All 50 Road Trip-May 21, 2018, Day 10

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We all slept very well last night. Robby has always said that he wanted an interior room in our house that he could sleep in. He had to wake the early rising boys up at 7:30 to get ready to join Pops at breakfast at 8. We were supposed to meet Robby and Whitman for breakfast, but he called saying that they might sleep in a bit longer.

The girls and I went to the buffet and had our breakfast. They did indeed have eggs benedict and it was just as good as I remember. Anderson, Graham, Nonna and Pops showed up. They had eaten a good breakfast, and then went exploring around the ship for a bit.

We then all met up at the rock wall at 10. Campbell opted to go to the kids club instead of the rock wall, Everyone else climbed-well, Whitman put on the shoes, but they were too big so he couldn't do it. He didn't seem too bothered by that fact and happily watched everyone else.

Anderson almost made it to the top. Graham did the hard side and did pretty well. Keaton struggled up the wall and only made it a bit. The poor man harnessed to her really worked hard trying to help her up. Reagan made it to the top and happily rang the bell.

The next activity was the buffet. Even though we had already been there, everyone went back for a bit. We just grabbed a snack and then waiting until they changed things over to lunch. We did run to Nonna and Pops' room to see if they were there.

Robby picked up Campbell from kid's club while the rest of us ate lunch. I think our ice cream count from this day alone is over 15! Everyone is enjoying the ice cream. After lunch, everyone but Whitman and Reagan went swimming.

Reagan is fairly bright and knew it was cold in that pool, and we really didn't give Whitman a choice. Reagan, Whitman and I played elevator roulette. Whitman won the game! He was so happy that he guessed the correct elevator to open first. He was the first player to guess correctly 3 times so he was the big winner. The boy jumped around like he had won a prize.

Whitman and I then played with some of the circus toys at one place. Then I met the girls back in the room after swimming. Everyone changed into dry, warm clothes, then we met back up in the lobby. They had a paper airplane challenge. Graham won his heat so he was a happy boy. Then there was a trivia challenge that we did decent on. It did help that Robby has wifi so Reagan was able to look up some answers for us.

Afterwards, Robby and Whitman went upstairs for some ipad time. The rest of us headed upstairs to check on the rock climbing wall again. It was closed, so they all opted for a short visit to kids club. They were playing outside so that looked intriguing to everyone. Except for Reagan who napped in the room for a few minutes.

I picked them up from kids club because the next activity was the one they were looking forward to the most-a soccer tournament. Unfortunately, the weather was misty so they didn't have it. Instead we played giant checkers. Campbell didn't know how to play checkers so I guess she will have to start playing that during school time instead of chess.

I was secretly glad that the soccer thing was cancelled, because that gave us time to get ready for supper. The boys all had showers but in my room, we only got around to one shower-Campbells. We then met everyone at supper in the other main dining room.

We were really not too pleased with it. The lay out was very disjointed so it didn't feel as nice. Also, it took us 70 minutes to get our entree. Last night wasn't as bad, but you can see why Whitman fell asleep last night. Our drinks were rarely refilled; it just wasn't that great. We will probably avoid that dining room from now on.

We started supper at 5:30, but at 7 Robby took all the kids but Reagan to kid's club. They were happy to skip their desserts to go there. Reagan stayed back and ordered herself 2 desserts. I ordered Robby two desserts as well, and he made it back in time to eat. I had already shoved a fork in my bag and was ready to take them out of the restaurant to him.

We opted to not go to the show tonight. Instead we just came back to Robby's room. I typed on the blog and studied tomorrow's list of today's activities. I think that I would be a very good candidate to live on a cruise ship.

This ship is really rocky tonight. Well, it has been most of the day too. At the top of all of the steps, there are barf bags ready to go for you. So far all of my people haven't been bothered by it, and hopefully, we won't be bothered by it. Robby has a patch. I do have some medicine that I will probably give everyone before bed. It is just an oil or something like that.

Internet is limited to Robby's computer so I'll close the blog for the day. I can tell you what all we more than likely happen next. In about an hour, I am going to pick up the kids from kids' club. Then they will want to have a snack and look at the pool sloshing about before bed!


All 50 Road Trip-May 20, 2018, Day 9

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We all slept well this morning. Keaton and Campbell slept in Nonna and Pops' room last night. They were leaving the breakfast area when we came in. Pops warned us that the breakfast was a bit odd. Indeed it was-good, but odd. Everything there, everything, was prepackaged.

They had a huge selection-muffins, cheese sticks, juices, breads, etc. but everything was prepackaged. I had a delicious muffin and the boys enjoyed the lemon bread. Now, the fruit was not in a package, but they had kiwi as one of their fruits. Kiwi? We have never seen that at a hotel so far. Reagan really enjoyed hers, but I probably didn't cut it that well using a plastic knife. Can you eat a kiwi without cutting it? I just don't know.

We loaded up at 8:30 and forget to take our daily time and mileage picture. I guess we were a bit excited about the cruise. It was misting a bit of rain but soon stopped. We stopped first at the Freemont Troll. It was neat to see, but we were just there for a few minutes.

Right nearby was Kerry Park which had a great view of the city. Then we drove to the Space Needle and took a few pictures. The back seat of the car was completely filled with luggage. We had crammed it in there very nicely. The kids were all squeezed in their rows, but everyone did great.

