Sunday, December 31, 2006

Alamo Bowl road trip, bonus feature

I'm obsessed with combining zooming with a slow shutter speed!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alamo Bowl road trip, part 4.

After the game, we decided to take advantage of our tower wristbands while everybody else was stuck in traffic. The amazing view was even cooler at night!

(Flat Stanley attended the game with us, but we forgot to take his picture. We made sure to get a shot of him on the observation deck after the game.)

Alamo Bowl road trip, part 3.

The good news: Ryan and Katie got to see a close, exciting game that wasn't decided until the clock read 0:00. The bad news: The game was CLOSE, and games like this take decades off my life!

We were on row 17 of the upper deck (a few birds in the dome were actually flying BELOW us!), but we were right on the 40 yardline and had a great view of the field. We had a good number of Iowa fans around us since we were on the Big 10 side, but most were well-behaved except for the foursome who made a strong case against alcohol sales at bowl games. The women's restrooms had major plumbing problems (NO FLUSHING. OVERFLOWING TOILETS. EW.), but by the time the game was over, the dome finally had working facilities (WHEW!).

Here are some of the scenes:

Alamo Bowl road trip, part 2.

So we park not far from the Alamodome at 10:30 a.m., and the game starts at 3:30 p.m. There's so much to do in San Antonio and only five hours until kickoff. How can we fit it all in?

The quick answer, of course, is that we don't. The longer answer is summarized by this:

San Antonio on speed: An itinerary

10:30 a.m. - Park in Tower of the Americas garage, next to plenty of "friendlies" ( tailgate)

10:31 a.m. - Explain to the kids that we may not actually have time to ride the elevator to the top of said tower

10:32 a.m. - Begin hike to Riverwalk through the convention center

10:40 a.m. - Encounter closed sidewalks because of convention center construction; retrace steps

10:50 a.m. - Finally make it to main part of Riverwalk; try to dodge throngs of yellow-and-black-clad Iowa fans

10:55 a.m. - Decide we'd better eat lunch now if we don't want to wait for hours later in the day; pick Casa Rio because it's right there

10:56 a.m. - Cross river at street level and try to avoid eye contact with McDonalds so our lunch plans won't change

10:59 - Eat Mexican food; regale kids with stories about college trips to SA around Christmastime; toast the Longhorns

11:41 a.m. - Resume walk along river, cut through Hyatt Regency and arrive at Alamo

11:55 a.m. - Check out the giant Christmas tree in front of the Alamo

11:56 a.m. - Get in line to enter shrine

12:10 p.m. - See long line inside to view certain rooms; bail out of line; head for museum/gift shop

12:50 p.m. - Finally escape Alamo gift shop, purchases in tow

12:55 p.m. - Cut through Rivercenter Mall on way back to Tower

1:05 p.m. - Discover magic shop with row after row of fake barf and poop, nasty-tasting chewing gum and other gags for sale

1:20 p.m. - Finally escape magic shop, purchases in tow

1:35 p.m. - Arrive at Tower of the Americas; inquire about length of stay; buy tickets; watch kids' jubilant celebration that we have time for the 4-D movie

1:40 p.m. - Join line for 4-D movie, "Skies Over Texas"

1:41 p.m. - Enter theater for "Skies Over Texas"; enjoy flick with special effects

1:55 p.m. - Have photo taken while waiting for observation deck elevator

2:05 p.m. - Arrive at observation deck and check out the bird's eye view of the Alamodome, downtown, Mom and Dad's honeymoon hotel, and the Alamo

2:25 p.m. - Head back down the elevator

2:32 p.m. - Drop stuff off at the van and walk to the Alamodome

2:45 p.m. - Find our seats; get ready for the game!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Alamo Bowl road trip, part 1.

Ryan and Katie were surprised to unwrap Alamo Bowl tickets on Christmas morning. What they didn't know at first was that they were also going to get a mini-holiday to Austin, too. And they LOVE Austin! (Wonder why?)

We reconnected with some good friends, shopped for Longhorn goodies, and made our requisite trip to the Capitol.

This time around, Katie got to introduce Flat Stanley to the Capitol:

(He was speechless in the rotunda when Katie showed him the dome!)

(The seal in the Capitol extension knocked him flat on his back!)

We braved the crowds and a downpour to meet friends for dinner at Chuy's. Because the restaurant was so crowded, we had to park a few blocks down the street. We got soaked, but the good food and great company were worth it. Afterwards we had planned to visit the Zilker Christmas tree, but we were disappointed that it was still raining. It had been years since we'd seen Austin's tree of lights, so the kids and I thought we should at least drive into the park to see it.

As we sat in the van and stared at the tree, all three of us were sad that we couldn't run underneath the lights. At that moment, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and we were overcome with the need to get under that tree! We made a dash through the rain and mud to get under there and look up:

The spiral pattern of the lights is awfully cool, but what's even cooler is the pattern when you spin around:

Right before Christmas, tons of people can be found spinning under the Zilker tree, making it a little hazardous! Because of the weather on this night, though, we had the whole tree to ourselves. The rain started to pick up a little, and I suddenly realized that we were standing dangerously close to a giant lightning rod. We skedaddled, slipping and sliding through the mud back to the van. We were SO glad we got to spin under that tree!

We spent the night at a friend's house, and she so graciously provided us with warm (and dry!) beds and the best entertainment: her two dogs!

The next morning, we were up and at 'em, headed to the Alamo Bowl!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Santa was good to us this year! He brought tons of stuff, including a toolbox for Katie:

and a 3-D Jaws movie poster for the world's biggest Jaws fan:

Our stockings were loaded down, too:

There's nothing like the chaos and joy of opening presents!

Katie checked to make sure her bill's not counterfeit:

Ryan wrote a letter for Dad:

and Dad was so proud:

Memaw was happy with her digital camera:

and Katie snuggled with ChaCha:

Of course, Santa was good to the kitties, too:
Finally, Ryan and Katie had to open these presents at the same time:

Inside each box were Longhorn gloves and a piece of paper:

It took them a while to realize it, but eventually they discovered that they had tickets to the Alamo Bowl. Along with that realization came jumping and screaming:

Around 3 that afternoon, it was time for our Christmas dinner. We're still turkey rookies, so we were a little nervous about roasting such a big bird. We did it, though, and it was scrumptious! (It surely didn't hurt that we were starving by the time we got to eat. It took us HOURS to get dinner together!)
And so another Christmas Day has come and gone, and again we are overwhelmed by our many blessings. We love this time of year when we can enjoy each other and celebrate God's love for us!

Merry Christmas!