This Stranger's Life

SPI Opening Pic

A couple of weekends ago we took a quick trip to South Padre Island Texas. In all the years I have lived in Texas this was the first time we made the trek down towards the border.

South Padre Island is a barrier island that is apart of the Brownsville-Harlingen Metro area. It is considered a resort town and has plenty of hotels and shops on the island.  It is also a HUGE Spring Break destination.

We were only there for the night since my husband surprised me as part of an anniversary gift. He knows I love the beach and have always wanted to visit SPI. Off we packed the kids to drive five hours from Houston to Brownsville. First stop was to drop Zoey off with my Brother-In-Law so she can have fun playing with her doggie cousins.

Zoey

Zoey on her way to play with doggie cousins. Don’t mind the crusties in her eye she had just woken up.

We stayed in Brownsville because it was more affordable with three kids and it had more restaurants that were geared toward families. Brownsville is a decent sized city with a few major stores and chain restaurants. The hotel we stayed in was very comfortable and right off of the freeway.

The only issue I had with staying 35 minutes from the beach was that the drive back to the hotel was a little uncomfortable due to being sandy. Normally I bring a cheap jug of bottled water to the beach with us in order to rinse the kids off but I didn’t think about that day!

Once on the island you will see lots of beachwear shops, surf boards and restaurants. We didn’t see any spots to park on the beach like you can in Surfside Beach or Galveston. Which, I guess is a good thing if the beach needs to stay clean and protected for the wildlife. We parked on Gulf street and walked across to the beach. You will need to pay attention to the no parking signs but they are very obvious.

As soon as the soft powdery sand hits your feet you sink down a bit. It was a little hard to walk in and keep my balance but it was also refreshing. The blue-green water instantly relaxes you as you find a spot to settle. There are beach chairs for rent if you didn’t bring your own or didn’t want to lug one around.

Needless to say the water is beautiful and the sand is very fine. It was a welcomed change from Surfside and Galveston beaches that we frequent. Galveston beaches are murky and pretty dirty but they are reasons for that. Several big rivers empty into the gulf which bring dirt and trash. Houston is a major city and lots of runoff enters the Gulf as well. The stretch of water near Galveston is so shallow that the water really just churns up a lot of sediment and waste. It’s just a recipie for ugly water.

But I love Galveston for its history and charm and still visit the beaches there. You can even see dolphins, whales and jellyfish.

However, SPI has a brilliance of its own.

SPI Water

Rolling waves of South Padre Island

Sand

Crystal clear edge

Sea Turtles are near and dear to my heart. To me they signify the delicateness and wisdom of the ocean. The endangered Kemps-Ridley Turtle nests mainly in SPI as well as Green Sea turtles. The Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery posted on their Facebook page that 2017 is a record-breaking year for Kemps-Ridley sea turtle nests. There have been 348 nests in Texas with 216 found on the island itself! From April to August you can see hatchlings race for the water or attend a scheduled release. 

Sea turtle

Photo credit: Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery

So, if you see a Sea Turtle report it to 361-949-8173. We didn’t see any sea turtles but it was expected since the beach was full of people.

Next time we go back I hope to spend more time snapping pictures of the wildlife and the many variety of birds. Texas is a great spot to see migratory birds and it seems many of them stop in SPI for a little while.

For now these are the photos I did snap.

Bir SPI

Bri waiting to cross over to the beach.

Dunes

Dunes

Mav spi

Mav after a dip in the ocean.

Deeni spi

Audy after wading in the ocean. My husband doesn’t like to take pictures so I covered him with a Sea Turtle 🙂

Sand toys

Sand Toys! SPI has the perfect sand to build with.

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Majestic as ever!

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Till next time!

Have you been to South Padre Island? What was your experience?

McKinney Falls State Park was a fun little place that I had no idea existed! My mom, who is always on the hunt for great photo opportunities, wanted to take pictures of waterfalls here in Texas. We found this little gem in Austin Texas, which is about 160 miles west of Houston and 90 miles north of San Antonio.

