Monday, November 16, 2015

Family Road Trip - 2015 (Part 5 - Napa Valley)

Day 7: October 21 

Not a super interesting day.

Okay, that's giving it too much credit.

Better described as one of the most boring days ever.

Our departure from Zion was delayed by a irritatingly long line at the dump station, so we were 30 minutes later than anticipated getting on the road.

We drove seemingly endless miles through the corners of Utah and Arizona, past Las Vegas, into California, and up I-5 through central Cali.

Oh, within an hour of beginning the drive, we had to pull over for Annika to vomit again. Ugh. It was only twice today, though, thank God. It must have been some sort of car-triggered sickness.

We parked for the night at a KOA in Los Banos, CA.

Day 8: October 22

I was exceedingly happy to get a nice shower early in the morning - as there were no showers at Zion and our trailer shower is basically like standing in a bucket with your head hunched over. Plus we had had no water hook-ups there, so we had to conserve water.

We drove to San Jose to drop off the trailer at Grant's parents' home and spent a little while visiting with them, plus getting organized and packed up in the Sequoia for the next three days.

It was fun to meet Grandma and Grandpa's 6-month old Golden Retriever, Mack.

We took the slightly longer route to Napa to cross the Golden Gate Bridge - something I've wanted to see for a long time. Traffic through San Francisco was pretty bad, but it was interesting to see a small portion of the city. 

After crossing the bridge, we circled around to this look-out point to take some photos. I'm glad it wasn't foggy!

That's Alcatraz off there in the distance. 

We stayed in the Best Western Premier Ivy in Napa for three nights - with two adjoining rooms. Hurrah for all that space! Grant's parents were just a few doors down, and his brother and sister-in-law were downstairs. Aunt Julie and her family stayed there as well. 

We joined some of the family and bridal party at the house Jessica was renting for a fabulous dinner she had cooked for everyone. The girls especially loved meeting their little second cousin, Ares (also known as Kicker). Sweetest baby ever!

Jessica (the bride) with the kids. 

Day 9: October 23

We didn't have any obligations that day except for the rehearsal dinner in the evening, so we took a few hours and drove over to Fairfield, CA to tour the Jelly Belly Factory. 

Free tours, free candy -  how can you go wrong?

They have a sample bar where you can go through and pick three candies each time, unlimited times through. Along with all the normal flavors, they also have super gross ones, like stinky socks, boogers, vomit, dog food, and grass clippings. After smelling his stinky socks pick, Corban decided to just lick it. 

They didn't allow photos in most of the tour, but I did get a few at the beginning. They have some amazing displays of famous characters made entirely of Jelly Bellies. Some of them are composed of over 14,000 candies. Impressive!

They require hats for the tour. The day we were there, the flavor being made was Buttered Popcorn. 
It was a rather strong odor. Our tour guide told us that in an earlier tour, a kid had vomited from the smell. Nice. 

The girls at the Sample Bar. They went through the line a few times. 

The backyard of Jessica's rental house - where the rehearsal dinner was held. Isn't it beautiful? 

The family with Grant's lovely Aunt Julie. It was the girls' first time to meet her, and Corban's first that he could remember (he was 18 months old last time). Everyone just loves her!

 Day 10: October 24 (Wedding Day!)

It was fun to have breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa every morning. The hotel had a really great breakfast, and the best part was, I didn't have to cook or clean up! :) 

Ellia and Miranda were flower girls - posing with the bridal party before the wedding. 

Like my dress? I do. :) My sister Anna gave it to me a few weeks before the wedding. She had gotten it at a thrift store awhile back and it didn't up fitting her just right. I was thrilled that it fit me really well! 
I did have a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, however. We had just arrived at the wedding venue for family photos and Grant noticed that one of the halter straps was ripping from the dress. Ever resourceful, he jogged off to find the hotel lobby (which was a little ways down the road) to get a little emergency sewing kit. Upon his return, he quickly made the repair (he's great at hand sewing jobs) and we were off to take photos. 

Cute little flower girls - Ellia and Miranda, with their new friend Maddie. 

Annika and Marissa

Marissa with Grandma at cocktail hour

So  pretty!

Cousin Drew with Ellia. She absolutely adored him. 

Drew's son Alessio with Corban. Those two hit it off really well. 

Miranda with Grant's Uncle Randall

Grandpa and Grandma all dressed up - looking fantastic!

Here come the flower girls!

