Tag Archives: traveling

Road Trip Recap

When we last saw our heroes, they were cramming themselves into a tiny SUV which should’ve been bigger.  We now join them somewhere on I-90.

I’d only reserved two hotels for the entire trip.  I had no idea how far we would travel each day and so I only booked for what I thought would be busier places: Rapid City and Nauvoo.  The little towns by Mount Rushmore are basically shut down off season, so I didn’t find anywhere closer for a family of five.

With a waterslide.

Mount Rushmore was pretty cool, I thought.  My husband had wanted to hike around it but all of the trails were closed because it had snowed the night before and there was ice.  And the Department of the Interior does not mess around with ice.

The kids became junior park rangers and I learned a lot about Mount Rushmore that I hadn’t known.  For instance, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t originally planned for it.  And dynamite was used to create 90% of it.  And honeycombing isn’t just for bees.

Custer National Park was a highlight.  We saw prairie dogs, deer, elk, coyotes, wolves, wild ponies, and bison.  One bison started licking our car.  We found out from another visitor that they lick the salt off the cars.  I had just thought that was the bison way of being friendly.

This is the bison licking our car. If you would like a better picture, you can get out of your car and take it...

This is the bison licking our car. If you would like a better picture, you can get out of your car and take it…

Once you leave Rapid City, heading East on I-90, you start seeing billboards for Wall Drug.  And then you keep seeing them about every 50 feet.  There are big billboards and little billboards.  Billboards offering free water.  Billboards offering discounts to Vets.  Billboards with obscure drawings that have nothing to do with Walls or Drugs.

By the time you’ve driven 5 miles, you are very curious as to why Wall Drug advertises so much.  So we decided to stop.

(Which may be why they advertise so much.)

It was Easter Sunday and I wasn’t sure it would be open but THERE WERE SO MANY SIGNS we thought it was always open.

So we got off the freeway.  And followed the signs to a GIANT store.  It took up a whole block.  It was amazing.

It was closed.

So instead, we went to the bar across the street and had the best burgers and fries we had eaten in a while.  And fried pickle chips.  I would like a lifetime supply of fried pickle chips.

I think the highlight of the trip for the kids (and for me) was Nauvoo.  It’s a historical town where we learned how to make rope, bake bread in a brick oven (hypothetically), weave our own rugs and make a horseshoe.  The kids like living history towns; we sort of make them like them because we keep taking them to different ones.  It just makes it easier if they decide to enjoy themselves.

We learned a lot.  We even ran into Susan Easton Black and George Durrant who were there on  a very brief mission.  We followed her around town and the cemetery (with her permission).  We even stayed an extra day so we could hear her lecture.

And it’s a good thing we did because we then got to see the Carthage County Museum (or something like that) which was made from the collection of a biology teacher from the local college.  She used to collect things.  Nowadays we call that hoarding but I guess her stuff was interesting enough to keep her house as a museum.  And that’s where we saw the pickle jar with the pickled two-headed pig.  A true highlight.

It's in a PICKLE JAR!

It’s in a PICKLE JAR!

We finished our trip in Independence Missouri.  We spent the day driving to different LDS sites and then we went to the visitor’s center.  We knew it had been a long day and trip and that we were done with it all when the missionary asked us what we should do before we pray and my 8 yr old said:

Eat.

(The correct answer was some version of ponder…  meditate, think, pause…  Eat was an answer she hadn’t heard before.)

The whole trip was a good time.  There wasn’t too much fighting (Thank you Tyler Whitesides for writing The Janitors series and reading it onto CD’s).  By the end of the trip I think we were all sick of each other, but we all learned a lot.

I learned that my great, great grandfather Haight had a 16 day old child who passed away at Winter Quarters, Nebraska and that my great, great, great grandfather Higgenbotham had been a missionary from Nauvoo.  I got a CD with their information and their wives’ information and I can’t wait to read what I found.  Eliza and Louisa, their wives, did amazing things and wrote about it.  I can’t wait to read their journals.  It made Nauvoo a little more real, knowing my ancestors came through there.  (I even know where their land was.  I asked the owners if I could have it back and they said no.  I didn’t even get my own parking space in the lot that was over Gpa Higginbotham’s 1/4 acre.  Seems unfair.)

Can you see the resemblance?

Can you see the resemblance?

