Imagine this... a long roadtrip with your husband, two teenage girls with guitars, a golden retriever who is shedding like crazy, and an active toddler. Got all that? Ok, now add luggage, one more guitar for the hubby, a stroller, toys, food, dog supplies, movies, books, blankets and of course - a big cooler of ice and drinks. Got all that in your mental picture? Ok, now on the way home, add some wall hangings, an endtable, sewing machine, rocks, dishes and little boxes of jewelry and trinkets. Got it now? Oh, wait, add a cardboard box to the load - for some reason it was important to bring home an old cardboard box. Does your mental image of us have it all now cuz - That's us on vacation!!!
It was a LONG trip. Thank the Lord for the dvd player and the movie "Cars". I know the movie dialogue by heart now for the entire movie. Add that to my list of Mom-Talents. I am pretty sure the whole family, including the dog, has it memorized too.
We drove there in two segments. First run was just over 1000 miles and took us 17 hours. Second segment of the trip was 630 miles and took us 10 hours. Then home, 1650 miles and 30 hours.
I gotta say, I have a pretty good traveling toddler! And her carseat must be super comfy because it wasn't too hard to keep her happy. It wasn't always easy though. I did see a vehicle traveling down the highway in the lane next to us, going 80, baby in the front seat on Mom's lap. That just made us all sick to see that.
Here are the highlights:
Our first day we drove to north-central Wyoming to see my Grandma and my Mom. We left at 8:45pm on Sunday night and arrived at 3:00pm on Monday. Along the way, we pulled over on the side of the road in Arizona so I could nurse Gracie. I think it was 2 or 3am. The girls and the dog got out to stretch. When we were ready to go again, we all piled in, buckled up and put the van in drive.... OOOPS! Where's the dog? Oh Lordy, we almost forgot our dog in the Virgin Gorge in Arizona. Yikes! In the afternoon before we got to Grandma's house, we stopped in Shoshone for a milkshake. If you are ever passing through Wyoming you just have to take the road that passes through Shoshone and stop for a milkshake! Awesome!
While in Wyoming, we stayed at the Vision Quest Motel. These fine accommodations included two full size beds . Did I mention that there are 4 adult sized people in our family and one toddler who flops around at night? And a big lovable dog? Did I mention that? Sleep was fleeting.
The highlight of our Wyoming visit for the girls was their "playdate" that Grandma set up for them. They were a little worried about this "playdate" wondering what they were in for. They figured it'd be boring or involved horseback riding or something equally awful. Turns out, a couple of teenage girls came for the "playdate" and said "wanna go swimming?". The girls said "sure!" They soon learned that "swimming" meant going 35 miles up the road to the dam and jumping off a cliff into the reservoir. Lexie said "It felt weird cuz after you jump you fall for such a long time". Ok, there are just some things a mother does NOT need to know! That little tidbit is one of them.
On Wednesday, we loaded up and left for the far side of South Dakota. I think there are 2 towns between my Gma's house and my inlaws. Very boring drive. Around we heard the radio news about the 35W bridge in
We got to the in-laws late in the evening and the place soon filled up with Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Gracie was a little overwhelmed, but the girls and the dog were super excited to see everyone! I was super excited knowing I would sleep on a double bed in a quiet dark basement! Whooo Hoooo! I'm gonna get more than 4 hours of sleep tonight! I really miss having a quiet dark basement. Such a wonderful place to sleep and sleep and sleep! Ah!
On Friday, I took one teen and one toddler to the new waterpark in town. For those of you familiar with the town, it's at the Southside swimming pool site. Very cool aquatic park! One of my kids enjoyed it very much! My little one did not enjoy the water. She looked very cute in her swim suit though and isn't that what is important to a girl at the pool? She did enjoy running around on the sidewalk and her cousins took her to the sandbox area.
Saturday we went to Aunt Gert’s estate give away. This is how we ended up bringing home a sewing machine, dishes, some framed art and an end table. We learned that Aunt Gertrude donated her body to science and is currently attending medical school in Vermillion. She'll be there for 2 years. She passed away a month ago. Her and I share a birthday which gave us a sort of a bond. Also, my daughters all looked just like her baby picture. But, she was 14 pounds when she was born! Thankfully, my girls were all between 7 and 8 pounds. Her baby picture looks amazingly like my girls as babies and she just loved that. She gave me her one and only baby picture last summer.
Sunday, we left all the girls with their cousins and my husband and I got away together for the afternoon. Only one of his brothers tagged along, so it was as alone as we were ever going to get on this trip. We went to the Terry Redlin Art Center. So nice! The paintings are so beautiful and a wonderful peaceful feeling overtakes you as you get sucked into the artwork. I could have stayed there for a few more hours. We bought a small framed print. Then we went out for some mediocre Mexican food with very bad wait service. Made me laugh, South Dakota is just not known for good restaurants. Oh to be back home again!
We packed up and left Monday evening at 8pm Central Time and got home 30 hours later at midnight our time. This was a 1650 mile drive from there to here, but we did it in one shot to get it done.
We've been home for a whole day now so I guess I should unpack and clean up the vacation mess. My new mini-van did really well! It is so full of dog hair now though. We put 3831 miles on it and drove for 69 hours from our house back to our house again. I'd say it's maiden voyage was a wonderful success! We'll do it again in 11 months!
Here are some more vacation pictures, there is a nice collection in the photo gallery of our family web site if you want to see them all: