Monday, August 5, 2013

July 31 Petrified Forest & Painted Desert

We left my in laws house today after a 13 day stay. The break was nice, but I was ready to be back on the road. Our journeys end to Colorado is getting so close & all I want to do is hurry up & settle into our new home (wherever that will be) & start living the rest of our new life.

I didn’t realize how much crap we had brought into my in laws house. Having to pack up all our stuff & put it back in the trailer was quite the chore. I had to do all our laundry & put away in each bag that goes under the trailer couch (the 31 under storage bags are awesome) then pack up all the food as well as the mountain of toys (I was ready to leave them behind). We were on the road around noonish. Of course this time I won’t be relaxing as we drive. Since my in laws drove our Jeep from Illinois back to their house in Arizona, we decided to go ahead & drive it to Colorado now versus waiting until later. I want that extra set of wheels while hubby is out pounding the pavement looking for a job. I don’t want to be stuck in the trailer with all 3 kids waiting for him to get home. This way I can venture out with the kids & explore our new surroundings that will become our home. Anyway the drive wasn’t that bad in the long run, but I was a bit nervous as we turned the corner from my in laws house because the Jeep just died on me. I went to push on the gas pedal, but nothing happened. I had to pull over, put it in park & restart the ignition. It was fine after that, but just weird. I’m wondering if it was from sitting for a month or so. Seems fine now. I had Annika & Emry with me & Dalton was riding with hubby. I tried getting all 3 car seats in the jeep, but they wouldn’t fit safely so a seat had to be sacrificed. It was total peace & quiet…aaahhh so nice. Annika watched a movie with head phones on & Emry snoozed. Less than about 10 miles from our campground I smell something stinky & look out the window to see if we had passed a sulfur plant or something. I looked forward & notice some smoke coming from the trailer. That was the smell. I radioed to hubby & told him he was smoking. About the same time a guy driving next to hubby honked & pointed to the camper. He pulled over & sure enough a tire had shredded & was ready to blow. Yowzers! Thankfully there was a gas station on the other side of the freeway from where we pulled over so hubby change the tire while I got the kids fed & diapers changed. We had enough time to stop & see a couple dinosaur statues that were near the side of the road. We also saw a super fast lizard. Man he was amazingly fast. I’m sure he could have run on water; that’s how fast he was. We were back on the road & not soon enough since it was 97 degrees outside. Ugh! I don’t like the heat that’s for sure. We got to our campground & it’s a quirky place. It used to be a motel, but the motel closed & it was used as a chicken house. They simply put in some rv hook ups & called it a rv campground. They have lots of petrified wood for sale (we’ll be getting a couple small pieces as souvenirs) & that’s about it. Nothing fancy, but apparently the chickens are all gone. My in laws told us about this place since they had stayed here a couple times during their travels. Well no complaints for only $19 a night, which is all we need. We got set up then headed to the Petrified Forest & Painted Desert.

I remember as a young kid we all piled up in the back of my dad’s Ford truck (he put a camper on the back & rigged a fan back there to help keep us cool) & went to New Mexico & Arizona for summer vacation. I don’t remember it being hot, although I’m sure it was, but I do remember all 5 of us sitting in the back on a mattress & enjoying it. I remember we would knock & knock on the camper window, but dad couldn’t hear us because there was a gap from our window to the back of the truck window. I’m thinking he was ignoring us because how could he not see us in his rear view mirror? Hmmm. We saw the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, that HUGE meteor crater, some cliff dwellings & not sure what else. I think I was about 10 or 11 years old. The one thing that stands out in my mind from this trip soooo many years ago was watching my little sister (6 or 7 yrs old) run towards a building at the Petrified Forest & not seeing the small fence line (had she stayed on the sidewalk/path her injury wouldn’t have happened). It got her right on the ridge of her nose & she went flying backward onto her back. It was like a cartoon when the character gets hit & they’re airborn then *splat* onto their back. It knocked the wind out of her & I laughed soooo hard because it was funny to see. After almost 30 years that’s what I remember most. Yes she was in pain & it scared the crap out of her, but I couldn’t help it. She flipped back so fast. I thought of that as we were out seeing the sites & thought for sure karma would kick in & my 5 yr old daughter would get injured in a similar way. I warned her to stay on the path just in case. Thankfully no serious injuries occurred, except for Dalton not holding my hand & tripping over my foot. He scraped his knee a bit but was fine. We saw the biggest tree in the park “Old Faithful” as well as one that acted as a bridge, but was taken care of back in 1911 when they put pillars under it to keep it from collapsing. In 1917 the pillars were taken down & cement was put under it to reinforce it. It was getting really windy & in the distance you could see the dark clouds & sheets of rain coming down. Ahhh the familiar cloud that follows us on our trip across the country. I know it’s monsoon season, but still feels like the cloud is following us wherever we go. Thankfully no rain came upon us. We did notice a certain odor while we were there. It was stinky & we couldn’t figure out what it was or where it was coming from, but it was at every stop we made. Wait…hope it wasn’t us. I’ll have to ask my in-laws if they know since they were volunteer hosts there for several months.

