Thursday, September 18, 2014

Summer Road Trip: The Long Ride Home

We woke up to sausage, orange rolls, and coffee. The perfect way to say good-bye to our amazing hosts! We finished packing up the car, and just as we were saying our good-byes, D started to bawl. She did NOT want to leave. She cried non-stop until we hit the Bay Bridge, then it was strangely quiet. She slept until we got to Sacramento, asked if we were still in California, when I told her yes, she started to cry again. Poor kid, I sort of felt the same way. I drove the whole way through Cali again until we got to Reno, then Adam took over and drove across Nevada.


Happier girl once we got into Nevada.
We had decided to try a different camp site in Nevada for the way home. We agreed to try Angel Creek, but once we got there it was totally full. There was another site but was up in the mountains. So up we went, and found our camp site. It was truly a beautiful site, but I wasn't too keen on it. It was also packed, so tons of people blaring loud music and yelling at each other. Plus there were giant swarms of nasty little bugs. (think the size of a mosquito without the bite, but as annoying as gnats or fruit flies).
The really neat things was that just a slight hike around the corner, was this amazing lake, hidden at the top of the mountain, and was filled with melted snow from the top.

The next day we were off for Vedauwoo Wyoming again.



First off a stop in Park City Utah for a potty break and lunch. We had lunch at Del Taco, but had a silly time in this at the visitor center.
Almost back to our destination for the night, we made a quick stop at Little America Wyoming for a gas/potty/change driver/ice cream break. Added bonus: a small playground for the kids to run a bit.
Back at Vedauwoo for the night. Just before we got there, there was a little sprinkle and a rainbow. Wonderful! Set up camp, made dinner, and had our last s'mores for the trip. Adam took this series of shots while trying to get a "good" shot. Personally I love these more.



Every night of our journey, the kids and I would write in our journals. We would write about anything that had happened that day, that way we could remember all the fun times we had.
We woke up the next morning. I had not heard from my friend (L) keeping an eye on Milo for us for a few days, so I sent a quick text asking how he was doing. She said he had been fine, just not eating much. He would do that on days he would get mad at us. We figured that was the case. But she had then gone down to check on him for that day, and we got a text that he wasn't doing well. He was hiding under the bed, yowling, and refusing to come out. So I got a hold of my other friend (A), she headed over to check on him and possibly take him to the vet to get checked out. A could tell just looking at him that it was not good. She rushed him into her vet, and that was when we got the bad news. Because he had stopped eating, and drinking his kidneys were shutting down. He was so far gone, that all the vet could do was give him a little IV, antibiotics, and a bit of a pain reliever. The vet said that if it was his cat, he would bring him home to pass away. This was horrible news, especially since Adam and I made Milo promise he wouldn't go while we were away. We had decided from that very first bad news text to drive straight home to be with him. It would take 18 hours of pretty much straight driving.

A would text me through the day giving us updates, but never good news. Eventually she called to tell me that he had begun having seizures, and would I like to say good-bye over the phone. So she put the phone to his ear, and I said my good-byes. It would be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.... As soon as Adam heard what I was saying, he pulled the car to the side of the road, we all got out and had a giant family hug and crying session. It was extremely hard on all of us. L said he wanted to go to heaven with Milo, D said she didn't know daddy would cry like that. We thought it would be best if we moved all the stuff from the backseat so that I could ride back there with them. We explained that everyone will grieve differently, and that is ok. If they wanted to talk about him, we would, or if they didn't want to talk that would be fine too. So we kept our mind off things while watching T.V. shows and DVD's.

Eventually I got the text that Milo had taken his last breath, my friend A was just as heartbroken as we were, but she stayed with him the whole time. For this, I am forever grateful! We continued on the way home, stopping just outside of Joliet Illinois to switch drivers again, and I took the rest of the way home. We arrived home at 2:30am with both kids sleeping. Adam went in first to take care of Milo before we brought the kids in. We felt it wouldn't be good for them to see him, he no longer looked like him. We got the kids in bed, and brought in all the stuff from the car. We kept a small tuft of his fur from his belly and keep it in a small fancy pill box in case we needed help remembering.

Adam and I didn't go to sleep until 5am! When we all awoke at 11:30am the kids decided to build a little shrine to Milo after being inspired by the one at Haight and Ashbury. My kids were troopers, and made it the whole 18 hours with no complaints or bad behavior. They knew what was happening and have dealt with things like the big mature kids they are. I am incredibly happy to know that I have amazing friends that help me when I need them, and I have an amazing little family. It was a little bittersweet to come home like that, but it still was the most fantastic trip we could ever have taken. The kids are already asking what road trip we are taking next year.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Summer Road Trip: California Day 3

Adam, the kids, and I all woke up early, snuck out and picked up cinnamon rolls, Starbucks coffee, and some gifts for our host. It was a special day as well for 2 other reasons. 1. It was our last full day in California 2. It was our 10 year anniversary!  After breakfast, we headed out for our first stop. Our entire family are big Mythbusters fans. (If you recall last year's birthday party) While watching a few episodes the night before, D drew a picture of the entire crew. She really wanted to send it to them, but since I let her know we were heading for M5 Industries in the morning, she agreed to wait.

