Friday, August 24, 2012

The Road to Colorado

The Road to Colorado

We left home on Saturday, July 14th at 3:30am.
We drove to Las Vegas, NV with the kids asleep.  (Ok, Sarah was asleep for a couple hours, too.)  :)
Pete had done some research and found this awesome little park for us.  We had breakfast at one of the covered wagon picnic tables (picture if you follow the previous link) with our picnic bag and played on the playground for a long time.

(No, we didn't travel with that bin next to her head... I was getting something out, took a picture and then put it away.  Safety first!) 

 Arriving for our first stop in Vegas!

After the park, we drove down the strip just for fun and went into a mall.
We walked around (enjoyed the A/C) did a little shopping and hung out until lunch.
We had lunch in the food court and then hit the road in time for naps!

Just another hour or two of driving and we easily concluded day one, arriving in St. George, UT.

One of Pete's (many) awesome playlists that he (we) made for the trip!
We brainstormed the lists together--I think we had 8 very different genres of playlists--and he made it happen.
Thanks babe!
I've gotta say, we did have some great music to listen to and a good variety too!
(Maybe not important to others, but hey... we're two musicians... we had to put some thought into what we were going to be listening to!)

Arizona!  (I hadn't realized we would be entering AZ!)

 "Watch for Rocks"  um. ok.  :)

You know you're in Utah when... ... ...
(Um, possibly offensive to native Utah-ers... so I'll leave it off the blog.  It had to do with the strip mall of stores next to our hotel.  The first one was a Mormon bookstore... ask me later.) 
 Our first hotel!

 Em's new suit and sunglasses (from Vegas). $6 total at The Children's Place!

Sunday, July 15th
First stop: Zion National Park. 
 At the top of our "hike" to see the Three Patriarchs.

Aww.  Love these guys!

 They don't let you drive through the park anymore (like when I was here as a kid with my family) but they have a busing system that goes through the parks.  We were hesitant, but it was great!

 A group self portrait that I actually think is great!

Emily looks like me but acts like Pete.
Noah looks like Pete but acts like me.
Case in point?  
Em, trying to wander further into the stream.
Noah, looking over Pete's shoulder for me to help get him out of there.  :)

 Pete told her it was mistletoe so she had to kiss him.

My little adventurers.

 Time for a breather.

 Back in the car swagger wagon.
(Notice the reflection of the clouds?)

 :)  Creative, right?


At a park in Grand Junction, CO where we stopped for the night.
I got food poisoning at a Denny's.  (Why did we go to Denny's?  I don't know.  I think it was the first and last time we will ever go!)  I'll spare you the details.

 Monday, July 16th
We slept in and had breakfast at the hotel.
No rush because our place in Keystone changed their mind about our early check-in.

 "No Name" Rest Area.  Yes.  :)
We got caught in a little storm in the mountains this morning.
It wasn't terrible, but a little scary nonetheless when the thunder and lightening started! 
 This was taken at the end of the storm.  I love how you can see the clearing just around the bend.
We watched the trip odometer hit 1,000 miles!  We're halfway there!

Planning & Prep

Planning and Prep.

Taking a 2,000 mile (each way!) road trip with a 4 year old and 1 year old requires quite a bit of planning, and ok, I am a dork.  (I know it and am peace with it.)  So I did a LOT of planning.  :)  

I wish I had taken pictures of all of the other organizational stuff but here are the 'highlights' of what we did (and tips for anyone looking to do this):

1. I started a board on Pinterest for all of my summer road trip ideas.  You can see it here.

2. An entire notebook full of lists.  My husband may have made fun of me, but it was great to have them all in one place.  Any lists that I collected from other places ended up taped into the notebook.  I especially liked the packing list from Tsh Oxenreider (aka: Simple Mom), found here.  I had lists of movies to bring, lists of snacks (for each kid of course!)  Lists of the bags we had with us, lists of small gifts for the kids (and at which mile markers to aim to give them out!)  I had lists of lists that I needed to make and many, many more!  What can I say, I like lists.  :)

3.  Speaking of notebooks, the day before we left I made a travel binder.  It had our directions, maps, road trip activities (like a print out of license plates to find and other I Spy games), our hotel confirmation print outs and more.  The I Spy type pages were all in page protectors so we could use a white board marker and then wipe them off to play more than once.  I also incorporated some scrapbook paper and stickers that I've had for years and printed pictures while we were on our trip and now it functions more as a memory book.

4.  Each of us had our own suitcase.  We don't usually do this but it made it SO much easier to know where to put stuff and where to find it.

5.  We had one 'overnight bag' for when we were on the road, changing places each night.  I packed everyone's stuff (including toiletries) for however many days until our destination into my large utility tote from thirty-one bags.  (I have it in 'minty chip'.)

6.  My little girl likes to change her clothes 3 or 4 times a day, so to minimize that I pre-planned out her outfits and put them each in their own gallon size Ziploc bag, complete with her undies and hair clips.  Then I had a couple spare clothing items that she could use if her clothes got dirty and needed to be changed or if she needed a jacket or whatever.  She liked it because she got to easily see and choose her outfits and I liked it because her clothes weren't strewn all around the room at each stop!  I wouldn't recommend this for most trips, or for most people, as it's 'extra' work, but for us and for this trip it was great!