We headed back to camp so I could make dinner. We were all hungry. Thankfully I had some left over potato dumplings & some brisket from the night before. Yummo fast dinner. Emry is a champ & ate almost a whole nectarine by herself. It was a big one too. She had a few bites of dumplings as well. Since it was kind of late I did the eenie meenie minie moe to see who would get a bath first & Dalton won. He did his usual screaming. I got him out & was trying to dry his feet when he lost his balance & he fell backward & hit his head on the side of the tub. Ooooh the guilt! I scooped him up & said sorry I don’t know how many times. He cried so much, but I do think it was also because he was over tired. I tried to calm him, but he wasn’t having it. He didn’t want to get dressed or put his diaper on. He was stomping his feet on the floor while he was butt naked. I quickly turned on the tv & put in the Cars movie. As soon as it started he stopped crying. It was like a switch. Whew! Thankfully his head was ok & I don’t think he has a concussion….or at least I hope not. My poor baby is going to be all head damaged before even getting into school. I’m gonna say no football for him. I think he’s met his limit on head bonks already.

July 18-31 Payson, AZ

To sum it up we spent 13 days being pretty lazy. We were house sitting while my in laws were stuck in a hotel room in Phoenix. My father in law had eye surgery & couldn’t come home due to the elevation so they were set put. I was thankful for the elbow room & ability to stretch out & relax…for the most part. I’m sure little miss Emry was so glad to have all kinds of crawling space. Since we were put down for a while I got back into cloth diapers for the kids. Yay! I did some cloth diapering while we traveled, but we didn’t always get a camp site with laundry facilities & I didn’t want the diapers sitting for longer than 3 days so we mostly did disposables, which made me cringe. I’m looking forward to getting into one spot for a while so I can do the cloth again & hang them outside in the sun to dry.

I was hoping to get caught up on all kinds of sleep, but that only happened the day after we arrived. I took Emry up to nap & I fell asleep with her for 4 hours! I almost felt guilty, but it was so needed. I only napped a couple more times during our stay, but should have done it every day now that I look back. Oh well.  Emry did nap on her Abu a couple times & Dalton napped with his grandpa, which was so cute. I kept meaning to get a photo, but kept forgetting. I hope someone got one. The kids did bring back their game of musical beds. I would put them to sleep in the loft bed & one by one they would come into the bed I was in with the baby. I’d let them fall back to sleep then sometimes if I had the energy I would take them back to their bed. There were some nights where I would let them fall asleep in my bed then I’d carry them to their bed. Dalton cried out several times in his sleep & he would walk around all confused. I would ask him questions, but he just walked in circles. I asked him once if he wanted water, but he said “no” then he proceeded to walk into my room & grab my water cup then walk out to the hallway to drink it then walked back into my room to put the cup back. I chalked it all up to a mild case of sleep walking. It was interesting to watch him, but frustrating at the same time because he was tired & I tried to help him fall back asleep, but he didn’t want to be in my bed or his bed so I had to wait it out with him until he decided. I’m just glad it wasn’t a night terror. I remember Annika had one of those when she was probably 3 & it scared me. She had this blank look in her eyes as she screamed uncontrollably. I couldn’t talk to her or hold her since it made it worse. I just sat there & waited it out. She finally fell back on her pillow & was fast asleep. That was her only episode & I’m so glad it was. Hopefully I don’t have that experience with Dalton. It made me feel totally helpless.