Our next stop was the Klondike Gold Rush NHS. The folks gave us Jr. Ranger books that we will finish at when we get home. We now have 2 different ones to finish at home-I hope no one minds doing school like work during summer. We watched the movie there, and it was a neat stop.

Behind it was Seattle's first city square area. They were having a rally there which unnerved Graham. I think that rally was about coal or the environment. There were about 30 police officers there starting their day as well so there was no reason to be concerned with a peaceful rally going on.

Robby dropped us off at Pike Place Market. It was crowded. Whenever it is crowded like that, I am always impressed with the kids. They are always trying to hold on to Whitman and find each other. We saw some flowers and walked around a bit while waiting on Robby to park the car.

Once Robby joined us, we went to the fish market. We were right in front when they threw the fish two different times. They also had a fish that was in the ice, but it also had a string on the back. So the workers would pull the string and the fish would move. Whitman couldn't take his eyes off of it!

We found Beecher's cheese place, and Robby hopped in line for macaroni and cheese. I walked on down the street with Nonna and Pops to the original Starbucks. There were waited in line while Robby and everyone else ate the mac and cheese. It was delicious mac and cheese. Now, there was a Russian bakery that we didn't get to try because the line was way too long. Maybe next time!

From there, it was just a short drive to the pier. We unloaded our luggage, and then Robby went to drop off the car. We waited for him outside, but it didn't take him too long to return. He was pleased with his spot and the shuttle.

We then lined up to board the boat. Since we go to Canada there seems to be a lot more scrutiny of our documents. Birth certificates, passports, etc. Lots to hold and juggle while going through security and check in. We did make it and were soon on the boat.

We walked around a tiny bit but soon discovered that our rooms were open already. We all headed off to find our rooms and drop off our bags. This room is a bit different in that there is a trundle bed and only 1 bunk bed. Robby's room is just like this one.

Yes, the boys and Robby are in a room below ours and Nonna and Pops are a few floors below. We are yet to see their room, but hopefully will tomorrow. I actually have the best group. Reagan is a major clean freak, so she is even getting on to me about not putting my stuff up exactly correct.

We ate our lunch in the buffet area. I wasn't that impressed this afternoon with the food. Hopefully, I just didn't find the right thing to eat. My favorite thing last year was eggs benedict at breakfast. Maybe I will find that tomorrow.

It took us a good while to get organized; this room is small, but could greatly benefit from lots more drawers. Once we were almost organized, it was time for our muster drill. The girls and I had to go upstairs for ours. We were inside which was kind of nice since we found a seat during the drill.

Afterwards, we all met up at the swimming pool. The kids swam and swam. Campbell said that the water was colder than Jenny Lake. Whitman stayed in the pool the entire time splashing away. It was warm in the sun, but not nearly warm enough to be in the pool. Reagan spent most of her time in the hot tub.

I walked down to get dinner reservations and was able to get them for only an hour later. My choices were early or late so I chose early. The kids just had about 15 more minutes to swim before they had to get out. From there, we went back to our cabins to get ready for supper.

We all put on our dressy-ish clothes and then headed upstairs. Everyone met up there, and soon we were at a table. Nonna said that eating in the nice restaurants was her favorite thing to do on the cruise. The kids certainly enjoy being able to pick out what they want to eat and to try new things.

Reagan had matzo ball soup and a rotisserie chicken, Anderson had lasagna (possibly) and a slider. Graham had chicken legs for an appetizer and steak for his main course. The others all had kids menu items. Though when it came time for dessert, the overwhelming choice at our table was the lava cake. It was just as delicious here as it was last time in Hawaii.

Last year on the first night of the cruise, Whitman fall asleep with his head on the table. Tonight, he feel asleep with his head in my lap. He was exhausted, but did wake up to eat some of his jello before we left.

From there, the kids changed their clothes back to their regular clothes and then headed to the kids club. Robby and I watched the show-actually, I dozed through most of it! Then I worked on the blog some before having to leave to pick up the kids. They all seemed to have fun but Reagan and Graham do not want to go back. There seemed to be a lot of kids in there - maybe more than the Hawaii cruise. We were kind of surprised.

We went to the buffet and didn't make it back to our rooms until 10:30. The kids found plenty to eat that late-pizza, ice cream, cookies and lemonade. Then it was pajama time and my girls, at least, combed through the papers telling about what all was happening tomorrow on the boat. We have already made out list of tomorrow's activities.

Current Dennie Kid State Count (May 20, 2018):
Reagan-needs Alaska
Anderson-needs Alaska
Graham-needs Alaska
Campbell-needs Alaska
Keaton-needs Alaska

Whitman-needs Alaska, Montana, North Dakota

All 50 Road Trip-May 19, 2018, Day 8


I had thought that we would wake up earlier than we did this morning due to the time change, but it was 7 when we did wake up. We scurried around getting ready so we could head down to eat breakfast. This was our first Holiday Inn Express of the trip, and Robby and I were looking forward to the cinnamon rolls.

The big boys were the only kids to grab a cinnamon roll. I guess I have not trained the other ones right. And Graham didn’t eat the middle part of his cinnamon roll. Of course we asked him if he was done, and he said that he didn’t like the middle part of cinnamon rolls. What in the world? That is the best part.

The boys took two loads and loaded the car. Once on the way to breakfast and once afterwards. It just took minutes, and we were in Washington state. While I jumped out with Graham, Campbell, Keaton and Whitman to take their pictures, Robby found a surprise stop for us.

