Have We Lost Our Minds?
Pregnant with our fourth child, my husband has a moment of inspiration and suggests a cross-country family trip during maternity leave.
Without the Fitbit, I have no idea what time we all wake up. I do know that I slept on the bottom of a slight hill. Proven since little girls not held in place by George rolled into me. Restricted in movement is something I cannot stand. I moved to the bottom of the pads with Brogden. Girls always get a full night of sleep between the car and tent so they bounce around the tent before I get up with them.
Family passing by while I am looking for peanut butter asked if we are really from North Carolina. That sparked a conversation about the mother being from Raleigh and their three children are 5, 3, and 1.
Our children bonded quickly with theirs and ate in a rush to be able to play with their new friends. Bike riding and junior ranger games followed bagels with peanut butter and oatmeal. I wished we actually had a spot for another night to be able to visit longer. I have fond memories of playing with same aged campers growing up. I remember easily making games and fun since camping families seem to have similar values. That notion held true for me that morning in CA as well. I liked the parents and I wanted to hang out with them as much as my girls wanted to play with theirs.
In talking with the parents about how we ended up in that campground, the dad mentioned that some people reserve two nights to be able to arrive early in the morning the second day. That caused us to be mindful about packing quickly as to not meet the Barnes. George did not fully unpack the back and made coffee in his makeshift French press in the Jet Boil. The threads finally gave way which caused George's stomach and table to be on the receiving end of the coffee explosion. Coffee grounds spread everywhere and tummy skin red from scalding water delayed our packing schedule.
Girls wanted to play at the creek right beside the site. It was a beautiful site with massive trees, shade, and water sounds. I did due diligence and told them "do not get in the creek", knowing that would never work. Word was sent that both elders were soaking wet right about the time that a car full of confused Barnes showed up. They were gracious about the situation they found themselves in with our clan in their site. Tent packed up within 15 minutes and suburban moved for them to unpack for the weekend.
Now to fix the wet girls. I had out clothes for the day as soon as they asked about playing near the creek. Took them to the bathhouse along with a few quarters for hot water. I started the shower with cold water to reinforce that they were not to get wet. One quarter deposited to buy a short period of hot water. I found the hot water did not stop. Went for soap from the car. I showered as well. Told girls to stay in the water until it got cold. It never did. I pulled them out and dress them in clean clothes.
Once on the main road of the PCH, George spotted Hog Island BBQ'D Oysters and required a taste test. He went in to order and the rest of us hung out in the car. Brogden has grown so much already. It is a treat to be six inches from him in the car. I get to be with him more on this trip than if I was at home. I need to remember that more. Biscuit LOVED the oysters. She tried one as George poked his head into a thrift store of a coastal Californian town. I had my chance in the thrift store after George spied shoes for the girls but did not know sizes. I found TOMS and Keens for Bubble, cute nautical flats for Biscuit, extra outfits for girls, and sunglasses for me. I was stoked until I got back to the car and discovered all the oysters were gone. At least my children have good taste. Biscuit asked for the shells to remove any last morsels. George still prefers Carolina oysters to the Hog Island fancied priced oysters.
Working our way along the Pacific Coast Highway brought awesome views of coast and countryside.
Saw roadside cherries in Valley Ford, CA. Required a stop since I just peeled the last of the tangerines. I picked up the cherries and George sourced coffee and hamburger buns from the market to prevent the need for sandwich bread again.
Pacific Coast Highway is great for lulling a baby to sleep. Each time we stopped to lookout caused Brogden to stir, the next two minutes swaying back and forth with the road would put him back to sleep. One of the stops included a hike down to the beach. Seals and sea otters could be seen from the cliff and required closer inspection. We found a clubhouse built from driftwood and chilly water. Seals were fun to watch but we couldn't get too close. Hike back up and carrying on down the road.
Notice: Many pictures were taken on the side of the road, hike down, on the sand, and on climb back to the car. I cannot select a few so they are all here.
For the record I am over the PCH. No service. Car sickness falling upon me. Today has been beautiful but I cannot keep a happy outlook. I do not know what to do to get my attitude back right. I am pretty sure it is because we will probably be driving again tomorrow and I did not want to do that for Biscuit's birthday.
Movie pairings for this trip have matched the surroundings much like wines with food. Princess and the Frog for New Orleans, Cars for the Southwest, Lorax for Colorado, and Planes: Fire and Rescue for Yosemite. The girls discussed Moana or Brave for the PCH. Settled on Brave. The hills, rocky coast, fog, breeze, and forest. Brave was a good match.
