Friday, September 24, 2010

Sort of an Inn

Michael and Bryan sleeping in a storage closet off the bathroom at the Mission "Inn."

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Finally Found Something Michael Won't Try To Catch

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Not Your Everyday Daddy Long Legs!

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Christopher Feeling Carefree at Arches National Park

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No Vacancy

Because I am a planner by God's design, almost the entire trip has been planned ahead of time. Though we taught the kids the word "vagabond" during car-schooling, we actually have been on a well orchestrated journey rather than a follow the wind sort of trip. But after we hiked out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon by 10:30AM last Tuesday, we were ready to leave the canyon after peeling our clothes off and showering at the campground (actually at the same time as our three Hoosier friends, Steve Carr, Kurt Strueh, and Eric Scudder who were also hiking out of the canyon and showering at our campground--tiny, tiny world.)

We decided to move on to our next park which was Zion in Utah. Spontaneously again, we drove into Page, AZ which was on the way and took the Antelope Canyon tour that the Dulls raved about. Sure it WAS great, but at 7:00 at night our plan to "just grab a hotel" began to unravel when every place in Page was filled. No big deal. We'll just get a little closer to Zion and grab a hotel there. At this point, I had not even begun to have any anxiety. Camping places were no where to be found either and after hiking into and out of the Grand Canyon in 24 hours, I was hobbling rather than walking fluidly. By 8:30 we were given the news that "every place in town was filled...except maybe one." So we came in weakened by the hike and clearly no longer reasoning well when we fell victim to the panic of no where to sleep with four, now cranky boys. We paid $112 dollars for the privilege of staying at "The Mission Inn."

When we pulled in the parking lot Michael said, "Please tell me we're not staying here. This looks like a slum." Sure there was only one other mini van in the parking lot amidst the motorcycles and pick-up trucks, and the mini van couple had the same pained look on their face that we did as they hurridly ushered their kids into the building. The dad saw us and smiled, "Last room in town, huh?"

Once inside Christopher asked, "Are we sleeping in those twin beds?" While they were indeed double beds, they did seem small since the room was only large enough to hold the two beds and one broken end table. The 12 inch TV was mounted to the wall and screwed into a random sheet of plywood. Since I insisted that no one touch the bed spreads and keep shoes on at all times, it proved difficult to move around out of a single file line, so we had to smash by each other to get dressed for bed or move to the bathroom. The older boys slept on a set of sheets in a closet inside of the bathroom (picture already posted by Andy while he played with my blog this morning without asking.)

We survived the night with no sighting of pestilence (of course it was dark), but we did get someone else's wake-up call at 5:00AM which only served to remind us that we had paid over $100 for a room with no fitted sheets so they came off in the night, a pillow case with a monogram on it, and only enough hot water for one shower.

When the boys woke up, Bryan asked if the front desk might have a toothbrush for him since he couldn't find his after hiking. Andy said, "Sure they will. But it will be someone else's."

My favorite thing was Matthew's innocent heart when we left. Although surprised they weren't serving his continental breakfast in the morning, he still commented, "It's OK, I liked this place. It was fun."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Over the wall and feeling fine

-a black bear smelled our Chinese food that we reheated from Fresno and wandered around looking for HIS moo goo gai pan. The younger boys were 10 feet from the bear trapped on the other side of this river bed.

Death hot hot.

Yosemite's filth...notice the hands and eyebrow of sap.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hitting the Wall

Luckily we did not hit a literal wall, but instead we have struck the proverbial "Wall"of our trip. Andy and I kept saying, "I'm still having fun...aren't you?" and I was. The weather has been all but perfect; the kids have been moderately well behaved, and the plans have been moving along flawlessly--until...the San Fransico apartment. At first, we drove right by it since we were on a four lane divided road lined with questionable business establishments. But if you looked very carefully between the hardware store and the dry cleaners, you could see a chained door with a padlock that lead to the "apartment." While we searched for the key, the boys waited in the car 10 feet away while a metermaid wrote us a parking ticket! Nothing says welcome like TWO tickets totally over a hundred dollars.
We never did stay in the apartment and instead stayed at a motel downtown for one night less than we had planned. We were more than ready to leave the "Filthy CITY" (which the boys said with disgust every time we mentioned it. None of them will be drawn to the big cities that's for sure.) We had high hopes for the beauty and peace of Yosemite but as it turns was packed with a sea of humanity AND almost everywhere we went, a six inch high fine powder of dirt covered the ground. The kids would run around and a cloud of dust would float up and then settle on anything in its path. Allegedly I "yelled about dirt all the time" but I considered it encouraging them to stay clean. No such luck. I will have to post pictures of how bad it got. We kept saying, "This will be funny once we're clean."
Well, we cut two days off Yosemite and we are CLEAN. We are in Fresno, CA in a Hampton Inn with Pool and Laundry and will catch Sequoia National Park tomorrow and then ANDY has talked us into seeing Death Valley the next day. He was confused why I would not have planned it in the first place. I said, "It's called....
D e a t h Valley." So after four days of on-again off-again fun...we are OVER the wall and ready for the back end of the trip. Big trees tomorrow, blazing heat and sand on Wednesday, and Vegas on Thursday!!!!! Is that place even considered a city or more of a circus?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Photo highlights this week

