Oh look, a blog post!
Christmas was the most amazing, epic Christmas that the Poirier fam has ever had!
We didn’t buy any gifts for each other, or for the kids. Santa brings one gift and the stocking and that was plenty. We decided early on in 2018 that we wanted to do a destination Christmas, and in August I made our Christmas Eve and Christmas night room reservations.
After I made the reservations, Andy picked a couple of things he’d like us to see in the great southwest (my favorite part of America!), and that was that.
We took off on our trip the first day of the kids’ Christmas break from school. Which it was amazing to just leave life behind for a week! We didn’t have a specific route or anything in mind, other than the shortest way through the Texas Panhandle as possible, haha!
On our first day, we were pretty lax with our electronics rule. Usually on a road trip into unseen territory, the kids are only allowed to be on their electronics if it is dark or if we’re on a super boring part of the highway (Kansas, I’m looking at you). Texas is unbelievably boring (in the panhandle) and all the feed lots were making my kids feel sad about eating meat.
We did decide to eat at the Big Texan after seeing approximately one million and three billboards showcasing their juicy steaks. They were so good, apparently, I didn’t take a photo on my own phone of my kids there. They each posed with the gigantic cow outside but… I guess the images are on Olivia’s phone.
After eating, we happened upon the Cadillac Ranch, which was super cool. I didn’t know anything about it so I googled it, and I love love love that some farmer out in nowhere, Texas, allowed this art installation to go in… and that it is still there!
We also tried to stop at a barbed wire museum (Andy’s idea, not mine)… THANKFULLY they were closed until “tour bus season,” whatever that means for a BARBED WIRE MUSEUM???
We ended our first day on the trip in Roswell, New Mexico. Nothing near our hotel was open (we stayed downtown I guess), so we had Jimmy John’s delivery in our room and went to bed early.
Day two began with Starbucks (of course) and then to the UFO Museum! We had a lot of fun learning about Roswell, Area 51, aliens, and conspiracies.
We were done in Roswell pretty early in the day, which was awesome. Next up: White Sands National Monument. Andy chose this destination and I wasn’t even really sure I would enjoy it. I mean. It was a bunch of white sand, right? Exactly.
Let me tell you. I could have spent our entire trip at White Sands and never gone anywhere else!! We took sleds with us (you can buy them in the gift shop there for $25, but they’re round and we did our research (well, Andy did) and we knew those disc sleds wouldn’t be as fun).
The biggest thing for me was being able to see the sunset there. We got there around noon and stayed until dark. It was the most fun, perfect day we had. The sand is very cold, because there is water underneath, about 6-12″ below. So the sand is packed like its wet, even though it isn’t. SOOOO cool.
It was freezing (or felt like it) as the sun set over the White Sands and the mountains in the distance, but it was the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen. Even if it was slightly cloudy and hazy. That place is pure magic and I absolutely will return one day.
We drove on to Las Cruces that night and crashed out. Our hotel was super old, and the bartender told us it was haunted. We did not have any ghost encounters, but the kids loved learning that it was “haunted.”
Day three, we were on the road to the Saguaro Cactus National Park. This is the day the government shut down, so I was pretty pissy about the park’s gift shop being closed. I am seriously so mad. I know that it NOTHING compared to the families of government workers going without pay! But at this time, it was day 1 and so I felt like I had the right to be upset. I even sent snarky ass post cards with cactuses on them from the next stop to all our family. ha.
So while the Saguaros were on my bucket list, they’re definitely not an interactive kind of park. Especially since the visitor center was closed. We drove through, stopping frequently to walk into the brush to photograph the cactuses and their fruits. Cacti. Olivia kept correcting me but I swear, I felt dumber saying cacti than cactuses, so bare with me.
On the way out of Arizona in to Colorado, we decided to stop and take the kids to dinner at Cheesecake Factory. They’d never been to one (there isn’t one near us), and we knew they would enjoy it. They did, of course, and then we were off! We grabbed a room in Tuba City, which meant we drove farther than we wanted to that day, but we didn’t want to miss out on anything in Colorado by driving in the dark. We also wanted to make sure we stopped at the four corners monument (Andy’s idea).
Four corners monument is… wait for it… A FLEA MARKET. With a cement stamped with the four corners. You have to pay $20 to get in. Because there is NOTHING ELSE. haha it was a waste of money but it was on the route and we got our picture. Hilarious.
We’re like, just driving along on our route to Colorado when we see this super familiar rock formation. We pull off and it turns out, we took this same road for part of our trip in 2017!!
So we added our ’18 to the rock and got back on the road. Next stop: Ridgeway, Colorado. We got a room at a lodge here, in this cute mountain town. It was dark and by this time Sophia had a killer earache and a fever from the elevation changes. Her ears wouldn’t pop and it was causing serious pressure in her little ears. Andy and Olivia stepped out to get us some dinner and I got Sophia fixed up with motrin and hot washcloths on her little ears. After that and a good night’s sleep she was good to go the next day.
The drive from Ridgeway to Fairplay was absolutely stunning. General consensus of the Poirier Fam is… we’ll move to Colorado in a heart beat. Give me all the mountains, all the snow, all the gorgeous trees and environmentally friendly, like minded hippies you can muster. I belong in Colorado (almost as much as I belong in SoCal).
Fairplay… is my favorite place. The town is tiny. The people are kind. It is only 20something miles from Breckenridge. It. Is. Perfect.
The owner of the Fairplay Valiton is suuuuper kind, and since the hotel is haunted by Julia, a girl who killed herself (in the room we stayed in), the kids were fascinated with the whole thing. On our first day there, the owner, Ms. Constance, took the kids on a tour of the basement and other areas to check for ghosts. Sophia LOVED this, she took her phone and captured photos of orbs. She told us repeatedly that her favorite part about Christmas was staying in a haunted hotel.
Fairplay is just a few miles from the continental divide, which is a fab place to sled, ski, and snow shoe. We spent our Christmas Eve sledding!
Since all the food places were closed for Christmas, we got plenty of microwave food and sandwich stuff for Christmas Eve. We also got a bottle of wine for us and Ms. Constance provided our kiddos with hot cocoa. We spent our evening in the great room in front of the wood stove and went to bed early to watch Christmas tv.
Of course when the kids were asleep, Santa managed to find them and leave their big gift and their stockings. I didn’t take many photos and it was awesome.
Christmas day we took off up the mountain to Breckenridge to find lunch and check things out. Almost everything was open, so we enjoyed pizza for lunch, some shopping (Sophia spent almost all her Christmas money at the toy store, Peak-a-Boo toys. Get it, peak, like a mountain?!), some sledding (Andy and Sophia), and a cool dog park (which Drake SUPER loved, he LOVES snow!). We even took the gondolas up to the ski lift. We didn’t ski of course but the ride was cool (and dog friendly).
It was seriously the most fun trip. We did rent a minivan to create a more comfortable drive… Drake is so big now, going places in my SUV isn’t as comfortable. Even though it has 3rd row seating! A short trip is fine, but getting the minivan (Dodge Caravan, I think) was definitely worth it. We folded the entire back seat away so we had room for our cooler, our luggage & sleds, and Drake had room to lay down when he wasn’t in between the kids’ captain seats in the middle row. I won’t ever own a minivan, but I’ll definitely rent one again for a long drive!
We had such a great time, we are already researching destinations for next Christmas! Where would you spend your dream destination Christmas (within the continental US)?