Have We Lost Our Minds?
Pregnant with our fourth child, my husband has a moment of inspiration and suggests a cross-country family trip during maternity leave.
As we have traveled west, Brogden's internal clock has remained consistent. He is now waking at 6:30 for the day. I have to wake with him but family around me snoozes away.
By 9:30 we pulled out with everything in it's place. The elders had a photo shoot with Giggle Monster and their fairy house they built while I made breakfast and George broke camp. Sad days are coming since there is one or two more mornings of homemade oatmeal mix.
I have come to enjoy taking things out of the suburban for camping. It allows me to find missing toy parts. Today, I found Tiny's Junior Ranger badge, Biscuit's ninja men, a pony, turtle, marker, four puzzle pieces, a stamp, and crackers from Day One. Crackers fed to the ravens at our campsite and all the others were stowed away in their proper place.
Easy drive into Flagstaff. Finally had connections to work on updates! I do feel bad that I am so far behind but I can't change it. Tears shed over attempting everything I knew how to do to get pictures/videos into the blog. Decided to copy and paste from my notes and worry with media later. Seemed like all children woke up screaming at the same time. I was going to pee in my pants. Exited at the next available spot.
Found a surprise waiting for me in the toilet. I will never understand why people do not check behind them after defiling the commode. It flushed just fine. I guess they wanted me to check it for them. Went back for my angels that also needed relief. They are learning not to ask to look, touch, or buy any of the trinkets we pass.
Peanut butter/nutella wraps are next on the list. I failed to realize how much pressure the content of the tailgate is under and a rush of chairs fall out. Put together wraps. Put in children’s hands. They eat. Most of them do. Bubble had a bit of a come apart and threw half of hers at me. Patience and grace are two things that I have been asking for each night. I had to summon all of my patience and grace in that moment.
Back on the road. Bubble fell asleep. Exactly what she needed.
George saw a few travel centers and we debated on stopping for showers. At 3:00 pm in the afternoon, we figured it was better to get to the campground and set up camp then get cleaned. This is not the first or second day that we have missed a shower and all been in the same clothes. I don't think we stink but again we really aren't with anyone else. We are all doing our part to make laundry last as long as possible.
Walmart for diapers, wipes, cooking fuel, and lunch or dinner. Walmarts are the same all around and completely different. Sausage section is paltry in Arizona. Liquor is sold cheap on the aisle with water. Attitudes are much better with food.
Biscuit complained she was bored. Kept asking for something to play with. I was busy snacking and then writing so I told her no so many times. They figured out a way to play together with what they had. They have been the most creative when we give them nothing.
Passed the Nevada state line. Saw the sign. Could. Not. Figure. Out. How. To. Get. To. It. We will try the welcome center. Secure a hotel for the night. Nobody wants to camp when it is 108 outside. Found the welcome center. Closed.
Unloaded at the hotel and girls got on swim suits. George took them down to burn energy while Brogden and I worked on the blog. Reliving all that we had done this past week was heavy. I cannot believe writing it down that it happened. Being there in each moment, I know it did.
Made dinner in the room while George bathed the ladies. They ate their supper while watching a new favorite, American Ninja Warrior.
Brogden and I finally got a shower and George made the trips back and forth from the laundry. Everyone clean, we all passed out.
Steps taken: 6,885
Miles driven: 273.2
Baby vomited in the middle of the night again. I will be paying for a shower across the park tonight.
Woke up around 7:30 am and hung out with the girls in the tent. Finally made breakfast. It was coffee and chorizo, potatoes, and eggs for adults and OJ and oatmeal for ladies.
Map out plans for the next few days while the girls played in the woods.
Went to dress my angels and noticed Biscuit's dress was a little short. Already had to pick up larger tennis shoes for Bubble in CO. Why did they all have to hit a growth spurt now? I drank a beer right then.
After bug spray and sunscreen application, loaded up to explore. Wait- Tiny had to potty. George assisted with the endeavor and she fell in the bowl. Tiny received a new outfit. Rinsed and hung out to dry, we left the cute romper for day.
Stopped at some of the vistas on the way to the visitor's center.
Chose a shaded table for our picnic lunch. Outcomes- Tiny learned to tinkle outdoors and George despises tapioca bread.
Grand Canyon is massive and surprisingly colorful with all the layers. Colorful also could be used to describe the people visiting the Canyon.
