Road Trip 2013: Day 4, September 2, 2013

(click here for today's pictures)
Saying 'bye' to Hank and Sonia
We all slept wonderful last night-well, at least I did.  Sometime during the night, I was up to get Whitman a bottle and Campbell was fussing a tad.  I hoisted her up onto the bed and she soon found Robby and his pillow.  I think I slept some on the floor with Whitman but then crawled back into bed.  And there squeezed on one side of the king size bed was Robby and Campbell.  I debated for a good few minutes if I should pull Campbell back to the middle or if I should just spread out.  I just let you guess what I did.
Pretty early this morning, a thunderstorm came rolling through.  Hank had told us that
the thunder could be deafening here because the sound bounces off of the mountains.  And indeed it was a loud, loud thunderstorm.  Loud enough that Graham sat up and said “what is that noisy Daddy?”  It didn’t take long for all of us to fall peacefully back to sleep-I love sleeping in thunderstorms.
We woke up at 6 but it was 7 yesterdays time and 8 at home so it wasn’t that bad.  The kids moved pretty quickly because they were ready to go and see Hank and Sonia in the other room.  When Robby went to put up Keaton’s sleeping bag he saw where she had slept most of the night-under Sonia’s clothes.

After packing up our stuff we went to the kitchen for breakfast.  Sonia again out did herself and there was bacon, sausage, eggs, waffles, biscuits, more fruit than I had ever seen and orange juice.  My kids were in heaven.  Reagan ate at least a pound of bacon, Anderson devoured his waffles, Keaton loved her fruit and the next food event was probably Campbell and Graham’s favorite-they decorated cupcakes.

Sonia had made cupcakes and they put icing and sprinkles on them.  The kids loved this-icing and sprinkles were everywhere.  My favorite part of the morning was when Graham was headed back inside and tried to walk through the screen sliding door.  He just bounced off and was fine and probably didn’t find it has humorous as the rest of us.  

Soon though I told everyone that it was time to go and the kids almost revolted.  They wanted to stay with Hank and Sonia and I think they would have been happy if I would have left them.  When we were loading up, Anderson told Hank that he hoped to come back real soon.  

By the time we had left, Sonia had filled our van with toys and books for the kids, food and more food.  I think everyone has a new stuffed animal and there is a huge doggie purse that Reagan has claimed for herself.  It was a great visit. We ran by the gas station to fill up our ice chests and then we hit the road.  
It wasn’t too far before we made it to Saguaro National Park.  A bucket list of mine is to see all of the National Parks or really at least most of them.  The saguaro is the cactus you picture in your mind when I say tall cactus.  They are pretty neat plants-have accoridan like skin that opens and closes, birds make nests inside of them and then that nest becomes hard and doesn’t deteriorate when the cactus dies and then became a pan for Native Americans.  Also it flowers and has some type of fruit during certain seasons.  That fruit can be made in to jellies and jams.  Also the spine of the cactus is wood.  Sorry, more than you ever wanted to know.  It is a pretty neat cactus.

When we arrived at the visitor center, everyone climbed out and walked a little trail in front.  The kids took pictures with their Flat Stanleys and then we went inside.  The kids looked around without touching much, worked a puzzle and most of them even set for a short film on the cactus.  Reagan finally spent some of her money on a post card.  Now she has to decide who she is going to send it to.  After the visitor’s center, we drove around an 8 mile drive to see more of the saguaro cactus.  

Back in the car, we turned on Duck Dynasty, passed out some snacks, did a few coloring pages and tried to avoid all of the police out today.  Then we found the perfect stop to have some hot dogs for our Labor day celebration-Ikea!  Not only do I want to go to all of the National Parks, I would like to visit all of the IKEAs in the US.  Pretty lofty goal but I am up for it (though Robby’s wallet is not up for it).

