So, I got up yesterday and planned to post the final installment of our whirlwind trip, but I just couldn’t bring myself to edit any more photos or stare at my computer screen. But I’m here today to wrap up our series of unfortunate events. 🙂
We had our day in San Antonio on Tuesday. Late that afternoon we drove to New Braunfels to spend a couple of days with friends there. We had a truly delightful time with Cory and Whitney and their three kiddos. On their property is an old German-style cabin with a living room, small kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom. It was just about the most charming thing I’ve ever seen.
The city of New Braunfels is apparently quite the safe haven for deer. They are virtually over-run by them. And they are extremely bold in how close they will get to you. New Braunfels/San Antonio were/are in a severe drought and hadn’t had rain in nearly a year (tuck that in the back of your mind, as this detail will be important later). It seems that this is part of the reason for the boldness of the deer. Anyway, they were everywhere and would get close enough you could almost feed them by hand.
You can see our cabin in the back ground on the right, for a perspective on how close they would get to people. This photo was taken at the same time as the one above, so Matt was standing on the porch while this deer was in the yard.
So, Tuesday night we just relaxed and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Cory and Whitney. I hadn’t laughed that hard or that much in a long time. On Wednesday, Whitney took us on a tour of local hot spots. First up was the quaint little town of Gruene. Like the cabin, I’m not sure when I’ve seen a place more charming.
Matt, busted for abandoning Whitney and myself to seven children in a toy store.
Ellie enjoying a marble maze
We spent the morning strolling through the little town, the girls picked up trinkets at the general store (including Emma’s choice: a bow and arrow set, complete with bowie knife), and we ate lunch at the Gristmill. The forecast for the day had been 40% chance of rain (take notes, as once again, this detail will be important later), and we got showered on briefly while dining on the patio at the Gristmill, but other than that, they day was glorious.
That afternoon, Whitney took us all to “the island”. Apparently, with their property comes access to an private island on the Comal River. And, once again, it was unlike anything we’d ever seen before.
Riding the golf cart to the island.
At the Comal River
Ellie refused to get in because we didn't bring her floatie ring. Her loss.
Ellie's brief foray into the water.
Grace jumping off the diving board into the river.
Sylvie (Cory & Whitney's daughter)
Emma walked out to the end multiple times but never would jump off. She didn't like the fish swimming under the diving board. No, she doesn't take after her mother at all. (Dont't ask me how I feel about swimming in lake water.)
Rett jumping in.
I was also blessed to get to meet another Facebook / blogging friend in real life. Abby brought her kids out to the island and we had the chance to meet and visit. Getting to meet so many people on this trip was definitely one of the highlights!
At some point int he afternoon, the kids found a turtle and decided to build it a home in the sandbox. I’ve never felt so sorry for a turtle in all my life.
The poor, helpless turtle that the kids tried to "help" for much of the afternoon.
Bridger observing the construction of the turtle habitat.
About half of the kids working on the turtle habitat. They just kept adding more and more water and more and more features.
Wednesday night, as we sat around the table with Cory and Whit, the topic of Sea World came up. I was lobbying hard for it and Matt was reluctant. His points were extremely valid – we were all exhausted, it would mean another day added to the trip, it was rather expensive, etc. My points were that we wouldn’t be this close to a Sea World again for quite a while, the girls had just finished up a year of studying about sea creatures in school, and they had been looking forward to it ever since someone (not me) mentioned at dinner a month before that we would be going to an amusement park. Ahem.
Thursday morning we got up and the discussions of Sea World began again. We remained divided on the issue, but eventually Matt
caved came around and bought the non-refundable tickets. We woke the girls up without telling them our plan for the day and immediately began loading up the truck. Everyone was tired and grouchy but I kept telling myself it would all be fine once we got to Sea World. Right????
The forecast for the day was a 50% chance of thunderstorms, but we had been seeing that all week, so surely it would be fine.
Because Sea World San Antonio has a water park inside, we put on swim suits and sundresses (Matt didn’t wear a sundress) and the girls couldn’t figure out for the life of them why we were wearing swim suits to drive home.