Sonoma County vineyards at the golden hour to head back north for Portland, OR. Planned to do the Oregon Zoo and Portland Children Museum for Biscuit's birthday. A missed turn put us behind in travel time. We will see how much we can make back.
Walmart stop for potty and ice mainly. $85 later, cleared out a running list. Unloading children, preparing to enter, I stepped out into the mulch. A piece stabbed my foot through my shoe. I pulled the hunk out of the rubber sole and questioned how. After all the miles I walked, hiked, and ran (after Tiny) on this trip, a mulch shard broke my foot's armor. George had to use the restroom. So did I. He got to go alone. I took the cart with four children into one stall. This is my talent. I enlisted the help of the cart since Biscuit's skort fell down every two steps and Tiny is a crazed maniac.
Started checking of the list and touring another Walmart of our fine country. Bubble and I break from the group to select birthday decorations. Bubble is a party planner. She takes this seriously. We changed themes three times. We have party beads, a candle, cards, plates, napkins, sash, and Minnie ears for Biscuit to wear all day. I take the children to the car and George checks out. We forget ice. Go back for two bags. I go back to potty.
Rest stop before the Oregon-California state line for adults to use. I don't know about you but I take time to renew the library books in the rooftop box.
Driver change 20 miles into Oregon. That means I have officially driven for two hours and ten minutes of this entire trip. George struck up a conversation with the gas station attendant, required by law for someone to pump your gas here, he used to live in Montana and gave us tons of tips for the rest of our journey.
Steps taken: Forgot to check on Fitbit... I would have loved to have known with that ocean hike
Miles driven: 613.2
6:30 am. Brogden vomited as I turned him toward me. Splashed all the way to Bubble. No one else stirred. I cleaned up the mess and prayed for showers at this state park.
Tiny was awake when I returned so I switched babies and got the keys to retrieve Tiny's shoes. Remote will not work. Key in ignition. Great. Everyone gets up to walk (children barefoot) to the bathhouse. I take littles on a nature walk to leave George to call AAA.
By the time we returned, news was received that it would be an hour or less. Baby's diaper was full. On the walk, I remembered the stock of them in the roof top box. Changed baby and pulled out warmer clothes since I keep hearing San Francisco is windy. Clothes changed (No showers. Thumbs down.) and tent packed away right in time for our rescuer to arrive. I try to find the good each time plans go awry. Keeps me from going off the deep end on this trip. We wanted an early start. Girls in car seats by 9:05. We got an early start. (Key was left a little in accessory position overnight)
Delayed by the Big Sur Lodge where George stopped for post cards, stickers, and food. Must have less staff with the mudslides. Food took an hour to order and receive. Finished up Planes: Fire and Rescue waiting for George. I moved up to the front seat for the drive. I miss the views in the back. Girls are having withdrawals and call my name every 30 seconds. They want to get in the water so bad.
17 mile drive is gorgeous. Touch the Pacific Ocean at Seal Rock. Bubble quickly falls in love. Tiny feels opposite.
Drive into San Francisco Zoo put us there at 3:30. Maps in hand, and elders bee lined for the giraffes. Gorillas next up. Biscuit's favorite.
Forced the girls to the back of the zoo as quickly as possible. Stopping only to smear peanut butter on bagel halfs for a 'meal'. The push turned out in our favor; announcement that Zoo was closing in 15 minutes came as we reached the farthest animals. Wolves. Grizzly bears. Worked out way to the exit slowly and then a little faster once the closing announcement came and a biked security officer escorted us to the front. We were all alone and 'lost' in the Australian section so the help out was welcomed. At the main entrance, people were flushed out from various walkways to the parking lot. George paid for our parking when he got the tickets. Gated arms now standing open since after closing. Don't mention that wasted $10 to George. Still upset.
Work our way through town to Crissy Field upon recommendation. Unload for a picnic dinner at the tailgate. Girls are burning energy and George has to eat a hamburger with the dreaded loaf bread. Something I don't mind but bugs him. He takes a walk to find his zen again and reports back about the grills and tables right over the hill 50 ft away. Zen lost again, I explore with the children. Re-centered George joins us for some pictures and a walk along the shore and pier. Elders get told how cute they are running after each other and it makes me pause. They are cute, six and four, and acting like it.
