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
As we have traveled west, Brogden's internal clock has remained consistent. He is now waking at 6:30 for the day. I have to wake with him but family around me snoozes away.
By 9:30 we pulled out with everything in it's place. The elders had a photo shoot with Giggle Monster and their fairy house they built while I made breakfast and George broke camp. Sad days are coming since there is one or two more mornings of homemade oatmeal mix.
I have come to enjoy taking things out of the suburban for camping. It allows me to find missing toy parts. Today, I found Tiny's Junior Ranger badge, Biscuit's ninja men, a pony, turtle, marker, four puzzle pieces, a stamp, and crackers from Day One. Crackers fed to the ravens at our campsite and all the others were stowed away in their proper place.
Easy drive into Flagstaff. Finally had connections to work on updates! I do feel bad that I am so far behind but I can't change it. Tears shed over attempting everything I knew how to do to get pictures/videos into the blog. Decided to copy and paste from my notes and worry with media later. Seemed like all children woke up screaming at the same time. I was going to pee in my pants. Exited at the next available spot.
Found a surprise waiting for me in the toilet. I will never understand why people do not check behind them after defiling the commode. It flushed just fine. I guess they wanted me to check it for them. Went back for my angels that also needed relief. They are learning not to ask to look, touch, or buy any of the trinkets we pass.
Peanut butter/nutella wraps are next on the list. I failed to realize how much pressure the content of the tailgate is under and a rush of chairs fall out. Put together wraps. Put in children’s hands. They eat. Most of them do. Bubble had a bit of a come apart and threw half of hers at me. Patience and grace are two things that I have been asking for each night. I had to summon all of my patience and grace in that moment.
Back on the road. Bubble fell asleep. Exactly what she needed.
George saw a few travel centers and we debated on stopping for showers. At 3:00 pm in the afternoon, we figured it was better to get to the campground and set up camp then get cleaned. This is not the first or second day that we have missed a shower and all been in the same clothes. I don't think we stink but again we really aren't with anyone else. We are all doing our part to make laundry last as long as possible.
Walmart for diapers, wipes, cooking fuel, and lunch or dinner. Walmarts are the same all around and completely different. Sausage section is paltry in Arizona. Liquor is sold cheap on the aisle with water. Attitudes are much better with food.
Biscuit complained she was bored. Kept asking for something to play with. I was busy snacking and then writing so I told her no so many times. They figured out a way to play together with what they had. They have been the most creative when we give them nothing.
Passed the Nevada state line. Saw the sign. Could. Not. Figure. Out. How. To. Get. To. It. We will try the welcome center. Secure a hotel for the night. Nobody wants to camp when it is 108 outside. Found the welcome center. Closed.
Unloaded at the hotel and girls got on swim suits. George took them down to burn energy while Brogden and I worked on the blog. Reliving all that we had done this past week was heavy. I cannot believe writing it down that it happened. Being there in each moment, I know it did.
Made dinner in the room while George bathed the ladies. They ate their supper while watching a new favorite, American Ninja Warrior.
Brogden and I finally got a shower and George made the trips back and forth from the laundry. Everyone clean, we all passed out.
Steps taken: 6,885
Miles driven: 273.2
Baby vomited in the middle of the night again. I will be paying for a shower across the park tonight.
Woke up around 7:30 am and hung out with the girls in the tent. Finally made breakfast. It was coffee and chorizo, potatoes, and eggs for adults and OJ and oatmeal for ladies.
Map out plans for the next few days while the girls played in the woods.
Went to dress my angels and noticed Biscuit's dress was a little short. Already had to pick up larger tennis shoes for Bubble in CO. Why did they all have to hit a growth spurt now? I drank a beer right then.
After bug spray and sunscreen application, loaded up to explore. Wait- Tiny had to potty. George assisted with the endeavor and she fell in the bowl. Tiny received a new outfit. Rinsed and hung out to dry, we left the cute romper for day.
Stopped at some of the vistas on the way to the visitor's center.
Chose a shaded table for our picnic lunch. Outcomes- Tiny learned to tinkle outdoors and George despises tapioca bread.
Grand Canyon is massive and surprisingly colorful with all the layers. Colorful also could be used to describe the people visiting the Canyon.
The ranger that lead the critter chat program we attend had the most intriguing voice that pulled you in to listen. He also performed the Junior Ranger ceremony for all three girls. Tiny promptly lost the badge before we got to the car.
Family bathroom trip before rain hit and the realization that Brogden's hat disappeared. I high tailed it back to the gift shop in the rain. Found two young men with the hat and I thanked them for finding it.
Got everyone into the car as the storm was breaking up. George wanted to watch the sunset. We needed to cook and eat dinner. Combined all the requirements, found a turnoff and trucked the makings of a meal out to a little clearing on the rim. Sunset was painted by God and the meal was made by George. Pork, peaches, and corn on the cob tasted sweet against the backdrop of falling sun.
Sun gone, went to check out the shower situation. Going to hit up a travel center tomorrow. All the girls were asleep and we would have to disrupt them. No thanks.
Steps taken: 14,317
Mile driven: 77.4
Once again did not get up when alarm went off. This time I passed the phone to George to make the decision to stay in the bed. Washed legs and stinky/muddy feet in the tub. Headed to lobby for breakfast.
What awaits us can only be described as unlocking the holy grail of free motel breakfasts. Omelet stations with crack your own eggs (not egg juice), detox water with that day's recipe featured, three various coffees, more tea than I have seen, recipe for French Toast posted, two yogurts with toppings for parfaits, cut celery and peanut butter, sliced cooked ham, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, chicken soup, and assorted cereals, breads, milks and spices (nutmeg, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon- to say a few). I peered into the pantry- more akin to mine at home than any of the previous hotels closets.
George recognized that the next time we make this adventure it will be more expensive. 6 & under is free. Saw the sights and got the picture. Checked a box from my list. Not sure what I was expecting. The bed last night and breakfast in the morning made the image worth it.
Arizona state line picture. Not raining. One take. Passed out bagels. They had turned into round croutons. I feared someone would break a tooth.
Drive through the nothing that is northeast Arizona. Magnificent painted landscapes. Nothing else. Elevation changes are marked with botanical communities, not altimeters. It is almost out of place to see a tree coming into town.
Looked for food in Tuba City that was not a national chain. Pulled into the Navajo Nation Fire Department for advice. Sent us to a roadside setup and informed George what to order. Returned goods in hand. Fry bread, mutton, sheep rib, intestines wrapped in fat, carrot, potato half, and a pepper.
Biscuit and Tiny tried the intestines before I threw it out the window. I would need a Navajo person explain how to eat that to me. Tiny devoured the rib and mutton. Biscuit munched on the carrot and all of us enjoyed the fry bread.
Entering Grand Canyon, George asked about camping. Informed that Desert View had two more spots a few minutes ago. Drove straight there and sign marked full. Ignored the information and set out to find Bill per the employee's suggestion. Indeed there were two spots open still and George was parked in one of them. Right next to the bathrooms. Sold to us for two nights.
Erected the tent, opened sleeping pads, and set off to see the Canyon. Watch Tower was first since we were staying on the east side. I forgot how massive the Canyon is in person.
Explored the Watch Tower. Bubble asked about the Junior Ranger program. Biscuit asked about the Junior Reindeer program. They each got the books and requested one for Tiny. Promised they would help her.
Drove to the Market Plaza for provisions. I refused to buy diapers priced so high and figured Brodgen would be okay. If not, then I will be purchasing said diapers.
Bubble and Biscuit spied mounted rangers and asked them questions they had about the elk they saw earlier. Girls wanted to ride the shuttle bus too. Figured we would take the loop area to know where it traveled for tomorrow. Bad idea. That bus got packed right after sunset. All four children were in our laps.
They all fell asleep on the drive to the campground and George and I decided to skip dinner tonight. Straight to bed.
Steps taken: 4,737 so off. Fitbit charging
Miles driven: 331
Woke up easy at 7:30 with the sun. Girls enjoyed oatmeal and cold hot chocolate. George made coffee and egg/ham sandwiches for adults.
Bubble took all the toys out of the car in preparation for loading the car with the sleeping bags. Helpful in finding missing markers.
George researched where we were going next. Called a campground, received some good information, and made a plan for the day. Head to the Grand Canyon. No place takes day of reservations so we are taking chances on finding a place to camp. This family loves to roll the dice.
The girls play together well and for the most part stayed out of trouble. I could watch their little minds work all day. At one point, they absconded my gallon jug to make a fish tank.
It bothered me that it took us so long to pack but then I remembered how long it took to get out of the hotel the first day. This family needed time to work out the mechanics of camping on this trip.
Staying in different places each night requires different items unpacked. We know now that unless it is around 50 degrees then camping pads and car blankets are enough. Sleeping bags can stay packed.
George highlighted the route he wanted to take on the US map. Attempted to follow HWY 90 out of town, turned into a dirt road. Decided to head south and drive through Telluride on the way to our destination. George was game. Back through Montrose. Stopped for a coffee refill for George at Looney Bean. Cool place and the barista was fast and helpful.
We discussed moving to Colorado. It is gorgeous here. The drive to Telluride is all the things I love about nature and outside. Colors. Smell. Textures. Living Bob Ross painting.
Switched out the toys at the campsite. Bubble finally gets to play with her Tinkerbell set. Tiny and Biscuit took naps. Much needed.
Explored downtown and grabbed a bit to eat at Steamers Burgers. Shopped a seconded at the local outfitters. Walked through the grocery store (I mean market) and found out that we could not support George's La Croix habit at $7.49/ 12 pack.
A brave soul caught the gondola back with us. I made a comment about her picking the wrong car and she informed us she was a nanny for 9 children on a trip currently. Perfect fit! Julia quieted the excited girls by looking for bears and deer from the window and Tiny crawled in her lap. I wanted to keep her.
Broke out the puzzles to keep the girls busy back at the car. Dollar Tree puzzles, magnetic tape, and cookie sheets will keep them occupied for awhile. Bubble stayed engaged in the 60 piece US puzzle to completion.
With girls in their puzzles, George started Travels with Charley. Typically, we can only listen while the little ones are asleep.
Bubble asks what state we are sleeping in that night. A legitimate question. She found comfort in knowing the plan. I was also reminded of the volume of the journey because she asked the state not city. We have covered so much of the US already. Biscuit points out each American flag, the only one that stays the same.
Crossed into Arizona. No picture. Raining. And dark. Realized we missed Four Corners Monuments. Turned around. It is closed. Boo.
Plan K for this week and head to Farmington to find shelter and try again in the morning. Might seem silly but I have wanted to see Four Corners since I was little. I hope I am not disappointed.
Y'all. A horse walked across the road. George had to slam on brakes. A horse.
Passed two less than our standards motels and tried a promising one. George came back with news the Little League World Series is in town. Finding a room is going to be an adventure. I cannot believe it. While George went to look at the last room one place had I called another- booked. George phoned to let me know he called a hotel too- booked, but the room he was standing is was decent. Just one queen bed. We have six people. It will work. For one night. All to put one child each in a different state. This is when childhood dreams become reality. Come hell or high water.
Elders on sleeping pads in room. Tiny, epitomized her nickname, curled into the single chair. Having nursed Brogden while George preliminary scoped the room fell right asleep with a diaper change and swaddle. This worked. Glad Little Leaguers did not want a queen room.
Steps taken: 10,836
Miles driven: 304.3
Yesterday's coffee had European style goat butter in it. George thought it would be safe. It wasn't. Waking up to the sound of vomiting happening on you is intensely jarring. I sopped it up the best I could and drifted back to sleep. Tiny and George were the first to get up. I don't know what they did but Bubble followed pretty soon after. Biscuit and I lazily stayed in the tent until 8:20 or so. Who wants to disrupt a sleeping baby?
Bubble delivered word that daddy was making breakfast and coffee. My hero. He made the best breakfast sandwich. It tasted like home and I not realized I missed it that much. Girls has their oatmeal and George made a sandwich for him. Fail of the morning? We had leftover milk from San Antonio's McDonald breakfast. Poured it into George's coffee. More like plopped with all the curdles.
Rinsed out his cup and split my coffee with him. Worked on uploading videos with the campground's wifi. Then took the baby to the bathhouse to wash his curdled milk off.
Received sage and thoughtful advice from campground employee about what we should make sure we see and do.
Made it to the entrance of the park to buy the Annual Pass for National Parks. Sold the last one two cars ahead of us. Ranger let us in for free since we will be going to another park in the next couple days.
First overlook, wow! Breathless. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, although I am not sure they can do it justice.
Visitor Center stop - saw mule deer in the parking lot, amongst all the people. Acquired supplies for elders to become Junior Rangers. They chose to draw the Canyon on the deck. I love watching them work. Watched the informational film that quickly became the Tiny show.
Picnic at the farthest overlook. Found a table in the shade. Brogden enjoyed not touching anyone while the girls continued to work. Lunch served by 12:45. It has taken 11 days but we finally ate lunch during a reasonable lunch time window.
The composting toilet brought questions. Bubble gave her reasons why it was the same as a port-a-potty. Biscuit wanted to look down with a flashlight. I had to refuse her wishes. It ended with all the girls gazing into the abyss.
We stopped backed at the visitor's center for the elders to be sworn in as 'Junior Reindeer' as Biscuit called it. Picked out their souvenir postcards and back in the car to see all the vistas.
Pulpit Rock - Nice open vista for the family and to see impressive views of the canyon. Biscuit started 'hiptiasizing' mommy. Bubble developed that Goblet Family word when someone is purposefully antagonizing.
Cross Fissures Vista - George checked the view out first since it was about a 400 foot walk and Biscuit and Tiny were being daredevils at the last stop. Bubble and Mommy went next.
East Portal Road - for vehicles less than 22ft long. 16% downgrade. Drive down into the canyon. Once at the bottom, riding beside the Gunnison River, A Father's Love came on the radio. A song that will forever remind George of his father. We only hear it on the radio at moments you might want to have your father with you. It is always a reminder that Fred is with us.
Trip back up the mountain put me on the outside of the road. It was gut wrenching close to the edge. Pretty views. Scary as hell.
Head over into town to pick up a few supplies and Bubble was itching to get Biscuit a birthday present. We wanted hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. Took forever to find hamburgers.
Not too hard to find Jeeps being 65 miles from Telluride. They are everywhere.
Girls and I watched a little bit of The Lorax while we waiting for George to go into the fourth store. Walmart. It has everything. Brogden took the time to vomit all over both of us. If you are with me in the future and I am picky, crazy, weird about what I eat, this is why. I have to block the bodily expulsion with my body. Luckily, only a little bit on my seat and NONE in his car seat. Praise.
Immediately got into the pool upon arrival at the KOA. Swam until time to start dinner. Girls switched to the playground which left Brogden and I to hang out.
Dinner was tasty and simple. Girls played again once after they ate. Welcomed change from restaurants and best behavior for them. Cleaned up and showered. Dressed in clothes for tomorrow to save time in the morning. All in bed by the time I was finished with my shower. Today was a good day.
Steps taken: 10,203
Miles driven: 53.6