Tag Archive for 'Road Trip 2009'

Any day you don’t fall in the toilet is a good day.

Well, we’re almost done with the recaps of our trip! It’s about time…I mean, it was in May! Still, I’ve been dragging my feet, because as soon as I’m done with the recaps, I won’t have a good excuse to flip through the photos anymore, or daydream about the beach, or feel the excitement of hitting the road, knowing that adventures lie just around the bend.

Yesterday’s post has a quick list of the trip installments up to this point, and we last left off in Flagstaff where my husband was recuperating from a bought of food poisoning.

When I was planning the trip, I created a Travel Folder. In it were maps and ideas for each leg of the trip. I used plastic page protectors, and they were wonderful for organizing the information we needed for the trip and for maps and other things we gathered along the way. Everything was in one place, and I kept the Travel Folder easily accessible from the front seat of the car.

Originally, we wanted to explore Flagstaff and the surrounding area on foot. We love hiking and couldn’t wait to get out there. I have a high school friend who lives in Flagstaff now, and he was able to point me in the direction of some good hiking trails. It was nice to get the advice of a local.

But, knowing that this was near the end of our trip, and always wanting to have a Plan B, I also printed out some good scenic tours to do via car. I mean, what if Claire had had enough by the time we got to Flagstaff? What if the weather turned on us? It didn’t even occur to me that one of the adults would get sick, but that’s what had happened, and we just made a slight adjustment and did most of our exploring via car, with little hikes here and there.

We decided to use some of our time and head down to Sedona to check it out.

Momma & Claire with the pink javelinas

Momma & Claire with the pink javelinas

Claire actually said

Claire actually said, "Take a picture of this chair for your blog!" So, we did!

That early evening, while exploring more of Flagstaff, we found a playground and had a much needed break.

Swinging our cares away!

Swinging our cares away!

Our slightly altered agenda worked out perfectly!

The next morning, we headed to Santa Fe. We stayed where we’ve stayed in the past. It’s not the fanciest hotel, but it’s literally two blocks from The Plaza and it’s not a million dollars a night.

We got checked into the hotel and decided to unwind before heading out for our explorations. Of course, little did I know that excitement was closer than I thought! I laugh to myself just thinking about it. And, the outcome could have been much more traumatic than it was.

I was out in the main area of our hotel room getting some things situated, and Daddy and Claire were in the bathroom. All of a sudden, I hear a splash and then hysterical laughter.

Yes, she’d fallen in!

She’s been potty trained for over a year, but every toilet we’ve used on the trip was different. She’s rather insistent on doing things herself. Normally, this is fine. Apparently, she’d scootched right up and slipped right in. Luckily, Daddy had handled her rescue in a way that made the whole thing funny and we couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily, she fell in at the beginning of the bathroom visit and not the end! Ewwwww!

Any day you don’t fall in the toilet is a good day, but even this couldn’t damper the fun we had in Santa Fe.

We strolled around The Plaza, taking in the sights. It was nice to have a leisurely evening after a day of driving. We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Fe, and we were excited to see that it was still alive and kickin’.

Our stay in Santa Fe was bittersweet. We knew it was the last stop before heading home. We were exhausted from being on the go for the last 12-days, but we were sad to say goodbye to our vacation.

The next day, we were up and on the road, headed northbound. Every mile we drove put us farther and farther from our vacation but closer to our own beds. The memories we made on that trip are not soon to be forgotten.

“Remember that one time…” will be the only phrase that is needed to bring it all alive again.

The only kink in the trip

As you may remember, a few months ago, we took The Great Road Trip of May 2009. It was awesome, and we can’t stop raving about it.

In fact, here is what we’ve discussed so far in the story:

I’ve implied up to this point, that the entire road trip was a success…and it was, over all. One could gather from our enthusiastic story-telling that a “successful” trip means that every minute of it was perfect.

It wasn’t.

So, what happened?