We were not the only ones with that idea and it is hard to drop off 4 kids in the play place anyways. So today when the line for the play place was out the door, our kids quickly figured out that they would not be getting to play there.  That was fine with them because they were hungry and we found the hot dogs.  There are not many places that you can feed a family of 8 for 8 dollars but IKEA is one of them.  My friend had asked what our food budget was for a trip like this-with 8 for lunch and a picnic for supper-with prices like that we could travel forever.    

Then we walked around to pick a few things up (and as soon as we drove 3 miles, I remembered something else I wanted).  Oh yes, you were wondering why in the world we stopped to buy stuff if we are really just now embarking on our trip (14 days left on this little road trip).  And yes, the van was already filled to the brim with stuff.  Today after leaving Hank’s house with lots of loot and our trip to IKEA, we just decided to ship some stuff home.  That way Nonna and Pops won’t have to ride on the roof of the van (maybe just one of them but not both).

I bought Reagan a notebook for her birthday, 2 boxes of bandaids, a few collapsible bins, ziplock bags and probably a few other things that I can’t remember.  The kids were pretty perfect.  It was wall to wall people but everyone stuck close to us and deserved ice cream after we checked out.  Last time we were at IKEA we thought we could get by without buying Keaton ice cream, but we knew better this time.  I gave Whitman a few tastes of ice cream but he didn’t much care for it-probably supposed to start rice cereal before ice cream.  

Back in the car, we passed out the kindles and turned up our music and settled in for a 2 hour drive.  It rained off and on during our little trip-really nothing more than a few sprinkles here and there.  But when you can see storms from miles away and see exactly where the rain is falling far off, it is like you are trying to out run a storm.  There was one good gust of wind that caused the van to swerve pretty good-Robby went from no hands on the wheel to gripping the streering wheel tightly.  

We crossed into California and stopped to let the kids play at McDonalds.  They were a bit bummed that they couldn’t play at Ikea so we let them run off some energy there foregoing our hotel room picnic.  That means we will have to picnic twice tomorrow-well, that probably won’t happen.  The plan is to have our picnic at Joshua Tree National Park so we shall see if that works out.  It was crazy hot last time we were there and probably will be tomorrow too.  

By the time we left McDonalds, it was sprinkling on us again.  Robby was able to pull right up to the hotel side door.  We lucked out with another first floor room near the side of the building and laundry is even semi close by.  Robby ran the stuff into the room and I came with Whitman while he parked the car and unloaded the kids.  While they were on the way, I ran around this room like a crazy woman trying to get things in their spot for the night.  We brought in a few extra things so we could do a bit of rearranging.  I am sure you are tired of reading me talking about packing but for Robby and I packing and planning are some of the best parts of a trip.  When we get to the lest few legs of our journey, we have to decide and make a rough draft of next years road trip.  We have been planning this one for at least 16 months.  

We were able to do our packing while the kids watched a cooking show.  Reagan said that the show they were watching was like Cake Boss but they didn’t make cakes, they made stuff out of meat.  That sounded nasty enough that I didn’t even look at the tv to find out more.  Soon they all enjoyed one of their cupcakes that they had decorated this morning at Sonia’s house.  

Next up was bath time followed by working on their daily worksheets.  Each day they have to answer some questions/fill in some blanks in the morning and then at night, they have to draw a picture of their favorite thing, something they did, a favorite food from the day and write down a new word.  Today Anderson said that Saguaro National Park was his favorite.  Of course decorating cupcakes was Reagan’s favorite.  Campbell said that she liked the cactus.  And Graham drew the cutest picture of Hank and Sonia-two stick figures and one was crazy tall and one was crazy short-very good observation skills he has.

Then it was bedtime for the crew.  Keaton has a roomy closet tonight-actually it is just 2 year old size.  Whitman, who turned 5 months old today, is asleep (probably not for long) on the bed I am sitting on and the others are spread our across the room tonight.  This room even has a little couch area so we are really spread out but that is fine because tomorrow we only have around 100 miles so we do not have to wake up crazy early.

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