A Travellerspoint blog

A different pool

sunny 102 °F

hotel pool

hotel pool


Any travel is better than no travel! Curt found a groupon for Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces so Saturday afternoon I got to study by a different pool. Dinner was made of humongous seafood enchiladas and a strawberry margarita! We came back to reality today but not until we had huevos rancheros at Gardunos restaurant.
outside lounge area at hotel

outside lounge area at hotel


Emmy comfortable in the hotel

Emmy comfortable in the hotel


Strawberry margarita

Strawberry margarita


lobby of Hotel Encanto

lobby of Hotel Encanto

Posted by ErinDriver 20.07.2014 16:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

5 July 2014

sunny 100 °F

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


Normally I would have wanted to be out of town for the holiday weekend but now that I am back in school I have to settle for day trips. Luckily there are plenty around and today the goal was about two hours away at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It is listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die as the underground wonder in the Chihuahuan Desert. It was clear to us as soon as we drove up that plenty of other people were trying to tick this off their bucket list today. We barely made it to our tour on time.
the papoose room

the papoose room


The caverns contain more than 100 caves but today we had signed up to do the Kings Palace Tour. It includes a visit to the papoose room that has only one way in and one way out. Because people were causing destruction a tour is now the only way to get there. The park also contains the Big Room, one of the largest underground chambers in the world. It is said to be large enough to hold six football fields.
stalagmites and stalagtites

stalagmites and stalagtites


A walk in to the caverns is possible but we took the one minute elevator ride down 750 feet. Our guide provided narration on subjects to include the only living creatures in the caves besides bats are crickets and worms the size of a horse hair. These worms get inside the cricket when it takes a drink of water and lives there until the cricket goes back to get more water. It then destroys the cricket and gets back in the water. Curt and I wonder who watched the cricket long enough to find that out.
Guide giving a talk

Guide giving a talk


We of course get the moment of complete darkness and quiet, or mostly quiet outside of the little boy in our group. The caves were chilly at a constant 54 degrees.
Curt in the caves

Curt in the caves


drapes

drapes

looks like icicles

looks like icicles

taking a tour

taking a tour

the green pool

the green pool


Blood sugar was low after the tour so we had dinner at the only restaurant in the immediate area. It is probably not known for its speed of service. Before leaving town I had to stop at the gift shop and snap a photo of this guy!
Gift shop alien

Gift shop alien

Posted by ErinDriver 19:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Two weeks in San Antonio, Texas

15-27 June 2014

overcast

For those of you who have been asking, I am in fact, still in the Army and we were in San Antonio, TX for these two weeks due to work. But that doesn't mean I won't try to get all I can out of the trip :)
Riverwalk cruise

Riverwalk cruise


our restaurant

our restaurant


San Antonio has some special meaning to Curt and I since we got married there so it wouldn't be a right to come and not hit the Riverwalk and the Casa Rio. We ate there after we got married and this time we got to take Emma with us. She wasn't even bothered by the little baby ducks that walked all around our table.
The Alamo

The Alamo


outside the alamo

outside the alamo


And of course you can't go downtown without snapping a shot of the Alamo.
nice day for tubing in Gruene

nice day for tubing in Gruene

pretty nice little saturday

pretty nice little saturday


Another favorite of ours is tubing down the Guadalupe. I had a groupon to do it for next to nothing and we had a pretty nice little Saturday floating down the river for three hours. At first the weather didn't look promising but it cleared up enough for the turtles to come and tarzan too!
river turtle

river turtle

Turtle on the lookout

Turtle on the lookout

playing tarzan

playing tarzan

perfect finish

perfect finish


We had a great time catching up with some folks from various stages in our lives. We hit Aldaco's restaurant with Missy and Roland and met Diana Loffgren and her son, Ryan at the Magnolia House. I would have gone back again if they made dinner but instead I had to be satisfied with my red velvet waffle.
red velvet waffle

red velvet waffle

with Diana and Ryan

with Diana and Ryan


Curt and I also had Paesano's Italian restaurant and dinner at the Alamo Draft House theater while watching 22 Jump Street.

