June 29, 2010
badlands. Due to the time change, we actually arrived right around
the planned time! The drive (about 7 hours) went super quickly
without any complaints from the kids. They are already in a good
travel routine. Once we break camp, we pile in the car and get right
to driving. They spend a couple of hours just looking out the
windows, coloring and writing in their acitivity books. We do a
couple of cd's of fun road trip music and they dance and sing. After
we stop to make and eat lunch, we put on a show for them, then they
all sleep for the rest of the drive. They really are rockstars.
So, the drive was a breeze and after the few days prior... We felt
like we earned that! As soon as we got to the badlands, we took some
pictures and explored a little. Almost as soon as we got there, a
small herd of some animal, which is still in question, walked right
across the road super close to our van. One guy said "about a quarter
mile up there are a bunch of antelopes with their babies!". Then tom
called the sheep, which is way less exciting. So, for the sake of the
story, I will go witthhhhhh.... Gazelles. A herd of gazelles were
just hanging around the cars with their babies. It was awesome.
Shortly after that, tom's deep depression came to an end when a herd
of buffalo also crossed the road in front of us, putting tom in the
middle of a lifelong dream - and only feet from real live buffalo.
(Whether or not these buffalo are wild is a matter of serious debate
between tom and I. He takes the position that since these buffalo are
undoubtedly happy and would probably never want to leave the badlands,
then they are wild. I, obviously, disagree because that is the
stupidest thing I've ever heard. A happy buffalo is not necessarily a
wild buffalo. Wild means free. Even if the buffalo don't want to
walk down I-90 to go to Wall Drug, they aren't wild unless they COULD
if they wanted to. I digress.)
So, we set up our tent at a free, primitive campground right in the
badlands (or batmans as harper calls them). Then we hiked up a pretty
steep hill and had dinner on the cliff. The kids did great climbing,
even harper insisted on going the whole way without help. It wasn't
an easy hike, so they were pretty excited to reach the top, which gave
us an awesome view. We ate a fast dinner and headed back down to
camp. We had zero run-ins with rattle snakes, which was more than
some other hikers that we met could say. One buffalo did wander down
to our campground, but minded his own business as we took pictures
(from a safe distance, mom.)
We got right into our tent and did a little family devotional. (Tom
organized some devotionals with some memory verses that the kids have
already all mermorized the first couple lines. They are some verses
from deuteronomy about how god goes before you in your travels,
pitching your camp for you by fire, etc. It is perfect scripture for
our trip. after that we ate backpacker's freezedried ice cream which
was funa and the kids loved it. We slept without the rainfly for the
first time because we did not want to miss the sky. It was beautiful
and worth taking the very small risk of getting rained on.
This morning we got up and actually broke camp and left ten minutes
EARLY! Ahhhh! Granted we had to get up at 6:30am and it still took
us 2 1/2 hours to get going... But we had ten minutes to spare!
We continued exploring the badlands, which we may have appreciated
just a touch more than the kids. Don't get me wrong, they really were
in awe at the vastness of it. At first. A few hours in... Let's just
say that I'm glad the park charges per car and not per person, because
at one point marlie literally had a pillowcase over her head. What
can ya do?
From there we went to the famous Wall Drug. We splurged and got a
pizza and some homemade donuts. It was nice not having to deal with
coolers and campstoves and packing food. We just arrived back to the
badlands for night #2. There is a cactus on our campsite and we have
a view of the beautiful rock formations, as well as the prairies. So
tonight, we will enjoy another beautiful night at "the batmans" and
tomorrow: "Rount Mushmore."
June 28, 2010
disaster, the drive to ethan and laura's was pretty rough. We enjoyed
the landscape a lot, especially watching the lightning storms off in
the distance. It all went downhill when "off in the distance" no
longer applied. We watched as the storm closed in on us and rapidly
The rain, thunder and lightning were getting quite heavy when I
received this text message from laura: "just checkin to see how you
are doin. There are some tornado warnings in minnesota and I believe
the weather man's exact words were 'if you're near the iowa border,
take cover!'" Good thing we drove 2 1/2 hrs. Out of our way to
unnecessarily drive into iowa.
We tuned in to the radio for weather and realized we were driving
through pretty much every county that was being tornado-warned. We
debated at every undrerpass if we should stop for cover like many of
the vehicles who were out in this storm, but according to weather-lady
laura, we just needed to get north of it and we'd be fine. After
careful driving (and maybe a touch of hydroplaning) tom expertly
navigated the way to ethan and laura's house.
It was great to see them, catch up and see their cute new house. They
were beyond gracious as hosts, allowing us to shower, launder and eat
limitless amounts of ethan's homemade jam. (Not that there was any
risk of running out since ethan had slightly "over-picked" at the
strawberry farm, picking 30 unnecessary pounds of strawberries... but
no complaints here.)
We left 2 hours behind schedule. From a house. Without having to tear
down camp. Or cook our own breakfast. We are really bad at this
schedule stuff... But the kids got to play with coasters, and play
with ethan outside and even got to "butter their faces with an ice
cube," which is a guarenteed good time.
