Monthly Archives: March 2014

Day 85

Already 85 days?! That’s amazing. Time is flying by and we’ve still got so much to see!!!  Just heaven.

Kids and I are at a little local library outside Houston, Texas.  We goofed off a lot this week, so we’re doing school Saturday so we can goof off again most of next week… it works out.  They are both almost done with math for the year, then will finish their other subjects and we’ll buy workbooks that they can work on while we drive.  Hunting for wi-fi is a pain!

When Dan and I traveled in 1998, we didn’t have cell phones, internet access or a mobile hotspot.  If we wanted to call someone we had to find a pay phone, have the right change, or have a calling card with enough time.  When we made reservations, we couldn’t see the place we’d be staying and all reservations were made over the phone.  Now we have access by our phones, free wi-fi all over, and sometimes the RV park wi-fi works.  I don’t know which is better.  It’s a joy to be able to look up facts and driving directions on our phones, but the games that hook the kids in make us crazy. It’s great to do background work for each city and park, but the information online isn’t always correct when we arrive.   It’s nice to see more information about the parks where we are staying, but so far, they all stretch the truth.  And when you make the reservation online with your VISA (required) and get there and it’s junk, you’re stuck.

Like our last park in Hudson Bend, outside Austin, Texas.  We were so excited.  Looked incredible online.  Huge sites, grassy, pool/hot tub, game room, dog run, playground, you name it, they had it.  People were nice when Dan called.  Great location in a new area, surrounded by water.  Ha.  Let me just be polite and say they could have charged us half what we paid and it would still be too much.  I try to leave thank you notes with each place because people are so nice, but this time I went in a few times and talked to the front desk.  I knew they weren’t aware of what was going on, but eesh, what a pain!

Austin itself made up for the park, however, and we were grateful.  What a cool little college town.  I can see why my friends who went there for college wanted to stay forever.  Vibrant downtown with tons of building going on.  Beautiful parks and the first green grass we’ve seen since Northern California.  Little shops that made me want to buy things I didn’t need or want.

We visited Lance Armstrong’s bike shop and we could have hung out all day.  Has a little cafe inside and people were talking about rides to do or rides they had done.  Everyone was happy to be there.  The bikes, parts and clothes for sale were all way nicer than Bend, and so were the prices.

They were setting up for SXSW while we were walking around and it looked like it was going to be fun.  Bands on top of buildings.  Comedy at the convention center. Films screened in different locations.  None of which would involve 2 teenagers and their tired, older parents.  Definitely a younger vibe.

So we left Austin Thursday and drove to Houston.  Dan got us from the west side of Austin to the east side, then I took over down Hwy 71, to 10.  Beautiful drive until about 12 miles outside Houston where it got knarly.  Crazy traffic in all lanes, with construction and on ramps in odd places.  I could barely keep my eyes on everything and definitely drove under the speed limit.  We pulled in to the RV park and went to check in, happy to be there right before rush hour.  One of the employees was an older gentlemen and he had the gall to tell me how proud he was of me for driving our RV.  I just smiled and thought how lucky he was to be on the other side of a huge counter!

One of Dan’s childhood friends came over to visit and we had a relaxing time talking by the lake.  Joe Kresse is possibly one of the nicest human beings we know, and it was wonderful to get to spend time with him.  He’s so funny!  Made the kids laugh, too, and they needed that because they haven’t been teased by anyone else in awhile.

We spent yesterday with him, too.  While touring the state capitol, we learned that after the Alamo, the battle at San Jacinto is where they finally got Santa Anna to surrender, so we wanted to see it.  Near LaPorte, Texas, it was a long drive from our side of town, but Joe accomplished it in record time.  The speed limit was 75 in some places and he did that and more.

The monument itself was awe-inspiring.  We saw it from a mile away between the refinery’s stacks and smoke.  It stands 570 tall, taller than the Washington Monument in DC.  They said it is an Art Deco style, but that’s not what you would think when you see it.  We paid the fee to ride the elevator to the observation tower, even though the place was packed with a school group and spring break families.

The view out the little windows was great.  Not big and wide open like the Tower of America’s windows, but still good.  To the east was the ground where the Mexican Army was camped out, and to the west were the Texans.  A little hill in between, and maybe a mile.  On April 20, 1936, the two armies had a minor squirmish and then retreated.  Santa Anna then made his men stay up all night to fortify their position.  The next day after lunch, while some were taking a siesta and others were still eating, Sherman and his men attacked from the front and the rear.  He is credited with the cry, “Remember the Alamo!” as they were charging.  The battle only lasted 18 minutes and is said to have ended the war.  Santa Anna surrendered to Sam Houston the next day under a tree famous in every painting and which we couldn’t find.  Pretty cool history.

