Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Last Stop

We drove through Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. I would love to tell you all about those states, except I mostly slept through it all. I'm like a baby that way: put me in a car, and I end up with my head tilted back and mouth wide open. Many a person has taken a picture of me like that, hoping to blackmail me or something. Hey, I freely admit that I have a lot of cavities in my mouth.

In my grogginess, I did notice that New Mexicans really like their Harley Davidson's. And spicy Mexican food (is there any other kind?). But not their helmets and apparently their lives. They must also like the strange weather combination of 100 degree heat with lightning and rain. The kids watched the lightning, entranced with natural fireworks which don't emit huge quantities of sulfates and nitric oxides into our already smog-filled air every single night.

But enough about Disneyland.

After a whole lot of dead bugs on the windshield and chicken nuggets, we were there.

It was more gorgeous than I remembered. Probably because this time there were four additional little gorgeous things added to the scenery (one not pictured).
My big monkey took his two little monkeys climbing (can you see them?) while I sat with the little ones staring at the tourists.
There were a ton of tourists. Traveling through Utah and Colorado, I had forgotten what they look like. Really, what gave them away, besides their foreign yabbering or saris, were their license plates. We now have an official checklist of license plates seen, sort of like how birdwatchers check off birds that they've seen, but only if the birds are in their natural habitat and not in a zoo.

And here I always thought those birdwatching lists were lame.

The license plate watching kept the kids occupied and enthused for a long time.The furthest one we saw was from Canada.

We decided to stay inside the park so that we would waste no time checking out more of the Canyon the next morning. We took the last room available, which was smaller than my old dorm room. With only 1 bed. For all 6 of us.

Luckily, the kids are still short, so we turned everyone sideways. The next morning, the 3 older kids were asleep all squished together while the baby was sleeping horizontally.

No sympathy from me, though. At least they got a bed.
Ironically, we paid twice as much for this hotel room as we did for any of the suites we stayed in with a separate room and two beds.
After waving good-bye to all the dead animal heads in the hotel lobby and eating exactly 3 bites of breakfast each, the kids set off for more hiking. Fortunately for me Unfortunately, the baby was still cranky from his cold and refused to walk, so the two of us set out for bus rides instead.

There were lots of good views to be seen from the bus. And really, one vista is pretty much the same as another.
Good-bye, breathtaking Grand Canyon. We had fun looking at you and your license plates. People sure do come from all over to check you out. Don't blame them, but thank goodness we didn't have to travel from, say, Canada. We enjoyed the hiking, at least I think the husband and kids did. Me and the baby enjoyed your bus rides. Thank you so very much for installing air conditioning on the buses, unlike that other park Zion. We might be back sometime this year, annual pass and all. We'll even bring a grandma or friend, we liked you that much.

Thanks for entertaining the kids. And for making us all think about God a little more.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Good-bye Colorado

Thanks to my animal-crazed son, no trip to a city is complete without a visit to the zoo.
Baby Boy was better. He didn't throw up at least but refused to be happy for the camera or anyone. Almost two weeks later, he still hasn't recovered from the last part.
Good-bye, Denver Zoo. You had some cool animals, especially in your tropical section. Your gorilla exhibit was very nice too, because it allowed them to get really up close and personal with us. Gotta work on your cat exhibits, though, because everyone loves big cats. At least you didn't have too many flamingos, because they really stink up the place.

After the zoo, we packed up and headed out of Denver. We drove around Colorado Springs and stopped by Garden of the Gods, I think. Whatever, it was nice but nowhere god-like, basically just a pile of red rocks.
That was our last stop in Colorado.

Good-bye, Colorado. You're a beautiful state, almost as beautiful as California. Your people reminded me of us, in that you were all very outdoorsy and hip. You're probably more hip than us, if all the tattoos are any indication. Judging by all the different restaurants near us, you're an eclectic bunch with sophisticated tastes. Not quite as diverse as California but then who is. I would love to visit you again. Preferably during the winter to check out your ski resorts. Preferably on a plane.

But first, please take care of your rodent problem.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Downtown Denver

By our second day in Denver, my fever was gone and the kids were no longer entertained by Squeaker, so we decided to venture out. Of course, right before we left, the baby came down with the same bug that had hit everyone else and threw up.

