Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Epic Journey Part 3

Look at this road. See how it curves? It does a couple of S shapes and there is no side of the road beyond here as it's pretty much straight down for a mile if you look on either side of the road. This is called the Hogs Backbone. It's between Escalante and Boulder UT. And I always have to complete my trips to Escalante by driving over it. (Tiffany this is our little secret that we weren't going to tell you until we took you over it.) There is another area on another road close to here that is even worse. It's called Hells backbone.

The next best part of this scenic Hwy 12 is Boulder mountain. My favorite time to drive over it is during the summer when all the Quaking Aspens have leaves. It is so beautiful the way the light flickers through the trees. The view from the mountain is amazing. (Kind of like the views up here in Alaska. All of you really need to come visit me. You really don't know what you are missing!)

We left Escalante and made the drive up to Ogden on the Sunday morning after the funeral. I had hoped to stay longer but as everyone was leaving it was kind of pointless. So the kids and I headed up to see their other Grandma (Paul's Mom). I had been talking with my parents previously and they had mentioned that the Mortician had said to them that funerals always come in 3, which I had heard before but really was hoping I wouldn't see now. No sooner did I get done talking with them than Paul called and said that his Mom's Aunt had just died. There was number 2. We didn't get to see Lois much the first couple of days as she was busy with the funeral, viewing, and cousins. I decided not to go and take the kids as they had just been through one funeral and 2 in less than a week is asking a bit much of a 3 and 4 year old. But the kids and I went to the Treehouse Museum in Ogden. They had some great new stuff- my favorite part- The cow that you could actually milk! It wasn't real but the udder for being fake gave a very realistic experience of milking the cow. Daniel's favorite of course was still the fire truck, and Reagan fell apart when we had to leave Beatrix Potter's cottage. Darn that missing camera!
After the funeral was over with Lois took us out to eat at Olive Garden which might not be that exciting to all of you who live in the lower 48 but I live in Alaska and they make us watch the commercials up here and there are no Olive Gardens in Alaska. So my 2 goals while on the outside (that is what we call outside of AK up here), were to go to Olive Garden and the Beach. So my two objectives were accomplished! Thank you Lois and Aunt Diane!
The next day we took the train to Salt Lake and went to Discovery Zone. Again DARN THAT MISSING CAMERA! They loved riding on the train as well as the tram. Then to get to play to their hearts content! Happy day! The following day we went and saw the movie Tangled. Great movie!In my opinion one of the best that Disney has made in awhile. Though Daniel about took me out by jumping into my lap every time he thought it might be scary. He doesn't wait for it to get scary. He anticipates it. They loved seeing Grandma Lois and all too quickly it was time to start back (or so we thought).
So the next day we started back to Travis AFB. It's about a 13 hour drive (or so it says). One thing that this trip decided for me was that I NEVER want to live in Nevada. There's nothing but ugly desert and casinos in the state! That was a long drive. There's really nothing there on I-80. The kids would be wanting something different to drink and I'd be saying look outside! Do you see a McDonald's anywhere? Once we hit the California border though, it was gorgeous! Can I say that California just makes me happy! Maybe its because I was born there, or because I only have good memories of there (Okay there were the times when Erin got car sick but I try not to remember those.) They may not be able to balance a budget, have crazy politicians, and many other quirks. But it just makes me so happy to be there.
There were no hotel rooms at the base hotel so we stayed in a lousy Motel 6. It was so bad I wrote to the company. Anyone want a voucher for a free hotel room? I would have gone somewhere else but I was so tired and the kids had to get out, I figured what's one night. But then we found out that the runway was closed and our flight would not be going out...
What to do??? Luckily I have lots of family in CA. Next post- On to Bakersfield CA.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Epic Journey Part 2

We started off early in the on a Thursday morning. My cousins daughter Laura (Cousin once removed? I never did understand how all that works- Regardless she's my cousin), was headed up to Escalante from San Diego with her 2 kids so we decided caravan. It's a bit less than a 10 hour drive according to Google Maps. (We made it in less than that.) We took a rather long short cut through Zion's National Park. But as I had never been to Zion's I didn't mind too much. (I've been trying to upload a picture of Zion's but it's not working!!! Darn that lost camera!)
I have driven (literally) across the U.S. and I'm not sure that there is a road that beats the scenery on Hwy 12 in Utah and that's saying a lot. I live in Alaska where the views are magnificent. You drive through Red Canyon- These are 2 separate tunnels that you drive through. The pictures aren't the greatest as they are from April's phone as she and David were driving. You don't enter but you also pass Bryce Canyon National Park as well. I'll show you more of Hwy 12 in the next post.

