Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are we there yet?

I love a road trip. One of the bonuses of climbing Rainier was it made for a good excuse to take the family on our longest road trip yet.

In the months leading up, we took a short road trip up to visit Dave and Robyn in Berkley, only a little 6 hour jaunt, but by the end of it Sara had vowed that there was no way she was riding in a car all the way up to Washington.

“Come on Babe, this is the trip of a lifetime. Think of everything we are going to see. All the things we will experience. It is certain to be an epic.”

After a couple weeks of sweet talking her I had re-sold her on the long journey.

We blocked out 3 weeks on the calendar for the trip but actually made it home in 2. There were highs and lows along the way but there always are in anything that epic.

Here are some of the highs and a couple of the lows.

Our first stop was in Reno to visit our friends the Hills.

We spent a day at Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful.

It is the second deepest lake in the US after Crater Lake which we would see the next day.

This place in Aden, California had fresh strawberry shakes to rival those of Taco Amigo. Not that we had a choice of where to eat. It was the "Oney" place in town.

We all were looking forward to a hike at Crater Lake but all the trails were still covered in snow. Thats a lot of snow if you are from SoCal.

Rig practiced kicking steps so he can climb Rainier someday.

No one makes an RCHS beanie look as good as Caroline.

Rig at Crater Lake.

As soon as we checked into any hotel the first activity was always Bed Gymnastics.

One pair of beds did fall apart and I had to reassemble them.

Jillian couldn't jump across the gap but that didn't stop her from participating. Most nights she would get rough-housed off the bed and end up in tears but that didn't stop her from participating either.

The trip was the hardest on Jillian. When we finally crossed the Columbia River into Washington everyone cheered except her.

"I hate Washington!"

The kids tried to cheer her up.

"Here Jilli, you can play with my doll."

"I hate dolls!"

"Jilli you can have my happy meal toy."

"I hate toys!"

"Jilli you can pick out the next movie."

"I hate movies!"

"Jilli you can..."

Jilli cut off the next sibling with a line that became an instant family classic, "I HATE EVERYTHING!!!"

Everything got better when we finally got to Sheila's house. We got spoiled for 4 night's in Yakima. It was much needed respite for more than just Jillian. Swimming, relaxing by the pool and feasts that rivaled the Ricker's 3 times a day, it was just what the doctor ordered. For the rest of the trip Caroline and Jilli both kept asking if we could go back to Sheila's house. Sara only asked a couple of times.

My only regret of the whole trip is that Sara lost her camera in Seattle. So the only pictures I have of Sheila's house is a photo shoot of the girls with these bunnies.

Darrell took the Rainier clan and their families on a hike to do some mild spelunking.

It was beautiful.

I traded my Rainier hiking buddies in for these two.

I used red-eye reduction on this photo and I don't know if it is better or worse.

We posed with the same piece of scenery for a cutest couples contest.

You pick the winner.

The contestants are:

Me and Sara.

Roman and Michelle.

Or Jillian and Rhett.

From Yakima, it was on to Seattle.

There are lots of cool things to see around the Space Needle.

"Look Mom another homeless hippie!"

We ate dinner at Ivar's and fed the pigeons.

Jillian ran out of shrimp so I told her to fill up on ketchup packets.

We went to the public market and watched them throw the fish around.

It was going to be about 70 bucks to take the family up the Space Needle. We saved some money and went up the Columbia Building for 1o bucks instead. At 76 stories it is more than twice as tall as the Space Needle. That is some good value for your viewing dollar.

If you look close you can see the wimpy Space Needle in the skyline.

We left Seattle via the ferry across the Puget Sound. We are all smiling because we haven't realized yet that Sara's camera is still somewhere over there.

Port Angeles was as close as we got to Canada. It was only 18 miles across the channel.

Port Angeles is the gateway to Olympic National Park.

This beautiful lake in Olympic NP is where we realized we didn't have Sara's camera.

We did some awesome hikes in Olympic.

Jillian does not appreciate the sound of a rushing waterfall.

This is Rialto Beach in Olympic NP.

These giant trees get washed up on the shore and it gives the beach an eerie feeling.

It feels like you are in the book "Where the Wild Things Are."

We saw a bunch of Elk up close in Olympic NP.

This is one of the few times Sara actually drove on the trip.

Olympic NP is incredibly diverse: mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, beaches, wildlife, even a rainforest.

Everyone told us it will be raining on the peninsula. It always is.

So we borrowed umbrellas from Darrell and Sheila, but we must have brought the good weather with us from California because we never saw any rain not even in the rainforest.

Last stop in Olympic NP, Ruby Beach.

Livi said this was the coolest beach she had ever been to and that is saying a lot for a Californian.

There were tide pools, sand and cool rocks to climb on.

Finally it was time for the visit to Forks. The rainiest city in America and it was sunny. Talk about Sara's bad luck. You can't spot a Cullen in Forks if it's sunny because they have to stay inside.