We were right near Ft. Vancouver NHS. I thought I had looked for all of the National Park sites, but I guess I had neglected this one. We went in the visitor’s center, and then half of us walked while the other half ran to the Fort.

The National Park Service just amazes me. You wouldn’t think that there would be that much stuff at a fort like this. It was full of blacksmiths, woodworkers, and other period dressed folks. The woodworker man took us a around a little bit and showed us the fur room. The kids loved touching the animals.

We were able to do the Jr. Ranger book, so the kids earned another Jr. Ranger badge  before we left. We could have stayed there for another hour probably and didn’t even get to visit the airplane museum nearby. We had places to go so had to get back on the road.

In the car, we listened to a podcast about the fort and then another about being lost in the National Parks as we ate a snack.It didn’t take too long for us to get to Mt. St. Helens. We had read a book about Mt. St. Helens so it was all pretty interesting to the kids.

We went into the museum area and perused the pictures. There was a seismograph that that recorded when you jumped, so as you can imagine, we made quite a scene there. We watched the film and took a picture in front of the cloud covered mountain.

As we left the parking lot, we turned to check out the license plates. Robby saw Hawaii. Of course, everyone screamed and squealed. After finding Hawaii, we only have 8 more license plates to find.

We didn’t stick around too long because Nonna and Pops were getting closer and closer. After we left, we filled up the gas tank and then stopped at Burger King to buy some frozen lemonaids for the kids. Occasionally, we have been writing a sechedule on the marker board. Reagan requested us to do it today. I am sure they enjoy having kind of an idea of what is going to happen next.

We hustled up to Mt. Rainier and quickly realized that we wouldn’t have time to see too much. We stopped at a viewpoint. The girls went potty, but when Robby took Whitman he noticed the sign that said flushing toilets were 3 miles down the road. He quickly decided that drive would be worth it.

Worth it, it was. We were able to get stamps for our National Park passport books along with seeing a pretty awesome suspension bridge. We walked over it once and then drove across it. It was really spectacular. In fact, Robby has decided that he wants to return and stay in Mt. Ranier’s Inn.

Our windshield wiper has been a bit contrary with one piece popping up (not off) for the last few days. While taking one picture today with the windshield wipers on low, the whole wiper popped off. Robby thought he had fixed it well, but as we were leaving it flew off in the middle of the road.

We debated but did turn around. Then MacGyver fixed that wiper with a zip tie. It was still spitting rain so we hoped that it would hold, at least for the rest of the day. And yes, we have a zip tie with us. Masking tape, sharpie, zip lock bags, knives, air fresheners, quarters, extra large rubber bands, you name it, we got it! So far on this trip, we have done quite well on our packing. Robby did remind me that we have driven to California twice and Maine twice and many places in between so by now we should at least have some things figured out.

I passed out lunch again. So far we have eaten in the car more than we have had picnics (5 and 4, yes I am keeping a tally sheet.) Today’s lunch was rather large since we were finishing off our bread, opened chips, cheeses and meat.

It took us about an hour and a half to make it into Seattle. We were tracking Nonna and Pops’ flight trying our best to make it there before they did. Robby dropped me off at the hotel with all of our stuff which is a lot-those zip ties have to go somewhere.

I worked on organizing things for tonight and for the cruise. Robby and the kids rushed to pick up Nonna and Pops. They said that they had not been waiting long and their flights were decent. I pretty much finished repacking everything and sat down to work on a list or two when the others came back.

The hotel had cookies which the kids all enjoyed before we headed out for supper. Robby had found a neat supper place-Italian Family Pizza. It was super good, and the pizzas were super huge. It was fun getting something so large. We had a big cheese pizza, a small meatball pizza, a salad, made with a whole head of lettuce, and 3 cannolis. The food was decent but the atmosphere was just perfect.

Now, we had planned to go to downtown Seattle to walk around Pikes Place Market. However, it was raining making a walk pretty messy. We will postpone our excursion for possibly tomorrow. Robby did tell the kids on the way back from the hotel that they could swim for 30 minutes tonight….except we didn’t know this hotel didn’t have a pool. Everyone handled it very well though.

Keaton and Campbell spent the night in Nonna and Pops’ room. Everyone had their showers while we worked on some laundry and worked on repacking the car. Packing for this trip has proved difficult since on a road trip we are limited on packing, plus for the cruise we need dressy clothes in addition to warm clothes for Alaska. Normally, we do laundry almost every night on a trip, but there isn’t any laundry on the cruise.

I believe that all my people packed 4 changes of hot weather clothes, a jacket, bathing suit, 4 extra socks and undies, 2 pairs of cold weather clothes, 2 dressy clothes. That adds up to about 32 pieces of clothing (counting pairs of socks and not individual ones) for each kid. That is at least 204 pieces of clothing plus mine and Robby’s clothes.

That means that after the cruise, I will have 204 pieces of dirty clothes to clean and repack before we hit the road for another week. Seriously, that is why I sometimes feel like I am about to have a panic attack. We will be staying in this hotel when we return. They do have free washer and dryers along with an ample number of washers and dryers.

Repacking for the cruise proved much easier that I expected so hopefully, when we come back repacking with be easier. Whitman went to bed a happy boy because there was a minecraft update. He was so, so happy about this and wanted to tell me all about it. Tomorrow is a big day, so hopefully all the crew will sleep well.