Also cool was the area we were in.  I had no idea that 25% of the US’ petroleum refining capacity  was located around the Port of Houston.  I thought it would smell, but maybe we weren’t close enough.  There were miles of oil tanks and buildings and ships going in and out of the harbor.  But gas is more expensive here than anywhere else on our trip, at $3.35/gallon!  I know, supply and demand and greed; that we’ve learned on this trip.

After a quick picnic lunch with red ants, we went over to view the USS Texas.  The only ship to have participated in the wars as part of the Atlantic and Pacific fleet, it has seen better days. They were setting up all over the grounds for a huge benefit to be held today. The friends of the ship non-profit group is trying to raise enough money to move the engines so they can repair the floor, before the engines fall through.  Everything above water looked great and a man I spoke with said he’s been working on it as a volunteer for over 5 years.  We didn’t take the tour because there were too many people, it was $12/each, and we’d had enough learning for one day…

So we headed down the highway to Galveston!  We figured because we were so close, we might as well.  So glad we went with Joe! He knew where to go and gave us a great tour.  The Old Town Area looked very similar to Sacramento’s Old Town, just not as big.  The stretch of “beach” by the water was not what we expected.  Due to all the storms, they’ve placed huge boulders on the beach, so there is little actual beach.  The sea wall was about 12′ high and Nate wasn’t able to run completely up it.  There were a few piers still standing, and you could see where the old ones were before Ike hit.

The commercial aspect of it was more like the Jersey coast than the Oregon coast, but it was still very exciting to see.  We made it from Oregon all the way to the Gulf of Mexico!  (Or the Gulf of Texas as I accidentally called it and will never live down.)  I made everyone get in and we took a funny picture as a wave hit.  We’ve driven over 4,000 miles, no accidents, and everyone is still talking to each other.  That’s amazing.

Day 79

Great day in San Antonio ! Toured the Capitol with Teresa Walker and her kids Whitney and Clint , and friend Keith . Huge , beautiful building. Bigger than Dan and I remembered. We had liked the tour before , and this one was excellent , too .

The Capitol tour guide was really good at his job . Imparted so many facts I could barely keep up . Emphasized Texas pride throughout – even the dome is taller than dome on Capitol in DC ! Helped me realize why I like Texas so much – if Texans are told they can’t do something, they just work harder to make it happen . Yes !

We had lunch at the Texas Chili Bowl around the corner ; lots of Capitol deals done there and we could see why – good atmosphere and fantastic food . The waitress said my migas and chili were mild , but my nose ran the whole time . Luckily Dan didn’t take the 6 lb challenge – to be eaten in 40 minutes – hotdogs, hamburgers , potatoes , all smothered in chili and cheese . We laughed our way through lunch while remembering Sonny at every turn .

Off to the best museum of our trip yet – Bullock State Museum of Texas . Bob Bullock was in public service for 40 years , and near the end, he had the idea that Texas needed a museum to tell its history. They’ve done it worthy of a Smithsonian. Could have missed the movie that had yet another version of a 4D rattlesnake that made me scream . This time it was under the seat instead of in your face . Really ?!

Teresa and I bought matching salt and pepper shakers — classiest ones in Texas , thank you very much .

I know I’m forgetting a ton, but it’s past my bedtime !

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By All of Us!

From Eliza:  Five days ago, we were dying hot and now we are freezing cold again. It was really cold when we went into Mexico but the food was so good! Celebrating Mardi Gras was fun, plus we went shopping too.

From Nate:  We went to Mexico.  It was fun because we got to go into another country.  It was really hot a few days ago now its really cold.  I am sick and have just been hanging out.    Me and Dad watched NCIS most of the day yesterday.  It was fun.

From Dan:  I agree with Eliza. Hot now cold now hot now cold. It got down to 26 last night (San Antonio) with a wind chill of 15 degrees. Brutal. It only warmed to to 48 today which is  San Antonio’s normal low temperature. Oh well, it will be hot and humid soon enough.  It has been great hanging out with Sally, Eliza, and Nate. We have seen some great country since Arizona. We have been on some trying roads for an RV. The hot springs in Big Bend were great. If I ever complain again about what I have or really what I don’t have, remind me of Boquillas Mexico. The little town we went to over the border. They are eking out a life there. However, they were the nicest people to us. Very kind and generous. Happy I would say. That has been my life long pursuit. I would go back and visit them. Along similar lines, I have been studying scripture. As you know, I retired from work. I recently read and studied that it  is better to have a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work chasing the wind. Workaholics often deprive themselves of the fruit of their two handfuls of work. I have been enjoying the time with my family. How much of your time is it worth?

