Monday, January 17, 2011

Road trip!

Helen Keller

I had always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. As time was slipping by in Utah we were able to explore a lot of places but hadn't had a chance to visit.
We soon found out that Dave was to start work in Californai earlier than expected so we would miss the oppurtunity of seeing the Grand Canyon with friends as planned. With the whole summer vacation ahead of me I started to think how much time I had on my hands. I got thinking about "what would I regret more? Going back home to Australia and not seeing it for myself or going to the Grand Canyon with 4 kiddo's! "
I decided to go Dave'less!
Unfortunately, or fortunaltely, my dad has instilled in me a great love for adventure
so I decided to go for it! Over 6 weeks Dave came back 2 weekends and on the 3rd visit he arrived late Friday night, we packed the the truck up Saturday morning and by lunch time he headed west to Reno with the truck and I headed south to St George for my first destination.
Dave's work was going to pay for people to pack our apartment and truck it to California but I thought it would be better to pocket the money and put it towards the road trip and our new life in Cali. One of the best decisions we made!
Above is a picture in St George. After being in the car for over 4 hours, we got out to scorching temperatures of over 100 degrees. We headed straight for the pool. As the children swam, I was just starting to register the fact that this moment was finally here. We were leaving Utah. This chapter of our life was offically over and I was physically exhuasted but mostly SAD!!! We all just loved our BYU adventure! I still have a visual of Susan waving us off. I told her no tears allowed! I HATE GOODBYES!

The drive to Hoover Dam took longer than expected. Traffic, potty stops and bribe stops (stretching our legs and getting a treat) Took over 4 hours. I was fine with the St George route, we had been there many times, but this was getting into more desolate areas. The only accomodation in this little tiny place was at this dodgy casino. We arrived at around 4:00 so we ended up unpacking and then going to look at Hoover dam. It was about 3 miles to get there but with traffic it took us 4o minutes to get there!!! If I had known that, we wouldn't have chosen more driving! It was definitely worth it though!

Little, gorgeous man. Happy for that small moment!

Notice the GPS on my screen!!!! I would not have dared to attempt this trip without it!! I had it on a male aussie accent, we named him Bruce. The children said it made them miss dad.

This was the casino and tiny town in the middle of NOWHERE!!!!

Yay!!! Finally at Hoover damn. Some weren't that happy to be there but I was!!! I was thrilled to be out of the car and exploring. Isaac was in his little hiking chair and whenever he was in it, he was always so happy. The chair Diana bought us right from the start of our Utah adventure on Craigs list for something crazy like $12. It was one of the best buys we made as students!
Wahoooo. Look at the view! Still over 100 degrees.

My children were all grumpy at this point! They may be smililng but I think it was my threats that willed them to smile. Each child was different. For Beth I would just say you would get no candy and she would have a melt down and that worked for her. For the older ones it was banning the Nintendo DS or having to sit next to a particular child. So let's just say I worked on their weaknesses for the safety of all involved on this particular trip!

We got back to the horrible, stinky hotel after eating the worst dinner for the trip and I was starting to feel like I was getting sick. It was a horrible feeling thinking you may be sick, when you are in the middle of desert, with absolutely no one close by that you know, with 4 children. I put the kids all to bed before 7:00 and I know I was asleep before all the children were asleep. However, I woke up feeling great . We were off to see the Grand Canyon.
I was the most anxious about this paticular driving day as we were finally heading to the Grand Canyon and this would be the most isolated part of the whole road trip. A section of it would also be dirt road. A few prayers were definitely involved and the hope of no flat tyres or mechanical difficultes. One thing I didn't anticipate was an unexpected potty stop.
Beth is infamous for needing to go to the potty a million times a day. Suddenly Beth is "busting"to go to the loo. I pull off from the main road and pull over on a dirt road. She hops out of the car and goes very ladylike in full view of everyone. As she was doing her business I looked at the lovely view when I noticed some animals. How cute, so to distract Isaac who was getting bored I pointed in the direction of the "cows". Hold on a second, these are bulls. I don't know if they are wild bulls but they are starting to pick up their pace and they are heading straight for us!!! So I suggested to Beth that she better pee a little quicker cos we had company! We all had a good laugh. Somehow, that is one memory that is going to stick!
So this was the dirt road I was dreading and for good reason! I have never been on such a bad road. Yikes. As the children were complaining and lovingly fighting with each other, I put my ipod on and blasted up the music. It was nice to block out their noise and be able to focus on the road. Yes, I was finally starting to think.................. WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!
When I saw this sign, I wanted to hug it! We were finally here! Now the next goal was not to have any of my children get killed with their curiousity of looking over the edge of the canyon!

The bus that takes you to 3 different points of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately on the last stop, while trying to ensure I had everything, we left our hiking backpack.

Yay, we are here and yes we are going to take a photo!

