Family Fun, Health

Vacation Adventures (and One Misadventure)

An Early Start!

On the day that the calendar for Elijah’s Retreat opened, it filled up. I was not able to get us our usual spring break adventure, but I did book a few days for us in June.

Usually, we leave right after Rob gets out of work, make the 3 hour drive, and arrive late in the evening. This time, however, Rob had Thursday, the day we were scheduled to arrive, off of work. We decided to leave Wednesday night and stay at an Air BNB in Conroe, which would put us on the other side of Houston for the drive the next day.

We found the most elegant garage apartment I have ever seen!

Ili, of course, had to do her algebra class in the morning.

Off to Elijah’s!

As soon as algebra was over, we made the drive to Elijah’s. Rob and Ili flew balsa wood airplanes in the field by our cabin.

Iliana test drove a couple bikes.

Dinner was hot dogs over the campfire.

And of course I took a walk down my favorite trail!

Friday morning meant one more algebra class. Ili needed to go to the activity barn for wifi, so she settled in, in the sensory room.

Animal feeding time, of course, was a favorite!

It was, of course, beautiful everyday!

Saturday meant feeding the animals again.

Later on that day, Iliana treated us to her baked s’mores!

It was definitely different visiting this time, with Ili getting older. Iliana noticed that she didn’t get as excited about some of the activities, but she talked to Miss Cheryl, who showed her how to lead the horse and told her she can be a volunteer next time we visit, and help the other kids while they are horseback riding. Ili was excited about that and didn’t want to leave on Sunday.

And the Misadventure

We had a few misadventures during this trip as well. I enjoyed having the time to walk and get lots of steps in, and I did a lot of this walking while exploring the woods. After doing some exploring away from Elijah’s property, I came home and took a shower, only to find a tick on my belly. Disgustingly, ticks love my fatty skin, and they always freak me out. I have a lot of moles, but I always look very carefully for ticks. This one blended in surprisingly well and I almost missed it.

So yuck, but Rob was the hero and removed the gross, black bug. It looked like it had just gotten there, which was a good thing.

Then there were my eyes. On Friday at some point, my left eye got really itchy and red. By Saturday they were both red. I figured it was allergies and bought eye drops. They helped a little, then by the time we got home, my eyes were red and angry. I Googled it and decided they must be sunburned. They cleared after a couple days once I was home, although they stayed light sensitive and itchy.

Then there was the heat exhaustion. I have gotten heat exhaustion every year we have been in Texas, and my sore, sore muscles and inability to regulate my body temperature told me that I had done it again. However, this time was worse, as a day of rest did nothing to help. By Wednesday, after we were home, I was beyond exhausted. Wondering if I was dehydrated, I drank Poweraide, which helped a little. I went to bed early and still woke up tired and sore.

And still the allergies! I had the worst sinus headache.

The last straw was the ringworm. On my left hip was an angry red bump, with the telltale white circle and red circle around it. I bought some cream, and in the morning the outer circle was less red, the bump was brighter and angry, and the outer rash had grown a quarter of an inch larger. I put more ointment on it, because it had to be ringworm, right? Nothing else looks like it. How many other rashes look just like a…target?

Oh crap.

Over on my tummy, the tick bite had swollen up, looking just like the angry red bump in the middle of the “ringworm.” And a red circle was starting to spread around the bite.

After a text conversation with a dial-a-doc, complete with pictures sent, I had a prescription for 20 days’ worth of Doxycycline, which, interestingly enough, is also what our dog is taking for her heartworm treatment. So I will not have heartworms and the dog will not have Lyme disease!

Yes, Lyme can be every bit as scary as the Rona, however it has the wonderful feature of being treatable, especially early on. In fact, we will never know if it is Lyme or STARI, which is spread by the lone star tick and not nearly as dangerous. Whatever it is, it is getting nuked by the antibiotics before we even have time to see what it is!

So today I have had my first two doses, and I actually have the energy to write a blog post for the first time since we got home! I even did the dishes and took out the trash, which also had not happened. The angry bumps are less angry, and the bullseyes are barely there anymore.

I have decided to create a new drink, called “The 2021.” It will be a glass of Corona with a lime in it…

About Us, Family Fun

A Birthday Weekend in My “Happy Place”

This post has been a long time in the making.

I turned 40 on September 30, and I wanted to share my celebration at Elijah’s Retreat, in Jacksonville, Texas, with all of you shortly after.  However, I have also been getting settled in at my new job and working on balancing work, family, and myself.  

I am getting there, so today I am writing.

