Sunday, July 30, 2006

HOME ...AT LAST

...And Where are we Going?
We arrived into Fresno on Friday afternoon around 3ish and unloaded the minivan in 100plus temps while the kids played in and out of the house and pool. We spent Sat. and Sunday there to just get settled in and return the rental van. We headed home this afternoon at 1 p.m.

Funny, but the trip from Clovis to San Francisco, seems like a breeze after where we have been.
We are home, home sweet home. Our neighbors came out and asked us, "how we did we do?"

I share with them that our marriage is in tack and better because of this trip, we know our kids better than ever and we have made some great memories. As a family we have a good perspective on our strengths and weaknessess and have seen and heard our children grow.

Our mini van got unpacked within 2 hours of our 5 p.m. arrival. (in 79degree weather I might add) Eli made a dash for groceries and by 8 p.m. we headed off to Nancy's home to pick up Jacob, our goldfish. It's 9 p.m. and both kids are asleep.

What did we learn:
pace yourself and take care of your body better. We should have used the spa facilities more than just the pool. AFter 17 days sitting down my lower back is killing me. Next time we do a road trip we will run or walk the treadmill for 30 miniutes after the kids are asleep or while they are swimming.
Never underestimate the imporatance of Cheerios.
Eli rec's not to drink coffee, but to use caffine pills to minimize using the restroom.
We did not drink any softdrinks and stuck to water and teas and energy drinks.

If you get the opportunity to take a road trip with your family do it. Plan it and have the kids have responsibilites of bringing things in and out of the van. The ownership Charlie showed with this trip really made Eli and me reconsider how much more responsibility he want to have. He would tell anyone he met that we were going cross the country to New York for a Family Union.
Faith has a deep love for trains and livestock now.

So.. will we do this again...we really like traveling through the east coast and midwest, not the plains. Chances are we will fly into St. Louis, WV or Kentucky and then travel up northeast.

See you all soon!
Bobbie

Saturday, July 29, 2006

These states can be skipped

Off at 5 a.m. to clear skies and mild temps and headed for Elko NV.

Not too thrilled about this part of journey. The kids are still excited to see trains and at one point I was racing with a train through Rawlings WY. It is a beautiful and a hardworking land. NB is just hard to travel through, we wish could have seen some movies while driving. We had lunch in WY and tried out the "TACO JON's" that we saw so much of. It's a Pepsi Co com. and there version of TacoBell..not too impressed.

We also discovered a listing in the GPS, under shopping stores, "Guns and Groceries" scarey thought.
Utah...in a word...the GRand Tetons are nice, but Salt Lake has got to go. Very confusing freeway system and surface street. We oped to go through the city and make Elko NV earlier.

We took in Angel Lake outside of Elko NV and Charlie was determined to climb up and play in the snow , we did our best to explain about needing more time to hike that high...then he had to experience his first natural "poop" on our hike.

We crossed two time zones on this day and by the time we reached our hotel in Elko at 6 p.m. it was like 9 p.m. for the kids, needless to say our 8 p.m. swim was not so much fun for Faith who passed out between bath and bed at 8:45 p.m.

The rest stops in NV are the worst, I can say with some authority. If you need to use the restroom ...go to a gas station or restaurant..as a last resort do not use the rest stops. You would think that with so much money from gambeling they would have awesome ones. The best ones are in NB, WY, and KANSAS. I guess NB and Wy make up for their dismissal views in rest areas.

Tomorrow ...Fresno and then home on Sunday.

WE DID IT!

Bobbie

Thunderstroms and Lightening

We have arrived in NB at 6 p.m. took in another sktate park this morning, 8 :30 a.m. as the kids were up and we all need to take break. The GPS was giving Eli a bad time and I rememebred how to get here.

Indoor pools with a thunderstorm outside made for quite an experience.
So far Faith has been kicked out of bed by Charlie once, and we have found her twice onthe floor with her pillow.

We are desperate to eat other than burger and fries for the kids and have begun to give them Cheerios in the car with juice and milk. (Trying to break the routine they have of hot cakes.)

Charlie is making lots of oberservations about this country of ours. "There are more trees in WV, Penn, and NY than there are in NB.

Some kids at skate parks are friendlier than others.

Charlie misses his friends and Faith misses the dogs.
I miss my bed.....and Eli misses the cool bay weather.

Ahh the farm life.....

We pulled up to Carbondale at 11ish and the kids hit the floor running after the tire swings, and petting the horses. They knew that Betty had her grandchildren down visiting from Chicago and were anxious to play with someone other than mom and dad. The minute the kids were back from a hike new names came into their vocabulary and they are, Nathan, Aaron and Lauren. 16, 13, adn 10 ...again..

The girls, Aaron and Lauren took after Faith and Charlie and Eli and I were hands free again!

