Guadalupe River State Park is our first park that is far from the city. It’s great to be out of the hustle and bustle but we will be going into town two times in three days so it probably wasn’t my best choice. But it looks beautiful so it shouldn’t be so bad. When we arrived we set up the Airstream really fast and got back in the truck to head to town to look at the puppies I mentioned in the Austin Park II post. We fell in love with a little Pomeranian Chihuahua puppy only a few minutes after we got there. They gave us the lowdown on what to feed him and the name of their vet for a checkup and we bought the little guy! A dog! Can you believe it? We set off for Petsmart and bought food, puppy pads, a collar and leash, a food dish, toys and a bed. For only being 2.5 pounds, we his an expensive little guy. The best part was that the puppy was able to come in with us and just laid in my arms as we shopped. He even let some other people pet him.

Sunday was a lazy day for us. It was chilly outside so we just sat around watching movies and playing with our new pup. Before sunset we took turns riding our bikes down to the river for a little exercise and a chance to see this gorgeous park we were in. I called my mom to tell her about the pup (she doesn’t think the cats will like him) but she was happy about her new little fur grand baby. Late Sunday night we finally settled on a name for the puppy, Porter. We bounced around a lot of scientists and astronomy names, but felt that Porter rolled off the tongue a little better. Plus he’s black and we love beer. :)

We drove into San Antonio both Monday and Tuesday. We got to meet up with a friend from back home which was so much fun. It’s comforting to see a familiar face once in awhile. We went out to a vegetarian restaurant, Green Vegetarian Cuisine in the Pearl Brewing area with Jenna and Brian (and our pups). The food was amazing and it was ALL vegetarian. I got a cupcake to go which I plan to eat for breakfast tomorrow. We got ice cream for dessert at Lick. Their flavors were outrageous! But so incredibly delicious. We sampled caramel salt lick and pecans & cream. But we ended up getting a waffle cone with coconut chia chai and goat cheese/thyme/honey (and yes, it was delicious). This area of San Antonio is brand new and has several restaurants and lots of apartments. I would equate it to a smaller version of the North Loop (Minneapolis). Also while in San Antonio we got the chance to work at the WP Engine office down here. It’s much smaller than the Austin office and only houses about 10 employees. Everyone down here was so welcoming and also let Porter hang out for the day. He slept for most of it, including going to two restaurants where he just laid in his bag. I can’t believe he didn’t make a peep. We got to walk around the Riverwalk for a little bit, but it was pretty chilly and we needed to get back to pack up. The lights and the atmosphere of the River Walk are delightful. I wish we could have had more time, but West Texas was calling.

We slept in! Remember that part of Home Alone when the parents sleep in because their alarm clock shut off in the middle of the night? Well, that’s what happened to us this morning. My phone died during the night so we slept an extra hour. It really was the worst timing as we knew the roads were going to be awful today. What we didn’t know is how bad they were going to be. WOW! We shouldn’t have even left. We got about an hour down the freeway (after packing up quickly and eating my delicious mint chocolate cupcake from Monday), and the road turned into a skating rink. Travis was only driving about 40mph and we were still fishtailing when we hit bridges. They aren’t kidding when they put a sign ‘Bridge may ice when cold’ on EVERY bridge in the state. It was a scary, white-knuckled drive. We decided by about 2pm that we couldn’t make it to Big Bend today. We found an RV park, Hilltop RV off the freeway another 2 hours down the road and rolled in around 5:30. It was about 25 degrees by that point and had been for a few hours. Travis was freaking out about the pipes freezing. We got plugged in right away, turned on both heaters full blast, and tried to hook up to sewer and water. The problem with that was they were both frozen shut. The water was a no go; the entire outside pipe at the park was frozen. But Trav finally got the sewer pipe connected, with the addition of some boiling water. It was New Year’s Eve so we celebrated a little. We popped our bottle of champagne, but only drank a glass a piece before we fell asleep. The holidays have not been very exciting on this trip. We also opened a few letters because it was seriously the worst day of the trip so far. We have some amazing friends! The letters were perfectly timed and had such amazing things to say about us and sticking with the journey. We were both in tears while reading your words. Thank you Jackie, Todd, and Dani! You are amazing and we are so lucky to have you as friends!

