Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 10

Day 10 – June 30, 2010 – Wednesday

0615 Penny has woken me up one last time.

0715 Get the kids up so they can get changed. Once they are changed I can finish packing then get the car reloaded.

0823 On the road.

0827 See Jiffy Lube. Check my oil life. We’re at 20%. I think we can make it to NM before we need an oil change.

0831 Stop at Whole Foods to buy some stye eye drops for Bella. Styes stink is what she says and I absolutely agree with her.

0839 Oops – forgot to get Jo turned on and programmed for the day.

0942 See a sign on a car for

0954 Buffalo! I guess I should have stopped at the Buffalo Herd overlook after all. I had read online that they are not always visible from that location so I didn’t bother to stop. Oh well. Maybe next time…

1015 Burger King. I did not eat breakfast so I’m starving. And I drank coffee so I needed to use the bathroom.

1034 Snow on the mountains.

1038 Dead trees. A lot of dead trees. More dead ones than live ones here. I wonder why. Mistletoe maybe?

1040 Eisenhower Tunnel, 11,013 feet

1042 Continental Divide. I had hoped to take a picture at the Continental Divide sign but apparently we are crossing it while in the tunnel. I just happened to glimpse the tiny blue highway sign marking the divide as we drove by. Darn. Guess next time I'll have to take the scenic route on 6 instead.

1043 Avalanche area! Ryan doesn't think we are in danger though.

1045 The scenery has been absolutely breathtaking today. We stop at a roadside stream and dip our toes and just relax for a few minutes.

1120 Copper Mountain exit. Not a lot of food choices and gas is expensive so we keep going. I think it's fun to look at the chair lifts and ski slopes without the snow. It looks a lot different in green!

1127 Nice bike trail between the sides of the interstate.

1129 Vail Pass Summit. 10,662 feet

1155 Burger King in Avon. These roundabouts are making me dizzy and totally lost!

12:22 p.m. Western Slope is much dryer and more desert like.

12:34 p.m. Colorado River

12:37 p.m. Glenwood Canyon. Gorgeous black rock in the canyon walls.

12:51 p.m. NoName, CO

12:53 p.m. Oil life is now at 15%

1:02 p.m. BIG traffic jam headed the opposite direction because of construction. I am so glad we are not going that way!

2:18 p.m. Dinosaur Journey museum in Fruita, CO. Our favorite parts:

Bella- The spitting dinosaur

Felisa - all the moving robotic dinosaurs

Ryan - the earthquake simulator

Sheila - the earthquake simulator

3:30 p.m. Gas, $2.75/gallon

3:40 p.m. Mike the Headless Chicken! I found out last night that this is Mike's hometown so I surprised Ryan with a visit to the statue in town. We also walked over to the Rec Center to buy a tshirt for Ryan. Before we left, I got a coffee from Aspen Street Coffee Co.

4:20 p.m. Stop at Cabela's and Mesa Mall in Grand Junction. I almost bought a copy of the Disney movie The Ugly Dachsund but decided it was a want not a need and put it back. I wasn't going to buy anything for the kids, why should I buy something for myself?

5:17 p.m. Leaving the mall.

5:29 p.m. We are stuck in rush hour traffic in Grand Junction. I see an old car that has broken down or run out of gas. Who stopped to help? The driver of another old car. All of us stuck up newer car drivers didn't do a thing.

6:40 p.m. Finally made it across town and to the hotel. Ron booked us a room at the Doubletree. We are on the top floor and have quite a view! Now we are headed back downtown for dinner (we ate at Rockslide Brewery, quite delicious, and we walked around to see all the sculptures that are part of Art on the Corner)

8:28 p.m. Back at the hotel once more. Hit the pool then showered. Ryan was sad that there was no Discovery channel at the hotel so he missed Mythbusters.

10:20 p.m. Leave for the airport to pick up Ron

10:55 p.m. Back at the hotel. Bed time!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 9

Day 9 – June 29, 2010 – Tuesday

0645 The phone is ringing which wakes me up. Once I figure out what it is, I go back to sleep. I find out later that it was Dad calling to tell anyone who was awake that there was a hot air balloon flying low across the house. Too bad we missed it!

0800 Wake up Felisa. The other kids are already awake. Shower and get dressed.

0856 Leave for my coffee date. Realise I forgot my phone and go back to get it. After I have the phone and have driven halfway to Starbucks, I realize that even though I had plugged it in last night, for some reason it didn’t charge.

Coffee at Starbucks with Margo, aka Mrs. McCoy.

1123 Back at Dad’s. I could have run away since I had no phone and no kids but decided I should stick around.

We have lunch then head out for the afternoon.

12:20 p.m. Shopping and haircuts at the Chapel Hills Mall. The kids did not ask to play in the play area. I think that it has lost its appeal a bit now that they are so much bigger than the toddlers who typically play there. The haircuts weren’t that great but at least we can see their eyes again and I found a necklace to wear with my outfit for Ron’s reunion dinner.