The ranger that lead the critter chat program we attend had the most intriguing voice that pulled you in to listen. He also performed the Junior Ranger ceremony for all three girls. Tiny promptly lost the badge before we got to the car.
Family bathroom trip before rain hit and the realization that Brogden's hat disappeared. I high tailed it back to the gift shop in the rain. Found two young men with the hat and I thanked them for finding it.
Got everyone into the car as the storm was breaking up. George wanted to watch the sunset. We needed to cook and eat dinner. Combined all the requirements, found a turnoff and trucked the makings of a meal out to a little clearing on the rim. Sunset was painted by God and the meal was made by George. Pork, peaches, and corn on the cob tasted sweet against the backdrop of falling sun.
Sun gone, went to check out the shower situation. Going to hit up a travel center tomorrow. All the girls were asleep and we would have to disrupt them. No thanks.
Steps taken: 14,317
Mile driven: 77.4
Once again did not get up when alarm went off. This time I passed the phone to George to make the decision to stay in the bed. Washed legs and stinky/muddy feet in the tub. Headed to lobby for breakfast.
What awaits us can only be described as unlocking the holy grail of free motel breakfasts. Omelet stations with crack your own eggs (not egg juice), detox water with that day's recipe featured, three various coffees, more tea than I have seen, recipe for French Toast posted, two yogurts with toppings for parfaits, cut celery and peanut butter, sliced cooked ham, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, chicken soup, and assorted cereals, breads, milks and spices (nutmeg, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon- to say a few). I peered into the pantry- more akin to mine at home than any of the previous hotels closets.
George recognized that the next time we make this adventure it will be more expensive. 6 & under is free. Saw the sights and got the picture. Checked a box from my list. Not sure what I was expecting. The bed last night and breakfast in the morning made the image worth it.
Arizona state line picture. Not raining. One take. Passed out bagels. They had turned into round croutons. I feared someone would break a tooth.
Drive through the nothing that is northeast Arizona. Magnificent painted landscapes. Nothing else. Elevation changes are marked with botanical communities, not altimeters. It is almost out of place to see a tree coming into town.
Looked for food in Tuba City that was not a national chain. Pulled into the Navajo Nation Fire Department for advice. Sent us to a roadside setup and informed George what to order. Returned goods in hand. Fry bread, mutton, sheep rib, intestines wrapped in fat, carrot, potato half, and a pepper.
Biscuit and Tiny tried the intestines before I threw it out the window. I would need a Navajo person explain how to eat that to me. Tiny devoured the rib and mutton. Biscuit munched on the carrot and all of us enjoyed the fry bread.
Entering Grand Canyon, George asked about camping. Informed that Desert View had two more spots a few minutes ago. Drove straight there and sign marked full. Ignored the information and set out to find Bill per the employee's suggestion. Indeed there were two spots open still and George was parked in one of them. Right next to the bathrooms. Sold to us for two nights.
Erected the tent, opened sleeping pads, and set off to see the Canyon. Watch Tower was first since we were staying on the east side. I forgot how massive the Canyon is in person.
Explored the Watch Tower. Bubble asked about the Junior Ranger program. Biscuit asked about the Junior Reindeer program. They each got the books and requested one for Tiny. Promised they would help her.
Drove to the Market Plaza for provisions. I refused to buy diapers priced so high and figured Brodgen would be okay. If not, then I will be purchasing said diapers.
Bubble and Biscuit spied mounted rangers and asked them questions they had about the elk they saw earlier. Girls wanted to ride the shuttle bus too. Figured we would take the loop area to know where it traveled for tomorrow. Bad idea. That bus got packed right after sunset. All four children were in our laps.
They all fell asleep on the drive to the campground and George and I decided to skip dinner tonight. Straight to bed.
Steps taken: 4,737 so off. Fitbit charging
Miles driven: 331
Woke up easy at 7:30 with the sun. Girls enjoyed oatmeal and cold hot chocolate. George made coffee and egg/ham sandwiches for adults.
Bubble took all the toys out of the car in preparation for loading the car with the sleeping bags. Helpful in finding missing markers.
George researched where we were going next. Called a campground, received some good information, and made a plan for the day. Head to the Grand Canyon. No place takes day of reservations so we are taking chances on finding a place to camp. This family loves to roll the dice.
