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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On the road to the Oliver Lee State Park

I'd been itching to take a trip to the Oliver Lee State Park about ten miles south of Alamogordo, New Mexcio, for nearly a month now; the park boasts the restored nineteenth-century ranch house of Oliver Milton Lee (1865-1941), a rather colorful character in New Mexico history.  As as you all know by now, I love old stuff and I've been in serious withdrawal since moving to El Paso--the only historic house in El Paso is closed for restoration with no sign of reopening any time soon.

The park is located at the mouth of Dog Canyon in the Sacramento Mountains; according to the park's literature, water flows year-round in Dog Canyon (although we didn't see any on our visit), making it a location that was highly sought after by nineteenth-century homesteaders.

Unfortunately for us (okay, more like me), the Oliver Lee ranch house is completely inaccessible to the public during the week; I knew that the rangers offered tours of the house on the weekends but I thought that meant we could still walk up to and check out the house without taking a tour, but I was wrong.  I guess that just means I'll have to make another trip up there one weekend in the future.

We walked around the park for a bit, taking in the desert scenery while trying to figure out just how one could get down to the ranch house (before we realized it was a no-go); rather, John and I walked around while I pushed Sammy in the stroller--after seeing all of the warning signs regarding scorpions, rattle snakes and cougars (!!!!) in the area, I decided it was probably best if Sammy was relatively restrained on this little adventure.

Quite possibly the coolest remnant of the park's homesteading background were a series of hand-laid rock walls snaking up and down the rather steep walls of the surrounding Sacramento Mountains; these impressive boundary markers were placed stone by stone by Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas in the late nineteenth century to delineate his property line and to corral his livestock.  The park also has several hiking trails that we simply didn't have the time to attempt, but I would definitely like to go back again and give it a go...as long as we don't run into any cougars!

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, January 30, 2012

A trip to the big sandbox

One of the nice things about living in El Paso is the close (and by close I mean an hour and a half drive) proximity to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico; my brother was pretty excited about crossing another state off of his list of places to visit plus he was curious to see what White Sands was all about.

We packed up the sled, a bucket and shovels, and one of Sammy's toy bulldozers and headed on our way.  The drive was pretty uneventful and we were soon making our way to the dunes of pristine white sand; since it was a weekday, there weren't a lot of people around, which meant we pretty much had the run of the place.

Sammy's second trip to White Sands was way more subdued than our previous trip in December; rather than run around like a crazy kid, he was very content to sit and play in the sand, filling up his bucket and his bulldozer while pausing every now and then to watch his uncle sled down the dunes.

The sand wasn't as wet this time so the sledding wasn't as fast, but that didn't seem to deter my brother from having a blast.  The three of us spent about an hour playing in the sand and then it was time to hit the road again after a brief stop in Alamogordo for lunch.  Next stop on our road trip: the Oliver Lee  State Park--the fun never stops around here!

 then, she {snapped}

Friday, January 27, 2012

A welcome visit

My brother, John, is in town for a week; it's his first time in El Paso, so we've got ourselves a tidy little list of sightseeing that we'd like to do before he leaves.  But most importantly, Sammy, Captain Husband and I are enjoying his company.

The weather continues to be sunny and warm here in El Paso, so John and I decided to take Sammy to the Westside Community Park to try and wear him down a bit (he had spent all morning trying to wear us out, so turnabout was totally fair game).  We spent a little bit of time at the children's playground before deciding to go on a short hike; the park includes several acres of undeveloped Chihuahuan Desert with marked trails, benches and lookout points.  And rocks...lots and lots of rocks--every boy's favorite.

