NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

An Unthankful Thanksgiving

I was perusing through some old short stores I’d written several years ago and I came across one that happened at Thanksgiving. It reminded me that it’s just as easy to find things to be thankful for as it is to find things to complain about. You can ruin your own vacation by complaining or you can find joy even if the midst of hardship by being thankful. Sometimes I wonder how much I would have enjoyed that trip if I’d practiced gratitude. I hope this year you focus on the things you’re grateful for and enjoy the blessings God’s given you and don’t get stuck focusing on what’s wrong or hard.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the story!

Thanksgiving Cruise

I think it’s a bit ironic that the only cruise I’ve ever been on was set during the week of Thanksgiving. However, this is one of the trips that I can remember a lot of unthankfulness. But it did teach me a lesson. And it is one trip I’ll never forget.

We started our cruise from Galveston, TX. We should have been very thankful that we didn’t have to fly all the way to Florida to get on a cruise, but unfortunately, we were late getting to the ship, and this caused some bad attitudes.

“If only we would have left when I said we should,” Dad grumbled as he parked the car.

We hurried to unload our many suitcases and glanced up thankfully at the tall ship. At least we weren’t being left behind… yet.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” my younger sister Alicia said with a whine, “I’ve been holding it for fifteen minutes.”

“Just a little longer,” Mom assured her. “We’ll go sign in and I’m sure they have a bathroom somewhere.”

“Come on already,” my younger brother Jonny said with frustration. “I don’t want the ship to leave without us.”

I agreed with Jonny and started following him towards the wharf, with my wheeled suitcase in tow. We soon found the check-in area, and I was a bit relieved to find out that we weren’t the only family that had gotten there late. But there were some consequences. As Dad signed papers, I stared up at the ship’s deck high above us, and spotted groups of passengers clumped together in formation at the lifeboats. They were undergoing a mandatory safety training, and we were missing it.

“You’ll have to do the late training this evening,” the check in person said.

I shook my head; of course it would be my family that missed the safety training. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to experience a Titanic like adventure, but I still wanted to be prepared in case some kind of emergency happened. Now, while everyone else was having fun, we’d have to stand like a bunch of idiots out on the deck and do our safety training, basically singling ourselves out as the irresponsible ones. But it could be worse, at least we didn’t have to do it alone, there were several other families who were late too.

As our trip got underway, I found myself spending a lot of time in our cabin, a tiny room with two bunk beds, and a TV. We watched a lot of old cartoons that I hadn’t even known had existed. There was Adam Ant, and Mighty Mouse, and the Spiderman movie was played continually on one channel.

“Uh, I wish they played some better cartoons,” I whined. “Like Scooby Doo. There’s nothing good on these channels.”

“I’m bored of TV,” Jonny joined in.

“Yeah, I’m so bored.” I knew complaining about being bored was kind of dumb: I was staying in the room watching the same cartoons over and over instead of getting out on the ship. But I didn’t want to make any effort; I just wanted to be entertained. Thus the unthankfulness epidemic grew. Every little thing there was to complain about somehow got mentioned.

“Uh, I wish that stupid rule about not swimming in the adult pool never existed,” I complained.

“Yeah, that current is so fun to play in, and it’s not as crowded as the kid pool,” Jonny added.

“And we’re all good swimmers, it’s not like we need a life guard or an adult to watch us, we can take care of ourselves,” I added.

“You know what I’m sick of?” Alicia asked.

I turned my head lazily to face her, “What?”

“Those lady fingers that they put in all the desserts, they taste disgusting and I’m so tired of having to pull them out of everything.”

“Speaking of food,” Jonny added. “Did you know they ran out of free ice cream in the lounge today? Talk about disappointing.”

This kind of talk would go on and on, and what did we do; sit and watch more boring TV.

Thankfully, this was not the case every day. On the days we were stopped at an island or foreign country, there were chances to explore, and get off the boat. But complaining fests still crept upon us. The worst stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. For some reason, everyone found something to complain about that day, and even though we were all a part of doing something very enjoyable, we focused in on the parts that didn’t meet our expectations.

I climbed into the taxi after Dad had finally flagged down a taxi van that was big enough for our whole family. It had been a long day. We had split up this time with Mom and me going to a ranch to ride horses, and the Dad taking the other kids to the beach. “So what did y’all do?” I asked Alicia.

“Well the boys went swimming and climbed a big blow up iceberg, but it was too far out for me, so Dad stayed with me on the beach. It’s no fun being small. The iceberg looked like fun.”

“Yeah it was,” Jonny said. “But you got to go on the bounce trampoline and do flips.”

“But you got to do both,” Alicia whined. “I wish I could have gone with you Lydia. I would have rather ridden horses.”

“Well it wasn’t too exciting. I was separated from Mom for most of the ride. My horse wouldn’t go at all, even when I kicked like the guide said, he wouldn’t listen. He just walked when the horses in front of him walked. I really wanted to gallop with the others, but when I tried, the horse was still really slow.”

