Hey, it has only taken me a month to post the photos form our winter vacation in California, Arizona and New Mexico!
We flew to Los Angeles and arrived in the evening. We picked up our freakishly cheap rental car ($77 total for a week!) and hit the road for my parents' winter home in Palm Desert, arriving there about 10:30pm.
The girls had a great time hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Betsy, as they always do. Grandma and Aunt Betsy love to take them shopping for clothes. This year we made sure to arrive with suitcase space to spare. They filled it.
We celebrated both girls' birthdays with their favorite Grandma dinners: spaghetti for Audrey and Lasagna for Charlotte. And for a bonus, Grandma made a Thanksgiving dinner! It's also a tradition for us to go to The Old Spaghetti Factory so we did that, too.
Our trip is usually the week preceding the Oscars, so Carol and I try to go to as many nominated movies as we can. This year we saw Lion, Passengers, Arrival and Manchester by the Sea.
After five days we drove to Tucson to stay with Carol's parents. Carol and I love the five-hour drive across the desert. The kids tolerate it with devices and a wifi hotspot. We make them look out the window every once in a while. We also play a game where we guess the distance to the next mountain range. The girls are getting pretty good at it!
In Tucson we spend a lot of time relaxing. That's always very welcome.
This year we took a bonus trip. In the early 80s I became friends with Barry, a coworker at Boeing, and his partner Rabih. Two years ago they retired and moved to Las Cruces, NM, where Barry went to college. Last year they built a custom home in the hills overlooking the city and the Rio Grande valley. During our visit to Tucson in 2016, Barry & Rabih came to Tucson and they and Carol's dad and us all went to Kitt Peak Observatory and we all went to a lovely dinner. We pledged to visit them in NM in 2017.
We rented a minivan so we could all make the four-hour trip in one vehicle.Once in Las Cruces we had a delicious lunch at Las Posta de Mesilla, a restaurant in what was once a stagecoach station. Then we headed to La Cueva, a BLM property that was previously the site of a sanatorium, and also housed a hermit for many years in the namesake cave. After that we returned to their house for a wonderful dinner.
In the morning, after another delicious home-cooked meal, we drove east about an hour to the White Sands National Monument. We rented sledding discs from the gift shop and had hours of fun sliding down the white sand dunes. It's a spectacular place. Great vistas and sparkling light. The weather was perfect - warm enough for t-shirts but not broiling. White Sands was a highlight of the vacation for the girls.
We had a couple of days left after returning to Tucson. We went to the go-karts and laser tag place and had fun. And this year all four of us hiked Picacho Peak. Carol and Charlotte had never been past half way, but this year we all made it to the top. Charlotte loved the cables and catwalks and did very well.
Then it was back home to winter in Boston. Although Boston had been having a warm spell and on at least one day it was warmer in Boston than where we were!