We found the Vampire Threat to be high.

We made the drive down to La Push and crossed the treaty line.

For dinner we had to get the Bella Burger.

It came with a complementary set of Vampire teeth.

"Look out Jilli, she's coming for you next!"

We spent the night in Forks and luckily in the morning there was at least a little bit of drizzle, unfortunately we woke up with some dental abnormalities.

We did the full Forks tour. It took about 2 minutes. In other words the town is tiny.

Sara posed with her boyfriends. For the record I am totally Team Jacob. Edward seems like a pretty boy.

Last stop in Forks with Bella's truck.

We did most of the trip off the interstates, which meant lots of small towns with a Forks type feeling minus the vampires of course. We had a couple of sections where we went days without seeing a McDonald's. It was awesome.

You can only eat so much fast food. So we had to get a little creative with some of the lunches on the trip. This was our cheapest. We fed the whole family for 4 bucks at the dollar tree, two boxes of cereal and two cartons of milk. So I splurged and let everyone pick out a toy. Just what every family with 3 daughters needs, a couple more stuffed animals.

The kids were pretty good travelers. Most the time they kept their seat-belts on. As you can see from this picture Caroline was the most likely offender. Luckily Jillian couldn't undo her own seat-belt, but she was relentless in requesting help from anyone else. This was her most common phrase of the trip. "______, Dit me out!!!" (Insert family member in the blank.) She would yell at one person over and over for 5 or 10 minutes then without a break switch to the next family member. We are a pretty hearty family but everyone has their limits. Eventually someone would give in and unhook her. I knew we had lost total control of Jillian when I turned around and she was bouncing around the backseat totally naked and someone had drawn tattoos all over her body. It was one of the lows.

We were all excited to be back in CA.

We had seen amazing beaches but somehow when you get to California they just get sunnier.

The next major landmark was the Redwoods.

The tallest trees in the world.

They are pretty special. I am by no means a tree-hugger but I loved walking amongst those trees as much as any part of the trip.

Check out the size of the base when they fall over.


We couldn't go all the way to the Redwoods and not drive the car through one.

We were all stoked to see Paul Bunyan and Babe.

Never was I more happy to see a gas pump than this one. I had pushed it a little too far and realized that if the next tiny town didn't have a gas station we were not going to make it to the one after. We drove into the town and saw a Chevron that was out of business. My heart dropped. I was thinking I was going to have to ask a farmer if I could buy some gas and then we saw this at the other end of town. I had to wait for the tractor to finish pumping his gas but I wasn't complaining.

I had seen a family hike on TV called Fern Canyon and it was a non-negotionable. We were doing it. It required a pretty good distance on a dirt road and we had to cross a small river in the car.

The check engine light is on now, but it was totally worth it.

The kids all said it was their favorite hike of the trip.

Livi is turning into quite the adventurer.

Whenever there was something to explore she was the first one out of the car.

We stayed at some nice hotels, some average ones, and one very poor one. This was the very poor one. We were having trouble finding any vacancy and didn't want to push on to the next town. I came back from the lobby to report the price of the room to Sara.

"It's only 60 bucks but the lobby stinks...bad."

"How bad can it be, we can handle it for one night."

"I can handle it, if you can."

We probably would have extended the trip a few more days had it not been for the Motel Garberville. It was bad enough to make Sara and I both decide to wake up early, find the interstate and bolt for home.

The kids didn't seem to mind. Sara wouldn't let Rigdon sleep on the floor but it looks like there was plenty of room in the bed anyways. Heck it looks like we could fit another kid or two in there.

Despite the ending, the trip was awesome. I asked Sara if she wanted to do one to New York next summer and she said that is going to have to wait a few more years, but if I start sweet talking her now you never know.


Mindy said...

That looks like such a fun family trip! Those forests look amazing, and I am so excited about your Forks tour, I'll bet Sara is even more pumped for the next Twilight!

Grandma Cher said...

That was an awesome trip. I would have been asking to go back to Darrell and Sheila's house too. They were an unreal host and hostess. I can't believe all they did.

It looks like you guys sure had a lot of fun and got to see so many great places. Can't wait to see you here again. Hope Jillian can take one more trip!

Rocky said...

Awesome trip. As for cutest couple, I am a little offended Sarah and I didnt even make the vote. Then again, it wouldn't really matter considering Rhett and his male-model looks were paired up with the amazingly cute jili-bean. The only pair who would stand a chance of competing with that couple is if Eliot could have taken a similar picture with Derek Zoolander.

SavageSam said...

Put on your thinking cap and start the sweet talk now. A cross country trip will be truly epic!

Damon's Girl said...

Looks like an awesome trip! Glad you started it with us! Thanks for coming to visit!

Robby said...

Looks like so much fun.. I am still laughing about Jillian naked in the back seat with tattoos all over... so awesome. Great post! Love you guys.