27 September 2018

2018 Summer Road Trip: Days 13-14

There are actually no pictures for Day 13. We drove all day. We camped in Colorado, and it was actually a perfect camping spot. It was:

  • free
  • secluded, but easily accessible from a main road
  • equipped with a portapotty that was not terrifying
  • high enough elevation that it was chilly at night
Eric slept in one tent with Felicia. I shared another tent with the three other kids. They fell asleep very quickly.

The next day (Day 14) we went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

I actually have zero recollection of catching this butterfly, but there is this photo, and that is my body and my shirt, so I guess I caught a butterfly.

These two are so much alike in so many ways. When Ike isn't teasing his siblings, he really is a good big brother.

Eric is usually the one behind the camera, but I got a few of him on this last day. There is a little evidence that he held the baby sometimes.

But mostly it was me. (Because, as mentioned in an earlier post, I'd rather carry Felicia than Trixie.)

I would love to go back to Black Canyon of the Gunnison one day and do more hiking. We were just spent and ready to get to our next destination (and finally home!) that we didn't spend a great deal of time there.

Then we went to Colorado National Monument. It was pretty cool.

The kids all saw a few lizards.

We learned that Felix does not know how to flex his muscles.

There was an insane amount of bribery to get this picture, and even then I don't think our kids deserved whatever treat Eric gave them.

Trixie loves her daddy so much. It was way too hot for piggy back rides or shoulder rides, but it was also too hot to deal with tantruming kids, so there we were.

Then we drove home. We got home early enough that I had time to go buy groceries and take my van through a car wash and vacuum it out. I think it speaks to how boring my life is when I say that one of my life's greatest joys right now is taking my van through a car wash and then using the fancy vacuums in every nook and cranny of the interior of my van. I love those fancy vacuums. And I love the compressed air too.

All in all, it was a great trip. And of course, my husband is already thinking about where we should go next year.

2018 Summer Road Trip: Days 11-12

We left St. Louis and headed down to Dallas. We figured if we were driving all the way to Indianapolis and then stopping in St. Louis on the way home, Dallas was only a 10-hour detour, so why not? (And I know a few of you are thinking, "Because 10 hours is a long drive, you crazy lady," but when you road trip like we do, what's 10 more hours?) My family lives in Dallas, and we hadn't been there since October 2016.

We played at my brother's house all day on Day 11. Felicia's real-life middle-name is my mom's first name, so it was great for them to finally meet. My baby wasn't shy at all, which was nice for my parents to see what she's really like.

My brother's kids and my kids played and played and played and played together. Trixie and my brother's daughter are just a couple of months apart, so it was fun for them to play together.

Trixie also loved my brother's cat, Samuel L. Catson.
My brother's son was also there, but he hates pictures of himself, so I don't have any.

The next day we went to the Dallas Arboretum, another venue that has free admission with our Thanksgiving Point memberships. (We even got my parents in for free!) Despite my mom having lived in Dallas since like, 1975, she had never been to the Arboretum until this trip! She really liked it.

It was good for my kids (especially my older kids) to have more time with my parents. They don't get much time together, so this was special.

That evening we met up with my sister and her girlfriend at their apartment, but I have no pictures (fail!). It was great for me to meet my sister's girlfriend. I can tell my sister is really happy in her life right now, happier than I've seen her in a long time, and that made me really happy. (Also, because Trixie is obsessed with animals, she was obsessed with my sister's dog, and my sister's dog was not having it.)

While we were in Dallas we stayed with another of Eric's cousins who moved to Dallas in the spring. Our kids love playing together (and their dog likes kids, so Trixie got to chase "Moffy" around endlessly.) (His real name is Murphy and he's an incredibly patient dog.) Felicia got to eat lots of dog food so she also is a big fan of the dog.

Their oldest kid is Luke, and he loves babies. Last summer when we got together with this family, Luke wanted to hold Felicia endlessly. Then when their family was visiting Utah this summer, we saw them twice, and again, Luke wanted to hold Felicia. He was glad to get a few more snuggles in while we visited them, and I was glad to finally get a picture of this sweet baby-loving boy. (Although, for the record, I don't think he's always loved babies. I heard a story that when twin siblings were born he asked his mom if maybe next time they could just have one baby at a time instead of two.)

