Saturday, June 29, 2019

Travel notes: Day 1

Today we drove from Spanish Fork, Utah to Limon, Colorado (560 miles, 8 hours and 45 minutes of driving time).

Andrew and I are in the minivan with Benjamin, Zoë and Alexander. Miriam and Rachel are in the car with Grandpa. We're a happy little caravan. At least for today. At least until we told the kids we weren't stopping anywhere for dinner because we had so many snacks for them to munch on (and, like, good snacks—cheese and carrots and celery and nuts, if they should choose such things, which make a very healthy meal (but also many things that might not add up to a sufficient meal)).

Anyway, I took some notes from our car because our children are habitually hilarious.

At one point Zoë called my attention and I looked back and she was feeling her nose and looking very perplexed. "Mom! Mom! Mom!" she said. "I think...I think my an M!"

And, you know what, noses are M' a way. If you are strapped into your car seat long enough you, too, might discover this about yourself.

"See? Boredom is good," Andrew said. "You discover all sorts of things you never realized when you're bored."


This realization occurred pretty early in our trip, though (Zoë sometimes suffers from early-onset boredom) because my next note is from just as we were getting to Helper, Utah (which, for the record, is one hour away from our house (58 miles)).

"How many minutes until Georgia?" Zoë asked.

"Uhhhhh...four days..." Andrew and I answered together.

Another funny thing Zoë did this week, unrelated (or at least only tangentially related) to our drive today was on Wednesday morning when I told her to get dressed she agreed to. "But not change my underwear," she said with great enthusiasm. "Because I'm going to wear this pair all the way to Georgia!"

"No, you're not," I said. "It's going to take several days to get to Georgia and we don't even leave for Georgia for a few more days so I think you'll be changing your underwear at least a few times!"

She got dressed. But she did not change her underwear.

And then she got filthy at Red Ledges. Because that's what my kids do.

Jade's little girl was delicately picking her way along the trail and hardly got dirty at all. My kids were covered in dust from head to toe. Alexander, for example, was literally body surfing down the hill—he had sand everywhere (including so much in his diaper). Zoë was making sand angels. Benjamin know...being Benjamin. Those there were filthy.

So when we came home from Red Ledges I promptly put them all in the tub and I put their filthy clothes in our pile of dirty laundry (destined for a lightning round of laundry on Thursday evening).

I took Zoë out of the tub and toweled her off before sending her off to find clean clothes.

"But what about my underwear?" she asked. "I need my underwear! I have to wear it all the way to Georgia!"

"That underwear is dirty," I said. "You can wear a new pair."

"But that's my only pair!!!" she wailed.

She didn't realize that her suitcase had a "secret" underwear pocket (the pocket in the lid of the suitcase), which is my fault because I packed her suitcase for her and she's not well-traveled enough yet to know where to pack her delicates. She was happy to change her underwear once she knew I had indeed packed an extra (ten) pair for her.

Anyway, back to our road trip notes!


I ordered something special for each of the little kids to help keep them entertained on this trip. For Alexander I got a stuffed owl, which I brought out the first time he cried (which wasn't until we were nearly to Denver, honestly). He loved it and said, "Birdie! Owl! Birdie! Owl! Birdie! Owl!" just as I imagined he would.

For Zoë I got a magnet-doodle board thing, but a cool one that is divided into four quadrants and each section is a different colour. She loves those boards, anyway, but when she started drawing she gasped and said, "Awesome!" and spent literal hours doodling away on that board.

Benjamin got a new "weird but true" fact book from National Geographic. This one is all history based. Anyway, when I pulled that out (and told him that he couldn't watch anything else on his device until he had read the whole thing), he said, "Another fact book?! Now I have three! That's 600 outrageous facts about the world!"

Little does he know I have a few other new fact books for him, which I've decided to parcel out throughout the trip rather than give to him all at once.

Between those little gifts and the travel packs Auntie Kelli brought by, the kids have been well-entertained so far this trip.

I realize we're only a third of the way through our trip, but still. They all did phenomenally well (we won't talk about how much time they spent on their screens today; that's irrelevant).


I also brought some noisy little learning pads that a friend gave to me. I usually don't go for noisy toys, but I knew that we had this long trip ahead of us so I accepted them and stored them away. They really aren't too obnoxious when they're used in the car because their sounds get swallowed up in the general noise of high speed travel.

Anyway, I pulled one of those boards out to give to Alexander, who was feeling rather bored, and he happily started pounding away on the buttons and the toy started shouting out the names of letters and making animal noises and singing him songs. He was in baby heaven.

Zoë was immediately jealous. She wanted to have a turn. I told her to wait. She wanted to play on the other board. I told her no (because I'm a pretty noise sensitive person and even though the bulk of the noise gets swallowed up by the sounds of travel, I didn't think I could handle having two boards make noise). She had a little fit but eventually agreed to wait until he was through.

Finally (she thought), he made a grunting noise and pounding his fists on the buttons.

"He's done now!" Zoë sang.

"He's not done," I said.

"He is!" Zoë insisted. "He said, 'Daaaaah!' and that means, 'I'm bored with this toy and Zoë can have a turn now!'"

"I'm not sure that's what that means," I said.

"I am," she said.

It was a bit of a battle, but we got through it.


We also got through the Rockies. Boy! Some of that driving had Andrew white-knuckling the steering wheel, so I'll be forever grateful that he was the one to do it (and not me). When we were up at the peak of elevation—around 11,000 feet—it got a little stormy and misty and the kids wanted to know why things were so dark.

"Because we're driving through a cloud right now," Andrew told them.

