Have you ever participated in a “Destination Unknown”? We did it a few times in my church youth group when I was a teenager. We all loaded up in a bus with a sack lunch and tried to guess for the next 2 hours where on earth they were taking us…it’s good fun! No, seriously, you should try it! Whether it’s a day trip, a weekend, or a full-blown vacation, it will be something your family will remember for a long time!
Our Family’s First Time
A couple of years ago, before we started full-time RVing, we started doing those trips with our kids. They are so much fun! The first time, we woke them up super early in the morning, told them to get dressed, brush their teeth, and then we would give them a surprise. The surprise was a manila envelope labeled with “Destination Unknown”. Inside, there was further instructions to grab a pillow and blanket and head for the car.
We would be going on our first ever Sinar Family Destination Unknown! On that first trip, we visited the beautiful McKittrick Canyon in autumn. We hiked about 7 miles round trip exploring the exquisite colors that painted the canyon.
We have also done trips to Ruidoso, NM, Fredricksburg, TX, and a couple more places. I have always been the one to plan them though! So, I have always known where our destination was…
Until…Valentine’s Day 2016.
It was Valentine’s morning, before the sun was even awake, my sweet little hubby came in with a gift for me and wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day. I was very thankful for his sweetness, but was wondering why on earth he had to be so sweet at such an early morning hour! After I managed to adjust my eyes and opened my gift, he said he was going to go fix me some coffee. (That’s code for it’s time for Mama to get up.) When he brought my coffee, he said that he had a few more surprises for the day, but I wasn’t allowed to ask questions. We just needed to get up and pack our moving house up as if we were leaving…but, there was no rush. He was going to fix breakfast. Just take my time…have a shower, get dressed, do whatever I had intended on doing that morning…just a couple of hours earlier.
Seriously? This isn’t some kind of joke, is it? We’ve already paid for 2 more nights in the Davis Mountains State Park. I’m perfectly happy here. What is he up to? I’m sure he has a plan…I’m just going to have to play along!
So, I got myself put together, got the kids up, sent them out to deliver the little valentine goodies we’d made the day before for our camping neighbors, and began packing up the interior as he packed up the exterior.
Click Here for the recipe for the Cherry Vanilla Puppy Chow we made! It was delicious! Hope our fellow campers enjoyed receiving them as much as we enjoyed giving them.
Anyways, I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what on earth we were doing. Were we going on a day trip somewhere, and coming back that night?
Then, he told me to go ahead and bring the slides in so we could hook up. Ok, so our house is going with us. Then, I remembered he filled up the gas cans “just in case” the other day. The only reason we would need gas is for our generator…which only means one thing…boondocking!
By then, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was happening, but I still couldn’t figure it all out. We all loaded up, and headed out of the park, leaving all of our plumbing supplies behind in the site at Davis Mountains State Park, which I thought was a little weird, but he assured me he had everything under control. Everyone was pretty quiet in the truck. Nobody knew what to say. Paul just had a smug grin on his face. He was a little proud of himself for pulling all of this off!
I just kept laughing and I was just…confused.
On our way out of Fort Davis, TX, I was keeping my eyes peeled for a clue, and I saw a sign. The sign said, “VALENTINE”!
AHA! I figured it out…well, kind of. We were going to spend Valentine’s in Valentine. Cute! But, what’s in Valentine, TX? I tried Googling it. All I could really find was that in 2000 the population was 189. There are two stories of how the town was named. Some sources say It was founded and named when the Southern Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882. Other sources say the town was named after John Valentine, President of Wells Fargo and a major stockholder in the Southern Pacific Railroad. What did that have to do with Valentine’s Day…aside from the obvious name?
About 5 miles out, Paul picks up his phone and calls someone he refers to a “Mr. Mayor” and tells him we are coming in with our RV, and asks him where we should park. As it turns out, “Mr. Mayor” is the mayor of Valentine, TX and he instructs us on where to pull in and set up. Why is my hubby calling the mayor of Valentine? Still confused…There are a couple of other RVs there too. As we pull in, we are instructed that a 5K will be starting in a couple of hours if we would like to participate, and the festivities will be starting around 3 pm about 3 blocks down on the right. Ok, by now, I’m completely confused. Over the next few hours, more cars, trucks, and RVs pile in to a 3-4 block radius.
A Little History on Valentine, TX
Valentine, TX is a tiny town in Jeff Davis County, TX. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.5 square miles, all land. Most buildings and old houses stand in ruins. As I found out later, on August 16, 1931, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Valentine, causing extensive damage. The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Texas.
There are many houses and buildings that look similar to the photo above. But, then there was this awesome old building, the Old Mercantile Building.
Established in 1907, it has been under several different owners and attempted several purposes over the years including a supply store for the railroad men and a community event center. It appears the small community just couldn’t ever make anything stick in that building. The Old Mercantile store sat abandoned by the railroad tracks for more than 50 years. After being chosen as the site for the inaugural Valentine’s in Valentine party in 2012, it was revived by the Big Bend Brewing Company out of Alpine, TX.
Valentine’s Day Party in Valentine, TX
After meeting a couple of our fellow RVers, Paul leveled with me and told me he had purchased tickets for us to attend the Valentine’s Day Party in Valentine. There would be food, drinks, live music, and dancing. Cool! So, I did what any 37-year-old mama would do, I went inside and took a nap! I was so exhausted from the morning of suspense, friends, I’m not even joking! I passed out for two whole hours!
The party started at about 3:30 pm, and we arrived around 4:30 pm, got some barbeque sandwiches, drinks, and found us a spot to sit (glad we brought our own chairs!) We roamed inside the Old Mercantile building where they had a gift shop with t-shirts, Koozies, etc. Hubby bought me a cute Valentine’s in Valentine t-shirt. We mainly people watched while it was still daylight. It was such a fun mix of people…young, old, families, groups of friends.
They had face painting for the kids, but Tyler decided he wanted a dragon arm tattoo instead of face paint. It was really cool! I was a little concerned about the kids being in such an environment, but they had a blast. The FAQ on the event website says, “Children under 12 get in free with an accompanying adult, and it is as family friendly as any outdoor event that centers around an adobe relic, beer, and live music can be.” Honestly, it was a very cool event and I never felt uncomfortable with them being there.
The kids had as much fun as we did. Precious memories made with the most precious people in my life. On the way back to our moving house, the kids were pumped! They were both saying it was the Best Valentine’s EVER!
Way to go, sweetheart…you pulled off a great time! We will all remember that for a long time! That was a very successful Destination Unknown and a very sweet Valentine’s Day!
I can’t wait until the next time…