This is what we did this year:
We headed the day school got out (3rd week of June), for Salt Lake so we could make it to my mom's wedding. Babies require SO MUCH STUFF (stroller, bumpo, pack n play, front carrier, etc.) that we couldn't fit it all in our Pilot and the Thule on top. Our next option was this thing (it's basically a platform that hangs off of the back of the car). It's just a fact of life that when we go anywhere all together, we are a spectacle. I'm mostly over it.
We enjoyed the temple sealing, the wedding dinner and lots of time with extended family. Almost all of my siblings were there and that's always a treat.
We took some fun hikes, ate lots of good fun, and found some indoor entertainment while the desert was raining.
This was our nuclear family part of the trip. We decided to explore St George on our way to California and spent 3 days there. We found a great (huge) condo and enjoyed just being together.
My kids are pretty good sports about hiking and we loved checking out the Red Cliffs and Snow Canyon so much. Utah has good food and we had all of our spots planned out. Loved getting to try Swig while we were in St George.
We spent our last night there visiting Church history sites--Ryan's great great great (?) grandpa played a role in the founding of St. George (even built the staircases in the tabernacle, see picture below) and my kids
were forced to loved getting a chance to see Miles Romney's grave in 103 degree weather.
We went to Tuacahn to see the Wizard of Oz and while it was a splurge to take most of the family (Gabe volunteered to stay home with Levi), I love showing my kids plays. And the venue is amazing!
(PS: unless Levi was driving
he pretty much did this
when he was awake. I kept thinking he'd figure it out and just complacently pass the time, but no.)
We headed west and spent about 2 days making our way up the coast to Grandpa's house.
The traffic was horrible, but when we landed here I remembered why Californians put up with it.
We headed to the beach early the next day and hung out until noon
and then drove up to San Simeon to tour Hearst Castle. The older family members loved it and the younger family members tolerated it, but I'm glad we fit it in. (Gabe's in this SUPER FUNNY phase where he can't take normal pictures.)
This is where we lost Ryan. He had to head back to work and I was a little worried about handling the crew (mostly the trailer thing and the drive home, to be honest) all by myself. But we had a great time with Grandpa.
We did the mini Zoo in Lodi, an A's game, lots of mini golf and swimming and thoroughly enjoyed the 5 star treatment we get when we stay with the Sherrills.
Also In N Out:
The last two days were spent in the Bay Area with forever friend Adrianne (at generous Tammy's house while she was out of the country) and her fun sister Lindsay and lots of kids.
We hit my favorite Northern California beach (Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz),
and then spent the next day with Paige and the hilarious Greenan family and had dinner with our old friend Matt and his wife. Love reconnecting and having everything be the same as it was in college, except there are 14 kids milling about.
The drive home was so not bad. Ryan and I had both been praying the Levi would be okay and it was a total answer to prayer when he only cried for 30-45 during minutes the whole 15 hours drive home.
I had plans for Emma to drive while I nursed (she has her permit) but after about 22 seconds of trying that I decided that, between the ulcer I was creating and the damage I was doing to our relationship, we should just nurse at eating stops. Worst part? when the air condition conked out about 3 hours from home. At that point we were all SO DONE and a little out of our minds, but we powered through.
Here's the hours we were in the car during this 2 week trip, the mileage is at the bottom. Hard Core!
I loved our trip. Happy happy memories, perfect length of time, and showing our kids parts of the country they've never seen before. I also love the appreciation it gives me for the place I live. There is beauty in beaches and red rocks for sure, but I love the Inland Northwest!