Monday, November 14, 2016

Veteran's Day Hike

 On Veteran's Day our family spent almost the entire day outside. Mike picked a hike called "Marshall's Gulch" up on Mt. Lemmon and it was absolutely beautiful. It was a nice crisp 48 degrees up there, so we felt a bit chilly which is nice while hiking.
 The kids did great! Thanks to Mike's endless supply of army gear, both kids are outfitted in Camo Camelbacks, compasses and magnifying glasses.
 Mmm. Look at that Handsome Veteran on Pride Rock. Actually you can't see it very well in this picture, but the rocks look like stacks of pancakes, thus we called them "Pancake rocks". Originality is our strong suit. Evie decided to give a nickname to the nickname Pancakes and call them "Panies". She kept referring to  them: "Hey Daders, can we go climb the panies?"
Wyatt was finally released from the pack and he immediately started running away. 
 Rosy cheekies!
 Such a sweet day. There were a few art students up at the top of the hike attempting to do some calm nature drawings. Then we Nulks showed up and ended that dream real quick. I think we scared the artists away. Sorry Artists!
 On top of the "panies".
 Hiking machines. This was a 2.5 mile round trip hike at 8,000 ft which was just about what Evie can handle with minimum complaining and maximum snack bribery.
 Gabe cracks me up with all the lime green accessories. He kept saying, "Wow Mom, this is good explorer training. Am I hiking good? Mom, you're a fast hiker"(bless him).
The last of the fall color. 
 I think Gabe is going to be taller than me by middle school!

 A 45 min wait for a cookie at the Cookie cabin? Wyatt is expressing how we all feel. We're with you WyWy.

Apparently U of A got Veteran's day off too because there were many college groups out hiking and or at the cookie cabin. We got a ton of compliments on our dogs. Not so many on our kids...hmmm. Next weekend we go camping with the fam...while some of the fam is glamping. I will shamelessly use the camper bathroom! Amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

BuNulka Campout 2016: Elephant Butte State Park

It's been almost 2 weeks since our fun-filled adventure with the Bunkas! 
To start things off with a bang: Obligatory family selfie. Wyatt is somewhere. We're finally ready to head out on a 5 hr road trip to Elephant Butte State Park. We got a nice early start with a 530 pm take off. Major high five to Nulkie for getting up  at 445 am to take Uncle Wesdawg to the airport, go to work early in hopes of an early exit (didn't work) and coming home at 5 to help load all of the additional mountain of stuff I'd packed all day! What a guy! 
Pittstop in Lordsburg, NM. The most hoppin' place on earth. It was 75 degrees and our children were shivering and asking for flannel. Bella & Winston got to come along this trip, we made them a nice lil spot in the truck tailgate because our kids are huge and we don't want to listen to them pant for 5 hrs straight. The dogs panting, not the kids. They actually did great. 

We rendevoued at the campsite with our best of besties: The Bunkas! Hence we created a new term: BuNulkas. They had arrived a few hours earlier and got to do a nice little 2 hr bonus loop of the north end of the park . Which was chained off and closed. They weren't worried at all guys. We may have received a distress call around 9pm that the primitive campsites were all closed and we might have to camp in a random dirt road in the backhills of New Mexico and would likely be eaten by coyotes. But the Bunkas prevailed and found an amazing site that was indeed open and actually right next to the lake. Then us slacker Nulks arrived at 1130 and they helped up set up shop. 

After about 5 hrs of restless sleep, our children decided to get up with the sun. Literally. It's always fun to see the kids together again. They're all shy and curious about each other for about 2 mins, they they jump right into playing and bossing each other around. 
Early morning hot cocoa by a lake, what could be better? Fresh brewed coffee, that's what! 

Behold, the magnificent Chuck Box. What's a chuck box, you might be asking. Well, it's a camp kitchen and camping accessories organizer all rolled into one glossy, sanded wooden "box". Nulkie designed and built it all by himself. He's pretty much BA Baracus. I think he should make it Pinnable, because it's that great. 
Amazing, right? 