Was it the little temper-tantrum Claire had one of the days in San Diego? No, not really…but it was a doozy.

One afternoon, Claire reached her wit’s end and had a full-blown tantrum in front of her aunt. Luckily, it happened when we were back at the hotel and not out and about. It was time for my sister to head back to her place after spending the day exploring with us. We were going to grab dinner and explore a little on our own. All of a sudden, Claire snapped.

We’d been gone a week, and she was done.  She wanted HER bed, HER stuffed animals, HER kitties, and HER house, and she wanted them NOW.  Never mind we were half-way into a 2,500 mile road trip. Never mind we were days (literally) away from home.

She wanted what she wanted, and she wanted it 2-minutes ago, thankyouverymuch.

I let Claire scream and thrash around on the hotel bed, and I apologized to my sister. Wanna see three?  This is what you get sometimes with three. I knew that all we had to do was ride it out, but my sister isn’t used to this kind of thing.  Still, she didn’t even bat an eye. In her opinion, the fact that it had taken a 3-yr old this long to get upset was amazing to her.

We said our good-byes for the day, set the time to meet in the morning, and we turned our attention to the preschooler in the room.

My hubby and I looked at each other and knew what to do. Napless, cranky-pants? Time for a drive! We scooped her up and strapped her in the car seat. About 30-seconds into our little afternoon drive, and Claire was out like a light. We kept driving as she snoozed, and she woke up a completely different person.

So, that little meltdown wasn’t really a kink in the trip.

So, what was?

Well, the last night of our stay in San Diego seemed to go well. We’d had fabulous food, a blast on the beach and awesome adventures.  It was time to hit the road in the morning…next stop: Flagstaff, Arizona!

Daddy tossed and turned a lot that night, and by morning, it was evident that something was not agreeing with him. And, that’s putting it lightly. No, I won’t share. You’re welcome.

He was sick. By our calculations, it was something he’d eaten the day before, and we were able to pinpoint it. There was only one restaurant we’d visited that he’d eaten something different than the rest of us. At every other place, he’d had the same thing as at least one other person (me or my sister or Claire), and no one else was sick, so that had to be it.

But, that didn’t change the reality of the situation. This was a kink in the trip, if I’d ever seen one…

“What do you want to do?” I asked him, concerned. I was concerned for him and not our trip agenda. “Do you want me to push our reservations out a day? Stay here to recoup and bump the trip out a day? We could totally do that. I could make that call right now…”

After some deliberation, we decided that we’d press on.  If you’re going to be down for the count, it’s best to do it on a day when the only thing on the agenda was “get from Point A to Point B.”  I’d do all the driving to Flagstaff, and he’d try not to make a mess in the car. It seemed like a fair trade.

Before we loaded up the car, I was able to find a drugstore…all by myself! And, this was pre-Glenda! I was so proud of myself. I got what I needed and headed back to tend to the sick and finish packing.

So, we headed out. Needless to say, that was a long drive…for all of us. But, we both held up our end of the bargain. I didn’t complain once about the hours I spent behind the wheel, and my husband was able to keep it all together.  Claire was concerned about Daddy, but she had a great time road-trippin’.

We got checked into our Flagstaff hotel, and with Daddy curled up on the bed, we enjoyed our Pizza Delivery Fare, served picnic-style in the room. Claire and I had a chance to play in the hot tub before calling it a night.

It was the end of a very long day…496 miles long, to be exact.

Here is where I’d share pictures from this travel day, but there are none for May 11, 2009…the day that my husband would just soon forget and quite honestly doesn’t remember much of anyway.

Stay tuned for the next installment…this time with less sickness and more photos! 🙂

Now we know why so many people live in California

As you may remember, we took a 12-day Road Trip in May!

In May!?  It’s almost August now? What?! Where did the time go?

Just as a refresher, here is the route we took and our adventures up to this point:

Let’s get on with the next installment of our saga, shall we?

