Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Our Big Bend "Babymoon"

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Before Brendan and I even thought seriously about having a baby, I'm pretty sure we made fun of the term "babymoon." So cheesy, we'd say. And yet, on the other side, I love the idea behind the "babymoon." Honeymoon is to marriage what babymoon is to parenthood: celebrating the milestone before experiencing the hard part. (I wouldn't say marriage is "hard," but it's also not waking up on vacation in Hawaii everyday like our honeymoon was). Obviously, we're already responsible for one little person, but I wanted to celebrate with a trip just the two of us before life gets really crazy in two under two land.  Anyway, Brendan is responsible for 0% of this blog, so you can't blame him for my "babymoon" conversion. You can, however, sit back, relax, and enjoy my retelling of babymoon dos!

Selecting our Marathon/Big Bend National Park, TX destination was pretty easy: we needed a fast weekend getaway we'd both love. Our summer was filled with writing work and seeing family and friends, and we didn't want to feel like we were squeezing in one more thing, so Labor Day Weekend fit the bill (crazy to think that by our next break, I'll be too pregnant to travel!). Willa's Lelie (grandmother) & Elda (godmother) we're down for babysitting and a girl's weekend at our house. We're so thankful that they took great care of Willa for us so we could have this little getaway.

We left on Saturday morning and drove the 2.5 hours to Marathon, TX and checked into the Historic Gage Hotel. Knowing we weren't going to spend much time in the room, I just booked us a standard queen room, but you can really splurge and even rent an entire house separate from the hotel (we fully hope to do this with family one day by the way!) If you book the standard room, be aware that it's very pretty but amenities are, well, standard! They don't have TVs (who needs them, go look at the stars!) and there is a coffee maker in the room, which is really all we needed. That said, if I were to go back, I'd book a king because Brendan and I both felt like our "queen" bed was actually a full or a double (we sleep on a queen every night, so I think we definitely know!) It normally wouldn't matter, but when I'm pregnant, I tend to stretch out and take up space.

Anyway, we quickly changed into our swimsuits, put on sunblock (actually, we had to go buy some at the French Grocer's...within walking distance, and we highly recommend them), and spent hours swimming, talking, and relaxing by the pool. Gosh, there's something about far west Texas that just makes all my tension melt away. It's the air out there or something.

Sadly, after we'd been by the pool a few hours, my phone started filling with messages from concerned family and friends hearing the news of the mass shooting in Midland and Odessa. We didn't know what was going on and quickly texted my mom and Elda to tell them not to leave the house. Then we called Brendan's parents to let them know we were safe. We went into the hotel to see the story unfold on the national news. It was really surreal and upsetting. I just stood there frozen as people around us asked us if we were from Midland. I tried contacting all our friends and co-workers and felt like there was so much information we didn't have. As I find out more, I truly feel the event was a preventable tragedy, and it makes me extremely sad.

We had a 6PM dinner reservation at the gage restaurant and vowed to not talk about the shooting, even though people around us were watching the news on their phones. We knew that the rest of the evening could easily delve into doing nothing but watching the news, and we did not want to focus on something so tragic that we had absolutely no ability to improve. It was hard, but we tried to make the name game, nursery ideas, etc. the focus of our dinner conversation. The food was really good and worth a splurge. I had the hatch chile stuffed with vegetables (warning: SO spicy) and Brendan had the stuffed quail. We shared the shrimp and grits appetizer and the gluten free chocolate dessert (thought of you, Annie!) They also won a first place award in my book for their mocktails!

This one screams "awkward family photos," doesn't it?

After dinner. we explored the gage gardens, and let me just say, it would be the perfect wedding venue. It was gorgeous.

After our post dinner romantic garden tour, we went to the porch, sat in the rockers, looked at the stars, and wished healing thoughts into the universe for everyone at home, especially the victims' families, the first responders, and all those dealing with the aftermath of the shooting. We collapsed into bed early and slept hard.

I woke up decently early (7:30AM felt like sleeping in to me!), made coffee, got dressed, picked up muffins and fruit downstairs, and went to the French Grocer's to pick up lunches to take to Big Bend. We were on the road by 8:30 and at the park by 9:30.

We were lucky to have "cooler" weather (I think the high was 89) and we checked out a new (to us) fossil display before heading into the hot part of the park (Rio Grande Village) for the morning. We used the app "just ahead" for their guided tour and highly recommend it. It told us so much we didn't know!

We picked the Boquillos Canyon Trail hike because it was short (1.4 miles roundtrip), but it was also a lot of climbing, and when I say it was the hot part of the park, I mean that it was HOT (and we were done by 12:20PM). You can see the Mexican town of Boquillos just across the river. We also saw wild horses and donkeys. Love those canyon views!

Afterwards, we drove to the hot springs and changed into our bathing suits. There and back is only 1/2 a mile total, so I changed out of my hiking shoes and into my Toms. The hot springs were too hot, so we swam in the Rio Grande river instead. Then, we ate our delicious picnic lunches from the French Grocer right by the beautiful river. 

Then I told Brendan it was time for the scenic drive portion of the day because I was tired! We drove to Terlingua and ended up at the Starlight Theatre (eating there is a tradition for us), which has the best mocktail (virgin prickly pear margarita) in the world. 

After a fantastic dinner (and we can never get over how affordable it is too!), we drove back to Marathon through the Big Bend park. We saw a Havalina on the way home! We also saw roadrunners, porcupines, hawks, tarantulas, deer...the sun was setting and a west Texas storm was brewing up ahead. It was a beautiful day and so good for our souls.

The next morning, we got up and picked up a delicious breakfast of egg sandwiches to go at V6 Coffee (highly recommend the sunrise smoothie too), and we took our meal to Post Park for birdwatching. We were taunted by an elusive gorgeous red vermilion flycatcher (bird) that would not get close enough to us for a good photo.

We left town at 11 and made it home by 1:30 so that Lelie and Elda could make it back to Austin. We were thrilled to see our Willa and give her a stuffed donkey we picked up for her and hear all about the adventures she'd had. All in all, we had a fantastic time celebrating our baby boy and getting back to Big Bend.

We know the weekend was a difficult one for many people here, and our community has already begun the important work of coming together to support those directly impacted by Saturday's tragic events (that number now stands at 7 families dealing with the ultimate loss and 25 additional people injured). Our community has so many questions and is still processing everything. I read about those that lost their lives and feel so much sadness. I just hope our country can put an end to events like this.

Love and light,

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