After a quick (slow) stop at walmart, we made our way to our campsite
in north dakota, now 3 hours later than the master itinerary suggests.
It was a neat little campground, where I met a woman with curly hair
and 3 daughters, named laura from rochester, Minnesota. (I'm Lara,
from rochester, ny, 3 daughters too.) It's like we're the same! Except
she DIDN'T have a son, and I am NOT a bellydancing instructor, but
other than that...
That night we cooked "mountain pizzas" and "hobo pies" over the
campfire in our pie irons... Having set up camp and prepared dinner in
the daylight! We felt proud and relaxed, and enjoyed the night
hanging around the fire, eating kinda burnt cherry pies. Everyone
slept great, and we departed this morning only an hour and a half
We just crossed into south dakota and are driving through a town with
a population of 483 people. Tom has enjoyed interacting with the kind
of people who "square up in the mornin'" and has spent much of the
trip talking in a deep southern accent. Mostly when reading road
signs. This should be annoying, but strangely I still laugh every
time. He is currently in a deep, dark depression because all he has
ever dreamed for is to see a real live buffalo in the wild and has yet
to see any. He is certain that we somehow missed them ALL and is
having a really hard time letting it go. (Which could explain the
occasional complaint of chest pain, and the unusual appreciation for
the tidy rolled up cylinders of hay we see everywhere.)
We are on our way to night #1 in the badlands and are excited to be
there around 4:30pm if all goes well. If we don't see a buffalo
before we arrive, I'm jumping out while we are still moving.
June 27, 2010
June 26, 2010
of a statement it would probably have to be "hell on earth." Hey, I
acknowledged it would be dramatic. It wasn't all bad, to be fair...
But all you nay-sayers were right about a few things: "it's gonna be a
lot of work." (everyone), "your tent is gonna leak" (grandpa
anderson), "you guys are crazy!" (Mostly everyone), and "those driving
times are a little ambitious." (Lindy).
So, as I had written earlier yesterday... We were running a tad behind
schedule. Like five hours behind. That means we arrived at our first
campsite with about 15 minutes of sunlight left to set up camp. Once
we did that, we sat down and cooked a relaxing campfire dinner. Oh
wait, that's actually not what happened at all. While that is what I
went to great lengths to plan, what really happened on Night #1 is an
entirely different story.
When we got to our campground, we were a little (a lot) surprised.
The campsites were tiny and were so close together it was almost
impossible not to back into someone's site with our van. And when I
say "someone's site" I should really say "yard" because the campground
was actually full of RV residents! This may be ignorant of me... But
did you know that people pay rent, park their rv or camper and LIVE in
these places? I mean, they had porches built onto the front of their
campers. They had wheels, and a porch! They had gardens, lawn
ornaments, outdoor furniture... I saw a guy mowing his lawn when I was
walking to the port-o--potty! I used a port-o-potty in someone's
yard. It was all very confusing.
We set up camp as spastically as possible, around 9:30ish. At this
point the kids were starving but we still had to build the fire, get
out the kitchen bin, start the camp stove and get dinner cooked. It
takes a very long time to cook dinner, at 10:30 at night, when it's
pitch black. I mean it was hot, humid, dark, buggy, and exhausting.
After dinner, we had to get the kids down, give London her nebulizer,
wash the dishes and pack up all the kitchen stuff. The kids were
obviously exhausted. The girls were out as soon as their heads hit
their pillows. Harper slept fitfully and would wake up periodically
to do something bizarre. He has bad nightmares, so he spent a lot of
the night incoherently screaming his head off. He was an ultra-pest,
trying to irritate the girls long after they were asleep. And at one
point I woke up terrified because he was crouching right by my head
demanding that I give him a kiss. Again, exhausting and confusing.
London woke up once in the middle of the night, so I fed her - which
never really happens, but out of fear of the other kids waking up, I
That's when the sideways rain first started. It sounded awesome.
But, the kids' sleeping bag ended up bunched against the tent wall so
it ended up getting wet. A few places on the tent had very minor
leaks, but it was wet enough to make packing up in the morning a touch
of a drag. We did wet breakfast, packed up wet camp and left almost 2
hours later than our goal... Which tells me we're improving!
We left Indiana, stopped in Illinois for a picnic because we saw an
awesome scenic lookout tower. It was, naturally, closed when we got
there. But we took the picture below, and had a quick dinner anyhow.
Then we went senselessly out of our way (2h 15m) to drive across the
mississippi river so we could go through Iowa and Wisconsin before we
headed to Minnesota. Our goal is to go in every state that we
possibly can, which adds a ridiculous amount of driving time, for very
little reward - really just a few blurry photographs of various
"welcome to whatever state" signs.