The girls play together well and for the most part stayed out of trouble. I could watch their little minds work all day. At one point, they absconded my gallon jug to make a fish tank.
It bothered me that it took us so long to pack but then I remembered how long it took to get out of the hotel the first day. This family needed time to work out the mechanics of camping on this trip.
Staying in different places each night requires different items unpacked. We know now that unless it is around 50 degrees then camping pads and car blankets are enough. Sleeping bags can stay packed.
George highlighted the route he wanted to take on the US map. Attempted to follow HWY 90 out of town, turned into a dirt road. Decided to head south and drive through Telluride on the way to our destination. George was game. Back through Montrose. Stopped for a coffee refill for George at Looney Bean. Cool place and the barista was fast and helpful.
We discussed moving to Colorado. It is gorgeous here. The drive to Telluride is all the things I love about nature and outside. Colors. Smell. Textures. Living Bob Ross painting.
Switched out the toys at the campsite. Bubble finally gets to play with her Tinkerbell set. Tiny and Biscuit took naps. Much needed.
Explored downtown and grabbed a bit to eat at Steamers Burgers. Shopped a seconded at the local outfitters. Walked through the grocery store (I mean market) and found out that we could not support George's La Croix habit at $7.49/ 12 pack.
A brave soul caught the gondola back with us. I made a comment about her picking the wrong car and she informed us she was a nanny for 9 children on a trip currently. Perfect fit! Julia quieted the excited girls by looking for bears and deer from the window and Tiny crawled in her lap. I wanted to keep her.
Broke out the puzzles to keep the girls busy back at the car. Dollar Tree puzzles, magnetic tape, and cookie sheets will keep them occupied for awhile. Bubble stayed engaged in the 60 piece US puzzle to completion.
With girls in their puzzles, George started Travels with Charley. Typically, we can only listen while the little ones are asleep.
Bubble asks what state we are sleeping in that night. A legitimate question. She found comfort in knowing the plan. I was also reminded of the volume of the journey because she asked the state not city. We have covered so much of the US already. Biscuit points out each American flag, the only one that stays the same.
Crossed into Arizona. No picture. Raining. And dark. Realized we missed Four Corners Monuments. Turned around. It is closed. Boo.
Plan K for this week and head to Farmington to find shelter and try again in the morning. Might seem silly but I have wanted to see Four Corners since I was little. I hope I am not disappointed.
Y'all. A horse walked across the road. George had to slam on brakes. A horse.
Passed two less than our standards motels and tried a promising one. George came back with news the Little League World Series is in town. Finding a room is going to be an adventure. I cannot believe it. While George went to look at the last room one place had I called another- booked. George phoned to let me know he called a hotel too- booked, but the room he was standing is was decent. Just one queen bed. We have six people. It will work. For one night. All to put one child each in a different state. This is when childhood dreams become reality. Come hell or high water.
Elders on sleeping pads in room. Tiny, epitomized her nickname, curled into the single chair. Having nursed Brogden while George preliminary scoped the room fell right asleep with a diaper change and swaddle. This worked. Glad Little Leaguers did not want a queen room.
Steps taken: 10,836
Miles driven: 304.3
Yesterday's coffee had European style goat butter in it. George thought it would be safe. It wasn't. Waking up to the sound of vomiting happening on you is intensely jarring. I sopped it up the best I could and drifted back to sleep. Tiny and George were the first to get up. I don't know what they did but Bubble followed pretty soon after. Biscuit and I lazily stayed in the tent until 8:20 or so. Who wants to disrupt a sleeping baby?
Bubble delivered word that daddy was making breakfast and coffee. My hero. He made the best breakfast sandwich. It tasted like home and I not realized I missed it that much. Girls has their oatmeal and George made a sandwich for him. Fail of the morning? We had leftover milk from San Antonio's McDonald breakfast. Poured it into George's coffee. More like plopped with all the curdles.
Rinsed out his cup and split my coffee with him. Worked on uploading videos with the campground's wifi. Then took the baby to the bathhouse to wash his curdled milk off.
Received sage and thoughtful advice from campground employee about what we should make sure we see and do.
Made it to the entrance of the park to buy the Annual Pass for National Parks. Sold the last one two cars ahead of us. Ranger let us in for free since we will be going to another park in the next couple days.