Where did we end off? Oh yes. “It was all we’d hoped it would be…and more.”

And it was!

We drove to California and checked into our first hotel on the 6th of May. We were there for two nights before heading down the coast to stay in another hotel on the beach for a few nights.

A hotel on the beach.

Just typing that out again makes me long for the sand and the soft breezes.

We loved California. Up to this point, there are only three places in the world (so far) that my husband and I have exchanged glances and have said, “We could live here. For real. We could totally live here.”

For those of you keeping track at home:

  • Where we live now, Colorado.

Well, add San Diego, CA to the list. We would move there in a heartbeat.  Granted, I’d cry buckets if I had to leave Colorado, but I think my tears could be dried by the soft ocean breezes.

Yes, it’s expensive. (But, it’s not cheap where we live now.) Yes, there are earthquakes. (Every location has its “thing…”) Yes, there are lots of people. And, now we know why… Because California is incredible!

On our California leg of the trip, we visited LegoLand. This was a specific request by Daddy. He said he Claire would love it. Well, he was right! My sister and brother-in-law joined us in our LegoLand adventures, and we all had a fantastic time!!

In addition to LegoLand, we visited the San Diego Zoo. What a great Zoo! When we first arrived, one of the greeters saw us looking at the posted map and suggested we take the bus tour around the Zoo (it would show us 75% of the zoo, and then we could decide where to focus our energies). At the end of the day, we took the Skyfari (gondola ride) back down across the Zoo, surveying the park from the sky, and it was an awesome end to a lovely visit.

Claire’s favorite excursion, in California and the entire trip, was “picking shells” at the beach. We could do that for hours, and did! It was so much fun to just stroll along the beach and explore. It’s a good thing we don’t live near the beach, or you might never see us again!

The memories we created and the adventures we had in California will last a lifetime. It seems rather insufficient to mention them in a few paragraphs and go on to the next stop, but that’s how it goes. Claire still raves about “picking shells” at the beach, to anyone and everyone that will listen, and it was months ago. This has really made an impression, and I love that the memories are still alive for her. The more she mentions it, the more it just seems like yesterday…and that’s a wonderful thing.

Next stop on our tour? Flagstaff, AZ. Stay tuned!

How do ya like them apples? They didn’t. They were confiscated.

It’s time for another installment in The Great Road Trip of May 2009 Adventure Saga! It may have been in May, but it just seems like yesterday. We were gone for 12 wonderful days, and I love reliving our adventures!!

You can read about the route we took and our adventures up to this point:

After our stay at The Grand Canyon, we headed to the next destination on our map: California! I have wanted to visit California for as long as I can remember. My husband visited as a child and has had some business trips there, but I just have never had a chance to go. Now that one of my sisters lives there, and my husband had some time-off to burn, this was the perfect excuse to go!

The drive from the canyon was going smoothly, and we switched drivers after a while. It was my turn to drive. We joked that with Momma driving, we’d get there even faster! (But, for the record, I tried to keep things somewhat on the legal side of the speedometer.) 😉

Still, with every mile, we were getting closer to California, and we couldn’t wait!

Off in the distance, I could see a checkpoint of sorts.

“Is that Border Patrol?” I asked, excited to have reached the border…finally!

“Oh no. Our apples!” my hubby said under his breath.

“What? What about our apples?” I asked. “What does Border Patrol have to do with our apples?”

“I don’t think they’re labeled. Oh well. I forgot all about that,” he said.

“Forgot about what?” I asked, my interest piqued.

“You can’t bring unlabeled fruits or vegetables into California,” he said. “And, I think I bought the organic ones this time. There’s no way they’ll let them in…I totally forgot about that.”

“WHAT’S WRONG WITH OUR APPLES!?” Claire calls from the backseat.

“Nothing, Claire, but California has rules. We’ll just tell them about the apples, and they’ll decide what to do.”

