Home sweet home! We are on our way!!! We actually made the drive in great time and arrived in less than 8 hours. It must be helpful to stop on the side of the road to pee and not switch drivers very often. It also is a BEAUTIFUL drive on 395 passing Death Valley, Yosemite and other lovely lakes and landmarks. The kids were ECSTATIC to be home and I was overjoyed to be back in the arms of my love. Nate was seriously funny with pointing out different things to Auntie Mar like... "This is my front door! And this is my light switch! And those are my stairs!" And for me, home is where my husband is. Its good to be home.
Singing "The Wheels on the Bus" with Auntie Rhi
The "Leestma" cousins
Amazing how its already in the 100's at 9:30 in the morning
A day of rest!!!! We decided to stay put in Vegas for a day, get caught up on some sleep, clean out the car, let the kids run themselves tired and then nap! It was a wonderful day. The kids played out in the backyard "watering the plants" and then they and I enjoyed a really fun splash pad park just around the corner from Ben and Rhi in the morning. It was warm here... anything outside that was fun involved water. Then it was nap times in the afternoon... even Auntie Mar took a mega nap. Then we had another delicious dinner, played to cards, sipped on wine, talked and laughed and enjoyed the evening.
Today's destination: Las Vegas! It was only going to take a little over 5 hours to drive so we had a lazy morning and then met up with an old friend, Ginger Morby Ciminello, for coffee. We had a great catch up and then hit the road! I was super excited when we saw the "Welcome to Nevada" sign! But we still took the time to stop off to check out the Hoover Dam. Quite impressive. That night we got to stay with my brother Ben and his lovely wife Rhiannon and their 4 month old son, Isaac. The cousins got to meet for the first time and Chloe just adored him. We had a fabulous dinner and then hit the sack!
We only had about a 6 hour car ride today with Phoenix as the destination. Of course the kids would fall asleep when we were 5 minutes from our destination. We made the most of it though and enjoyed some cold Starbucks beverages while we let them sleep in the car. Then we decided to hit up an aquatic center and let the kids play in the pool and kiddy play area. It was TONS of fun and amazingly the water was still pretty chilly for the 112 degrees it was outside! We got to stay the night with our cousin, David Curtis, and his wonderful wife Brittani. They work with Food for the Hungry and I loved getting to chat with them about what they do. They also are expecting their first little one in October. Anyway, we loved the visit with them, a home-cooked meal, and a bed!!
We hit up two National Parks on this day with a lot of hours in the car in between. The first was Carlsbad Caverns. It was really neat and amazing how huge these open spaces were underground. I had never been in a cavern before, only caving, so this was a new experience. We opted for taking the elevator down the 50 some odd stories into the main chamber and then Mary and I ended up carrying the kids for the mile-ish hike. It was fantastic but I'm glad it wasn't any longer cause I'm not sure if the 2 and 3 year old would have make it. I think we only got talked to once about keeping the kids quiet as sound tends to echo in the caverns. Next stop was at White Sands National Monument and it was amazing! I have been here once before and I would come here again! Even though it was over 100 degrees outside, the sand was not too hot to walk on and we had a ball climbing up the dunes and racing down to the bottom. The campsite this night was set back in the Organ Mountains and although still pretty hot, there was a breeze (read: wind) to help keep us cool. As we did the night before, we decided not to warm up our dinner but just eat it cold since we were already so hot. I think after this evening, I was really looking forward to some nice ice water.
It was a long day with a long drive from Austin to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Texas is huge. The kids actually did really well with only a few melt downs here and there. Nate even went poop on the car potty. We weren't expecting that. We got there close to dinner time but had a little bit of time to go on a small hike. It was HOT but not unbearable. We got in the tent early for bedtime and broke out a new book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.. a new favorite. The kids took their time falling asleep, but with the incredibly large and bright moon, I had a hard time sleeping. Then it began to rain in the middle of the night, so I jumped up to put the rainfly on. Oh the joys of camping!
Houston to Austin. We headed out from Clear Lake and picked up Auntie Mar in downtown Houston. Then we headed to Austin for the afternoon and to spend one last night. I got to see my dear friend Carey and her 3 kids again and we got to spend a little more time with Nana and Papa and the Dwelles.