First overlook, wow! Breathless. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, although I am not sure they can do it justice.
Visitor Center stop - saw mule deer in the parking lot, amongst all the people. Acquired supplies for elders to become Junior Rangers. They chose to draw the Canyon on the deck. I love watching them work. Watched the informational film that quickly became the Tiny show.
Picnic at the farthest overlook. Found a table in the shade. Brogden enjoyed not touching anyone while the girls continued to work. Lunch served by 12:45. It has taken 11 days but we finally ate lunch during a reasonable lunch time window.
The composting toilet brought questions. Bubble gave her reasons why it was the same as a port-a-potty. Biscuit wanted to look down with a flashlight. I had to refuse her wishes. It ended with all the girls gazing into the abyss.
We stopped backed at the visitor's center for the elders to be sworn in as 'Junior Reindeer' as Biscuit called it. Picked out their souvenir postcards and back in the car to see all the vistas.
Pulpit Rock - Nice open vista for the family and to see impressive views of the canyon. Biscuit started 'hiptiasizing' mommy. Bubble developed that Goblet Family word when someone is purposefully antagonizing.
Cross Fissures Vista - George checked the view out first since it was about a 400 foot walk and Biscuit and Tiny were being daredevils at the last stop. Bubble and Mommy went next.
East Portal Road - for vehicles less than 22ft long. 16% downgrade. Drive down into the canyon. Once at the bottom, riding beside the Gunnison River, A Father's Love came on the radio. A song that will forever remind George of his father. We only hear it on the radio at moments you might want to have your father with you. It is always a reminder that Fred is with us.
Trip back up the mountain put me on the outside of the road. It was gut wrenching close to the edge. Pretty views. Scary as hell.
Head over into town to pick up a few supplies and Bubble was itching to get Biscuit a birthday present. We wanted hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. Took forever to find hamburgers.
Not too hard to find Jeeps being 65 miles from Telluride. They are everywhere.
Girls and I watched a little bit of The Lorax while we waiting for George to go into the fourth store. Walmart. It has everything. Brogden took the time to vomit all over both of us. If you are with me in the future and I am picky, crazy, weird about what I eat, this is why. I have to block the bodily expulsion with my body. Luckily, only a little bit on my seat and NONE in his car seat. Praise.
Immediately got into the pool upon arrival at the KOA. Swam until time to start dinner. Girls switched to the playground which left Brogden and I to hang out.
Dinner was tasty and simple. Girls played again once after they ate. Welcomed change from restaurants and best behavior for them. Cleaned up and showered. Dressed in clothes for tomorrow to save time in the morning. All in bed by the time I was finished with my shower. Today was a good day.
Steps taken: 10,203
Miles driven: 53.6
I had been awake for awhile when the alarm went off. I physically couldn't get out of bed though. Brogden had a rough night. Fussy and sweaty, he could not get comfortable. George stirred, took the ladies to breakfast, allowing myself and baby a chance to rest after a big burp and vomit. These moments remind me that I thought the beignets were worth it. I was able to pack up the room quickly alone and set out personal items.
They picked outfits for the day and George quickly bathed them. Baby took the opportunity to require a bath by peeing everywhere. Now we have one bed clean and one with pee and vomit all over. Guess which one Biscuit wants to be on.
George picked out two places he wanted to visit on the way out of town. Thrift stores.
First one was waaaaayyyy too classy for him and only sold women's clothes. On the way to the next one, I chimed in that I wanted to try Texas Tea. A building with a drive thru that seemed to only sell tea, water, and ice.
Pretty accurate statement. They did also sell snacks, water bottles, and all things Yeti. I selected sweet peach ginger green tea. Added cherries, strawberries, and blueberries as the add-ins. So yummy.
George spied another place called Roasters across the street and retrieved coffees for us. I still hadn't eaten and it was evidently clear. I had been asking for street tacos for a few days now. The answer presented itself in the form of this tiny box.
Lupita did not disappoint on the chorizo/egg burrito and the Clothez Exchange did not disappoint on great finds. It's all about the hunt. George found his 'Texas jeans' and a pair of shorts. We took turns while the girls stayed in the car. I found Brogden leather shoes that I wanted to get before we left home but never found time to. He also was awarded sunglasses because his future is so bright.