2018 Summer Road Trip: Day 10

We left Indianapolis and headed for St. Louis, Missouri. Although we had been to Kansas City, Missouri, a couple of times (to visit Eric's brother when he lived there), neither of us had been to St. Louis. I wanted to go visit the arch, but Eric was not even remotely on board. We did drive by it, though. We actually got a much better look at it than my picture can show. When we were close to it, I was too busy looking at it to bother taking pictures.

We met up with Eric's cousin, Megan (who also graciously hosted us!). She took us to a local children's museum, and we had so much fun playing together. Even though our kids and Megan's kids are second cousins, they know each other pretty well because Megan usually makes it a point to get together with us when she comes out to Utah. (Megan also lived on the same floor as me our freshman year at BYU, a connection that Eric and I discovered on our first date when I learned his last name.)

At the museum, Trixie and I got to be in a giant bubble together.

The kids all climbed a giant beanstalk instead of taking the stairs.

They all donned constructions hats (with one bizarre child insisting that backwards was frontwards).

And Felix was a way better behaved president than the one we're actually stuck with right now. (Wow, Sherry, how much are you going to criticize the president in these road trip posts? Um, I think I'm done, but if you know me in real life, I'm not even close to done.)

Back at Megan's house the kids played together and caught a frog.

At bedtime Megan and her daughter played a violin duet together, and our kids loved listening to it. Trixie loved getting to pluck the strings on the violin, but what she really wanted was a chance to actually play the violin. Too bad, sister.

It was such a fun visit to these cousins! Megan took such great care of us in the very short time we were there.

2018 Summer Road Trip: Days 8-9

Eric grew up near Muncie, Indiana, from about age 4 to age 13, and he was really looking forward to going back to Indiana so that we could see his old house and elementary school, and to canoe the White River.

Eric frequently talks about his idyllic childhood. He and his two older brothers spent a lot of free time playing in a corn field and in some nearby woods. He has a great appreciation of the outdoors and the changing of the seasons and attributes that to the freedom he had to roam as a child. One of his greatest regrets for our own children is that we don't live near any wild spaces. (Or rather, we have to drive to the nearest wild spaces.) Our kids spend a lot of time outdoors, but that time is primarily in the yards and an empty lot on our street.

We caravanned (literally since both families drive minivans) to Eric's old neighborhood, and most everyone got out to explore Eric and Bryan's old stomping grounds. I didn't feel like getting the baby out and lugging her around, so I stayed in the van with her. Pretty soon I saw Ike and a nephew racing up the hill back to the vans. I thought, "Well that was short excursion," but then I saw all the other kids racing back and rolled down my window to ask my niece what the hullabaloo was about. She told me two kids had been stung by something, but she didn't seem to know which kids. Turns out, Felix had been stung about 10-12 times by some angry hornets. We think he must have stepped on a nest. Our youngest niece was also stung once or twice.

We made our way to Walgreens and bought various medicines for the poor kid. By the time we were ready to get on the White River, Felix was doing great. He is such a trooper. (And I swear, he has some of the most painful things happen to him! It's really not fair!)

The actual canoeing was beautiful but quite hot. Felicia was happy for about the first half hour, and then she was over it.

We passed a lot of people floating down the river, and a few canoeing down it, and nearly all commented on our large crew. And we didn't even have everyone with us! (Our oldest nephew stayed home because he's too cool for family time.)

When we were all done the kids played in the river and got very gross. I was shuttling with my sister-in-law back to the starting point to get our van so we could go home.

I don't have pictures, but we stopped at a pizza place before heading home, and the old people in the restaurant gave us a lot of dirty looks because there were nine children aged 1-11 in our crew.

On Sunday we did the usual Sunday things. I made sure to get a picture of the nearly-twin cousins together (one day apart). They had so much fun together and got along much better than they did when they were together earlier in the summer (or the summer before that).

22 September 2018

2018 Summer Road Trip: Day 7

One of the most anticipated stops on our trip was Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. (We got in for free because of our Thanksgiving Point memberships.) Our boys were especially excited to see a real German U-boat captured during World War II. The story of how the U-boat was caught was really cool, and the exhibit was cool too.