We woke up every couple of hours to run water through the pipes and make sure Porter went to the bathroom. Nothing froze, but the temperatures were not warming up like they were supposed to. We arranged to stay at the park until 3:00. Trav worked, I did laundry, and we played with Porter until then. After getting the frozen contents of our sewer pipe thawed, we packed everything up and left without looking back. The funny part of this part of the trip was that the roads got 100% better about 30 minutes down the road. And about an hour down the road it was 40 degrees! We were literally dancing in the truck. There were so many high fives and yelps of success that we scared Porter a little bit. We filled up with gas in Alpine. Only one station had gas, and five did not. We didn’t think much of it. We should have. 😉 We made it down to Big Bend Resort & Adventures just after dark, checked in, and were sleeping not too much later.

We spent the next day (Friday) in the park, hiking trails and seeing the grandeur of the peaks and valleys of Big Bend; it was epic. As we drove up the mountain to the Chisos Basin Visitor’s Center, the clouds parted and in front of us were huge cliff faces. The pictures we took do not do it justice. We hiked the Basin Loop Trail and saw 6 deer within spitting distance. We got out the GoPro and shot some awesome footage. We were going to gas up before doing the Ross Maxwell Drive but when we got to the station in the middle of the park the attendant told us that power went out across the whole park and no gas stations in 200+ miles had gas because of the winter storm (that we had previously driven through). Yikes! We were already in the area of the Hot Springs and we knew we probably wouldn’t be able to get into the park again, so we put on our swimming attire and walked down the trail. The Hot Springs were right along the Rio Grande River, about 30 feet. The springs are a consistent 105 degrees and felt great. I almost forget about our predicament while we were soaking. We drove back to the RV park, where they were clearing people out of the hotel rooms because they would soon be running out of water, due to the water pump running on electricity. RVs were told they could stay, but they wouldn’t have any power and gas wouldn’t be delivered to the area until Tuesday (Jan 6th). We called our families to let them know what was going on. Good thing we did because by 8pm that night we had no cell service. We made some dinner and enjoyed a little wine before heading outside to check out the stars. Unfortunately, the one night when we don’t have ANY light pollution, the full moon is shining bright overhead. Just icing on the cake of this crazy day.

We hung out at the RV park all day. The good news is that it was a little warmer today. The park was pretty much cleared out (only about 12 RVs remained). By this point, people were starting to get a bit nutty — example, we went into the gas station to ask about filling up our propane (since this was also getting low, and the propane runs our heater) and there was this guy screaming at the owners about not having gas or propane and he was irate, swearing and shouting, because of it. It felt the the Zombie Apocalypse was underway… no joke. We took Porter for a walk around the RV park, it was surrounded by beautiful rock formations, so it wasn’t too bad. At around 2pm we went to the local cafe for a hot meal (not being sure when our next one would come along). Luckily, as we were leaving the gas station another guy walks in and says that a gas station about 20 miles from where we were had gas and to go now before they ran out. We hopped in the truck and coasted down the hills in neutral to conserve gasoline — we made it! They had gas and we filled up. We spent another chilly night at the Big Bend RV park and hit the road really early the next day to get the hell out of there. We decided to skip a few stops in New Mexico, due to potentially freezing temps again, and drove all day Sunday, January 4th to make it to Tucson, Arizona. We made it, unscathed, alive, albeit a little shaken up from the past week.

We did feel like we missed out on not seeing enough of Big Bend National Park and the sites in New Mexico. But we are already making plans for a trip down there in two years. There really is a lot of amazing sites to see in the southwest.