Biscuit will have a birthday on this trip and for some reason she has asked for a monkey book bag with a leash. I would have never bought her one except if it was $4.98 in an Amarillo thrift shop. Minnie Mouse dress up doll will be added to the bag for $2.98. I also picked her up a pair of shorts, swim shoes for Bubble, and a skort for myself (Turns out it was a youth girls skirt. Boo. Anyone want it?). I contemplated boots for the girls and myself but passed. Might regret that.
Finally got on the road for real. We had a long 8 hour drive to Colorado. And we chose to add to the drive to see Santa Fe. I cannot wait until stops are closer together. But until then, I can deal with the landscape views.
State line picture for New Mexico took a little forced perspective to turn out. The dry heat is noticeable. George's sweat cools his head like it should. Bubble, always cautious, keeps repeating "it is hot, I will not touch anything metal." Over. And. Over.
Stopped for fuel at the next exit and found a car museum inside so the whole family got out to see.
Make it to Cline's Corner for restrooms, nursing, and stretching. I realize that my talent in life might be having 5 people in one regular stall. Brogden nurses while three potty and Biscuit does her duty of holding while I used the bathroom.
Santa Fe is wild to me. Houses blend well. Almost too well. It is like a Where's Waldo to find the houses within nature. Dinner was the last try for the DDD app. It was good but not worth the time and hype for us. Bye bye, app. I noticed all the picnic areas off the interstate. We both would have preferred sandwiches out there and letting the girls run.
Picked up coffees walking back to the car. Prepared by the world's slowest barista meant twenty more minutes added to our trip.
FaceTime with grandparents and Biscuit has to tell each of them that she rode a trolley. New Orleans has her heart. George stopped to fill up on the edge of town and gave me $10. I was confused at his request- beef jerky? Then I saw the trailer. So doubtful of what was happening in that moment. I fulfilled the order with lemon pepper jerky, in a gallon bag. It was delectable. I was wrong. Thin and crunchy, like a cracker almost. Biscuit, George, and I had to stop ourselves. The sketchy jerky redeemed Santa Fe.
More impressive views. I feel small among the clouds.
Colorado state line was one sign. Passed it. Reversed. Girls got to run, fall down, and scrape legs while George set up for the shot. Biscuit found her monkey book bag. She was delighted and I acted clueless.
George watched storms in the distance. Girls watched Tangled. I watched the computer not upload videos and pictures from Saturday.
Ten minute driver change. George didn't like being cramped in my seat and wanted to be back at the helm. People back where they belong for him to drive to KOA. George called at dinner to let them know we would have a late arrival. Found information taped to the office door for us.
1:00 am select the site. 1:32 am sit in my sleeping bag typing this after girls are in bed. Still have Brogden in the Baby K'Tan. Big Bear makes his grand entrance and Biscuit cuddles him tight.
1:39 am brings a family trip to the bathroom. Bubble is the only one that puts on shoes.
1:57 am George changes baby diaper while he nurses to keep him quiet. 2:28 am finished today's post. All quiet on the western front.
Steps taken: 5,988 + 1,385 (technically Thursday)
Miles driven: 623.4
I woke up with my alarm. Failed to get up at that time. We did get up and in the car only an hour behind schedule. Schedule. Ha. We are on our own time. Breakfast at Boulin Creek Cafe was awesome. Read the food was awesome. Tiny bounced all over the place. Sorry for whoever needs salt at that tables next. I turned at some point to witness her making it her own salt lick. George wiped it off best he could. Girls had a blast in the bathroom drawing on the chalkboard stalls. It was the only time I have taken all the girls to the bathroom and not want to pull my hair out.
Even getting back to the hotel later than intended, girls swam for about an hour. Beach balls from the cousin's party the day before we left are awesome pool toys. And each girl has their own.
George loaded up the car and left out only what was needed to bath them after the pool. These girls are getting good at listening and following directions so bathing them is now a treat instead of a chore. And ice buckets hold the right amount of water to rinse conditioner from their hair. So much better then those flimsy plastic cups.
After baths, Tiny showed us how tiny she is and crawled under the bed with my phone. She documented her own adventure with a video which is pretty cute. And long. Biscuit joined in on the fun and interviewed the tot in a much shorter segament.