Two hours later, we finally left the hotel and headed downtown. By that time, tours for the US Mint were all filled up, so we decided to go across the street to the state capitol instead. Especially since it stood out against everything else, with its gaudy golden dome.
We caught their last tour of the day, with a lovely young woman who was actually amused by all the kids' antics and questions (did someone paint the roof gold? why didn't they paint the rest of the building gold? can I go up to touch the gold?...) I thought the tour might be a little boring for the kids, but they did amazingly well and listened attentively to our guide. If I had to fill out homeschooling paperwork for this trip, it would go under history, government, and architecture. Not bad for an hour tour.

The best part of the visit was all the photos I got to take.

The tour guide pointed out the fancy chandeliers in the Senate and Representative rooms, about how they require around 100 bulbs each and 2 straight months of cleaning every year. A good example of government spending and why our budget is so messed up.
And that was just a sampling from inside the building. Then we wandered around the park outside and checked out the other fancy buildings in the area.
My son got tired of smiling for the pictures and put a sticker on his lips instead. By this time, the kids would just run randomly to any statue or monument and stand there waiting for me to take their picture.
They are so well-trained that way.
This odd looking piece of art was across the street in front of the Denver Library. There it sat, surrounded by classic looking buildings with columns and Greek architecture. So of course we had to pose with it.
Are you done taking pictures yet? It's hot and bright, and I'm tired and thirsty and hungry.

The baby was unable to participate in anything. He slept in the stroller in this position the entire time, oblivious to even the heat.
Then, just as we were getting in the car, he threw up again.

Travel tip: Do not take a sick child out in the heat.

Travel tip: Do not go on vacation with kids.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hello Colorado

After Zion, we had intended to stop by Bryce Canyon and maybe Arches, but time ran short, what a surprise, so we had to skip them and drive straight to Denver. We drove through the entire state of Utah, pretty much, except for the big cities. Because of the landscape and possibly the insane heat, there weren't a lot of towns to drive through. We managed to find a McDonald's that was apparently the hot spot of a small town. At this point, even the kids were sick of McDonald's.

By nightfall, we had reached Colorado and were driving through the mountains near Vail and Aspen. Unfortunately, the husband finally succumbed to exhaustion from driving, so I had to take over that windy stretch of road. There is no worse driving condition for me than driving in pitch-blackness or on windy roads. Just my luck, I was stuck with both (the husband fell asleep just before we reached the first curve). So that slowed us down a lot.

On the plus side, the adrenalin coursing through my body cleared my sinuses right up. I would see a curve up ahead, and less than two seconds later, my sinuses would clear. Considering that hormones are secreted in unbelievably tiny amounts, like parts per trillions, and that it must take time for the cells to receive the hormone and react in cascade fashion, and yet my body was ready to react in 2 seconds, the human body is really an amazing thing. Even an old one that is infected with viruses.

I won't tell you what time we finally made it to Denver because then I would get lots of hate comments, mostly from my sisters and moms, about what inept parents we are for dragging our kids around at such an ungodly hour. Especially with one kid being sick. And none of the kids with a footrest, so their feet might swell. Also, with only 2 blankets, even though it was 91 degrees out. At night.
The point is, we did eventually arrive in Denver and check into our hotel. The clerk must've been mad at us for waking her up, because she stuck us in a room with a broken sofa bed and only one towel. We were too tired to care, so the husband threw the sofa bed mattress on the ground and promptly fell asleep.

When we woke up, the husband had gone to his computer training, so we unpacked a bit and watched some TV, which is always a treat for the kids, because they (imagine a whiny 6 year old voice) "never get to watch TV."

Later, we moved to another room, with a functional sofa bed and more towels. After all that moving and unpacking with my fever still, I passed out on the bed. While I was asleep, my son spotted a mouse running around the room and chased it under the bed. "Squeaker" entertained them for quite awhile.

We didn't move to another room, because I figured there were probably mice running throughout the hotel. Also, I was too lazy tired to move again. So I mostly kept to the bed and had the kids stomp around the room right before I had to step foot on the floor. Worked for me.

Thus, our first day in Denver came and went, mostly in our hotel room. We didn't even go out till dinner. My first observation about Denverites was that they smoke more than Californians. The restaurants actually have a smoking section, and there are ash trays all over the place.

I would have two more days in Denver to make other such brilliant observations.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hello Zion!

On the first day of our trip, we drove. We drove some more. Then we stopped and let the kids run around. Then we forcibly strapped them all back in. Finally, we had to stop in Las Vegas to buy a DVD player. But not before we all melted in the parking lot.

Travel tip: Don't ever, ever, EVER go to Vegas in the summer. Even if it is free.

