Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everything's bigger? Really?

On November 20th we headed to Texas for an extended Thanksgiving break. We started out by flying to Midland, Texas where Bryce went to high school. Bryce was excited to get together with his friend Wes...but that smart man married a New Yorker and they were back east for the holiday. They very kindly let us stay at their house, however. Bryce was able to see some old friends. I got to eat some good food that I neither cooked nor cleaned up. (Eating out, the highlight of every vacation.) The boys got to play with other kids' toys. We all got to see 2 stuffed chimpanzees driving a zebra-drawn wagon. Who knows why.
Should you find yourself in Midland you can check it out in the Claydesta atrium - Claydesta being the name of an office building in downtown Midland. In case you are wondering, Midland, Texas is where baby Jessica fell down the well. She has since moved on. It is also the home of one of the teams featured in Friday Night Lights. They take their football seriously down there. And I mean frighteningly seriously. Bryce played football there so I have an inside source.
It is also (one of) the hometown(s) of George W. We saw a sign for some former residence of his, but we didn't check it out. So you can see that Midland is a pretty happening place.

New since Bryce lived there was the drive-in movie theater. We took the boys and saw Where the Wild Things Are and A Christmas Carol (the new one). Where the Wild Things Are was totally not worth it in my book. It is kind of a pretty movie to watch...but they took a kids' book and then had to come up with 1.5 hours of movie and did it pretty lamely in my opinion. Having a neglected-misunderstood-feeling child project his emotions and relationship problems onto a group of monsters just isn't that engaging. A Christmas Carol was really dark. Both literally and figuratively. I mean, I know the story, so I was fully expecting the ghosts and haunting visions of the past/future/etc...but Robert Zemeckis always brings in that creep factor. We spent a lot of time making lame jokes trying to keep the boys from having nightmares. Although Sawyer didn't seem to think it was scary. He kept saying "I like that mean guy! I love him!" whenever he saw Scrooge. Sawyer likes everyone and everything and everywhere...and every food. I think it was a bit scary for Will though. The boys both enjoyed playing on the swing set under the screen in the dark before the movie started, so they got the full drive-in experience. I wish drive-ins would make a come back. You can throw the kids in their pajamas, fill the car with treats, and not worry if the boys won't stop talking. Of course, you can't charge $7/person which is what they tried to do at home...because if I'm spending that kind of money I'm getting a babysitter and going to a real movie theater.


Here is the barren wasteland Midland itself. I'm pretty sure Midland, Texas is the exact opposite of my hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut. In every way possible.

(Picture courtesy of somebody whose road trip popped up in my google image search since I left my camera at home and we hadn't bought a substitute yet.)

After several days in Midland we traded in our rental car for a one-way rental car and headed to San Antonio. We got to San Antonio later than we had planned so we didn't see the Alamo or the river walk which were originally on our list. But we saw the Alamo the last time we were in town and I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed much so that was okay. And our real reason for going to San Antonio was to visit Sea World. After consulting with the boys about their life goals (Will wants to be a cowboy/pirate and Sawyer wants to be a lion), we decided we were fine to raid their college fund and hit up Sea World. Sawyer was free and Bryce and I got in at the kids' price thanks to an internet special, but even so our grand total for one day at Sea World was................$190...not including any food...and you can't bring in any food or beverage in case you were wondering. I had never been to Sea World so I think I was more excited about it and enjoyed it more than the boys.
We were there 5 minutes after the gates opened and spent the day running (literally, more than once) from show to show. We squeezed in the rest of the animals and the kid rides and fed the dolphins. At the end of the day we still hadn't seen the penguins so we took off to the other end of the park and, on our way, passed the entrance to the park's biggest roller coaster. Bryce ran in right as they closed the gates for the night. So he got to ride the roller coaster and I got to stay with my 2 feet happily on the ground and watch the penguins. Poor Sawyer was very unhappy that they wouldn't let him ride the Shamu coaster. It's not his fault he got the short genes! On our way out of the park the kid area was totally empty. We let Will take the opportunity to go on the Shamu coaster over and over. Earlier in the day we had only let him ride it once because there was a long line. Poor Sawyer just sobbed and sobbed saying "I want to ride Shamu!" over and over. After Will had gone about 3 times the kid guarding the line asked if Sawyer was mad because he wanted to go on the ride. I said "Yes, but they told us he was too short." The kid said "I'll let him go." Yay for minimum wage 15 yr-old employees! So Sawyer's dream came true and he got to ride the Shamu ride. Will was in the first car and kept his hands up the whole time. Sawyer held on tight, but enjoyed it. Mom was surprised that it was actually a lot bumpier and faster than it looked from the ground!

