Saturday, December 8, 2007

...of vacation planning.

I promised several people that I would blog about my recent vaca. Here it is.

Several months ago I was blogging around, and came across a blogger who had spent a lot of time owning a hot air balloon, and I said that sounds fun. I googled hot air balloon festivals and there were several to choose from. Most were too soon or too something. I settled my heart on one in Gallup, New Mexico the first weekend in December. My first clue should have been their website, but I'll get into that later.

First thing I had to do was convince my much more practical husband that taking the kids out of school for four days, putting the babies in respite for five days, flying to ABQ, and spending thousands of dollars would be a good idea. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have worried about the details, we'd have done it and worried about it later. I think that that probably led to a lot of his practicality, but as I consider things more, he's loosened up, and pretty soon we'll pass each other on our way to the other extreme.

I only knew two things of Albuquerque. One, was that it was in New Mexico, and two the Weird Al song, ok three, it was in Bernalillo County. Other than that, my mind was a clean slate. I found out so much about Albuquerque, and the more I learned the more I wanted to visit. First thing, was it's cool there in December. I know it sounds silly, but I figure, desert = hot, but throw in an altitude higher than one mile and you get cold. Two, there is a freakin' huge mountain bumpin' up against the city, and on that mountain...the longest tram of some sort in the world. So, I was really excited about doing that. (my dearly departed Grandma B is looking down from heaven wondering where that adventuresome me was thirty years ago when she had to drag me up the side of a mountain screaming the whole way.)

I decided that I wanted this trip for my Christmas present. I wanted to go to Albuquerque, I wanted to go to the balloon festival, I wanted to hang out with my older kids, and my husband and not have to worry about which three year old was where, and getting in by eight o'clock, and getting up at the crack of early. I wanted a vacation. I stated on my Born of the Heart blog that the babies will have six years of being only children, so don't feel bad for them, we don't love them any less, we just wanted to spend some time with our born of the body babies, who have given up their parents for the last four years.

So, I came up with a mock up itinerary and presented it to my husband. I was surprised that he didn't need talked into it. Ok, I have issues, I find it hard to believe that someone could want me to have something that I want. I promise to go to therapy.

There are two givens in our house. We don't carry credit card debt, anymore, and if we can't pay for it, we can't afford it. So, I had to figure a way to make this vacation as cheap as possible, and to not notice the couple of thousand dollars this trip would cost. First thing, airline tickets. I found out that had a historical graph of the price of airline tickets for the last two years. Good news, the tickets were forecast to drop about $150, I just had to be patient and wait. Wait I did and it saved me $800.

Second thing, an inexpensive place to stay, that wouldn't make us feel all ooky. We love the Residence Inn in San Antonio, figured we'd try out the one in Albuquerque. They had a two bedroom suite for $151/night. Yikes, that's cheap, and you get a free hot breakfast. We were so there. They also have a full, stocked kitchen, we could have saved even more money by cooking, but I was on vacation....

All parents know what I mean when I say I dread the question of "how long until....?" We boldly decided that this would be a surprise trip. The kids would not know a thing, until they needed to know. So I came up with the idea of an Amazing Race type scenario. We'd figure out how much money we'd spend on them, break it up into five parts and give them a fifth of their money and a clue each day. This turned out to be a brilliant idea. The kids had to pay for snacks and souvenirs along the way. We'd buy meals and pay entrance fees. In fifteen kid days I was only asked for money once, it is almost a Christmas miracle.

We also had to plan the Gallup portion of our trip. It was two hours from Albuquerque on Route 66, figured that would be fun. Turns out the only exciting thing about Gallup was the balloon festival. I was really looking forward to that. They have beautiful scenery there, the red rock formations surrounding the town were awesome. I was so excited to see the balloons with the red rocks in the background, I couldn't wait.

Gallup is a stones throw from Arizona, just inside Arizona is the Painted Desert, reportedly a photographers dream. My daughter is a photographer and since this is her senior year, I thought it would be fun to take her there, in the Painted Desert is the Petrified National Forest, cool, cool, cool.

Just beyond the forest was Winslow, Arizona, needed to go stand on a corner, and just beyond that Meteor Crater. This trip was getting more fun by the second, I was getting more excited.

The ticket prices dropped, we bought the tickets, we booked hotel rooms, the only thing standing between us and our adventure was the calendar, but I was ready.

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Cast of Characters

  • BOB - Born of the body children
  • BOTH - Born of the heart children
  • Roran aka Big Girl - 18 year old BOB daughter - recently booted from the nest
  • Big Boy - 15 year old BOB son
  • Radical - 9 year old BOB son who fyi is not RAD
  • Felpsy aka lil middle - 4 year old BOTH boy who is RAD and is the cumin in our soup
  • Booger - 4 year old BOTH boy, sib to Felpsy, Twin to....
  • Princess - 4 year old BOTH girl. Diva,