Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cheers to Ten Years!

Eric and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last month!  We celebrated the way we celebrate all things, with a low key dinner out, fancy champagne, and exchanging cards (cards are our thing and I've saved every single one we've ever given each other).  It was a perfect evening, but 10 whole years of adventures as a little family is a special milestone... and I couldn't help but feel that this anniversary deserved a bit more celebrating.

I've mentioned before (on probably every blog post I've written since moving here) that we aren't all that happy in this area of the world that we currently live.  That doesn't mean we aren't going to explore and experience every little facet of this area of the world that we possibly can while we're here, it just means that we won't make an effort to come back if we don't have to (and we really hope we don't have to).  And so far, I feel like we've done a pretty good job of exploring all the things!  Almost none of it has made it onto this little blog of mine these last couple of years, but we really have seen all that this area has to offer, from hiking, to being involved in our community, to regular day trips, we've really seen a LOT!!

It is our dream someday to wake up in a different national park every few weeks.... but because Eric is fully committed to his career and Isabelle is still in high school, that someday is a bit further than we'd like it to be.  But we aren't ones to just to sit around waiting for all the experiences we want to experience to come to us, even if they don't look like that dream we're working really hard towards, we will still joyfully run towards all adventures every chance we get and not wait a single second longer than we need to!  

So spending the night in Big Bend National Park is the bestest way for a couple like us to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary!

Eric is actually standing on a cliff overlooking both America and Mexico. 

That's a coyote!  The mascot of my alma mater is a coyote!  So that means I'm a coyote too and we're best friends! 

Eric and I are nooooot desert people.  At least not the kind of desert that is in and around El Paso.  Our souls belong in the mountains.  Any mountains, anywhere, we don't care, just put us somewhere where we have to look upwards and walk uphill to do anything.   

We left home early in the morning for our anniversary trip and once we got to Big Bend we kept driving.  We drove throughout the whole entire park stopping every so often to take pictures.  Since we were driving along the border of America and Mexico and in and out of the Chisos Mountain range (the only mountain range in the U.S to be fully contained within the boundary of a national park), we didn't have cellphone service, which is pretty much the best combination ever - mountains + no cell service - because if you know Army life, you know that a Soldier's phone never. stops. dinging.

There is a lot to do, see, and hike in Big Bend National Park, but we were a little bit limited on time because we had made plans for the evening and had already taken up too much time aimlessly wandering around the park, so we decided to pick just one thing to hike to and explore which was to the Boquillas Hot Springs.

There was an older man standing literally just off to the side of this picture waiting patiently for me to get my picture taken so that he could go find peyote plants to harvest. 

The hardest part of the Hot Springs Trail was the drive to the trail head.  Once we turned off the main road onto the gravel road that lead to the trail it was just a 2 mile or so drive, but it was rough, very very rough, and at times narrow.  A big dually probably wouldn't be able to make it through, and RV's and trailers aren't even allowed at all, making the hike that little bit longer, but once you get to the actual trail, it's easy peasy.  This particular trail was a 1.4 mile loop trail with no gain in elevation.  It was the easiest hike I've ever done, so easy that I'm not sure I'd consider it a hike at all.  

But worth it!  So worth it anyway!

The trail starts at the old historic district which was a resort area developed in the early 1900's when the developer heard of the healing powers of the hot springs.  It's long been abandoned, but once you make that rough drive to the parking area, you become amazed, and even amused, at how anyone could have accessed this little resort one hundred years ago, or how anyone would have even know that it was there at all.

I felt grateful to be seeing and experiencing it.

The Boquillas Hot Springs grocery store that operated from 1942-1952. 

 Early 1900's resort cabins

The Rio Grande and Mexico 

The Hot Spring is considered fossil water - ancient water that has been contained in an undisturbed space, like an aquifer, for millennia.  

If that isn't just the coolest thing ever!

The Rio Grande was at a higher than usual level, although not flooded, which tends to happen, and it was extremely muddy, so the Hot Spring was muddier than usual from the overflow.  It's said that the minerals in the Spring have healing powers for both the body and soul, but I had zero desire to get in and soak when I saw how muddy it was.  None.  Ew.  No thanks.  My soul is a germaphobe and muddy minerals aren't going to heal that.  But there were a lot of people we met that day who did and loved it, it just wasn't appealing to me seeing how muddy it was.  The consistent temperature of the Spring is 105° but the Rio Grande was significantly colder!  Especially at this time of year - the river water was freezing!  
It was really really cool to feel the drastic difference in temperatures even though they were in the same body of water.  The Hot Spring was hot!  Very hot!  It takes a minute to be able to hold your hand in the water for very long because of how hot it is.