Washing clothes, resting, talking and doing some spot shopping for the return trip.
The kids played with spray bottles in the milder humid weather, and then all got into the pond for swimming with the fishes...
Yes...Eli did to.. I opted to sit out and manage the towels and take pictures. A catfish swiming by my feet didn't sound like fun.

Charlie loved jumping in and Faith was taken in by the sand and fishes who hung close to the edge.

Pizza and salad dinner, (Thank God.. no more hamburgers or fries for the night)

Bed time with the girls and then we were planning to be off at 4 a.m. for North Platte, NB

The kids didn't want to leave and I was dreading the long, Hot drive back through NB, WY, UT and NV.....

The journey West and home

We left at 4 a.m from Poughkeepsie NY and headed towards Cinn. Ohio.
It is a cross between downtown Oakland and downtown LA as they are trying to revive. The drive is not as bad, the weather not a hot. Foggy, but not hot, we'll take fog over heat.

Took in a paid, playground,skate park and enjoyed a nice day together. We are having difficulty getting on line... so I can write, but cannot post, more than likely when we get to Fresno.

THe kids are pros are opening the hotel doors and getting to know the lay of the land and call wich bed they want.

Leaving for Carbondale, Il and to spend a day on the farm and go wine tasting .


Now that's a vacation.

Trains, Cars amd humidity=fun memories

Well, we arrived in New York as we said we would at 2 p.m. EST on Wed. July 19.

It had been 4 years since we last saw the Havens's of New York and it was great to see how tall our newphews had grown. Alex is now 16, Chris is 13 and Jessica 10. We thought the head of Nebraska was bad, we were about to encounter hot, humid weather this week. Maggie greeted us with an offer for a beer or wine cooler.

The kids were happy to be on a ground and would be staying in one place, sort of for 3 days. We were happy to get the carseat cleaned up as we learned Faith, milk and long road trips do not mix. The seat had to be cleaned 2x, along with the foam to get rid of the baked, cooked on milk smell that was created.

Everone looked great and it was a bit overwhelming for the kids to see so many grown ups at a diiner table on a nightly basis when Eli's brother's Aaron and Noah came over for dinner.


Spray water bottle fights, the swimming pool, and finding the nearest skateboard part were some of the things the kids did with their cousins. Faith and Jessica became fast friends as Jessie introduced Faith to the world of big girl toys. Then when Unlce Josh revealed the "old" Thomas small scale trains...the kids never wanted to leave the house and played inside and outside with the three tier tool box of trains.

Thursday-July 20
We took advantage of "big"cousins and went off to see Maggie's store in New Paltz, near Woodstock, and left the kids behind with Alex, Chris and Jessie..Grandma Pat was outside gardening but she would have all 5 of her grandchildren while we took off for an "grown up " morning outing and lunch.

We helped inprove the economy and then headed for Manhattan on the 3:30 train.
The kids napped down the train and we took a momment to catch our breath. We were half way into our trip.

The arrival in Grand Central Station was not as awe inspiring as we hopped it would be, because Charlie had been asleep and did not want to be awaken, let alone walk through the muggy hot walkway out of the train. There was a long line to wait for a cab and our hotel was on the upper west side. so one rolling overnight bag, a duffle and our camra bag was being lugged as we waited outside at 6 p.m .for a cab. The kids were taken back about not having to wear seat belts and all Faith would say is, "lots of people, on the street, on the sidewalk...everywhere"
Charlie was more impressed with how fast cars could go in a short distance.

We check in to a great hotel , "On the Avenue" and the kids jumped on the beds of this hotel overlooking the upper westside. Nice bathrobes and Charlie was upset they didn't have one for him or Faith. (next time we told them)

We decide to walk to find dinner and experience the muggy hot evening that is New York. We should have brought two small strollers or brought his skateboard, the weather beacame an issue when taking the kids out. We had diiner in a Mexican rest. and found ourselves ordering 2 margaritas to make the 8 block walk home.

It's 9:30p.m. and too hot to go inside as the kids are too amped to go to sleep...so. some ice cream and a stop at the playground accross the block from where we were staying. We were playing outside and the kids were so surpized that it was soo warm without the sun being out. Then we felt the raindrops.
An evening thunderstorm was our bedtime music along with some sierns comming and going. (There was a fire station accross the street from us.)

We grabbed a bagel and coffee/juice and then went off to the playground again until 9 a.m. so check out the Children's Museum of Manhattan and then the Museum of Natural History. We pushed ourselves and the kids and decided that since we had an early morning thunderstorm, we we would do the statue of liberty in the afternoon.