The First Visit

Somewhere in our second year living in Texas, I spent a night Googling activities for children with special needs.  I had seen a Facebook post about a special needs amusement park in San Antonio, and while I was looking for that, I stumbled across a website for Elijah’s Retreat. This was a resort, located about 3 hours away from us, for autism families.  It cost $30 a night and had 3 cabins.

Of course I was interested, but I was dismayed to find that the calendar was booked for the next year.  I followed Elijah’s on Facebook, and when the calendar for the next year opened up, I jumped on it.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break were full by the time I made my way to the site, but I managed to book two nights on a weekend at the end of summer vacation.

That weekend, Rob ended up having to work, so Ili and I headed out on a mother-daughter road trip!  Rob had looked over my Jeep, and found it to be in good working order.  However, the randomness of life had other plans.

As we were approaching Cleveland, Texas, the car started shaking, badly. I pulled into a gas station and noticed a large goiter on one of the tires.  I filled it with air and hoped for the best.  However, the tire had other plans.

We were stranded at the Love’s in Cleveland.  I called Rob, who would walk me through a tire change, if I could find a jack.  I could not, so I called AAA.  While I was waiting, an employee at the store said that his friend could put on a new tire for $120.  A bit steep, but that would get us to Elijah’s that night, rather than a hotel.

I told Rob, who cautioned me to ensure that the tire is new.  And sure enough, the f, riend showed up with a used tire.  I apologized for wasting his time, and put the AAA guy back on call.  He showed up, put on my spare, and shook his head at the “country bumkins” who were trying to “take advantage of the city girl.”

Rob had found a nearby Motel 6, where Ili and I spent the night.  She likes hotels, so this was fine.  In the morning, we arrived at Walmart as soon as they had opened.  The said my Jeep would have a new tire in 30 minutes.

Ili and I headed to McDonald’s to eat breakfast, then we returned to Walmart.  They were not ready.  Two hours later, my Jeep was still up on a hoist.  They said that oil changes take priority, and that they would not work on my Jeep as long as there were oil change customers.

Rob called, and I loudly explained that I could not take my daughter, who had autism, to an autism resort, because they were holding my car hostage.  Before I could finish my conversation, a manager appeared.  I hung up, and he apologized.  He said I could get my Jeep back right away, with the old tire, or I could wait 15 minutes for a new one.  I got the new tire and was on my way.

When we arrived at Divine Acres Ranch, Iliana was greeted by a volunteer, who took her on a horseback tour of the property.

At the time, the resort was still being run by its founder, Jeff Moore.  He was happy to see us, and offered us an extra night, since we arrived a day late.  Unfortunately, we both had school on Monday.

We had reserved cabin #2, but there was a mix-up, so we stayed in cabin #3, which I refer to as “The Palace.”  In the morning, I woke up before Iliana and enjoyed my coffee on the porch swing.  I was new in my yoga practice at that time, but during savasana, we were always asked to think of our “happiest place.”   To this day, I think of the swing at cabin #3.

Iliana had a great time.  There was one other family staying in the other two cabins, and their oldest drove Ili around in the barrel train.  I called it her “chariot.”  We both cried when it was time to leave.

Visit #3

We did not take any pictures of our second visit, but we had the resort to ourselves.  Elijah’s was struggling financially and in danger of closing.  The price increased to $100 a night, but I knew Rob needed to see it.

Then, the Torres family purchased the property, and we returned last spring, right after I went on leave from my job.

Here I am, on the swing, in my happiest place!

Lots of new changes happened with the “changing of the guard.”  The price went back down to $30, and the “little ranch hand” program was started.  Every morning, Miss Cheryl would drive by with the hay ride, and Iliana could jump on and feed all the animals that morning.  She also had the opportunity to ride a pony everyday, mid-afternoon.

And while attendance was down, Miss Cheryl’s children would come out to the playground and keep Iliana entertained!

Our Most Recent Visit

30 pounds less and one year older, I decided to issue in my fourth decade of life, at Elijah’s Retreat!

The obligatory kitchen picture…

Enjoying cabin #2…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging out and feeding the animals!

There was a news crew there that weekend, and here is the segment they aired, which included Iliana!

https://www.easttexasmatters.com/news/local-news/local-autism-retreat-serving-families-as-a-home-away-from-home-/1501423719?fbclid=IwAR0Y0kEBDmw24sOrLZW-kiEGdfAnp0oS3wySG0D_AjmePOC-YqbVD_770rA

Thank you to to Torres family and everyone else who has kept Elijah’s Retreat alive!  We had booked again for Iliana’s 12th birthday.  See you there!