An Early Start Home

Jennifer was up with Isabelle early this morning and she decided to wake everyone up since it was almost 6:00, so that we could get an early start. What she didn’t know was that the clock in our room was set one hour ahead so it was actually almost 5:00. So, needless to say, we got a really early start for our final leg home. It was good to finally see home again. Three weeks away seems like an eternity. Thanks to everyone who let us stay at their house. Thanks to my parents for watching the girls while we were in Los Angeles. Thanks to MaMaw and PaPaw for watching Austin.

Today’s picture is from our trip to the Rose Bowl. It’s the classic shot of the stadium’s marquee.

Mobile, Alabama: Most Inconsiderate Town in America

We headed out for home this morning. We did well only stopping twice: for breakfast and for lunch. This is pretty good with three girls in tow. The key is to stop for breakfast about an hour out from where you start.

Our mid-way point for the trip has always been Mobile, Alabama. Our problems started once we got to the hotel. I was waiting in line to check-in to the hotel, the kids jumping around me in a circle. There were two clerks and two people being helped. I couldn’t believe it, but it took ten minutes for those other people to be helped. There were also two people waiting behind me. I stepped up to the next available clerk when the phone rang and she picked up the phone. Right then the guy behind me jumps to the other clerk before I could move over to her. Then the same thing happened again with the other person behind me. Meanwhile the lady at the desk kept answering one phone call after another. It pissed me off pretty bad.

Second, we decided to take the girls to Chuck E. Cheese to expend some of that energy which had been building up. Big mistake. It’s Saturday night. The place was thick with people. Jennifer waited in line with Isabelle to order our pizza. Even though Isabelle was crying, people three or four ladies cut in front of her while she was trying to order.

Finally, back at the hotel, one final straw. When we stopped here on our way to Houston, I accidentally left my Xbox 360 DVD Remote control in the room. We called about four times while we were in Houston and finally someone found it. They said that they would hold it for us until we came back through. Well, we are back through and they can’t find it. We told them about it at 4:00 and now at 8:00 they say that the manager has gone home and has the key to the “lost and found” closet. How idiotic is that? So, with those incidents, I’ve dubbed Mobile, Alabama “The Most Inconsiderate Town in America”.

It’s sad that I have to have such a negative entry on Emily’s birthday. I want to wish Emily a happy 3rd birthday. It’s gone by so fast.

A Party for Emily

Today MaMaw and PaPaw brought Austin with them from Lindale to Shreveport and we had a small party for Emily since her birthday is tomorrow. We are going to have a bigger party for her next Saturday with her friends from school. She got a lot of cool presents of which Abby helped her open every single one.

Later in the afternoon, Jennifer and I went by to see Jill’s apartment up the street from my parents. She has a pretty big apartment. A lot of familiar furniture was there, apparently some hand-me-downs from my parents. She had it decorated real nice and it seemed to be pretty comfortable. We wanted to make sure and saw it before we left Shreveport.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 8

The last day of our trip started at 2:10 a.m. We had a 6:00 a.m. flight out of LAX and so the shuttle service said that they would pick us up at 2:40 a.m. They were 30 minutes late and didn’t actually pick us up until after 3:00. We ended up getting to the airport and to our flight on time. Since we only got two hours of sleep after the game, we tried to sleep on the plane, but that’s always hard to do. It’s tough to get comfortable sitting in one of those small airplane seats.

We arrived in Dallas where Aunt Marci picked us up from the airport. We had lunch with her and then headed back to Shreveport. Three hour drive with two hours sleep. We had to stop a couple of times in order to stock up on caffeine and snacks in order to stay awake.

We arrive in Shreveport and the girls were happy to see us. Emily exclaimed, “Daddy, you came back!” It was good to be reunited with the girls. It was good to get away from a week, but we missed them. Thanks to Nana and Poppy for watching them for the week.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 7

Wow, what a game. Well worth the price we paid for the trip. To be there in person for the Longhorns’ coming back from a 12 point deficit and winning the National Championship is priceless. Frenchville will be burnt orange for some time. I was feeling a little bleak when Reggie Bush scored that touchdown to go up by 12. But Vince Young showed everyone how good he really is. His passing was spot on and his scrambling ability was amazing. To see him in person and how fast he moves on the field, it’s so different from seeing it on TV. On the last score he ran into the end zone right where we were sitting. I saw it opening up and he was running right through where I thought he should go. Everyone in the stands erupted and were all jumping around. It was amazing.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 6

Why couldn’t the Rose Parade have been today? It was nice and sunny so we decided to go view the floats up close. We skipped it yesterday because of the rain. So, we walked quite a distance down to a Park N’ Ride for the post parade viewing of the floats and rode a bus to where the floats were. It was nice seeing the floats up close. They weren’t in as bad shape as I thought they would be, but you could still see quite a bit of rain damage.