Sammy seemed to enjoy the walk, even though he made sure to punctuate it with a tantrum or three after we had to restrain him from attempting to go down the rather steep hillsides on his own.  Eventually he was distracted enough by a softball that my brother found to forget all about it and soon busied himself with throwing the ball and then running after it.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Along the Mission Trail

After Sammy and I had our fill of fun at the petting zoo, I decided to turn our morning trip into an afternoon trip as well.  The petting zoo sits along a road known as the "Mission Trail," a nine-mile stretch of Socorro Road, and is a part of the Royal Road of the Interior--one of the oldest roads in North America.  Our first stop was the San Elizario Chapel, which was built in the 1880s; unfortunately, the building appeared to be in the stages of restoration and wasn't open to the public.

Located just across the street from the San Elizario Chapel is a building with a very interesting covered portico.  Built as a residence in the 1850s as a residence, "Los Portales" now serves the San Elizario community as a museum and information center; Sammy and I toured the exhibit inside, which offered a lot of information on the history of the area.

We then got in the car and headed about five miles north along Socorro Road to our next stop--the Socorro Mission.  The current structure was built in 1843 after the previous building was lost to flooding of the Rio Grande in 1829.  Sammy and I quietly poked our heads inside to check out the interior, but the priest was meeting with some parishioners, so I didn't take any photos out of respect--but it was quite lovely with carved and painted beams and corbels that were salvaged from the flooded building and are believed to date from the eighteenth century.

We had one last stop left on the Mission Trail before we could head on our way home--the Ysleta Mission, the oldest continuously active parish in the state of Texas.  The current structure is the result of many phases of rebuilding that have taken place over the years (it too lost a building to the 1829 Rio Grande flood)--the distinctive beehive-shaped bell tower was added around 1897.

Unfortunately the Ysleta Mission is closed on Sundays, so we weren't able to check out the interior, but Sammy enjoyed exploring the grounds while he stretched his legs a bit.  Since this was more or less sightseeing on a whim, I think I'll do a bit more research and go back on a day that I know they'll all be open.  We still had a pretty good time, though!

The Daily Wyatt

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Strolling by the Socorro Mission

{I don't know what it is about this shot, but there's just something about this lone man--wearing a cowboy hat, naturally--walking in front of this mid-nineteenth-century mission that makes me feel as though I was watching a still from an old spaghetti western come to life in front of my very eyes.}

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A trip to the Licon Dairy Petting Zoo

Sammy's runny nose had slowed to a trickle, and he was showing a lot more vim and vigor, so I decided to take advantage of some of the lovely weather we've been having lately.  I loaded up the diaper bag and got Sammy situated in the car and we headed off to the Licon Dairy in San Elizario, Texas, a small town about thirty minutes southeast of downtown El Paso.

The Licon Dairy operates a small petting zoo that is open to the public free of charge; after the success of our trip to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, I figured Sammy would have a great time getting up close and personal with all of the assorted animals.  There was a pretty wide range of animals at the petting zoo--ostriches, donkeys, peacocks, and a camel to name just a few; however, I was surprised that a dairy petting zoo didn't have a single cow to be seen, but maybe that's just me.

There was also a little playground area that had seen better days, but it's appearance didn't deter Sammy from trying his hand at the tether ball for a bit; he just kept hitting it and saying "ball!" over and over again.  I think I may have to attach a ball to a string in our backyard since it seems to keep him so happily occupied.

All of the animals were very friendly and would come right up to the fence begging for treats; unfortunately we didn't really have anything for them to snack on (apparently we should have gone into the dairy's small shop on our way in rather than on our way out--they had free bags of corn for the kids to feed to the animals).  Being the resourceful mom that I am, I noticed that someone had dropped bunch of corn on the ground, so I showed Sammy how to pick them up and feed them to the patiently waiting deer and goats. I was actually surprised at how well Sammy did with the animals, but I suppose he's learned from having a cat for a big sister.

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, January 23, 2012

19-month update

The month of January seems to be whipping by at a break-neck speed because I swear it was just the other week that Sammy was turning eighteen-months old.  Thanks to his nasty head cold and a recent trip to the doctor's office, I actually have some bona fide vitals, as opposed to making an educated guess for this update; Sammy's weighing in at 28 pounds and is 34" tall.  I keep hoping that he'll grow at least another inch and a half before his second birthday--supposedly your adult height is your height at the age of two, doubled.  With any luck, Sammy will be the first male on his dad's side to break the 6' height barrier (thanks mostly to my awesome genes, of course).