After the mall we went down to the Olympic Training Center. Neither Dad nor I had ever been there to see it.

Our last stop is dinner at It’z. It’s basically like Chuck E. Cheese but for an older age group. Bella played Deal or No Deal almost the entire time and ended up with lots of prize tickets. (I guess all those episodes on GSN at Grandma’s house paid off!) Ryan chose 13 plastic robots, 3 paratroopers, and a candy watch. Felisa chose a couple silly bandz and a candy necklace. Then they both donated their extra tickets so that Bella would have enough to get the Hannah Montana plush guitar.

Once we got back home, my friend Travis came over and we were able to hang out for a couple hours, mostly sans children. I hadn’t seen him in a couple years so it was nice to reconnect.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 8

Day 8 – June 28, 2010 – Monday

0555 Penny is barking. That dog needs to learn to sleep in!

0630 The kids are awake and playing very loudly. Those kids need to learn to sleep in!

0640 Get up and tell kids to be quiet.

0753 Leave for Denver.

0803 Schlotsky’s sign. Oh yeah – I forgot about Schlotsky’s. Hope I get to eat there sometime.

0806 Sonic

0820 My burrito is falling apart. Must’ve been a new guy in the kitchen this morning. Will I be able to finish is without making a total mess in the car?

0829 There is a Transportation Dept truck pulled over on the side of the highway. One of the workers is dragging a dead deer over to be thrown into the woods where nature can take care of it and no one driving by has to see it. How would you like to be in the deer body disposal business?

0832 Coal train heading south

0834 Another train heading south

0854 Wrong address. This is not a hotel. This is an industrial park. I must have switched the numbers on the street address when I entered it into the GPS.

0858 Made it to the hotel!

0925 Leaving hotel with a full car. Onboard with us today – the Kohls Family (minus Kurt who had to go to his conference downtown).

0932 As we are making a u-turn, the minivan from Texas (complete with a roof box!) who was behind us is doing the same thing. We laugh and wave to each other!

1008 Arrive at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

12:40 p.m. We have seen the amphitheater and gone on a long, hot, dusty hike. 1.4 miles with only two bottles of water for all of us. Thankfully Lynne had water and sunscreen to share. She was thankful I picked up a map at the Trading Post so we knew where we were going! Between us, we’ve got it together. Haha! Felisa and I were wearing flip-flops and Bella had on crocs. Not the best choice of footwear for such a hike but we made it. I guess next time I’ll be more prepared even if I think I’m only going just a little ways down the trail then coming back to the car.

1:00 – 3:20 p.m. Casa Bonita, or as Lynne called it, “The House of Stimulus”. The kids had fun and the adults even giggled a bit as well.

3:51 p.m. Arrive back at the hotel. The kids get changed and we head out to the pool for some swimming.

6:47 p.m. On our way to dinner at Sonic. This will be the first time for the Kohls and, believe it or not, the first time for me so far on this trip. Can you believe I made it all the way to Colorado before stopping at Sonic? Unheard of!

7:41 p.m. Done with dinner. Time to drop the Kohls family back at the hotel so they can get settled in for the night. Time for me to drive back to Colorado Springs. Maybe I can make it most of the way back before it gets dark.

7:58 p.m. Leaving the hotel.

8:15 p.m. Stop for gas in Castle Rock. $2.65/gallon

8:23 p.m. Beautiful sunset clouds tonight!

Make it back just after dark. Cannot get Bella to wake up so she can get out of the car. All of the kids go straight to bed. I think maybe they are tired tonight!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 7

Day 7 - Sunday - June 27, 2010

0715 Penny is barking which wakes me up. I'm sure the kids are probably awake as well so I go ahead and get up.

It turns out, the kids are not awake yet. I think this is the latest they have slept so far. Dad made breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sausage. Felisa ate a banana while the rest of us ate the good stuff. After my shower I went out to Best Buy to get Ryan a new MP3 player. His popcorn player is officially dead and cannot be resuscitated.

1135 Everyone is loaded into the car and headed for the Denver Aquarium.

We decide to stop for a snack before the aquarium so the kids don't get too hungry while we're there (especially since we haven't fed them since breakfast!). The Taco Bell that Jo tried to take us to was invisible to we wandered a bit and ended up finding a Burger King, overlooking the Denver Broncos Invesco Field.

The aquarium was nice (and I just realized we forgot to do favorite parts - oh no!). Then we headed over to Red Robin for dinner with Walt and Kristin. It was so great to see them, especially Kristin who I hadn't seen in a few years. We had a lovely dinner then left just as it started to rain. It was raining pretty heavily and eventually we got into some hail. Very noisy hail hitting the car!

Made it back home with no problems. I checked out some audiobooks for Ryan then uploaded his new "Red Razor". Fully charged and ready to listen to hours and hours of stories!