A quick rearrangement, trash cleared out, and on the road for Amarillo
George announced that we could pick up more car bagels since we were in Austin. Bruegger's is important enough to look up locations when we left Raleigh. Loralea overheard bagels and it was all she wrote. We had to get some.
George went in the bakery to secure more car provisions and Brogden used that time well nursing. Headed back on the road to find a Texas flag sticker for the roof top box. Internet said it was at a place appropriately named 'The Texas Store' at a mall on the way out of town. Mall map gave us exact location. Upper level outside Macy's. Found the perfect addition to the cargo carrier and a few more postcards. I desperately need to find a pen so the girls can send postcards to the grandparents.
Taking the escalator for the child afraid of elevators brought a ice cream shop into view. Unnoticed by the girls, I brought it to their attention since this ice cream was made with liquid nitrogen. They each selected a popsicle, dug in, and stayed clean! Since they started cooler, they seemed to melt slower. A mother's dream.
Bubble found that her shoes would fit under Biscuit's headrest. Finding shoes at stops is a PAIN. George put Tiny's in my headrest and Biscuit added hers to the Driver's seat. Now for a solution that I have been contemplating. The headphones. Oh, the headphones. First stored at each seat. Lost all the time. I have to turn them on and off each time they are used so I wanted them within my reach. George removed the headrest in front of me to clear my view. Added the headsets and it was golden. Until you barely knock one and they would all slide down. I wanted a pencil to fashion stops for each side where the headrest supports entered the seat. I can't find a pen, do you think I can find a pencil. I have looked for five days. Nothing. So I search the mall parking lot for a stick. Success. Time will tell if this problem is fully solved or if modifications are in order.
Back on the road. To literally cross the road. George wants to try dry ice in the coolers. The coolers stay cold but all the cold water is a pain to drain. Solid CO2 expands when melting. Each cooler came with warnings everywhere to not use dry ice. We are trying the drain plug out on the hard side cooler and the zipper not closed on the soft sided one. I also have the window cracked for the carbon dioxide to escape the enclosed car. Time will also tell.
I am not sure how George bribed Google Maps to stay off controlled access highways but the drive today has some pretty views. Pretty views and little cell signal. I couldn't work on the posts so I took pictures and we watched Frozen twice. Texas is so big that we are having to travel more hours in a day than we would like just to stay on the planned schedule.
I cannot explain how good these children are about being in the car. Brogden was fussy for a while but also produced a huge diaper and spit up quite a bit. I have been advised that it takes up to two weeks to clear the intolerance causing proteins from both of our systems. Each day gets a little better for him. I promise to never knowingly consume dairy and soy again.
Bagels and leftover dinner from Trudy's filled the bellies of everyone in the car except myself. I settled with the leftover meat from Rouse's market.
I like to stop at regional grocery stores when traveling to see all the differences. And to buy food. Road tripping with a family is easier to me with a cooler in the car. Now, we just needed to restock it. Most of the time I find everyone is just as satisfied, maybe more satisfied, with sandwiches in a hotel room than the stress of locating a decent restaurant and children behaving well during the meal.
This is grocery store was clean. I mean clean. With trash cans st the end of every other aisle. There were fun leaf decorations above the produce section and a Starbucks. We did not purchase coffee (Insert shocked face) though it helps to gauge the community. I did pick up some lemon chia seed marshmallows and the makings of trail mix for snacking. Fancy I know. George got ham, three different cheeses, and bean chips.
Continued onto Amarillo singing George Strait every fifteen minutes. And lots of windmills. Windmills as far as the eye could see.
Made it to Amarillo by (1:23 am) morning.
Steps taken: 8,948
Miles driven: 523.2
George pulled off the interstate for gas and ice. The cheapest ice I have seen $0.69 for 8 lbs. We also notice that many people have coolers in the back of their trucks and are buying a lot of ice. Maybe they are out working on oil rigs. I don't know. Just observations.
Circled to the outskirts of the gas station behind another traveler. Set up to sleep for a few hours. It was too early to start the day and too late to find a hotel. Girls were all out and George and I settled in for the little bit of time. Someone woke up and needed to go to the bathroom. I think it was Bubble. George debated on best course of action. Drove to the Whataburger to take each child in for the facilities and brought back breakfast for them. Kept in in the bag for later as it was only 4:30 or so. Headed into town to scope out the Alamo. Easy to follow directions when no one in the on the road with you. Got the lay of the land and decided to find a car wash. Suburban was showing the miles we had asked of it. Do not know if one was closer but we had the time to spare.
