Austin, TX

Rounding out our 4th month of the trip was a quick stop in Austin, Texas.  With just a few days to explore the city, we used the trusty TripAdvisor app to make sure we hit the hot spots.  We also made sure to spend several hours sitting in traditional Austin traffic.  First stop, the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.  We parked on the east side of the lake and walked across Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk hoping to see the bats fly out, but it seems they have migrated to Mexico for the winter.  No problem, we don’t need a reason to go back, but now we have one.  Downtown, we headed towards historic 6th Street, which is apparently THE place to be if you’re into having fun.  We spent a day walking around downtown, touring the Capitol Building, Zilker Park, Rainey Street, and walked through 6th Street again in the evening.  Can’t wait to return with more time to enjoy this awesome city!

Santa Fe, NM

We arrived in beautiful Santa Fe the day before Thanksgiving.  Normally we celebrate the holiday as follows: I eat something homemade (or more likely pre-made, frozen and sold in a compartmentalized microwave safe tray).  Johan and Nik take the 5th wheel out to the desert and spend 4-5 days driving around on 2-4 wheels in the sand dunes.  The last traditional Thanksgiving dinner I remember having was in 2006, when the whole extended family ate turkey at Alice & Danny’s house in Lake Forest.  After dinner, my mom, dad, and Jess drove me to O’Hare, where I left Chicago with a one-way ticket to Orange County, CA carrying an air mattress and a week’s worth of clothes.  I left Chicago at night in snowy, freezing conditions and woke up to sun and palm trees.  I digress.  Since arriving in CA, there have been several attempts at beginning our own Thanksgiving tradition, but the only one that stuck was the one where the boys go out to the desert to play with their toys.  So having butternut squash soup and peppercorn steak at L’Olivier in Santa Fe for Thanksgiving this year is not likely to become a new tradition either, but it was a lovely evening out.

This was our first visit to Santa Fe and it is so clear why it is a favorite getaway for so many of our friends and family.  The art is incredible and the town is so walkable and fun to explore.  We were lucky to be in the Plaza on the Friday after Thanksgiving to watch the official lighting ceremony for the 2017 holiday season (see the countdown video on Instagram).  We biked the Arroyo de los Chamisos trail on day 2 and spent day 3 hiking the Dale Ball Trail, catching some great views from one of the rare high points in an otherwise flat area.  Thank God for the car show in town at the Plaza on Sunday, which kept Johan busy while I feverishly stopped in as many stores as I could before the meter ran out.  We ended the visit with a stop at Meow Wolf, which turned even Johan into a lover of weird art installations.  Perhaps for the first time in history, we left a gallery without him saying “I could make that.”