Two years ago we set out on a 20 hour drive that nearly killed both Soren and I- not literally- but in just about every other way. We tried to drive straight through the night to St. George, Utah with Kesler and Easton and after that harrowing trip, we swore off ever doing it again.
Well, we must have forgotten the worst of it, because this year, we did indeed do it again. We set off on the road trip of our lives on a Wednesday afternoon with three kiddos in our Toyota Sienna with a very loose plan and several destinations in mind.
Before we left we packed a cooler full of snacks, produce and sandwiches. I bought several new movies, books, and toys and a binder for each of the kids with loose leaf paper and a pencil pouch full of markers, pencils and a pencil sharpener. We left one of the captains chairs at home so that there was an open space in the van for kids (or pregnant moms) to lay down in and we packed our camping mats and pillows and blankets for maximum napping comfort. We filled up on gas and we were off.
Our goal the first night was to get to Denver- which was a feat considering how late we left in the day. We didn't have a hotel reserved because we didn't know where we would end up- but we called from the road and found somewhere in Castle Rock, CO to stay when we pulled in at midnight. Soren proved his manliness when he brought the entire load in from the van in one trip. What a stud!
We LOVED Castle Rock. The next day we met up with our good friend who works at the outlets there and did some shopping before getting back on the road. The climate, scenery and everything about the city of Castle Rock was so nice! If we're ever forced to leave Kansas City, I think Soren and I know exactly where we are moving next!
We drove the rest of that day and made it to our hotel in St. George late that night. The kids did really well traveling and breaking the drive up into two days definitely helped everyone. Soren's family lives in St. George but with the number of people still living at home, it made more sense to get our own hotel room.
We woke up the next day ready to visit family and have fun, but poor Knox's body had different plans. He woke up really irritable and wouldn't eat anything. We took him to Soren's parents and he just cried and cried- which is so unusual for him! I attributed it to the lack of sleep over the last few days until he threw up when we got back to the hotel. Poor little man had a fever and the pukes for the first two days we were there. I stayed at the hotel with him while Soren took the boys shooting and hiking with his family.
Once we were feeling a little better, I at least took Knox swimming and it was really nice to have so much one on one with him.
The reason for our visit to St. George in July was that Soren's brother was getting sealed in the St. George temple. (In our church getting sealed in the temple means making covenants and being married for eternity. He and his wife were married in a chapel last year, but being sealed in the temple has the binding power of eternity.) It was a really special day, but with Knox being sick I missed the ceremony, but I did get to visit with our friends from college and then our whole family went to the reception.
The next day we woke up and said goodbye to family and drove the three hours to Las Vegas. Soren grew up in Vegas so we had friends to visit and stay with there. It was so good to catch up with them and for everyone to mostly be feeling better.
We had promised the boys some rock climbing and hiking while on our trip so we found a trail on Mt. Charleston and went on a family hike. It was all fun and adventurous until about 2/3 of the way up when Knox decided he had had enough and didn't feel well. I sat with him while Soren took the other two up to the top, but before they came back to us, it started to get cold and windy. I wrapped Knox up in a blanket and he and I started walking back down. Let me tell you how fun carrying a 40 pound brick down a mountain is while five months pregnant- not that fun. By the end of the hike the boys had caught up with me and almost everyone was crying. I think I managed the best attitude out of us all, but 3 miles round trip was enough of a hike to do everyone in!
We did a few other things in Vegas while we were there, including shopping for some leather. After a few days I was over the heat and we were ready to head out. We debated driving back home the way we came or going to see the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon won out. None of us had ever been there- so we started driving South.
The first stop was the Hoover Dam. The kids were less than impressed, but we told them it was good for them and felt good about the educational nature of the stop.
We drove the rest of the day to the Glass Lookout at the Grand Canyon. It was a good 4 hour drive and we made the mistake of not checking the tour times. I burst into tears after so much driving when we arrived half an hour too late. That meant turning around and driving another four hours to our hotel on the other side of the Grand Canyon National Park. Thankfully the kids did better than I did and slept until we pulled in.
Overall I would say it was worth the detour to go to the Grand Canyon, but it wasn't very much fun. The park was beautiful and the views were amazing. But it was also terrifying. The kids weren't excited to be there (which is fine) but we also weren't very fun to be with because we kept snapping at them to stay close to us or to get away from any edges. They weren't allowed to climb on anything or go anywhere or do anything but stay glued to us. And I think you can see why! The railings and overall cliff protection was super minimal. Had I been any more pregnant I think the stress of it would have put me into labor!
The best part was when we strapped the kids back in the van and then pulled back over to have a look by ourselves. I at least felt at ease then!
After the Grand Canyon we took the scenic trip back to Colorado through Monument Valley. Once again, the kids weren't impressed, but Soren and I sure were! The scenery was incredible and well worth the drive though. We stayed the night in Grand Junction, Colorado that night- which by the way- has the BEST park right off the 70. (Canyon View Park) We stopped to play there on our way West and East on this trip!
We planned to make it home to Kansas City the next day (Day number 10 of our trip), but we ended up make a detour in Glenwood Springs, Colorado when we stopped to play in the river. We only intended to stop for a few minutes, but when we saw Glenwood Adventure park and heard about the hot springs, we decided to make a day of it! Soren bought us all day passes to the park and we made a reservation at the nearby hotel! The adventure park is an amusement park at the top of a mountain. You have to ride the ski lift up to it and all of the rides are perfect for little kids. We all had a blast and it might have been the best day of our vacation overall!
On Day 11, we finally finished the drive home. It was a LONG day of driving and we were all done and done- but we survived. Overall, I felt pretty good while pregnant on this long trip. My restless leg only acted up a few times while we were driving and I never got car sick. I did take a lot of Advil and Tylenol for aches and pains and possible migraines, but otherwise I'd say I held up alright!
Thanks for indulging me in such a long recap of our trip! If you have any questions or want recommendations, be sure to email me!
Did you do any road tripping this Summer? Where did you go?