Current Dennie Kid State Count (May 19, 2018):
Reagan-needs Alaska
Anderson-needs Alaska
Graham-needs Alaska
Campbell-needs Alaska
Keaton-needs Alaska

Whitman-needs Alaska, Montana, North Dakota

All 50 Road Trip-May 18, 2018, Day 7

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Hotel sleeping is really just the best sleeping ever. We all snoozed until 7 when we started to stir. I had my shower and then everyone else got ready. Whitman was moving the most slowly this morning. Everyone else had their shoes on by the time he took off his pajamas-even Reagan, and that is saying a lot.

Robby and the boys took a load to the car while everyone else headed to the car. If we can get by without a cart, that is always nice. Yesterday, Robby was bringing a cart to the car to unload when it started to roll away. He quickly grabbed it and off rolled a wheel. He took it back and returned with another cart. As he was pulling it over a curb, the top part came off. He was able to shove it back together and return it, at least, in tact. Needless to say, it is probably best that we didn’t use a cart from this hotel.

After we had our breakfast, we went back to the room for a bit and then were back on the road. Today’s drive was scheduled to be about 7 hours. While still in town, we stopped at Walmart for an assorted list of goodies-pull ups (Whitman uses them at night and is usually dry so I didn’t bring many, but going to bed so late has caused him to go through more than I had planned), tortilla chips, pringles (easy to store), salsa, cheese, turkey and shoes for Graham (his were fine when we left the house but the sole is now hanging off, so these should at least get him by a few more days.)

Before we entered into Oregon, Robby checked Nonna and Pops in for their flight tomorrow. Our first stop of the morning was at the Oregon welcome center. Oregon marks off another state of Graham, Campbell, Keaton and Whitman. We took a picture at the visitor’s center and then found a few things to try to do during the day.

We stopped at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It was a neat little place. Campbell found a bingo card of things to find in the museum so her and Reagan went to town on that. Whitman found a hands on room and was delighted to pretend to pack a wagon and walk on the Oregon trail.

We watched a film before we left, but the highlight was probably climbing on the covered wagons near the parking lot. We then went back to the interstate and pressed on. The visitor’s center suggested a fish hatchery, so that was our next goal.

I made lunches in the car while everyone listened to a podcast about the Oregon Trail. Sometimes my podcasts are interesting. This one was, I thought, but at least 4 of the kids fell asleep during it.

We stopped once for gas, then soon afterwards for a potty stop. In Oregon, you can’t pump your own gas which is always odd to us. Actually, you can’t start your own gas, you can stop it though.

We did text the kids dentist, because Robby’s tooth is bothering him again. He has had problems with it for almost a year despite a new crown. Their dentist was quick to call back telling Robby what to do and even prescribed him some meds. So if you happen to need a great dentist recommendation, I certainly have one for you.

The goal was to make it to the fish hatchery by closing time at 5. The kids passed the time by watching a movie, playing on their ipads and eating snack after snack. Robby and I listened to a few podcasts and studied the atlas. The drive was absolutely gorgeous with the Columbia River Gorge right beside us for most of the route.

We made it to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery by 5 and saw the sign said open until dusk. We didn’t have to rush after all. The grounds were gorgeous; there were flowers everywhere. We waked around and saw Herman, a 10 foot large, 450 pound, 70 year old sturgeon. There were ponds full of rainbow trout.

It was a nice chance to stretch our legs for a bit until we loaded back up again. We then just have about 10 minutes until our next destination, Multnomah Falls.We had 3 GPSs all talking to us and all of them were telling us different directions. Thankfully, the signs were clear and the parking lot was just right off the road.

The Multnomah Falls is a double waterfall. Between the first and second waterfalls is a beautiful bridge and Robby and I remember walking across. Unfortunately, a fire last year has caused their trail to become unstable so you can not go up to the bridge right now. Without the bridge, we weren’t there as long as we would have if we climbed the trail so we left an hour ahead of the scheduled time on the marker board that I scribbled out earlier.

The Vista House was right down the road. It is a beautiful octagon building at the top of the Colombia River Gorge. It had amazing views on all directions. The road to the top was quite a climb. We walked around the viewpoint areas, and then climbed back in the car to go and find supper.

We passed out drinks to everyone before we even made it to the interstate. It wasn’t long after that we stopped for our first fast food stop of the trip. We ate at McDonalds. The weather was nice, yet a bit chilly, so we ate outside.

Voodoo Doughnuts was our next stop. It took a bit of time to find a parking spot in the busy city. We walked to the doughnut place and introduced the kids to many types of people. Gracious me! We did give the “this is a big city, stay near us” speech when we left the car. Now, Robby and I never let on that big cities make us a bit nervous, but my Graham is a nervous wreck. He walked right by me, asking if Alaska would be busy cities like this, he was ready to leave as soon as we could and pushed his way back into the car.

It was a pleasant evening, and there was definitely lots to see. There wasn’t a line at Voodoo so we were able to carefully pick out our doughnuts. Campbell had a hard time deciding and then finally picked “cock and balls.” We quickly vetoed her pick and urged her to pick the one that was made similarly but was in the shape of a doughnut and not a male’s anatomy.

Whitman wanted the gay pride doughnut, but opted for the plain one when Robby told him that plain one was the best. After we all picked our non-obscene doughnuts, we found a spot to eat on the picnic tables out front. The doughnuts were excellent. We bought the ones that were not cake filled so they were like glazed Krispy kreme with all kinds of crazy, rich toppings.