Jessica and Rick - amazing couple!

The dinner was simply fabulous. I had the Sea Bass and it was some of the best fish I've ever eaten. 

The wedding was just an exquisite event. We had so much fun spending time with the family, dancing and feasting and making wonderful memories. 

I didn't get good photos during the dinner and dancing because the lighting was a bit dim, so we'll just end it here. 

Whew.  Longest post ever. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Family Road Trip - 2015 (Part 4 - Zion National Park)

Day 5:October 19 

As sad as we were to leave Colorado Springs, we were even more sad to leave Ouray.
I mean, with a view like this, who would WANT to leave?

But new adventures were awaiting, so leave we did. 

We stopped at a Walmart in Montrose, CO, to see if they could fix our flat trailer tire. Fortunately, they could, so I took care of purchasing a few perishables while we waited. That stop took longer than we wanted, but it couldn't be avoided. I was successful in purchasing and hiding a birthday cake for Corban while we were there, so that was a triumph.

On our way out of town, through a light rain, we saw the most vibrant rainbow we had ever seen. 

Although Google maps had said we only had a 7 hour day of driving ahead of us, due to our last experience, we knew that would just not be the case. However, we didn't know that the speed limit on I-70 across the middle of Utah had a speed limit of 80 mph. Sheesh. Since we were still plugging away at about 60 mph, our travel estimate was even more inaccurate than the first day. 

At least the scenery was pretty awesome. 

That center section of Utah has pretty spectacular views - but it's also probably the most desolate place I've ever seen. We must have gone 250 miles without an exit with services. No civilization. Nothing. Thank God Grant had the foresight to bring a 5 gallon container of gasoline along (just in case - we had no idea about the stretch of nothing we would encounter) - we actually had to stop and use it or we would have run out of gas. 

Oh, it was at that stop that Annika (8) first vomited.

Poor kid ended up vomiting 5 times before we reached our campsite late that evening.

Was it a stomach bug, coming to haunt us on our cross-country trip to a wedding? 
Or just a bizarre case of car sickness (from the kid who's never been carsick)? 

Time would tell. 
Our nerves were a little worked up about it, as you can well imagine. 

Somewhere in the middle of nothingness, we got to witness our second double rainbow of the day - this one just as spectacular as the first. Made even better with the completely natural surroundings. 

And we got to see another lovely sunset - with hours to go to our campsite - AGAIN. Sigh.

Nothing like setting up camp in a pitch-black campground with crying kids in the car. AGAIN. 

Day 6: October 20

Happy Birthday, CORBAN!! 

Our boy turned 12 today. 

He's 5'6", wears men's size 10 shoes, and is growing into a young man faster than we can grasp. 
He loves skateboards, basketball, swimming, scooters, hiking, camping (real tent camping), Trail Life, nature, reading adventure books  (Ranger's Apprentice series is his favorite), archery, Clash of Clans, and competing with me on our Duolingo Spanish lessons. 

We gave him an autographed book series called The Knights of Arrethtrae that we purchased at a homeschool convention earlier this year - he finished all six books before we got home. 

He was super excited to receive some walkie-talkies for his birthday. They got a lot of use on this trip.

Side note: Annika was feeling great and eating normally all day - no sign of sickness. Hurrah! 

Our trailer/campsite - in the Watchman Campground. That's Watchman Rock in the background.
At $18 per night, it was by far the cheapest campground we visited. It had very nice bathrooms but no showers or water hook-ups. The sites were large and spaced well - and we were actually IN the national park, which was super cool.  

This set of rocks is called the Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Seen at the trail head of our first trail. Nice warning. 

Lovely tarantula I spotted on the side of the trail. I don't care if they're "not dangerous" - I'll keep my distance, thankyouverymuch. That's Grant's foot, by the way. 

Couple of cute fawns with a doe we spotted. 

Annika and Marissa

The kids loved playing by the river near our campsite. The river was really muddy due to flash floods a couple of days earlier. Glad we missed out on that!

Ellia and me

Another view of the Watchman Rock. Pretty impressive!

We enjoyed another one of the crock pot soups that night (chicken chili with fritos and cheese) and surprised Corban with his birthday cake and Tillamook huckleberry ice cream (oh man, is that stuff good!). This is the first store-bought birthday cake for any of my kids.  I was a little sad to not get to bake something, but I got over it. 

Corban declared it his best birthday ever. :) 

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