On tap for tomorrow... another day trip to Denver. Which reminds me, I should check to make sure I have gas before we get too far down the road tomorrow!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 6

Day 6 - Saturday - June 26, 2010

0545 Wake up. Check the time. Go back to sleep.

0615 Ryan knocks the clock off the bedside table with a huge crash. I get up to look at my cell phone to see what time it is. Ryan asks for the remote control and turns on the TV to watch. All of this wakes Bella up.

0620 Go down to the car to get the camera cords I forgot last night. So refreshing out here this morning!

Back in the room, the girls are awake watching TV and Ryan has gone back to sleep. I take a shower and get dressed.

0715 Time for the kids to get dressed.

0738 Head downstairs for breakfast. It is exactly the insanity I would expect to find on a summer Saturday morning in a completely booked hotel.

0745 Back upstairs in our room to eat breakfast. I sync the podcasts that I missed last time and add a new one that I have just downloaded.

0809 Leave the room, checking out.

0815 Loaded in the car and ready to go. This went much more smoothly than our last hotel departure.

0821 Stop to see the World's Largest Easel before we leave town.

0851 Colorado!

0854 Car Talk is just ending. It was rather funny this morning.

0955 Bypassing the Wonder Tower. Perhaps we will stop on a future trip.

0956 Finishing the Legos podcast from Stuff You Should Know (and How Things Work). Thanks to Shani for the recommendation!

1000 Ryan is whispering "sweet nothings" to his mp3 player, trying to get it to keep working.

1005 Gas in Limon, CO. $2.83/gallon. It is very busy here in Limon today. I wash the bugs off my windshield (AGAIN!) and then hit the McD's drive-thru next door for an iced coffee.

1033 See a herd of antelope lying in the grass right next to a herd of cows lying in the grass in the same field.

1036 Coyote!

1133 See the Space Shuttle mailbox - we must be going the right way!

1135 Arrive at Dad and Roseanne's place.

What follows is a nice relaxing afternoon and evening... The kids play outside, play Wii, eat lunch. I force Dad to look at my scrapbooks. We had grilled burgers and hot dogs for dinner then yummy chocolate birthday cake for dessert!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 5

Day 5 - Friday - June 25, 2010

0600 Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze. The alarm on my new phone is nicer than my old phone - not too loud and obnoxious.

0610 Alarm goes off again. Time to get up.

0700 Still loading. Guess we're not leaving at 7 after all.

0710 All loaded. Pictures taken. Leaving Good Hope. Jo tells us that our map data is more than a year old and we should go online to have it updated. No kidding she's out of date. We've seen a couple examples on this trip already!

0739 Felisa says her Ipod acts like it isn't charged. Except that I just charged them yesterday (or so I thought). This is not good. We have a lot of driving to do today!

0825 Quincy, IL. Score a surprise Starbucks Drive-Thru. Yay! Way better than the McD's coffee I was headed for right next to it.

0828 Papa Murphy's. Wow - who knew Quincy was such a happenin' place to have all these yummy food options.

0831 Stop at Hardees for some breakfast. Everything on the breakfast menu looked so good when we stopped the other day I had to come back and try something else. Today it is the loaded breakfast burrito.

0846 Mississippi River and Missouri

1008 Macon, MO. Gas, $2.57/gallon. It smells like dead fish out here. But on the bright side - the gas station had a 4-stall women's bathroom. No waiting in line! Woo hoo!

1147 Billboard ad for the billboard company... "Making heavy traffic bearable." Huh? What heavy traffic?

12:00 p.m. Ryan's MP3 player is dying a slow and painful death. Might be time to buy him a new one. He earned this one as a prize for selling Cub Scout Popcorn which is great. But I think it is reaching the end of its life expectancy.

12:01 p.m. See a mailbox in the shape of a hammer

12:11 p.m. Burger King for lunch and a bathroom break, just outside St. Joseph. I have to have one more pork sandwich before I leave the midwest!

12:29 p.m. Missouri River and Kansas. There is a rotating drawbridge downstream.

12:44 p.m. See a sign for the Lewis and Clark Auto Tour. That sounds interesting. Maybe we should see some Lewis and Clark stuff on one of our upcoming trips.

2:36 p.m. Bella and Felisa told me they saw a deer.

2:40 p.m. Bella: "This looks nice." when we are stopped for a road construction one-lane road section. It is currently one more hour until our planned stop in Lebanon, KS to see the geographic center of the US.

2:44 p.m. This is taking longer than I thought.

2:47 p.m. Finally it is our turn to pass through the single lane.

2:53 p.m. We have reached the other end of the construction zone and see a long line of cars waiting to head back to the east.

3:12 p.m. Spur of the moment detour to see the Pawnee Indian Village Museum.

3:19 p.m. Sign for the museum points us down a dirt road. Okay...