Another thing I didn’t do nearly enough was relax in the hot tub. I did that one day with the kids & we all know that’s not really relaxing. I think the only thing I did do a lot of was eating. Ugh! On our last evening Annika helped her Abu make potato dumplings. She got her hands in there & formed the potato balls. She sure loves to eat them, as we all do. Unfortunately all that eating came at a price. My underwear started to shrink. Blah! I had this big plan to exercise every day while I was there & I sucked at that. I went walking 2 days & that was it. I seriously need to get out of my funk & find some motivation. It’ll happen & hopefully before next March when I hit the next decade in age. Oi. I not only want to, but I need to be 40 & fabulous. I did do some tv time, which was needed on my part. I barely get any adult tv time these days (and I don’t mean adult as in dirty nasty, I mean as in non-cartoon). Since we didn’t have cable or satellite tv I started watching Drop Dead Diva on Netflix from season 1 & got to season 3. I’m so addicted & stayed up way too late on several occasions trying to watch as many episodes as I could. I have one more season to go on Netflix then I have to wait for the current season to be over so I can get caught up. I did jump on the band wagon when it came to Candy Crush. I saw & heard so many people talking about it so one night I downloaded the app & gave it a try. That game has a mind of its own & half the time I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is that I want to get 3 stars on each level. I wouldn’t say I lose sleep on that game, but I play it when I have a moment of boredom, which isn’t often.

 The kids loved spending time with their Abu & Grandpa. They were assigned chores (put peanuts out for the blue jay, feed the Tom cat, water their fairy gardens, & feed the fish in the pond). Of course every day I had to remind Annika & I got the usual “do I have to? I don’t feeeellll like it”. I would then remind her that if she can’t take care of the small things then how would she take care of the big things like a pony or miniature horse. That usually got her going.. So much happened in those 13 days, but of course I failed to document it & I’m sitting here staring at the ceiling wracking my brain to remember it all or at least part of it. I did take them to see Despicable Me part 2 & oh boy it was an experience. We haven’t been to the movies in a while for obvious reasons, but I braved it this day. I had all 3 of them with me & Dalton didn’t want to sit in his chair so he stood next to me & kind of squatted near my feet as well the whole movie. Emry decided to take a big dump & I couldn’t leave the kids in the theater alone & I didn’t want to take them all out & miss a portion of the movie, so I did what I had to. I changed her in my lap. But you see she’s kind of long so her head was hanging over my knees as I changed her. To keep all the blood from rushing to her head I leaned backward & lifted my legs up so my shins could support her head. Hey a workout & a diaper change at the same time. Yes I’m that good. I had to be sure to disinfect my hands real good because the hand I wiped her with is the same hand I grab popcorn with. Ewww I know, but I used several disinfectant wipes on my hands too.

My in laws live in a cul de sac across from the library & a big community park. There’s Frisbee golf, soccer, tennis, skate park, and a couple kiddie play ground areas. I took them one day (we should have gone more often) and they enjoyed it. Both Annika & Dalton are very sociable. Whenever they see other kids they are usually the first to say “hi” and ask to play with the other kids. I’m usually hesitant because I know how kids can be, but I sit back & watch what happens ready to encourage or comfort when needed. I was hoping they would wear themselves out, but I was the one constantly bending over picking up their horses as they threw them off the top of these big plastic climbing rocks. Eh I could use the workout. Thankfully no injuries occurred. Whew! On our walk back to the house we passed by a port a potty & it was stinky. Dalton got a whiff & started fanning his nose then stuck out his tongue & began to gag. It’s so funny watching him do that. On the last home stretch we spotted some bats flying overhead & in my opinion they were flying a bit too low. Rabies!!!

Since Annika is in her cowgirl phase I took her to a western wear store to get her some cowgirl get up. She got a red & white shirt & a belt. She has a hat already. They had the cutest pink blingy flip flops at 40% off so I got her a pair. She’s not the only one that likes them. Dalton likes wearing them too. He put them on one day to go outside & Annika kept yelling at him to take them off, but he kept walking then turned around with this sly look on his face then told her “no stop it” as he waved his hand at her. It was so funny. He cracks me up & yes I got a picture of him in his get up. We also found some boots for Dalton, but so far he hasn’t shown much interest in wearing them.  I haven’t gotten Annika any new boots since it’s so dang hot & I know she’ll wear them frequently (I don’t want her feet getting all sweaty). I figured we’d wait until we got to our new home & did the whole school shopping thing. I can already tell school shopping is going to be pricey, unless of course her school has a dress code/uniform, which I think would be great.

