noses.  The big boys lost their minds playing around in the bathroom, and when I tried to order a plain hot dog, they wouldn't let me.  Only chili dogs... really!?  So we left.  And lunch became snacks in the car.  I figured we'd stop for a decent lunch in Abilene, but we didn't, the highway blows right by it, and I didn't realize it until we'd passed.  So we kept going, just snacking on our stash, and stopping to pee and get gas.  The kids held up like superchamps.  They even got in on the biology hunt with me.  Sam told me at one rest stop that I "Needed to take pitures of these yellow flowers".  

They were tiny even with the camera right on top of them!  

But the more south and west we went the closer we got to the desert.  After Abilene, we were in high desert country for sure.  I found some really neat trees, and even the blackbirds were funny looking.  

The boys stuck together, and did a great job not losing each other, and most importantly, not losing me.  When I first plated this trip, I thought I might need to break up this day, it was going to be 8 1/2 hours from Wichita Falls to El Paso, it's a lot.   But the boys did great.  They enjoyed seeing the desert.  Desert country is Completely Different from Indiana.  

I love seeing all the different flora and fauna.  

We even spotted Prairie Dogs as we left the rest area!  

This was about as close as I came to getting Bluebonnets pictures.  
There were beautiful as we approached Monahans.  Just outside the State Park, I found a good place to pull over.  The entire length of the highway there is a street that runs parallel.  So everytime you get off the highway, there isn't always an exit ramp back on, sometimes you have to drive parallel for a while, and then get on.  So I did.  Right by Monahans Sandhill State Park.  I got the kids out of the car and tried taking their picture.  Chris was terrified of snakes.  And I told him to watch for snake holes.  So he did.  And then we found a couple.  So we stepped away.  Sam said he heard snakes. I thought I heard a rattler about 20 feet away, so we just stepped off the road, took a pic or two and hopped back into the car.  We are big weinies. 

These were the white flowers I found, and took pictures of.  I thought they might be white bluebonnets.  Apparently, bluebonnets come in all kinds of colors.  And though these are tall, they are not bluebonnets.  

After some research I have found they are called, ironically, touristplant

We drove a little further and found a pretty little orange one.  

It's called the Wooly Globemallow.
I just loved this bright orange.  It really stood out against the desert terrain. 

It was recommended to us to fill up in Pecos, since there wasn't much between there and onward.  
Christopher wanted to learn how to pump the gas. So I let him.  And by Pecos, he was getting good enough at it, that I didn't even have to get out of the car!   I'm not sure if it's legal, but I'm right there, giving him my bank card, and he does the pumping, and I don't have to get out of the car.  I like it.  This boy takes care of his Mama! 

As we crossed the desert from Pecos to El Paso, we started to see some funny bushes, crazy cool yucca plants I think.   

This one was taken by Christopher.  I was trying to capture some of the cool formations.  I think this was a Thompson's yucca.  And I couldn't get a picture of it as I drove.  So the kids tried.  Both Chris AND Sam.  Didn't go well. This was the best one.  Lots more of knees, windowsills, and blurry stuff that makes me queasy to look at, so perhaps I'll just let Chris try. 

Still a long way away.   That's a long lonely stretch of road.  

Our last pee stop.  It was 6 pm, and we were hungry, but Lisa had offered to feed us.  So we just kept on keeping on.   And the kids had fun running around at the desert rest stop. 

Crazy kids today.  
And some weird crooked trees. 

This was one of the Texas blackbirds.  They had these weird long tails and an odd call.  

Apparently, it was a Great-tailed Grackle.  
Weird calls indeed! 

This was a neat shot.  Mountains behind us, mountains before us.  We saw the space between two mountains, that I guessed was the reason that they call it El Paso - the Pass.   But I couldn't snap a pic and drive.  As we got closer to 'town', I needed to get actually drive, traffic and all that rot.

We found Aunt Lisa!  
The kids got out, ran to the door and were inside before I could even say hello!
Luckily, she came out to hug on me as I unloaded Jake and began unloading necessities.  
But the boys had blissfully no patience.  They had been so excited to see their cousins. 

Lisa made a great dinner for us.  Soup, simple and elegant.  The boys even tried it.  Turns out they are more ok with grilled cheesus on the side.  But they were more concerned with playing with their cousins than eating.  I couldn't blame them.  We ate in phases, the kids first, then Jake and I after.  But then he was happier to play, and I got to eat.  I love when my seestor cooks for me.  She's a rockin' awesome chef! 

Meanwhile, Jacob discovered the Papasan Chair.  And he amazed us all with his mad skillz in climbing in and out.  I took this quick pic before he started moving again, and I can't decide whether he looks like the Maja Vestida or a character from Glamour Shots.