After a relaxing Christmas at the ranch, we headed to San Antonio where the Baylor Bears would be playing in the Alamo Bowl. My parents surprised the entire family with tickets to the game and two nights on the River Walk. Though I am not a huge football fanatic, the excitement surrounding Baylor's incredible 2011 football season after many so-so years, would make any Baylor fan incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to see them in a bowl game. The 2011 Baylor football season was a monumental year, finishing second best in the Big 12 and 13th in the final AP standings, which is the program's highest finish since 1986, and produced its first Heisman Trophy winner, RG3, or Robert Griffin, III.
|Posing in front of the LCD image in our hotel lobby|
We arrived in San Antonio the day before the game and enjoyed staying in the historic Gunther Hotel, which was decked out in Baylor colors. It seemed the entire Baylor Nation was on the River Walk, because it was flooded in green and gold. We enjoyed shopping, eating and enjoying the beautiful and festive Christmas lights along the river.
|Enjoying the most amazing margaritas (with an upside down bottle of beer) at a River Walk bar|
We also managed to fit in a bit of tourism and saw the Alamo film, "The Price of Freedom," at the IMAX, that my great uncle and cousin star in. It's not the best film version of the Alamo, but it was interesting to see my family in the film and as a Texan, it's a way to fulfill our duty to "Remember the Alamo."
|In front of the huge Christmas tree in Alamo Square|
The Alamo Bowl stadium was packed with over 65,000 people and it was fun to run into Baylor friends, including Drew and Spring, who were sitting a mere 3 rows in front of us.
|Sic'em Bears, with college buds, Drew and Spring|
|The Catlin Gang at the game (4 out of 6 are Baylor alums)|
The game was incredibly exciting, and especially the outcome where Baylor won the game with a 67-56 final score against Washington. It was an amazing two days in San Antonio with my family and I will always cherish these memories and will forever Remember the Alamo Bowl!
From San Antonio, Jon and I headed to Austin with Laurel and Jason for two nights before New Year's. Jon had a list a mile long of things he wanted to do and places he wanted to go in Austin (Juan-in-a-Million, Waterloo Records, Run-Tex, 6th Street). Somehow we managed to fit it all in and made our way all over the city in record time. In order to avoid the chaos of downtown on New Year's Eve, we had our night out on the 30th. After discovering a couple new bars on far West 6th Street, we spent most of our time on East 6th Street, re-familiarizing ourselves with our old haunts. We had a great time bar-hopping, listening to live music, and enjoying all that downtown Austin has to offer.
On New Year's Eve, we enjoyed a lovely couples dinner at a restaurant near their house and spent the rest of the night shooting off fireworks in their street with the neighbors. It was the perfect low key yet always fun New Year's Eve. There's no two people we'd rather ring in the new year with!
Early on New Year's Day, Jon and I caught a flight from Austin to Norfolk, Virginia, where we spent the next few days visiting his family in North Carolina. Though it was a short trip, we managed to visit with a lot of his family, to include his grandparents, parents, brother, sister-in-law and nephew, and many aunts and uncles. Jon is so blessed to come from a large family who mostly live around Northeastern North Carolina, which makes visiting many family members much easier.
|A beautiful North Carolina sunset over the sound in Columbia|
|With Jon's grandparents, Grandaddy and Grandmamma Hobbs|
After many delicious meals on the farm, quality time catching up with family, a post-Christmas celebration, and shopping in the Outer Banks, Jon and I were headed back to the airport, each flying our separate ways. Jon returned to Germany and I went back to Texas for another 10 days. It was hard to believe that the Christmas and New Year's holidays were over, but we managed to make the most of our 17 days together in the States. We are so grateful we were able to see both our amazing families during this unforgettable trip home. We love and thank you for making our time with you all so meaningful!