Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Joy (?) in the Journey

I don't enjoy road trips. They give me anxiety (real anxiety, not traveling with 5 children induced anxiety). However, I have to say, that I did very well on our recent trip to and from our family reunion in Flagstaff, AZ.

(Okay, if you forget the part on the way down that I yelled at Mike and he snapped back, "I think you're overdue for another dose of your travel medicine." Point well taken.)

Although driving to Flagstaff is absolutely do-able in a day, Mike and I decided to emphasize "joy in the journey" instead of "joy in a final destination", and we split the drive up. On the way down to Flagstaff, we stopped over-night in Kanab, UT. It's a charming little town, and I love the Holiday Inn hotel there. After a take-out dinner from the local Pizza Hut, some of the children and Mike swam. At one point, Mike and I left the hotel room with 5 fighting children and escaped downstairs to a lounge. We were fairly certain at one point that the sounds above us would get us removed from the hotel, but alas we stayed the night.

The bright spot of the hotel stay? Three queen beds in one hotel room!!!! Fabulous. Why don't more hotels have that option!?!

We left for Flagstaff the next morning with a stop at one of Mike's favorite places...Lake Powell.

We had anticipated grand tours of the Glen Canyon Dam, but only 2 tour spots were left, so we opted to do it upon our drive via again on Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed some snacks in the shade, beautiful views, but not each other. This was a tense time in our trip, but look how the photos (kind of) fool you all.

Our days in Flagstaff have already been recorded, so back on the road again for the ride home. Loading our car up at the hotel in Flagstaff was another tense time. I wondered why in the world I hadn't driven back to Phoenix with my Cousin Jennifer and caught a flight home from there instead of torture the car ride home. I wouldn't have done that to my dear Mike though, although he likely would have supported it. (He not only puts up with 5 children in the car, but a travel-anxiety wife too.)

(Ellie was with us, but I'm not that flexible to have secured a photo of her sleeping too!)

Mike was so proud of the miles per gallon he got our suburban up to a couple of times. I acted enthusiastic and excited for him, even though I really don't get too pumped about 13.7 mpg, 17.8 and no, not even 21.0. But I did secure a few "proof" photos for him of his proud suburban-owner moment.

As we drove through the Indian Reservation filled areas of Arizona, Mike and I got carried away in a conversation about Native Americans. Realizing I have never had those basic US History classes that he (and my children) had/have, Mike gave me some Indian history lessons. I fell in love with some of the history I heard, and upon arrival at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor's center a few hours later, bought myself a book I am thoroughly enjoying.

 Upon arrival at the Dam, we were all in need of some food, leg room, and bathroom. I went and secured tickets for the 3:30pm Dam Tour, declining to join  (due to aforementioned "needs") the 3:00pm one  that was being led away. At 3:20pm, we arrived at our Dam Tour meeting place, only to be told that essentially we were part of history at the Dam... Due to extreme temperatures, for the first time ever, the tour was being cancelled. I am NOT a tour type person, but Mike is, and he and the older two children were very, very disappointed. I was disappointed for them, and then disappointed for myself that if we hadn't have been so excited about getting to the DAM tour, we could have taken a different route home via the Grand Canyon instead.

We loaded disappointed and heavy-hearted children back into the suburban, and continued our journey home, via another night in Kanab.

Now, I have to interrupt myself to mention a little fact about (road) traveling with Mike...He isn't much about junk food and snacks....for the children. While he is up front chowing down Hot Tamales and guzzling Mountain Dew, the cooler offered grapes, apple slices, carrots, string cheese, etc. for the children. (I exxagerate slightly...they did have the occasional permission granted to also partake of some Hot Tamales.) Anyway, it turned into somewhat of a (not funny) joke that upon someone mentioning they were hungry for an actual meal, Mike would tell them there were plenty of snacks in the cooler. Luke especially tired of this overheard line, and complained and moaned the loudest about how desperately he needed a "real meal."

Our arrival in Kanab didn't come any too soon, and we rolled into that small town on Sunday evening hungry, tired and a little weary. We entered and exited the McDonalds in a single step (most disgusting, gross, dirty, fast food place I have ever seen!), and found ourselves at a charming little diner. We ordered a few plates for us to share, with the exception of Luke who was granted his own $8.95 hamburger. I know it's a blurry photo, but for the sake of what will always be a Sowby Family Trip Memory, we must preserve the remembrance of Luke not having a bite of his $8.95 hamburger. Instead he visited that little diner's restroom more times than he would have liked. We'll preserve Luke's dignity from here on out, but that $8.95 REAL MEAL he was finally granted ended up in a hotel garbage can the next morning.
Mike and I broke all our own rules of not swimming on the Sabbath day, and allowed the children that wanted to, to swim at the pool on Sunday night.
At the risk of losing our parenting license, I will refrain from sharing the story about Mike and me laying on the hotel bed. Him watching television, me reading, Megan in the joining room watching a different television. All of the sudden the hotel fire alarm rings. I went into a momentary state of panic that we are separated from our children and grabbed my purse and we headed out to the halls to evacuate with the other hotel guests. We saw Luke from a distance, and I relaxed slightly at the sight of him, and then tensed up to my maximum state when his response about the other three children was, "Oh, I don't know, I left them at the pool."

That night wasn't exactly one of the most stellar parenting nights in our experience. But we all lived to tell the tale, and I'm sure the hotel guest that put birthday candles on a birthday cake won't do it again anytime soon.

Wow! This post is long, and I've changed my mind about adding to it. Besides, the detour we took to the Grand Canyon the next morning complete with my mini-temper tantrum as I shoved a telescope against Drew's chest and marched off to the car, deserves a post of its own. Forget the grandeur of nature, and the beauty of the canyon, that little "telescope moment" remains the highlight of Mike's visit to the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago.

I promise.


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