The hot spring! 

Eric and I had thought about crossing the border at the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry, we even brought our passports so that we could, but because we stopped so much to take pictures along the way, we were cutting it a little too close to get back over the border again before the crossing station closed, so we decided to turn around and head to our hotel instead.

When planning our trip I figured that we couldn't celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in just any ol' hotel... we needed to celebrate big and in the most authentic way for a national park as possible! (Except not authentic like camping in a tent.  I had one of the worst experiences of my life tent camping when I was about 12 years old and I will never ever sleep in a tent ever again.)  So what better way to spend a night in Big Bend National Park than to spend it in a...



Eric and I spent the night in a fully furnished teepee!  We had everything a person could need - wifi, a small fridge, wine, heat, coffee maker, just about everything... except, a bathroom.  Our teepee was at the end of the camp which gave us more privacy and is why I booked that particular one, but we had to walk just a teeny bit to the bathhouse.  We knew that none of the teepee's had private bathrooms and that the bathhouse was a shared space when we booked it, so we weren't bothered by not having our own bathroom in the least.

The bathhouse had two separate and large showers that were clean and beautiful and fancier than we're used to with an extra large shower head for two people showering together (wink, wink).  Everything was seriously so. cool.  The actual teepee was bigger than it looked from the outside with a queen sized bed, futon, and two chairs for seating.  It was so warm and cozy and comfortable.   

It could not have been more perfect!

For dinner, Eric and I went into the Ghost Town to their most well-known restaurant, only to find that they were closed for the evening for a private event.  We had stalked their menu beforehand and knew exactly what we wanted to eat, so we were sooooo buuuuumed that they were closed the one night we were there.  

Our luck.  

So we had to find a different restaurant to eat at who's menu we didn't get a chance to pour over and went there having no idea what we wanted, like a couple of bums.  But we didn't let any of that ruin our evening.  By the time we were figuring out where to eat, we were beginning to feel the day in our legs anyway, and just wanted to eat something and go back to the teepee to relax.  As long as we got food in our tummies, it didn't really matter where we went.

Or at least that's what we told ourselves to stop from being super disappointed.

After our bellies were full of hamburgers and beer, we went back to relax by watching the sun set behind the Chisos Mountains until the stars came out.  

We could have started a small campfire in their fire pit if we wanted to, but decided it was more work than it was worth, especially since we knew we weren't going to stay up too late.  I know that a campfire would have added to the whole experience of the day and night, but we were just too sleepy.  And frustratingly, I had spent a large chunk of time after dinner trying my damnedest to get a picture of the glowing teepee under the stars and bright moon.  I had my tripod all set but was never able to figure out the needed settings on my camera to get a good picture.  I haven't been taking pictures like I used to so I am rusty, but being rusty on top of already being an amateur is just a whole level of frustration that I was too tired to deal with.  So I gave up getting the pictures I wanted and was very sure that we didn't want to mess with starting a fire by the end of all that, otherwise I would have thrown both my camera and tripod right into it.  

After the best sleep of our lives, we woke up earlier than usual since Big Bend is in a different time zone than our home, so we were first to the bathhouse and then made coffee as we watched the sunrise.  The scenery was unobstructed and breathtaking, every time we looked up at the mountains they looked different.  It was peaceful... and perfect.

We spent our trip together reflecting on 10 years of marriage and decided that we still couldn't explain how marriage works or what the secret is (or if there even is one).  Eric and I are not perfect people and have arguments, disagreements, and annoyances just as I assume everyone does, but for us, marriage has never once been hard.  Not ever.  

Life though, yes.  

Life gets brutal.  And messy.  

My husband, daughter, and I have seen our fair share of excruciating and absolutely unfair moments throughout our decade of sharing this path the Lord has made for us.  But being together is where we find refuge, and we just like each other.  A really lot.  And in all ways for always.

But spending the night in a teepee in a national park is as close to knowing what the true secret of a happy marriage is as we've ever found.

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