Saturday, May 28, 2016

White Sands

When I realized I had more vacation time than I thought, I suggested we go to a place we missed on our 2013 New Mexico trip: White Sands. We had some space in the calendar, I made hotel reservations, and in about ten hours and ten bags of beef jerky and ten thousand strewn Cheerios later, we were there.

The girls aren't in the car very much and predictably they (esp Josie) did not like the extended time in the car seat. My "maybe they'll fall asleep" prediction did not materialize (it never does). I had three programs downloaded on the tabba-wit [tablet]: Finding Nemo, one episode of Daniel Tiger, and Caterpillar Eat Some Food! aka The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Getting the wiggles out a DQ on the way.

This trip afforded us the chance to stay at a hotel I'd read about in Texas Monthly, the Hotel Settles in Big Spring, Texas. The pictures I'd seen looked fabulous. (I've planned three vacations to destinations I read about in TM: the Belmont Hotel in Dallas, a John Irving reading in Dallas, and our epic Marfa/Big Bend trip and another because it was featured in Southern Living and my friend got married there, Rancho Loma.)

Settling in at the Settles.

"Is it coffee?" she asked about her cup of water.


Chicken-fried steak, shoestring onions, mashed potatoes at the bar (the restaurant is closed on Sundays).

Watching Zootopia.

Mommy Hides in Bathroom, still life, 2016.

Traveling with kids is tough.

These clouds were moving so fast.

The hotel was fabulous. I would love to have a few days here (sans kids) in high summer, to swim (check out the pool! Too chilly to swim during our stay), read, drift downstairs to the bar and restaurant, eat steak nachos, repeat. Big Spring is fairly remote - four hours from Dallas - and would be a great getaway.

On the road to New Mexico.

We stayed at Holloman Air Force Base, adjacent to White Sands. You know you're a parent of small children when you're more excited to see this structure next to your lodging than they are.


Our lodging was a one bedroom apartment a short walk from the BX, commissary, shopette, and bowling alley. Plus playground and free laundry! 60 bucks a night! After we checked in and poured over the place like the Secret Service, throwing towels over doors to prevent slamming and locking, turning end tables away from eye-gouge position, removing the knife block from the shallow counter, and unplugging the phones (the girls LOVE phones), we bought our supplies - milk, whiskey, Cheerios - and had a pizza delivered.

White Sands the next day. It was breathtaking. Here are too many photos of it.

Josie examining a beetle.

We spent the rest of the morning at Alamogordo's small zoo and playground - perfect.

Josie's ponytail.

Dancing, always dancing.

Had the place to ourselves.

Back on the playground.

The next morning we drove south to El Paso, ate breakfast, and drove I-10 all the way home. We stopped halfway in Fort Stockton where we treated ourselves to two rooms because Josie needs silence and darkness to fall asleep.

Here C is absorbed in the tabba-wit while Luke watches "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" because he loves to hate Guy Fieri.

We chose this hotel because it had an indoor pool - which was fuh-reezing - but C loved swimming and Luke braved it with "an almost ursine insouciance". Slurping lo mein at the buffet next door -->

At breakfast in the lobby, an older man got choked up watching us and said, I miss when my kids were little. Enjoy this. A nice reminder because traveling with little kids is challenging but oh, the days are long but the years are short.

We were home by one the next day and immediately took the girls to school -- amateur hour is over, back to the professionals! Josie fell into her teacher's arms with relief (not a joke).

Trip MVPs (most valuable products):

// Samsung tablet for movies and books - though I texted Mike, my parenting role model, urgently to find out which devices their girls have before our next trip. Which reminds me to order those iPad minis.
// Yeti Hopper cooler. It was a gift and wow it is a really great cooler.
// The Bluetooth radio Luke had installed made it easy to rock out to Toddler Radio on Pandora.
// My Tula gardener hat - bought it for the chin strap. Wear it all the time.

I love New Mexico and this was another wonderful trip!