We finished the doughnuts and then walked back to the car. It took us a bit to get to Walgreens to pick up Robby’s medicine. He stocked up on some tylenol and such as well since he was there. He started his prescription meds tonight, but his tooth/jaw actually has fever in it tonight. Hopefully, the meds and steady tylenol/aspirin will keep it at bay for a few more weeks.

Checking in was easy tonight, and we didn’t destroy any carts along the way. The laundry was open so we again did a load of laundry. There is nothing better than having all clean clothes, even on vacation.

Once the laundry was done, it was bedtime. Everyone is excited about seeing Nonna and Pops tomorrow.

Current Dennie Kid State Count (May 18, 2018):

Reagan-needs Alaska
Anderson-needs Alaska
Graham-needs Alaska, Washington
Campbell-needs Alaska, Washington
Keaton-needs Alaska, Washington
Whitman-needs Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Washington

All 50 Road Trip-May 17, 2018, Day 6

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Last night, we did our laundry which worked out perfectly. Robby brought it back during the movie. I was barely able to finish putting everything back where it belonged when the movie ended. Everyone went to bed at a very decent time, it was quite possibly the earliest that Robby and I had been to sleep.

Robby and I were awake before 7. We got ourselves ready, and then the boys came down and started their breakfast. Whitman and Campbell were on the pull out couch in the living room. When Whitman stirred his first words were, “turn off the lights.” Anderson were quick to point out that there were no
lights on, it was just the sun shining in all of the windows.

Everyone had breakfast-leftover doughnuts and orange juice from yesterday, poptarts brought from home, and leftover ice cream sandwiches from yesterday. We straightened up the little cabin and then loaded the car. Robby was checking out right at 8, and soon we were on the raod towards Idaho.

We thought this was a 7 hour day but were surprised to see that it was just 5 hours. Tomorrow is the 7 hour day. The itinerary says 6 hours 55 minutes for tomorrow so the kids were relieved that it was not 7 hours tomorrow.

It didn’t take too long for us to cross into the border of Idaho. We jumped out for Campbell, Graham, Keaton and Whitman to take their state pictures. The states needed to visit is dwindling down for my crew. Robby had hoped to get Reagan to all 50 by the time that she was 10. Anderson is 11 so he missed the by 10 years old mark twice, but I still think we have been pretty successful since Whitman is only 5.

It rained for a few minutes on us but soon turned clear again. We turned on a movie, and the car was silent for a bit since the kids are all using headphones to listen to the movie. I drove us to Crater of the Moon National Monument. Even though we stopped once on the way for a potty stop, I was glad to get there to use the restroom again.

We watched the neat little video in the Visitor's Center and even grabbed Jr. Ranger books to work on at home. Then we headed around the park loop road. There is some construction so the loop wasn’t actually a loop and took a while. It is pretty amazing since the landscape is full of lava rocks-just like what Hawaii is going to look like when their volcano is finished erupting.

The first stop was at a splatter cone. We climbed up to the top of the cones and looked inside. Next we ventured on down the one way road to the Indian tunnel area. We had our picnic lunch there. The boys threw the ball around, and we pretty much finished off most of our picnic stuff.

Then we took a little walk on the trail. We didn’t really know what we were getting into except that it was .8 miles long. The trail had some lava tubes and caves. At the end of the trail, it stopped at a cave. The sign said that you could go down into the cave and crawl out a small opening.

Well, the next thing I knew, I was going down into the cave. Reagan and I switched off helping Whitman and Keaton. Keaton didn’t need too much help towards the end. Whitman used lots of self-talk to encourage himself while climbing over the rocks. It was quite a bit of climbing, and there were a few times that I wasn’t quite sure we were going in the right direction. I thought about leaving bread crumbs so we could find our way out.

The trail was 800 feet long and we were 50 feet underground. There were huge openings so most of it was bright. However, there were a few spots where it became dark. Graham told me to use my flashlight, but my phone was in the car. I guess I have gotten out of the habit of carrying it since it hasn’t worked really in a few days. The car keys were in my pocket, and they were the only things I was concerned about. I would take about two steps and then reach down to check if they were there.

I was thankful when we finally found our way out of the cave. I will say that I did highly doubt Robby’s spelunking skills. I was super concerned that we were going to have to return to our car back through that same trail. It was a smaller opening but really cool to climb out. Once we made it out of the cave, then we had to traverse rocky landscape, not a trail, while following the poles back to the trail.

This proved to be easier than walking in the cave but still difficult. You would be on some rocks and then beside you, there would be a 5 foot drop off. Whitman’s name was said at least a zillion times, “get Whitman,” “Whitman, freeze,” “hold Whitman’s hand,” “get Whitman.” He did good and is careful, but he is just a 5 year old boy.

Robby and I were remembering when we went to the Grand Canyon in 2013. Graham would have been about 5, and we felt the same way. He thought he could do anything, but seeing him tumbling into the canyon was all we could imagine. We even walked a few trails on the North Rim, Robby would have a death grip on Whitman and Anderson’s hands. Honestly, we probably should still have a death grip on Graham’s hand. Instead, he and Anderson were yards in front of us after we emerged from the cave.

The boys loved every bit of the trail. Me, not so much. Kidding, it really was fun. Last night, after walking on the trail that was a few miles long, Whitman was asleep before we even left the room after tucking him in. I am sure that he will be again tonight. I might be too!

When we left the cave area, we headed back to the visitor’s center to use a real restroom. We had to wait for a pretty long time because of the road construction. We pottied at the exit of the park, and then were on the road again.

