Sunday, March 4, 2012

Noel's Brief Visit Home!

Guess what?  Noel actually got to come home for a few weeks!  We decided to celebrate his return (and all the major holidays we didn't get to spend together) by going on a long weekend to San Antonio.  We really enjoyed the trip and took tons of pictures!  So without further ado, here is our trip!

First off, a coworker told me that there are caves in them thar hills (about 20 minutes outside of San Antonio).  Who knew?  Neither of us had ever been into an underground cavern system, and it was awesome - really, one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring things I've ever seen.

Even the entrance was neat!

Underground, we saw a tiny little bat (couldn't get a picture without scaring the little guy) and lots of weird formations, including a set of pools of water: 

Some places in the caves looked like something out of Lord of the Rings.  So incredible.

I had a hard time telling if my pictures were turning out well.  So I took a bunch - this is one using a flash:

And this is the same location without a flash (slightly blurrier but really impressive):

So yeah, a foray deep into the earth.  Also, we expected it to be cold, but it was actually 70 degrees inside and 99% humidity.  Needless to say, sweaty.

Since my discovery of enchiladas with mole sauce, I've been diligently seeking another restaurant that serves it.  Found one in San Antonio, within walking distance of our hotel.  The food was good, but we were more impressed with the Christmas Tree that was the ceiling of this place:


We also paid a visit to the San Antonio zoo!  It was neat - heavy on birds, but they had some big animals too:

A gorgeous snow leopard that was eyeballing us:

A HIPPO!!  Swimming!!! 

I love him.

Hee hee.  Did you know that Hippopotamus is Latin for River Horse?   They aren't graceful as a horse.  Also, a female hippo is one of the most dangerous animals on earth.  But still - so cute!!  :)

Ok, those of you who are scared of snakes?  Look away now.  Those of you who aren't afraid of snakes?  You will be...

The fattest reticulated python ever.  Its body is at least 20-25 inches around.  Seriously - did they just feed this thing a walrus? 

Next up is a picture that cracked us up:

Please note that the pirahnas are all staring directly at us.  Not moving, just staring.  It was...unnerving.  I think they were sizing us up.  Really.  Would we taste good with mole sauce?  Why yes.  Because everything is better with mole sauce. 

There was a pedestrian shopping area in San Antonio that was neat too - live mariachi bands and check out the flags:

We ate basically everything in San Antonio.  YUM.

What else did we see while Noel was in Texas?  Why the rodeo, of course!  And not just any rodeo.  The Houston Rodeo & Livestock Show is in town, and it kind of a big deal.  As in, it's HUGE.  World BBQ cookoff competition, major bands playing (Miranda Lambert, Alabama, etc.)  And of course a rodeo!  This was Noel's first ever rodeo in person, and I told him that we were doing it in the wrong order.  It's better to see the little local rodeos first, THEN move up to the big time.  But we went against tradition and saw the PBR rodeo!

Ok, so admission: I thought that PBR rodeo was named for the beer, PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon).  Actually it stands for Professional Bull Riders.  But it's also sponsored by the beer.  Cuts down on confusion I guess.

We were sitting at the end of the field, so we could see the bulls being herded into the chutes to be ridden.  These guys really have this down to a science, how to separate the bulls into different pens, shift them into others, coax them into the chutes, and catch them once they've been ridden.  It was impressive!

(p.s.  Aunt Betty?  There are some cowboys for you in that picture - enjoy!)

Also impressive?  The size of these bulls.  Mom?  We'll have to try to go to this if you're in town during the next Houston Rodeo.  You'd like it.

They even had a fancy light show at the beginning, and PBR lit up in fire!! 

So Noel was very impressed with the rodeo, and now is committed to going to county fairs when they come through so we can see the rodeos again. 

However.  That ends the time that Noel was here.  Only 2 weeks, and he's off to his next job, this time in New York City.  (Being a new Texan, I can't help but say "New York City!?!" like the Pace picante sauce commercials).  He flew there a few days ago and will be there for probably 5-6 weeks.  City slicker!  He won't know what to do when he leaves NYC (population density: 67,000 people per sq. mi.) and gets back here to the land of There's Nobody For Miles. 

Speaking of the farm, I got motivated yesterday to get out in the gorgeous sunshine and did some landscaping.  First, the before picture:

And the after picture!  I made a small retaining wall out of some leftover bricks, planted some petunias, lavender, and 3 red azalea bushes around the front of the house.

Now we just have to keep it watered so it'll all thicken up and grow pretty.  Fortunately we've been having rain lately, so that'll help.

So that's the update from the farm for now!  Hope you enjoyed it!