Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tales from a Family Trip (Part One)

A common habit nowadays is to "blog your trip." I've read some great tales of my friends' road trips, and I don't know how they did it along the way. So now that I've been home, settled, and started vacation withdrawal (and because I don't want to be left out), I'm going to blog about my trip after-the-fact. 

In the hopes of looking at something different than we're used to, we took a family trip to Colorado. I am the planner, and I had planned where we would stay, which would include three nights of "camping." (Meaning: I am not a camper; I only hoped I would become more of one in CO since there is a lack of humidity and mosquitoes; we would be in a cabin with beds; there would be showers nearby; it would save money). Still, I looked online to find "camping lists" so that we could pack properly. The lists I found out there were obviously written by people who planned to spend entire summers in an RV, with lots of little kids, who wanted to be outdoors and also cook a lot. Items like "potato peelers," "Dutch ovens," "musical instruments," and "sidewalk chalk" graced those lists. They also planned for a lot of accidents, because the list for the first aid kit was long enough to open a small emergency room. 
Scratch that list.
I made my own, and started packing a week beforehand. I felt a little like Kate Gosselin, which was weird since I only have two kids. Still, with a full-time job, I had reason to bark at everyone to quit laying around. "There are only six days left to pack!" We wanted to leave at 4 a.m., which is unheard of. "The entire truck has to be loaded and ready to go the night before!" I had to plan almost a week of meals, which was the worst part. I barely accomplish this at home. But we couldn't eat out every meal, and again, camping-- I wanted something other than hot dogs. 

Anyway, we made it out of the house by 5 a.m. Still, an accomplishment. But wait, at the end of the street, we had to turn around for something. Heading out again, we made it to a gas station. While there, I realized I had left a bag of cash* at home. To my husband's credit, he did not kill me. So delaying us about 20 more minutes, we turned around for that. Finally, on the road to Kansas! That long, lovely state that lay between us and our mountainous destination. (*We do not normally have bags of cash at home. We had sold something on Craigslist and had saved the money for the trip. It was hidden. Too well). 

Art made from fossils
A week before, while looking for my book of Colorado state wildflowers, I came across a brochure advertising a museum in western Kansas. I whipped it out, and we made a stop at this Fick Fossil & History Museum in Oakley. I would highly recommend it to anyone. The massive amounts of fossils and bones, from the days when Kansas was under a giant sea, were found by locals who had donated them. Mrs. Fick created amazing folk art from thousands of shark teeth. (I imagine her sitting with Mr. Fick, saying, "Dear, what should we do with all these teeth?" "Why don't you make a mural of a shark? Or our nation's flag?" "That's a great idea. I'll get started right now.")
Shark teeth and fossils

U.S. Flag made with shark teeth

After picking out some cheap souvenirs (a shark tooth, postcards, and candy sticks), we climbed back into the truck. The battery was dead. This meant: my daughter was forced to play on the dinosaur playground equipment while we waited. (Not saying who forced her). I took pictures because my kids are almost past the playground age. And I had never seen a climbing apparatus like this. Fortunately, the truck battery soon revived itself, and we were on our way. We skipped the Prairie Dog Exhibit at the next exit.

We were almost to the edge of Kansas when we stopped at a little gas station. Inside, the clerk asked if we were heading west. We told him indeed we were. He said there were tornado warnings, and to be careful. He showed us the bright red radar on his little black box tv, we thanked him, then my daughter freaked out outside. ("Are we going in that direction??") Seriously, THANKS FOR THE WARNING, MISTER.

Not one to shy from warnings, my husband drove right on through. I kept an eagle eye on the clouds, sure a twister was going to drop any second. I know I saw swirling in the dust. I tried to keep a calm look on my face, but my exit plan was spinning through my head. Thankfully, we hit some rain, but the worst of it was always ahead and to the north. Once we got to Denver, we heard there had been a touchdown right by the airport. There were news crews right on the highway. Apparently, this was a big event. 
Nothing to fear here, right?

Did I mention we could see for MILES?
Just rain?
Sheets and sheets of rain?
What the Bill Paxton is that?
Low, angry clouds
Lord, please get us through this. . .
Ahh, blue skies again. 

The mountains were just ahead of us. On we drove.


  1. Great trip blog. I'm there with you and can't wait for the next installment. Of course you found out you can see the mountains for miles--days, even--before you get there. At least, it always seemed that way to us. Waiting for part 2!

    1. Thank you! I always love that first glimpse of the mountains. The kids were too young to really remember their last trips out there, so this was kind of a first for them, too. Part 2 coming soon. . .

  2. What a great road trip!! I can't wait for Part 2. I loved the museum pictures and descriptions -- how unique! And that dino climber in the playground is amazing. I have to say you took the dead battery much more in stride than I would've; I'm so glad it was easily restarted! And I agree, the first glimpse of the mountains is wonderful, kind of like the first glimpse of the ocean! Wonderful post, Christina!

    1. Thanks, Julia! I loved reading about your cross-country trip, which you did partly by yourself! How awesome. I hope our ocean trip is next year. We'll see. . .