Sunset was picturesque and finding our way through town put us coming out the north side of San Francisco later than intended. A detour on PCH delayed us more. Trying to find a campground in unfamiliar territory with spotty service to look up ones is difficult. George and Biscuit got out to scout one at Point Reyes, came up empty handed. By chance found Samuel P. Taylor Campground, sign said full but we were desperate to lay our heads down and took a look.
12:20 am. Selected a spot. It says reserved for Barnes but no Barnes here. Start to set up the tent and a raccoon ran off with my cookies into the woods. Galant George perturbed by the indignation and brashness of a raccoon to go into the suburban first challenged the coon verbally at first. This fat, brazen raccoon just stood there looking at him like "OH, l wish you would". George threw his flashlight at him and he retreated, albeit with my damn cookies! George grabbed a SMALL rock and gave chase. They met face to face just behind a large stump. I couldn't see what was happening but from what I was able to be hear it clearly was not cordial or improving. They exchanged words and moments later George came back with my cookies. Drama over we were all in bed by 1:00 am.
Steps taken: Biscuit found the missing piece to the Fitbit. Scotch taped it together to charge. Fingers crossed tomorrow there will be a count.
Miles driven: 235.6
6:30 am. Awoke. Took a picture and fell asleep.
7:30 am Tiny needed to go to the bathroom. George got up to take her. Made breakfast in the form of oatmeal packets for the girls. Officially out of their mix. Biscuit played with the baby in the tent while Tiny and Bubble ate.
I have learned what I can live without. Running water. That is about a two day limit.
9:15 am Car completely packed and ready to go. Another record for us. Offspring are in pajamas but still good time.
Sprekles- Goblet Family word for the markings of dirt mixed with sweat on your body. Found public showers to remove our sprekles. All six in a 2x8 room. George describes the shower as fun and family centric. It was definitely a family bonding moment. Paying $3.50 for 5 minutes of hot water. In the moment I turned the water on, it was decided to only wash girls' bodies. Mine included. Hair would have to wait. A $7.00 shower never felt so good. And let the record be set here. 4 girls split 5 mins and 2 boys split 5 mins. Who is the spoiled one?
Quick market trip for crackers and pepperoni for my breakfast and south to find Tioga Pass to cut through Yosemite. Girls love the views. And want a picnic on a blanket. All the other picnics we have do not count in their eyes. Annual pass gets us in and has officially paid for itself. Girls on a high to become Junior Rangers.
Stopped at Visitor's Center. Picked up postcards, stickers, and Junior Ranger guides. Bubble scoffed at how little it was. More like a newspaper than a booklet as the others. Everyone in the back ate an orange. George had his expensive jerky. Decided not to let them out at Olmsted's point which lead to chanting 'bad momma' all the way to May Lake Trailhead.
Moseyed through the park, George pulled over at least four times to let the built up traffic pass. It is a long drive from the High Sierras to the Yosemite Valley.
To become a Junior Ranger, you have to attend a ranger led program. Last 15 min one was at 4:00. We parked at the Valley Visitor Center at 3:30. No time for a picnic. Threw them a bagel and we trucked it to the talk. I might have looked at another child's paper for answers and filled them in for the girls. Announcement that the center was closing in 10 minutes right after they were sworn in. So close to missing that one.
Elders like the one lane bridges that lead us out. Out to a gas station. Handed the elders a fig bar and Bubble cried, "Nooooo, I wanted a real meal." They really like Wendy's. Together, it is decided to pass the Burger King in leu of a Wendy's in Merced.
Woke Biscuit up with her Jr Bacon Cheeseburger. Tiny had her chicken nuggets and French fries. Bubble went in with me and ordered a plain Jr Bacon Cheeseburger and milks for all. George and I had the In-n-Out across the street. Back on the road with the aroma of agriculture production all around and the sounds of 90s rap on XM.
Bubble had a way of knowing the 30 minute countdown to arrival. Wherever we go. She starts whimpering and whining like a wounded animal. We have tried all different methods in calming her. George pulled the car over this time and took her walking. While they did I looked out over the Pacific Ocean. We made it. We made it to the farthest west we could. No matter what now we will be heading home.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Campground full. Don't buy that. Creep around. 138 says reserved for tonight but it is empty. Set up tent and get all children in by 1:15 am.
Steps taken: ? Tiny broke the Fitbit
Miles driven: 326.8
I didn't sleep much. Unsure if it was all the baby or my uneasiness disrupted the baby. Girls got up with George and left me sleeping until 9:00. Glorious.