We had difficulty getting the vouchers's faxed to us from Expedia and the kids were getting ramped up in the hotel lobby , then we got a cab from the upper westside to the far end of NY to see the Empire State. On the ride over there, Charlie fell dead asleep and Faith was just too happy to be in a car again without a car seat.

So here we are at the Empire State and now we put Charlie in the stroller and carry Faith..the wrong kid fell asleep. Then half way through this 30-40 minute wait Faith passes out asleep in Eli's arms...by the time we get to the elevators for the 86th floor..we are aware that this will just be a photo op.

Then the elevator door opens...THUNDER AND LIGHTENING greet us with the words, "the outside observation deck is closed". We are now deciding what to do and both kids kinda wake up. So we did make it a photo op and enjoyed looking at 1 mile visibility and strikes of lightening.

Then the ride to our hotel and back over to Grand Centeral It's Friday at 6 p.m. and it's pouring...we are among many hailing a cab in NY....after Eli saw an attractive girl in a tank top not get many cabs saoking wet, we decided that Faith on Eli's arm with an umbrella would be our approach. It took 25 minutes.

We are headed back to Poughkeepsie from Manhattan and the kids are no where near tired as Eli and I are exhuasted.

Saturday is the "family Union" as Charlie called it. It was cloudy but nice. A 40 minute ride later and both kids are asleep we meet others and no sooner do we get settled in when it begins to pour, to the point of lakes being left behind where there were none before. Charlie, Alex,and Chris were having water gun fights in a complete and utter down pour...Faith and Jessie were out playing on the swings and Eli and I just sat and watched and laughed. About 90minutes latter..the sun came out and the kids continuted to play as water dried up.

We have photos of Chrlie skateboarding in the rain and Faith swinging. Then shots of them playing in the sun at the same location.

Eli was really impressed that his mmom is one of the matriarchs of the family and gto a big kick listening to her recall names of family members and recant stories.

It started around 11 and began to wrap up around 5 p.m. We did come in the furthest, another family came in from San Antonio.

Sunday was family day and Maggie made Eli's favorite, Clam linguine. The kids loved having time with their"big" cousins and we enjoyed hanging out with Maggie and Josh. We did wish we were closer to make this visits more often. Pat was in heaven with a house full of her children and grandkids.

Now the journey back west.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

...And Where are we Going?

...And Where are we Going?

The Night before we arrive in New York:
it's 10:40 p.m. EST and everyone but me is asleep! This is comming to you from Morgantown West Virginia. We left Carbondale Il early this morning at 4 a.m. I learned the gold that is in getting 4 hours of quiet driving time whenthe kids are asleep. Our much needed sleep in in Council Bluffs NB. caused us to make a short 8 hour day...a 10 hour day. For the record I am saying this only once, "Eli was right"!

We had forgotten that Monday is a work day for the rest of the world and we encountered traffic leaving at 7 a.m. we also encontered little voices who were needing milk, toast, a cookie every 15 minutes it felt like. So even though it is insane to leave with sleeping kids...you really cover alot of ground inthe first 4 hours of an 8 hour drive day. We had road work all over the place and to top it off, we were in St. Louis at 4:ooish during their rush hour, with a home baseball game and the center lane of the bridge out. Our plans to arrive in Carbondale around 5=6 became 7:30-8. I did get some very nice pictures of the Arch and the ball field since were were crawling so slow along side them I couldn't help but get the shot.

The heat wave had a big impact on our NB journey. We decided to take in skate park in Columba NB...and pretty much melted under the humidity. You would think that running the kids outside for 15-25 minutes in 90plus with humidity would make for a quiet ride...no...it doesn't.

Once we did get to Uncle John's and Aunt Betty's the kids took to the open field like crazed travlers. They refused to come inside and rode the tractor through the night until we got them off after a few bugs startled them.

Left this morning, Tuesday for WV by way of Kentucky. More road repairs which set up back an hour.
I have to say that the combination of heat and time change played in our favor the kids didn't get up until 8 a.m. yahooo!
That left Eli and me time to talk about what was working and what was not...so..for those considering this journey..no more than 8 hours a day and it's best to get to your final destination by 4-5 p.m. so the kids and yourselves can be free to roam and eat and then bed time rouitne.


So...some of you may not believe this but we have been doing this trip caffine/coffee free. YES...none.
Our last stop of any commerical STARBUCKS was in Reno, and the next time we saw a sign of commercialism coffee was in Lexington KY...I LOVE THAT CITY AND STATE!

We stoped for morning play and skate park time, and then ventured off to WV.

Another note, update the GPS tracker if youare taking one on such a journey.

Charlie now give us the word, theme for the day...
Faith and Charlie now ask how many days till New York and will tell anyone about our adventure.

Tomorrow is the d-day...off to bed...
Love,
Bobbie

Sunday, July 16, 2006

...And Where are we Going?