We took our picture in front of the sign. There was a note on the door that said to please not disturb because they were filming. D happily slipped her note inside an envelope through the mail slot in their door.
From there, we headed into the city again, aiming for the Chinatown area. This was a neat thing we saw on the way. It is seriously a real car flattened and hung up on the side of a building.
We parked in a garage not far from Chinatown. As we came out of the garage at street level, we wandered into a neat Scottish Import Store.


A short walk from there, and we were in Chinatown! The kids had a really fun time checking out all the shops. Andy did show us to this tiny little fortune cookie factory down an alley. As you walk into Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory the first thing you notice is that they are freshly making the cookies in a tiny little room. There is a line of ladies taking the cookies off of the hot press, sliding a paper fortune inside and folding into the unmistakable shape. The lady in charge has a plate of misshapen or broken cookies for you to take a sample of, and there are bags of freshly made regular or chocolate cookies. We munched on these all day long!
After cruising around for sometime, picking up a few souvenirs, and having Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch (yes, they kids happily gobbled them up!), we tried to catch a trolley. We stood right on the corner at Chinatown for a long time, but every trolley was totally packed. A man walking past said we might have better luck walking to the next stop just 2 blocks away. Those 2 blocks were up a very very very steep hill. We made the trek, pausing to catch breath a few times.
1 block into our hike, I noticed this statue of Hermes and thought he just needed a pocket necklace. How else would he carry his messages? So once again I left my mark on San Fran.
After a short wait, we were able to all get on a trolley. The kids were bummed that we couldn't hang on the outside, but they said no one under 16 could do that. We also went ahead and bought a day pass, so that way we could ride it back and it would be cheaper that way.

Once we got to the end, back by Ghirardelli Square, the kids got a picture taken hanging on it once it stopped.
Another duck into the Buena Vista Cafe for Irish Coffee and Sprite before picking up boxes of Ghirardelli chocolate and explore a few shops. Another stop for ice cream for the kids at Ben & Jerry's!



Headed back to ride the trolley back again, but stopped in a really cool spy store. The line to ride back was shorter, and went really quickly.

Once we were back at the car, we headed back home to relax, wash clothes, and pack up for the long ride for home in the morning.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Road Trip: California Day 2

For our second morning we ate yummy things we had picked up at the Boudin bakery from the day prior. Each kid picked a turtle sourdough roll, and I picked out chocolate raisin bread for the adults. After breakfast we headed out for the day!


We headed to Twin Peaks and got a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city. There were tons of tourists but it still felt nice and peaceful. The kids had fun pointing out buildings we spotted the day before.






One of the few entire group photos from the trip, thanks to the college kids standing next to us.


Our next stop was the Haight and Ashbury area. This was a stop mostly for me. When we came the last time, I was a little disappointed, not sure why, just was. This time however was a much better experience. Because we got there around 10 and before most places opened, we got two on street parking spots.

We headed in the shop and I was in heaven! There were all the things I had hoped to see, including a wonderful shrine built in a small room. The kids, Monica, and I all took off our shoes, and enjoyed centering ourselves inside. I picked up a beautiful green silk wrap skirt, and the lady gave me a discount since I said we were there for our anniversary. The guy working there encouraged the kids to touch and feel the things in the shop and to not be afraid to explore.

I had decided before we left home, that I was going to leave a few yarn bombs along the way on our trip. I picked this granny square as the perfect thing to leave on the light post right on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

And then I made the group hike a few blocks uphill to find the Grateful Dead house. Whoever owns it now has a gate at the bottom of the stairs making it impossible to sit and get a picture on them. (They also have a camera watching the stoop) So I made due with having my picture at the gate instead.
There was also this fun graffiti on the sidewalk right in front of the house.
The kids were getting hungry and frustrated at this point so we headed into a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop to have a sweet 1 scoop treat.
After that, we decided to head for lunch. Our great hosts took us to their favorite dumpling place, Kingdom of Dumpling. This place was a tiny tiny little place, but man was that food delicious!!!! D was still being a bit of a grump, and didn't want to try any new foods. Adam took her for a little walk and when they got back she was in a much happier mood. We feasted on steamed and fried dumplings, tea, chicken chow mein, garlic green beans, beef pancakes, and hot soup dumplings. Everything was so good, I am still dreaming of them!

After that we decided to go drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. D fell asleep the first time over the bridge. We turned around, headed up to an amazing look out to see the entire bridge from a distance.




We then headed back across to the other side of the bridge and to go check out the Presidio.  L really had fun checking out where the old giant guns were once perched along the coast. D had fun just being able to climb and run around a bit.




On the way back to the house for the night we made a pit stop at a store I only wish we had back at home!!! Daiso Japan is a Japanese dollar store with everything from clothing, kitchen ware, food, and drinks. We stocked up on some really fun things to use at the house and to try to eat on the way. My favorite purchase: Green Tea Pocky!!! We got back to the house, had a light dinner of cheese, sausage, and crackers, watched a few Mythbuster episodes, and played a fun game!

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