3:28 p.m. Arrive in Republic, KS. No museum in site. Has Jo led us astray once more? I check the map. The museum seems to be a bit more southwest of where we are now so I backtrack to the road that had the most recent sign on it and follow that road a little farther. The kids are asking about Jo and the museum. I told them I would have to find it the old-fashioned way, using maps and signs!

3:34 p.m. One lane truss bridge across a river

3:38 p.m. We found it! Woo hoo!

4:11 p.m. Done at the museum. Our favorite parts:
Felisa - Staring at all the purple flowers she could find
Bella - the tiny model of the house
Ryan - the original floor of the house inside
Sheila - that we found it

It is very pretty out here but I think the constant gusting wind would just drive me batty!

The trip away from the museum is much easier since a paved highway leads right into it. Grrr - Jo!

4:40 p.m. Mankato, KS for gas. $2.69/gallon. Get a bottle of water out of the cooler for Ryan.

5:09 p.m. Geographic center of the 48 contiguous United States!

5:47 p.m. World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS. As we drove up, one of the kids said, "That sucker is huge!"

6:02 p.m. Leaving Cawker City. We took pictures of the twine then followed the painted Yellow Twine Road up and down the 3 blocks of town to see all of the twine-inspired art in the windows. Bella needs to go to the bathroom but everything is closed so we get in the car and head west to the next town.

6:06 p.m. See a long-horn cow in the field. Does the cow ever get tired of holding those giant heavy horns up? And does it bump into things all the time? I sure would if I had big ol' horns sticking out like that, getting in the way.

6:08 p.m. Bathroom stop in Downs, KS.

7:32 p.m. Pizza Hut in Hill City, KS. We tried the local specialty of BBQ Beef pizza. It was pretty good. We took the leftovers with us so the kids can have a snack after swimming at the hotel later (if we ever get there!).

8:15 p.m. Leaving Pizza Hut

8:23 p.m. Kids turn on a movie.

8:36 p.m. I have now used up all the podcasts I downloaded before I left. Now what am I going to do? Just listen to music?

8:44 p.m. Hoxie, KS

8:53 p.m. Lightning ahead. What is it about Colby and lightning? I seem to recall there being a lightning storm a few years ago when we drove into Colby after a long day in Kansas.

8:55 p.m. There is lightning to my left and the setting sun is blinding me to the right. In the middle, rain on my windshield.

8:57 p.m. Windy out here - the dust from the dirt road is blowing out onto the highway.

8:58 p.m. Rainbow behind us and to the left. It's a very bright one!

8:59 p.m. Now a double rainbow.

9:01 p.m. Why do birds keep flying in front of me? Do they want me to hit them?

9:04 p.m. Buffalo! A herd of buffalo along the side of the road. I almost missed them because I thought they were just more cows.

9:06 p.m. Maybe all this excitement at the end of the day is our reward for surviving a long day on the road.

9:25 p.m. There is a strange orange spot up in the middle of all the rain clouds. I'm sure it's the moon but seems unbelievable to be able to see half of the moon in the midst of a storm.

9:26 p.m. I-70 - back on the interstate and catching the back end of the storm. I thought we might miss it but don't think so anymore.

9:34 p.m. RAIN! Also, there is a police car on the other side of the highway. Its lights are on and it is facing the wrong way. I wonder how many drivers are confused by his headlights shining on them.

9:35 p.m. Mountain Time Zone

8:37 p.m. Out of the rain and the temperature is 65 degrees now. I wonder if it's humid outside? It was 98 degrees earlier today.

8:56 p.m. At the hotel. There are no vacancies. Good thing we had Ron call ahead and get us a reservation! The room is nice but we are facing the front of the hotel and have a view of the drop-off roof. I go back out to the car to get the rest of the stuff and stop to take some pictures of the lightning.

9:40 p.m. Headed to the pool.

10:30 p.m. Back in the room. Showers, snacks, and finally - bed time!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 4

Day 4 – Thursday – June 24, 2010

0640 Felisa is up. Too early again! Of course I'm not really surprised since she fell asleep early last night. So I get up and go upstairs with her. Grandma is already up since she forgot to put the trash out last night.

Breakfast – coffee- shower

0940 Arrive at the town square. The book store doesn't open until 10 so we walk around the farmers market while we wait. We bought cinnamon rolls, beef sticks, bison sticks, grape jelly, and kettle corn. Couldn't buy anything else since we're on the road. We ate some of the kettle corn and cinnamon rolls while we wait.

At the book store, I dropped off some books for trade. The children's book selection was not bad for older kids but there wasn't really anything for Felisa. I found one book that I have been wanting to read but isn't available at the library (Your Money or Your Life). I think that I have enough trade credit to last a few years at this store. I don't really understand their system but oh well. Fewer books in my house is a good thing regardless. And maybe some kids here will be very happy to find the books we left.

Stop at Hyvee to buy milk and potato chips. There is a sign on the door that the grocery store is a wifi hotspot. I almost brought my computer to town just in case I found a hotspot but I didn't. I certainly wasn't expecting to find it at the grocery store either!