That night we congregated at my Aunt Evelyn's house. All my cousins weren't there yet but when you there are like 35 Grandchildren, 77 Great grandchildren and I think 10 Great-great Grandchildren, well I'm not sure there's a house big enough for all of us! It was needless to say a bit crowded but so much fun to see everyone.

Here is a picture of Daniel and Aunt Emma fooling around waiting to go to the funeral. I really didn't have to do much with my kids while we were there because they had so many surrogate Mom's. Though the kids were a bit overwhelmed by having so many people wanting their attention. By the time the funeral started they just wanted me but I was busy playing for it, so we would squeeze hugs and cuddles in between songs.
I love this picture because it is SO my family. This is my sisters April (piano), Hannah (violin) and Eliza (viola). We are always playing, or singing for something. They are practicing for the funeral here. My cousins daughter later joined them as well.

Waiting for funerals to start can take awhile... The kids all had fun taking random pictures. This is my brother David. He lives in Texas and I don't get to see him nearly enough. It was SO much fun to talk to him and see him. April, David and I shared a hotel room while we were there and the first night we were up until 2am just talking and laughing. Wish we could do it more often guys!

Reagan and my sister Eliza hanging out waiting for the funeral to start.
Don't I have handsome cousins? These are the oldest boys of each family of my cousins. As you can see they span many years. My oldest cousin, Richard, I believe is my Mom's age and the youngest cousin I have, Bryce, is 16 I think?

Saying goodbye to Grandma. It was great to see everyone though. I was sad when half of the family left right after the family dinner. I hadn't seen some of these people in about 15 years and there were so many people it was hard to talk to everyone before they left.
The next day was a sleeping half day for Daniel so while he stayed home with Grandma Lyman I took some of my siblings, my Dad and Reagan and went to Devil's Rock Garden. This is a fabulous place that I grew up going to as a child. We drove up and Reagan said, "Mommy, look! There's big rocks!" Another thing to make me sad about loosing my camera. There are 2 natural arches there that I had pictures of. I love this place. I have such fond memories of it. My favorite is when we had a family reunion and we played hide and go seek at dusk in the rocks. It's a child's gigantic playground and it meant a lot to me to be able to share it with my daughter.
Later that day Daniel was a bit more awake and my cousins took him, Jonathan and Emma to slide down the Red rocks down the street. Bet you didn't do this as a kid!
Next stop, and next post Ogden UT

