Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Great Trip West....and the parents!

It's been a crazy few weeks. This time three weeks ago we were in Fort Stockton, Tx on our first stopover on the way to San Diego. Fastforward to tonight, we've covered somewhere in the region of 2500 miles and my parents have arrived from the UK a week early!

Anyway, back to the road trip. I'm very proud of Luke for spending 7 days in the car and being BRILLIANT (for about 95% of the time!) - it was worth it though. Most of the journey was on I-10 and considering that, it was a wonderful drive. The journey out of Texas was barren for much of it, and you skirt the Mexican border for much of it - including lots of random border patrols making sure we weren't trying to sneak into the US! New Mexico was gorgeous and Arizona had the desert and about 3 million cacti - I've never seen a real life one before and they kept me occupied for hours (which was just as well as we had about 4 hours of driving past them each way!).

We left on the Thursday afternoon and arrived in San Diego at lunchtime on Sunday - we headed straight to Seaport Village for lunch and a browse around the shops. It was gloriously sunny, and so bright that Luke retreated beneath the lunch table to play the DS as he couldn't see the screen otherwise - what a sociable boy he is!

Monday was spent at the zoo - it is enormous and I'm sorry we didn't get to see it all, but we did a huge amount of walking and made good use of the Skyfari (cable cars) although I wasn't in love with being that high up! The weather was up in the high 80's which meant I went a very British shade of pink - typically, Luke has just gone brown! I HIGHLY recommend a trip to the zoo if anyone is ever near San Diego (and for your info - active duty military with ID get in for free - another reason to love the US and the respect they have for their Armed Forces. British Govt please take note). I was really looking forward to seeing the polar bears (I don't think I've ever seen one in real life!) but the exhibit was not opening until the end of March - one for next time then! However, Luke made me come into the snake house which I was not that happy about, but I'm very conscious of not passing my fear/hatred of them onto him so I did it, but it wasn't the nicest experience I've ever had.

Tuesday we took a hop on - hop off trolley tour around the city, which was brilliant. We left the car at the hotel and made our first stop at a shopping mall - it wasn't the plan, but when we got on the trolley in the morning I realised I'd spilled coffee down the front of my white top and had no way of getting it out. So, off into Macys I went for a new shirt and very nice it is too (any excuse to shop I guess!). We got back on the trolley and across to Coronado Island which has great views back across the bay to San Diego. Another lovely lunch outside in the sun was followed by a few hours on the lovely beaches in front of the Hotel Del Coronado (made - fact fans - with not one nail, and the setting for Some Like It Hot). It is an absolutely gorgeous hotel and after some paddling, sand moving (by Luke!) and kite flying (by Chris), we retreated to the bar for a well deserved glass of wine (for me!)

Wednesday bought a walk around the Old Town - where San Diego was born and also the site where the first Stars & Stripes was flown in California - it's very commercial and touristy, but we were there really early so all the stores were still shut and it was lovely and quiet. We didn't spend too long there as we wanted to get back on the road. Rather than take the 4 days we did on the outbound trip we pushed on through and got home by Friday night - stopping in Tucson, Az (where we had a wonderful Greek meal) and El Paso, Tx.

It was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad we drove it - we saw bits of the country we'd never have been too otherwise and have added loads of places to our visit wishlist. Now my parents are here, the spring semesters of soccer, swimming and gym have started for Luke and life is suddenly very busy....................................................

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leaving..........on a road trip!

Just a quick post as we are leaving in a few hours on our 3000 mile (ish) road trip to San Diego. It's going to take about 10 hours to get out of Texas - this state is so huge it still baffles me! Anyway, we plan to do about 5/6 hours today and then spend all day tomorrow driving which will get us almost all the way there.

Really looking forward to seeing the sea, going to the zoo and possibly not using the car as much while we're there! We have no fixed plans for the way home but may go via Odessa, Tx as there are some sand dunes there in a state park which you can dune surf down :)

Well, the packing is soon!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Worlds Championship BBQ Cook Off, Houston

I'm sat watching Eng v Ire from the 6 Nations at the weekend as I write this - it's nice to have a little piece of home!

Well, this weekend was our first experience of the real South! Chris left on Tues with our friend Mike to head North to Troy to help Mikes Dad (Frank) and friends load up and then head down to Houston for the cook off proper. Unbelievably, they were working in the snow on Tues night and at some point a snowball fight ensued - no surprises there as boys will be boys! We had a teeny bit of snow here in San Antonio - but it appears my house is in it's own little eco system as I saw none.

So, the boys had 3 nights of freedom and then on Friday, Heather (Mikes wife), their 3 kids, Luke and I headed across to Houston to join them. Remarkably, the 3 hour journey flew by and I send thanks to the Nintendo DS gods for that! Once we were checked into our hotel and the kids all fed, we left them in the capable hands of Marissa (our token teenager) and Heather and I took a crazy cab ride over to Reliant Stadium (the car park of which was the cook-off venue) to join the boys. I don't know what I was expecting but it was mad - 400 (ish) tents all set up to BBQ for 3 days, all with well stocked bars, most with sound systems and even some with live music. Unfortunately, you couldn't just go in to any old tent - you have to be invited, but with abit of blagging and some English charm we got to see a few of the other teams in action. I have to say though, that I think we lucked out - the Blarney Bunch (the team we were with) were just wonderful - very Southern and maybe a little bit rednecked in places, but so welcoming and friendly, and they can certainly BBQ!

Saturday was spent taking the kids around the carnival where they all added to their cuddly toy collections and we all risked whiplash on the good old bumper cars. After the boys spent an hour passing out green Leis to pretty girls we whisked them back to the hotel via McDonalds and settled them again, and then Heather and I rejoined the boys - not in a crazy cab this time but on a free shuttle bus the hotel was providing. Unfortuantely we had to share the ride with some well oiled women!! Imagine the following in a very Southern accent "Mr Driver Man, take us to the Rodeo...........I need to pee so bad"! Add in the fact that I wasn't feeling so great and it was a HUGE relief to finally get there. We didn't drink as much as Friday, but we had a good stab at it.

In summation, we drank too much and ate little other than very nice BBQ! The team unfortunately didn't win anything for the food, but took home both first and second place in the Bloody Mary competition - which netted them the ridiculously large trophy above! We also added to our Facebook friends, which is great and I hope we can see some of them again,

Anyway, a week has passed since I started this post, I have been completely lazy and have no excuses! The past week has been very quiet - but I think spring may have sprung as the theme parks are open again! This week will be spent starting my Spanish resit (more of which another day!), and getting ready for our road trip to San Diego................