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Friday, August 9, 2013

Road Trip 2013

All year we have been anticipating our 15 day road trip to California and back.  We were so busy, though, that we had other things keeping our minds from dwelling on it too much.  I was anxious about how the kids would do with all the driving (I was not ready to hear "Are we there yet?" for hours on end).  I planned our route, made reservations at some RV parks, planned out meals, bought groceries, packed up the camper.... But even up until we left I didn't feel like it was really time to leave.  So much planning, it felt strange to get in the truck and go.

2 days before we left, we had serious truck trouble.  Ryan had to stay up late the 2 nights before we left to fix it (and still get up before dawn to go to work all day).  It wasn't easy chipping away each bearing that had essentially welded themselves to the axle, but at least we didn't have to buy a new axle.  Once again, I was thankful he has super mechanic skills and was able to fix it himself.  Sure did save us a lot of money, and we didn't have to delay the trip. 

We left on a Saturday morning, a little later than planned thanks to the truck troubles.  Our goal was to make it to Carlsbad, NM so we could visit Carlsbad Caverns the next day.  Let me just mention here that there were only 2 things on this trip that I had not seen before, but Ryan hasn't seen any of it.  He's been to San Diego and the beach, but that was it. 

This was our very first night to pull into an RV park with our new (to us) travel trailer and get it all hooked up.  Fortunately, Ryan is a 'jack of all trades' so this was a no brainer for him.  He showed me how to level it out with the jacks and set it all up.  The kids were going crazy from sitting all day, and they enjoyed the small playground the park offered.  We managed to get the kids to bed, since we knew we had a long day ahead.

Carlsbad Caverns was simply amazing.  We took the natural entrance down, which looks like a big hole in the ground.  It was approximately a 1.25 mile walk to the Big Room, all down hill.  Then we did the self guided tour of the Big Room (about a 1.3 mile walk).  Eli was too young for any of the guided tours, so we skipped those.  Because I had to take it slow due to my foot, and the fact that we had 2 kids with us, we were still down there for several hours.  When we finished in the Caverns, we took the elevator up, ate some lunch, then headed back to camp for a break.

Riley was mad that we stopped for a picture, and refused to smile.
He was just ready to get down into that big cave!
Eli was getting tired from all the walking, so he hitched a ride.
Later, Ryan carried Eli on the front and Riley on the back. 
I really wished I had remembered to bring the Boba!

Riley adopted "Batty" and Eli adopted "Batman".  They slept with these each night of the trip.
We returned later that night for the Bat Flight Program.  Since they don't know exactly what time the bats will decide to wake up to find food, the park ranger leading the program shared some facts.  The highlight of the program was the skit they did, with some audience participation.  They needed a "mysterious man" for one of the parts.  Guess who was voted in?  Batman!  A young boy (9-10?) came dressed as Batman, in full costume.  He had to grunt when pointed to for his part, and he did the perfect impression of Batman.  No photos are allowed during the Bat Flight, so as not to disrupt the bats, so we only have our memories of that.  I was actually surprised at how long it took for them to stream out -- we left after 30 minutes and the bats still were coming out of the caves! 

We had to stop and talk to the park ranger, though.  Riley didn't believe Ryan and me when we told him that there was no giant robot bat hanging from the cave ceiling.  He swore he saw one down there, even though we tried our best to explain that is was just shadows.  The park ranger didn't give a straight answer, though, so I'm not really sure what Riley believes now....

Monday morning, we unhooked and hit the road.  We drove through beautiful Cloudcroft, NM, where the temps were only in the low 70's!!  We stopped briefly to let the brakes cool, and enjoyed this view of White Sands in the distance.

You can see White Sands in the distance.
We asked strangers to take photos of the 4 of us at various places on the trip.

Our stop was brief at White Sands, but we had a quick picnic lunch then let the boys play.  They loved rolling down the sand dunes!  We wished we had sleds (or at least cardboard) with us, but we also knew we'd never be able to drag the kids away if we did. 