We did have our share of boo boos during our stay. Emry for one got to the stairs before I could put the gate up & she fell backward after climbing a couple. I hate it when they fall off stairs & now they have all done it. I just hope it’s the last time for all of them. After hearing about my friend’s untimely death from falling down her stairs, I worry about any of us falling. I vowed to not have stairs in our next & hopefully final home, but we have to have a basement so that’s ruled that out. Can I just put bubble wrap all around my kids to keep them safe?  Annika is the queen of band aids & has been for several years now. The smallest scratch & she wants a band aid. I’ve put my foot down & have told her if there’s no blood then there’s no band aid. Dalton is getting into the band aid stage now, but he’s not as bad as his sister. The day after any of his boo boos he shows it to me & says “boo boo all better” in the sweetest voice. Of course there was the one day when his daddy took the band aid off before giving him a bath & he screamed bloody murder the whole time. I finally figured out what was wrong with him & replaced the band aid. Tada! He crawled up & went to sleep. Sheesh.

Let’s see the kids did get crafty & made crowns one night. Annika also made a chain necklace. She drew some pictures for both her grandparents then rolled them up with ribbon & placed them on their bed so they could be surprised when they got home. She’s so thoughtful & she was so proud of herself. She does this jumping up & down thing when she’s excited & that’s just what she did. There was lots of coloring going on & I finally had to get Dalton his own coloring book because Annika didn’t want to share hers. Now that he has his own he doesn’t seem as interested. Go figure. They watched their share kidding when I say he probably watched the “Car-toons Mater Tales” 100 times. First it was Toy Story during our travels now Cars. I don’t see how they can watch the same show over & over & over again. I tried to encourage other movies, but he wasn’t having it.

Hubby did his fair share of chores. He took the carpet out of the trailer, which was nice.  That cuts down on some vacuuming & just icky dirt trapped inside. The only carpet left is the stuff under the couch, which isn’t really exposed & the stuff under the table, which is probably really gross but he steam cleaned it before we left so now it’s ready for more food droppings & stains. What I’d really like are some black out curtains to block out the morning sun. When the sun rises Dalton is like a rooster ready to wake everyone up, but since we are close to the end of our travels the curtains will wait until our next camping trip.

Oh we did venture down to Phoenix to visit with the in laws & help them break up the monotony of the hotel room. Man it was hotter than hot down there. The temp on our suv showed 106 & 108. I don’t know why anyone would want to live in that heat. We went to Butterfly Wonderland, which was a new exhibit. We saw a 3d movie that talked about the life of the butterfly & their migration. Dalton wasn’t interested in wearing the 3d glasses & Annika had them on then off then on then off again. I noticed Emry had decided to poop so after the movie I had to walk all the way around to the end to get back to the beginning to get to the bathroom. There had to be an easier way. There was also a small aquarium inside with sting rays, but no one wanted to touch them. We went inside the butterfly area & woah it was humid in there. It was beautiful seeing all the many butterflies. Dalton would squat to see them, but would jerk back if they looked to mobile. If one got near him he would kind of jump/run away & head towards an adult for safety. Annika would say “aaaww cute” but she too would get freaked out if they came near her. One landed on hubby’s head & one landed on Dalton’s sleeve, but he didn’t see it. I can only imagine how he would have reacted..hahahaha! We of course had to walk thru the gift shop to get out (they’re tricky like that) & Annika finally decided on these really neat fabric butterfly wings. We talked about how it would make a great Halloween costume. Dalton got a wind up caterpillar. Next stop, lunch at Red Robin. Of course along the way I spotted a What-A-Burger & gasped in awww, but hubby doesn’t understand my fascination with my hometown burger. Hey it’s better than his nasty White Castle. Gag. But the restaurant had been pre-picked so I sucked it up & drank lots of strawberry lemonades at RR. We decided to head back home since it was later in the afternoon & there wasn’t much to do in the area for kids. I was glad to get out of that scorching heat.