It was a long drive to our next stop in Twin Falls I did see miles and miles of some crop growing. I would have to assume that it was potatoes. I actually think that it should be a law that all farmers have to put a sign telling what crop they are growing.

In Twin Falls, Idaho there is Shoshone Falls. Robby and I went there years and years ago. When we were there, the Shoshone Falls, also called the Niagara of the West, was just a trickle. It was almost enough to ask for our money back, if it had not just been 3 dollars.

This time, however, the falls were roaring and were incredibly impressive. It was nice to stretch our legs as we walked around the falls, and even nicer to find that they had real bathrooms there and not just the porta potties that were lining the parking lot. It is the little things in life. They were actually having their first laser light show at the falls tonight, but since it was just 5 and we had 2 hours left to go, we pressed on.

I passed out a snack, and then we stopped at a gas station for a bit more gas. Once we were back on the main road, we began another game of bingo. Graham won the first round of bingo and picked some candy from the bag. Reagan, Keaton, and Graham all won the big rounds of bingo winning a special prize-sit anywhere in the car for an hour, pick the next fast food restaurant, and one other really special prize that I certainly can’t remember right now.

By 7ish, we pulled into Boise. I had found a restaurant that had been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The food was fine but the dessert was really neat. Since we are in Idaho, we had to have the dessert. It was an Idaho potato sundae. I thought it was a real potato at first with ice cream on top. Instead, it was ice cream shaped like a potato covered in cocoa powder. It was really neat but of course with 8 spoons, it was gone in seconds.

The next stop was the best of the day. It was just the blue Boise state football field. What made it the best stop was how the picture of the boys were gotten. The only way to see the field was to look over a 8 foot chain link fence. Robby just pulled the car up and told the boys to climb on the top.

You would have thought that they would have enjoyed standing on the very top of the car, but they were scared silly. It was great. You can see on their pictures that they are a bit terrified. They had to take turns taking pictures of each other while on the top of the van. Robby was on one side, and I was on the other ready to catch a falling Dennie boy. It was quite funny watching them.

The next stop was the capitol building. There wasn’t many folks out and about at 9, but the sun was still shining. We climbed the steps a few times, and then ran back to the car to drive the short drive to our hotel.

We checked in and despite not planning on doing the laundry, we ended up doing laundry. With 8 of us, it is just so much easier to do a small load every day rather than trying to do huge loads. We had a sip of coke and watched Chopped while we waited on the laundry to finish. I folded it and then the kids were able to put it in their bags.

Tomorrow is a longer car day, but it is interstate and we have a few less stops. Hopefully, we can find some neat things to do!

Current Dennie Kid State Count (May 17, 2018):

Reagan-needs Alaska
Anderson-needs Alaska
Graham-needs Alaska, Oregon, Washington
Campbell-needs Alaska, Oregon, Washington
Keaton-needs Alaska, Oregon, Washington
Whitman-needs Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington

All 50 Road Trip-May 16, 2018, Day 5



We all slept incredible wonderful last night, except after staying up until midnight (us and the kids) you would have thought that everyone would have slept later than 7:30. We did not. This cabin is full of windows, and it quickly became exceptionally bright. This morning I briefly thought about putting on my sun glasses while sitting at the kitchen table.

Robby and Anderson ran to the little store nearby to pick up dougnuts for breakfast along with some hot pockets for supper. We had stopped at the store yesterday for a potty stop and were surprised that the prices were normal Little Rock-ish prices. Robby also did buy 2 more loaves of bread making that 5 loaves of bread so far on the trip.

After breakfast, Robby walked to the offiice area to do a bit of computing. This not having any cell service/internet is just a little odd. The last trip that I remember really not having internet was at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Robby had to walk a ways each night to post the blog.

That is where we also moved large furniture in front of the door just in case any of the kids decided to start sleep walking. We could see the edge of the canyon from our front porch of that little cabin.

Last night Whitman really wanted to sleep upstairs with the boys in the loft except we were worried that he would try to come down the crazy steep steps in the middle of the night. Campbell had fallen down them yesterday so after that I became the steps police.

On each trip, we always say that we need a bit of downtime every once ina while. Today was a bit of slower morning for us which was nice. We didn’t leave the cabin until 10 which was very nice. We drove straight to Grand Tetons National Park and stopped at the sign to take a picture.

The next stop was at the Visitor’s Center. The kids had to work on their Jr. Ranger books for a little bit. Unfortunatley, their movie was not working so we weren’t able to watch it. The boys especially love watching movies at visitor’s centers.

When we left the Visitor’s Center, we walked around Jenny Lake for a bit. It is one of the most beautiful spots ever. The water is ice cold and the kids enjoyed putting their hands in. Well, their hands led to their feet and their feet led to just plain craziness.

Robby decided to have a contest to see who could keep their feet in the icy cold water the longest. He was filming it and I had my camera in my hand. He counted down and everyone took a step into the water. Keaton and Reagan stopped there. Graham and Whitman did not stop. They kept walking and walking. Graham is tall and can swim though he was wearing his clothes.

Whitman, however, is not tall and can not swim! And he just kept walking deeping into the water. This happened over probably 8 seconds. Whitman just kept walking deeper! Robby started screaming “Get him, get him!” and I was hollering, “Get your brother.”

Finally, Graham clued in to what was happening and headed over to Whitman who was still walking. When Whitman saw Graham running towards him, he took off running back towards the shore. This madness with Graham chasing Whitman and Whitman running from him, probably caused Whitman to be the most drenched since his chest never got into the water. However, the boys was completely drenched! Soaked with ice cold water.

