Monday, August 6, 2012

Are We There Yet? The Suite Life


This was the first morning in a long time that we didn’t have to rush to get moving.  We slept in and missed breakfast, but I’d say that was a pretty good trade.  Everybody was exhausted and really needed a good dose of sleep.  This hotel had family suites so we didn’t have to have two separate rooms.  It was nice to feel more connected, more unified as a family unit.  I didn’t like the disjointed feeling that came from half of us staying in one room and half in another.

The kids really liked the hotel suite, as well.  Maybe a little too much.  They ran around like . . . well, like they’d been buckled up for days on end.  And they jumped all over the furniture.  J jumped off the sofa and made such a loud boom that I thought we’d be reprimanded for sure.  But we weren’t, so we allowed the kids to continue to let off some steam.

Once the laughter turned into wails and tears, we loaded up (without our suitcases!! Yay!) and went to see Cave of the Winds.  The kids did a little gemstone hunting while we were waiting for our tour.  I sometimes wonder if there will ever come a day when my children stop worrying about who gets more of what.  But petty jealousies aside, they were all pretty excited to wash away the dirt and find some shiny little gems in their sluice boxes.
The cave tour would have been enormously more enjoyable without little B.  She was hard to handle, loud, whiny, and she kept demanding to be passed between Mama and Dada.  Which was rather difficult on the many stairs and tunnels we were passing through.  And the prohibited little morsels I smuggled in to keep her happy, kept falling out of her mouth.  And since we really, really didn’t want to pay the $2,500 for touching the cave walls, we had to keep grabbing her small, but very curious hands. The fact that she was a little scared by the darkness was probably the only thing that kept us from being asked to leave.  I spent half the tour wondering why I had thought it was a good idea to go on this tour. 
But I spent the other half marveling at the different geologic formations—stalactites and crystals and cave bacon and stalagmites and popcorn and soda straws and anthrocites.  I don’t know the real names of some of what the guide showed us because I only heard half of what she said, but it was all cool to look at.  And the older kids really seemed interested in the whole place.  So, in the end, it was all worth it.  But it drains me to have children with opposing needs.  I do look forward to the day when we have officially left toddlerdom behind, when we can all keep up with these more adventurous outings.  When I can participate in these things with the older kids without the littlest one raining on our parade.  I knew this trip would be challenging with B.  In some ways, she’s doing better than I imagined she would.  And in some ways she is decidedly not.  I think we’ve realized that the looong hours of driving are the easy part.  It’s the sightseeing that’s hard to do with B.  But the amazingly cool and refreshing cave was worth seeing even with a squirmy worm jumping between us that interfered with our ability to hear, and see, and walk, and talk.

After that not-so-relaxing stop, we went back to the hotel for some down time.  B took a much needed real nap, Shaggy took the kids swimming, and I got to play around with photos and be deliciously alone.  Something I have been craving since this whirlwind trip began.  It’s funny how much more precious that time seems when you’re cooped up in the van together for days on end.  I love my family, but there is such a thing as too much togetherness.
So naturally, later in the day, we all jumped in the van together and went to see the Garden of the Gods.  Which was really cool. 
I could have spent days wandering around in that place.  There’s something about the sight of those jutting, giant red sandstone rocks that left me feeling uplifted and refreshed.  And it was great to not be on a tour, to just wander around and explore and play.  Except for the dogs who wouldn’t be social and had to get stuck in the van again.  This is not a very fun trip for them.  But they’re surviving, and they get to see the inside of a whole lot of hotels.
We took some photos where the kids had to chase B from rock to rock because she absolutely could not stay in one place for more than 2 minutes.  I can’t really blame her.  And she enjoyed playing in the dirt, surprise, surprise.  Everybody made a family chain and tried to swing the little girls.  It was joyful and relaxing—the best of family togetherness.  All frustrations faded away and we laughed and sang our way back to the hotel where we were all stocked up for a hotel party.  And we stayed up too late, again.
I wouldn’t mind more of the same tomorrow, but we’ll see what the day brings.  Because we’re not there yet.

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