Every Saturday there’s a local farmer’s market there in Payson & they have pony rides. We went that first Saturday & Annika was loving it. Dalton went too, but daddy had to walk beside him & make sure he didn’t fall off. They were both so cute. I found some delicious tapenade. I’ve looked for so long for the right olive tapenade that doesn’t have capers & this one didn’t. Simply had green & black olives & roasted red peppers. Yummo. I almost ate the whole container in one day. The next Saturday I wanted to go back & stock up on olive tapenade for the remainder of our trip so it was just me & Annika. She did another pony ride & I talked to the owner about his miniature horses. Oops thought they were ponies. He said mini horses are better mannered & actually not that expensive to care for. Hmmm might have to look into that. Of course I don’t want to be stuck doing all the horse care & I’m afraid that would happen. I think we’ll start with a puppy first even though I’m not wanting a dog, but it’ll be a good alert to us if strangers approach & it’ll occupy the kids & teach them some responsibilities. Anyway back to the market. I also got some yummy peanut butter that’s honey flavored & natural. As we were leaving there was a guy who had cannolis. I love cannolis & get one every time I come across them, but this one was by far the best. I also got some yummo cranberry/orange bread & Italian olive oil bread along with some crazy good cookies.  Oh how I love farmers markets. I can’t wait to get our house so I can start my own garden. Got lots of plans brewing in my head.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 16 Bryce Canyon

The sun was shining bright this morning & it was beautiful. I was anxious to get out of the area & put the horrible experience from the day before behind us. I was up around 6:30am since little man had woken up screaming. Wish I knew what he was dreaming about. I put him in bed with us & I went to the bathroom. When I got back I realized there wasn’t enough room for all of us so I took Emry with me & slept next to Annika on the couch bed. I got about another hour of sleep then felt Dalton climbing on me. We all laid there snuggling then I decided to get up & get the show on the road. I told the kids if they hurried we could go to the park before we left. Hubby was making bacon (yum) & Annika just wanted toast for breakfast. I went to the gift shop to see what they had. I was excited to see the same dress that I wanted from a camp site in Minnesota. I didn’t want to pass on it again so I got that for myself, a cute dress for Annika & a t-shirt for Dalton. When I got back Emry had woken up & was crying. The kids had eaten & hubby had cleaned everything up already. Woohoo! I took the kids out of his hair so he could get the trailer ready.

The kiddos played for a bit at the park then 2 girls came running over. Annika was excited to play with them, but they were speaking a foreign language (French) & she couldn’t understand them. They were playing on this airplane that was like a teeter toter & Annika got on too, but they would make faces at her like they didn’t want her on there. She went to climb on the back but one of the girls kind of pushed her way passed Annika then got on the back. My baby girl just stood there. Poor thing, but she kept trying to include herself.  Dalton got on too & I heard Annika say “be careful with my brother because he’s smaller” she also said “let my brother get on there too”. It made me kind of sad to see this going on, but I don’t think Annika was fully aware of what was going on & I didn’t want to say anything since they probably wouldn’t have understood. She stood back for a moment just watching them then she’d look over at me & I would smile at her to let her know it was ok. She finally came over to where I was & went down the slide with her brother & I pushed them on the swings & they got on the see saw. Another girl came over then 2 or 3 boys, but they were all older. I would say 10 & up to probably 14 or so. They boys were being rough & shaking the airplane back & forth & Annika said “those boys aren’t being nice”. They were just playing rough. Poor baby girl just wants some kids to play with. Times like this we really miss our friends back home.

Hubby drove up & was ready to go so I gathered up my little hens & we headed out. It was going to be a long drive to Bryce Canyon (about 4.5 hours). I hoped the kids would do as well as they had a couple days before. The scenery was beautiful, but the weather was overcast & blah. No surprise there since I’ve come to the conclusion that we are the Bergmark cloud. As usual we saw lots of horses & cows & the kids felt it necessary to point out each & every one. They crack me up.

