Monday, August 30, 2010

The Road less Traveled ... the Final mile

I sit here at 11:00 pm (11:00 only because I have just crossed the border into Arizona) – my body tells me it is really midnight.  I type into Microsoft word because the hotel has managed to lose Internet connection.  I am sitting on the edge of the bathtub – because it is the only place I can have light with out waking my “sweet sleeping” children.  It is the end of DAY 12 –

Here’s my new list of things to know for future travel –

  1. Never book a hotel with outside entrances – this can never be a good thing
  2. As tired as I may be I am not as tired as my children
  3. Take a risk and just say let’s do it
  4. All we have is time why are we rushing
  5. Trial and Error do make you better at something (packing trunks for example)
  6. Whoever told me 8 people could sleep in one room – you are crazy (we did not attempt this and boy am I glad)
  7. Kids do get tired of waffles for breakfast
  8. Eat the entire bag of taffy at once and get it over with
  9. Always stop at a Welcome to the State of … sign or you will hear about it for the next two states
  10. You can actually take a decent scenery picture out a car window while moving at 70 mph

Day 11 – we drove from La Grande, Oregon to Provo, Utah along the way we stopped at the Amazing Shoshone Falls – which by the way, according to the park ranger who after collecting my $3.00 informed me, are much better in May.  Took a few tourist photos – screamed at the children to not jump over the edge, ate a picnic lunch and headed back out onto the highway.  I should add once again, that sitting in the comfort of my home planning this journey, 9 hours of driving a day, broken up with a few stops along the way seemed reasonable.  I recommend not doing this – plan for 5 hours and pray it does not turn into 9.  Somewhere closing in on the Utah border we determined we were not going to make our destination.  With 5 minutes to spare – okay, we were 20 minutes past our cancellation deadline- we called our reserved hotel to see if we could cancel – they graciously allowed
us our out.  Perfect we were staying in Provo 100 miles closer, now we could stop for dinner in Salt Lake.  With our trusty iphone and a link to urban spoon we were going to eat some real food.  Something we had to sit down for, something that would give me pleasure and the ability to carry on for the next 3 days.  With my sister working the iphone (which in itself is quite entertaining) we found Frida’s Bistro.  Perfect high ratings and $5 margarita night – we were there.  Following our trusty iphone directions we exited the highway which promptly brought us through a highly concerning industrial area bordered by a railroad track and some sort of byway over head.  About the time we were rethinking our decision we were trapped in a maze of one-way streets that lead us to Frida’s.  Along the way we pass several unsavory characters that once again cause us to rethink our choice.  But what the heck we are here, we are hungry and the place looks fun.  We opt for the outdoor seating so that we can watch the “trunks”.  While pulling into a parking spot to turn around we realize that we are parked directly in front of SafeHaven – otherwise known as a halfway house rehab – well that would explain the stream of street people.  Not to be deterred, we park.  Dinner was the best we have had so far – and the $5.00 margarita – Pineapple and Cilantro – very Yummy.   Back on the road at 10:00 pm.  We have become European on this trip and have yet to eat dinner before 8:30 pm – my kids are used to it– my sister’s kids can’t quite figure out what happened to their oh, so scheduled mother.  I assure my sister Provo is huge we will find a place to sleep NO problem.  Someone forgot to tell me that this was Education and teacher conference Week at BYU.  Four hotels later we acquire 2 rooms and actually get to bed before midnight.