Learned the girls have been playing bare foot all morning and are covered in dirt. They have huge smiles across their faces. I love it.
In the process of breaking camp, I ended up braiding their hair to keep food out of it. Showers unavailable for E. coli in the water. Hard pass on that.
Sugary cereal eaten steadly throughout the morning. Listening ears forgotten. Baby and carrier ended up face down in the dirt. George washed baby off. I wiped down girls and buckled them in the car seats.
Drove up to the camp store. Got video of rushing streams and decide I could move to this spot. Not the rest of the town or valley. But this spot. Elevation 8,200. Crystal clear cold rushing water.
Temperature rising exponentially during the descent. Change my mind about the move.
Picked up coffees in town and headed to a park so the girls could burn off energy while adults checked out the map. Biscuit apologized on her own for knocking the baby and all the girls were back to their sweet personalities.
Watching Tiny lay down to feel the stream, I think this is not what Lilly Pulitzer had in mind for her dress. Two days in it and covered in grime. George finds another fireman for shop talk. Tom helped us formulate the plan for the next day and half. Bill, our campground host from the previous night, told us about a lake near Yosemite. It is his favorite place to camp. We are staying there and driving through Yosemite making sure to see Half Dome.
Heated up leftovers for lunch and the girls covered themselves in dirt again. Reinforced the decision not to bathe them today. Brogden enjoyed a nap and stretch in the shade with a warm breeze. Watching them wade in a park creek. All dirty and grimy with braided hair. They are summertime.
Full bellies for children and loaded up to find food for the adults. Found a taco truck in the next town. I was looking forward to it. Closed. Sad face. Settled with a burger, chicken strips, and fries from a travel center. Not many options out here.
Saw a meat smokehouse. Stopped to get ingredients to complete a gumbo mix we picked up in Louisiana. George came out with that and much more. $75 worth of beef jerky and smoked meat for gumbo! It was delicious and a stark contrast from the $10 bag in Santa Fe. George and his meat candy. He will be savoring this batch for a few days since they are all made with teriyaki.
Found Lundy Campground and selected our spot for the night. Pretty chilly and breezy at 6:22 pm. It is a treat to travel with George and set up a tent with the sun still up. I think tonight will be the night to break out the warmer clothes I brought. While George scouts the place to erect the tent, Tiny plays with the US map. I have been making a permanent line to show the girls where we have been. It says the states' names if you touch them and Bubble and Biscuit are learning quite a few.
Story time while I nursed and George made dinner. Camping on Federal lands means no potable water, flushing toilets, or showers. A hotel might be in order for tomorrow night to stay civilized.
Tormenting and harassing of siblings followed. Bubble had a ripped toenail and George jokingly offered her Jack Daniels for the pain. She refused indignantly. Time outs for the girls and once glow sticks were in hand, attitudes changed. All girls in bed by 9:07 pm. Record time for us.
Standing in the middle of no where and seeing everything by moonlight has a way of removing the stresses of the day. And the animal sounds have a way of freaking me out.
PS- Gumbo mix was horrible.
PSS- Feeling slightly defeated.
Steps taken: 8,706
Miles driven: 156.9
George up at 6:00 to run the other laundry load. Time change meant Biscuit popper her head up at 6:30.
Rest of the girls soon joined in playing with the baby and toys they brought.
At breakfast, Tiny offered a taste of her yogurt to her sisters. They are eating well if provided only one thing at a time.
Got all the clothes sorted again. Trying something new again for Brogden's stuff. Since being in the southwestern part of the US, he has needed something to cover his seat each day. I am unsure what I eat all the time so more vomiting. He gets extra clothes and burp cloths packed in with our daily bag. I hope this system works better than having a whole other bag taking up space in the car.
Short drive to the dam and the roof top box needed inspection. Passed. Go us. 104 today for the Hoover Dam tour. AMAZING. At one point on the short (long in 104 heat) walk to the entrance, Biscuit sighed, "I wish I didn't lose my fan." Bubble replied, "I wish I brought mine." Biscuit gave Bubble her hat in trade for wearing baby's. (He was covered with blanket) Stopped at the shade of the elevator to make the swap and Bubble freaked, "Why are taking an elevator?!?!?" I informed her that we were taking the escalator with daddy and she exclaimed, "I love escalators. They are my favorite!"