We continued our drive to stay in Tucson, AZ for the night.  The desert was so hot, and so bland.  We pulled into the Oceanside RV Park in Oceanside, CA just before sunset.  We quickly hooked up, then walked to the beach.  It should have been only an 8 minute walk, but we didn't know where we were going and didn't look at a map.  So after about 20 minutes we finally arrived just in time to see the sun set over the Pacific. 

"Cheese!"  Now can I go play?!

This was the best photo I could get of him.  I'm just sad his face was blurry!
But it captures him at the beach so perfectly, since he was too excited to be still!
 The boys didn't want to leave, but we promised them we would return to spend more time in the sand. 

We spent all day Wednesday at Legoland.  The kids had a blast!!  Riley was able to ride everything, but Eli had to miss out on 3 rides because he wasn't tall enough (about 1" short).  This was never an issue, though, since Ryan or I would just take him to another ride.  We were there about 10 hours, and still didn't do everything!  We skipped the longer lines (anything more than 30 minutes) so we'd be able to see more of the park.  There was an awesome display of Star Wars Miniland, and even a life size model of an X Wing fighter made of more than 5,335,200 legos!!

This was a favorite for all 4 of us!  The boys loved to play and get wet. 
Ryan & I enjoyed being able to sit and watch instead of constantly moving!

How many hugs do you think Darth Vader is used to getting?

The boys protected us from the fiery dragon!
The life size model that took 32 builders over 3 months to build!

Thursday we decided to take a break from Legoland, and have a quiet day.  We drove up to the Oceanside Farmers Market and enjoyed some delicious peaches and plums!  Then we walked out on the pier before going to Carlsbad to find some lunch.  After a wonderful seafood lunch (I had the Scottish salmon, Ryan had swordfish), we had ice cream at Sub Zero, a place where they make the ice cream, yogurt, or custard to your unique taste and freeze it in front of you using liquid nitrogen!  The boys enjoyed picking out their flavors and add ins and seeing the cloud of 'smoke' before enjoying a cold treat.

Juicy plums at the Oceanside Farmer's Market
The pier in Oceanside.
Fro Yo at Sub Zero, Carlsbad, CA
We then headed back to the camper to change into our suits and head for the beach!  This was our first time to Cali in the "heat" of the summer (it was only about 74 degrees and cloudy while we were there).  The water was still cold, but we all got in the water.  Riley told us that he wasn't cold, that his arms and lips were shaking because "they're just scared".  The boys absolutely loved playing in the waves!!  Eli was knocked over countless times, but he didn't care.  We built sandcastles.  I even had the genius idea to let them bury me in the sand (hey, I get to lay there while they stay busy, what could be better than that?!).  It was a good idea, until I had to try to wash the sand off of me.  The pool at our campground had a warm water outdoor shower, which worked so much better than the cold mister they had at the beach.  Then we swam in the heated pool before getting ready for dinner.  No pics of the afternoon, since I left my camera behind so I could also enjoy the sand and water!  And since my phone crashed, I lost the pics I had on there.
We had 2 different people recommend Pizza Port -- a great pizza place with their own micro brewery!  The place was packed, but Ryan and I enjoyed some local craft brews while waiting for the delicious pizza.  We were disappointed they don't bottle their own brew, but we did buy a few local craft beers to bring home for Ryan's 30th birthday beer tasting party. 

Waiting for pizza!

Friday, we headed back to Legoland to visit the water park!  It was much busier that day since it wasn't mid-week, but not terrible.  We brought the camper this time since we had to check out of the RV park by 11:00.  It was only $5 more for parking, but we were able to park near the entrance in their oversized vehicle parking lot.  Again, no pics of this day since I left my camera behind so I could enjoy the fun in the water with the kids.

Riley told me his favorite part of Legoland was "Everything!!  I liked Legoland water park and the regular park!"  Eli told me his favorite was "Legoland water park!"

Late afternoon, we left Legoland and changed in the camper before heading off to the California desert to visit my brother, his wife, and their 2 kids.  I'll post the rest of our trip in another post:)  This one is long already, and our internet out here in the stix in extremely sloooooooooo....oooow to upload pics.  It took about 4 hours just to upload the ones to this post. 

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