Fact: You can take drugs to make you hallucinate.
Fact: Or, you can just drive. A lot. I took this picture in the middle of the night, 15 hours after we left Arizona. As you can see, we still had a little bit of driving to go. I didn't hallucinate too much on the drive, but a few times on a shoulder check I had to do a double take. I could have sworn my sister Maria was sitting behind Madeline in the back. Crazy...
We'll come back to the drive. First of all let's backup to the Gold Canyon in Arizona. Friday morning came quickly as I was invited to play golf with the wedding party. At 6:18am cousin Brandon Nauta and I did as we were told and followed the (profusely sweating for a guy who should be used to this weather) starter to hole #1. Only Brandon nearly rear ended the guy because instead of taking us to the hole, he took us to the path that would take us to the hole. When we got there I nailed the best drive of the day and off we went, literally and figuratively downhill from there. We played a best ball as a twosome because there either weren't two more people to play with us, or there weren't two more people wiling to put up with us. Either way it was a good round, although the drink selection from the course left a bit to be desired.
After our early round of golf there was time for me to head to the pool with Tim and Deb and the kids while Kristi did a wonderful job of finding and operating a local laundry facility. Our laundry bag had grown considerably from the Albuquerque KOA and the odor grew with it. It is nice to smell clean clothes in confined spaces. After a much needed family nap we attended the wedding of Brett Nauta to LeeAnn Owens. I had hoped to get a chance to speak to LeeAnn prior to the wedding just to make sure that she was aware she was marrying Brett and the extended family came along as part of the deal. I didn't get the chance and I'm sure she'll learn over the next 7 years. I say 7 because at our table we were asked to give them marriage advice for # years of marriage. For you math people #=7 in our case. Kayleigh told them to kiss a lot, I'll keep my advice among the pages of the book until their 7th year. Here are some pictures from the wedding and reception. (p.s. reception chicken was fantastic and the caterer actually made rounds to ensure that things were ok for the guests... this might be called "Management by Walking Around or MBWA which I think is a Tom Peters things. That is your book reference for the night, amazon Tom Peters and just buy everything that appears.)
Ok, I lied. I only took one good picture of the wedding and this is it. My reception photos leave a bit to be desired. Although there is one of Kayleigh dancing with Brett that is pretty good which can be found in the Zion-Wedding gallery.
Saturday morning we made a quick trip to Paradise Bakery in Mesa, AZ which I think is a Panera subsidiary that they use for testing on animals. I mean people. After breakfast we did our final packing and strapped our backsides into the van for the first seconds of our drive.According to Apple maps (Hey! Apple maps actually got us home!) The drive home was 1,880 miles and would take about 30 hours. In reality the drive (exits and the like) was probably longer than 1,880 miles and took only 33 hours in the car. In hindsight, that is pretty amazing that we only "lost" three hours considering we have three kids under six, I drank like a fish, and we even stopped for two meals (at a real restaurant) on the way home. Our children really did do a great job on the way home of keeping themselves entertained and for the most part keeping attitudes in check. I suppose letting them watch movies did help as did the "missing" tablets of Benadryl but we made it and that is good.
I did promise one good story from the trip home and really I think that is all I have. Maddie is a hilarious passenger who likes to be tickled, repeats everything, and for any song on the radio can be counted on to scream "again" when it is finished. Ben and Kayleigh are Temple Run experts, can play a game called Ski Safari Blindfolded, and both are adept at picking letters and numbers off street signage on the way home. So good kids, boring for stories. The real fun started just outside of Texas where we stopped at Denny's for dinner. As we approached the van I wondered if the tail lights on the camper were working, so I checked them. They weren't. I knew the brake lights were fine, I knew the blinkers were fine, but the tail lights were not. I opened the lid to the lights and found that there was a bulb missing so I chalked it up to a camper that is old and let Kristi drive us toward Amarillo, TX. As you remember from a previous post Amarillo was a dangerous drive on the way in so I wanted to take that stretch, but I also needed a break so Kristi had one job... drive from wherever we were to Wilderodo, TX to make a driver change so I could take Amarillo.
Before I continue I need to emphasize something very strongly. Without Kristi taking two turns at the wheel we would not have been home as early as we had. She did a wonderful job for someone who hadn't really driving in two weeks and was thrust into it in the dark while pulling a trailer for the first time. So if you are reading this, Kristi I appreciate your driving and you were great! However... growing up my parents took us to places that required us to sleep in the van and usually we did so without seat belts and it also usually meant a sister on the floor. The apple not falling far from the tree I had Kayleigh sleep on the floor and Ben sleep in the back seat without his belt on. Both did so perfectly. While she was doing a great job of driving, Kristi forgot her drivers license at home which at this point was 1,000+ miles from where we were. So the stage is set with kids not buckled in, a driver without a license... cue the CB radio and 911.
It turns out driving without tail lights on a trailer is frowned upon. Even though she signaled her lane changes and the brake lights really did work, the other drivers on the road didn't appreciate that we were hauling an extra 15 feet behind the van without lights on it. Thanks to modern technology they started calling 911 or using CB radios to contact the authorities. Around midnight with our babies in the back and me resting in the front seat Kristi looks up to see the pretty flashing lights of a Texas county Sheriff who wanted to talk to us. Thankfully he came to my side of the van and he very politely told us our lights didn't work and we should use our emergency blinkers to let people know that we have a trailer. He also noticed that Kayleigh was (we had her move) now seated in the back seat without a seatbelt and suggested we buckle her in. Not once did he ask for a license, registration, proof that we were good parents, or anything of that nature. So I said thank you and off we went. Kristi was a bit shaken up by the ordeal but in a few years it will be funny. Like the time she killed a scorpion in Costa Rica.
Really after getting pulled over and then let go quickly by a police officer there isn't much more to share. We drove and drove and drove and drove making stops when we needed to and pretty much letting the kids do what they wanted to as long as it was quiet and by 8:45pm we were close to home... and Ben had to use the bathroom merely minutes from home. Curiosity got the best of me and while Ben was inside answering nature I moved some cables around on the van/camper and look!
After that last stop, and the fuel light shining brightly we rolled in to our home around 9:30pm. Home at last.
There will probably be more stories coming, more photos to look at, and more ways for you to waste your time at my expense. Between a GoPro two cell phones and a digital camera we probably have close to 800 photos we could share, and maybe I will so some Sunday afternoon you can scoop vanilla out of a 5-gallon pail and watch each one of them on your old Kodak projection screen. Or I'll just give you a few more of our favorites. Thanks for reading, praying, and participating on our trip. We had a great time, saw amazing things and even had a chance to see family and attend a wedding. Not bad for 12 days on the run I'd say.
See you next time.