There were so many awesome exhibits at MSI. We could have easily spent several days there. One of the things I liked about the museum was that many exhibits required free tickets for certain times. This meant that the exhibits were not overly crowded because they managed the flow of patrons coming in. Genius.

We had a good time with the fun mirrors.

There was a little section about circuses, and there was a sign for the hagenbeck and Wallace Circus. My great-grandfather worked for that circus, and so did another more distant relative. I had spent so much time talking to my kids about our early Chicago ancestry during our trip, and it was fun to see a relic of my more recent immigrant ancestor's story mixed in there as well.

MSI is housed in a hall that was built for the 1893 World's Fair. One exhibit featured the engine for the world's fastest train that was featured at the fair. Also, I am a huge sucker for the cutouts where you put your heads in.

We loved the mirror maze, even though we went in just a few minutes after a field trip of kids. It was loud and chaotic and surprisingly challenging!

There were probably some tears from a toddler who was confused about where her dad went in this maze.

When our time at MSI was done, we loaded up into the van and headed out to the Indianapolis area, where Eric's brother and his family lives.

12 September 2018

2018 Summer Road Trip: Day 6

Okay, before I write about Day 6, I have to finish Day 5. I can't believe I didn't include this in the previous post. After our trip to the beach got rained out, we decided to get out of the city quickly and find somewhere to eat on our way out. We were staying at a wildlife refuge (of sorts) southwest of Chicago. I put the address into my phone and searched for restaurants along the way. We wanted pizza. We found a place and went inside. It had decent reviews on Google, but we could see the food sitting out under warmers. Depressed-looking people pumped coins into slot machines. Nobody was eating. We decided that wasn't really where we wanted to eat. We looked for another restaurant with decent reviews. Eric ran in and said it was just like the other place. Finally we looked for a family restaurant with decent reviews and found a pizza place. We all walked in to find that it was an order and pick-up sort of place, not a sit-down restaurant. The wait time was about 35 minutes. We placed an order and all loaded back into the van. We found a nearby park, and I dropped the family off, then I went back and picked up the pizza. We ate the very mediocre pizza at the park and then finally headed to our cabin. It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever experienced. Clearly some of these restaurants are kept afloat solely because of the slot machines.

Day 6 was our most organized and efficient day in Chicago! Eric was still feeling miserable, but we kept him sufficiently dosed on medicine to keep his fever and aches at bay. We first went to the Field Museum. We only took a couple of pictures, but we had a lot of fun! It was a really cool museum. Plus, we got in for free because of the ASTC program.

I really loved carrying Felicia around on my back, except for the hair-pulling. I could have done without that.

After the field museum we walked to a nearby (FREE!) beach. We got some food (hot dogs and tacos) from the only restaurant on the beach, and it was great food.

Then we went swimming. Everyone loved the water, especially Felicia.

The kids and Eric played in the sand while I kept Felicia happy in the water. Both Ike and Felix got buried in the sand, and Trixie took the opportunity to torture each of them.

In addition to swimming, Felicia was crazy about the beach. She couldn't shove fistfuls of rocks and sand into her mouth fast enough. As soon as we'd get one hand under control, she'd use her other hand to grab another fistful and cram it in her mouth. I eventually got fed up with this behavior and took her with me to get the van and pick up her siblings.

Our next stop was the free zoo. It was a great little zoo, especially considering the price. Trixie loved petting the goats.

Right outside the zoo, we got this great picture of our family and the Chicago skyline.

The kids saw the carousel before we had a chance to divert their attention, and we paid the big bucks ($3 each) to let them ride it.

Trixie loves giraffes, so she was extremely happy when we finally found one.

After the zoo we went to the Hancock building (formerly Sears Tower) to see some views of the Chicago skyline. I could have spent several hours there, but my kids were done after about 20 minutes. I made them stick around a while longer, though.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what the city was like when my ancestors got there. (Fact, it wasn't actually a city, just a town).

After that we grabbed some dinner at the mall food court and then headed back to our cabin.