"No, we're not," Zoë said.

"Yes, we are. We're in a cloud right now."

"No," Zoë said. "What? How? How are we in a cloud?"

"You know when you look up at the mountains at home and you see clouds sitting on the tops of the mountains? We're so high up in the mountains that we're driving through a cloud like that right now."

"No, we're not," Zoë said.

"Yes, we are," Andrew said.

"No. We're. Not."

"Yes, we are."

"No! We're! Not!"

"But. We. Are."

Arguing with a four-year-old is rather pointless (but it's a long drive, so).

Finally, Zoë pulled her trump card.

"But we're not floating," she pointed out.

"You don't float in the clouds," Andrew told her. "Clouds float, but people don't."

"Dad, listen," Zoë sighed. "If you're in the clouds, you're floating. Like, if you sit on a cloud, you will float away. And that's how come I know we're not in the clouds, Dad. We're. Not. Floating."

"Yeah, you can't really sit on a cloud," Andrew told her.

"We're not floating," she said again.

Did I mention that arguing with a four-year-old is rather pointless?


The clouds were beautiful, though, and made for a gorgeous sunset against the silhouette of the mountains (with occasional fork lightning breaking through it all). Benjamin kept looking back at the sunset (because we were driving east, you see, so the sunset was behind us, which was very unfortunate because we had to crane our necks to enjoy it) and then he sighed and said, "This sunset is never going to leave my heart."


Our favourite sign said, "Don't be foold. Four more miles of steep downgrade and sharp curves ahead."

I didn't get a picture of it, but I did get a picture of the next one that said, "Truckers: You are not done yet. Another 1.5 miles of steep grades and sharp curves to go."

And these are big official signs. It was a pretty intense...hill...those Rockies.


Alexander kind of lost his mind the last half hour of our drive today. He cried and cried and Zoë decided to sing to him (which she was 100% convinced was soothing him, when I am 100% convinced he was soothed because I spent fifteen minutes twisting my arm behind my back in order to let him hold my finger). She made up a lengthy stream-of-consciousness song for him, which I transcribed the best I could.

"Jesus Christ loves us. Even when we're crying but even more when we're not crying and when we're not annoying! So do it! Do it for Jesus! And he will be so happy and your mother and will be so happy and your father will be so happy. So do it for your father! You are so nice! And monsters are not nice! But kitties are nice foreverrrrrrrr! And close your eyes! Try to sleep! Your world is waiting for you! So close your eyes! Take a nap! And be happy!"

Later her song shifted from trying to soothe her brother to just being all about her.

"My name is Zoë!" she sang. "And I'm such a good girl! I get dressed without being asked! And I changed my underwear before Georgia!"

It was a very interesting song. But—full disclosure—she had a pretty big fit about getting dressed this morning so I'm not sure her song was 100% autobiographical.

She is back in love with her name (after a brief disenchantment when she turned four and realized that her name was missing a letter—because she was four and her name was only three letters long; she tried to change her name to Zoëy. And then she kept on adding letters for subsequent birthdays. She had her fourteen-year-old name all picked out and it was long it was something like YyloZOEllytoxk, but she's convinced again that plain, pithy Zoë is a fine name). She tells everyone her name.

"Hey! Hey! Hey, you!" she'll say to a complete stranger at the park. "My name is Zoë!"

Or sometimes she'll just follow someone around, announcing her name until they acknowledge her. "My name is Zoë! My name is Zoë! My name is Zoë! My name is Zoë!'

The other day we had to run some errands and we took her with us and she accosted the cash register. "My name is Zoë. Hey! My name is Zoë! My name is Zoë!"

"That is a beautiful name," the cashier finally said to her.

"My name is Zoë," Zoë said again as we were leaving the store. "And don't you forget it!" she called to the cashier in an embarrassingly threatening tone.

We got to the car and started buckling her in and she said with a wicked little cackle, "I don't think she's going to forget my name!"

Zoë has been to raise so far.


And now for my general thoughts of Colorado. 

I haven't ever really been to Colorado. I mean, I have, technically. My family took a trip to Mesa Verde before my brother David left on his mission, but I got so sick on the drive down and stayed sick the entire time we were there that I honestly don't recall very much about it. Other than that it was such a miserable trip. But interesting. But so, so miserable. I just wanted to be home with my own toilet and my own throw up bucket (because I needed both all week long). It was bad. 

And I've certainly never driven across the state before. 

This is my first time making this trip (because every other time my family—defined as my husband and children this time, not the family I grew up in—has made the drive I've either been too pregnant to make the drive myself or had such a tiny newborn that making a trip of that nature would be incredibly difficult); I've always flown.

Colorado was such a surprising state. We started out relatively flat and boring and desert-y, and then the landscape morphed into beautiful desert plateaus, which gave way to the dramatic heights of the Rockies—with snow and pine trees galore—and then the Rockies dropped away to big skies and endless prairies. And I just wasn't expecting to go through all of that today. 

It was a beautiful day. 

Tomorrow I'm expecting just...flat.

But I've never been to Kansas before so perhaps Kansas has a surprise or two up its sleeve for me (but, like, also maybe not because Kansas has quite a reputation of being...flat...from what I've heard).


  1. Two things: first, this post caused much laughter. And second:little Miss Z, in an argument, always, always makes me think "It comes up, Charlie Brown, snow comes up!" I just start playing that song in my mind. So, thanks for writing and sharing all the funny things. I hope the drive continues to be mostly pleasant.

  2. Cute post! I love the bit about your ... fun child to raise so far. :)