I think the kids learned a lot about U.S. and LDS history but they will probably remember the bison licking the car and the two headed pig the most.

But one day they will go back, wearing their prairie diamond rings, with the information we got this time, knowing their ancestors were there.

Prairie Diamond Rings

Prairie Diamond Rings

“This is Not What I Ordered”

We just got back from Spring Break 2016.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that being the party hardy family that we are, we went to Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, or were asked to be hosts of the MTV beach party.

You are very close.

We rented a car and drove for a total of 2200 miles and 42 hours.    (Is Road Trip still an MTV gameshow?)

I called the local rental company I happened to be on the website of and asked the guy who answered what the difference was between a standard SUV, a luxury SUV, and a premier SUV.  He told me to rent a Standard and they would give me an Expedition.  Part of my goal in renting a car for the road trip was to try out a bigger car and see if I liked to drive it.  I said Okay fine and didn’t think about it.

Until I worried it wasn’t going to work out.

I called Thursday to ask if we could rent a day early and they said sure.  The person on the phone said nothing about not getting the car I had been promised so I tried not to be worried about it.  I just couldn’t believe there was an Expedition in Helena.

(When Kevin wanted to rent a convertible for an anniversary trip, it took them a week to get one up here.  This isn’t really convertible country.)

I showed up on Friday to get the car and they had a

Dodge Ram Truck

for me.

I was told it is in the same category as the Standard SUV which I had ordered.  I asked if no one noticed I would be driving it ONE WAY to MISSOURI when they put it aside.  The lady at the desk said that she didn’t think it would work.  I agreed.

I then went outside and looked at what they had available.  The minivans were on recall and so I basically had the option of a Dodge Journey.   It had three rows but it is smaller than our Pilot and therefore did not reach my goal of trying a bigger car.

It also changed the plans of how we would pack.  Unfortunately, I did not change WHAT we would pack, causing a tiny panic when trying to fit everything in our suitcases for the flight back.

(We decided to fly back so we could spend more time at different sites and less time driving.  It would’ve been a great idea and we would’ve had plenty of luggage, had we gotten a larger car.)

So that is the start of our week-long trek across the US of A.

Join us next time for “My Rapid City is Faster than Yours” or “Nauvoo; Naw Problem.”

I really wanted to become a biker while here. But our SUV was too small.

I really wanted to become a biker while here. But our SUV was too small.

European Pictures Part 2

I missed two of my favorite snapshots I caught.  And I thought, “What a shame.”

I like how they clarify that one leg should be on the ground if you are on a bike

I like how they clarify that one leg should be on the ground if you are on a bike

Kevin and I went to Swan Lake at the Vienna Opera House (crossing off an item on my bucket list) This picture is what it looks like when you try to take a picture of the Prima Ballerina and miss.

Kevin and I went to Swan Lake at the Vienna Opera House (crossing off an item on my bucket list) This picture is what it looks like when you try to take a picture of the Prima Ballerina and miss.

I hope these pictures help you appreciate travel just a little bit more.

And, unfortunately, I do NOT take family portraits.  (In case you wanted to hire me.)

 

The Hiawatha Trail

We took our kids on the Hiawatha Trail. It used to be part of the Milwaukee Railroad.

“It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46 mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for 8771 ft. (1.66 miles) under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line.”

Now they’ve covered the tracks with dirt and you mountain bike over it.  It’s a beautiful path.  We put tag-a-longs on the back of my bike and Kevin’s so that the two youngest road with us and our oldest road his own bike.

The first 1.6 miles are in a completely black tunnel.  You have to wear headlamps or a bike light to make it.  On both sides of the tunnel there are 18 inch ditches for water runoff.

(I highly recommend learning to ride with a tag-a-long and kid before entering a slightly sloped, completely black tunnel with water dripping from the ceiling.  It throws balancing off just a wee bit.)

It took us 3ish hours to get down the path.  It was mostly downhill.  We paused occasionally to read the historic signs along the way and to eat unhealthy snacks.  We thought of riding back up but the shuttle was right there waiting for us.  It was a sign.  And we didn’t realize how tired we were until we sat down.  And closed our eyes.

They drop you off at the end of the tunnel so you have to bike through it again.  Seeing as we were experts at riding our bikes in the dark, it went much faster the second time.
I recommend riding bikes in a dark tunnel.  It makes you feel like you’ve done something incredibly cool and dangerous without actually doing anything cool or dangerous.

