Destination: Little Rock, Arkansas

The search for a possible residency program for Marco continues and I honestly shouldn’t call it search since we don’t really have the final say where he ends up in but he ended up getting an interview in Little Rock, Arkansas and since it’s a city and state that I’ve never been to and the drive from Houston wasn’t too long of a drive, Cassie and I tagged along.

When I was single and younger, I made a bucket list to visit all 50 states before I turned 30 and needless to say I failed doing that. I’m not saying that I’ve given up on that list, I guess my priorities just changed throughout the years and it wasn’t like I wasn’t in a long distance relationship for 7 years ( up to this day, I still don’t know how Marco and I did that) so our savings went to our wedding sinking fund, travel costs and what not so I’ve only managed to go to a bunch of them (not even half).

Ever since Cassie was born, we’ve been blessed to have traveled to a few more places for family visits, reunions and Marco’s interviews and so far she’s been to 7 states (including this) and 1 international destination. Not bad for a year old who won’t even remember half the places we’ve been to (but I guess thats why mommy takes a billion and one photos all the time, right). The only wonderful thing about not having ticked of that particular thing on my bucket list is that I have the rest of my lifetime to do that but I won’t be alone this time, I’ll have my little family with me and we’ll have our own adventures together.

To whoever is reading this, this isn’t a “travel blog”. Yes, it may just give you ideas on where to go, food places to go to, things to try out but it won’t consistently give you a breakdown or a rough estimate of how much to spend or a detailed review of a hotel or B&B ( well, it might, maybe when I’m ranting or raving about things) but so much of my posts are personal thoughts that I’ve allowed people to have access to. This is somewhat a personal online journal of mine, I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, my entries are mostly there to keep track of memories. For a person who wanted to be on stage and memorize lines for a living, I suck in remembering details, dates and people. I’ve explained this to my husband before, I only remember things when they strike some kind of emotion within me, I remember little details based on what I felt at that particular situation and that’s how its always been. Okay….enough ranting, without further ado here are photos from our recent travel to Little Rock.

Old State House

Address to Google: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201

Anyone who’s read a few of my past entries know that I have a thing for historical landmarks and buildings so you would understand how delighted I was that we found this in the heart of the city. The weather seems perfect in the photos but it was actually quite chilly when we went to visit. That one I didn’t quite anticipate so its a good thing I wore leggings under my skirt or else I would’ve been sporting Marilyn Monroe the entire time.

This building with Greek Revival Architecture contains a hodge podge of Arkansas history.

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Cassie and Daddy being silly at the museum

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Reading up on some Arkansas history on the spot

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Old school Clinton Memorabilia

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We’re not big on politics so it was intriguing for us to have found out that the Clintons were originally from there. Of course they had an entire section dedicated to their rise to power and the role they played starting with local politics.

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We found out that they had a play place for kids after we toured the museum so Cassie got to spend a few minutes playing before closing time.

Star of India Restaurant

Address to Google: 301 N Shackleford Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211

As cheesy as their name sounds and as plain and boring as the outside of their restaurant looks, I swear to you they are, if not the best, one of the best Indian restaurants we’ve been to. I’m no foodie but I’d like to think my husband is because he does love to eat all sorts of food and Indian cuisine is one of his favorites and he was extremely impressed. The ambiance was pretty legit and as we were dining you could see a lot of customers were coming in and we were actually lucky to have walked in early because by the time we ended our meal the place was packed. What I’ve noticed is that these customers were regulars, locals who just kept coming back and you could tell because the owner or the host rather addressed almost every single one of them by their first names and he somewhat knew their life story.

I was impressed with their customer service and did I mention that the first thing they did when they saw us walk in with a baby was put us in an area convenient for us and Cassie, they placed a large manila paper under her high chair discreetly saying “babies are babies, let them make a mess—we are ready”, unlike those snooty restaurants who claim they’re open to families but they give you a disgruntled look when your baby starts making a mess while eating. Oh and before I forget, they’re only one $ sign…super duper affordable, besides with the kind of food that they served us and their impeccable customer service I was willing to pay more. We will definitely be back if we happen to be in town.

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Choctaw Route Station

Address to Google: 1010 E. Third St.reet Little Rock, AR 72201

Upon picking up Marco after his interview, this little brick red building caught my eye. I wish we had more time to explore it but since I was so intrigued and we couldn’t go in to check it out I had to look into it.

This old building used to be a railroad passenger depot of a train route that no longer exists. They restored the building and converted it to a library under the Clinton School of Public Service.