Sammy's still down an incisor, but with the way he's been acting lately, I can't help but wonder if it (and perhaps a two-year molar or three) might be making an appearance soon.  I guess I can't really complain--Sammy is generally a very well-behaved little boy whenever we go out in public, making random small talk with strangers, and being a unrepentant flirt.  The downside to this is that he saves his truly nasty behavior for the confines of our home and lately the slightest little thing sets him off (diaper changes are the biggest offense--he screams like a banshee and kicks like a mule).  The whole Jekkyl and Hyde bit really has me questioning my sanity from time to time.

This kid is a sponge and there are some days where I find myself truly marveling at his ability to retain and apply new information.  Santa brought him a foam alphabet/numbers bath toy for Christmas, and lately Sammy's been gobbling up the alphabet as though it's soup--he loves to point out the letters on my clothing and try to identify them.  I could be mistaken, but I think Sammy's picked up a bit more words this month than he did last month.

New words:
Night-night, good night, bye-bye, baby, breakfast, tick-tock, clock, rock, "Blue's Clues" (he only started watching the show last week and is OBSESSED), apple, what, yeehaw, dude, knees, arm, hot, hat, yes, this way, alright, spider, toot, pee-pee (I discovered his knowledge of this word during one of our lovely shared bathroom breaks; I was trying to pee in private--silly me--and he barged in, pointed at me on the toilet, and triumphantly yelled, "PEE-PEE!"  Hey, I suppose I should be happy he's putting two and two together).

New tricks:  Taking myself or Captain Husband by the hand and leading us around the house, trying to open the exterior doors of the house while saying "bye-bye," telling me when he needs his diaper changed (he's accurate about 50% of the time), and brushing his hair.  Sammy's also really good at following instructions and is starting to put his toys away when asked.  He's also an excellent hand holder whenever we go out, which makes me pretty happy, especially if it means I'm not spending most of my time chasing after him whenever I'm trying to take care of some errands.

 then, she {snapped}

Friday, January 20, 2012


I think Sammy's pretty close to kicking this thing, whatever it is: he actually slept through the night on Wednesday and woke up yesterday morning in a pretty good mood.  Sammy's coughing--okay, more like hacking--with a bit more force, though, so we'll be visiting with our doctor this afternoon just to play it safe.

Since he still isn't at 100%, we decided to spend another day at home in self-imposed exile.  After three days being stuck indoors, I had to pull out some new tricks to keep Sammy entertained, like my old cell phone and a teepee that my aunt made for me years and years ago.

Sammy even managed to entertain himself for a bit after those things lost their novelty.

Pretty soon, though, he was clamoring to go outside; his new trick is going up to any door in the house, announcing, "Bye-bye!" and then trying to open the door.

Hopefully we'll get some answers from the doctor this afternoon and then Sammy will soon be on his way to a clean bill of health.  Until then, we'll be fighting off cabin fever!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feeling a little sheepish

Soooooo...Sammy is still a snotty, coughing mess and I am slowly beginning to follow suit, which means we spent all day yesterday holed up in the house surrounded by boxes of tissues, watching horrible day-time television.  I hope you don't mind me using a photo from this weekend's trip to Ranch & Farm museum because seriously, no one wants to see Sammy and me in our current state, even though our bright red noses might be a good match for texture Thursday. Here's hoping we kick this thing soon!

The Daily Wyatt

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Under the weather

{Sammy woke up yesterday with a runny nose, a bit of a cough and some truly heinous stomach issues.  Even though he looked and sounded miserable, that didn't stop him from spending some time playing with his favorite toys in the playroom.}

{I'm hoping that the B.R.A.T. diet and some pedialyte will soon have things under control; I hate it when my little guy isn't feeling feel.}

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