1100 Back at Grandma's and waiting for lunch. Chicken salad today – yum!

After lunch we watched more Game Show Network while we waited for Stacy to come by with Ben. Donna stopped by and so did Ron. Ron's not sure if Tegan will be around this evening or not to play.

Stacy came with Ben – such a cutie! I got my baby fix. So sweet!

Time for dinner…. This time the Asian Buffet. What is it about buffets in general and Chinese food in particular that incite us to eat soooooooo much more than we should? It was good and definitely filling!

After dinner we headed over to Ron and Naomi's to let the kids play with Tegan and Briley. They all had a great time. Uncle Randy came over with Dakota to visit for a few minutes too.

Finally, time to head back to Grandma's and get ready for bed. A little before-bed GSN and foot baths in the sink. Then, bed time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3

Day 3 – Wednesday – June 23, 2010

0615 Bella is up.

0630 Ryan is up.

0645 Felisa is up and they have all gone upstairs where I am sure Grandma is still asleep so I guess that means I have to get up and make sure they stay quiet. Apparently they are not very tired and they haven't adapted to the new time zone yet. I tell them to look at the scrapbooks quietly while they wait for Grandma to wake up.

When Grandma gets up she gives me my birthday present – a card and some new jammies. Felisa gave me the card she made at home and brought with her. Breakfast is Count Chocula for the kids and Multi-Grain Cheerios for me. Then the kids disappear downstairs for a while. I'm on my way down to get dressed when Felisa tells me I have to stay upstairs.

A bit later Felisa comes back to get Grandma and I for the unveiling of my present… A re-creation of Big Trip with Lincoln Logs, Thingamajigs, and plastic cowboys and Indians. At the end of the trip there is even a scrapbook a la Etch-A-Sketch. I love it – very creative!

0830 Time to get dressed.

0859 Leave for our day trip to see the Lincoln site at New Salem.

0900 Jo wants us to cut the corner through Bushnell but after yesterday's cornfield adventures, I'm a bit worried about flooded roads. We'll go through town instead.

0940 Ryan is testing out the cinnamon jolly rancher candy we bought at Hersheypark on Saturday. He says it is very good.

0951 Crossing the Illinois River. The water is definitely high.

0953 Stop at Hardees for a snack. Ryan must be in a growth spurt because he has been eating non-stop so far this trip. Maybe a more substantial snack will hold him for awhile. We can save the snacks in the snack box for cornfield emergencies!

1004 See a lady on a riding mower wearing a pioneer bonnet.

1019 Sangamon River. This one is high also.

1040 Arrive at New Salem Historical Site.

12:28 p.m. Done with our tour. It was a nice place but the heat has definitely set in for the day. Hot, hot, hot!

Our favorite parts…

Felisa – Bay (the horse)

Ryan – watching the person chiseling the bowl

Bella – the small boat in the museum

Sheila – coming here again (I came here on a 5th grade field trip as a kid)

12:42 p.m. Lots of bugs hitting the windshield today.

1:03 p.m. The "water on road" sign is almost underwater.

1:10 p.m. Hit the McD's drive-thru for lunch. See Herbie the Love Bug in the parking lot.

1:14 p.m. Bella's chicken wasn't in the bag so we stop at Hardees before we cross the river to get her some chicken.

1:17 p.m. Illinois River

1:26 p.m. Felisa says she needs to go to the bathroom. Why didn't she tell me when we were in town? Hope she can hold it – not sure how far the next gas station is.

1:36 p.m. Stop for gas in Ipava. $2.70/gallon. It was one of those "we're not from around here" type of stops. I love how friendly everyone is but hate feeling like I stick out like a sore thumb sometimes. It's like that sign we saw in Texas… City dogs go to one side and country dogs go to the other. I'm definitely a city dog around here and do not blend in very well.

2:20 p.m. Finally make it back to Grandma's.

We watch TV for a while – Game Show Network – then the girls convince me to take them all to the park even though it's hot outside. In the shade, with the breeze, it's bearable. After the park, more TV then dinner. Beef and Noodles – yum! While we were eating a thunderstorm blew in. Thunder, lightning, and more rain! After dinner, Mythbusters on tv and a few birthday phone calls for me before bed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 – Tuesday – June 22, 2010

0545 Wake up. See daylight. Check the clock. Decide it is too early to get up and go back to sleep.

0715 Wake up. Bella is awake. It is time to get up. Maybe if I hurry I can get a quick shower and we can be out of the room by 8:00.

0810 Headed down for a delicious breakfast of hotel eggs and what is that?!? Is this a cheez whiz omelette? Ick. Guess I'll stick with the sausage patty and a cup of coffee.

0840 Done with breakfast and leaving the hotel room to check out. Clearly my 8 am departure was overly optimistic.

0854 Car is loaded back up. We are so out of practice – this is taking forever!

0858 Went back to the front desk to check our room bill. Should've been paid with points, not the credit card. All fixed now. Time to hit the road.