I even got another trip to the Majestic Theater to see the Broadway Across America show, Sister Act. To warm up for the show we had some San Antonio staples of chips and salsa with a mango margarita.
San Antonio staples

San Antonio staples


Our last night we had some wine, beer and cheese and the Boiler House after wandering around the Pearl Brewery area and then had dinner at Demo's Greek restaurant.

We are now 10 pounds heavier and ready to head home to El Paso.

Posted by ErinDriver 17:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Fort Stockton, Texas

14 June 2014

sunny

The Army said I needed to be at a course on research in San Antonio for two weeks. So what I hear out of that statement is that I have the perfect opportunity to drive and sneak out an extra overnight trip. As it turns out there really isn't much between El Paso and San Antonio except Fort Stockton. So here goes the photo tour:
Fort Stockton marker

Fort Stockton marker


This stone reads that Fort Stockton was established on the Comanche trail in March 1859 as a protection of the San Antonio to San Diego mail route. Our guidebook states it was first named Camp Stockton but the army withdrew from Texas during the Civil War and abandoned the fort in 1861. Confederate troops briefly occupied the site until they withdrew in 1862. In July 1867, Fort Stockton was re-established by four companies of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. The 9th was one of the new regiments organized after the Civil War staffed with African-American enlisted men known as Buffalo Soldiers.
Pepitos Cafe

Pepitos Cafe


Fort Stockton has a driving tour composed of 17 well marked historic sites. Before tackling that though we had to build up our strength with some chow at Pepito's Café.
Paisano Pete

Paisano Pete

Curt offering Emma to Pete

Curt offering Emma to Pete


Paisano Pete is one of the first exhibits at the start of historic Fort Stockton. He is the unofficial mascot erected in 1980 and declared the largest roadrunner in the world at 11 feet tall and 22 feet long. He is said to be one of the most photographed "birds" in the world.
donkey pot

donkey pot


The main street is pretty abandoned for a Saturday night but atleast it made it easy to pull over to read all the signs. One store was closed but still had a bunch of merchandise lining the street to include this donkey pot.
Annie Riggs Memorial Museum

Annie Riggs Memorial Museum


We pass the First National bank that now houses the police, The Grey Mule Saloon that does wine tastings and the Annie Riggs Museum. The museum was built in 1899 and is an example of Territorial architecture.
old jail

old jail


Next we pass the courthouse, St. Joseph Catholic Church and Zero Store Park. There is a rock that marks the point which all directions were measured from in the days of the Fort. The historic old jail is on the corner and now also a museum.
St Stephens Episcopal Church

St Stephens Episcopal Church

St Stephens Episcopal Church entrance

St Stephens Episcopal Church entrance


There are some remains of the oldest house, an old school and Army telegraph building, a few stores and Comanche springs. The springs used to be a stop for weary travelers but looks almost dried up today. Next is I think the most picturesque part of the tour in the St. Stephens Episcopal Church.
The Old Fort

The Old Fort


Historic Fort Stockton still has buildings that were for guards, enlisted soldiers, officers and stables. Finally you pass the cemetery that was in use from 1859 to 1912. Grave markers were testament to the hard and often violent life on the early frontier with people not often living past forty.

Posted by ErinDriver 19:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Dinner and a show

30 May 2014

sunny

I am so glad to be back in a city where they have Bsome version of Broadway. Broadway across America brought Jersey Boys to El Paso and the show was sold out in the Plaza theater. It was one of my favorite shows, just very well done.
Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys


We hit up Sparrows restaurant a few blocks from the theater for some Chicago style pizza before the show. Needless to say we each took home a few pieces. I remain partial to thin crust types!
chicago style pizza

chicago style pizza

Posted by ErinDriver 13:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

19-21 May 2014

sunny

To finish off my leave prior to starting the Emergency Medicine course Curt and I spent a few days in Santa Fe. Eating seemed to be one of the only things on the agenda but we did it well. The drive was about 5 hours and we were still suffering some jet lag from just returning yesterday so by the time we got there we were ready to rest in the room at the Villas that Curt found on groupon.
We ventured out for dinner at Café Chimaya for some blue corn enchiladas. They are delicious and the menu mentions they have been featured on the show Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives.
Casa Chimayo