“So you didn’t have fun?” Alicia asked.

“No, it was fun. There was a cool show they did for us where this rider danced with his horse. And we saw a lot of ruins on the trail ride… they looked fake to me though.

“Well I’m starving,” my older brother Brain said. “I can’t wait to get back to the ship. Dad didn’t want to pay for any of the food at the beach. He said it was too expensive.”

Just then we pulled up to the curb. I glanced out the window at the ocean in the distance; there was our cruise ship, still as a sunken log. “Good timing then,” I said. “Let’s go eat.”

We jumped out of the van, ready to get back to our temporary home aboard the ship, but as we started moving towards the ship, a yell disrupted the evening air.

I turned back to see Dad yelling at our Taxi driver, saying something about the amount was wrong and that it shouldn’t be that expensive to drive three miles. I kept walking, hoping the other vacationers returning to the ship didn’t think we were part of the same family. I hated this day, not only had the horse ride been quite disappointing, but now my Dad was having a breakdown about money for the whole world to see. At that moment, it seemed like I was on the worst vacation ever.

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Texas Road Trip

Over this past weekend, I got to take a road trip across a portion of the great state of Texas with my family. We drove over 1000 miles in our little gold minivan and visited some amazing places that I had never seen before. I thought I’d share some of the highlights on this blog in case anyone out there is thinking of going to West Texas sometime soon.

View from the top of Enchanted Rock

We started our trip by stopping at one of my favorite State Parks: Enchanted Rock. This natural large slab of Granite is a sight to behold, even though climbing it can be a bit strenuous and boy if you wear a hat, you better hold on to it tight, because it gets super windy up on top of the stone. But the view is great and there’s nothing like the feeling of conquering a small mountain. Plus, since it is near Fredericksburg, you can plan on picking up some fresh peaches or maybe even some peach ice cream.

Then we drove on to Balmorhea State Park to spend the night. It’s this cool little town in the middle of the desert that has natural springs that flow year round. It’s like an oasis in the hot dry land. They have turned the springs into a swimming pool for visitors of the state park. There were all sorts of fish and clear cool water to dive in and swim around. I even got to see rare Head Water Catfish that are all black and have blue eyes. My brother said it reminded him of Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Since there’s water, there is also a lot of wildlife in this area, in particular we saw many birds. I even got to see a hummingbird’s nest for the first time in my life. They make them out of spiderwebs. I would highly recommend stopping at this State Park, and I hope to go back sometime this winter.

Head Water Catfish that look like Toothless

From Balmorhea, we drove to Fort Davis, specifically to the Davis Mountains State Park. The McDonald Observatory is a short drive from the park and our first night there, we got to go to a star party and enjoy seeing the constellations, several planets, a galaxy and star clusters through the multiple telescopes provided. It was so much fun, and for the rest of the trip, I loved looking up at the night sky to see what I could remember from the tour. The stars in West Texas are just gorgeous, I can see so many more without the light pollution of a city and especially if you get up on a mountain, your view isn’t blocked by trees. This is one of my favorite things we did on this trip, and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it.

At McDonald Observatory

There were several hiking trails and a great bird watching area in the state park, and Fort Davis National Park was also a short drive away. I wish we had more time to explore the historic structures, but the Fort closes at 5 pm everyday, so plan ahead if you decide to go. In Fort Davis itself, we found several cool little shops to explore, like an old-timey soda fountain, and an ice cream shop built into a train’s caboose. There was even a Rattlesnake museum. I was fine seeing the scaly creatures behind glass but I’m glad we didn’t run into any on our hikes. Speaking of hikes, we stopped at this random picnic sight on the drive between Fort Davis and the State Park and found an excellent place to boulder (or climb big rocks without the aid of ropes). It provided a great view of the area and was a lot of fun.

Hiking in the Davis Mountains

At Fort Davis National Park

Ice Cream from a Caboose

Bouldering

Lastly, we drove to Marfa to see if we could spot any of the mysterious lights that come out in the evenings. It would have been fun to explore Marfa itself a bit more, but most of our time was spent waiting at the observation area for the sun to set. It was a wonderful place to watch the sunset and I took a lot of pictures, but all the lights we saw in the distance were clearly car lights, so not sure if I’m a believer in the “Marfa Lights.” But it was still a fun place to go, and the sunset made it all worth it to me.

Sunset in Marfa

Well I hope you enjoyed the pictures and a glimpse into what’s out there in West Texas.

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Fun in San Diego

Well I’ve been out of town for the past week, so instead of writing a thought provoking post, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pictures from my trip to San Diego. I’d never been before and it was a lot of fun to explore the area, see the coast and the zoo and just get to spend time with family. Enjoy!

View from Mount Helix

View from Mount Helix

 

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

 

Seagulls at the Beach

Seagulls at the Beach

 

Sunset at Coronado

Sunset at Coronado

 

View of the Bay from the USS Midway

View of the Bay from the USS Midway

 

Bears at the Zoo

Bears at the Zoo

 

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Exploring Old Town

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