Wrapping Up 2016

A camping Christmas trip with our family ended 2016 in a delightful way!

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2016 is now in the “books,” and 2017 has already seen our first snow of the winter season and of the new year.  Thankfully, it was nothing like the mega storm that introduced 2016 to us, and we only received about an inch this time.  My back starts hurting just looking again at some of the photos from last January and remembering all the snow Hubby and I shoveled for three straight days.  Ugh!

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Girly Girl had lots of fun in the foot of snow we received the first week of January in 2016.
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The foot of snow caused lots of issues for the next two weeks in our city and area, but it was so very pretty, too.

It’s been several weeks since my last post, but all is well, good in fact.  I just took a little break to enjoy the Christmas season and take a few things “off my plate” for a bit.  I also had more holiday prep work to do this year, due to our ten day Christmas and New Years trip to the mountains of far West Texas.

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Spending “golden hour” at the top of Skyline Drive on Christmas Evening with my family is a precious memory now.  We captured some great photos of family and scenery here.
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Sunset at Davis Mountain State Park on Christmas evening with historic Indian Lodge in the distance was absolutely gorgeous.  We had the view all to ourselves, something I will always remember fondly.  This was literally the last ray of sunshine on Christmas Day. 😉

 

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The Belt of Venus is always so beautiful in this area, and it was lovely once again on Christmas evening.

All our kids joined us for a long Christmas weekend in the Davis Mountains, and they all departed for home on Tuesday afternoon after lunch, driving to El Paso together then catching their respective flights.  It was a most enjoyable holiday for me, and I think for all of us.  After all, what mama doesn’t like to have all her kiddos with her for the holidays?

We secured our daughter and son-in-law a room at the historic Indian Lodge (see photos below) during their stay, which was just a mile away from our RV in the state park, and our son stayed with us in the RV.  With all the additional space inside now, as compared to our previous RV, we were all quite comfortable, even with the dogs who slept on their nice, new beds next to him.

By cooking some dishes ahead of time, I was able to serve all our favorite holiday foods in the RV… tamales for Christmas Eve, sausage toasts and eggs for Christmas morning, and ham, turkey, cornbread dressing, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and yeast rolls for Christmas dinner.  We even enjoyed a Christmas morning picnic together at our site for breakfast, which was a real treat!  Truly, the weather was gorgeous the entire week we were there.

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Our festive picnic table at our site for Christmas.  Snoopy and Woodstock helped to light up the holiday nights at our site, along with three mason jar lanterns on the table.

 

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It was a real treat to have a visit from several mule deer late each afternoon during our vacation week, with our first visit on Christmas Day!  We also saw several javelina at our campsite on our first night, as well as some great birds all over the park during our stay.

Following our picnic breakfast, we opened gifts inside the RV in our comfortable living area, which was so much fun.  As usual, the dogs each had a gift of their own to start things off, and I can say that we all received some very nice gifts.  My family was especially good to me, but the real treat for me was just having everyone together for a few days of fun.

The weather was gorgeous in far West Texas the entire week we were there, which certainly helped make our trip more manageable and truly enjoyable.  We even ran our air conditioner for a bit on a few afternoons, too.  I’m sure some friends may think we’ve lost our minds spending the holidays in our RV, but we enjoyed our time in the Davis Mountains with our family more than anything we’ve done for the holidays in many years.  With all the cooking done ahead of time, meals were easy and tasty with minimal clean-up needed afterward, leaving quality time for visiting, hiking and playing games together.

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My long, long shadow during a walk in the park late on Christmas afternoon.  I feel so at home here now and have even entertained the thought of retiring in this very remote area that holds some family history for me.

After the kids left, Hubby and I enjoyed a few days all by ourselves, followed by two days with two friends who made their first trip to the area for the New Year’s weekend in their RV, the same friends we’ve started traveling with a bit over the past year.  We enjoyed showing them around, and they also spent some time on their own at the McDonald Observatory, which we have seen many times on previous trips.  Hubby and the friends hiked from the state park to the national park, and I picked them up there after we all toured the fort area together on New Years Eve.