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Epic Journey Part 1

I have been dragging my feet on writing this blog post for 2 reasons. I lost my camera which means all my great pictures are gone and the other reason is that when you are gone for a month the post is going to have to be really long!
We left Anchorage on Saturday January 29th. The kids and I took a military space A flight as they are free and flights to UT were over $700 and that just wasn't in the budget. I loved the terminal here. It was all set up for families and kids. They have a special room for parents of young children with cribs, rocking chairs, leather couches and a big flat screen t.v. Out in the main area they had toys and things for the older kids and the remote to the t.v.? It was an airplane that you sat in. If all airports were that well equipped you would have a lot happier and less stressed out Moms and Dads!
The flight itself was interesting but traveling with kids the best I've ever been on! We were in a big KC130 cargo plane. It was filled with cargo and right in front of us was a big trailer with something on it that I couldn't figure out what it was. But the notation on the side said that it was 250,000 lbs. If that thing moved we were dead! Our seats were on the side of the plane, canvas stretched between metal was really all it was but it really wasn't that bad for sitting on. Just like on a regular flight they gave us blankets and pillows and you could buy a meal to eat if you wanted to. Unlike on a regular flight they also handed out ear plugs because it's rather noisy. But that was the great part for me. You can't hear your 3 year old throw a fit! She also doesn't bother the other passengers as they can't hear her either! Once you reach cruising altitude you are allowed to get up and walk around as much as you like, you can even lay down and take a nap. For these reasons I say it's the best way to travel with kids!
We reached Travis AFB (just outside of Sacramento CA) around 9 p.m. and it was gently raining. The first words out of Reagan's mouth? "Look Mommy, Mud!" She hadn't seen mud in months, just snow and ice. So that was a really big thing for her. As we walked the 3 1/2 blocks to the hotel they both loved jumping into the puddles. We were already soaking wet from the rain what was it going to hurt? Besides it was warm. I was warm in January while outside! Hallelujah! We stayed in the base hotel that night and I also can't say enough about military hotels. They are clean and nice and cheap! Great combination in my book!
Our plan for the next day was to drive to Ogden (Travis said they never had flights to Hill AFB in UT, but the week after I needed it they had flights almost every day!) so the kids could see Paul's Mom for a few days before we headed south for my Grandma's funeral. But I was awakened that morning by a phone call from my Dad saying to check the road conditions from the storm that had just come through to make sure I could get through. Guess what, I couldn't. The infamous Donner pass was closed to all vehicles but those with chains. In my car at home I could have made it no problem. With a rental car? No way. So we changed our plans and drove instead to my Aunt Diane (my Mom's sister) and Uncle Bob's home in Fallbrook CA which is just north of San Diego.
The kids had met Aunt Diane and Uncle Bob last winter at my Grandfather's funeral in Missouri and Reagan had fallen in love with her "Uncle Bobby". So she was really happy to see him again. He had to work a lot while we were there so Aunt Diane was happy she got to spend some time with her as well because when Uncle Bob's around she forgets there is anyone else in the room. Daniel had a great time there as well. They have a dog which I am sure was happy to see them go because my kids were so happy to be with a dog again they could leave her alone and followed (chased) her everywhere. Reagan couldn't have been happier just to be outside and she would climb through the dog/cat door and go outside all day long.
The first day after we got there my Grandparents (my Mom's Mom and Stepdad) paid for us to go to Legoland. It was a great place to take the kids and they were just the right age. Legoland is built for kids of a targeted age up to about 7. Much older and they would be bored with most of it. There was only one ride Reagan wasn't big enough to go on. There are all kinds of things made out of real legos, people, animals that actually moved and made noise. Reagan and I went on a pirate ship ride (Daniel said it looked too scary.) and Aunt Diane and he waited for us on a bench. On the bench was a guy made of legos. All of the sudden they heard a noise. They realized it was the lego man talking. He was saying, "I shouldn't have gone on that ride. I wouldn't stand there if I were you!" The ride was great by the way and Reagan is definitely our dare devil. She was giggling on all the fast and crazy rides.
If you ever make it to Legoland you MUST, I repeat MUST try their apple fries. They were amazingly good! They take Granny Smith apples and cut them up like french fries, fry them up in a batter, roll them in cinnamon and sugar and give you real whipped cream to dip them in. Heaven on earth!
We wore the kids completely out. On the last ride where they are riding their horses and going out to defeat the black knight with their jousts, Reagan was almost falling off the horse. Daniel still has the map and is planning his next trip to Legoland.
We drove over to my cousin Ryan's house that night for dinner. It was so fun to get to meet his son Sean, and get to play with him! We met his wife Kelly for the first time as well. Reagan was of course in heaven with a baby to take care of. She also got to help Ryan make dinner and he was so cute with her! (He needs a daughter!) He pulled up a chair and let her help him make the salad and put the pizza in the oven. She LOVES Ryan. Poor Daniel was so tired that of the 4 hours that we were there he spent most of it passed out right here. It was wonderful to see Ryan again. The last time I saw him was about 15 years ago, so a lot has changed in both of our lives, but it was good to reconnect and feel that feeling of connection that you only get with family. (Thank you Ryan for the pics. You just aren't in any of them :-(
The next day Daniel was having a sleeping day. He has been having problems where he will spend most of an entire day sleeping and still go to sleep the that night. So while he slept Aunt Diane, Reagan and I spent the day watching old movies. I definitely get my love of old movies from this side of my family. Shirley Temple, Doris Day, and Swiss Family Robinson were some of our movies that day. After Daniel woke up about 3 p.m. we dragged him to the park. On days like this he has a hard time dealing with things and really just wants to go back to sleep. Reagan was in heaven. She keeps asking to go to the park but our parks here are covered in ice and snow. She got to swing to her hearts content. She did not want to go back to the house, but after about an hour that was all Daniel could handle. We headed back and went to dinner with my Grandparents and Uncle Bob and Aunt Diane. They took us out for Mexican food that was SO yummy! I haven't found a really good Mexican restaurant yet here. Grandma and Grandpa got to meet Daniel and Reagan for the first time and I think Reagan wrapped herself around Grandpa's finger so tight I wouldn't be surprised if they went home and rewrote their will. Reagan has asked several times for "the other Grandpa", they are their Great Grandparents. Poor Daniel was so out of it he just wanted to go back to bed so they didn't get a good view of his personality. It has been about 15 years since I've seen Grandpa as well and about 6 years since I've seen Grandma so it was really good to see them. Grandpa looked exactly the same. Grandma came back with us and visited for awhile.
The next day we visited my favorite place the beach. Yes my Alaskan friends I went to the beach and soaked up the sun! Beautiful shimmering waves, the sand with golden specks it was wonderful! I so wish I had the pictures from this. There was a beautiful picture of Reagan making a sand angel with the biggest smile on her face, another of the 3 of us running away from the waves... It makes me so mad I am missing them but we do have the memories. I love the beach because I love just sitting listening to the ocean, it's so peaceful and rests my soul.
Next- On to Escalante UT.