We're waiting for endorsement deals.

We’re waiting for endorsement deals.

Consistency

I just went to a writing retreat.  One of the presenters, Ann Cannon, is a columnist and blogger.  She says that consistency is the key.  I thought I’d try it for a while.  It will be scientific research.
And then I’ll publish it as a thesis
And get an honorary doctorate
And I’ll make everyone call me Doctor Marianne
Or maybe Your Excellency
And I’ll get an endorsement from the Nordstrom Shoe department
And take my family on a Disney Adventure.
Twice.

This has nothing to do with this post.  But it's really hot right now and this picture is so cool.  I wish I was writing this in a pool.

This has nothing to do with this post. But it’s really hot right now and this picture isn’t. I wish I was writing this in a pool.

And all of this can be mine if I’m consistent.
I guess it would help if I were consistent with blogging…

Brothel Days

We took our kids to Virginia City and Nevada City.  They are historical towns with living museums and stage coaches and handmade ice cream and candy.

We got there Friday night and ate at the Star Cafe.  It was better food than we’d had in a while.  Then we checked into the Nevada City Hotel. There is no air conditioning and all of the fans had been checked out.  The breeze was blowing the wrong direction — it wasn’t going in our window.  So we left and went on a ghost tour.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And then our 10 year old told our 8 and 6 year old he could hear voices.  I did not enjoy that.

The next day we woke up to find out it was Brothel Days in Virginia City.  A friend told me not to worry because our kids wouldn’t understand; as long as we skipped the lecture they had at 1pm about Brothels.

I had a feeling, however, had they seen the Bed Races they would’ve asked questions about why a woman dressed in her underwear and garters was riding on a bed while four people pushed it down the street as fast as they could.

Luckily, the train came.

I've always wanted to work in a living history museum.  But not when it's 96 degrees.

I’ve always wanted to work in a living history museum. But not when it’s 96 degrees.

What to do if you’re a SAHM at a Conference

If you’ve ever been to a professional conference with your spouse and someone has asked you what you do and you’ve answered ‘stay at home mom,’ you’ve also experienced the glazed over look, the speaker staying for a polite 3-4 more sentences and then moving on.

I’m tired of people getting a glazed over look and leaving after a few polite sentences.  I want them to leave for more exciting reasons.  Or maybe just out of fear.
I’ve come up with a few alternatives:
If you aren’t at a Dental conference, tell people you are a dentist.  People will then ask about a tooth.  This may freak you out, but all you have to ask is, “Do you floss?”  The answer is always no and then you can tell them that there is nothing a dentist will ever be able to do for them again unless they regularly floss.

If you are at a Dental Conference, tell people you’re a lobbyist against fluoridated water.  People will still leave, but they’ll leave out of anger.

Another fun response: “I’m thinking of running for President.  Hillary Clinton was on the right track but she wore the wrong shoes.”  Then ask for a contribution.
OR
“I’m trying to become a dictator of a small country off the coast of Canada.”  Then ask for a contribution.

Another favorite:
Lean in and very quietly say, “I take care of people” and then wink.

I hope this helps.  If nothing else, it will make generally boring conferences at least a little more interesting.

Or you could tell people you're a stay at home mom of zombie children

Or you could tell people you’re a stay at home mom of zombie children

Disneyworld!

Great picture of the kids?

Great picture of the kids?

We went to Disney World last week.  This picture sums it up. I put it on Facebook so a lot of you may have seen it, but it’s still my favorite.

I’ve decided I may put a little too much energy into planning vacations.  Because they never go as planned and no one is every perfectly happy.  And even when your kids beg to go on a ride, they duck for the picture.

I studied for this trip for hours but not the right way, I think.  Disney World is an EXPERIENCE not a ride.  Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot are also about shows and just being there.  We tried to run from ride to ride and we got in a lot of rides, but I wish we’d seen more shows and worried less about the rides.  There’s a life lesson in there.  Mickey would be proud.

The last night we were there, I told the kids we were staying for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.  They’re at 10pm.  Our youngest 2 had been going to bed at 9pm (or earlier) and waking up at 7am.  We got to the park when it opened, took a two hour break in the afternoon and then headed back.

At 8:30pm my 5 yr old asked if it was time to go to bed.  At 9pm he asked again.  At 9:30 he asked once more.  I told him we were waiting for the fireworks.  He asked if they could light them now.

