it’s 10 benny: marfa, texas

July 15, 2015

it's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyWe flew to San Antonio, Texas to drop off the girls, and then we did a mini road back home. Typically, when we go home from SA, we do the whole drive in one shot. We leave at 5am (TX time) and we get home around midnight (CA time). It’s a really long day, but we are just so anxious to get home, we get it done. This time though, since we were traveling without the girls, we thought it would be fun to take our time and make some stops. And since it was just a few weeks before our anniversary, we agreed to make this a mini anniversary trip and then do another mini road trip the weekend of our actual wedding anniversary. You put all the days together and we had a nice week together.

It was so strange to fly in to San Antonio and then leave the very next morning towards home. We basically said “hi” and “bye” to Ben’s mom and sister. From San Antonio, the drive to Marfa was a little over 6 hours. It would have been a little less, but we hit a really bad storm and had to drive super slowly because of the low visibility. Marfa is a small, peaceful town in the middle of nowhere. It’s known for the Marfa Lights, which we weren’t able to see, and some of their art installations like Prada Marfa. When we arrived, the weather was amazing. Several months back when we were considering a move to Texas, Ben looked up the Texas city with the best weather and Alpine, Texas was the winner. Considering Alpine is right next to Marfa, it makes sense why Marfa also had beautiful weather and wasn’t suffering from the sweltering heat like most of Texas. Or maybe we just happened to come at a really good time!

A few weeks prior to our trip, I looked at booking us a place to stay in Marfa, but everything was sold out. If I were going to stay there, El Cosmico looks fun and adventurous, or Hotel Paisano for a cozy ambience. Since we weren’t staying the night, we trekked on to Prada Marfa. It’s an art installation and not an actual store you can shop in. It’s about 30 minutes away from Marfa, and much closer to the city of Valentine.

it's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyI love the contrast of the faux storefront with the landscape. It really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s an interesting little stop should you find yourself driving through West Texas. We moved onward to Van Horn, which is where we booked a hotel for the night. I like historic hotels, and was interested in staying at Hotel El Capitan, but it was already sold out, so we ended up booking a random hotel through Hotwire. There’s still so much to share about all our stops, so get ready for a few more posts and loads of pictures!


the big two

June 17, 2017

For the past 3 summers, our big two, True and Brave, leave us and spend over a month in Texas with their grandma (Ben’s mom). The first year, they spent 5 weeks in San Antonio. Last year, they were gone 6 and a half weeks, and this year, they will be gone for 5 weeks. Someone asked on IG how I deal/prepare for the big two leaving for 5 weeks during the summer, so I’m happy to share.

The idea first came about from Ben’s mom, and I thought, “Why not?!” The girls had just finished their first year of Spanish lessons with her via facetime, and being in Texas would allow more opportunities to enrich their knowledge of Spanish. I was definitely more on board about it than Ben was, but I’m also the one with the girls all day every day, so I think they could use a break from me (lol). Also, with Ben’s mom being so far, they don’t get to see her often, so this time with her is very special and she meticulously plans out their visit. The first year, she did sewing with them, taught them calligraphy, embroidery, and did lots of local kid activities. On top of all that, they did Spanish lessons almost daily too.

Last year, she slowed things down a bit, so they wouldn’t always be on the go. For this year, last week they were deciding on a summer project. I haven’t really spoken much with them since they left, so I don’t even know what they chose. And still, they start off every day with Spanish lessons. They’ve been doing Spanish lessons for 3 years now, and True and Brave amaze me with how much they read and write Spanish, but they have trouble with the conversation part since we don’t speak it at home. Ben’s been trying to catch up to them, so hopefully, one day they’ll have the speaking part down too.

Every year has differed on how they get to Texas. The first year, Ben and I flew to drop them off, then we road tripped back. Last year, my mom dropped them off and they got to spend a weekend with both of their grandmas together (our moms are friends). This year, Ben’s mom and sister spent time with us in California, then flew back to Texas with them. All we sent True and Brave off with were backpacks because they have clothes there from last year’s visit. They each brought one dress, a few pairs of socks and underwear, sandals (and they wore a tee and jeans with sneakers), and one pair of pajamas. His mom is a thrifter, so if they end up needing something, they all happily make a trip to the thrift store.

We have plenty of rules and expectations for them when they go. They aren’t going for vacation to sit around and do nothing. They are expected to do their own dishes and help around the house. No doubt they will have fun, but they are also there to bless their Grandmama. Also, we have many conversations about safety and try to cover different types of scenarios we can think of.

The send off is tough, they cry, and I try to hold it in, so they won’t cry more. Soul and Glow are sad for the first few days, especially at night. Ben and I are comforted by the fact when they look back, they will be so happy they had this special time with his mom. It’s hard being long distance grandkids; they miss her a lot. When it is time to say farewell, they always cry for hours after they leave. As far as the little two, we try to be especially intentional with our time with them. Last year, we did special letter days, and I have plans to do similar ones this year. Also, we take them on a weekend adventure and we call it “two kid weekend.” Ben’s mom was ready for Soul to join the big girls in Texas this year, but she didn’t want to go because she didn’t want to miss “two kid weekend.” We would like her to eventually join her big sisters, so she can have plenty of memories with his mom too.

