09.15.17

What I Think About Living In Texas

We are heading to a close of our 3rd year here in Texas. And let me tell you, it’s been full of unexpected surprises. We moved to San Antonio Texas from Denver Colorado. Well not really Denver…..more like the boring, dry suburb of Parker. Parker Colorado is South of Denver a little ways. It’s out of the city enough that families can buy nice large homes for much less than in the city. I moved out to Parker from the DTC area when I met Tom, and I hated it. It was too far from everything we loved about Denver. It was further from the mountains and further from the downtown area. It was extremely suburban – too much for me. I dreaded the drive up to the mountains because living in Parker added at least 40 minutes to the drive. Getting to downtown was a stressful 45 minute drive with no traffic. When we decided to leave I was sad to leave Colorado but thrilled to leave Parker. I had been wanting to move out of there for a long time. We honestly thought our move would be temporary though. We thought we would feel out San Antonio for a year and then see what was available in Denver job wise. We expected San Antonio to be a desert town with tumbleweeds and cows. Boy were we wrong!

We were pleasantly surprised to find a green, wooded neighborhood with cute brick homes to rent a home in. That was the beginning of our love for San Antonio. We were forced into this rental home because of our dog. Most of the places we applied to denied us because of our big mean killing machine Rottweiler Baron – I say this in the most sarcastic tone possible. So we found a house that was a little run down and on the market for a long time. After all beggars can’t be choosers. After being denied by everyone we were desperate. Our only requirement for the house was that it have a fence for Baron and a roof. Our rental home turned out to be in an area of town that we never considered living but we LOVE! It is suburban enough to have all the things for families, but central enough that we don’t cringe at the thought of going downtown. We ended up buying our home 5 minutes from our rental house.

The first thing we loved about San Antonio was the green! Compared to Parker, San Antonio is a rain-forest. Parker had maybe 5 mature trees in the whole city. There are parts of San Antonio that are not very lush, but the area we live in is very green. We liked the twisting mysterious looking oak trees all around the city. They look like something out of a Tim Burton movie. I can actually grow a killer garden here! Every summer we would plant a garden in CO and every year the cold would come and kill it. Plus it took way more effort keeping your plants alive there than it does in SA. The plants just love the humidity and so do we. CO is a very arid place. The air is so dry. It was a constant battle to keep my skin and lips moisturized there. We had to put a humidifier in every room even though our home had a central unit. Humidifiers are in every hotel room there, especially in the mountains. Whenever we go back I dread the dry air. SA has a nice level of humidity. It’s much less than other areas of TX, but just enough to feel nice. There are pros and cons to each city though. I miss the mountains in Colorado. There are NO mountains in Texas. In CO the mountains are where people head for the outdoors. Here in TX there are plenty of lakes and rivers to choose from, even an ocean. What we lack in elevation we make up in H2O. I only miss winter around the Holidays. I couldn’t stand the long stretches of cold weather, and CO is mild compared to other states. I wish I could merge Colorado and TX together. It would be the PERFECT state!

We knew we’d love living in Colorado but we did not expect to love Texas also. It was a pleasant surprise. Maybe one day we’ll be able to have a place in CO and TX! A girl can dream can’t she?!

 

08.21.17

Bridge Bay Campground In Yellowstone

So unfortunately I can’t say the best things about this campground. We had issues from the start. There is only one full hookup campground in Yellowstone park called Fishing Bridge. We weren’t allowed to camp there though because it’s for hard walled campers only. Since we have a hybrid we have tent sides like a pop up. We booked Bridge Bay a year in advance. We expected to have a campground in the wooded area, but unfortunately that whole area was fenced off still. We went to Yellowstone in early June. That’s early enough that there is still snow melting on the ground, which is why the wooded campsites were still blocked off. I guess the snow melt was causing some mud issues back there since the sun can’t melt the snow quickly enough. So everyone was put in the meadow wah wah. I am glad we were in a camper though because I would have been a lot more upset about the meadow if we were tent camping. There is NO privacy or shade. In the evening was the worst because the sun was slanted. No matter where you sat you would be in the sun. But if you are in Yellowstone you spend very little time at the campground and more time out exploring. We were pretty annoyed when we arrived though. They put us in a spot that was too small for us. After setting up they told us we would have to move!!!! So we had to pack things up and move to another spot in the meadow. We asked for a spot in the shade but they told us we were too large. The spots are the length of the camper plus tow vehicle so our Suburban and 23 ft trailer were too long together.

The bathrooms were nice and close by. They had running water, cold water. There was a dish washing station and a water fill up area. The bathrooms were heated which was a pleasant surprise. I wish the water was too. It was ice cold. This campground does not have showers or laundry. You need to drive to one of the other campgrounds to use the amenities. You are right on the lake though so you have access to a marina. There is also a dumping station on the way out. Since we had no hookups we were able to use our generator during generator hours. Unfortunately during our stay our propane pilot kept going out because it did not like the elevation. It was a pain. Our refrigerator would shut off at random time and we were constantly having to re light the pilot. We stayed in this campground for 5 nights and that was a good amount of time. We were so ready to go by the end of it. Dry camping with 5 kids is tough. Loved Yellowstone but not this campground. I give it a 2 out of 5.