Day 12 – We opt to let the kids sleep in and we are loading those trunks like a NASCAR pit crew.  We drive on – stopping at the inspiring Bryce National Park and view the Hoodoos.   The kids once again pose for the obligatory photos and then disappear into the world of electronics.  We decided several days ago that we would enjoy the view and let them live vicariously through the pictures.  After 7 hours of driving, another late night dinner and lodging that will never end up in a place you must stay, I am preparing myself for tomorrow.  River rafting is in the works and the adventure of this journey never ends.
Day 13- Up way early to make our raft trip – the kids are excited, we are excited.  We load the bus for the trip down to the canyon, and then onto the raft with our trusty and entertaining guide.  About an hour into this raft trip we begin to feel slight moisture- not concerned- we are on the river- oh, but this moisture is coming from the sky soon we are pelted with rain, the canyon shatters with thunder and lightening the children are pretty sure they have been warned against being in the water with lightening – we are miles from either the starting or the ending point so we press on.  Our guide is thrilled he said it never rains in the canyon – this is exciting he says.  We attempt to cover ourselves with towels to prevent hypothermia and press on.  I am pretty sure this would qualify for some sort of National Geographic moment if I could just see past the end of my nose to enjoy it.  We finally make it to the end, wet tired and hungry we make our way back to the hotel.  Showers and trunk loading in record time and we are once again on the road.  The kids have settled in and we promised them lunch.  My sister and I look at each other and say let’s get down the road a little bit – in case you are contemplating this trip -- there is nothing between Page, AZ and the Four Corners that even resembles a dining establishment.  As the kids begin to scream with hunger and thirst – my sister practices her hook shot as she tosses protein bars into the back.  We cry out our mantra, “It’s an adventure”,  they shout, “We’re thirsty” we reply, “Swallow your spit” and we keep driving.  We make it to the Four Corners pay $18 to be able to take a picture and head on out. Tonight we drive to Albuquerque NM.  The lady at Four Corners told us 3 hours tops – HA HA HA.  2 hours into this drive we realize there is NOTHING in NM.  Dinner tonight was some fine dining at the Stop and Go Mart.  A loaf of bread, and grape jelly (we had organic peanut butter in the car).  We are back on the road – my driving companion prepares dinner from her seat, which truly has become a death trap.  I am not sure her legs will ever recover from sitting cross-legged for so long.  Back to dinner – PBJ – but here is where you despise the organic peanut butter – as she attempts to stir in the oil, while moving 70 MPH, and balancing bread and jelly on her lap.  Next time we absolutely will have a car cam with streaming video because there were just too many fine moments.   2 hours later about 10:30 pm we arrive in Albuquerque – oh tonight is going to be some good sleep.  Just let me say never ever ever attempt to drive and exit in Albuquerque with out a practice run.  I believe it may be the only city in the world that does not allow you to exit a highway and come relatively close to your destination.  A full hour later we pull into what we believe will be our resting place – HA HA HA – they are full – WHAT!   At this point I am tired and now too awake to attempt another exit – I tell the kids to buckle up – we haven’t been to bed before 1:00 am in many nights we are not starting now.  I know down the road 1 ½ hours – there is a La Quinta with my name on it – we are moving – stopping for some coffee at the astute Waffle Way – which let me jut say – I have an awesome knack for finding every ghetto in every city.  A little concerned that I am not fully packing – I grab the coffee and go.   We arrive around 1:00 am – the best La Quinta in the world and possibly our finest lodging to date.   

DAY 14 – our final push – headed out on Route 66 we stop at Kix on 66 for brunch – great diner – should you find yourself in Tucumcari NM – stop by.   We stop at 8:30pm in Decauter, Texas for some fast food and a restroom break and realize that we have not stopped since brunch.   We determine that two women and 6 kids have been in the car for 8 ½ hours with no stops (we didn’t count stopping to spray paint the Cadillacs in Amarillo) – there are no bathrooms in the field.  We are truly road warriors at this point.

1 hour later we are home – we have traveled 5271 miles, we have spent 14 days together – we didn’t kill each other and we didn’t lose anyone.  We have experienced a closeness that I am sure not many would relish and we are planning to do it again.  What started out as a goofy idea turned into a crazy plan and then became an awesome memory.  Most of all my sister and I had time to talk, share life, and laugh.  The kids have memories of dancing in the seats and mountains and trees – something rarely seen in Texas.  Together we have an adventure that I am sure will be discussed for years.  Our children will definitely tell their children about the crazy time their moms made them ride in the car for 2 weeks – and they will love it.

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