Casa Chimayo

Blue corn enchiladas

Blue corn enchiladas


Early on Tuesday we take Emma and hit the Burro Alley Café for breakfast of French toast and breakfast burrito. We had scheduled a Food tour at 1100 and we got the VIP service as we were the only people signed up. Our guide started by taking us to the center of the plaza and pointing out that the memorial used to say Savage Indians but it was found offensive and someone eventually hoped the fence and scratched out the world savage. It was never repaired.
Savage Indians

Savage Indians


The first restaurant was the Santa Fe Bar and Grill where we had chicken enchiladas with red and green chilis (Christmas style). This restaurant also has some cool wine bottles that portray and a wedding if you get all seven bottles. We later go back to try and buy one but we weren't allowed to buy an unopened bottle.
Christmas Enchiladas

Christmas Enchiladas

Wine bottles

Wine bottles


Next up was tasting flavored oils but it is similar to what we did in Albuquerque so we don't stay there long. After that is the Thunderbird Café where they have a balcony that looks over the plaza. On the menu here is a pork stew.
view from Thunderbird cafe

view from Thunderbird cafe

Stew at Thunderbird cafe

Stew at Thunderbird cafe


Our walk about the town also takes us past the oldest church and house in the US.
San Miguel church

San Miguel church

outside church

outside church

oldest house in the USA

oldest house in the USA

inside San Miguel

inside San Miguel

worthy of preservation

worthy of preservation

Lorertto Chapel

Lorertto Chapel


Another church has a miraculous staircase. The story goes some nuns did not have the money to build a staircase but they prayed about it and a carpenter showed up one day. He said he would build it and they could pay him when he was finished if they liked it. If not he would take it down and leave. So he build a beautiful staircase with three twists but when the nuns went to pay him he was gone. Architects today still cannot figure out how it was created because there is no nails, cement or glue.

So back to the food. Next up was the Upper Crust Pizza Shop where we had a chicken pizza.
upper crust pizza restaurant

upper crust pizza restaurant

upper crust pizza

upper crust pizza


Lastly was Senor Murphy for a dessert of several types of candy, one of course has chilis!
Senor Murphy

Senor Murphy


After our tour we spend some time with Emma and the pool and the hotel before heading to dinner to eat again! We got the hotel shuttle to take us to Second Street Brewery and Curt indulged in the beer sampler on the back porch.
Second Street Brewery

Second Street Brewery


Our last day on Wednesday we start with eating once again but this time it is with Curt's sister, Erica and her husband Justin. Curt picks the Palace Café and we sit outside for breakfast while catching up.
Breakfast with Justin and Erica

Breakfast with Justin and Erica


I couldn't leave Santa Fe without hitting Canyon Road for the artsy shops. Needless to say Curt and Emma weren't that interested so I just snapped a few photos and we were on our way.
Canyon road

Canyon road

Curt and Emmy

Curt and Emmy

feeling the artsy vibe

feeling the artsy vibe

Emmy not feeling artsy

Emmy not feeling artsy

my favorist art

my favorist art

animal art

animal art

Posted by ErinDriver 16:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Diving in Bora Bora

16 May 2014

sunny

Curt and I couldn’t leave Bora Bora without trying a dive so we spent this morning with Top Dive for an ocean and lagoon dive. The ocean dive site was called Tapu and we nearly went down right on top of a lemon shark and we spent most of the time looking at this pretty large but friendly guy. We also saw an eel and some black tipped reef sharks that were uninterested in us.
shark in the deep blue

shark in the deep blue

lemon shark 2

lemon shark 2

lemon shark 1

lemon shark 1


The lagoon site was Toopua and it is known for the eagle rays which we saw several of but none close enough to get a picture. A videographer on the trip got a video of a stone fish eating another fish and there was a surprisingly mobile flounder. The video guy also had bread with him which brings out a LOT of fish for feeding time.
a little splash of color