“ARE THEY GONNA TAKE OUR APPLES!?” Claire asks, obviously concerned. She loves these apples. I love that she loves these apples.

“Probably, Claire,” Daddy says. “But, that’s okay. We’ll get more apples.”

It’s our turn, so I pull up, roll down the window and smile at the agent.

“Where are you coming from?” the agent asks politely.

“Originally, Colorado, but most recently, The Grand Canyon,” I answer.

“Do you have any fruits or vegetables in the car?”

“Actually, we do. We have some apples from Colorado in the cooler. Do you want me to pop the trunk?”

“Yes, thank you.”


“It’s okay, Claire. Don’t yell. They’re just doing their jobs. Even if they take the apples, we’ll be fine. It’s no big deal.”

“Ooooh, five green apples. Scary!” I think to myself.

Sure enough, the five green apples had no stickers. They were promptly confiscated and thrown away. Or, maybe someone had them for lunch. I didn’t actually see them go in the trash. 😉

We were sad to see our five little green rejected apples go, but at least the agents were nice about it. We didn’t cause a ruckus, so we were allowed to proceed to California, albeit sans apples.

As we continued into California, we turned on a highway that was stretched out through the desert, for as far as we could see. The road was undulating, curving up and down in waves and dips. It was wild to see and even crazier to drive on! You would see a car coming toward you, and it would disappear, and then reappear again, and then disappear as though swallowed by the earth. It would reappear again at the crest of another hill.

This road was like a roller coaster! Talk about a wild ride!  Claire was entertained to no end, and we all had fun, as was evident by the whoas, whees, and ooooohhhhs that accompanied each dip and wave.  To be honest, I was glad I was driving, because I’m not sure my stomach could have handled the ride as well from the passenger seat!

As we got closer and closer to the coast, we started to get a glimpse of the ocean. We saw our first palm tree.  Our visions of what California was were turning into reality.

After a long day of driving, we made it to our hotel.  More of our adventures in California were just moments away from beginning, and we couldn’t wait.

Stay tuned for the next installment! But, I’ll give you a hint: It was all we’d hoped it would be…and more!

Grand is a pretty good way to describe it

As you know, our big trip this year was a 12-day road trip out to California via The Grand Canyon. We had a blast, and one of the reasons it’s taking me so long to get these updates posted is that when I open up the folder of our pictures, all of a sudden, hours have gone by! It’s so hard to not get sucked into the memories.

I love reliving the trip, and I hope you enjoy this next segment!

You can read about the route we took and our adventures up to this point here:

The first night in the tent left a lot to be desired, Holiday Inn of Camping or not. The wonderful part of being out in nature is that you’re out in nature. The not-so-wonderful part of being out in nature is that you’re out in nature.  😉 The birds wake up at the crack of dawn. The sun comes up pretty early. Those two things combined make the preschooler in the tent pop up out of her sleeping bag, raring to go, whether the adults are ready to go or not.

I would have been in a much better mood had my pillow situation been a lot better than it was. I remember vividly, standing in our bedroom at home and talking to my husband about how I wanted to take a real pillow with me. We weren’t low on space; we were sleeping on a queen-sized air mattress! This was going to be car camping…not “real” camping. I’d sit on it if I had to. He called me a wussy and said that travel pillows we had would be just fine.

Against my better judgment, I left my pillow at home.

As I was tossing and turning the first night, I regretted that decision. I may or may not have taken pleasure in the thought of smothering a certain someone with my inadequate travel pillow. Maybe. 😉

The travel pillows we have work wonders if you’re sitting upright in a plane or on a train. But, they are terrible if you’re trying to sleep on them like a real pillow.

My Pillow of Doom plus Little Miss Signing Sunshine bouncing around our tent HOURS earlier than we anticipated made our first full day at the Canyon a bit rocky.  (pun totally intended)  I tried as hard as I could to summon my patience, and so, Claire and Momma went on an early morning nature hike while Daddy slept a little bit longer.