In the evening we rode with the six elderly University of Texas nurses, who we met on our first day at the hotel, to the Longhorn Bash. It was a gathering of 7,000 Longhorn fans in Los Angeles at the Century Plaza Hotel. There was beer, BBQ, and bands playing music. Bevo and the cheerleaders showed up and lead Texas cheers with the whole group. Jennifer said that she’d never seen such a sea of orange.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 5

51 years without any rain and today it down poured. Today was the 117th version of the Rose Parade and we sat through the cold and the rain to see most of the parade. We left about 15 minutes before the end so that we could beat the crowds out of there. We had rain slickers (thanks to Aunt Marci), but as we sat there, rain was still getting though. We were soaked from the legs down. This combined with the cold wind that was coming up through the grandstands made it a pretty rough ride.

We were supposed to have lunch at a restaurant near the parade route, but we were soaked and we decided to walk back to the hotel. We were pretty pissed at the tour guides for not taking us back to the hotel before lunch. Who wants to eat lunch in soaked clothing. After lunch we were supposed to go see the floats, but we decided to skip that as well.

Since we had the afternoon off, we walked across the street to a movie theatre. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a movie. The last one we saw was Pooh’s Heffalump Movie a year ago with the girls before Isabelle was born, which is pretty sad. We went to see Cheaper by the Dozen 2. It was a cute movie and passed the time until dinner.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 4

Today was a free day for us, but since we had so much fun on the float tour we decided to crash a Los Angeles city tour today. We talked to our tour guide, slipped her some extra money, and voila we are on the tour.

We started off by driving through downtown Los Angeles and seeing the Walt Disney Hall and Performing Arts Center. From there we headed to the Kodak Theatre which is now the permanent home for the Academy Awards. It’s kind of weird because it’s part of this big mall and the tour guide was saying that they put red curtains up to cover up the shops for the award show. Right around the corner from there was Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where they have various celebrities put their foot and hand prints into the cement. We saw old stars’ prints like John Wayne, George Burns, and Debbie Reynolds; as well as some new stars’ prints like Stephen Spielberg, Harrison Ford, and Johnny Depp. After that we went to Farmer’s Market to have lunch. There was every ethnic variety of food available. It was amazing. Unfortunately that’s when the rain started. After that the rest of the trip was from the bus. We drove down Rodeo Drive and through Beverly Hills. Overall we weren’t too impressed with the tour, but at least we can say, “we’ve been there; done that.”

Once we got back to the hotel we rested a bit and went out for a dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It was raining and cold all afternoon, but there were still whole families that had started lining up along Colorado Boulevard in order to get a good spot for the Rose Parade tomorrow. It was amazing and sad at the same time that people were camping out in such miserable weather in order to see the parade tomorrow. We did some shopping for some Rose Bowl souvenirs and then called it a night.

Tournament of Roses Tour, Day 3

Happy New Year from the West Coast. We got up at 5:30 this morning so that we could get ready to go view the parade floats getting decorated for the Rose Parade. We have complimentary breakfast each morning as part of the tour. From there we headed down to the first of the decoration sites. We saw six of the floats from the designer that has won an award for his floats for the last 12 years. The first thing I noticed when we entered the tent was the smell of flowers. It was just like walking into a florist shop. Each float starts as an artistic sketch. From the sketch the metal workers create the shell of the float on top of a truck chassis. Foam is injected into the shell and then painted the color the final float is going to look like. From there flowers, seeds, and grass are added one piece at a time to the float. It looks like a pains taking process and it’s pretty amazing that so many floats are created from scratch each year for the parade. We went to see a couple of more float making sites near the Rose Bowl next. Unfortunately it started raining and we got pretty drenched.

We were scheduled to go to Band Fest next, but we decided to sit that out since it was raining so much. Instead we went searched for a battery charger for our camera. I forgot our battery charger at home and the batter light came on while we were looking at the floats. We had the driver at the hotel drive us to Best Buy and we found a charger there.

In the evening we headed to the Civic Center next to the hotel for our New Years Eve bash. We had dinner, drinks and danced until midnight. We counted down the last seconds of 2005 and toasted campaign while confetti floated down from the ceiling. I wish everyone a great 2006. We miss the kids and hope to be home soon.