Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coming Home

We arrived back at the ranch last night. We took 3 days to come home from Florida this time so we could do a little sight-seeing on the way home. We took the kiddos to visit Dauphin Island via the ferry and saw some dolphins fishing. We saw a helicopter land on an oil rig and then take off again and we stopped by to check out Fort Gaines.

These are the remnants of a shipwreck from the 1800's that was unearthed by Hurricane Georges in 1998 and evidently ran aground and destroyed a house.

The next day we drove 15 hours and got up the next morning and went to Carlsbad Caverns. MacGyver and I visited the National Park in 1996 but did a quick tour and only spent a couple hours there. This time, we did the 1 1/2 hour hike via the natural cave entrance and hiked straight down, down, down 750 feet into the bowels of the caverns. This is also the entrance where starting in May you can watch 500,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats enter and exit the mouth of the caverns. I'm sorry we missed that! But, wow! We had no idea just how much we missed by not doing this hike last time we were there. That was the most incredible thing I have ever seen! Just when we thought we were almost there, we turned a corner and started another plunge into the center of the earth. We only got a handful of usable shots because it is just so completely dark. The one on the left shows the stalactites (formed from the top down), the stalacmites (from the bottom up), and the columns (where the two eventually touch in the middle). The one on the right shows a different one they call Lion's Tail (for obvious reasons). The kids said it looked just like the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth.  They were pretty blown away by just how vast it was. The Big Room is a 1/4 mile from one wall to the other! We did take the elevator up, though. (As they say in the south, "Mama didn't raise no fool").

There were a lot of firsts for the kids on this trip.

They fed stingrays at the Gulfarium.

They saw alligators.

Izzy witnessed her first sunset wedding while she and Gma and I were having dinner at Guisippie's Wharf and was what is best described as transfixed. It was beautiful!

They also saw jellyfish (and Ike got stung on the leg by one).

I might as well tell you my 9 year old nephew thought it was a breast implant. I think he's been watching way too much Discovery Health channel. Ya think?

They rode on a boat and Ike got a little sea sick.

They went to an island...

and visited a cave.

(yes...sweatshirts are definitely desirable for this hike!)

We had so much fun and made lots of memories!

We left 85 degrees and sun in New Mexico and arrived back home to a rainy 45 degrees. But, we also drove down a completely different road than the one we left. We noticed everything was green, not white. The snow was all gone! And the little frozen creek we left was now a roaring river! We left winter and returned to spring! Woohoo!

I hate leaving Gma and Gpa. We love them so much and were honored to finally be able to serve them and help them instead of always being on the receiving end. But, I have to tell you, I thought about my bed the whole way home. I love my bed...always have...always will. There is something so wonderful about coming your stuff...your bed...your routines (although it seems to take 2 weeks to find those again). When I crawled into bed, I actually giggled. There is nothing better. Someone should figure out how to bottle that feeling...they would make a fortune!

I'd like to make another slight pioneering family made it. We survived winter in the middle of nowhere!  Woohoo!

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