San Antonio has a mission river trail along the San Antonio River. It is great for riding. The river walk downtown is pretty cool. We are off to Austin in a couple of days. Going to visit Teresa Walker. Then off to Houston in another week. We have been tons of driving. We drove 1,200 miles since Tucson and from here to Iowa is less than that. Which is good.

I hope all of you are well. We are doing great. Take care.

From Sally:  Well here we are, 3 miles south of San Antonio, waiting for the big storm to hit tonight.  We won’t be as cold as the rest of the country, but it’s supposed to be almost 40 degrees colder than last night.  It’s overcast and getting windier by the hour.  Most of the other full-time RV’ers have put away all their outdoor furniture and anything else that will blow away or freeze.

We’ve driven over 1200 miles in the past 10 days and crammed in so much fun it’s hard to describe.  From Tucson, we headed south to see my cousin Jen’s girls practice for their horse show.  Gorgeous location up against the mountains, and the girls did great during their practice times.  A little heart stopping to see them atop such a huge horse; just like seeing Eliza and Nate swing on the bars event!  So glad we took the time.

We stayed 2 nights in Benson, Arizona and that allowed us to visit Tombstone and the OK Corral.  The Cochese RV park was a treat after the Tucson one.  We were parked right by the putting green (Eliza won) and the pool and hot tub. They didn’t heat the pool, so we bet Nate a buck that he wouldn’t jump in.  Of course, he proved us wrong, but I think we still need to pay him.  The hot tub was fantastic and the views were beautiful.  Most of the RV’ers were full-timers, so the park was well maintained.  We were too late to get in on the pizza party offered in the barn, but we enjoyed meeting a few people.

Tombstone itself was okay.  Everyone kept saying we had to see it, had to, so we drove down.  The town is original, boardwalks, old buildings, dirt street.  We weren’t there five minutes when Wyatt and Virgil Earp came up to Nate and started harassing him for money.  Then they turned to Eliza, and finally to Dan and I.  They told us a little about the town and we went to explore.   The shops were full of tourist stuff and we looked, but once again, didn’t find anything to fall in love with.  The kids know they can collect whatever they want, but we are always delighted when they take pictures and realize that the stuff won’t hold their memories as well.

The re-creation itself was worth the drive.  The story of the 30 second shoot out was stretched into a 20 minute skit.  We laughed and boo’d and clapped our way through and I tried not to think about how blood thirsty and greedy the history of our country is.  Everywhere we have been, someone was killing someone else for land, gold or minerals.  Crazy.  Almost as bad as I was when I vaulted the seats in front of us, threw my camera to new friends from Maine/California, and had them take a group shot of us with the Earps and Doc Holliday.  We could have waited politely in line with the other 200 people, but no way!  Fun day.

From there we headed into New Mexico for one night in Los Cruces.  As with other parts of the west, we couldn’t see the national parks we wanted because  it was too cold and our pipes would freeze.  (Add another stop to the return trip next spring.)  The RV park was okay; safe, clean and a huge pull through.  The kids worked out while Dan and I took a ride, trying to find a bike trail that I’d read about.  We found it, but it wasn’t what we expected.  A busy street was on one side, and a busier highway was on the other.  Not quiet and scenic at all! I tell you, those people who write up locations are just snake oil salesmen! We rode down to the south end of it to take a look at the New Mexico State University campus.  I’m hoping that winter is what made it look so dirty and bleak.

Then we drove down into Texas and spent one night at Fort Davis.  When Dan and I stayed there in 1998, havelina’s were roaming all over.  We didn’t see one this time.  Dan knew exactly where we had camped before .  After getting set up, Dan took a ride straight up to the top of the mountain, over a mile.  We drove up later, and the views were spectacular.  We were planning on going to the McDonald Observatory for the night show, but the park ranger said the tickets had been sold out for weeks because there was a special guest lecturer there.  That’s the downside of living loose – if you don’t make reservations in advance, sometimes you lose out. And without cell coverage for most of the drive, we didn’t know until we got there.  We had more fun that night anyway when the kids worked together to beat me at Uno and we were laughing so hard I cried.

Big Bend National Park was next on our list and we are so glad we did the long drive to get there.  We took the scenic route, however, and while the park ranger said it was perfectly safe for Rv’s, it was not easy.  67 to Presidio was a big wide open drive.  Then I made the mistake of taking over and 170 got hairy.  It runs along the Rio Grande, so the scenery was good, but it was hilly enough that I had to slow way down to make sure the front of the RV and the back of the car weren’t scraping at the same time.  I pulled over when I could, and we took a break to throw rocks across the river into Mexico.  There were signs all over saying not to cross, not to let your dogs swim, not to even think about setting foot on the other side of the river.  Pretty adamant about it.  We threw our rocks; Nate and Dan easily, while I had to step way out on rocks to make it over.  But it still counted!

Dan unhooked the tow for the next part of the drive.  There was a 15% grade coming up, and he wanted to make sure we all made it in one piece.  It was hot, about 85 degrees, which added to the stress.  Eliza rode with me, and the boys took the rig up the hill.  I wanted to scream when a car passed me on a double yellow,  tucked in between the rig and I briefly, then passed Dan on a bridge barely wide enough for both of them.  I was honking so Dan would know because I knew he’d be concentrating on the road and not expecting someone to pass there.  It won’t be the last time someone passes us dangerously.

At the top, the rig was barely moving.  Dan had it in the lowest gear, floored, and it barely made it.  Going down wasn’t a picnic either, but Dan handled it well again.  We pulled off the road in Lajitas, and a maid in a golf cart immediately came up to ask Dan what we were doing parked there.  It’s always fun to see how people react to Rv’s. They either love em or hate em, no in between.  Evidently, Lajitas is a resort town, all owned by one company.  From the brochure I had read, it sounded like a cool little town – spa, pools, golf, shopping, bakery and restaurants – so we had lunch on the other side of the road, and went to walk around.  Every storefront had a sign hanging in it that said “closed for lunch until 1:45”.  All of them!  Closed at the same time!  Even the bakery, wah.  Not impressed with Lajitas; wouldn’t schedule a week of rest there.

We pulled into our campsite at Big Bend awhile later, and were dismayed to find it exactly like it was in 1998.  A parking lot.   A big parking lot converted into RV spots.  A big hot parking lot full of huge rigs and tons of people with no shade.  It’s run by a concessionaire, so we thought they might have made improvements in 16 years,  but no, it was exactly the same!  Dan checked his journal and said that we only stayed one night in 1998 because it was 110 degrees, we had no tow so we couldn’t get to any hiking trails, and there wasn’t anything else to do.  This time we were scheduled for 3, but first we had to get the rig in it’s spot.

The next day we did a short hike in the Chesos mountains, in the park.  We hadn’t made it there before, so we were thrilled to get to finally hike it.  Eliza and I chose a hike that was AWAY from the 36 sitings of black bears in the past 2 months.  The park is happy that they are back and thriving, but we didn’t need to see them up close.  We went to lunch at the lodge and Eliza loved the potato soup.

On Monday, we planned on a short hike to the hot springs.  We hadn’t been able to get there in the car because the road was so bad, and the trail went right out of the campground, so we thought the 2.8 miles would be easy.  Haha.  It was 85 again, and we were either going up the hill or down the hill. Great hills, gorgeous scenery, but so hot.  We didn’t run out of anything, but we should have doubled the food we carried to account for Nate.  The motor court and store/post office that used to be there were very cool.   Well worth the hike.  Still standing because they were made of adobe and they haven’t been vandalized.  The hot springs itself were warm enough to feel good and large enough for 8 of us.  Eliza, our adorable germ-a-phob-in-nature, wouldn’t get in because she was smart enough to read the warnings about what was really in the water.  The Rio ran by the hot springs and we were warned not to swim in it.  Of course, we enjoyed the hot tub, and hopped over the side into the Rio.  Which actually had water flowing in it!  When Dan and I visited in September of 1998, it was a trickle. This time there was a few feet.  It was cold, but we played in it for a few minutes.  Then it was back on the hot trail and a long hike back to the rig.

Tuesday morning was windy and cold.  We were leaving that day, so we had packed up the rig the night before.  We pulled it into another parking lot and took the tow to the trail that Dan and I had seen in 1998.  After a short hike, we threw rocks across the river again. ( It’s a requirement in our family.)  We could see the little Mexican town of Boquillas that we were going to visit.  Small buildings, some falling over.  Made of cement blocks or adobe.  Some brightly colored and well taken care of, but most not.