That afternoon, after a day of hiking, Daddy purchased a souvenir at the lodge…a pillow! It has a wonderful pattern on it, and it matches our bedroom set. And, because I’d let him sleep in, he and Claire let Momma take a nap in the tent on her new pillow while Daddy and Claire learned how to play with the frisbee.

Needless to say, that next night was a thousand times better than the last.  And, Claire LOVED camping…and when you’re traveling with a preschooler, isn’t that the most important opinion in the group?  😉

But, enough about the camping part of camping. What about the canyon? The Grand Canyon is unbelievably beautiful. The photos we have do not do it justice. Looking out over the vastness of it all doesn’t even seem real, let alone trying to capture its majesty on film.

I am so glad we camped there for two nights. We had a chance to see so much of the canyon without being rushed.

There is a bus that runs along the rim, following the hiking path. We decided to start out hiking and make it as far as we could before hopping on the bus and riding back to the campground. It was the perfect plan, and we were pleasantly surprised when it worked out well.

Cracks & Layers

Cracks & Layers - Click for more detail!

One of our friends had let us borrow their backpack child-carrier. There was no way we wanted to take a stroller with us on the hike, and we weren’t sure how long she could last.

3 feet on the edge - see the tiny roads beneath us?  Click for more detail!

3 feet on the edge - see the tiny roads beneath us? Click for more detail!

Well, imagine our surprise when she hiked A MILE AND A HALF all on her own! We’d let her wear her little light-up princess sandals, and I think that’s the most action those princesses have ever seen! 🙂

When her little legs had gone as far as they could go, that’s when we strapped her into the backpack. We are so glad that our friends let us borrow it, but the jury is still out on whether or not it was worth it.

We were able to hike an extra mile, but neither Daddy nor Claire liked it. My husband is used to hiking with a 40-lb pack, so her weight (barely 34 lbs.) wasn’t an issue. For some reason, it just wasn’t possible to adjust the backpack properly, and it soon became a torture device. That coupled with the fact that his normal backpacks don’t wriggle around and complain probably added to his stress levels. 🙂

I think the funniest thing that happened was when Claire said, “Daddy? I don’t like this backpack. My back hurts!” It was all he could do to mutter, “Your back hurts? I don’t even want to hear about it.” 🙂

Two and a half miles of hiking provided us with plenty to see. We got some wonderful photos, and we all had a fabulous time exploring. We hopped on the bus and rode back to camp. After taking a break (and that much-needed nap I mentioned earlier), we had a snack and then drove out toward the East Entrance, where we’d come in the day before. We’d zipped by it so quickly in our mad dash to get to the campground and get set up that we wanted to explore it some more. We were able to catch the setting sun as it slipped into the canyon, and the shadow portraits we took were amazing.

Shadows on the edge

Shadows on the edge

I have more shadow portraits to share, but you’ll just have to be patient.

As I mentioned, that night was much better for everyone. Claire still woke up at the crack of dawn, but my patience levels were bolstered by a good night’s sleep on an awesome pillow, so we were ready for the day. We broke camp and headed out, leaving the Grandness of the Canyon behind us.

California, here we come!

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Great Road Trip of May 2009!

The Holiday Inn of Camping

I think it’s about time for another installment of The Great Road Trip of May 2009, especially considering the fact that it’s June already. I had intentions of getting these written right away, but Real Life has gotten in the way.  But, it’s okay!  This way, we can relive our trip for even longer!

You can read about the route we took and the first stop on our trip by checking these out:

The next stop on the list was a canyon…but it wasn’t just any ol’ canyon. It was The Grand Canyon.

It wasn’t only Grand, it was Awesome.

The three of us had never been there, and we were not disappointed. We’d purposely gone at the tail end of shoulder season (off season), because we didn’t want to deal with the crowds. We knew it would be a bit nippy at night, but that was a price we were willing to pay.

Even then, we were surprised at how many people there were! We can’t imagine it at the top of the season!

Because we were going so early in the season, it was easy to decide between the two rims: The North Rim or the South Rim. I’m not even sure most of the North Rim would be open that early, so the South Rim it was!

We’d decided to camp at The Grand Canyon. My husband and I love camping, and Claire had never been. (We tried to go camping last year, but were thwarted by a snow storm!) Well, it’s a good thing we like camping, because hotel rooms anywhere near The Grand Canyon cost an arm and a leg. (And, we wanted all of our appendages for the rest of the trip…).

If you decide to go to The Grand Canyon, I highly recommend staying overnight. There is so much to see, and it’s really “easy” camping.

We stayed in the Mather Campground. My advice is to reserve a camping spot before you go. If you go to recreation.gov, you can see maps of the campgrounds and reserve it right online. It was super-simple to go to the ranger cabin and check in when we got there. After a long day of driving, it was great to know we had a place to stay and that we wouldn’t be searching for something with a flashlight should our trip take a turn for the more adventurous. 😉

Because this would be Claire’s first time camping, I wanted something relatively close to the bathrooms. Now, this is where my husband starts muttering under his breath that there are no bathrooms in camping, and he’s right. When he goes on his Mondo Hiking Trips With The Guys, they can do camping “right.” They can hike 8-miles in to Base Camp. They can become one with nature and all that entails. I prefer “The Holiday Inn of Camping” (his words), especially when there is a preschooler in the mix. In the end, he’s a big talker, because he seemed to get over it pretty quickly. 😉

Anyway, before the trip, I painstakingly searched for the perfect camping spot. I finally found one that was on a large lot, across the road from the bathrooms (Yes, there were flush toilets! Yay!) and was surrounded by RVs. Now, in the height of RV season, this may be annoying, but most parks regulate the running of the generators at night, and I had a feeling that this wouldn’t be an issue. It would allow us as much privacy as possible.

It was nice to see that the reality of the campsite matched what was on the online map! It was an awesome spot!  (If I do say so myself…)

One of our friends let us borrow his tent. Correction: This thing was an apartment!  For real!

It was 204 square feet! It was massive.

The Apartment Sized Tent

The Apartment Sized Tent

This is the tent WITHOUT the rainfly attached! That in itself has a vestibule that made it even bigger! The mattress behind us (on past the living room, next to the kitchen. Ha.) is a QUEEN SIZED BED. Needless to say, we had plenty of room. It was actually too big for us. BUT, we are so thankful that we got to borrow it!!

Our friend brought it to us a couple weeks before we left on the trip so that we could practice setting it up and taking it down by ourselves. I’m glad we did a dry run, because nothing adds stress to a trip quicker than wrestling with a humongous tent in a new environment (most likely in the dark and in the rain)…oh, and with a preschooler “helping.”

Speaking of rain…there was none! The weather on our trip was superb. We couldn’t have requested better weather! And, we arrived at the campground with plenty of light left to set up the tent.

So far, so good!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our trip: Grand is a pretty good way to describe it.

In the meantime, check out The Great Road Trip of May 2009 Category for more stories.

Chips & Salsa with a side of Nap

On the first night of The Great Road Trip of May 2009, after taking a dip in the hot springs, we decided to go grab a bite to eat. We asked the concierge about some of the restaurants in the area, and she gave us some suggestions.

One of the Mexican Restaurants on the list came highly recommended, so we opted to go there. We’d all had a long day. We weren’t used to all the driving, and the smell of the hot springs was taking its toll on some of us (okay, me…), and Claire hadn’t had a nap.

Naps are few and far between these days, but when she really needs one, she takes one. Unfortunately, today, she’d needed one but hadn’t had the chance, what with all the excitement.

We get to the car, and we get her strapped in her car seat. As we pull out of the parking lot and down the street, she gets quiet. We go a few blocks, and she’s asleep. By the time we got to the restaurant, she was completely out.