It's end of October, so why not swim? I didn't even have bathing suits packed! Thankfully Meg gave me the heads up to bring the kids suits. They stayed in them all weekend. The guys found out from Tim, the marina guy, that Elephant Butte Lake is down 125 feet. Google maps thought we were in the water

Check out our little shanty village. Not too shabby!

The Bunka's battery died. A nice little jump fixed'er right up. AND we didn't short out the truck while doing it. WIN
The guys all ready to fish/hike. The guys tried ALL WEEKEND LONG to catch one stinkin' fish. People all around them were pulling in fish after fish and they never got a nibble. It could've been due to the fact that our offspring thought throwing rocks  in the lake in front of the fishing poles was a good idea. Maybe it was that. Or the noise level.

Elephant Butte lake. Elephant Butt! Elephant Butt! That joke NEVER got old with our kids. Not once. 

Wyatt: "Wook at da Geegle! Wook at da Geegle" "airpaine!" "airpaine!"

We discovered that the combo of all of our coolers & boxes made for the perfect amount of bench seating. So fun!
Coyote spotting. We saw him (or her) each morning. 
I can't decide if I like a morning or evening campfire better. Both are the BEST. Mike used his dutch oven to make this unbelievably delish Man-quiche.
Behind us, you can see where the Nulk family party of 5 ALL SLEPT in a 4-man tent. It was quite cozy.

MMMMM. Get in my belly!
One of the perks of Elephant Butte is it's close proximity to the Bosque Del Apache. The Bosque is a prime location for migrating birds to hang out during the winter. Above is Harry the Heron. Mike's parents (aka Nana & Gramps) were able to meet us there Saturday! And they provided a Feast for lunch! 
Nice duckies! 
Wyatt wouldn't really go near the Bunkas all weekend. In fact, you could hear "Mommy hold you, mommy hold you, mommy hold you" on repeat the entire trip. Anyways, Wyatt went right up to Gramps and held his hand :).  It was so sweet.  Meg was just a little offended! 
The Cottonwood trees were just stunning! Perfect yellow and golds. This is where we initially planned to set up shop for our picnic. Within seconds of unloading everything, mosquitos started attacking everyone! We cleared out fast and headed back to the visitor center. Much better there: shade and no swarms of mosquitos!
Thanks for the great picnic Nana & Gramps! Was a short but sweet visit :). 
Gabe kept asking, "Take a kid picture, take a kid picture!" At this point it was wayyyyy beyond Wyatt's nap time. He fell to the deck and lost it. All the kids were SUPER empathetic and laughed hysterically at him. He fell asleep on the drive back within minutes
Old army crap burnfest. We've been moving around YEARS of old army stuff that Mike will never use again so we had a nice lil' burn fest. Went really well except all the smoke blew into the Bunka tent. It was like a Indian smoke hut in there.
Bye Bye Elephant Butte! It was such a refreshing weekend. All the kids need to play with is some sticks, rocks and water. The girls played "house" all weekend together. Brady & Gabe dug in the dirt, threw rocks, swam, played soccer and just had a great time.

We didn't manage to get a settlers game in. Next time Bunkas! But we had wonderful fellowship with our sweet friends. Meg & I can talk with each other for hours and hours and feel like it was 5 minutes. And not see each other for months, but feel like it was just yesterday. Mike & I have found in all our travels & friend making, it's so rare to find a couple that both the husbands and wives connect equally well. It's just awesome. #lifers. Were already planning our next campout together!
Hatch, New Mexico, the place where Green Chile is grown, just happened to be about halfway between tucson and Elephant butte. We OBVIOUSLY had to stop for Nulkie to have a religious experience with chile.
This is what New Mexican's call "Christmas", when you order red & green chile. Lets just say I think I should have left Nulkie & his burritos alone. It was a euphoric experience for him ;). I ordered a very bland burrito with cheese a bacon and ketchup. Opposites attract!