0912 Traffic is moving very slowly this morning. No one seems to be in a hurry at all. On a different note, the new seating arrangement seems to be working out for the kids but it's a bit louder for me. Bella and Felisa talk and laugh (and occasionally argue) all day long in the back seat. So far they seem to be sleeping less in the car since they can play together instead of being one in front of the other. Ryan gets pestered a bit more since he's stuck in the middle row and ends up as the middle-man, passing things and messages back and forth. But he seems happy enough.

0913 Look – a Sonic! And I'm not even stopping. Aren't you all proud of me? Such restraint…

0917 Great Dane puppies for sale. Shall we stop and pick one up?

0920 Johnny Appleseed Roadside Park

0954 Felisa wants to stop for lunch.

1003 Raindrops.

1011 Columbus. Finally. I am feeling very behind this morning. Not sure why. Maybe it's because we usually make it at least to Columbus on the first day and this year we didn't. That's what the scenic route will get you – behind schedule!

1106 Mad River

1115 Gas, $2.85/gallon and lunch at Taco Bell. Apparently we won. We are victorious over the tacos! Back in the car, I get my laptop out to charge Ryan's MP3 player while we drive. I was hoping the USB car charger that works for the DS would work for the MP3 player also but it didn't. In hindsight, it would have been better to go back out to the car last night to get the charging cord. Oh well!

1153 Great Miami River. Why are there so many Miami things here in Ohio? Miami of Ohio University and the Great Miami River. I wonder if it's related to the Miami in Florida.

1154 Jets on the overpass in Dayton and a space-themed relief mural on the retaining wall. Cool!

12:14 p.m. Leaving Kroger and Starbucks. The girls want to watch a movie. Amazingly enough they asked at a good time. We are stopped and I can get all the cords out and get things set up. Everything seems to be working fine.

12:25 p.m. Having a hard time finding my way back to the highway. Ryan is messing with the DVD player, trying to get another set of headphones hooked up (which is distracting) and there is policeman following me which is making me nervous. I have no idea what the speed limit is in this town and don't see any signs around.

12:26 p.m. On the on-ramp, another policeman has someone pulled over. They're everywhere!

12:48 p.m. Indiana. Finally! See what I mean about being in slow-motion today.

12:49 p.m. Oh yeah. Now I remember the RV billboards lining the highway in Indiana, just across the border from Ohio. I think there is actually an RV factory or museum or something in Indiana somewhere.

1:10 p.m. Wilber Wright Road. Maybe we should plan to stop one of these years and check out the Wilber Wright museum.

1:11 p.m. A huge bunch of sunflowers lining the highway.

1:17 p.m. Thinking of things to see on our trips… maybe we should check out the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs this year since the Olympics are fresh on our minds from the winter. I've never seen it myself either.

1:28 p.m. Nameless Creek

1:48 p.m. Passing the Mammography Mobile. I thought it was a blood drive van at first but it's not.

1:49 p.m. Another construction warning sign, this time for 65N. I already opted for the downtown route rather than the loop which I had planned to take because of construction warnings for the loop. I may never make it through Indianapolis.

1:54 p.m. A red light. Which everyone is treating as a stop sign. They stop, look for traffic, then turn left. On a red light. Oh, I just now got it… maybe it was because it was onto a one-way street? Is that why everyone was doing it? I did it also but only because I didn't want to cause an accident or road rage but not following the local customs! And to tell you the truth, I can't remember if it was a one-way street or not. Hmm…

2:08 p.m. Finally made it through Indianapolis. This is one of my least favorite cities to drive through. It always seems like such a hassle and such an obstacle. There is always tons of traffic around here too.

2:10 p.m. Water going over a dam.

2:18 p.m. Ryan is reading his Boys Life issue for July. Apparently July is National Hot Dog Month. Yummy!

2:23 p.m. Felisa is asking how much longer. She is not impressed at all with my tirade about how it is still 3 hours (she had just asked less than 30 minutes ago) and how we are still in Indiana and how once we finally get to Illinois, we still have to drive all the way across it to the other side.

2:45 p.m. Stop at Burger King for a snack. Or is it a second lunch? They have a new pork tenderloin sandwich so I give it a try. Not bad. Felisa asks again how much long and I tell her Jo says it is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Fill up with gas also before we get back on the highway. $2.85/gallon. Hopefully this will be our last stop before Grandma's house.

3:04 p.m. Back on the road again. I am starting to think we are never going to get there. Maybe that's why Felisa keeps asking –she can sense my hopelessness.

3:18 p.m. A couple guys are hanging off the Hanging Rock billboard. It looks like they are trying to get it hung up but it's pretty windy here. They fit right in though – maybe they should stay there. Just like the cows on the Chik-Fil-A signs.

3:27 p.m. A billboard of farm animals smoking. "It looks just as stupid when you do it."