“What should we do?” my hubby asks me. “Keep driving? Go in?”

“Eh, let’s just go in. You’re hungry. I’m hungry. She’s got to be hungry, and if we do this right, she’ll be okay when she wakes up.”

He turns off the car, and gets her car seat buckles undone. He carefully gets her out of the car seat, and we head into the restaurant.

She’s still not awake, her sleepy head resting on his shoulder.

The host shows us to a booth. It’s one of those C-shaped, half-circle booths, and Daddy gently lays Claire down on one side. He and I scootch around and sit on the other side.

She is out.
Completely out.

The waiter stops by and takes our drink orders. It feels good to sit in the booth, sipping our drinks. We figure out what we want to order, and we chat. It’s like we’re on a date. We’re not interrupted. We can finish a thought. We don’t have to pay a babysitter, because our child is right there…asleep on the bench.

We order food for her, because if she doesn’t wake up, we can just get it to go and have it at the hotel. And, if she does wake up, she’ll be hungry.

The food arrives, and she’s still asleep.

We have the most leisurely meal we’ve had in a long time. We laugh and talk, and we can’t believe she’s still sleeping. The restaurant isn’t overly quiet, and it’s not too loud.

This is awesome!

It wasn’t until we were halfway through our meal that my hubby realized that we were in the perfect booth for the occasion. On the wall behind us was the painting of a sleeping maiden. She’s being serenaded by her sweetheart, and her eyes are closed. In one corner of the booth was a figurine of a little boy…who was asleep. In the opposite corner, was the statue of a little girl, also sleeping.

We were in the sleeping booth!

The irony of the situation made us laugh even harder, and she still didn’t wake up!

When we were finished with our meal, I boxed Claire’s food up for later. The milk the waiter had brought to the table for Claire was already in a travel cup, so we were good to go. My hubby picked up Claire and we said our goodbyes to the sleeping booth. Claire didn’t wake up until we were back at the hotel!

Needless to say, she was very confused as to where the milk and quesadillas had come from. We tried to explain to her that she’d slept through the whole thing, but she didn’t believe it.

We could hardly believe it either, and we’d seen it with our own eyes!  🙂

Stinky never felt so good

Well, it’s about time I get to some stories of The Great Road Trip of May 2009!  It doesn’t seem like we’ve been back for almost two weeks, but that’s the sign of a great trip: when the vivid memories linger so long they carry you through the reality of your vacationless life for long after the suitcases are unpacked.

As you may remember, I was totally unplugged on this vacation, yet I came back fully recharged.  How ironic.  That being said, it was hard to leave Twitter and the Internet behind.  I texted a couple people, but by the time we got to the Grand Canyon (I’ll talk about that in a future installment!), my service was spotty at best, so that gave me the final push over the edge that I needed.

That first day, we were going to drive to Pagosa Springs, which is in southern Colorado.  It was going to be quite a hike, but not unbearable. The funniest part about the start of our trip was when we got out onto the main street that goes by our house, a street we’ve taken a million times, Claire screamed from the backseat, “Look!  I can see the sea!”  We explained that we couldn’t see it yet, and it was a destination on our list, but we had miles to go before we saw the sea.

Our destination for the first night of our trip was a Hot Springs Spa.

Have you ever been to a Hot Springs?  Me neither.  My husband had gone a couple months prior and came home smelling like a rotten egg.  The sulfur smell had permeated everything, and I was disgusted.  I couldn’t believe people willingly subjected their bodies to that stench.  He assured me that I would love the hot springs and that I’d get used to the smell.

He was right on one account:  I loved it.

But, the smell?  Oh, the smell!

But, I’m STILL not used to the smell.  I never got over it.  I’m sorry.  I wish I could say that once I was there for an hour or so, that I didn’t notice it anymore, but I can’t lie.  It was terrible.  Claire must have inherited my inability to let go of the smell, because she kept talking about the “stinky pools.”