Onion creek flows through this park with the Upper Falls closer to the park entrance and Lower Falls a tad bit further down the road.  It has not rained much in Texas over the past few months so the Lower Falls were a bit skimpy and the Upper Falls were non-existent.

The Lower Falls were very easy to find. In fact the entire park was easy to navigate and the park rangers were extremely helpful.

The creek was a bit slow which made it great for families with little toddlers to get their toes wet.  I took my shoes off to walk in the ankle-deep water.

Converse 1Creek toes

The water was nice and warm but I would suggest wearing water shoes or  sandals with good grips.

Many kids were jumping off of the limestone rocks into the pool below. There are lots of people on the shore and on top of the rocks but I tried to miss them with my camera. People were really enjoying themselves while lounging in tubes, pool noodles and some were picnicking on the shore.

Falls Lower 1

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Lower Falls 3.jpg

One thing that disappointed me was the amount of garbage that was caught in the rocks. A lot of this is washed in from the creek but still, I imagine some trash gets away from the picnic areas further up the creek. This trash was lodged here and it did not seem to float into the pool where the kids were swimming.

Lower falls trash.jpg

Onion creek 2dragon flyOnion Creek

I was unable to get any really good photos of the Upper Falls because it was so dry. There was a pool of water and a small cave where people were swimming and hanging out. This looked like the most popular spot. I showed these photos to my kids and they wanted to pay a visit. We will be going back very soon!

If you’re looking for a small park that has water fun, hiking, camping and biking this is a good place to go.

For more information on visiting the park here is the link.

RoadTrip Cover Photo

As part of reaching my goal to visit every state in the U.S, I planned a Road Trip with my mom and sister. Unfortunately, my sister was not able to make it which created a noticeable absence. I have several friends who live in Arizona and they moved their schedules to prepare to see me so I did not want to reschedule.

We live in Texas and as Southeast as it gets! Driving towards Arizona was a big deal. The total drive according to Google would take 16 hours with 10 of those hours being used to get out of Texas!


EL PASO, TEXAS

Our plan was to drive through to El Paso and stay the night there. My father was in the Army when I was a youngster and we lived in El Paso at one point. I wanted to visit my old elementary school and apartment where we lived. Can you believe I remembered it? Well, yeah I did.

Old elem

Elementary school in El Paso I attended in Kindergarten

Having the opportunity to visit our old apartment was a blast from the past. I remember playing outside in the dust since there was no grass. You can see from the picture below that grass was just non-existent. Fun fact is we lived in El Paso the year it had this crazy amount of snow dumped on it. We went from desert to winter wonderland over night!

El paso Apt

Apartment complex we lived in

Enough about El Paso and on to the reason for the trip. Along the way we saw desert and Mountains. There was no way I was making a trip to Arizona without visiting Tombstone, the site of the famous gun fight at the O.K. Corral. By the way, I can quote the Tombstone movie word for word but never mind that 🙂


TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

Tombstone is very hot, dusty and dry. The people were nice and some were dressed up to mimic the old way of dress. Here are some photos of Tombstone.

city hall

Old Tombstone City Hall

GUnfight

Site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In 1881 the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-Mclaury gang in this legendary shootout.

Big nose kate

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon was originally called The Grand Hotel. Kate was Doc Holiday’s common-law wife.

Bird cage(1)

Reported by the NY Times back in 1882 to be “the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and Barbary Coast.” NOW that’s a serious reputation!

Birdcage inside

Bird Cage Entrance

Wells fargo

Old Wells Fargo bank


NEW MEXICO

We did not stop at any notable places in New Mexico but I did get this really nice shot of the rising sun. We also crossed the Continental Divide which was a cool check-in for Facebook.

New Mexico

Sunrise over the Mountains in New Mexico


THE GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

On to one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen in person! We stayed in Mesa Arizona but I did not get any pictures. It was a three and a half hour drive to The Grand Canyon but the scenery made the drive worth it. I tried to capture the beauty and majesty of the canyon but you just have to be there to appreciate it.