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We always enjoy a quick visit to the national park in Fort Davis.  Just before our trip, I also learned that a family member, now deceased, actually lived at this fort for a time when he was a young boy!

Our holiday trip was pretty much perfect for us, spending time both with family and friends, as well as quality time alone.  We even made new friends, a couple close to our age that just recently started their full-time RV journey, and we exchanged contact information with them.  It was delightful to visit with them off and on all during our vacation week.

Hubby and I opted to dine out a little more on this trip because there are some really good restaurants in town.  Rumor has it we dined at our favorite Mexican food restaurant three times during our week in the area and that our waitress knew what we wanted to order as soon as we sat down on our second and third visits.  We dined there on the evening we arrived with our son, for lunch with all the kids on Tuesday before they left, and again with our friends on New Year’s Eve.

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Cueva De Leon is our favorite restaurant in the area with the best chips and salsa and chile rellenos to die for! 🙂

We also dined at three other restaurants in town during our stay, which was a nice treat for us.  All were very good, and two were new to us.

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We ate lunch at Poco Mexico for the first time… yummy!
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We made a return visit for burgers at the Fort Davis Drug Store and Hotel.  My green chile and Swiss cheese burger with homemade onion rings was awesome!
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We enjoyed delicious panini sandwiches at The Porch, a new restaurant for us that serves breakfast and lunch and is part of the historic Hotel Limpia.

(On a side note, I couldn’t disagree more with the Trip Advisor restaurant ratings for Fort Davis restaurants, especially the #1 pick listed right now.  We’ve tried that place twice and are not at all impressed with it.  We won’t try again.  In our opinion, after many trips to the area, Cueva De Leon is by far the best in town.) 

Hubby and I also drove to both Alpine and Marfa on separate drives.  We had to make a quick trip to Alpine with our son on Christmas Eve morning in search of a new coffee pot, after ours unexpectedly died on us.  Thankfully, we found one at the big hardware store, the last one on the shelf, because we would have had a crisis on our hands without a coffee pot!

Our scenic drive to Marfa on an overcast day after the kids left was nice, and we saw the pretty courthouse there, along with the historic Hotel Paisano and the whimsical El Cosmico campground south of town.  On their drive back to El Paso, the kids stopped for photos at Prada Marfa, too.

Hubby and I also enjoyed a Thursday evening presentation at Indian Lodge where the hotel manager told us all about the history of the lodge from the CCC era to date, and she also pointed out several of the original furniture pieces from that time period, marked by the metal strappings at the bottom of each one.  It was a nice evening with other hotel guests and campers, complete with hot cider and cookies by a warm fire inside.

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I’ve seen this beautiful table at Indian Lodge on each trip to the area, but it was interesting to learn that it is one of the original pieces from the CCC era.

She also shared that Indian Lodge will close in September 2017 for four months for exterior resurfacing, just in case anyone is planning a trip to the area and would like to stay there.

The week prior to our trip was a fun and busy week, too.

Prior to Christmas, I also hosted my second annual cookie swap on the Monday evening before Christmas.  It was a big success once again, with two new participants this year, in addition to those returning from last year’s swap.  This year, we actually decorated cookies together for the first time, and it was so much fun, even though it was more prep work for me.  I think we will have to keep doing this in future years, if only for the laughs… which were many!  Those ladies pretty much destroyed my kitchen decorating cookies, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

After the cookie swap, I was able to provide some awesome cookie platters to my elderly neighbor, to Hubby’s side of the family during our evening together the next night and to the state park staff on Christmas Eve morning, while also saving lots of cookies for my family to enjoy during our trip, too.

