We had a good road trip. It was not without its difficult moments, but I guess that makes it truly a road trip.
What follows is a summary of our trip and it is long and likely boring so you may or may not want to read the whole thing – I just wanted to write it all down for my sake. Here is the abbreviated version:
Red Rock Canyons
1 hour hotel stay
Driving through mountain pass at 1 am in the snow
We left early Friday morning heading south. We traveled for about 13 hours to Tucson, AZ. Lauren had been excited about the trip but didn’t comprehend it meant all day in the car – so she was a little cranky. They have driven longer days than that before, though, so they did fine. We even did well for meals, having Fuddrucker’s for lunch and Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was a long night because Julia was restless and we were right next to some train tracks and heard train whistles all night.
Saturday morning Luke took the girls down for the continental breakfast while I showered and then I ran off to Starbucks quickly for my breakfast, which was a nice treat. We were then off to my aunt and uncle’s house but stopped at a park on the way there. At my aunt and uncle’s house were also my other aunt and uncle who live in Northern Virginia. It was a good opportunity to see them all. It would take a whole post to itself to describe the relationships I have with them, but they are very special people in my life and it was wonderful to visit with them. The girls explored a bit while we all chatted and them they grabbed my aunt Joan for a while to play with and pick interesting flowers and seeds from the yard and make lemonade from the lemons growing in the tree . We all went to lunch and then back to the house for the afternoon. The girls ( and then Luke ) went swimming despite the pool being (currently) unheated. It was in the 90’s and so they did just fine. The adults spent the afternoon just catching up and relaxing. It was a wonderful visit!
Saturday night we drove to Mesa, AZ and checked into a hotel there after getting some In and Out Burgers for Luke and I (McD’s for the girls). I have to admit to being quite scared of the neighborhood our hotel was in but as it turned out, it was a really nice hotel and perfectly safe. We all slept well and got up in the morning and found a nearby First Presbyterian Church to attend (after an unsuccessful detour to Target to get some sandals for Julia). It was a good service and it is always interesting to go to a different church. I was kind of thankful not to be in their choir – their robes were bright teal with big white crosses on the front and white in all the folds! After church we went our friends Jim and Pat and their kids for lunch at a really neat farm/restaurant. We then went to a park and Julia proceeded to hurt her toe. We decided to part ways for a while and went back to the hotel to let the girls swim. We had the pool to ourselves and had a lot of fun swimming. After the swim we walked to a nearby Dairy Queen for a snack. We then chilled in the hotel room for a while, watching Star Wars and reading. We went to a large mall after that and Julia tried on every sandal in the place, finding none to be comfortable and then we met our friends for dinner at Rainforest Cafe. The girls were pretty worn out by this point but were good sports and patient while we all talked. We went back to our hotel and crashed.
Monday morning we were off to Las Vegas. It took us a long time to get out of the Phoenix metro area and then took a four lane highway to Las Vegas. Along the way we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves driving through a forest of Joshua trees. We pulled into the Hoover Dam around 2:30 and Luke and I were very impressed by the size and scope of it, especially the new bridge under construction there. Julia was duly unimpressed and made it a point to tell us so. In fact, she seemed to enjoy telling us how uninteresting everything we saw was! She is just seven, not thirteen, right? She did think our castle shaped hotel was cool at least. We got checked in there and went off to wander the strip a bit, play some arcade games, and then have some dinner. We were getting ready to go out to see Vegas in the dark when Lauren threw up all over herself and then bed. She hadn’t been feeling so great for a few days. We got her cleaned up and new linens and such, which all took quite a while, and then Julia and I went out to the drug store on the strip to get some supplies for Lauren. We enjoyed our jaunt out in the night but it was almost 10 by the time we got back and Julia was so tired that she fell asleep the moment her head hit the pillow. We had set up a little bed on the floor for Lauren with a bedspread on a plastic bag. It was a long night as she crinkled around on the plastic and asked us for things (such as kisses and hugs) but she didn’t get sick again.
The next morning Lauren was still feeling low and I went out to get donuts and failed to bring any money and so had to come back (in the large casino this took at least 20 minutes of walking) Luke and Julia then went out to get them and the credit card machine was down so they came back empty handed as well. I finally went out again and got some, but it had been something like 2 hours since I first went out. We convinced Lauren to just ride in the stroller with us rather than split up and have one of us stay in the room with her. We went to Circus Circus and she actually perked up and rode some rides (yes – rides on an upset stomach, what could we do, it was vacation?) and did not get sick. I took Julia on a roller coaster. We walked to get into the line and then we saw that it went upside down. We had recently had a discussion about how she did not want to go on an upside down roller coaster but we were in line and she bravely agreed to go. Well, she was crying by the time we got off and was terrified and hated it! We told her how proud we were that she tried it and then had fun the rest of the time. We had some lunch at which Julia lost a tooth and Lauren napped in the stroller and then went back to our hotel (stopping to have some ice cream). After a rest, Luke took the girls to the midway area while I gambled. I took five dollars and played a penny slot for a minute or two, and then some video poker for about 5 minutes and had $17. I then went to a 2 cent slot machine and played it for another 5 minutes and had $25. I was so pleased to have turned $5 into $25 and I didn’t want to lose that $20 and so I joined them playing carnival games. We all won some cheap stuff and had fun. We went to see the Luxor on the tram and then we went back to our room for a while and then headed out on the monorail to see the "volcano" erupt at the Mirage. This took us an hour to just get there with all the walking. The MGM grand itself took about 20 minutes to walk through to get to the monorail. The "volcano" was very cool and totally worth the walk. After that we walked on the strip a bit and then got some food and got back on the monorail. Lauren slept in the stroller after the volcano was over. We got off the monorail and I wanted to avoid the long walk at the MGM and we were convinced that they had taken us on some circuitous route through it and so we tried to walk out of the parking garage to the street. We found ourselves in the taxi staging area and then went into some dark back door of the casino after an employee let us in and found ourselves in the kitchen area. Luckily an employee opened another door for us and we were magically inside the main casino again. We hiked back to our room and went straight to bed. Our feet were killing us!
On Wednesday we packed up and got on the road. Lauren was still feeling crummy but just slept in the van. Julia watched movies while Luke and I marveled at the red rock canyons we saw in Utah. It was truly beautiful country and we were so glad to see it. We got to Grand Junction and got some food and bathed the girls. At that time I got online (had not been able to do so for free in Vegas) and saw the weather forecasts for blizzards and such for last night and today. I felt that if we left in the morning we may not get home for a few days since we had to go over mountain passes to get home and these often close in bad weather. So, we decided to pack up and drive home. IT was about 8:45 pm. we ended up driving on 2 lane highway since that was the more southerly route and looked to be less snowy. The girls went to sleep and I did some major white knuckled driving through snow and curvy mountain passes but it was manageable with not much snow yet accumulated. We made it home around 3 am.
Now we are snug at home waiting for (experiencing now as I finish editing this post) the blizzard. It better be a good one to make my decision to drive through the mountains in the middle of the night seem wise and not foolish.