We finally got to Bryce Canyon & decided we would take the shuttle bus to see the sights. Time to give hubby a break from chauffeuring us around. We needed to hurry since rain was coming. We first stopped at the visitor center to get the kids their passport stamps. We decided souvenirs would be last. Annika got the pamphlet for the junior ranger program & she started off finding 10 pieces of trash to pick up & throw away. We searched the area while we waited for the shuttle & she found her 10 pieces as was very enthusiastic about it. Another checklist on her program was to find certain animals & other items then circle them. She had to get them in a row like bingo. We found almost all of them. There was a hands on speaking engagements by the park ranger that we were supposed to sit thru, but due to the weather we weren’t able to. Oh well the other stuff was fun for her to do. The kids really got a kick out of riding that shuttle bus. It was like a free ride at an amusement park..haha.

We made it up to Bryce Point & the view was spectacular. It’s hard to explain that kind of beauty so you just have to go see it for yourself. Simple as that. After looking from all the viewpoints & plat forms we made our way back to the shuttle stop. The sky was looking freaky. Next stop was Inspiration Point & hubby asked if we should get off & I said “sure for a quick look & photo then back on in 15” (the bus came every 15 minutes). I was hoping to get inspired at Inspiration Point, but guess I was too busy trying to get photos before the rain came. There was some neat lightning going on & the thunder was deep sounding. We managed to get a family photo, but it turned out dark due to the very cloudy sky. We started making our way back to the shuttle stop & it started to rain. We huddled under the awning & more people started squeezing in as it rained harder. We saw behind us a small yet fast river had formed & was flowing down past everyone’s feet. Thankfully we had a good seat. The temperature had dropped & it was cold & my poor kids were dressed for warm weather. I felt horrible & hugged them close to me to keep them warm. We were first in line for the shuttle but when it came people took off to get a spot on the bus. Everyone for themselves apparently. Thankfully we managed to get seats in the back. Dalton was up wiping the windows since everyone breathing had fogged them up. When a group of people got off I sat next to hubby & Dalton crawled up next to his daddy & fell asleep. Thankfully when we got to our stop the rain stopped as well. Whew! We loaded up our circus & went to get a quick souvenir. Annika had her eye on all the toy horses but we are drowning in horses so she settled for a rider for her horse. Really looking forward to getting our house so we can get these toys out from under our feet.

We made our way to our camp ground which was about 45 minutes away. Not a long ride, but we were cold & tired & I was looking forward to setting up & settling down. The camp was 2 miles from the main road on a gravel road so we got the suv & camper nice & dirty. Hubby was nice enough to ask me if this road was giving me flash backs from the day before on that horrible 4 wheeling experience. Not funny. Even though we were out in the boonies it was a cute camp ground & a deer was next to the park area. Annika wanted to go “play” with the wild deer, but we had to explain why that wasn’t a good idea. She didn’t care, but maybe if she were to get kicked or bit by a deer she’d change her mind real fast. A family of deer walked thru once we were set up & they didn’t seem too bothered with the people around. Thre were also lots of chipmunks running around & we were told to keep our doors closed or else they’d get in. Yep not wanting one of those for a pet so our doors stayed closed. I got caught up on laundry, which took forever since there was only one washer & one dryer. I was talking to a lady about Colorado & hubby talked to an older guy (not by choice, the guy was all over hubby like white on rice). Gotta say hubby has been quite the social butterfly since we started on this trip. One of the guys he was talking to said to be careful since he’d spotted a mountain lion near the camp ground the last couple days. Eeeck! That’s an animal on our list we haven’t seen, but I’m not too anxious to see one up close & personal.
Tomorrow we head towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon, which should be another awesome viewing experience. I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon since I was a young kid (probably 10 or 11). I’m looking forward to getting to the in-laws house in a couple days. I’m ready for some elbow room & just relaxing for a while. I’m ready for that hot tub & I know hubby is too.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 15 Four Wheeling Nightmare

By the time we got ready to leave Ogden early in the morning it was already hot. We didn’t make it to the Mormon temple because hubby didn’t want to drive the trailer in the city & he said parking wasn’t good.  Dang, but maybe next time. The drive to Capitol Reef National Park wasn’t as long as we thought it would be. Hubby planned on staying at Escalante then doing day trips to Capitol Reef & Bryce Canyon, but he changed his mind & we stayed at this little place with an awesome view. The canyon behind the camp ground was beautiful & the colors were awesome (reds, oranges & green). There was a park & pool at the camp ground, but it was too cold. We decided to go ahead & see the park now & do the scenic route then call it good & head out to Bryce Canyon in the morning.