7. Everything in the car had a container.  Nothing was loose.  (Well at least not when we started out!  Ha, that certainly wasn't always true for the whole trip!)  I repurposed Sterilite boxes and fabric bins from around the house.  I had a shoe box size Sterilite box for First Aid and one for sunscreen and bug repellant.  Larger ones held toys and books for the kids.  (Each kid had their own box.  A month or so before our trip I hid the toys and books that I planned to take so that they felt 'new' again when the kids saw them in the car.)  Also, for the most part, when we were at one of our destination we put the car toys out of sight so the kids weren't sick of them when we got back on the road.  I had a bin of snacks that the kids could choose from (healthy-ish and portioned out ahead of time) and a bag of special snacks (treats) that were rationed out much more carefully.

8.  I bought, found and made gifts for the kids for the road.  I don't think any of the gifts were more than $3 and most of them were $1 or less.  I hit up the Target Dollar Spot, clearance toy section and our local Dollar Tree.  Some of the more expensive 'gifts' were also practical--Em got her own little make up bag with travel size soaps (that I already had at home) and she loved it.  They didn't really even care as much about what was in the gift as the anticipation of it and getting to unwrap something.  Most days on the road they got 1 gift.  (It was also bribery for good behavior!)  The two long days on the return trip they got 2 or 3 gifts each day.

9. I put together a 'picnic' bag and we used it a lot!  (I used one of my Organizing Utility Totes from Thirty-One Bags.)  It had a lined plastic table cloth, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, a diaper clutch, frisbee, ball and bubbles.  We used this often at parks or rest stops on the road for picnic meals (healthier and cheaper than fast food), snacks, or just when we would stop to play.  It was really nice to have everything in one bag and easy to grab.

10.  iPad(s).  We don't have DVD players in our car (by choice!) but we wanted to be able to play movies on the trip--iPads to the rescue!  I purchased this on Amazon for about $7 (the price changes constantly.) It worked really well, but Emily had to use headphones to watch movies, otherwise since the speaker is in the back, it was really loud for me and would have driven me crazy.  For Noah, we purchased this at Target.  It made the iPad a bit hard to use, but since that iPad belongs to my school, safety was my main concern, and with that holder (and the case it already had) the iPad was practically indestructible!  As far as movies go, we were able to download digital copies from some of the movies we already owned and then we bought a couple surprise movies on iTunes while we were on the road.

There was much more planning and preparation involved, so if you're looking to do a similar long trip, let me know, I've got tips for you!!  For the sake of everyone else though (if anyone is still reading!) I'll think I'll wrap it up there.  :)

Next blog: PICTURES from the road!


July 3 Road Trip Introduction

July Week 3 was July 15th-21st.

This was the week we started our (almost) month long road trip!

Instead of doing the next few posts by week, I'm going to do them by segments of our trip.

To keep the blog posts from getting long I'll break them down as follows:
1. Introduction
2. Planning & Prep
3. The road to Colorado
4. Keystone, CO
5. The road to Iowa
6. Iowa City, IA
7. Orange City, IA
8.The road back to Long Beach

Okay.  Introduction to our trip--it was awesome!
For sure I had my doubts, but the kids did WONDERFULLY with the driving!  Pete was super optimistic about the whole thing, I was crazy organized, the kids were cheerful and it went swimmingly.  Praise God for safe (and smooth) travels!

Over the course of our trip I took 2,970 photos.

Yes...almost THREE THOUSAND pictures.

AND it was fewer than I would have liked because I ran out of room on my laptop and had to limit my picture taking until I was able to purchase another external hard drive in Iowa City.

So, just a heads up, lots of pictures coming soon!  :)

July 2

2nd Week of July

(Plus Saturday of last week.)
We went to Cambria for my cousin Andy's wedding!

Hi David :)

At the rehearsal dinner.

Sunday at church for the wedding. 
Emily, Brady and Stephanie 
 Grandma Cov and Matt (my cousin, the brother of the groom)
 Janelle & Andy, bride & groom

Kendall & Rex

(well, technically they're what?  second cousins once removed?)

 (ie: my cousins' children)

The happy couple :)

 The Central Coast Covingtons

Charlotte & Daniel

(Side Note: Daniel (above) and Noah (below) are only 5 DAYS apart in age.  Do you see the difference in size?!  Wow!)

 Em making a grab for her chocolate bar before dinner

Grandma Cov :)

 Dollar dances with the groom

and with 'the princess' (as Emily called her)

Lots of dancing for our little girl! 

When it was time to leave the reception (and walk back to our hotel room on the same property--thanks Grandma!) my sweet cousin Kendall gave Emily her bouquet!
Emily was sooo happy and told me she felt like a princess too.

 Family photo the next morning at breakfast.

 Driving back down the PCH was beautiful as always.  
(That's the Pacific Coast Highway for you midwesterners!)

 Uh-oh!  This won't work!

Noah thought it was funny.

Cooling off in the backyard.

7-11.  Celebrating 8 years today!
Love you, Peter!
(And yes, we went on a legitimate, wonderful, child-free date later.)