The new bridge that we thought we would be going on but didn't. We hadn't realised that the only way to get to the lookouts was on the darn bus and that was $160 for all of us! Oriiginally that is why we came to the west side of the canyon becuase of the bridge and many people said that would be the safest way to see the canyon with all the children. When we drove in to the airport section and the security guard asked us our plans I said we were going on the bridge, he just looked at me, alone and with all the children and said that wouldn't be a good idea ma'am. That wont be safe, they can still fall off becuse the raling doesn't go that high. So Savannah was freaking out in the back and saying there is no way I am going out there. My mind was racing, you bloomin will go on the bridge if I have to drag you out by the ear. So of course they all start crying that they are going to die out there. I was thinking we aren't coming all this way just to turn around again! So when I found out that first, the only option is to pay for the bus and two, you can still see many beautiful safely without paying a bucketful of $ for the bridge I just sighed and went with it.

Eagles point. Hyrum was very impressed with this!

Then he went on to say, "mum, I would have driven a whole day more to see this. Thanks!" It was one of the highlights of my trip! All his tormenting his sister was forgotten, for the moment!

One huge blessing was the children were so thoughtful of Isaac and looking after him. He was so good when he was out of the car. They were a good little team.

I had to keep tellling the children that he could walk. They all fought over who was the "Isaac helper."
She may look cute here but I will not forget the tanturms in the car!! Wish I had a footage of that!

We did it!!! Stop number #2

No one died! Big bonus!

Driving out of there was such a thrill. We had manged to do it without daddy! Although I only had a few moemnts where I could really look at the view and not worry that Isaac was roaming off a cliff or Hyrum was taking that one step closer to doom. It was WORTH IT! Challenge done, so happy to have it over with. Now for 7 more hours on the road till our next destintaion....Barstow.
About 60 miles from the Grand canyon was this LDS chapel.
Middle of nowhere.
Yes. The bribe stop! If you don't fight or tease your sibling, punch or kick, complain that a sibling is "looking" at them, or wipe your booga on an annoying sibling for one more hour you can get an icecream when I get gas!
When we arrived in Barstow, the accomodation was bliss!!!!! Cheap and the best accomodation of the trip. It was deluxe. I had my own room and the children spent a long time in the spa in our place while I got to watch TV. Those few hours that night was the most realaxing of my whole trip and it was just DIVINE!

From Barstow we left at 9:00 am to our destination in San Diego Wild animal park. Growing up I have just loved the zoo so my children will love the zoo too. Hot day, but a fun day.

This picture is a special one because as this little man has struggled with epilepsy and development this is the first time ever he intentionally smiles to the camera!! He is saying "cheese' here. We have taken so many pictures of him, trying to get him to smile or he would have a eye flutter (seizure) and in so many photos his little eyes will be shut and I have deleted so many. Savannah took this one and it is blown up and hanging on our wall.
Just melts my heart to see this.

This is a rather funny moment because in fact we are just killing time. We are staying one more night here and once we are done here we are just heading back to our small hotel room. Savannah gets out the map and asks if she can take us to the "tigers". I have nothing to lose and everything to gain (more time and distraction) so I say "lead the way". Well, I am happy to say she got completely lost and it didn't matter. We were goning on a wild goose chase and it was fun. We worked it out and saw some other animals we hadn't seen along the way. Bonus!

As this little man grows he is starting to really progess with the medication he is on. Instead of being oblivious to his surroundings he is now more aware. He loved the animals and was devastated when we had to leave : (

Not to be a downer but I want to remember the good and bad to all of the trip and it was getting to be the end of the day and they were done! I was done being a nice mother and we were off to find some gross takeout and head to the hotel. Tomorrow was Sea world. My favorite.
Sea world!

I think this is my favorite live show ever. Seeing a killer whale perform is pretty incredible.
We left around 2:00pm, I know it wasn't getting a full day in but we had another 5 hours to Santa Barbara. This part of the trip was crazy! I have never been on so many freeways. I think I counted about 20! Traffic in LA is a nightmare.
Last destination! Last night till we get to settle down into our next chapter in the States. California. We arrived in the evening and went for a stroll around town and to get dinner. A very pretty place, but not as fun without Dave!
The next morning we went to the beach and to get some energy out. We had about a 5 hour drive but I also wanted to try and time it for when Dave would get home from work. I guess I didn't want to arrive to our new home without Dave there.

Usually I run my problems out but going on a road trip is another good way to do it. I can understand a 'truckies' love for the road. All those hours in the car were therapeutic. I was so sad to leave Utah and now, I was ready for California and for the new people we would meet.

As I finally drive into our neighbourhood, a block from where we live is a 4 way stop sign. As I stopped, I saw a lexus, a BMW sports car and a Mercedes 4WD stopping as well. Nice. Here we were in our dirty, off trail minivan. We were going to fit in just fine!