It was definitely a Griswold family vacation this Christmas, that's for sure! Adam has always wanted to take an RV vacation. I have had no interest. So when my little sister asked us to spend Christmas with her in Texas, I figured I better start bargaining because (A) I can't say no to my little sister; and (B) my husband isn't fond of Texas as a vacation spot. In the end,
I got my . . . um, "we agreed".
It didn't take me long to get excited about the almost 2 week vacation. I think I may have started packing about 2 months prior. On the day that we picked up the RV, everything was perfect. We were the first ones in line (others had to wait about 45-60 minutes). They had upgraded our RV to a new model with an extra slideout. My in-laws were watching our kids so we could quickly pack. All was perfect. Until
Adam broke the . . . the living room slideout broke. Honestly, it wasn't his fault. The motor malfunctioned and the slideout was sticking out about 2 inches. Stuck. Hours of trying to "do it yourself" fixes happened. There might have been some marital fighting happening. It was Adam's opinion that he was in the "let's get this done" mode, and I was staring off into space like an idiot. However, that is obviously not what happened. I was super, amazing, perfectly calm and offering the awesomest suggestions, while he raged like a monster towering over me. Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
In the end, we were given the option of postponing our trip by a day (and we had a tight schedule), or getting a discount on the price and driving an RV with a broken slideout. We decided to start our vacation. My claustrophobic brain was definitely arguing with my money budgeting brain.
|Beautiful scenery on our trip
Off we went. Once the raging, towering monster of a husband was fed dinner, all was right in the world and we set off to Tucson, Arizona. That night, we hooked up the RV perfectly. We worked together as a team. High five to the Fischer Five.
The next day's drive didn't go as planned. We were hoping to drive about 6-7 hours to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We were having such a great time that we decided to take a scenic route through the mountains. As we are driving on the scenic route, it becomes really windy. Really windy. It was the most wind I have ever experienced in my life. The worst part was that I was driving. I can totally admit that I'm a terrible RV driver. It is what it is. And because of this, my family blames me for our dog (yes we brought our dog too) pooping all over itself and its portable crate. It was awful. We pulled over on the side of the road, freezing, getting blown over by wind, and Adam and I are trying to figure out how to hose down the dog. Finally, I just said "screw it" and while Adam held the hose with freezing cold water, I used my hands and cleaned off all the poop from the dog. I was a rockstar wife in that moment. Dog was bathed, portable crate was thrown away, and Adam's poop covered shoes were stowed in a compartment under the RV. We then locked the dog in the bathroom and set off again. A little bit later (contrary to my family's memory, I was NOT driving), the dog puked and pooped all over the bathroom. Needless to say, this was a horrible moment in time. Operation dog cleanup was repeated, and dog was locked into regular metal crate that sat on top of the master bed, with a waterproof blanket underneath. The dog never had a problem again for the rest of our trip. Lesson learned: Scooby gets carsick.
|Stopped for a quick photo right before the dog incident
Oh our day didn't end there. We continued on our scenic route. Just as it was getting dark, we went to the White Sands National Park. It was amazing. It looked like mountains of snow everywhere, but it was just white sand dunes. We got out and played for a few minutes, but it was freezing and the park was getting ready to close so we headed on our way.
|White Sands National Park
A little bit later, we stop for gas right before heading up the mountain. I can't remember how many thousands of feet it goes up in 16 miles, but it was a lot. Steep. As we were at the gas station, I saw a truck at the pump across from us that was covered in snow. Covered. His truckbed was full of snow. If you know me well, you know I HATE snow. When I lived in Indiana, I would start worrying about the snowy weather in August. I HATE it. I'm TERRIFIED of driving in it. The guy with the truck asked Adam if we were planning on heading up the mountain. Then he told us we were brave. That did it for me, I climbed over the driver's seat and yelled out to the guy, "Is it really bad up there?" And he said, "Well, look at my truck." Oh dear. So I agreed to go up the mountain, and Adam agreed to turn around immediately when I asked him to.
When we left the gas station and crossed the street, it started snowing. We got maybe a mile or two up the mountain. The road was covered in snow, and it was coming down pretty hard. Everyone was going slow, and a police officer in front of us was slipping and sliding. An ambulance passed us with its lights on. I got ready to start crying, and Adam decided to turn around (thank you scenic parking lot turn around thing on the side of the mountain). As we were coming back down (again, just a mile or two), the police were closing down the road (going up). Even though we had already been driving way longer than anticipated, our safety was more important. So we had to backtrack quite a bit, but after about 13 hours, we made it to Carlsbad. And even with all of that, we were still in good spirits.
|Just barely getting into the snow on the mountain
|Mountain Dew: How I got through the day
The next day was perfect. We had a great time at Carlsbad Caverns. The weather was great. The drive to Texas was easy. It was a great day.
|Outside Carlsbad Caverns
On Day 4, we drove to San Antonio, Texas and stopped at Sea World. We had a great time. It's one of those places that I'm glad my kids got to experience it, but I'm not sure it would be worth going to again. I also thought it was a great idea to watch Blackfish the night AFTER going to Sea World, as I refused to watch that documentary before we went. :-)
Day 5 was Christmas Eve, and we finally arrived at my sister's house. There was a great RV park right outside her neighborhood. It was perfect. We got into comfy clothes, cooked a great ham dinner, and we spent the night at my sister's house waiting for Santa to arrive. Just like we used to do when she lived in Arizona.
Christmas morning was great. Chaotic (5 kids, 3 big dogs), but great. All the kids got bicycles from Santa Claus so they were super happy.
The next day my parents, older sister, and her kids arrived in Texas. Again, chaotic, but we had a great time. We rode bikes, went to see some ice sculptures, and went to the zoo. None of us took many pictures, but we had a good time.
|"Indoor Antarctica" according to my Dad (ice sculptures at the Gaylord)
|At the Ft. Worth Zoo
|Wrestling with Uncle Zach
On Sunday, Day 10, we started to head home via the northern route. We had followed the southern route on our way to Texas. When we woke up on Day 11 in Amarillo, Texas, two of my kids were sick with the stomach flu. I was super thankful that the RV park had a laundry facility so I can wash those puke covered blankets. Yeah, it was that bad. But again, we had an amazing day checking out the tourist places.
|Wes using spray paint for the first time
|Evidently Texas likes to bury things: VWs, Cadillacs, Tractors
|Calvin felt well enough to spray paint a little
|We were dying to eat at Cracker Barrel, and we drove out of our way to get to one. But this is what we found instead. Huge disappointment.
On Day 12, we went to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Adam and I really loved the TV show, "Breaking Bad", which was filmed in Albuquerque, so we drove around to the different places that were part of the TV show.
We went to a few more tourist spots just inside Arizona, and we let the kids play in a little bit of snow (they lasted about 5 minutes because it was so cold to them). Then we headed back down to the Valley of the Sun. We arrived home on New Year's Eve and were able to ring in the New Year on our couch -- absolutely exhausted.
We had a great time. Adam says it was the best vacation ever. I'm not so sure it was the best, but it was pretty great. I hope to do another RV vacation again in the next few years.