3:34 p.m. Illinois! (and time zone change – oops, forgot about that)

2:39 p.m. Felisa asks how much farther . I tell her 3 hours and wait for the reaction. Jo forgot to remind us of the time change when she asked earlier. She takes it pretty well, considering.

2:52 p.m. Cows in a truck, on their way to the slaughterhouse I'm sure. Bella and Felisa tell me that they "saw a cow's butt". Great. I wonder if the butt obsession will last for the entire trip because I've noticed a recurring theme already, listening to them play.

3:49 p.m. Market report on the radio… soybeans, etc. Must be in farm country!

3:57 p.m. Listening to an NPR story about drive-in movies. That would be fun, as long as it's not too hot and there aren't any mosquitos!

4:03 p.m. News report of wildfires in Colorado. Uh oh. Hope it doesn't affect our time in Durango and Mesa Verde.

4:23 p.m. Illinois River

4:25 p.m. See a gigantic windmill blade on the back of a semi, on its way to be installed.

4:36 p.m. Caterpillar Factory

5:16 p.m. The fields and ditches have all been very wet today and there is a flood watch in effect for Peoria and the Illinois River. Guess they've had a bit of rain lately!

5:20 p.m. Road closed. Uh oh! Sure hope Jo can find us an alternate route.

First she finds a dead end road – Cucumber Hollow. Looks like it used to go through but doesn't anymore. Hit the detour button. End up following some back gravel roads between cornfields.

5:30 p.m. Pass a donkey and some cows and now we're back to a paved road. And the road closed sign. Ack!!! Press the detour button again and hope for better results.

5:37 p.m. Orange construction sign for a one-lane road ahead. Will we ever make it to Grandma's house?

5:54 p.m. See the checked flag on the screen – we're almost there! The kids are all clapping in the back.

5:58 p.m. We're here! I open the door and Ryan jumps out and breaks into a run. Excess energy from a day spent in the car perhaps?!

Grandma takes us to dinner at Ponderosa buffet. Yum. Then back home for a little tv and relaxation then bed.

Good night!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 1

Big Trip 5... Wow. I can't believe this is my fifth time touring the country with 3 kids in a minivan!

Day 1 - Monday - June 21, 2010

Woke up around 0645 after staying up entirely too late last night. That does not bode well for the driving today! I was able to upload my client's digi book (phew) without any technical difficulties this morning. Then time to get the kids' wardrobe for the next month set then get those kids off to school for their last day. A quick stop at Parkwood to get Mrs. K's email address and say good-bye to a couple other teachers. Back home to finish the packing and start loading the car (Ron loaded the camping gear yesterday after he put the roof-box on).

Noon and I think I'm pretty much ready. Remembered that I needed to register the brownie troop for next year (oops - forgot that one on my to-do list!). Attempted to do it real quick before I went to school to pick up the kids. No can do. Technical difficulties galore. Oh well. So much for early-bird registration. Guess we'll do regular registration sometime later in the summer.

Drop off teacher gifts and pick up the kids. Back home to dump the school stuff and pick up our fun trip bags. Last minute items into the car (almost forgot my cell phone charger!) and a photo with Vacation Mouse. Finally, it is time to hit the road.

1:53 p.m. Loaded and ready to go. Temperature, a sunny, steamy 87 degrees. Beginning mileage on the car = 70,049 (aren't you impressed that I actually remembered to write that down?!)

1:57 p.m. Jo (a.k.a. Joette, a.k.a. GPS Lady) is mad at me already. Recalculating... Little did we know that this was just the beginning of Jo's bad day...

2:10 p.m. Mom called to talk to the kids.

2:51 p.m. These kids are killing me with the snacks! I can smell slim jims and brownies and it's making me hungry!

3:13 p.m. West Virginia

3:17 p.m. Our first cow sighting of the trip. Yay!

3:23 p.m. We're off the road and Jo is lost! Guess they built a new highway here recently that's not on her map.

3:25 p.m. Crossing the Lost River. But we can't see it. That's because it's lost. Get it - the LOST river?!?

3:26 p.m. Felisa is taking pictures for me of all the nice scenery. Also, crazy pictures of Bella. Can't wait to see what comes out. Haha!

3:45 p.m. McD's in Moorefield, WV. Bathroom break and grab some food. We're all hungry! Check the map (since Jo doesn't want us to go this way I need to know which way I'm trying to go rather than relying on her instructions. Did I mention Jo is having a bad day? Recalculating...)

4:00 p.m. Leaving McD's. Stuck behind a big, slow truck.

4:20 p.m. Oh look - a nice park with a playground next to a river. Let's stop! This is the South Branch of the Potomac River. The kids run off to the playground first. I see Ryan sliding down the slide, standing up, sliding down backwards. Yikes! That looks dangerous! And I have no idea where the nearest hospital is. Tell the kids they can go down to the river. We take our shoes off and wade in the warm shallow water for a few minutes.