a little splash of color

curious fish

curious fish

feeding time

feeding time

poop or worm

poop or worm

goodbye to another day in paradise

goodbye to another day in paradise

Posted by ErinDriver 11:15 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

Just another day in Bora Bora

15 May 2014

Another agonizing day of relaxation that I don’t know how I suffered through! I barely tore myself away from my book long enough to take a few dips in the water and spend some time in the pool before dinner. We pretty much custom ordered our dinners with Curt requesting steak and me having tuna with blue cheese dressing and pasta. Dessert was pineapple flambé with ice cream (coconut for me!).
reading at the pool

reading at the pool

sundowners

sundowners

the neighbor

the neighbor

our own little pool

our own little pool

my cabana boy

my cabana boy

having a swim with doby

having a swim with doby

Curt out swimming

Curt out swimming

another day in paradise

another day in paradise

Posted by ErinDriver 11:11 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

Bloody Mary's

14 May 2014

semi-overcast

breakfast at Eden Beach

breakfast at Eden Beach


Breakfast at our hotel is beautiful overlooking the ocean and before I know it we are done and Curt is back to napping. I spend most of the day with a Dirk Pitt novel outside of one brief kayaking stint. The movie Couples Retreat was filmed just down the water from us so we paddled down to see if we could recognize anything.
our little slice of paradise

our little slice of paradise

preparing to Kayak

preparing to Kayak

one side of the island

one side of the island

the other side of the island

the other side of the island


trying to paddle together

trying to paddle together


After the exertion Vlad whipped us up some tasty pasta with shrimp to sustain us through the rest of our day spent relaxing.
home sweet home

home sweet home

good morning Bora Bora

good morning Bora Bora

Doby the watchdog

Doby the watchdog


Around 1700 Vlad took us in the boat next door to the intercontinental to meet Lindsay and Chris for happy hour. We enjoyed the sunset and a few drinks before catching the ferry to the other intercontinental hotel. Here we met the shuttle to Bloody Mary’s restaurant. The restaurant is frequented by the rich and famous and they even advertise all the names of those that have enjoyed a meal there. The food is the catch of the day by local fisherman and it is displayed in front of you when you walk in. Before you even sit down you chose your food from an area of lobster, fish and appetizers. The food and company is good and we start our trek back to Eden Beach fat and happy.
happy  hour

happy hour

sunset at the intercontinental

sunset at the intercontinental

Bloody Marys

Bloody Marys

dinner selection

dinner selection

wall of fame

wall of fame

Posted by ErinDriver 18:09 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

Last day on the catamaran :(

13 May 2014

semi-overcast

Our last day on the catamaran dawns very rainy and ominous. Fabrees tells us the swells are going to be up to 15 feet in the open ocean. Right after breakfast the rain pours down but he gives us the option to snorkel at one last coral garden. Curt and I take him up on it but aren’t in the water long thanks to the quick current and sediment kicked up by the storm. We can’t see much so don’t waste time getting back to the boat. The weather clears as we sail on to our hotels.
titanic photo

titanic photo

bye bye catamaran

bye bye catamaran

bye bye Candace and Fab

bye bye Candace and Fab


We sadly leave the catamaran and our crew begins their sail back to Raitea as Lindsay and Chris settle in to their over the water bungalow at the Intercontinental. Curt and I are picked up by our neighboring resort, Eden Beach. We are quickly taken to our bungalow by the water by Vlad, our host from Czech Republic and his dog Doby.
Lindsay and Chris hotel

Lindsay and Chris hotel

pool at hotel

pool at hotel

our view

our view

our bungalow

our bungalow

our bed

our bed

our beach

our beach

relaxing with a book

relaxing with a book

hammock at hotel

hammock at hotel

Eden beach 2

Eden beach 2

Eden Beach 1

Eden Beach 1


We spend the day lounging by the water and reading. Eventually we set out to see the ocean side of the island and do some shell hunting at sunset.
Curt shell hunting

Curt shell hunting

beach buddy

beach buddy

beach at end of day

beach at end of day

ocean side at sunset

ocean side at sunset

end of day at Eden Beach

end of day at Eden Beach

end of day in Bora Bora

end of day in Bora Bora


Dinner is to ourselves at the resort with a complimentary bottle of wine. Curt has steak and I have pasta with shrimp topped off by a homemade tiramisu. I could get used to this lifestyle!

Posted by ErinDriver 18:02 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

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