We got into the park around 4:30 & stopped at the visitor center for the kid’s stamps for their passports. At the corner of my eye I saw a lady take a map of the park, but disregarded it. Mistake #1 on my part. We saw some huge rocks, which Annika was nice enough to correct me & say “those aren’t rocks they’re boulders”. Excuuuuse me smarty pants. We stopped at one scenic look out, but the temps were not in our favor & rain was coming. We drove down this one road that was bumpy & the kid’s voices were vibrating, which they got a kick out of & Dalton kept saying “again again”. I believe it was our second turn into a scenic point & off to the side was a 4 week drive route. I said “oooh let’s go” & hubby did that “eeehh” & I said “aaawww daddy’s scared”. Mistake #2 on my part. Annika chimed in with “let’s go”. So hubby gives in & we head towards the trail. It started out ok with “woah woah woah” & laughing. We drove through some washes & made comments like “hope we don’t get a flash flood” with a grin & smirk on our face. We even stopped so I could take a photo of the Sequoia in a 4 wheel drive area, but I look back & that photo was a joke compared to what was coming. We saw some fresh tire tracks & hubby said he saw a white vehicle start out ahead of us, but I never saw it. The trail really wasn’t that bad at first then we came to a crossing over a wash with water running thru it. It wasn’t big, but hubby took a really good look at it to see if we could cross it since it was uneven & we would do a little climb over it. I’m pretty sure he said we should turn around, but I said we could do it. Mistake #3 on my part. So we went thru it & it was fun & I think we scraped the undercarriage on that one. The trail kept going & going & it started to get a little harder. Annika started with “why did we come down here, let’s go back”, but I told her it was ok. Hubby had to put the suv into 4 wheel drive a couple times & he was nervous about the tires ripping on the rocks, but we kept going. I was getting nervous by now & worried about the weather. I was also worried that we had no cell phone coverage & no internet coverage & worst of all was that no one knew we were out there. It made me think of the movie 127 hours. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if it was just me & hubby, but I had 3 precious babies in the back seat. I remember making the comment early on that we had a few snacks & my boob juice if we got stranded, but we remembered we had at least a case of water in the cooler in the back seat so that was somewhat comforting. However I took all the blankets out to wash them so we had nothing to keep warm if it came to that. All this was running thru my head as the trail got worse. My stomach was starting to get into knots & then we see the white vehicle coming towards us. We thought the trail was done & they were coming back. I was kind of relieved, but then the lady gets out & tells us that the road got too steep & they had to turn around. She asked us if we called the visitor center to let them know we were coming out there & we said no. I didn’t even think about that, but then again we hadn’t planned on doing a 4 wheel drive trail until we saw it. Mistake #4.  Now I was really worried since they couldn’t climb the trail, but they were in a crossover vehicle & we had our big Sequoia with 4 wheel drive. So we pressed on. We saw where their tracks stopped & the steep climb they were talking about. I’m pretty sure we made the comment about not wanting to turn around & go all the way back because it was at least an hour drive that had passed. We should have turned around! Let me say also that the kind of rock out there was brittle & our tires had spun a couple times. So we decide to make the climb thinking the end was just around that cliff. We were so wrong & that point was the beginning of the really really bad trail ride that had me praying for the next hour and a half or more. The kids were all sleeping at this point & I was glad because I know for a fact Annika would have been crying out of fear. I remember hubby saying “we’re committed we’re committed” as he started up that steep climb because there was no stopping. Had we stopped we would have slid backwards & probably gone over the edge. It was wide enough for us to go thru, but when I looked over the edge to see how much room we had it was less than a foot of space. I didn’t want to visualize us falling off the edge & tumbling down into the gorge, but the thought crept into my mind. I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit & I had severe dry mouth. I forced myself not to cry in fear because I didn’t want the kids to see me that way. I wanted them to feel comforted that it was ok. I was holding onto the handle by the window & my entire body was tense. The last time I was that tense was during natural childbirth.  I gotta say as I’m typing this & reliving it in my mind I’m still shaken up & my stomach is in knots.

