Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Road trip 2012 - Days 1 and 2

It's been over a month since our vacation road trip started, so I should probably get some blog posts up.  We set out to visit Uncle Dave and Aunt Nissa in California.  We tried to find several fun stops along the route, since we were driving all that way anyway.  We had 9 days (8 nights), but probably could have spent twice that long in order to really appreciate all the places we saw.

Papa created a set of google maps that show our route and we really covered some ground!  The kids added several new states to the list of places they'd been and I think it was my first time in Arizona.

 Day 1

We set out in the morning on Friday, the 8th.  We fit everything into the Neon and didn't even need the car top carrier!  However as M2 climbed into his seat, avoiding the box of food in his foot well and his bag of toys, he said, "We're just like astronauts!"  (We've been reading a lot of books about the Apollo program lately.)

Day 1 was one of our longer driving days.  We made a super quick stop to see the Corn Palace, had a fun rest stop lunch, and ran around at Wall Drug for a bit.


A little frightened of the Jackalope!
 We have a GPS that is useful for finding gas stations, hotels, and restaurants on the route.  We had some difficulty on this trip with businesses having moved or not being in the system.  We tried to avoid fast food chains and for supper on Day 1 we ended up at a combo BBQ/muffler shop that only offered meat.  We ended up with a whole chicken and another picnic.

Day 2

Our highlight for Day 2 was spending some time in Salt Lake City.

The kids are excellent travelers and I was amazed each day at how well they did in the backseat.  They each had a bag of activities I helped select.  M.G. has always been good at entertaining herself in the car.  She had books, an activity atlas that she loved reading us facts from, and a few small toys.  Again we offered her a babysitting job if she remembered to help out her brother and sister if we needed it.  She went above and beyond in that respect and was very patient and kind in cramped quarters.

M2 doesn't have that habit of reading for hours and hours, so I spent a lot of time trying to brainstorm some ideas for him.  We found a wonderful Travel Activity book that was a good level of difficulty for him.  M.G. or I would read the directions, but he spent hours working his way through puzzles, games, and mazes.  I also bought travel Tangoes that I pulled out for the later part of the trip.  He did have a few books and M.G. helped him learn to read them and he had some small toys too.  There were a few times when he just needed a change of focus and throwing in a CD usually did the trick.

M3 was an excellent little traveler.  She had some small toys and stuffed animals to play with and a few board books.  She tended to pester M.G. a few times a day and I know I rode with my arm in between them for a while to keep her from pinching M.G.'s arm with her toes.  She also wanted to take M.G.'s "big books" and it was funny to look back and see them both flipping through chapter books. 

We made it to the actual Utah Museum of Natural History after a short detour when our GPS led us to its former location.  The previous site was just another really old building on the University of Utah campus.  I was surprised because the museum has a very well developed webpage and we'd heard about it on Dinosaur Train.  The new location was very modern and large, so then it all made sense. 

I most enjoyed watching the scientists cleaning the fossils that are found at local dig sites.  The museum is home to a gigantic fossil collection.  We all enjoyed walking around and seeing the dino exhibit.  The dinosaurs featured were mainly local to Utah and it was interesting to notice that they are also the dinosaurs often featured on the show Dinosaur Train.  The kids had a good general background to appreciate some of the things they were seeing.
The museum had several interesting exhibits and I think Papa and I could have spent much longer exploring, but the kids reached their limit and we decided to head for lunch, since we had used up the time we had budgeted for the stop.

We found a local pizza place that was excellent and spent some time driving around Salt Lake City to see the sights.  We spent the rest of the day driving.  The kids and I slept as Papa made his way across the salt flats of Utah.  I was awake to see the Morton salt factory.  It had a giant pile of salt outside on the ground!

One of the highlights for the kids was pulling off at a "rest area" that was basically two pit toilets at the top of one of the mountain elevations.  The wind nearly blew us over as we all tried to hustle back to the car.  I don't know why, but they talked about that little adventure ("So windy!"  "Weird potties!") the rest of the trip.

We happened to pull into Elko, NV just in time for Mass and then a picnic supper.  I think this might have been the only time on vacation that we were chilly! That night we stayed in the Reno/Sparks, NV area. 

1 comment:

Greg said...

The "rest area" was also pretty darn chilly!