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Christmas cookies are a tradition with us, and swapping cookies with friends makes the tradition even more special.  This tray included cowboy cookies, snickerdoodles, holiday thumbprints, peanut butter with chocolate kisses, cardamom cream cheese cookie press cookies and decorated star sugar cookies that we all decorated together.  I also made a few other types of cookies not shown here, including oatmeal with fresh cranberries and chocolate chip, and I totally hoarded the white chocolate and cranberry cookies that one of the new ladies brought to the exchange!

Just before we departed on our Christmas trip, we spent a delightful evening with Hubby’s side of the family on Tuesday evening, including some family members from the Dallas area.  The big home-cooked meal was a real treat for all of us during those last busy days before Christmas, with meatloaf served as the main entrée.  It was our first opportunity to gather together in our nephew’s new home with his precious wife and girls, and they were good sports to host everyone while still in the process of moving in.  They wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t have an opportunity to celebrate a friends Christmas with my two special friends here before we left on our trip, but we are hoping to finally get together one evening this week.  I have grown accustomed to this fun tradition over more recent years and definitely missed our fun gathering.

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all the best in 2017!

 

Author: DK

Blogger at My Five Fs (Faith - Family - Food - Fotos - Fun) and Animal Wonder. Empty-nester that now shares life with my hubby and our two standard poodles. Enjoys camping in our RV, taking and editing photos, trying new low-carb recipes, baking pretty decorated cookies for special occasions, walking daily, spending time with family and friends when we can, playing with the dogs, and is grateful to God for every single day of this blessed life and for the opportunity to share and connect with some great people here.

10 thoughts on “Wrapping Up 2016”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas holiday and I can so relate about being a happy mama surrounded by her kids. You make the prettiest cookies that are no doubt yummy. Love the ‘Frozen Texas’ tweet in your sidebar. I may just have to use that photo in an upcoming post. Last weekend was brutally cold.
    I finished reading Chip and Joanna’s book before Christmas and now have a real desire to visit Waco and the Silos LOL. It’s dangerous watching their show … makes me want to start ripping things apart in this RV 😅 Here’s to a wonderful new year filled with lots of RV excursions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I finally got your comment out of moderation. Sorry it took me a bit to figure out how to do it because it actually didn’t show up in my notifications. I saw it via my email but then had to finally go all the way into my settings to grab your comment and post it. Ugh. That’s never happened before.

      We had such a wonderful Christmas vacation with the kids. I know you can relate! Thanks for the cookie compliment, too. We had so much fun at the decorating party. Isn’t that Frozen pic cute? Thankfully, this winter (so far) hasn’t been bad at all.

      I also read The Magnolia Story in December, and I’m trying to conjure up a girls trip out to the silos. I’m hearing there are long lines just to get in? Parking is a nightmare? I would love to go there and to Ree Drummond’s new store in Oklahoma, too. Gosh, I loved that book and love watching Fixer Upper. Hubby is getting nervous about me watching it so much because our house could use a bit of updating. I chuckled at you wanting to start tearing the RV apart! lol Enjoy your time in my fair state. Guessing you will be moving along at the end of January.

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      1. Yeah, WordPress does some weird things from time to time. Gosh, how I would love to do a gals trip to the Silos and the Merc. I’ve been making Ree’s strawberry oatmeal bars like crazy lately (changing up the filling). Have you seen the shower curtains out there that look like barn doors? Totally cute! We’re in Rockport this year until the end of February. Hmm, might have time to redecorate …. oops, hubby is sweating. Not something he wants to hear LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We went to Waco several years in a row for high school marching band competitions at the old Baylor stadium. I like that town and the area. I’m sure Fixer Upper has increased visitors there, too. I’m scared to look at the website for the Merc… Need to hide the credit card before taking that on! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you had a lovely holiday season. Good on you!

    I have to say thanks to you for your recommendation 2 years ago that we stop at Davis Mountains SP — that truly is a special place and seeing your photos now reminded me of our stay. Even though I was under the weather when we were there we did get out to walk around a bit, and check out the high spots and it’s a visit we’d love to repeat even if we have to do it at the lodge instead of the campground.