We miss them a lot while they’re gone, but I love that they get this time with their Grandmama, and they get to know more of Ben’s family. It’s important to us that they learn about their roots, heritage, and family on both sides.

it’s 10 benny: elmer’s bottle tree ranch and mojave lava tubes

August 17, 2015

For our second mini trip to celebrate our 10 year anniversary (the first was the Marfa, White Sands, and Phoenix trip), we headed to Bottle Tree Ranch and the Mojave Desert. Bottle Tree Ranch is this art installation in Barstow, California. It’s totally random and totally cool all rolled into one. It is such a unique attraction and I love how the artist included different types of objects into his bottle tree sculptures. My fave? The old sewing machine he had on top of one of the bottle trees. If you’re driving to Las Vegas, or doing a Route 66 road trip, I highly recommend stopping here to explore and of course take pictures!

Our next stop, was a couple hours away from the Bottle Tree Ranch and we headed to the Mojave National Preserve to visit the Mojave Lava Tubes. We did get sidetracked as we left the ranch because I saw antique shops along the road, but 2 chairs and a basket later, we were headed to the desert. The Mojave Lava Tubes are off an unmarked road, and internet was spotty, so google maps didn’t help much. We ended up going to Kelso Depot (the ranger station) to get more directions, and it turned out we passed the unmarked road way back there. Thus, we backtracked back to go find it. Of course, the ranger also let us know that it was best to have 4WD to navigate the unmarked roads. We had done some reading up on it online, so while we didn’t have 4WD, we did have an SUV, so we were kind of praying that was enough.

We finally found the unmarked road, and proceeded with caution… oh man, that was the scariest and bumpiest road we have ever driven on. It was really sandy and rocky, and we went super slow. After what seemed like a really long while, and lots of praying out loud, we finally made it to our destination. Hallelujah! We still had to do a tiny hike to get to the lava tubes, but we did finally make it! The best time to go the lava tube is midday, but seeing how I got distracted by antique shops and we kind of got lost on our way there, we missed that window of time to get the light hitting the tube just right.

It was kind of freaky going down the steps into the cave because it was pitch black. Ben had to use his flashlight function on his iPhone to guide us. When you get inside, you have to crouch and walk through this one area that’s only about 3′ or 4′ tall (in the darkness) to get to the main cavern. This is where you have the beams of light coming through. Even though we didn’t hit the ideal time to see the beams of light shine through (like in this post), it was still pretty cool. I guess that means we will just have to make it back one day, and next time bring the girls. I started getting freaked out under, so we didn’t stay too long.

We discovered this cool blog California Through My Lens as we were researching things to do for our anniversary road trip. It’s run by a “travel junkie” and he finds all these interesting spots to visit in California, and a lot of these unique destinations also happen to be free. If you live in California, or are planning to do some traveling here, I’d thoroughly comb through this blog because there are many great ideas of places to visit here in the wonderful Golden State. We used his tips here and here for this little road trips of ours, and we will be look forward to tackling lots of his other suggestions later too!


it’s 10 benny: salt flat, texas to white sands national monument

July 29, 2015

it's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyit's 10 bennyAfter our day trip to Marfa, and an overnight stay in Van Horn, Texas, we headed to Salt Flat, Texas. The dry salt pan used to be a salt lake that dried up, and the result is the vast flat white land. The ground has this subtle sparkle from the salt, and after walking across the whole lake and back to our car, we could taste a bit of salt on our lips. There was only one other car that stopped alongside the road with us, but they didn’t stay too long. There is a marker that tells you a little bit about the history of the area, but other than that, most people probably overlook this area when driving by.

It was a warm day, but the slight breeze made it feel bearable. The white is blinding though, so our sunglasses stayed on. It was interesting crossing the expanse of it because there wasn’t much plant life or creepy crawling creatures, at least none that we noticed. There were bees flying, but that was about it. I took home a white branch as a souvenir.

it's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentit's 10 benny- white sands national monumentWhite Sands National Monument was absolutely stunning. There is this large field of white sand dunes made of gypsum crystals. It totally trips you out because it looks cold (at least that’s what your mind tells you because it’s so reminiscent of snow), but it was so warm out. You don’t even attempt to wear shoes here because the sand is powder soft. We didn’t know what to expect, and was thinking it would be just like the salt flat, but this definitely exceeded our expectations. The whole area is so vast and we were just in awe at the beauty of it all; the glory of God is clearly evident in nature.

At the visitors center, you can learn more about the area and purchase a saucer sled ($15, but they’ll buy it back for $5). We drove around the dune field until we found the hill we wanted to go sledding on. I was a little nervous because we chose a steep one, so I made Ben go first. HA! I had butterflies in my stomach because I didn’t know what to expect, but oh man was that exhilarating. It was pure fun! I was happily shrieking as I made my way down. The uphill trek was a workout, but that trip down made it worth it. Ben and I felt like kids playing.

We will definitely be making another stop here with the girls one day. They would have a blast sledding up and down the hills. We were sending them videos of us sledding and they thought it was so funny how crazy we were screaming. From the salt pan, it was about a 2 hour drive to the white sands; these are definite road trip stops if you find yourself road tripping through west Texas and through the southwest part of New Mexico.

on me: top, gift from my MIL (similar here, herehere, and here), shorts, gap (but from when I was in high school, similar here). shoes, gap (sold out, similar here). worn here also.

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