Then it was back to the border patrol building so we could cross into Mexico.  All we had to do was show our passports, walk down the trail 100 yards, and hop into the little flat bottom boat.  The young Mexican guy rowed us about 200 feet to the other shore and the singing Mexican welcomed us.  We hired a guide, Eduardo, and choose a truck as our way to get to the village of Boquillas.   We would have ridden donkeys, but there were only 3!  Darn.

The truck took us directly to the immigration compound.  Fenced and gated, we were invited inside a newer looking trailer to fill out the paperwork.  I was grateful to not be invited inside the older building with bars on every window.  As he filled out the forms,  we tried to talk to him a little.  Eliza wasn’t comfortable using her Spanish, and I didn’t think my orchard Spanish with varying degrees of cuss words would be helpful either.  He didn’t understand a simple question and went on to tell us about where he lived and how he commutes to Boquillas for 5 days each week, and other details about his life.  Much more interesting than the original question!  I had to sign the forms for the kids.

The village of Boquillas was once a thriving community, with friends and family on both sides of the border.  After 9/11, the border crossing was closed, and because it is so remote, the tourist trade dropped to nothing.  The blight was obvious and sad to see up close.  The roads were dirt with a smattering of gravel.  There were electrical poles, but Eduardo said they didn’t work.  A few of the homes and businesses had solar panels.  There was no running water, but he was proud to point out that they had a pump and large cistern.  (I had previously read that this was due to a young woman who was working on both sides of the border and couldn’t stand to see the need anymore.)  It truly was a 3rd world area and it was very hard to see the school with it’s broken windows or the new medical clinic and not compare it to Bend.  A few of the buildings were brightly painted, with the church a bright lime green.  It was one of the more simple ones I’ve ever seen, with 2 pews on each side.  Eduardo said the priest came for 2-3 weeks on a rotation with other villages.  The new medical clinic staff was also rotating and he was proud to show it to us.    We didn’t see a store that wasn’t selling tourist junk, so I asked how they got their supplies.  Eduardo said a truck came from the nearest town (160 miles) every week and they bought their fruits and vegetables from it.   I never saw a garden or any living plant being nurtured outside. The ground was hard packed dirt all over.

This border crossing was just reopened last March, so there is hope.  Some of the families that left are coming back.  Jose’s restaurant was huge, with an outdoor area that doubled its size.  Because of the wind, blowing sand and cold, we ate our lunch in a little back room.  Best burritos ever.  Would have taken a case load of them back, but we weren’t allowed to take any fruit, vegetables, feathers, or skins or much to Nate’s dismay, hatchets, back across the border.

So we settled for buying bracelets handmade by Eduardo’s brother.  His son had come out in the wind  to show us a cardboard cut out  with the bracelets attached. At this point, we’d been there an hour and already knew we were going to leave every dollar we brought with us in this town somehow.  Buying trinkets, lunch and tipping everyone in sight accomplished our goal.  We think it’s sad that the price of us getting to see their culture and invade their privacy is how they survive and we were perpetuating it, but we wanted to see the town and have the kids see how they live.  Everywhere we went, people thanked us for coming.  And we stood out like  a sore thumb.  When we left, there were more people coming over, but we were alone there for the morning.

Back in the immigration trailer, we waited for him to finish our paperwork, log us in to his fancy new computer, and  then he wished us well.  One of the Mexican border patrol agents was there, taking an inventory of the new trailer we were in.  I read over his shoulder as he counted chairs, windows, computers, hand sanitizers and file cabinets and marked it on his sheet.  It took him the whole 30 minutes we waited, and would have taken me 2.  Nice to see that bureaucrats are the same on both sides of the border!

Gabriel was waiting with the truck for the ride back to the river, and we all hopped into the back.  The wind was still howling and everyone was ducking to keep the sand out of their eyes, while trying to listen to Eduardo tell us more about his home.  He said he had always lived there, and always would, and thanked us again for coming.  He also told us again about their festival “maybe March 21, 22” and could we come? I said we’d be out of the area unfortunately, because I’m sure it would be fun.

Another young, strong guy rowed us back across the Rio and we trudged up to the immigration building.  I was so glad to be back on US soil safely.  Not that we thought anything would go wrong, but we knew there were risks going over.  One of the park rangers said she’s never ever go over the border, but most of them had encouraged it.  We bought the tickets for the boat crossing at the store in Big Bend, so they knew how many people crossed each day and if we came back or not.  Still, nice to be back.