    I can sympathize with your feelings about particular TripAdvisor ratings. I often scratch my head over why some places with few mediocre reviews can be rated higher than others with oodles of superior reviews. I have often wondered if there isn’t some sort of pay-for-positioning going on but no one has ever said, or admitted to such. My solution has been to trust the reviews more than the ratings —and to realize that not all reviews are legit. Some are nothing more than sour grapes. Others are obviously phony — which is to say, written by the management (as in stellar reviews posted by some viewer profile with only 1 review to their credit). But I also make a point of visiting the resto / hotel website to see whether the review seems appropriate to the website.
    Clearly there are reviews written by a lot of folks a great deal younger than ourselves. It’s their generation’s “THING” to review everything, perhaps more than yours or mine. Clearly someone with pre-school kids would rate a resto differently than I might. Clearly someone with little dining experience in only a few restos might see something as superior that to my mind might be just average. So I look at the reviews for telltale clues as to how valid I might feel them to be.
    Also I look at the reviews of restos above and below on the ranking scale from the one I’m interested in. In Milwaukee a couple of the highest rated places are nothing more than ice cream (oops…. “custard”) stands and hardly restaurants at all. Fast food chains seem to rate higher universally than I would ever rate any of them. Etc., etc.. You need to take into consideration TripAdvisor’s purpose which I think is more about helping people who travel LESS rather than being an exhaustive guide for those who travel MORE. Just one opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We *did* have a good holiday week, and I hope you and Peg enjoyed your first Christmas in your new home, too!

      The problem with reviews like that in a tiny little town is how they can be impacted by just a few review ratings from a few people. The place in question *may* actually have really good food, too. The problem we’ve run into now on two separate trips is just getting food… a deli sandwich! We waited 30 minutes on this last trip before we finally bailed and left, just as we did on a previous trip. When I went up to pay for the drinks and one little bag of chips we had already consumed, the guy *finally* noticed we didn’t have our food and apologized. But, considering we were only two of about ten people in the whole place, I have to wonder. Also, I will probably never post a review anywhere, and I’m sure there are others like me. In fact, I don’t actually post reviews there either. So, I guess I should… should don’t want to. Our little Mexican food restaurant is definitely the most visited restaurant in town, with the other one we tried also being popular for lunch.

      Indian Lodge will be closed starting in September for a major facelift. A company from New Mexico is coming in to do the work and should take about four months. The restaurant will be open, but that’s it. If you should find yourselves wanting to visit this fall… a *great* time to be in the area… let me know, and I will give you some other suggestions. It’s absolutely gorgeous there when all the fall flowers are out after the monsoon rains. Glad you were able to pay a quick visit there earlier. We have taken lots of family and friends to this area in more recent years, and everyone single one has loved it. We are good tour guides? lol We keep driving around in our spare time to find more hidden treasures, and we did so again this time. I finally found the headstones of some family members… just not the ones I was looking for. I don’t think Hubby would have to twist my arm to find a second little home there that we might could just retire to in the future, but much of what I love there is the state park, too. Maybe camp host there sometime in the future??? hmmm

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would encourage you to review places. I think TA wants 100 characters per review so it’s not a terrible lot of words. Dunno…. think I’ve done a couple hundred or so by now. For me it’s worth the little time it takes to help others. And maybe to counteract others who look at different aspects. Commenting on slow service is a legitimate issue. I think. If they want business they ought to behave in such a way as to warrant customers.

        I doubt we’ll get to DMSP this year. I suspect other things will supersede West Texas for us.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We were all so glad that the weather actually cooperated this year! Hubby and I were beginning to wonder if we would ever enjoy our lovely week after Christmas here again. Two years ago, we were dealing with Mom in the hospital and in her last days, and last year… well… snow kept us from even leaving home. I also wanted the kids to have good weather for their three hour drive back to the airport in El Paso, and surely wanted clear roads for our RV trip. God is good… it was pretty much all perfect! 😀 I love your photos, too. Have you received much snow this year?

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