Because it took three washings to get the smell out of his swim trunks the first time he’d come back from there, we planned ahead and brought two sets of swimwear.  The thought of frolicking on the beach in San Diego (a destination further on down the line in our road trip) in suits that smelled like rotten eggs was revolting.  The smell permeated my skin and my hair, and I honestly don’t see how people were seeming to ignore it.  Then again, I tried really hard to keep a straight face, too.

Now, this being said, I still loved it.  The naturally heated pools were awesome.  The way this Hot Springs was designed was there were lots of different pools, all different sizes and all varying degrees of heat.  The staff at the Spa monitored the pools and would change the temperature signs on each one, just so you would know what you were getting into…literally.

I LOVE hot tubs and steamy showers and boiling hot baths, so I knew this would be right up my alley.  The hottest one I went into was 112-degrees.  (No, Claire did not go in that one.  My hubby didn’t even go in that one.)  The hottest Claire went in was 104 or 105, and she loved it.  She has no concept for how long to stay in, so we were pretty diligent with making her get in and out.  Some of the pools had cascading waterfalls, and sometimes those were hotter than the pool below or slightly cooler, just depending.

This Hot Springs Spa really took care of us, and to be honest, it was the most expensive stop on our trip.  But, it was worth it.  (No, this isn’t a paid review.  Check out that link!  The pictures are great!)  Not only did we have plush robes to use between dips in the pools, they had little ones for kids!  (You have to ask for them, but they were great and complimentary!)  Seeing Claire walk from pool to pool in her tiny robe was the cutest thing ever.  Seeing her excitement in trying out the next “stinky pool” was great.  She’s like her momma and loves the heat, despite the smell.

As I was sitting there, nearly overcome by the smothering smell, the hot mineral water soaking away all the pre-trip stress, I realized that part of the smell was appropriate.  We were like hard-boiled eggs:  Our shells hardening to the point of cracking, and once they did, we were free.  It was the perfect way to start our vacation, fresh and renewed.

It was amazing.  Sitting in a natural hot springs on a brisk night while looking up at the stars?  Unbelievable.  Having to store our “stinky pool suits” in a sealed plastic bag for the rest of our trip?  Annoying, but necessary.  Remembering to pack our “non-stinky suits” for the rest of the trip?  Awesome.

And, to be honest, it’s probably a good thing that the pools were stinky…or I would have never left.  🙂

If you’re looking for more information about Pagosa Springs, check out this link!

Road Trip Tips & Tricks

I have a writing piece up and running today at Mile High Mamas, the parenting blog of The Denver Post.

It’s that time of year again…
Road Trip!!

Wanna know some tips & tricks for a tip-top trip? Click on over to check it out! The comments are closed here, but I’d love to hear what you have to say over there!

Anatomy of a Road Trip

I keep talking about this 12-day Road Trip we just took, but where did we go? How long did we stay? Before I get into the intricate details of all the adventures, it’s time to answer those basic questions.

Here is the route we took:

You can click on that photo to read my chicken-scratches.  No, it’s not drawn to scale. Yes, the roads to and from the different locations were much curvier and more exciting than they appear. 🙂 We chose a path that never crossed itself once, and seeing new scenery out and back was a treat.

So, here is the Anatomy of the Road Trip, each leg of the 12-day tour described:

  • On May 3rd, we left our home and headed south to Pagosa Springs, CO. We overnighted in a Hot Springs Resort.
  • That next morning, we drove to the Grand Canyon and camped there for two nights.
  • Then, we drove to California, where we stayed for two nights in Carlsbad and then three nights in a hotel on the beach in Pacific Beach.
  • From there, we ventured eastward to Flagstaff for two nights before staying the night in Santa Fe.
  • On May 14th, we headed home.

Are you curious about how a Casual Perfectionist prepares for a road trip? Do you want some tips and tricks to a tip-top trip? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!