It all took 8 seconds, but Robby did explain that Whitman was going to have to drown before he got in that water. We still aren’t sure what Whitman thought he was doing or thought everyone else was doing. It wasn’t too funny at the time but by the time I wrung out Whitman’s clothes to at least get him back to the car before hypothermia set in, it began to be pretty funny. He was never in any real danger but gracious me.

Walking around with a soaked little boy didn’t slow us down much. On our way to the car, we took plenty of pictures and the first back picture of the trip. Then we changed Whitman before heading to find a picnic spot. On the way today, we have been listening to a podcast on Yellowstone erupting and another one about a man being lost in Yellowstone.

This was probably the most perfect weather for our picnic so far. The kids played wiht the football and a little bit with the snow that was everywhere on the ground. After eating, we headed off on a trail. We walked on the Leigh Lake Trail. First we made it to String Lake which was beautiful.

We almost turned around there because we had to walk over snow and mud, but kept going. We eventually made it to the most beautiful spot. There was a bridge over the water and of course we took a few pictures there. It was only a tiny bit more to Leigh Lake.

It was a gorgeous hike and I would love to have a little cabin there. Now, we did hear some thunder and that helped to speed up our hike back to the car. From there, we went back to the Visitor’s Center for the kids to receive their Jr. Ranger badges.

Then I drove on down to Jackson. We stopped at the square to take a few pictures of the antler arches and as we were there, it started raining. We still ran to touch every antler arch before running back to the car.

Once in the car, we sat there for a bit waiting on the rain to stop while Robby did some work. ...After sitting in the car waiting for the rain to pass, we headed down the street. For a very long time, Robby and I have wanted to do one of those old timey picture things. After our initial sticker shock, Robby decided that it was still worth it. 

I picked out that we wanted to be cowboys and Western type people instead of saloon girls. The ladies helped the girls and I put on our dresses first. Reagan opted for a cowgirl instead of wearing a fancy dress. Soon the boys were putting on the cowboy clothes.

The kids were kind of funny in that no one asked what we were doing, they just did what the ladies said without complaints. Now, Whitman was a true mess. He talked the entire time. He chatted with the workers and made jokes. It was hysterical. I don't know if I have ever seen him act quite like that. Thankfully, he wasn't embarrassing, though his brothers and sisters thought so, he was just plain funny.

It took along time to dress us and put our props on. Then the pictures took just a bit. She did pictures of all of the kids individually which were wonderful, but we only were able to pick two so we opted for one of the group and one of just the kids. 

The pictures are really good and when we get home, Robby will be able to scan them so my blog readers will be able to see them. I wouldn't be surprised if those pictures end up on the Christmas card. Afterwards, we headed to Starbucks to use the bathroom. Robby bought some hot chocolate and apple cider which we drank while we waited on the pictures to load.

Then we headed back to the cabin to explore the grounds for just a bit. We already have supper there waiting on us-leftover pizza along with the Hot Pockets they bought this morning. The plan is to start laundry after our walk. Hopefully, the machines will be empty. More to come later on the blog...

All 50 Road Trip-May 15, 2018, Day 4



It was after 1 when both loads of laundry were dry. I sorted things back by outfits and put them neatly in zip lock bags. Then by that time, I was tired so I just shoved those zip lock bags into their backpacks. Since they weren’t all nice and neat then it did make a bit more difficult to store all of the bags this morning under the seats, but we were able to fit them in finally.

I thought for a few minutes that I would not be able to go to sleep last night, but when I did go to sleep I didn’t wake up at all. We all started stirring around 7. When Robby looked down to check on Whitman, he couldn’t see him until he looked in bed with Campbell and Reagan. Later when he woke up, he told me that he climbed in bed with Campbell because he thought that shew as me! Soon after getting ready, we all headed to breakfast. Today they had cinnamon roll waffles which were very good. So far all of these hotels have had chocolate chips for oatmeal, I guess. My crew has found them and gone to town on them.

Robby took some kids to help with the ice chest while the others helped me load the cart. Soon we were on the road headed towards our hotel in Jackson. I had only 2 stops on the road to Jackson. One was an ice cream place that we would pass around 9 which we deemed too early for ice cream.

We weren’t too sure exactly where we would end up today. Our goal was to get to Yellowstone and hopefully do the bottom half of the park loop today or tomorrow. There was much conversation about when would be the best to do this so we also had time to enjoy the cabin and most importantly, do laundry not at 1 in the morning.

We arrived at our KOA cabins a little bit before noon. We didn’t think that we could get in, but Robby tried anyway. Our cabin was ready so we ran in to unpack and explore. Everyone claimed their spots and there is plenty of room for at least 2 more folks.

It would be the perfect tiny home-there is a kitchen area, a pull out couch, a bedroom, bathroom, one room with a loft and queen bed underneath and then a loft with a double and twin mattresses. It is pretty quaint and just how I remember them being a few years ago when we stayed in them,

Soon we were back on the road headed to Yellowstone. We drove through Jackson and remembered to take our Red Box back, yet we forgot one other important thing! More on that later. The plan is to go to Jenny Lake and the Grand Tetons tomorrow.

We did stop one to take a picture of the Grand Tetons since we didn’t want to risk it tomorrow. The last time we were here, it was cloudy and our Grand Teton pictures are just of clouds. It is amazing how much snow is up here still. The kids have enjoyed walking through it each time we stop for a picture or even touching some of it! The lakes are even partially frozen, yet we are comfortable in shorts.