More inspections found contraband in the form of fig bars in mommy's camelback from yesterday. Officials recognized the hot mess we are and allowed us to eat the bars in the corner instead of exiting and re-entering.
Paid for the only tour available with children so young. George contemplated buying himself the big tour (no one under eight!) and I hang out with all the under 8's. He chose to stay with us.
Short video to start the tour. Took the time to nurse the baby. Next stop- a HUGE elevator. Sandwiched Bubble between the adults for the descent of the equivalent of 54 stories down in 70 seconds. She did well.
George was studious for the tour and always up front! Another elevator ride. Maybe she will chill out after today.
Power plant talk- Bubble took the time to chug her water to fill it up with the coldest water at the Hoover Dam.
Lost George, Bubble, and Tiny in the walk-through part. Found them with Tiny's screaming from the bathroom. Thank goodness for lungs.
Observation deck provides breathtaking views. And HOT! I take the baby inside and hangout over an A/C vent to get back to a temperature under sweltering.
Off to the gift shop so George could pick out his post cards and his elusive Route 66 sticker. Candy for the girls to stay awake until lunch. We miss meals when they are asleep and we and hungry.
Tiny can't find her water bottle. I split and head back to start looking for it. This water bottle of hers is hard to keep track. Got a call from George that is was in a pocket of the stroller. Headed back to meet them and held Tiny's hand. She dropped it two more times. This child.
Short delay in getting to the A/C from a misplacement of the keys. Visions of heat stroke waiting for AAA danced through my head. Once safely inside the car, we all stretched out necks to the vents. And Tiny passed out. So much for the candy.
Drove through Las Vegas strip and hit up an In-n-Out Burger on the way out of town. George ordered $34.28 worth of food... while eating cereal. Boy was hungry.
Girls had the idea to use their cookie sheets for lunch trays. Used the burgers wrapper to dole out fries.
Planned to get Nevada's state line picture at the CA-NV line. No rest area. Just a sign off the road. Have to circle back for the California one so Nevada is first. What is with the western states? I guess the south is friendlier with their welcome centers at the borders. Made it to the border at 4:30 pm. Got the stupid pictures done and back on the road at 5:20 pm.
It was pretty to see the Mojave Desert from inside the car. So hot here. Watching Cars while in the setting of the movie adds to the ambience. The girls would pick out familiar sights. That was cool to hear. George was ecstatic to finally see a tumbleweed. Granted it was in the median but he saw it.
Uploaded pictures and took pictures out the window until sundown. Bubble had to go to the bathroom. George stopped for that and fuel at a place called Brady's Mini Mart. It was hands down the most interesting shop. Knickknacks from every decade since the 60s. You could buy a bingo set, boxing gloves, Chinese tea set, bongos, or quite literally a burlap sack. The 'rising cost of maintaining' the restroom meant a sign posted asking for donations. I have never. George for once asked me to check out the facilities before a child went in and I am so glad. Only one came in at a time to keep attention on the surroundings.
Had to stop at a rest area for George to look up the campground. Changed Brogden's diaper and is dawned on me with the first size two that he started this trip in newborns. Babies grow fast and we have been gone awhile. Pulling out George got to see a rolling tumbleweed. Sat there and watched it blow.
I finished looking at the possible campgrounds. Most mention bear boxes. This does not make me happy. Three hotels in town had 'No Vacancy'. I want to be behind walls, actual walls, not fabric tent walls. Check out the first campground at 5,800 ft. Spots still open so we head farther up the mountain to scope out Whitney Portal Campground at 8,100 ft. George wants cold weather. I want no bears. Pretty moon.
Found a site at the higher campground. People had left early. Different reservation for tomorrow night. The site is large. Tent goes down in the woods. Where bears are.
Packing a bear box at 11:30 pm by flashlight is not what most people refer to as a good time. My anxiety level keeps climbing as I remember items that need to be added. Like diapers. I have to truck up the hill if I need a diaper. From a bear box. Say a prayer and move on.
To the tent. I fall into the rhythm of setting up the tent. Our home for the night. It calms me to know exactly where my children will be laying their heads down.
We are next to a stream rushing water from the summer melt of the snow caps. No sound machine needed tonight. Seeing peacefully sleeping children calms me. George brings them to the tent one at a time.
He hands me the bear spray to familiarize myself with operation if necessary. This does not calm me.
Steps taken: 13,108
Miles driven: 293.1