At 10, we started watching the fireworks.  During a pause, he asked if they could be over now.  After the fireworks, we had one more scavenger hunt map to complete before we became pirates.  I asked him to go with me.  We became pirates.  It wasn’t as big a deal as I was expecting.

I asked my 7 and 5 yr old to go on Pirates of the Caribbean one more time to celebrate our pirate-hood.  He fell asleep 2 minutes into the ride.

I took him home after this.  I can take a hint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have two birthday parties, and a triathlon this week.  (One party was last night.  15 kindergarteners.  Fill in the blanks.) And laundry.  We’ll see if I’ve learned to enjoy the experience…

Carry On, Carry On

Today is a vent and gripe.  I feel as though that is sufficient warning.

2nd warning: this post is truly written from a married woman with small children’s point of view.  I can’t prove it, but I think it’s written this way because I’m a married woman with small children.  And I wrote it.
Recently I read a book in my book club where the author goes on a 3 month hike in order to overcome life challenges and “find herself” or something like that.  I have issues with books where the author has a life crisis, leaves everything and everyone and “finds themselves” while on an excursion in Europe or in the woods for an extended amount of time.
These books frustrate me because most of us can’t/won’t do this but still have life changing experiences we have to live through along with complex relationships with spouses and kids and friends and annoying neighbors.
I want a book where the author makes it through the day by blasting music in the laundry room; who sings Carry On at the top of her voice while driving to the school to volunteer; who gets in the car and wonders what would happen if they just kept driving, but doesn’t; who would give anything in the world to take a 3 month walk in the woods but instead gets up, makes her kids breakfast and lunch, figures out dinner and does everything she can to smile at everyone and not take out her angst on those around her.  At the end of the “leave everything books,” there is a sense of accomplishment: I did something amazing.  At the end of my book, there would be the fact that what the author did that’s amazing is get up every single day and do the same thing and know that she would keep doing it and find her sanity in the middle of THAT and have to keep finding it.  (But always suspecting that it is somewhere behind the dryer with the lost socks.)

Sometimes we can get a weekend away, but instead of preparing for our trip by getting a divorce, selling all of our possessions and buying a tent, we arrange frozen meals, babysitters, finish laundry, and leave activities for everyone involved all the while knowing that we will be coming back to exactly what we are leaving.
Is there a book like that out there?  Would anyone read it?  Is it written as fiction?  Does everything come together at the end for her or is it more honest and she admits that she knows once she gets through this stage of life, the next one will just have a different theme song…
In my lowly opinion, it takes real strength to stay sane while visiting the same dinosaur museum 3x a year for the last 10 years.
Thank you for reading.  I appreciate your attention.  Now if you don’t mind, I must go read up on the two hypotheses that explain Cretaceous extinction and try once again to learn the correct pronunciation of creatures that died THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO CAN WE JUST MOVE ON?

Thoughts in a Hotel Room.

It just looks relaxing. I want to be there right now.

I recently spent a night at a hotel.  I love hotels.  I love places where I don’t make the bed.  (Wait- that could be my bedroom. Let me rephrase.)

I love places where I don’t make the bed but the bed is made anyhow.  By 3pm.

I find I think the same things every time I go to a hotel but they seem fresh and new each time somehow.

  1. This washer and dryer are better than mine.  I should come here and do my laundry.  Except I would be hanging out in a hotel for 6 hours twice a week.  And I’ll have to carry my laundry through the lobby.  And they may realize I’m not staying here anymore. (I’ve been known to stay in a hotel in my own town so I can get some writing done.  And so I can sleep without waking up abruptly to find a child standing over me and then asking me for a drink of water they could get themselves.)
  2. How clean are these sheets?  (This one usually only occurs when I’ve watched a 60 Minutes special on cleanliness within the month.  I can put it out of my mind with more time.)
  3. Why doesn’t anyone make my bed for me?
  4. Does the plastic bag ice liner really protect the ice from germs when it doesn’t really fit the container?
  5. How did I pack an extra outfit for each child, swimwear and goggles for each child, an activity for car travel for each child, video game chargers so there will be no fighting, snacks for down time, and my husband’s itinerary and only one pair of undies for me?
  6. Why do I do all the packing?
  7. Next time, I’m getting my own room.