Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are We There Yet? On the Road to Ruin


Even though everyone went to bed last night either grumpy, injured or just plain mad, we all seemed to have a sunnier outlook this morning.  B’s lip still looked pretty bad, and she had definitely chipped a little piece off the corner of her front tooth.  But she woke up raring to go, only occasionally saying owww while touching her mouth.
We checked out of the dumpy motel, which had actually worked out just fine, and headed out to see more of the Grand Canyon.  Shaggy and I wanted to soak in as much as we could while we were here.  So we dragged our kids, who were now complaining about “having” to see more of the Grand Canyon, to go see more of the Grand Canyon.  We figured that they’ll appreciate it someday . . . or move out.  So either way, it works out for us. 
The visitor center had a great movie that everybody but B wanted to see.  I think she made it through a whole 5 minutes before I had to take her out. 
Apparently, there was some guy that came across the Grand Canyon a long time ago and called it worthless, saying that it would be forever undisturbed and unvisited.  The idea of that is sort of comical now, considering how many millions of visitors from all around the world come to visit this place.  I mean, I understand that might not be the most valuable land when it comes to homesteading or farming.  It might not be the best area when it comes to feeding the body, but it more than makes up for that in the way it feeds the soul.
The last stop we made as we were heading out of the park was the desert view watchtower.  Which was beautifully built and a perfect artistic tribute to the Navajo.  The kids just wanted to blaze in and tromp up the stairs.  I wanted to wander and take in the artwork.  But I could only resist their calls for so long before I tromped up the stairs to meet them and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the Grand Canyon.
There’s something about the stones that come from this part of the country that are captivating in their variety.  I couldn’t get enough.
But our journey was just beginning and the open road was calling to us.  En route to our next stop, we drove through Monument Valley in Arizona.  I tried to persuade my family to take a little detour to go see those silent sandstone monuments, but they unanimously vetoed my proposal.  Sad.  Someday I’ll have to come back and tour the amazing rock formations in this part of the country and imagine the ancient secrets they keep.  It’s rather ironic that all this sightseeing is doing everything but satiating my wanderlust.  Mostly, it’s just whetting my appetite and deepening my desire to explore these places.  
But my reality right now is based on the all-consuming needs of my children.  They need little things like lunch and naps, which always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.  But it’s good to know that B can hang in there with only a 30 minute nap and two hours less sleep every night.  Our travel schedule hasn’t exactly embraced her daily routine.  But she seems no worse for wear, at least so far.
Except for the fact that she keeps falling down.  Multiple times a day.  And makes her lip start bleeding all over again.  But I’m going to keep telling myself that it’s healing.
Whatever honeymoon period we had on the first two days on the road completely wore off by the time we passed monument valley.  J was pestering R.  S was yelling at B for pulling her hair.  K was moody.  I was feeling rather anti-social.  And all the kids were complaining about not getting to stop and shop at every single souvenir place they saw. 
In the midst of all this lovely road trip drama, we pulled into four corners.  It was so stinking hot.  The older kids immediately ran off to see what trinkets they could go spend their money on in Utah.  B spent all her time carrying dirt from Arizona to New Mexico.  And R was making rock piles way over in Colorado.  With our children scattered across four states, I took pictures of Shaggy.  He was a little put out when he realized that he had to pay to enter this place, but quickly warmed up to how cool it is.  Finally we dragged our kids back to wait in line for a photo op.  And Shaggy had them run in circles from state to state.
We piled back in the van that now looks like a hoarder’s mecca.  There is stuff everywhere, smashed and/or balanced in precarious places, waiting to topple over and cascade out of any open doors.  Every time Shaggy has to let the dogs out of the den for a break, he has to unload two boxes, a suitcase, a water jug, and a box of food.  No easy feat. 
With all children and dogs present and accounted for (we have actually done a roll call a couple of times to make sure we had everyone) and the doors securely closed, we set off for Mesa Verde.
One of our best friends during this trip has been the Garmin gps unit that we broke down and bought a few weeks ago.  She’s programmed with a nice female British accent, and alternates between a beach ball icon and a monster truck to help guide us to our various destinations.  She’s been a wonderfully reliable companion, never leading us astray.  But there are limits to her knowledge, something we discovered as we were driving around in Mesa Verde National Park in the dark, completely clueless as to how to find the lodge.  All she told us was that we were on Ruins road.  Which was funny, but not very helpful.
After finally finding someone to ask, we arrived at the lodge only to find that they had already given out all their dog rooms.  Ah, the joys of traveling with pets.  But Shaggy sweet talked them into giving us some regular rooms and promised that the dogs would cause no trouble.  No, the dogs were fine.  It was a couple of the kids that caused all the trouble.
The keys to one of our rooms didn’t work, so while Shaggy was in the lobby trying to get some that worked, I was left to try to run the bedtime routine.  By now it was very late and everybody was either grumpy or slap  happy.  As I was getting R ready for bed, J told her that 1) a moth flew into her mouth, or 2) a moth flew under her blanket.  There are conflicting accounts as to what he actually said, but the result was the same.  R started screaming.  VERY loudly.  I could not calm her down.  And yelling at her to stop screaming didn’t help.  I tried.  I’m sure this was just what our lodge neighbors wanted to hear at 10:30 pm.
It took about an hour to get her and B settled down enough to sleep.  But the very worst part was that I didn’t get the chance to go outside and take in the amazing view of the stars because I was too afraid to move and wake up my little ones.
Ah, well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings because we’re not there yet.

1 comment:

Mom said...

You're a brave woman! Your grandmother would be proud - Maryland to Montana with five kids (a few years older than yours) and no other driver. Of course we had all summer to get there and back. One of the most memorable experiences of my childhood!