Girls and I watched Shrek while George washed the mighty carriage. Doled out the pancakes, bacon, hash browns, and OJ. Searched online for a good activity that opened at 7:00 for the ladies. None. All opened at 9:00, same as the Alamo. Plan was to see the Alamo, San Antonio Zoo, and bug out for Austin. Settled on a trip to Walmart for deep conditioner. Our locks were dry, dry, dry with the traveling. Several Walmarts were around but not too convenient to us at the moment.
Routed to the store without using the interstate per George's request. It was crazy with Upper and Lower Interstates and car zooming all around. Afforded us to see more of the town. I noticed stray dogs everywhere.
Completed walking around the store and finding conditioner. It was quiet in the store. Not the normal hustle of the Walmarts back home, even at this hour. Remember the story about people found dead in the back of an eighteen-wheeler? Yea, it was this Walmart. George asked me why there was live news set up at the end of the lot. Then it dawned on us. Of all the Walmarts in San Antonio, this is the one we chose. Sobering to think what took place just a few days before.
Passed a playground that caught some eyes from the back on the way to the store. We headed back that way and the girls enjoyed running, stretching, and being free. Returned to the car in good spirits and hungry. The split breakfast plate was a snack so many hours ago. Adults needed coffee.
Parked at the Alamo, the only place within walking distance was a McDonalds. Hotcakes and coffee deposited in bellies, we headed back to the Alamo.
No pictures in the church. Girls a little young for the guided tour. Mommy and Daddy a little tired to take in all that took place on that site. Did run into one of my students in the gift shop. That was a hoot to be in Texas and talking to one of my FFA kids and family.
Onto the zoo! Bubble was looking forward to this zoo visit the most after watching YouTube videos with George in preparation. Found a parking spot super close (employee lot, I think) and set up a picnic lunch.
After filling that need we headed up to the zoo. Girls loved spying the large bugs all over the grounds. The carousel ride with choices of all their favorite animals required us to sit and watch it go around thirty more times. Feeding the lorries was a trip. Tiny would not get anywhere near the birds.
Riding the train was more of an experience than I expected. It was a train like Pullen Park's train but the track was long and informative. Multiple stops were available for exploring but we were on the second to last train for the night so we stayed on until back at the main station.
It was waiting for the train that we realized Biscuit's fan was gone. She diligently carried it to cool the baby. It was at the lorries that she went to the bathroom by herself. Those rooms were not cooled so I stayed out of them as much as possible with the baby. We ran back to the zoos entrance and the office called down to where I thought she left it. Nothing. I felt terrible for her. She was so proud of searching and finding that fan in the first place. It broke my heart.
Drove all around Austin evaluating hotels for the night. Settled on one near downtown. It had to have a pool since we did not let them swim back in Mobile.
I bathed all the offspring while George went out to source dinner. He found a great place really close called Trudy's. It was delicious.
Tiny fell asleep with the cheese quesadilla in her hand.
Steps taken: 12,924
Miles driven: 137.9
I woke up early to do laundry for the family. Passing the baby over to a sleeping daddy, I begrudgingly dressed and headed out with a body bag of smelly goods. Spraying stain remover and turning clothes right side out to find spots, I mentally noted to do this at undressing each day. I pushed the quarters in on the last machine and the chimes of CBS Sunday Morning News brought a smile to my face. I was graced with a quiet morning of coffee, blogging, and mommy's news as it is known. Blessings come when we least expected it. Of course I was surrounded by strangers bustling their luggage and dodging each other for breakfast items. I am sure there is no other place that removes personal space bubbles like a hotel lobby breakfast bar. It did not matter. I was in my own world. Attempting to upload photos and failing. Trying plan B, C, and D again to achieve success, moderately.
George brought everyone down right at 9:30 am and we closed down the breakfast bar at 10:00 am. I moved the laundry to dryers and ran them twice. All the girls used the lobby bathroom for racing. Biscuit stayed with me, my constant companion.
Reorganizing the clothes was a pain with four children that demanded my attention. We pushed the noon checkout time to the second. Still took more time in the parking lot getting all the bags back in the car. This had to get better as will did it more..... I hope.
One last stop at Café du Monde for what turned out to be beignets for lunch. Proud parent moment.
