January 4, 2015
The Big December Road Trip Adventure:
Now, that we are back home in Texas, I thought I would share our latest Christmas road trip adventure we took to California. We left on Tuesday, 12/23/14 at 4:00 am in the morning and drove all the way to Los Cruces, NM, [via I-10] arriving around 5:00 pm [MST]. We stayed the night at the Drury Hotel Suites. They allow pets and have a great dog facility. Madison fit right in and seemed to really enjoy being with us in the motel room. The Hotel also provided Free “Kick Back Dinner” & Free Breakfast along with free WiFi.
The Hotel provided us with a great hot breakfast before we headed out for Flagstaff, AZ. We took I-25 north to Albuquerque, NM, then West on I-40 to Flagstaff. We arrived at approximately, 5:00 pm and had dinner at the Sizzler restaurant, before checking-in at the Drury Hotel. [Christmas Eve] The hotel was booked full and the lounge area was full of families, guests, children, and pets. I couldn’t believe what a chaotic loud circus it was. We stayed in our room, getting cleaned up and ready for early retirement. [Note: we did not see much of the scenery, as it was dark when we arrived and dark when we left on Christmas Day. We left around 4:00 am and headed for the Mojave Desert via I-40. We crossed into CA at Lake Havasu. This was the first time we had driven this route and it was amazing to see mile upon mile of sand & nothingness as far as the eye could see. Also, there was little to no traffic and the thought of breaking down out in the middle of the Mojave, [was a little disconcerting to say the least]; caused us to thank God for blessing us with a sturdy dependable vehicle.
We crossed the desert and climbed through the Tehachapi mountain range. We took I-58 to Bakersfield, then I-5 up to Hwy-46. We headed West to Paso Robles, CA then ended our trip in Atascadero, CA around 3:00 pm [PST] on Christmas Day.
We spent the next hour, unpacking our vehicle and setting up our guest room/office. Katie, the grandchildren and Katie’s fiance [Matt] made a make-shift [tented guest room] in the garage, downstairs from all the upstairs noise and family activities. They had even setup an office work space for me so, I could work my regular [Houston] hours during our stay. [This was a working road trip] I had to continue to clock in [Houston] time every business day the dealership was open. Fortunately, the dealership was closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. [Then, later on New Years Day] That meant, that I had to get up at 5:00 am every working morning, to cover customer eLeads & voice-mail messages at 7:00 am [CST]. The upside, I got to clock-out at 5:00 pm [PST].
Once all the luggage and Christmas presents were unloaded and we pretty much got ourselves settled in; we had Christmas dinner. [Hot homemade clam chowder in a Sourdough bread bowl]. After dinner, we enjoyed opening our Christmas stockings, and individual gifts. This is a family tradition, where one member of the family [Briannah] passes out all the gifts to each family member. Then we start at the youngest member, who then, opens just one gift. The activities then shifts to the next member, then the next, until we come full circle. This allows everyone to see the gifts being opened and receive the thank you hugs, before going to the next family member. [Also, time to pick up wrapping paper(s) and boxes for the trash] This approach allows us to extend the gift presentation time to 2+ hours of family enjoyment.
We had so much fun watching the Grandchildren and Adults opening Christmas gifts on Christmas. [Briannah was Santa’s little helper…loving the moment when she realizes that the gift she picked out, was hers! ]
Friday, was my work day so, I was tied to the computer and phone most of the day while family did their thing, visiting, shopping, and resting up.
Marcia & Marquise helped around the house and assisted with food shopping along with loving on the grandchildren during the next week. I on the other hand, had to work Mon – Thursday. We [the Family] played “Bunko” New Years Eve. We celebrated the “Texas Time Zone New Years” clock count-down and went to bed around 10:30 pm [PST].
On New Years Day, we got up at 3:00 am and headed to Phoenix, AZ [via Hwy-101 & I-10] We passed through Pasadena during the Rose Bowl Parade and saw the overhead Goodyear Blimp. Of course all the Interstate exits were closed and there was no way we could get to the parade route.
I-10 traffic was light all the way to Phoenix. Shortly before reaching Phoenix, it started snowing. We experience snow flurries for several miles however, it did not stick to the roadway. We arrived at the New Phoenix Drury Hotel around 4:30 pm and settled in. This was the best Drury Hotel by far. The temperatures starting dropping and it started snowing during the later evening hours.
We had a great nights sleep and left at 10:30 am [MST] after breakfast. We had a six hour trek ahead of us as we continued on I-10. We finally made it to Los Cruces, NM, staying the night at the Drury Hotel. By this time everyone was pretty familiar with the routine, including, Madison. Our last and final trek was on Saturday. Travelling the entire width of Texas.
The final trek started out smoothly, we left on time, the roads were clear, and we were making good time until we reached Fort Handcock, TX. [Outside temperature = 22º] I-10 was frozen over. There was about 2-3 inches of ice [and snow] covering the entire four lanes of traffic. [Posted Speed Limit 80 MPH] Vehicles and trucks were down to a crawl [30-35 MPH]. I stayed behind an eighteen wheeler in the RT/Slow lane. The ice in this lane had broken up and the truck traffic had plowed a path that allow us to continue without experiencing traction loss. This set us back approximately  hrs on our time schedule. Instead of arriving home around 3:00 pm, our estimated time of arrival was now, 7:00 pm Saturday evening.
In spite of this delay and cold weather conditions, I was able to get my Saturday morning work done by stopping at a [frozen over] Truck Stop [Van Horn, TX]. As we headed Eastbound on I-10, we counted  Tractor Trailers on their sides in the median and/or off the side of the road, [broken apart] Approximately, seven (car type) vehicles had spun-out and ended off the road between Fort Handcock and Fort Stockton, TX.
The weather continued to be clear all the way home and we made good time. We arrived in League City at 7:30 pm. Once we got settled, we ordered Chinese Dinner(s) and chowed down after a long grueling day [15 hrs.] on the road. Now, it was getting use to Houston time and enjoying our “Home Sweet Home.”
From all of us at TheBentLife family, we would like to wish you a Very:
Well, that’s what has been happening around here. I will update the page if there are any breaking news items that develop between now and the first part of February, when I will post my next newsletter. In the meantime, please sign our “Guestbook Page” and visit our Facebook site for further family & friend(s) news and activities. Have a great month. Blessings, from TheBentLife Family.