We are due to arrive in columbia heights, minnesota tonight to stay
with our friends laura and ethan. The GPS has our arrival time for
11:00p. We have been making good time, so we usually shave off some
time. Then London will explosively poop up her back, and we end up
adding more time than we shaved. So, to conclude Day #2, we will get
to see friends and take showers around 11:00, give or take a shave and
Discoveries of Day #2:
-we grow a lot of corn in this country.
-tom had his daily run in with bird poop. He grabbed the edge of the
picnic table (which was clean) and got bird poop on his hand from
UNDERNEATH the table!
-the world is NOT running out of room for people. We figured out that
if each person ate one less can of Niblets a year, we could build
houses for all the people currently packed in china... And I'm talking
homes w/ acreage!
-the girls are not fond of port-o-potties and "would really rather go
in a regular bathroom because where do you even wash your hands!?"
(They are in for some serious disappointment in a few days when we're
in the dessert... A port-o-potty will seem like royal treatment at
-sometimes you have to swaddle your baby in a pillow case, just when
you're in a desperate laundry situation.
-london will poop explosively right while I am blogging about it.
It's like she knows...
June 25, 2010
pooped on tom's head this morning while we were packing the van. Five
hours behind schedule, we were packing the final things for our month
long, cross-country road trip, and a bird does a fly by just to stick
it to us.
We planned to leave at 5:00 in the morning, but we left at 10:30am
instead. (Bright side: we left on the right day.). We planned to do
London's nebulizer in the car using an outlet converter thingy, but it
required too much power so I had to do it at a service station.
(Bright side: while I was doing that, Tom was able to reserve the
campsite we wanted for tonight.). Annalee and London are both sick,
and I'm all stuffy and am sneezing like wild. (Bright side: they got
sick right before we left, so I was able to get the antibiotics they
both needed, plus the nebulizer.)
So... Things aren't necessarily going as planned, but as I said
yesterday, I PLANNED to be spontaneous. I know that is a bit of an
oxymoron, to plan out your spontaneity, but all of our plans have
given us a goal and a rough time frame. Here's hoping we don't
disregard that time frame so blatantly on the rest of the trip as we
So we are in Ohio, when we should be Indiana. (I have never seen so
many abandoned, brick buildings in my life.) But the kids are doing
great: coloring, decorating their hats from my mother-in-law, working
on the 60 page activity book I made for them, listening to all our
great road trip mixes, and watching Mary Poppins as I write this. We
are due to arrive at our campground in Indiana at quarter to nine.
highlights so far:
-tom patting my back and encouraging me saying "don't worry, at the
end of this trip you'll know the RIGHT time to play the air saxaphone
-marlie asking me three different times, "we can really eat these
cookies WHENEVER we want? Both of them?"
-watching the kids eat both of their cookies before we even got to buffalo.
-stopping to change two dirty diapers within two hours. The little
lady is a double deuce kinda girl.
-watching Harper beat box (tight and steady) during 'we will rock you.'
-learning that during 'we will rock you' I should really only fist
pump with my right hand because I have better control (also tight and
steady) and I am less likely to pump my fist into the sunglasses
holder. -watching tom scrub the bird poop from above his ear before
we were even close to spending a significant amount of time outdoors.
Well... That's Day 1 as it stands. At least we made it past Victor.
Sent from my mobile device
June 2, 2010
living in a land of little weirdlings has led to some pretty strange conversations. here is a potpourri of some sentences i never imagined would come out of my mouth. many of these came out of my mouth in the past 48 hours.
- (gasp) "he painted the baby!"
- "you may NOT paint the baby."
- "thank you. i like your head too."
- "that is not poop in daddy's pits. it's hair."
- "please stop putting that in your ear."
- "please stop putting that in my ear."
- "if you can't think of anything to do then i will throw away all of your toys." (tom has tried to convince me that this threat is unrelated to the problem, but here was my thinking: if you can't find anything to do, then you don't need all these toys that are lying all over my house, and i can just throw them away. that way, you still won't have anything to do but at least my house is clean.
- "it's right here." (said in response to harper asking "where's yours brains?")
- "i am cooking dinner, you can get your own wedgie like a big boy."
- "well... you really don't marry uncles." (said in response to marlie using uncle jonny as a last resort for for a husband. she's four.)
- "yes, i promise." (said in response to marlie asking "can i really borrow your blue high heels for my wedding?" again, she's four.)"
- "your corn on the cob is NOT a drumstick."
- "harper, honey, there was not a fire in your room."
- "harper, honey, your buns were not on fire." (both of these fire-related remarks took place this morning.)
- "no touch technologies."
- "no touch-a 'tiques." (this is me reminding them, in their own language, not to touch the antique tea set sitting on my bookshelf.)
- "x is not a drum." (at any given time x can = a laptop, my chest, the fridge, the tray on the baby swing, the baby, etc.)
- "no more gremlin crying."
- "i am not a granny."
- "ok, two is not 'millions and millions.' "
- "ummm... i don't know if the birdie has buns."
i could seriously do this for hours. but i can't because i have a lot more weird conversations to have. so i want to know...
what is the weirdest thing you never expected to say out loud?