Matthew does Crater Lake!

"Mom, they're not really that dirty.".

"You mean just wash them in here?"

Loved the Redwood Forest!

Sunset in Olympic National Park

Hiking in the Olympics

Mid-way up Mt. Rainier

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Nines

Tonight my internet access is brought to you compliments of the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon. I thought it would be funny to book a 5 star hotel in the midst of tent camping. When we were explaining to the kids a little about the hotel, Christopher said, "I don't get it. It doesn't have a pool AND it doesn't have a free breakfast? I'd rather have a four star hotel." For those who know me so well, I got it for $130 from Hotwire. Next time, I will get a Holiday Inn, with a pool, as a treat. It is pretty funny though to picture all of us showing up at valet parking, stumbling out of the minivan that we have been living out of for 22 days, unshowered for two days, sporting bulging backpacks, and all wearing the clothes we slept in because it was chilly this morning at Mount Rainier!
We left our cottage on the Puget Sound a few days ago and spent a day and night at Olympic National Park and then spent yesterday at Mount Rainier. We had been seeing the Raineir mountain looming in the distance for almost a week so it was exciting to see it up close. This morning it was foggy so we lost sight of the summit, but we stopped at Mount St. Helen's on the way here and we could see what was left of the summit of that mountain. We are STILL having fun though "car-schooling" has produced comments like,
"This is the worst trip I have ever been on, and I really thought that it was going to be fun!" (Matthew)
"I feel like Dad keeps manipulating the time so that we'll do more." (Michael)
"I still don't get it!" (Bryan)
"Actually, I was planning on starting that tomorrow..." (Christopher)
Just for fun....Google The Nines and then picture my four boys. Someone in the elevator with us said, "Are you guys staying here?"....(Stay tuned for a picture of Matthew cleaning his filthy feet in the granite sink in the bathroom.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Home Schooling

- What fun the boys have had in ENglish, music, and science class depicted above!

Clean Enough

We have been sleeping indoors now for four nights, so I have enough distance to write about the tent camping experience more thoroughly. The above picture is actually one of our two "one night" tents. These come out when we are in a site for only one night. We sleep three to a tent - that's six feet. COZY! I've learned to have the boys go to bed before I come in so that they can tuck their feet deep into their mummy bags and let the air clear before I retire for the night.
We are at a cottage now on the sound in the Olympia, Washington area for three nights. Christopher woke up yesterday singing a song he made up in honor of our deluxe accommodations:

"We're not in a tent we're not in a tent
We're not in a hotel
And we're not in a motel
Cause we're in a HOUSE...
Dad's not saying, "Shhhhh boys! Cause no one can hear us
Cause we are in a HOUSE!"

I won't include all the verses, but it did have a country twang to it and he was doing a little dance around the place.

Before I forget, I wanted to explain the new philosophy that Andy I have adopted. It's called, "Clean Enough." We have applied it to many situations including the following:

If a good, deep sniff fails to differentiate whether an article of clothing has been worn three or four days, it is clean enough.

If a spoon some other family member has used, was licked clean and then swirled in a cup of water, it is clean enough.

If a shirt has been smeared with foam hand soap at a gas station dispenser then rinsed in the sink and wrung out, it is clean enough.

If a cup has had the pine needles and rogue ant picked out of the bottom and shaken vigorously, it is clean enough.

If Matthew's feet have been scrubbed with a moist towelette until it is no longer moist, yet remain black, covering them with clean socks makes them clean enough!

If you are out of underwear, but still have a dry bathing suit, then you are clean enough.