A few tips when visiting the Canyon even if you do not think you will hike. Take plenty of water, even if it is not hot. The elevation at 7,000 feet will take a toll on your body. Also, pack some sustainable snacks such as jerky and trail mix. Do not feed the wild animals. We saw Elk and Ravens on our trip but you can see squirrels, mountain lions and California Condors.

I have a crazy amount of photos from the Canyon but these are the ones I feel will give you a sense of just how beautiful it really is. Let me get on and show you the pictures!

Canyon 2

The Grand Canyon

Canyon Colorado

The Colorado River

canyon script

View from the Desert View Watchtower

Canyon shoes

Resting my toes for a bit 🙂

Canyon

Beautiful shot

Me Canyon

Sitting on top of Split Rock with the Colorado River behind me

me side canyon

Side of the Canyon

MountainPeak

Humphrey Peak as part of the San Francisco Mountains. This was on the way up to the canyon.

Watchtowe

Mary Colton’s Desert View Watchtower


The Grand Canyon was place I will never forget. I am so happy I was able to see it in person and take pictures for memories.

The trip back to Texas was driven all at once starting at 9 am on a Sunday. We arrived in home 20 hours later!! It was an unforgettable time and I hope to bring the kids when they are a bit older. I have officially updated the Life List.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon or Tombstone? If so what was your experience.

Today the kids and I went Geocaching. Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.  This activity was part of my life list and I can now update the date!

edited-geo-slpark

Before hunting for the hidden objects.

The first search was conducted at a park near our home.  We used my phone in order to find the coordinates of the hidden object.

It was hard to know what to look for but the description and hints were  extremely helpful. Be sure to read up on Geocaching etiquette and terms.

Edited-Geo-SL.jpg

Success! The first object we found.

We moved to our second location to a business park further down the road and found this one in a muddy field. Our shoes and socks got wet but the kids had fun getting messy.

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The second object we found.

We had so much fun looking for these that we plan on hunting for more in the coming weeks. I will be taking a vacation soon so I plan on looking for more objects where I will be headed.

Have you tried Geocaching? If so what was your experience?

Quick post today!  The kids are on their winter break so it has given me some downtime. I have been planning on which Life List items I want to focus on in the coming new year.  Travel is definitely a must!  New York and Arizona happen to be spots I want to visit.  I have never been to either of those places and I am greatly looking forward to it.

Have you been to New York or Arizona?  What are the best spots to see? Comment below!

Find my Life List here.

life-list

All too often we can get so absorbed with living our day-to-day lives that we forget to truly live our life.

Creating a life list has been something I have wanted to do for quite some time. Most of the things on my list will be done with my family. However, there are other tasks that I want to accomplish by myself for my own fulfillment.

As each event is completed I will update the list with the date and record the details of the adventure! I am really excited to get started. Having a life list just helps me to make sure that I am getting out there and really living.

Lots of things on my list do not require much money. Whereas other items such as travel, may cost a bit more and naturally may take more time to achieve. Nevertheless, with a bit of budgeting and planning it will all come together.

The List List is on menu tab and is by no means complete. I will add to it as I think of more adventures.

Do you have a life list? What are some things you want to accomplish? Share in the comments 🙂

Quote Credit: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kevynaucoi358534.html?src=t_life

So Long

It’s been so long since I’ve logged into this here blog. Thought about using it a bit more but I can’t seem to find the time. My last post was in April 2013 and at that time things seemed to be going OK for me. In September of 2014 lots of things started going down hill for me. The biggest most devastating event was the loss of my 29 year old sister. I never knew how much I took our relationship for granted. There were so many little things that she and I giggled over that no one else seemed to understand. Silly texts and swapping stories of our childrens accomplishments are sorely missed. During that chaotic time I started a new job, moved and reinvented my Etsy shop. I took time off from the shop when my sister passed because I couldn’t find inspiration. Now I have learned how to deal with my grief and channel it in a positive way it’s easier to be happy. I find a lot comfort in spending time with her kids who look and sound so much like her. A

Perhaps I may log on in the near future, or it might be another year. Not sure at this point.