4:46 p.m. Leaving the park. A nice break but we'd better get going or we'll never make it to Ohio tonight!

5:12 p.m. Champe Rocks - cool looking.

5:18 p.m. Seneca Rocks. Another cool looking place. But no time to stop!

5:26 p.m. Pass a semi on a switchback. We're headed up and he's headed down. His brakes are smoking!

5:28 p.m. Made it to the top! Allegheny Mountain, 3295 feet, Eastern Continental Divide. The sign says there is a 9% grade going down the other side. No wonder that truck's brakes were smoking! We also see our first sheep grazing at the pass.

5:42 p.m. Middle Mountain, 3190 feet.

5:44 p.m. Cones in the road. I wonder why. Oh I see now - a broken down RV on the side of the road.

5:45 p.m. And now we're passing a tractor hauling two hay bales - one on the front and one on the back.

5:55 p.m. Cheat Mountain (missed the elevation on this one)

5:59 p.m. Elkins, WV We saw a cool old building and a statue of Henry Cassaway Davis.

6:41 p.m. See goats and more farmers loading hay. Must be hay-harvesting season.

6:45 p.m. Mom called again to talk to Felisa (the signal dropped during her earlier call) but Felisa is asleep in the back.

7:02 p.m. Clarksburg, WV. Gas, $2.74/gallon. A treat - stop at A&W for a snack. I'm happy to eat there since we hardly ever get to go to A&W but the girls opt out and just refill their water bottles. Ryan gets a hot dog with mustard and a root beer. I hope there's no caffeine in that root beer!

7:23 p.m. Finally getting back on the road from this stop.
Jo -"Continue 76 miles."
Me - "76 miles!?! We'll never make it."
Felisa - "That's not true. We'll make it."

8:11 p.m. Bella is teaching Felisa the cardinal directions chant. "N-E-S-W that's the way my body's going." This goes on for a surprising long time.

8:19 p.m. Well, I'm certainly tired of driving for today. And I think Ryan was feeling a bit carsick earlier from all the curvy mountain roads. But the advantage of taking this route is that there is hardly any traffic out here at all. And lots of great scenery.

8:31 p.m. First Sonic sign!

8:34 p.m. We're stuck in WV!!! The highway signs tell us to go one way. Jo tells us to go another way. We're driving off the map and in circles! Help us! We just want to cross the river into Ohio!!! The girls are in the back, cheering Jo on - "Here we go Jo-ette, here we go!" Ryan says that he is about to lose faith in Jo for today when we finally get headed in the right direction.

8:41 p.m. Ohio!!! But we're on Business Route 50, not regular Route 50. Why, Jo, why?!?

8:47 p.m. See a sign - Barns in stock, ready for delivery. Great! Maybe I'll order one. But how do they deliver a big ol' barn?

8:57 p.m. Must be sunset. Jo has switched to night mode.

9:01 p.m. Ryan is impressed that it is still light outside this late. It's the summer solstice and we are racing the sun to the hotel. Will we make it before dark?

9:04 p.m. See a tractor working in the field with headlights. I don't think I've ever seen a tractor with headlights. Maybe I just don't go out after dark.

9:10 p.m. So I'm driving at 60 mph. How fast is the sun moving away from me? How fast is the earth spinning? (A quick internet search comes up with 700 mph. Hmm. Guess the sun just might win this race!)

9:25 p.m. Made it to the hotel. The sun won. But barely!

Get checked in and changed for swimming. Head to the pool at 9:50. Our room key doesn't work at the pool. Finally get in around 10. Something tells me we're going to be up late tonight...

10:50 p.m. Finally headed back to the room. Showers and pj's for the kids. As I'm helping Bella with her swimsuit, she accidentally bumps me. Then she says, "Sorry but I don't have eyes in the back of my head like you do." How funny is that!

And now everyone is hungry so I head out to the car to grab some snacks from the snack box. I'm missing my nightly before-bed glass of milk tonight. It'll take a few days to get out of that routine so that I'm not missing it as much.

11:30 p.m. Change the channel to something boring (the local weather radar) and force the children to go to bed. After all, they need to get plenty of rest so they will be ready to ride in the car all day tomorrow! Haha!

Tomorrow... 500 miles to Grandma's house!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Ryan on roller coasters...

Ryan - "Whenever there is an ascent, there is also a descent."
Me - "So you mean what goes up, must come down?"
Ryan - "Yeah. And..."
(and he continues to stick with the ascent/descent theme for a while, completely disregarding my perfectly good cliche.)

Bella rode the Wildcat with Ryan while I sat out with Felisa (she's not tall enough). That Aerosmith ride at Disney with Ron must have made her tough enough to ride more rollercoasters.

Felisa went on a rollercoaster that went upside down! The Super Dooper Looper. The name implies and upside-down loop. But I didn't think she was big enough to ride a rollercoaster that goes upside down. Apparently, I was wrong! The line was super short so we rode twice in a row. Whee!