During all this excitement, my boy and I came down with the flu. My boy is challenging enough in good health, but crank his brain temperature up to 103, and he's the whiniest, moodiest, orneriest kid ever. Meanwhile, everything swirled around me as I lugged the baby around because he refused to walk on his own (the husband was busy hooking up the DVD player). I had just enough brainpower to wonder why in the world I always get sick on vacation. Last year, on our Vegas trip/cruise I was sick like this also. It could just be a coincidence. Or it could be because getting ready for a vacation is more taxing on my body than giving birth or even VBS followed by swimming.

Finally, after many chicken nuggets and naps, we arrived at our first destination.

If they look a tad sweaty and wilted, it's because this was the temperature. At 6 pm.

Travel tip: Don't ever go to Zion in the summer.

I'm always last in our group. I like being able to keep an eye on everyone. Also, I'm just slow that way.
Unanimously we decided to hike first to the Weeping Rock or Mountain which leaks water. There we drenched ourselves and jumped into the creek. The next day, we decided unanimously to hike there again, first thing. Who cared about the Patriarchs and the Great White Throne, we could have spent all day just under the Weeping Rock.
Have I mentioned how I love looking at my family world?
Especially when they turn around to wave.

Good-bye, Zion. You're a beauty, all right. You're what God was talking about when He said evidence of His creation is all around us. Hopefully we'll be back. Especially since we bought the annual pass, and we like to get our money's worth. But not during the summer. No sirree , we've learned that lesson. It was fun, except for us being sick. Thank goodness for drugs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the Road

I know you're just dying to hear about our time had the conference. And I will get to it eventually, right after I get home and stuff the knowledge back into my head review our notes.

We're on a road trip right now. We left immediately following the conference, even missed the closing keynote speech just to get a head start on our trip. Good thing we did because we ran late anyway.

I had my doubts about this trip in the beginning. This was the husband's idea, after he was asked to attend some computer training in Denver, on an all expense paid trip. He wanted to turn it into a weeklong family vacation, stopping at various sites along the way. After thinking about it for one second ( I or do I not want to spend 14+ hours in the car with four young kids all strapped in their carseats), I said,"Hell, no!"

I told him he should go on his own, because his job doesn't usually involve traveling, and besides, who in their right minds would turn down a free trip? The husband, that's who. He told me if we didn't go, that he wouldn't either. He would just wait for the training to come to LA because like I've said, every vendor and their mother comes through here. He just did not want to be away from us for that long (only 3 days). Maybe he was just manipulating me so that I would give in. I don't think so. The husband is a family man through and through. He's traveled alone before and realizes that you could be at the most beautiful location ever with every perk imaginable, and it would just not be the same without a loved one to share it with. While other men would have leaped for the chance to get away from a certain nagging reminding wife, unpredictably emotional daughters, a tantrum-y toddler, and a whiny impulsive son, this man wanted to come every night and tuck them in. Yup, I got a good one (definitely not of my own doing), and I ain't letting go.

Now that I've made my sisters retch, I can move on.

I was still not convinced we should go. In the mental fight of packing for 6 vs. free trip to places we've never been before, packing for 6 was winning by a landslide. Until I ran into a friend and chatted with her. Just so happened that she had one nephew with her but not the other one because the other nephew was a teenager who liked nothing better than to stay at home and playing video games. She remarked that even her nieces, upon hitting a particular age, just did not want to do extended family outings, although they used the time in front of a mirror instead of a video screen. I love how God sends the right people in the right circumstances at exactly the right time. Please keep it up, Lord! Because I am deaf and dumb.

That conversation was the clincher. I figured I should take advantage of the kids' total willingness and excitement about traveling with us, because who knows how long that would last. Carpe diem won again.

And that's why I found myself packing, packing, and more packing. Luckily I packed the thermometer and some medicine (or did I jinx us?) because we would need it right away on the first day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Baby Sister (Emphasis on the Baby)

This is my youngest sister. The one who used to stalk her crushees. The one I had to drag out of bed every morning in high school. The one who leaves all the bizarre comments, like your niece says meow. Today is her birthday. To commemmorate it, I offer two extremely rare pictures of her: her working, doing a chore. Even more shocking - twice in the same day! We never thought we'd see the day. Maybe marriage has changed her. Or maybe not, as these pictures were taken back in April.

Does planting a dead twig really count as work?

Why do I have to set the table? I already did something productive today!

P.S. She is looking for members to start up her new club,
Addicted to TV.

Happy Birthday, Baby Sis!