Aug 1, 2009

The other side of the Rockies

On Friday we embarked on our first family-of-six road trip. The day before we left, Garry's boss asked, "Are you really driving to Utah with four kids?" We asked ourselves that a lot in the days leading up to the trip...and so far, many times during the trip. It is quite possible that we are crazy, but only because of the four kids. Before they came along, Garry and I were rather intelligent human beings.

When we packed the van, the trunk looked like this.

There's a lot of gear to haul when little kids are involved. Most importantly, the trunk held a new double stroller. I couldn't wait to debut it on the streets of Salt Lake City.

Our 11-hour journey was mostly uneventful. DVD entertainment is a beautiful thing. We tried to minimize time spent during stops however we could. When we pulled into a fast-food parking lot, I'd jump in the back seat and start nursing Lexi. We'd order food and Garry would pull into a parking space and pass it all around. He'd snarf down his meal, and as soon as I finished with the baby, she'd go back in her seat and we took off again. Go, go, go....!

One unscheduled stop happened when I got so sick from reading a book on the windy roads of I-70 that we had to pull over so I could puke. Actually, I only dry-heaved. That stop doubled as a potty break for the boys, whose sandal-clad feel got poked and scraped by the rough terrain.

Lexi needed to eat around 3:00 when the rest of us didn't need a meal. So we stopped in Helper, Utah and found the city park. Garry played referee as the boys raced each other across the grass. Everyone enjoyed the swings. Zach mastered the monkey bars. Gavin explored the old-school metal slide. Tyler and Zach climbed on giant tree stumps (impromptu urinals!). I viewed the entire scene from the perfect spot under a massive tree while feeding Lexi, and then she kicked for a while on a blanket. Ahhh...such a happy family. I took many pictures and got warm fuzzies about my children.

Then surprise bodily functions required a complete change of clothes for one child and we got back in the van.

Gavin and Lexi started a screaming chorus at 5:00 p.m., just before we hit northbound I-15. Lexi cried on and off for the next hour. Gavin was in full-throttle tantrum mode for about 45 minutes. Normally kid noise (even crying) doesn't bother me too much, but my nerves were definitely frayed as we drove into Salt Lake City!

Happily, the evening ended well. We picked up pizza to eat in Grandma and Grandpa Dent's back yard. There we met my grandparents, parents, and 15-year-old sister, Holly. We enjoyed the lovely weather, my grandparents' glorious flower garden, and of course, each others company. Granny shadowed Gavin for hours, Garry romped with the boys and took lots of pictures, and I just visited with some of the people I love most.

Later, we checked into the Super 8 motel in downtown Salt Lake. We were reminded that "you get what you pay for," and that $58 a night doesn't pay for much! As tired as we were, the bedding-down process with our crazy-tired children could have been awful...but I could not stop laughing. Being smashed into a tiny, smelly room with six people, five suitcases, two backpacks, and a portable crib seemed hysterical for some reason. After jammies were donned, teeth were brushed, and boys found beds, we turned off the lights. Garry used his cell phone like a flashlight and made sure blonde heads stayed on pillows. I arranged the luggage, rubbed backs, and sang Primary songs...and kept cracking up in the middle of the verses. Eventually the kids knocked off for the night. Garry and I crouched in front of the air conditioner and pulled out our electronic devices (a computer and a souped-up cell phone) and stifled giggles in our hiding place for quite some time.

So ended day one...the first of many adventurous days in Utah!
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