08.18.17

Colter Bay Campground At The Grand Tetons

This is my review for the Colter Bay Campground in The Grand Tetons. It is a huge campground right on the lake. You’ll have everything you need in this campground. There is a laundromat, wifi, gas station, showers, gift shop, grocery store, and a marina. This campground is very large and it accommodates all types of campers . They have cabins, full hookup sites, and dry camping. We stayed in the full hookup spots and I regret it. Next time I want to camp in the dry area because you aren’t allowed to have a campfire in the full hookup area. The full hookup area was also very crowded compared to the other sites. The plus side was that it was situated close to all the shops and the lake. You could walk to everything whereas the other campgrounds were further out. Don’t get me wrong, we love full hookup camping but we love sitting around our campfire more. And since there are showers and other amenities in the campground we don’t need the full hookups.

I would rate this campground 4 out of 5. I almost feel bad rating it less than perfect. The Tetons are just gorgeous but not being able to have a camp fire really bummed us out. The only option to have a campfire would mean giving up our hookups which would be a con also. I hope we get to go back soon though. The Tetons are amazing and I highly HIGHLY recommend them.

08.14.17

Yellowstone National Park

Hey ya’ll. This post had been delayed so much. We’ve had a busy busy summer, but how can we not with 5 kids. But now things are settling down since school is starting up again. In June we took a long family vacation to the Tetons and Yellowstone. It was a great trip. These two parks are so close together. It makes the most sense to just see both while you’re in the area. The Tetons are majestic to say the least. Yellowstone is also amazing, but in a cool eruptive kind of way lol. Yellowstone is a giant national park. There are many many places to stay in the park and you spend a lot of time driving from one site to another. We stayed at Bridge Bay Campground on Lake Yellowstone. It’s relatively centered in the park so there isn’t too much of a drive to see the sights. We stayed for 5 nights in Yellowstone and for our family, it was a good chunk of time. It was the beginning of June so the weather is unpredictable. We had a day that was cold and rainy, but then there were nice sunny days too. Our timing was perfect actually because the day we left it ended up snowing 4 inches!!! I am SO glad we missed that. I love snow, but not when I’m camping.

We went and saw as much as we could. Tom and I took the older three kids there one summer 5 years ago. This time we added Audrey and Elliot to the group. Since I can’t list everything we saw there because the list would be too long, I’ll just tell you the highlights. We saw the Falls and The Grand Canyon Of Yellowstone the first day. It was beautiful! There are several hikes to take down and around that area. We didn’t hike too much because we had 3 – 4 year olds and a baby lol. Audrey made sure we knew SHE WAS ALLERGIC TO HIKING! If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone you know that there are hundreds of geysers and springs right off the road. We stopped at many of those too. One day we went to see Old Faithful and walked around that geyser basin. It was so cool to see them all again. Old Faithful is just old now haha. Not too faithful since we waited forever for it to erupt. It did finally erupt so that was good. By the end of that day though the storm clouds had rolled in and it was pouring. We had a nice buffet dinner in the lodge there to celebrate Tom’s birthday. That was a treat because we weren’t too excited to drive back to the campsite to freeze our butts off. I felt so bad for my sister and her kids. They were tent camping next to use and their camp was flooded. They ended up coming into our camper until 11pm that evening because everything was cold and wet. We turned the heater on and enjoyed each others company until it stopped pouring. Well everyone except me of course lol. Elliot made sure I was in bed with him by 8pm. So I just got to hear everyone else socializing haha. The next day we went to see Grand Prismatic and some mud pots. It was SO windy! People were losing hats all over the geysers. You can’t just walk out and pick them up without risking your life so they just stayed there. I’m sure the rangers have a tool to pick them up but there were at least 20! It was very crowded but we got to see a lot. The wind was not pleasant though. We enjoyed the evening with everyone coming to our campground to eat dinner with us and hang out. Bridge Bay could have been a nice place to stay, but not on this visit. I’ll review the campgrounds separately on my blog though. On the last day we drove to West Yellowstone to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and on our way we saw a wild Grizzly bear in the woods! There is nothing so cool as to see these giant bears in the wild! We saw one last time we were in Yellowstone too, 2 for 2! But seeing them up close at the Discovery Center was really cool too. We learned a lot there. It was a cold rainy day so I’m glad we decided to go there and walk around the town a bit. We loved the gift shops. It was our last night there with everyone so we had dinner back in the park with Tom’s parents. Then we headed back to camp for our last evening in the park.

The next morning we woke up and packed up. We knew snow was rolling in and we wanted to get out of there. Thank you Lord for providing good weather to pack up in. The weather report said it would be cold and rainy but it was sunny until we started driving out. We stopped one last time at the gift shop on the way out to taste the delicious Huckleberry ice cream. Everything there was Huckleberry! It tasted like half blueberry and half strawberry. Funny enough the color looked like a strawberry and blueberry mashed together too! Then we were off back to Texas. We planned a long extended drive back to give Elliot only a few hours in the car (he hated the car). Our first stop through the dark clouds and wind was Casper WY. We stayed at a Hampton Inn and boy were we happy to see running water, heat, and electricity! Did I mention we had to dry camp in Yellowstone? It was tough with 7 people, but we did it! We had a generator that we ran and then propane. Not having sewer or running water was challenging but they had bathrooms with running water.

It was a great trip. Definitely a trip we will remember for the rest of our lives. It’s such a blessing we were able to go with Tom’s family and my family together. Camping trips are very special for families. There is something so great about taking everyone out into nature and having some distance from all the technology that so easily runs our lives. The kids were reluctant at first, but by the end of the trip they had embraced the camper life.