Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Third Annual Claytonopolis Great West Tour

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"Someday when our kids are bigger and better able to manage themselves, unbuckle and buckle themselves in the car, get their own snacks, and walk long distances, we are going to really enjoy this trip to Washington--stopping along the way to visit all the sites, eat great food and have better visits with friends and family."  That is what I said to my husband as we sped through the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, listening to a symphony of crying and whining children, hulking a variety of snacks in their direction, yelling at the eldest to "Put your seatbelt back on!" for the umpteenth time.  We just wanted it to end.  We just wanted to get to our stopping place in Montana so that we could rest and let the kids jump furiously all over the beds before they crashed for the night.  We knew they would wake us, early at first light, like the song-birds.  We took them swimming before breakfast to wear them out once more before we got back into the car to make the final leg to Washington.

We dragged our lot into the breakfast room at the hotel.  Of course, we only booked hotels that served free breakfast and accommodate dogs.  Yes, we are "that" family.  At breakfast we received lots of stares.  It had happened to us a few days before when stayed at the previous hotel before we stopped at my sister's house in Colorado Springs.  I guess we are a sight to behold with what some people call "stair step children"--kids born one right after the other.  After breakfast, I said to my husband.  "You know, I have enjoyed all the stares and comments about our family this trip. I'm proud of our family.  Our kids are clearly adorable and I am happy we have them."  I am sure many people delighted in watching our little hobbit babies eating their fruit loops and making little coos. 

Now let's back track a little.  My husband changed the departure date on me.  I had the two youngest girls scheduled for immunizations the day before we were to depart.  I wanted to give them 24 hours to see if they would have any adverse reactions.  But, my husband was eager to get back to his childhood home--Washington.  So I did not argue.  This meant washing, packing and cleaning time would be cut short a day.  None of the beds in the house were going to get clean sheets.  That's okay, I thought, because they would just be full of dust when we returned.  But, the morning of the new departure day we awoke to, Annie, our 21 month old, puking and diarrhea.  I guessed we were not going to leave, after all my mad preparations.

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By the late afternoon, Annie had not puked again so we decided to leave anyway. I figured that it seemed to be a mild virus, so if we have to stay a little while longer at the hotel puking at least we will be seven hours closer to our final destination, which was 31 hours away.  In the rush to leave I left some food in the fridge.  Oops.  We arrived at the hotel and settled in for the night.  But, all night I tossed and turned.  My stomach was upset.  Nothing ever came of it, but I was achey all the next day.  On that day we drove another seven hours to Colorado Springs to visit my sister.  

The night we arrived, we all slept in the same room with one bed and one blow-up mattress.  Round 3 of the virus.  At 3:30 in the morning I awoke to Alex puking all over me.  That's right.  My five year old child covered me in vomit.  Then he told my sister in a sleepy stupor that mommy bought the spicy chips.  The ones he just lost allover mommy.  I had trouble getting back to sleep and some of the kids awoke a few hours later.  It was over 100 degrees.  It was very uncomfortable on account that there is no air-conditioning in much of this mountain city.  We were melting.  Annie threw a three hour fit.  She was overtired, hot and disoriented.  I took her for a drive to cool and settle her.  She calmed down.  

My sister had a big barbecue planned for 27 of her closest friends. Or should I say not planned.  We bought the barbecue the night before and my husband put it together in the morning.  Then we shopped for all the food and assembled it in the afternoon.  It was quite a feat.  But, it turned out to be a grand affair and everyone seemed to have a good time.  As I began to think about tucking myself into bed around 12:30 a.m. Kristiana puked all over her bed.  Round 4 and the final round of the virus.  Fortunately, she was alone on the blow-up mattress.  It was relatively easy to clean up. This was the day the big forest fire broke out in Colorado Springs and plumes of smoke ascended over the city.  It was an ominous sight.  By Monday, when we departed the air quality was very bad. It was hazy and ashy in the city.  We were happy we had not planned to stay longer, and we prayed for everyone the fire affected. 

Monday we rushed through Wyoming, reading the Hunger Games the whole way.  Andrew drives, I read, the kids watch DVDs mostly.  It was an exhilarating adventure.  We stayed the night in Billings, Montana and began reading the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.  We have now begun the final book, Mockingjay, and are racing each other to the end.  At first, we were skeptical, because the grammar is quite poor in places.  I suppose the poor grammar might be for effect in the same way that there is southern slang in Huck Finn

There's not much more to say about the journey north--puking, heat, barbecue, fire, swimming, reading.  This time around we felt very prepared for the trip and therefore we were not very phased by anything that happened.  We arrived safe and sound at the home of my husband's parents and we have settled in.  We have been going to movies and seeing friends and relaxing all around.  We are so blessed to have this wonderful family.

This is the mess that Annie made in the back of the car over the four day trip. And this is after me trying to clean out as much as I could at every stop. The odor was a special scent as well. 

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Shane or Violet said...

You guys are so brave! Shane's family lives in Kansas City and I keep chickening out on driving up there with little kids. Don't they just go crazy? How do you keep an active 1 year old happy for more than an hour in the car?
You make it sound amazingly fun though!

Renee Clayton said...

The simple answer is that you cannot possibly keep a one year old happy for more than an hour. With Annie, we kept throwing a variety of sugary snacks at her. Let her watch an occasional Elmo DVD that held her attention for about five minutes. We prayed she would sleep a lot. She did sleep enough in the car to keep us sane. You just have to steel yourself against the crap kids pull. The first year Alex was a tyrant and did not eat anything the whole way. Kristiana ate nothing but ketchup from ketchup packets. You can do it. Just be prepared for anything. We travel with kid meds and thermometers too.