my trip journal: days 6-13

Day 6: Sunny, Southern California
It didn’t take long to realize that the weather here really is about as perfect as it can get. Approx 80 degrees during the day, which feels hot in the sunshine but just right in the shade. The best part – not a bit of humidity – amazing! In the morning I went out on an 11 mile bike ride with our Aunt on the most beautiful bike trails. If I was there longer I would have convinced her to ride it all the way to the ocean, guess we’ll just have to save that for my next visit!

We decided to spend our first day driving across town (perhaps not the best idea in Los Angeles) and getting a first-hand peek at the La Brea Tar Pits.

The big tar pits have been fenced off and you can see the excavation of ice age mammals in process. But there are indeed a few that just bubble up on their own – as seen in the picture above. And even the lake has a constant bubbling of methane gas. This was one stinky field trip. We were all amazed at the thousands of bones they keep pulling out of the tar pits. They seem to be a neverending source of prehistoric animals. Pretty cool.

Know what wasn’t cool? The drive to Hollywood and the traffic jam on the way home. But we’re still not talking about that.

Day 7: More sunny Southern California
This was our day to visit the happiest place on earth. I think my post on Disneyland says it all, really. Each kid had this day as their most favorite of the trip which made all that waiting in line totally bearable for their parents. 🙂

Day 8: still in SoCal
I did have grand plans of playing on the beach this day. However, the kids decided they weren’t getting in that car for any reason whatsoever! Instead, I took the car in for an oil change. Went for an awesome run. Picked up In ‘n Out burgers for lunch. And we played in the pool all…. day…. long…

Day 9: The reason we came in the first place
Our cousin was celebrating her Bat Mitzvah and we were so very happy to be there to share in her special day. The ceremony was in the morning and we each got to play a small role. Matt & I, along with his Mom, Aunt & Uncle had the honor of opening the Ark and then had an excellent view of our cousin carrying the Torah around the room. The kids each held one of the Torah ornaments when it was opened. And I’m happy to report that J didn’t break his! Our cousin did a wonderful job and it was great to be a part of the whole event.

Afterwards we had a Mexican Fiesta in the afternoon – and oh did my kids love having their own margaritas “just like mom’s” (except of course for the tequila). And then Saturday night we got all fancied up for the dinner party. There was good food, plenty to drink, dancing and a photo booth! You should see the strips of photos E took with the rabbi’s son – they are perhaps the goofiest pictures ever taken.

Day 10: Leaving SoCal, thru Nevada and into Utah
We had to leave eventually and Sunday morning was departure time. We took Matt’s mom to the airport and made a slight detour to Santa Monica to visit the Pacific Ocean. Yes, we got to put our feet in both the Pacific and Atlantic this summer!

We then drove a few hours into Nevada and toured the Hoover Dam – which was definitely worth the drive. Pictures don’t do it justice, this is an amazing feat of engineering!

This drive had the added bonus of an animal sighting! The entire trip I was so excited to see different animal crossing signs than what we see here in the Midwest. Elk Crossing… Large Cat Crossing… Bighorn Sheep Crossing… but we never saw a single animal. Until today, when this guy came strolling up right next to our car while we were waiting in line to pull into the Hoover Dam inspection:

We left Hoover Dam and had dinner on the southside of Vegas, which means the kids got to see the lights of Vegas and thanks to slow moving traffic on the strip they got to see the finale of the fountain show at the Bellagio. We had originally planned to park and walk around a bit but our whole schedule was tossed out the window today so a drive-by was all they got. It was still fun. We made it to Cedar City, Utah for the night and thankfully only the last ten minutes were thru a hailstorm/thunderstorm – we got to sleep through most of that bad weather.

Day 11: Utah
If there is one thing we learned on this trip it’s that this Southern/Central part of Utah deserves another longer visit. It was the most beautiful scenery and there were just too many National Parks to see in our limited amount of time! We chose to tour Bryce Canyon. We were expecting to see something similar to the Grand Canyon (geographically they aren’t that far apart) but oh were we wrong. While it was not nearly as large, wide or deep – this canyon has a special beauty all its own.

We were able to hike both the top and bottom sections of Bryce Canyon before lunch. This was one of our favorite days just because of that. After lunch we drove 4.5 hours up to Arches National Park. And even though it made for a very long day, we were glad we added this on to our trip.

I have to add that we were glad we added it on after the fact. Actually, I was glad we added it on – I think Matt was too – but the girls were D-O-N-E with the whole notion of hiking and sightseeing and everything. They were beat. We all went up to one arch together and climbed around. Then Matt took the girls back to the car while J & I did some more exploring. On the hike, J noted that “we didn’t come all this way just to see one thing when there’s more close by.” Wisdom from my 5yo!

Day 12 & 13: On the road again!
We had two nights in a row where we made it to the hotel at midnight. Those were some long days but the kids really were fantastic travelers. We arrived home in the late afternoon on the 13th day, unloaded the car and started to get back to life as we know it.

It was a ton of driving but even before we were home the kids wanted to know where our next great road trip will lead. That might be what makes me happiest of all. Raising a family of road-tripping adventurers. This was, indeed, the Great American Road Trip. Our kids have a frame of reference for so much. Have seen some amazing landmarks and geography. And had experiences (we hope) they’ll remember for a lifetime.

Now you’ll have to excuse me – I’ve got piles of laundry to do and school supplies to purchase 🙂

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