So it's Sunday night and we have traveled aprox. 1700 miles and accross or through 4 states since leaving Fresno on Saturday morning at 3:38 a.m. for our first stop, Reno for breakfast.

Eli and I are setting themes for the day. Saturday was dazed and confused as the dogs wondered why they weren't going and Faith and Charlie looked that way as they sat in their car seats in the dark half a sleep.

We have also decided to make charts for the following:
How many times we hear,"are we there yet" or any version close to that and how many trains we see.

Current count as of Sunday night 24 times "are we there yet" and 30 trains.

Saturday-July 15
The plan was for the kids to sleep until 7ish...not.
Charlie was up at 5:30 a.m. and Faith stayed asleep until 6:45...needless to say breakfast was right outside of Reno at 8:00 and we headed into town for our first "planned " stop 30minutes early.. Eli was so happy.

We made it and discovered a skate park and a playground with a water spray area. The rough part came when we headed accross Nevada...not the prettiest and playing "I spy" can get challenging with limited items to spy.

We decided to venture out and get an early dinner in Westover NV. HOT AND MUGGY....
So there we were playing spray bottle tag admist a series of evening park parties and getting some strange looks from passer bys.

Our other plan was to minimize the fast food eating whenever we could and to regulate how much the kids were eating. Charlie was a little taken back when his cheeseburger came with apples and not french fries. Faith has found her toddler version of the South Beach Diet as she disects her food eating only some meat and cheese and leaving the bread behind.

Lesson for the day:
Why can't Charlie sit in the black chairs facing the nosiy machine that spins numbers and pictures? We found them in the Albertsons. We explained that some grown ups like to put money in these machines and hope that they might get money back. Charlie thought that was silly and why would anynone want to put money in a machine that would trick you? hmmm food for thought."


We have been to Utah before and last nights' experience only enhanced our feelings. Whomever planned out Salt Lake City gives just cause for the need and use of caffinee. We were lost in a city that is not that big for 45 minutes. After staring at the dead salt sea for what felt like HOURS. Highway 80 is closed right before our exit, however the street we need runs E-W and it's name is North Temple, not W N Temple as our GPS could not seem to help us locate. By the time we checked in and got poolside, Charlie was expecting the nighttime ritual of books and bed, but at 10:15 we're like ...no...
needless to say he voiced his compliant and the complaints about no fries at dinner. We were happy we had a suite and were able to put them down in sperate rooms.

SUNDAY - July 16

It's 12:03 a.m. and 82degrees
this morning started out really nice, we were on the road by 4 a.m. and Eli and I are enjoying morning talks watching the sunrise. We have some books on CD, Parenting with love and logic and the cuurent one discusses the danger or entitlement with children and discusses the issues with children and how it is the leading cause of why so many of the kids aren't happy and parents are insecure.

We found out today that we are traveling in the middle of a heat wave which blew out our plans for any outside time. Instead...lots of time in the car and by the time we hit the east side of Neb. Charlie and Faith were at their wits end.

The theme for today was flexibility which we were all experiencing as we made several stops. We are calling the trip accross Neb as our Trail of Whines.
First Faith, then Charlie, followed by a tired Eli and then me who pulled over at some rest stop and called the game over.

We got it on tape as Charlie began to sing to us his own song of "I'm board when are we getting on to land" Faith was tired of his singing and threw her book at him, then as the camra is rolling, he tosses her book on the floor and now everyone is crying. Except Eli and I who knew this would happen because they both kept it together so well all day.

Pool time, bath time and bed time by 9:30p.m.
We are sleeping in tomorrow as we head to Carbondale, Il to spend the afternoon and evening with friends. I will go wine tasting.

Over all it's been great, no really. We are having a great time spending realy quality time with our kids outside of the daily grind and are seeing sights and places through their eyes. Charliei is into the mapping and time of when and where we are crossing states. Faith is into trains, and animals alll kinds. She gives us our cow, horse and llama reports...every minute.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow now that the novelty of what were are doing has worn off.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

the eve before the departure

Well, we are in final countdown. I have to say that the running theme for this trip may very well be, "Oh my God" because everytime I share with someone that we are embarking on a cross country road trip that is the comment I get with either a, "we always wanted to do that" or the, "why are you doing that?"

Pack the minivan, double check the check list and and then have a couple glasses of wine after the kids go to bed and then to sleep for the last time in our bed until the end of the month.

Eli and I have spent the past 4 months mapping out and planning the trip and have packed and repacked the suitcases only to second guess ourselves. We have a set travel plan with stops every 250-300 miles. We plan to be on the road at 4 a.m and rolling into our bedtime location by 5p.m. to let the kids play in the pool for a couple of hours before turning in.

As Eli puts it, "this will be memorable..no matter what happens"

stay tuned!