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Leo’s Greek Castle

Address to Google: 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205

Now this is what I’d call a hole in the wall, the place seemed shady or maybe it seemed that way since it was night time and we weren’t familiar with the territory. The building structure was old, others might even consider it run down but inside it was quaint and clean, food was cheap and the gyros were to die for. Yep, the ratings don’t lie…so far every food hub we’ve tried here in Little Rock was a success.

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The Old Mill

Address to Google: 3800 Lakeshore Dr, North Little Rock, AR 72116

If you like classic movies then you shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing this place in the opening credits of Gone with the Wind. This picturesque mill really looks like it popped out of a fairy tale story book. I would have loved to explore the vast area surrounding the mill but we were on a tight schedule, I still can’t believe theres no admission cost to this landmark, it stands plainly in the middle of T.R Pugh Memorial Park. You won’t miss it.

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Our little bunny dozed off, she missed the whole thing.

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Big Dam Bridge

Address to Google: 7600 Rebsamen Park Rd, Little Rock, AR 72207

The first time I heard about this bridge I thought the name was a pun, I don’t know but I find it hilarious that they named it the BIG DAM BRIDGE. I’d have to say though the bridge was entirely true to its name. This bridge is said to be the longest bicycle and pedestrian in the entire US and no, we didn’t try to cross the bridge, we just took pictures. Haha.

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Junction Bridge at Little Rock River Market District

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

It’s not just another pedestrian bridge, this old railroad bridge is said to be 150 years old and it’s another convenient stop for tourists to take pictures since its located in between the River Market District and North Little Rock (must see areas in Little Rock from my understanding). Let’s not forget that there are also unique art installations/ pieces that are hard to miss.

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David’s Burgers

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

Who doesn’t love traditional American burgers? We went to the one within the River Market District coz it was the closest one at that time and we knew we had to try it out before heading home to Houston because consumer ratings varied from 4 stars to 4.5 online and true enough it didn’t disappoint, best part is the menu is $10 and under.

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And that wraps up our Little Rock trip. 😀

~Rhea

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Destination: Harlingen, Texas

Marco was scheduled for another interview here in Texas but this time it was in Harlingen so we took a road trip close to the border of Mexico more for business than pleasure. It’ s days like these when I get to take advantage of the perks working PRN (as needed) at the hospital. I love how I can just pick my schedule and take off from work without any hassles or complications when need be. It took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes to get there and the first thing we did was google a good place to eat. We ended up having lunch at Brass Wheel Restaurant.

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Marine Memorial

Visited this mini museum mainly for the Iwo Jima Memorial statue. The wind was acting up so we didn’t even stay long and I didn’t even bother visiting the gift shop like I normally would.

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Iwo Jima Memorial up closeimg_9599_zpsimpsxovc

Because he feels the need to do the “Lion King” pose at every historical landmark we go to.img_9611_zpslbwedbei

 Checked in at Courtyard by Marriott

It had a modern minimalistic feel to it.

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The hotel’s poolside was pretty decent and since we had nothing else better to do, we decided to take Cassie for a swim.

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She acts like she runs the place, waiting for daddy to get ready.

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So apparently people who viewed my snaps thought we were crazy for swimming that day since it was rather breezy, the water was warm and we didn’t really stay long so I promise you Cassie was fine.

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Famished after her swim so she grabbed her snack, sat on the sofa and started munching on her puffs like a boss

That night Cassie and I stayed in and ate left overs while Marco had an informal dinner with the rest of the interviewees for the residency program.

The next day, Marco rode a shuttle and left early for the hospital, Cassie and I packed our stuff, loaded up and went window shopping after we had that cockroach incident. I am not even going to expound on what happened since I am positive that it wasn’t even the hotel’s fault but lets just say I had to get over my fear of roaches so I could kill one. I felt like if I didn’t, it would have called the rest of its friends and Cassie and I would have a cockroach frenzy.

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Just roamed around town while Marco was doing his interview, its a good thing I found the mall right when he finished. He gave me a call just when I walked in a Forever 21 and it looked like 6x this photo. It felt like a Forever 21 warehouse and I was just glad he called before I could do any credit card damage that  I would regret in the future. Everything was on sale!!!!

Met up with one of Marco’s friends from med school that was currently doing residency over there, they had a quick catch up before we drove back to Houston. On our way home we got stopped at an immigration checkpoint. Because the city was located in the border  line of Mexico, immigration was taking precautionary measures that Marco was unaware of and I totally forgot about. He forgot to bring his green card and it took them a while to verify his identity with his drivers license. I’m just glad nothing crazy resulted from our inefficiencies. We got home safe, extremely exhausted but safe.

