God Bless Texas!
I love this state, always have. This time, the range of emotions were high here as our family suffered
great loss and personal achievement. Emotions that proved to be a vivid reminder that this is not a vacation
but “life on the road”.
Dallas was a tough stop, we had to say “good-bye” to Grandma Sheila, she passed away April 28th. Thankfully,
Brian made it back to Utah in time to say a personal good-bye. The girls and I said our good-byes via FaceTime
and although not ideal, we are grateful for technology and that we were able to communicate in some way at all.
Hannah read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss to Grandma Sheila and Zoe carefully selected and read five
jokes that she knew would make Grandma smile. My mother-in-law was an incredibly intelligent and strong woman,
I am so blessed to have had her influence in my life. I admire her a great deal and she will be terribly missed!
So many things had to line up for us to make this trip work from the planning phase to our daily logistics. One
issue we had was making sure the girls could do their annual state testing even though we don’t have an address.
And..once again, as fate would have it, one of Zoe’s fabulous teachers, Mrs. Asay, lives near Dallas and was
willing and able to administer the tests for both Hannah and Zoe. Thank you, Angels (and Mrs. Asay!). I had the
best job of playing with Mrs. Asay’s son, Junior while the girls tested most of the day. What a little stud!
Though still trying to wrap our heads around our “new normal” (without Grandma Sheila), we tried to keep busy
by exploring this area. The assassination of John. F. Kennedy in 1963 has always intrigued me, I can’t put my
finger on the reason, but the story is fascinating. We toured the Dealey Plaza, including the grassy knoll and
the book depository that employed Lee Harvey Oswald (he was a temporary employee). After being re-educated on
the political climate from the 1960’s, in a nutshell, we haven’t progressed. We are still a divided country,
now more than ever. ‘Murica.
Other Dallas and Dallas Fort-Worth highlights included, watching Infinity Wars at the Alamo Drafthouse while
enjoying dinner and beverages and attending a cancer fundraiser at the Jelly Stone Park in which we were staying
(it was really well done with activities, food trucks and music). Really, so much of Dallas was focused on
getting Brian home and the testing for the girls and although everything went smoothly, it was not a relaxing stop.
The best part of our stop was reconnecting with my fabulous friend, Mandy. It had been MUCH TOO LONG! We spent
the day with her, Johnnie and Beth in Boerne, TX doing a fundraising event for LLS (well some of us did, Brian
and I walked around, got coffee, pastries, and fatter). The event was perfectly timed because as part of Hannah’s
National Junior Honor Society requirements, she needed five hours of volunteer work. Done and done! It was Boerne’s
annual .5K race that included hilarious costumes and a party vibe. Well done, Boerne!
We also knocked-out the “must do’s” like the River Walk, River Walk boat ride, The Pearl and of course, who could
forget the Alamo! No, there is no basement in the Alamo.
Exotic Alpine is a random little town that prides itself on a hippie-cowboy culture. The city fully recognizes
and embraces its clear identity issue.
It was here that Hannah made the 9th Grade Dance Company! We are SO proud of her, she worked her butt off. Thankfully,
her school was willing to work with her by sending a video of two dances she had to memorize, record, and return within
about 20-hours. She impressed the judges and they let her in! I can’t tell if I am more excited or relieved
that we didn’t completely screw up her 9th-grade year by taking this little sabbatical.
Big Bend National Park is where I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day. The highlight was swimming to Mexico. We took
a short hike to a hot spring just off the Rio Grande River. We decided to be rebels and took a quick swim across the
border! After that we went for a hike, ate at the National Park Restaurant (amazing!), saw a mama black bear and her
baby cub (still awkward and fuzzy) all without a/c in 100+ degree temperatures. It was the perfect day, until…
We were driving home around midnight and were forced to stop at a railroad crossing. Suddenly, the train was surrounded
by Border Patrol Agents who aggressively searched every square inch. At the center of the train they found what they were
looking for. About 7 people hoping to cross the border. We saw the scared faces of those who were hiding on top of the
train-car being “forced” to their knees preparing to be arrested. I don’t know the statistics, but I imagine that most are
not drug smugglers, simply human beings trying to create a better life for their families. Though I appreciate those who
risk their lives to keep our country safe, my heart hurts for all people involved. It doesn’t matter what side of the
argument you are on, this is a problem that needs to change and desperately needs to be solved. I have never been in
support of building a wall, I feel that we are better than that and can come up with a more practical solution. Maybe
even one that won’t ruin the incredible eye-candy that this landscape has to offer! One idea comes to mind…maybe we
can simply start by relocating our Border Patrol offices TO THE BORDER! All of their checkpoints are 80-100 miles away.
Though they were “open”, we never saw a single car, truck, van, camper or vehicle of any kind stopped for inspection.
On a “light”er note – The west-desert has a kooky little town called Marfa that is known for some mysterious, unexplained
lights known around the world as the Marfa lights. Seriously, you head out into the middle of the desert with 50 or so of
your closest friends to stare across the desert as the sun goes down and random unexplained lights appear in the distance.
No explanation (different theories, look it up) and not so much as a glass of wine in my hand. It was cool and we had cake.
McDonald Observatory – This was awesome, an amazing place to visit. The combination of the massive cloudless Texas sky and
six powerful telescopes helped to create a night we will never forget. We got to see Jupiter and several of her moons, a
couple different galaxies (one of which collided with the other…yes, two galaxies colliding!), and several different star
clusters. During the twilight party we learned a lot about the Zodiac signs and details about our sun, moon, solar system,
galaxy and our entire universe. I am having a challenging time comprehending just how far away a light-year is.
(FYI – light travels at 186,000 miles her second or 670,616,629 mph).
Although we had many memorable adventures in Texas, the state will forever be remembered for the great sadness associated with
the loss of Grandma Shelia and the pure joy of Hannah’s dancing success. We are on the home stretch now, beginning our last
month, but the journey is far from over!
Boondocks and Bliss