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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Arizona Trip - Sunday #1

Sunday #1

Today stated early.

Today is the first day of our trip to Arizona.  I had the Brilliant idea of waking up at 3 am (after having neighbors over till 9) so I could shower and pack cold food before leaving town. I woke up with no problem. The kids all woke up quickly - they were excited- and got the truck loaded.  We were on the road by 3:40. I didn't have time to get gas yesterday, so that was the one stop I had to make. I thought that leaving early would be a good idea because 1) the kids could sleep until Dallas (we have made that trip a lot and they're isn't much to see)  2) less traffic at that hour of the morning, and 3) we were going to a friends church in Dallas and needed to be there by 9.

The kids went right back to sleep, just as planned. Then I got north of Houston and started to get really tired. So tired I found a well-lit church parking lot and fell asleep for 30 min.

Nap time is over, it’s time to get back on the road. It is now about 5 am.  Still sooo tired. I got just north of Huntsville and had to pull over again,  this time I found a truck stop. I slept for an hour. Ugh. No way we will make the 9 am service.

The sun is up and I have oj. I should be able to make it now.

We made it to Dallas in time to stop by a Walmart to brush hair and teeth and run over to the church.  It was at this point we realized that Big Girl forgot her crutches. Her foot is still broken. Oy.  We will deal with it after church.  Just in time for the 10:30 service. It was so good to see our old friend again.  The service was terrific, I just wish that we lived closer.

Right after church we got back on the road. The only places to get crutches will charge at least $30. I will not pay that much. We have 2 sets at home. Tomorrow we will find a good will.  I just want to get further down the road while I have day light.
Change of plans #1. Instead of going from Dallas to Amarillo we are going to go through OKC so we get all of route 66, instead of missing the part between OKC and Amarillo. We are so excited!   We always have so much fun and see such interesting things and learn a lot on rt 66 from okc going east.  There is never enough time to see everything on that route.  We always run out of daylight!  The kids slept a lot today. We didn't stop to buy food (I had plenty packed).

About 1pm hit the Texas/ Oklahoma border.   It’s a rule for any road trip – get out and get a photo in front of the state sign.

Then at 1:55 we stopped to see Turner falls. I would like to stop and swim there one day. However, every time we go by we 1) didn't know it existed 2) don't have time or 3) is to cold.   That will have to be a planned trip – not spontaneous like all the others.

About 3:30 we made it to Moore.  We were here last year to help with tornado clean up. It was nice to see the movie theater back in business and school being rebuilt. We also drove through the neighborhood we helped in. There is still a lot of work to do, but it is so so much better.

4:15 we made it to the OKC bombing site.  We were here about two years ago, it’s very sad, but an important part of our history.  After driving for 10 minutes to find a parking spot, I gave in and found metered parking right in front of the memorial. I don’t like having to pay for parking.  I think it is ridiculous (but I also understand the need for the income).  I fought with the meter for about 3 minutes when security came over and said that parking was free on Sunday. Yea!  God is watching out for us. We walked around and reviewed what Baby Girl learned in her history report earlier this semester. We wandered over to the museum. We haven't been to it. I can't remember why. Maybe it is because we always try to go on a Sunday.  The museum was closing in 20 minutes, but we did wander through the gift shop and get our passport stamped.  Not much else to do, so we left after about an hour.

8 pm. Back in Texas.  That’s right.  We still haven’t stopped.  Nearly four hours of driving.  Why haven’t we stopped?  There is no reason.  I filled up with gas in OKC and there has been nothing to stop for ever since.  Where is all the history?  All the landmarks?

10 pm.   It’s late.  It’s been a long day.  We had planned on camping tonight, but it has been horribly windy and I don’t want to set up the tent.  Big boy doesn’t want to either.  We found a truck stop on 40 and pulled into a dark(ish) area.  I have a 12 passenger van, with only four of us traveling there is plenty of room to spread out to sleep.  As we lay there trying to go to sleep we notice birds. No.  Not birds, bats. Hmmm.  As I try to block out the safety lights, I imagine the wind is rocking me to sleep.  The wind gusts must be 25-30+ miles an hour.  Bats landing on the truck.  Wind gusting.  I’m glad we are not in the tent.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Prepping for a roadtrip

I have spent nearly 4 weeks preparing for this trip. Now we leave in just 3 days!   Wow!   I'm not sure where the time went.

As soon as I knew we were going to Arizona for a banjo show, I immediately knew that this needed to be a fun family trip. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon since I was 15. I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but now my son is 15.