~Rhea

Destination: Big Bear Lake, California

January 2-4, 2017

Seeing snow while spending the holidays in California was like the cherry on top, the Mendezonas planned a skiing/snowboarding trip to Big Bear but I was more excited that Cassie was going to have her first snow experience. I was already assuming that she would fall in love with snow so quickly given the fact that she has a current obsession with things cold (ice, A/C, freezer, ref…and the list goes on) also explaining one of her all-time favorite expressions “told told” (cold cold).

There were 14 Mendezonas and half of us haven’t encountered snow long enough or don’t live in snow. Period. It’s a good thing the L.A-Mendezonas had enough snow gear for the rest of the Mendezona boys while Mami made sure the ones who didn’t have snow gear had one especially the babies. We even visited the snow gear outlet store a few days before the road trip. Wow, I didn’t think staying warm and comfortable at the same time would be a lot of serious work . I guess its different when you take solo skiing trips, I remembered my first trip to Colorado a few years back and packing wasn’t this crazy but when you prepare for a family of 14—it is a PRODUCTION. Imagine all the snow boots, all the thick jackets, all the thermals, all the mittens, all the gloves, all the snow goggles not even counting the snowboards and the ski equipment, yes, it was definitely a production.

Day 1

Our drive there has got to be one of the least boring drives I’ve taken in my life, not because Cassie was screaming until almost half way through the drive but because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. For some reason snow makes things look so magical.

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3 cars and 2 hours later the Mendezonas made it to their Air bnb cabin in Big Bear and the boys were in charge of most of the hard labor of carrying the luggages up the stairs. (photo below for reference, hahaha).

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The kitchen and dining area. Excuse our luggage.

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The living room by the fireplace

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Bedroom on the 1st floor

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Upstairs bathroom had one of Cassie’s favorite animals—Owl.

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The loft upstairs aka the boys area

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The second floor’s very own cozy nook

Once we kinda got settled in and we semi-explored the house, we headed out for late lunch at this local place that was called Mountain Munchies. It might have presented itself like a hole-in-the wall but service was excellent in the form of our server being really patient with us.

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What I got, chicken Fried Steak. It was meh.

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Our view from outside the diner.

After late lunch, we headed out to a play area where the kids could play with snow but Cassie was fast asleep so I decided not to wake her up so we decided to stay inside the car to keep warm. The remainder of the day was spent on cooking, running errands, settling down and family bonding time over random movies by the fire place. Oh,  and marshmallows by the fire place.

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This one is out cold and missed playing with snow.

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What dinner preparations looked like

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These two cousins bonding over giant marshmallows

Day 2

Of course we tried to follow our planned schedule to leave by 9am for our snow activities and of course we failed miserably. Did I mention there were 14 of us and 2 bathrooms? One thing I’ve learned from situations like these is the “Early bird gets to bathe in hot water”, I’m telling you icy baths are no fun especially when they’re least expected.

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Good Morning!

Our view outside the cabin.

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The girls and one little pikachu photo bomber, my godson Teo. Haha

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She just wanted me to put her down so she could play with snow

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“let go of my hand mommy”

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Chilling (literally) by the side snow with these cuties while waiting for everyone to head down

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Photo op before heading out to the slopes

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Two hours and thirty minutes after our planned time we made it there.

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We parked our snowboards. What a stash, haha.

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And even then we still took long in buying our lift tickets and renting out snowboard boots and what not

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This one wasted no time and started exploring

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Ordering lunch to this view

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Cassie wanted to see the view for herself

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The scenery from up the slopes

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Cassie: It’s about time daddy

Marco, finally came down after a few rounds of snowboarding and he decided to play with the kids in the snow

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Me and Pilica with the babies

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Mami and Mikel had to make a miniature snowman to stop Teo from crying, he loved it but wouldn’t take a picture with it. (Yes, that’s beans and mac and cheese. )

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Although someone gladly posed next to the itty bitty snowman. Haha, Hi Dieg.

A short recap of today’s events, most went snowboarding, some went skiing, one got sprained and mami and I stayed with the kids. The highlight of my day was seeing Cassie go crazy over snow, she loved it so much that she’d get mad at me for taking her back to our waiting area. In fact she loved it so much she was willing to go with anyone who could take her back to the play area even if it wasn’t mommy.

Day 3

Everyone else had the rest of the morning to do more snow activities but Marco, Javi, Mami, Pilica, Anya, Cassie and I had to go down first since Marco had to fly to Houston earlier a day before me and Cassie for an interview.

~Rhea