We left as they were closing the gates so at least we squeezed every dime out of our admission price. All in all, Sawyer seemed to enjoy the animals (no surprise there) and Will spent most of the day whining for popcorn or ice cream or whatever he saw other kids with (also no surprise). Will was a big fan of the rides though.
Highlights included feeding the dolphins - with the low light that Will couldn't reach far enough over the side wall of the tank to touch them..and you are ABSOLUTELY NOT allowed to try to hold him up so he could reach farther.
(This would be 2 seconds before we were told that Will HAD to be on his stomach. Sorry.)
Other highlight: arriving early and sitting in the front row for the Sesame Street Live show...except from our close vantage point Will very quickly figured out that they were people in costumes, but he was still pretty excited when Abby gave him a high five at the end. Other low light: Will fell in the middle of the hanging net playground area and got his arm stuck up to his shoulder. I was watching from below and thought he was just being weird. I walked up a ramp to say hi to him and saw that he was sobbing. I told him to hold still and that Dad was coming. And Dad was coming. But as I mentioned Will was in the middle of the very long suspended play area consisting of nets connected by small tunnels. So Bryce had to climb through the entire thing to get to him and then all the way back out. We had a little crowd gathered by the time he got rescued. Very exciting.
An employee offered to take our picture...the people behind us in line kept laughing and finally someone pointed out that Will kept putting his hands in his pants. Nice one Will.

Other random San Antonio event. We stayed at a new hotel that had only been open for 6 weeks (thanks to hotwire). It was nice, but they were still working out a few things. Like the printer in the business center which wasn't actually hooked up to any computers. We would never have noticed such a thing except that we needed to buy and print out our internet Sea World tickets. When you tried to print you just ended up creating a file on the computer instead. In attempting to figure out what happened and why nothing had printed I discovered an entire list of files that other people had created while trying to print things. Including people's airline tickets, receipts for internet orders, and a 20 page military document marked "classified." All viewable to whoever clicked on them. Whoops! I'm still negotiating a price for the return of the military documents. Just kidding. I deleted them. I'm pretty much a national hero now. And it didn't look like anything interesting anyways...not that I looked at them.

Next stop, Katy, Texas.
We got to Katy the night before Thanksgiving and met up with Bryce's parents and 2 sisters at his parents' house. We stayed at a hotel and I decided it was lovely to go back to a cleaned up room with nicely made beds every night. What? You say I could have a cleaned up room and nicely made beds every night at my own house? How much would that cost me?

We went to the Houston Aquarium (which also, randomly, features a white tiger exhibit) and rode the ferry on Galveston Island. The Island looks a little freaky with the remaining hurricane aftermath. We let the kids play on the beach for a bit until Will fell in and got soaked and wanted nothing more to do with the beach.
Another day, we got together with one of Bryce's friends from Midland that I also knew because he lived at the Glenwood (apt. complex in Provo) the same year Bryce and I did.

The Flagship Hotel with a quarter of the exterior wall missing and all the windows blown out. The pier also has a gaping hole in it...but I don't know if that was hurricane damage or done purposefully afterward so that you can't get out to the hotel ruins. And seriously, it looks like super creepy ruins out there in the water. Much creepier than this picture makes it look. (Picture courtesy the internetz and google image search.)

On December 1st we flew out of Houston and back to Salt Lake. And I'm now a big fan of the travel-size AquaDoodle. It was a hit. The kids did well on the plane and the only time Sawyer cried was when we landed. He kept yelling "Do it again! Do it again!" and refused to get off the plane. I was carrying his car seat so Bryce had to come back on and drag him off. I took enough Dramamine that I made the trip without wanting to die...but it makes me very sleepy and kind of loopy so my apologies to all the ladies that had to see me in action at our Relief Society Christmas dinner that evening! I don't think I was thinking very clearly. We got off the plane to discover that our car which we had left with friends wouldn't start. We tried jumping it for the next two days, but then my Dad flew into town and fixed it all up for us with a new battery which solved the problem. He didn't fly into town just to fix our parents came for Megan's senior recital. Which shall be the subject of the next post.

This post brought to you by the word "creepy" and its variations.


Kerry B said...

This is going to be slightly bizarre, and I apologize for that.

Two years ago, while doing some "research" on the social scene at byu i, i came across your sisters blog. i read it and started to kind of follow it--it was before she married chad.

i accessed your blog and then fell in love with your two boys...travelocity gnome, "it not cheese", wills smart attitude, what's not to love??

so today, i was doing my monthly check in and read about your christmas break. my interested was piqued when i read that you were going to katy, texas--my hometown. wait, bryce's parents live in katy???? what's his last name??? Ott!! is his mother's name robyn (or however she spells it???) such a nice lady--she was our rs pres. both his parents were so sweet. his dad reminded me of mr mcfeely from mr rogers neighborhood!

anyway, you can block me now. :)

k boyce
currently trapped in wisconsin

ottspot said...

It is a small world. Yes, his mother's name is Robyn. I have been wondering where the hits from Wisconsin were coming from (I like to look at my google analytics for fun). Please feel free to keep reading and I never mind a comment!