tonya

A new job

phone

I started a new job back in late April! Yes! I had spent about 10 months without a place to turn in my eight for the day. Well not counting the two hours I spend in traffic everyday. So far its going well. The kids are about to start school soon and the added stress of preparing them for in the mornings will be something I will once gain need to get used too.  I’ts not bad seeing that they get to get out of the house and socialize a bit more. Anyway, this post is supposed to be about my new job right? Well, its going great. I’m learning quite a bit and hope to move up the ladder. Losing my last job was pretty devastating as I was so sure I would nail it and stick around for a while. It took me months to recover from the loss and the things I thought I had lost in the way of my career. Now I’m convinced that I’m in a way better place. My aunt works for the company as well and has been there for a few years. It isn’t so bad working with family.  As I continue working here I hope that things get better. For now I’m answering phones and paying my dues. Soon it will on to bigger and better things!

 

I am back….

Why the long absence  It was partly due to not having anything to write and partly that I couldn’t remember my password. But I am back and that’s what matters.

Meh

One word in that title…Meh. Is that a word really? Well, anyway thats how I feel right now. I am at a crossroad in life right now. No, not because I just turned 31 and am going through some sort of crisis. It’s mainly because I have realized that if you want something done you have to do it yourself.

 

For the most part its true. Relying on others to lend a helping hand or even be there when the promised they would and having them fail you each time gets kinda old. Well…no…it does GET old there isn’t anything kinda about it. I have not finished many things in my life and now I think its high time to start getting stuff done. PERIOD. Ok so where do I start? I have a bunch of things in mind (hence the crossroad) but I think I will be able to figure it out. Stop worrying about what other people think and take charge. I am afraid of taking the wrong path but the picture posted doesn’t have gray skies, just sunny and blue. It reminds me of the choices I have to make. They are not bad choices in themselves I think I’m just worried about picking the right one. There is just no way of telling.

 

Can I do it?

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I can do it?

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Will I do it?

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Should I do it?

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Yes! I can, will and should!

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Guitar

Just a quick post today about wanting to get back into learing how to play the guitar. A great friend of mine taught me a few basic things about it and I caught on quickly. Since she moved away to another state I have not had anyone else to teach me nor have I made the time. Also I usually relied on others to let me borrow their guitar since I was not sure if I invested in one it would be worth it. But like all nagging things in the back of your mind they just wont go away until you actually take the time to do them. So I am giving this another shot! I have found and electric guitar and amp that my sister is giving me and I am definitely going to learn  this time. Wish me well!

Concert

You know the bright lights, smoke, screaming girls, crowd surfing and drunk people who bless every concert? It was all there on January 26, 2011 when I attended the 30 Seconds to Mars concert at the Verizon Wireless Theater in downtown Houston. Despite the above mentioned it was a great show! I had seen 30stm before in Decemeber of ’09 and at that time I loved it! There was not as many people there and the performance was more intimate. My sister Brittany and I went to show in ’09 but we wanted to take Tonya but she had just had her baby. I can tell you though, that if Tonya had it her way that little baby would have been strapped into a sling and his first concert would have been that night.

By the way I did not mention that my sister has been in love with Jared Leto since she was 8 years old? It makes me laugh when I think back to the old days when we shared a room. Frequently I would buy those teeny bopper magazines and tear out all my favorite “crushes” and staple them to my wall. Jared Leto would be the only one I would leave attached to the book. He just was not my type. My sister noticed this atrocity and nearly had a heart attack.
“What are you doing?” She yelled at me one time as she picked up the magazine from the floor. Puzzled I looked at her and asked what she meant. “This guy is so cute.” She tore the picture out and placed it on the wall above her bed. I would have to look at it every time I walked into the room.

So I was very, very happy when I could take her to this concert. Being a fan of the band, I think that this is a rare instance when an Actor turned Musician really knows what he is doing. Give credit where credit is due. This also happened to be my sister in law’s first concert ever. needless to say all who went had a blast! It was a great show and not one I will forget.