Took the long, scenic way from New Orleans to see as much as Louisiana as we could. Had the iconic family vacation sing-a-long, parent-style.
Tried and failed to book a swamp tour. Probably for the best as Bubble was not pleased with the thought of an air boat ride after watching videos.
Our route took us through Houma and let me tell you. They hide money in Houma. Those houses were huge!
Found a market to purchase supplies for dinner and landed at a campground with shelters for picnicking. Girls had fun running for a bit in a setting that was reminiscent of White Lake, NC.
Onward to Texas. Miles of sugar cane lined the drive. Hwy 70 to the beach is lined the same way with corn. Thoughts of home came across in our conversations. FaceTimed grandparents before the girls fell asleep.
Made it to Texas by 9:30 pm and greeting with a work of art for the state line picture. The "Watch out for rattlesnakes" signs sent Bubble over the edge and we had to shine a light on pretty much every step she made. Raccoons wanted to carry off Tiny at the welcome center. She was a bit crazy from being woken up so I found a good place for her while the rest of us girls used the facilities.
All the girls fell asleep and I continued work on the posts. Got quite a bit of writing done. I still encounter issues with photos and videos. Those slow down progress. George has his radio and I read what I wrote to check for errors and to keep us both alert.
Made it to San Antonio city limits at 2:30 am on Day Eight.
Steps taken: 7,203
Miles driven: 577.3
Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Checked the radar. Spotty showers every where means a lazy morning for us. Made it to breakfast, weekends have a 10:00 am end time. Thank goodness or we would not have eaten.
Horton hears a Who was found on the tv and a hangout session in PJs continued while I worked on the site. Finally, everyone got dressed and ready to head out for the day.... well to a Walmart for laundry pods since we forgot them at the Trader Joe's. George took the girls and left Brogden and I at the hotel. He called to let me know when to come downstairs.
Selected a lunch spot on the 15 min drive into town that was also near a spot to buy more one day streetcar/bus passes. There was no price discount from a 1-day pass to a 3-day pass so we stuck with the 1-day passes.
Drove around looking for a parking spot on the side streets when the bottom fell out of the sky again. Secured a spot but it did not matter since we did not get out of the car. There was flooding happening all around us. I have no idea why we ended up at the sea wall but it was closed in many places. George spoke with someone later on the bus who informed him that was not typical rain or flooding and they had standing water to their thigh that morning. Not every moment is wonderful as you can see from the snapshot of us waiting for the rain to let up and hungry.
Everyone was smiles again when we found street parking in front of Mahony's. We took an outdoor table and settled in for a delicious meal and some drinks. Girls shared pig fries and loved them. Biscuit ate the garnish out of George's Bloody Mary.
Next door was a running shop. I peeked in quickly to find a great deal on socks made for the shoes I have pretty much worn every day of this trip so far.
Chose to walk the path of the Magazine St bus towards Canal Street instead of just waiting standing at the bus stop. George took advantage of the extra time we had and visited the fire station we passed. Bubble stretched out on the bus and Biscuit looked out at passing sights.
Short walk down Canal Street to the ferry; Biscuit drug us in each souvenir shop searching for the illusive fan that was in her mind. Empty handed, we loaded on the ferry after a short wait. Took a short walk around Algiers Point and hung out with our waters and daiquiris before riding the ferry back to New Orleans.
Found a street vendor outside the outlet mall and, BINGO, Biscuit located the perfect fan. It was a blue fan with an embroidered flamingo. She was so happy and pleased that she had something Bubble wanted. Bubble picked out a fan for herself back in Raleigh and toted it everywhere. I used it often to cool the baby while he was pressed against me in the carrier, intensively multiplying our body heat.
George wanted to take the Canal Streetcar all the way north to check out the cemetery. We found a car with a/c and I feel in love.
Tiny did not like the graveyard and whispered in George's ear, "No, no, no, no, no!" Our resident cheerleader had to pee again and we were in no man's land for open businesses. Spotted: a port-a-potty in a construction site. Biscuit was carried in and out. Brogden on my front and Tiny on my back, Bubble and I hung out on the corner like nothing was up.
Magazine Street bus took us right back to the suburban. Best part? Parked in an oasis that was free for the whole day.
Showers at the hotel and our sweet girls fell fast asleep.