No one is quite sure what strings were pulled to open the border up again last March.  There are 2 passport “self-serve” kiosks and a nice building that came with a price tag of $3.7 million.  We had to stand behind a line, then one by one we walked across the room and inserted our passport photo page into the kiosk and then picked up the phone on the side to talk to someone in El Paso. They asked us what the purpose of our travel was, and what did we bring back.  It took about 10 seconds for each of us.  Then we were on our way out the door and back to the rig!

The drive was uneventful, which was nice. We settled in for a long afternoon of wide open Texas skies out our front window.   For the second time, we spent the night at a rest area wayside.  We had noticed in Texas that they were full of campers and trucks each night, and we wanted to drive as far as possible, so we thought we’d wing it.  It was the day for winging it!  Turned out fine. We made it near Sonora and parked in a ray of sunshine near a huge grassy area.  We didn’t put out the slider for fear of someone crashing into it, and we didn’t put out our cable tv box like the guy behind us because we didn’t have one.

The next morning we took a little detour and spent some time in Fredricksburg.  It began with German immigrants, and has morphed into an artists colony-cum-tourist-town on steroids.  We were only looking for the bakery, but were pleasantly surprised with how much history there was and the other cute shops.  We found our bakery, but it was not half as good as the Dutch letters in Pella.  And we drew the line at buying over-priced dog paraphernalia.   Really!  Dog raincoats?  Dog sunglasses?  Dog strollers to rent for $10/day?!

Then we drove into San Antonio.  We were excited to see it again.  We had so much fun here before with Sonny and his family.  We knew it would still be fun with our kids.  The traffic wasn’t bad, even though much of the freeway was under construction.  They don’t have the ease of flat open land to build on like Phoenix.  I said, “oh no” out loud again when I caught my first glimpse of the city.  A dark brown band of haze enveloped it and it was ugly.  I know, we’re driving an RV and contributing to the problem, but it was gross.  We didn’t see light rail and only one bus passed us.

The RV park again came well recommended, and it’s okay.  Our site backs up to a golf course that we haven’t seen anyone playing.  The pool and hot tub are small, but warm.  The game room is great and all the games are free.  Dan beat me at ping pong and there will be a rematch before we leave.  I might get both kids on my side and take him on.

The best part is the bike trail along the embayment which runs all the way into San Antonio, and then another 5 miles south of the park.  It wasn’t mentioned at all, so we were surprised.  It’s everything Tucson should have done – water running through it, tons of grasses and banks being restored, bathrooms, garbage cans, spots to get in and out for kayak’s, birds all over; it’s beautiful.  The only bad decision the Bexar county commissioner’s made were the rough stone tiles that were along the path every few hundred yards.  It looks like pavement art, but it’s hard to ride on and I even tripped on it just walking.  Still, a great trail system and it’s been packed every time we are on it.

Nate hasn’t been feeling well, so on Saturday Dan dropped Eliza and I off downtown to  see the Mardi Gras parade on the Riverwalk.  It was a perfect sunny afternoon.  Huge crowd, hot, tons of shopping and the people watching was almost as good as San Francisco.  I heard 5 different languages and the 5th I couldn’t even place.  It’s graduation weekend for the nearby base, and the young cadets were all dressed in their shiny blue uniforms, short hair cuts and tight caps.  They looked so young though!  Young as in 4 years older than Eliza.  Whew.  Made me enjoy my afternoon with her even more.  We had a great time walking and talking and listening to music.  We even caught a few beads from the passing barges.

The funniest part came just as we were leaving.  We called Dan to pick us up and were walking to the corner for our ride.  I caught my reflection and thought I had a huge smudge of dirt on my face.  That morning I had opened the curtains between the bunks and the main area, and the curtain rod had caught me hard on the chin.  Hard enough to knock me to my knees crying.  I had an ice pack on it for an hour, no teeth were broken, and an aspirin fixed the headache, so no big deal.  Until 7 hours later and it’s swelling up again and turning black and blue!  Glad it wasn’t over my eye or someone would have been calling it in!  It’s still a lovely shade of purple and blue and make up won’t cover it.  I like seeing people look at it, look away, and then look again.  Only a couple people have asked what happened, but they all stare!

In between all this fun, we’ve been trying to do some school, reading a ton, meeting new people, and just having a great time as a family.  I am still cherishing every minute and know how blessed we are to be living our dream.