We managed to get the entire truck packed and girls loaded up by 9 am, with the goal of being to the park by the time the gate opened at 10. We strapped our luggage on top and re-duct taped the carrier before heading out. The girls snuggled back in to their pillows and blankets and, I’m guessing, mentally prepared for the long drive home.
It’s worth pointing out here that New Braunfels is about an hour closer to Kansas than Sea World is, so in going to Sea World, we were actually making a longer drive home for ourselves. But it was going to be worth it! Oh the memories we were going to make that day! At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
So we started to head south toward San Antonio. As we were driving the sky became very ominous, having a distinct green color to it. Being from Kansas, a green sky typically only means one thing – tornadoes.
We are all very quiet at this point. I’m starting to feel rather sheepish and silently, fervently, praying that the weather will turn and God will redeem the day. I can only imagine what Matt is thinking, but I’m confident it’s not very flattering toward me.
The closer we get to Sea World, the worse the weather gets. First rain starts to fall, then the wind really starts to pick up. I watch the indoor thermometer on the truck and the outside temperature drops nearly 15 to 20 degrees as we’re driving. Heavy, heavy rains begin to fall, along with hail. Whitney is texting us weather updates and finally calls, saying the news is saying tornadoes (what’d I tell you?) and severe weather all morning. ** heavy sigh**
At this point I suggest pulling off the highway until some of the weather passes because I’m honestly concerned that the wind is going to rip our suitcases right off the top of the vehicle. But, in keeping with our Griswold theme, we kept right on trucking.
I call the Sea World hotline to discuss the possibility of getting a refund on our tickets. The woman on the other end is sympathetic but unmovable in regards to their no refunds policy. Our moods are now about as gloomy as the sky outside.
We pull up to the gate at Sea World a few minutes before the gate is scheduled to open. A handful of cars have already lined up at the entry. As 10 o’clock comes and goes, Matt says dryly, “This is starting to look familiar.”
The moment when I was genuinely concerned Matt was going to go "Clark Griswald" on me.
As we wait, we see a couple of school buses come out, full of children. This is not a good sign. After a few more minutes, a couple of cars give up and turn back. A couple of other cars go in through the open Exit gate to see what’s going on. We follow them.
Inside, the security guard says that Sea World is closed for the day. Matt said later he contemplated pulling out a water gun and insisting that the guard take us to see Shamu, but he restrained himself.
And so, an hour further from home than when we started, we turned back. On the one hand, we had done the right thing (in my mind) by the girls and at least tried to go to Sea World. On the other hand, we were now out more time and a lot of money with nothing to show for it.
We drove silently north, trying to make the best of things. Once the rain lifted enough that I could actually hear myself think, I made another attempt at calling Sea World. I told the nice woman our sob story and, eventually, she was able to refund our money. Thank you, Lord
The whole way home I felt like I was waiting on that last bit of disaster. The icing on the cake would truly have been for the luggage to blow off the top of my truck. At this point in the trip, it may have even been funny. Fortunately, the Lord didn’t see fit to stretch our senses of humor that far and the luggage stayed firmly attached the whole way home.
On the way home, we stopped back in Austin to return beach chairs to our friends that loaned them to us for Port A. Then we stopped for an early dinner with great friends Dan and Laurie near Dallas and dessert with another family of friends Jamie and Julianne. At 9:30 on Thursday night, we got into the Sequoia and Matt was finally able to push the “Home” button on the GPS. At 4:30 Friday morning, we finally pulled into our driveway and dragged ourselves up to our beds. Home never felt so good.
A lot of things went wrong on our Texas Tour and it would be easy to focus on that. But we had a wonderful time as well. Matt got to see friends he hadn’t seen in 20 years; I was able to meet “friends” I only knew through his stories and Facebook. We spent a lot of time as a family and shared a lot of experiences and, without a doubt, this is a trip we will all remember for a very very long time and I’m truly thankful for every last bit of it.
Oh yeah...we also saw this big guy up close and in person our last night in NB. Wouldn't have missed that for the world! 😉
For God’s Glory ~