"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Palo Duro Canyon

We are on our way back from beautiful Palo Duro canyon, which is the second largest canyon in the U.S., after the Grand Canyon, and it was stunning. It is safe to say that I am falling in love with west Texas. I love the big skies, kind people and tidy little towns. This trip cemented my feelings. The canyon was gorgeous and Amarillo of the Amarillo-by-morning fame was so nice in a well maintained-retro kind of way. I'd move up there in a heartbeat.

We had talked about visiting Palo Duro canyon for a while, and I had always pictured us staying a hotel and visiting the canyon during the day and maybe picnicking. Then Nick suggested the crazy notion that we camp - with two babies! Now I like to think that I'm a good sport, after a fashion, so after a little complaining and balking, I agreed that we try it out with the proviso that we could leave and go to a hotel if we couldn't sleep or we got too dirty. It was only 2 nights too, so that was also comforting to this non camper.

We drove up Thursday afternoon and set up camp. Our campground was lacking in restrooms, but the views of the canyon made up for it.

We roasted hot dogs and made s'mores of course, and then believe it or not, everyone settled in and slept really well. Even the grown ups, who had forgotten to pack their queen sized air mattresses. I'd also like to point out that I've spent my entire life hating s'mores, but when I bought the ingredients I decided to get dark chocolate. It turns out that s'mores made with dark chocolate is the thing that has been missing from my life for the past 31 years.

The next morning we woke up early, made taquitos and then went for a four hour hike. We started on an easy trail and then moved to a moderate trail. We ended up bringing the wagon, and never had too much trouble using it, even on some of the steeper moderate parts of the trail. At most the girls had to get out and walk once or twice. I had Zoya in the Bjorn.

10 year marriage wisdom - always let Nick be the navigator. Navigation and map reading is just not one of my gifts.

We were able to stop off at a cave, which was kind of fun. The girls gave us their best growly bear faces.

I had a blast on the hike, and so did Nick... The little kids had fun, but also spent a fair amount of time tolerating it. Even Isla who I thought would be all over it since she loves bugs, nature walks, new experiences, bonding with her dad, and just going for any reason, gave us a lot of "ah, there's SO many bugs", "I'm tired.", "I'm bored.", "I'm scared! Will there be any bears?"; she was kind of a pill. And Gemma is 2, and a pill most of the time anyway. Thankfully one of Nick's superpowers is making frowns turn upside down. I love that about him, and it's safe to say we all had a lot of fun. PDC's most famous trail is to the lighthouse, which we thought might be too hard with three young kids. We walked over 4 miles and we are thinking, even with little girls being a little less than gung-ho, we might be able to do it with better planning next time. 

We had always planned to get into the car and head into Amarillo in the afternoon to hopefully get the littles to nap in the car and check it out. Once everyone was up, we stopped at CFA for some cold drink and an indoor playground.

Mission accomplished.

PDC is famous for its amphitheater overlooking the canyon and its nightly showings of Texas! In the summertime. We were definitely not going to miss it on our trip so I prebought tickets. We also decided to eat the BBQ dinner offered there before the show. It was nice to have one meal taken care of.

Gemma is really into horses.

Predinner dancing.

Morrrreeeee BBQ, mama!

After dinner we walked to the parking lot where the horses from the show were giving $5 rides. Luckily I had $10 in cash from Nick's Mema in my bag for the girls to do something fun with, so they were able to ride the horses. They were in heaven. Thank you Mema!

Postdinner, preshow dancing :).

The Texas! show didn't even start until 8:30, and we were all exhausted, so we just decided to do the best we could. Zoya started fussing about 30 minutes in and so I was up and walking around with her. Isla and Gemma did shockingly well and really seemed to enjoy it.

It started to rain at about 9:30, and we decided to head back to our tent. I'm so glad that we did because it ended up being a crazy thunder storm, and we had left our tent windows down. The girls were so tired that they fell asleep, "funder" (no longer bunder, sigh) and all very quickly.

Then morning came and we got up, had breakfast, and then a quick hike before we packed up and headed home. 

Both girls' faces crack me up in this one!

We made a quick stop off in Lubbock to have lunch with our friends Heather and Stephen, and we are home now. I can't wait to shower! 

It was just a 48 hour trip, but we loved it and had so much fun. Even the camping was a success and I'm up for trying it again. I'm officially in love with the Texas panhandle and I can't wait to get back! My family agrees.

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