For years Hubby and I wanted to go places and have said "when the baby is older," "when the kids can appreciate it, " "when we have a little more money saved. "  Well, Big Boy starts college (dual credit) in the Fall, and Baby Girl is 10. Time is running out!  They may not fully appreciate this trip, or any trip, but they will get something out of it. We are still planting seeds of knowledge and information into their little heads.
Planning a road trip? Check these sites first

The first thing I did when I decided that we are definitely going, I went onto map quest and decided on a route.

Knowing we will be in Arizona, the Grand Canyon was at the top of the"places to see" list. Then I did some searching.

In our previous travels, we have had the privilege to travel down historic Route 66. There is is so much history and really neat stuff to see, I want to see what is at this end!  I know that going from Houston to Amarillo, just to catch Route 66 (aka hwy 40) will take a bit longer than some alternative routes, but just think of the wondrous sites we will see!

Side note:  If you are a Web developer, here is a great idea: I put in my location and destination,  like map quest,  you give me things to do along the way. I don't mind going 5-10 miles out of the way to see the aircraft bone yard,  white sands, the Alamo....    plus, there are historical markers and other places of interest.  But no way to map them!

Back to the plan

I did a search on fun, free, family friendly places to visit in the panhandleNew MexicoArizona and San Antonio. Then I planned the driving route.
Knowing the major sites we are to visit,  I started printing a travel journal for each of the kids. This took a lot of time and paper, but will keep my older kids busy (no electronics allowed on this trip- we will be camping. In the desert.)  Plus,  this is educational.

Since I knew we were going to a few National Parks I started on the national parks website. Did you know that there is even s complete curriculum for some of the parks?  I didn't print it, this time,  but I'm glad to know it is there.  There are also word finds, cross word puzzles and coloring pages. I also went to Enchanted Learning (I love that website!  So much great info and fanatic activities) and printed some worksheets on Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, desserts. ... ....

Something else I put in this ever growing binder is maps. I printed a map of our route TO our main destination. Then I zoomed in so that only 2 major cities at a time are shown.  This will make it easy for Baby Girl to follow the route and know "are we almost there? "  The plan is to use a colored pencil to draw the route as we travel. This way she can see where we are, where we have been, and how much further we have.   There is also plenty of margin room to doddle what she sees.  Just to keep things organized, we used colored paper and a post it as dividers for each activity.

Finally, I wanted an itinerary. I wanted this for several reasons.  1) so I would not forget one of the planned stops 2) so hubby would know our plan 3) so the kids know the plan and 4) so we can keep track of spontaneous stops.  We are planning on going through San Antonio. I don't know everything they're we are going to see. I know we will see the river walk and the Alamo.  There are so many other things to see there,  it will just depend on time. This is My 'planned spontaneity.'  We leave room for being spontaneous, but also have a definite plan.  I never found an itinerary that I liked, so I made more of a 'check list' with excel - leaving lots of space between planned stops.

I did a Google search of "free things to do in_________" and keep that lady in my travel binder as well.  This way if there is spare time I have a list of things to do.  You never know when you phone will die, you go over your data limit, you are out of internet range.....

In the back of the kids binders is blank notebook paper, and blank drawing paper.  They also have  a pencil pouch for colored pencils, writing pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, and things they pick up along the way.

In the back of Mom's travel binder  - pencil pouches.  Mine are not for pencils.  I have one specifically for food, one for gas, one for lodging, one for souvenirs, and one for entrance fees.  I have a specific budget for each item.  The cash went into the pouch and the receipts will replace the cash when I spend money.  For example, I have $800 set aside just for gas.  I have $800 in fifties in that pouch.  The kids know that when gas is paid for I need a receipt.  The change and receipt will go into that pouch after each fill up.

In the souvenir pouch I have four smaller zip-lock
bags (the one cup portion sized bags).  Each bag has an initial.  We each have $30 in a bag.  This way they can spend their money on what they want, keep up with what they have spent and not worry that they are 'missing' any money.

The hardest part about all this - keeping the girls from doing all the activities in the binder before we leave!

Suitcases are packed.  We have four days worth of clothes and concert clothes.  On vacation you worry a little less about a smudge on your jeans and just wear them again.   Bikes are loaded.  Tent is packed.  Hubby even packed extra flashlights and tools - as if I know what to do with the tools.  Everyone has several blankets, a sleeping bag and a pillow.  Now we just need to put the cooler and instruments in and go!