Once in Yellowstone, we took a picture stop at the entrance and then headed to the West Thumb basin. Keaton was thrilled when we stopped there since she had to use the restroom. We all took advantage of hem even though they were porta pettish.

It was pretty impressive watching the water boil and the mud pots shoot mud in the air. We weren’t there too long because we needed to move on since we had lots to see today. We were about 30 milks to our next stop when Robby remembered what he had forgotten-GAS!

Since we didn’t have any cell service, I went scrambling through all of the literature that we had received trying to find where the closest gas station was. We knew then that we would probably have to pay 5 bucks a gallon, but Robby said he would happily pay whatever!

Next up was a quick stroll around the Mud Volcano area. We weren’t going to stop but how could you pass it up. We could smell the Sulphur when we were still in the car, It was foul! We read a book lately about Mt. St. Helens erupting and it talked extensively about the smell of Sulphur before a volcano exploded. Smelling the Sulphur caused lots of questions and concerns. Graham was ready for us to get out of there!

Around this time, I made and passed out sandwiches in the car. It is always a fairly challenging! There was a Nutella sandwich, peanut butter one, ham and cheese, just a cheese and two turkeys and cheeses. Then I made Robby and my sandwiches. Of course by the time, I had put the first bite in my mouth, everyone was asking for seconds. I ate first and then passed out seconds.

We began seeing buffalo around this area. We passed one walking along the side of the road and quite a few more. Hopefully, we will see many more when we get to Custer State Park. While taking a video, Campbell narrated that we just saw wildlife that were out of their cages. Now, since we didn’t have cell service, we weren’t able to listen to my podcasts about Yellowstone. Maybe some of them would have answered my questions about this amazing place or even helped Campbell understand the idea behind wildlife not having cages.

We saw an artic fox or a wolf walking along the snow in one area. The animal walked right along with us. I spent most of my time watching the car in front of me. One man opened his door and got out of his car. Then he saw the animal (wolf or fox) and jumped back in his car!  I laughed loud enough that Robby was afraid that the man could hear me! He couldn’t though, since he was back in his car!

Robby held his breath until we made it to Canyon Village. We had over 30 miles of gas to spare but that wouldn’t have been enough to make it to the next gas station though. It was a bit above average price but not horrible.

We then back tracked just 3 miles to see the Grand Canyon of the West. It was beautiful and would have been even better if I could have gotten a back picture. There just wasn’t a good spot for all of us to sit safely!

It was a beautiful stop. The water was flowing down the falls so fast that there was a cloud of steam over the falls. Anderson was pretty impressed that we could hear the rapids from high above. It was a great stop and afterwards, we had a snack.

The kids spent a lot of time looking out of the windows for wildlife. Robby told them that if we saw a moose, he would pay them each 10 dollars. This is our 3rd Yellowstone visit and have yet to see a moose so he felt fairly confident about his bet.

From the Grand Canyon area we hurried on to Old Faithful. One of the times that I had internet service, I was able to tell when the next eruption was. We had time to grab our jackets and use the restroom before grabbing a spot on the benches.

We waited with all of the other people for about 20 minutes for Old Faithful to erupt. It is pretty neat to see it. The kids were all impressed with the geyser. Whitman acted like it was the best thing that he had ever seen.

From there we headed towards the cafeteria but opted for ice cream. We ate in the lodge area which Reagan though was so incredible. A few minutes later, when we walked through Old Faithful Lodge she was in awe. It is a wonderful place.

Reagan was quick to point out that we should definitely come back. Graham certainly agreed and began suggesting ways and trips for us to come back here. Of course, walking around the lodge just made Robby and I bit disappointed that we weren’t staying there this time. On my bucket list, I intend to go back and stay for 4 or 5 days at Old Faithful Lodge.

We found the last room that we stayed in and even showed the kids the communal bathrooms. That didn’t deter their plan to come back. Wonder if we could convince them to come here next year instead of Disney. Anderson and Reagan have been to the Wilderness Lodge at Disney which is like Old Faithful but they were itty bitty and don’t remember this. Now, Graham, Reagan and Anderson all do remember Old Faithful Lodge from last time. Campbell and Keaton were too little, and this is all a first for Whitman.

It was still light at 8:00 when we got on the road back to the hotel. It is nice since it stays light a long time. I passed out our second meal of the day as we drove out of the park-cheese, crackers and sausage. It was a winner too and everyone asked for seconds though this time I refused since we planned on buying a snack somewhere before the hotel.

We did buy pizza and cinnamon sticks way too late to be eating and even way too late to be out an about (around 10). It was so nice that we were already checked back in the cabin and things were semi unloaded for the car. They were unloaded but still unorganized. This place is twice as big as a hotel but I feel twice as crowded. There are bags and shoes and coats everywhere. It is nice to spread out though!

We ate our pizza and cinnamon sticks once we made it back to the cabin, and then the kids started on their showers. They ran through the showers fairly quickly and soon it was time for bed for them. I worked on some of the blog today and the rest of it before the kids went to bed, but Robby still had to post the blog and the pictures. Since the internet is spotty here, he had to go to the office area to do all of our evening computer work!

Same as Yesterday:
Current Dennie Kid State Count (May 15, 2018):
Reagan-needs Alaska
Anderson-needs Alaska
Graham-needs Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Campbell-needs Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Keaton-needs Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington

Whitman-needs Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington