Now that summer is somewhat officially over—because Labour Day has passed, obviously, and now all the pools and splash pads and things are shutting down for the season...not because we've made it to the fall equinox or anything official like that—I suppose it's high time I shared a little bit about the kids' trip out here.
Writing about things I didn't participate in can be difficult to do since I wasn't there, so you can consider whatever I write as hearsay. There is, however, photographic evidence to be had (and while I'm waiting on aunts and uncles to share pictures from Goblin Valley (which is where the kids were on Labour Day), I may as well share the long overdue pictures from their cross-country trip).
Here's our truck all loaded up on Tuesday morning, July 25th after Andrew and I finished stuffing our mattresses in:
And here's the truck all locked up and ready to go:
As you may have already read, Andrew and the kids were late departing because Benjamin locked us out of the house (with the van keys still inside the house) right before it was time for them to go. And then Benjamin started throwing up in the car. And then Rachel threw up. And then Zoë joined in, which really made things crazy because she doesn't give two figs about where she throws up (whereas the older kids strove valiantly to throw up only into the designated throw up container Zoë would just throw up all over herself and everything within range). Miriam had the decency to refrain from vomiting the entire trip (bless you, child).
Despite all the unpleasantness of the journey, Daddy and Grandpa tried to make it as pleasant as possible. They planned a stop for each day of the trip so that the kids felt like they actually got to do something cool this summer (you know, rather than "just" move).
Tuesday, I guess, they didn't technically stop anywhere neat because they didn't even make it out of North Carolina. But by sometime mid-Wednesday they had made it to the Mississippi River, which they stopped at to take a few pictures:
For some reason the kids really wanted to spit in the river, but it was so terribly hot and humid that they lost their will soon after this picture was taken.
On Thursday they stopped in Oklahoma City at the Centennial Land Run Monument. The kids had wanted to take the northern route through Nauvoo, but when the southern route was decided upon, I found this place for them to visit in lieu of Nauvoo. It still had that pioneer feel...
It was just a little more rough and tumble than Old Nauvoo...
Though I'm not sure it was on par with "pioneer pastimes," the kids still had fun goofing off together (which really was the goal at all these pit stops):
Their goal for Thursday night was to make it to Glenrio, New Mexico, just across the state line of Texas. I was following their journey and so I looked up Glenrio and warned Andrew that there is literally nothing there—it's a veritable ghost town.
"I think you'll want to stay in Tucumcari," I told him. "I don't think you'll be able to find a hotel anywhere closer than that."
He and his dad weren't convinced. After all, they were the ones making the trip. I was sitting cozy at Amy's house, kid- and vomit-free.
"We already have a hotel booked for the night," Andrew wrote back. "It's in Glenrio, so..."
"Yeah, I really don't think there's anything in Glenrio," I responded.
Wikipedia is full of wonderful, descriptive language, such as, "once operated" and "unincorporated community" and "the town consists of the remains of...a few...buildings." Parts of Grapes of Wrath were filmed there and it helped inspire the lonely town Radiator Springs in the movie Cars. It's a run-down, empty, has-been town.
But what did I know? I wasn't in the car. I hadn't booked the hotel.
Our sickly, tired crew finally arrived at Glenrio, hoping to get to stop driving for the day, find a bite to eat, and stretch their legs, only to find that there are no services at Glenrio. The hotel they had booked was actually in Tucumcari, which was a good 40 miles away. So they kept on trekking and stopped for the night at Tucumcari, just as I'd told them they'd need to do.
I think this was the day that Zoë had gotten sick—and they had pulled over on the highway in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas, to clean her off—so they were even more desperate to stop than they had been any other day. But they made it.
And not to say that I'm always right, but... I don't remember what day this was from but they let the kids go swimming at one of the hotels. This was after Benjamin had finished throwing up (but had started experiencing diarrhea (it was so bad he even got to borrow some of Zoë's pull ups because his body couldn't alert him early enough to alert the driver of his need for a toilet...and then wait while a toilet was found)) but before the girls had gotten sick.
When Andrew sent me this picture I was like, "You let Benjamin get into the pool!?!?!?"
It had not been 24 hours since his last bout of diarrhea and swimming that soon after diarrhea is a huge no-no. Andrew felt it had been long enough, which just about broke my poor little lifeguard heart because what kind of monster lets their child get into a pool so soon after having diarrhea (my husband, apparently...oi). If only I had been there to stop him!
I'm not going to say that's definitely why Rachel and Zoë ended up getting sick, too...but...pools are gross enough as they are without fecal matter thrown into the mix.
Anyway, their stop on Friday was at Four Corners. Andrew stood each of the kids in a different state: Zoë is in Utah, Rachel is in Arizona, Benjamin is in New Mexico, and Miriam is in Colorado.
I've only ever been to Four Corners once, on a family trip (specifically to see Mesa Verde) shortly before my brother David left on his mission. I didn't stand on the four states though, I don't think. Or maybe I did? I don't remember.
There's always a bit of a line and it's usually terribly hot and I had come down with a terrible case of Montezuma's Revenge. I spent the entire vacation alternating between vomit and diarrhea and was completely miserable. But my mom insisted that I needed to see Four Corners.
I slept in the car the whole time my family was off doing whatever they were doing (waiting in line, probably) and they may or may not have sent someone to get me from the car and bypass the line when they finally made it to the front. I don't remember. And at the time I 100% did not care if I never got to stand in four states at one time. I just wanted to not die.
My mom bought a turquoise necklace for me since I missed out on seeing everything. I guess not everything but a lot of things. I spent a lot of time holed up in our hotel room alone (on the toilet, holding the garbage can in front of me—so comfy) while my family was out adventuring.
I did go on one hike in Mesa Verde and my mom took a picture of all of us (the four younger kids who were on the vacation) by some petroglyphs we saw while on the hike. She liked it so much that she left it hanging on her wall in the entry way for years (like, well over a decade) and I was always so embarrassed by it because I looked like death itself in the picture.
My just reward was that by the time we made it to Arches National Park I was feeling better and everyone else was feeling much worse (so that trip ended up being one of the times I became the designated "pass the throw up bucket to whoever's heaving" person (sitting in the backseat, in the middle, feet on the hump)). I think we managed to hike to Delicate Arch, though...
All that's to say that Four Corners and Arches don't exactly conjure up the happiest memories in my mind, despite all my mother's good planning and efforts.
I'll have to visit again some day because the kids loved Arches (and I think they enjoyed Four Corners as well, despite the oldest and youngest having a case of the throw ups that day).
Our sturdy crew made it to Moab on Friday night and the plan was to stop and do some hiking in Arches on Saturday morning. However, with all the extraneous bodily fluids they'd been dealing with and being so close to home (and fresh air and clothing) they weren't sure they wanted to do any hiking if anyone else was going to be throwing up. After all, Arches is only a three hour drive from where we live so we could, in theory, go back whenever we got the urge.
Everyone woke up feeling mostly okay on Saturday morning, however, so they stopped in Moab to hike the North and South Window Arches and the Double Arch. The kids were quite impressed with the big, blue sky, the open landscape, and the red rocks.
Here are the girls with Grandpa, under the North Window Arch:
|The North Window|
|The South Window|
Here are the big girls climbing into a little crevice:
And here they are after having climbed something:
And here are all four kids together (such detail, I know):
And here's a shot of the Double Arch to prove they hiked there, too:
The kids all agree that Arches was the highlight of their trip (and, quite possibly, of their summer (at least until their trip to Grover with Grandma and Grandpa this weekend)).
Zoë was quite happy to see me when they finally pulled up in the driveway (I had flown in the night before and spent the night at my parents' house and my mom dropped me off a couple hours before everyone else arrived). I thought I'd get more of a reaction but she just pulled her usual "Mommy gack!" (Mommy's back) and then wouldn't leave my side for anything (not even all the toys in Grandma's basement).
Getting our stuff here was a bit of an adventure (they tried to deliver us an empty truck instead of the one with our stuff in it (that was fun to sort out)) but we were happy when it finally arrived. The driver looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to open the back to make sure it was a full truck this time (Andrew was away when the truck was delivered...doing something...getting hand-trucks maybe...I can't remember).
Now—a month later—we're very close to being settled in, though we still have a lot of work to do before I'd call us fully settled. I just don't know when that's going to happen because I'm feeling perfectly swamped just being pregnant and trying to keep up with the kids and laundry while Andrew is feeling equally swamped with the start of the new semester.
But, it is starting to feel like home here, so that's a good thing.