We made it up that steep ledge only to come to the top & see more & more & more. It was very discouraging. The under carriage of our suv scraped several times on this trail & hubby worried about us breaking down. It got to the point where we thought we might have to camp out in the wilderness if the suv broke down or if we got lost. I was scoping out safe looking places just in case as I prayed for our safety & for Kurt’s ability to drive us out of there in one piece. I regretted pushing him to drive this dumb trail & promised I’d never encourage him to do anything like this ever again & I told him to go with his gut next time & to put his foot down & say “no” to me.

This trail seemed to go on forever & a couple times hubby had to get out of the suv to walk down a steep grade or around a corner to see if it was safe for us to continue. Of course there was no going back, especially down that very steep & narrow ledge so we had no choice. Both times he said it was ok. Our gps showed us in the middle of nowhere with no streets nearby. Ugh I hated that feeling. Several times the trail seemed to get better & we got our hopes up that it was coming to an end, but then we’d start climbing again on rough terrain then would decline again on rough terrain. What made it worse was the fact that it had rained earlier so some of the rocks were slick & more rain was coming so there was that urgency to hurry & get out of there. I remember thinking at one point as I held Emry’s hand that “she’s just a baby & has her whole life ahead of her”. I know it sounds silly & you’re probably thinking I’m being over dramatic, but until you drive that trail with your babies in the back seat, you have no idea. Before kids, hubby & I did our fair share of 4 wheeling when we lived in Vegas & in the Azores the first time, but this was way worse & we had our precious cargo with us. Bad bad choice on our part. I thought we’d be THAT family you’d see on tv that came up missing & people would chime in with “what were the parent’s thinking”. I didn’t want it to come to that. Annika finally woke from her nap & it was right when we were on a bad patch of the trail & she started talking about something, but hubby told her “stop talking right now, I need to concentrate”. I think she could sense his tone & I turned around & told her to pray in her mind & I held her hand tightly. I held on to her hand for a very long time not just for her comfort but for mine as well. At some point, I can’t remember when, Dalton woke up & asked for his movie. I thought it would be a great distraction for him so I gave it to him & Annika asked for hers as well. Anything to keep their minds occupied & their eyes off the road.

Finally in the distance I saw a trail that looked to be on flat ground surrounded by trees. I was hopeful & prayed that the end of the trail was near. It was after 7pm & I didn’t want to be out there at night when we wouldn’t be able to see anything. When we got to that flat prairie area we eased up a bit, but it still wasn’t over. The trail wasn’t nearly as bad, but we still went thru several washes, climbed over rocks & had bushes scrape the sides of our suv. I didn’t care at that point I just wanted out of there. I wanted to kiss the asphalt & do a happy dance. We saw a couple signs so that was uplifting. What wasn’t encouraging was the fact that on this trail there were no tire marks, only ours that we left behind us. The trail got better & we saw a couple corrals which meant other trucks could get out there & we knew the road would come soon. The road started to level out & eventually we saw more tire tracks. Yay! We saw big trees & I saw dust in the road & before I could say something about it I saw a truck in front of us. I was so happy to see another vehicle! Then we saw a sign for a camp ground. Halleluiah! The truck moved over for us & hubby drove faster. He was just as eager to get the heck out of there. The dirt road turned into a gravel road, which was so uplifting then he saw the road. Yes! We had survived. About ¼ mile up the road was a rest stop & we took it. He got out & smoked his cigar, which he totally deserved for being an awesome driver & getting us out safely. I went to the bathroom, then changed & fed Emry. I was sure to thank God several times & I hugged my babies. Hubby & I were now able to talk about what we felt & he admitted to being very concerned several times. He agreed that we never should have taken the trail. He said it would have been fine in a jeep since it’s a lighter vehicle & has better tires & is narrower, but nope I’d never do it again. We got the kids back in & headed to our camp ground. I just wanted to be in the safety of our trailer & I wanted to forget about Capital Reef forever. Turns out we missed quite a few neat dwellings on the scenic route around the park, but we were up close & personal with that park, closer than I ever wanted to be. We lived it. I made the comment that I could use a stiff drink & I’m not much of a drinker, but since all we have is hubby’s yucky vinegar wine, I had to settle for water & gum. My nerves were shot. That evening after dinner & getting the kids ready for bed I skipped getting on the computer to blog. The memory was too fresh in my head & too disturbing to relive at that moment. I just wanted to snuggle with my babies & go to bed & that’s exactly what I did, but not before thanking God one more time.