Road Trip Wrap up and the Sign Collection

It’s August.  So it makes perfect sense to turn around and write something about a road trip that presumably happened in June.  I had to go back and see what was the last thing we wrote, and it turns out that if you really weren’t paying attention that you would’ve thought we were stuck in the oven that is known as Phoenix.  Let’s fix that little problem and do a quick summary of the last couple of days of our trip home based on 6 week old memories and the few pictures that we took.  (Have you ever driven from Phoenix to Houston?  There isn’t much to take pictures of…)

We definitely were ready to be home as we left Phoenix, but we had two days of driving to do it.  From Arizona we entered into New Mexico but not before seeing what may be one of my favourite irony signs of all time.

How do I call 911?
How do I call 911?

(note: we took a lot of sign pictures this trip.  We may have issues.)

I remember stopping for McDonalds in New Mexico, and that’s it.  It was exciting to enter Texas though!  Texas!  Home!  Only that we had to drive from the far west end of “home” to the almost far east end.  Driving through El Paso we literally came within metres of Juarez, Mexico.  The difference between Juarez on our right and El Paso on our left was staggering, even though we knew good and well what Mexico looks like.  I remember saying to Michelle “and people in the US wonder why Mexicans risk their life to sneak into the country and take severely low paying jobs.  They stare across the interstate and see mega-malls, McDonalds and Lexus’.”

After El Paso it got boring again.  We pulled into Fort Stockton, TX and laughed that we’ve stayed in Stockton and Fort Stockton.  One day we’ll find out who this Stockton guy was and why he got towns named after him.

On our last day we got to Kerrville, the home of our CTEN head office.  We met up for lunch with the president of CTEN at the Cracker Barrel.  It was the kids first time meeting Jack and they loved him.  I can’t say we were all that great at communication because by this time we were very aware that home was about 5 hours away.

And we kept driving on.

It rained in San Antonio.  We looked for the Alamo but couldn’t see it from the interstate.  There was no way we were stopping though.  Home was close.

Then we entered the Houston area.  Turned down the Grand Parkway in Katy and knew that the next turn off was to our apartment complex.  So close…

Our faces as we pulled into the apartment
Our faces as we pulled into the apartment

And then it just felt odd to be pulling into our apartment.  We recognized the place but it had been so long.  But we were home!

Funny story, we noticed that the van was starting to have some “issues” as we entered Houston but didn’t think much of it.  Then over the next couple of days it started running worse and worse.  Finally the check engine light came on and the van hardly ran enough to get to the mechanic across the street.  He diagnosed that it needed a tune-up since “the wires are completely burnt out and the plugs are rusted solid.  It looks like it they have never been changed and you shouldn’t have been able to run for ages. ”  When I told him it had only been a couple years since the last tune-up but then mentioned how much we had just driven AND the van had only started running poorly in the last couple of days, he just walked away.  God 1, Mechanic 0.  Unfortunately I still had to pay him $800 to replace everything.  Dang, that hurt.

Some quick thoughts on the total trip:

The trip appeared to be sponsored by McDonalds $1 drinks.  They need to seriously think about what they are doing to us by offering all drinks for that price all summer.  (also, thanks to McDonalds for offering all drinks for that price all summer)

Thanks to Tony and Melissa for house sitting a few times while we were gone.  Also, thanks to Dan for setting off the flea bombs in the apartment to kill off the fleas that were biting us and Tony and Melissa.  Can someone please explain where we got fleas when we don’t have pets?

It will be a LONG time before we attempt something like this trip again.  It was too much.  Worth it this time, but not any time soon.

Our kids are amazing.

I just finally lost the weight I gained on this trip. (see the $1 McDonalds note above)

It probably never will register how many amazing places and sites we saw that most people only dream about seeing.  And we did it in 30 days.  Mt Rushmore, the Canadian Rockies, the Space Needle, Mt St. Helens, Disney Land etc.  Nebraska and South/North Dakota do not count in this list though.  Our apologies to them.

Here are a few pictures from the last days of the trip.  And also our extensive sign picture collection.


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Here is the sign collection.  And no judging.  You spend this much time on the road and not find them funny.

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The Disney pictures

We’re hanging out in Phoenix, AZ with an unexpected rest day.  Unexpected but very appreciated.  We hung out with some friends last night and hope to see some family today.  There will also be a matinee of Madagascar 3.

It’s stinkin’ hot in Phoenix.  It was 111 degrees yesterday and should be the same today.  We’ve been close to that in Houston but the difference is the humidity.  I almost feel that the heat here is worse.  Or it has just been too long since I felt it in Houston?  Either way, we were able to dry some laundry outside our hotel room in under an hour which is impossible in Houston.

Here is a short summary of our Disneyland days.  Pictures are below.

We forced Katria to do a couple of bigger rides the first day to see how she would do.  We started with Space Mountain and she did pretty good.  No crying or anything.  There is a picture of all of our faces on the ride in the gallery.  After the ride I asked her what she thought and she said “I never want to do that again.”  Fair enough.

There is also a picture of me, Jared and Chelsey on Splash Mountain.  I honestly thought they wouldn’t be as scared as they were since they loved Space Mountain so much.  But apparently the lack of seat belts is a big deal.  You can see their faces at the drop time in the pictures.

We did stand in line for almost 30 minutes to see the Finding Nemo submarine ride, until they informed us that the ride had just broken down.

We had two really cool happenings on our second day in the California Adventure park.  The first was when we had just left the Toy Story 3D ride and were heading to another roller coaster.  A lady came up and asked if we were sticking around in the park for the day.  When we answered “yes” she handed us a paper and said “I’m a member and have this ‘front of the line’ pass to be used today.  Only we’re leaving for the day.  Did you want it?”

Yes, yes we did.  We ended up using the pass later in the day to walk right to the front of the Toy Story ride again.  It was sure nice to walk passed the 30 minute queue!

The other cool thing was when we headed over to the Grizzly Mountain raft ride and saw there was an 80 minute wait.  We were just about to walk away and accept that it wasn’t going to happen and a man walks up and asks “do you have Fast Passes for this ride?”  We didn’t, so he said “I have this Fast Pass good for up to 6 people.  It expires in the next couple of minutes and I’m not going to use it, did you want it?”

Um yes.  We will gladly take your pass and walk to the front of an 80 minute wait time.  And we did.  The kids all acted pretty scared the whole ride but then when we got off (and they saw I was the wettest) they announced they wanted to ride it again.  Which we didn’t (remember, the line was huge).

Jared absolutely LOVED California Screaming.  I think he would’ve ridden it all day if he could.  Kind of funny since the last time we were at the park (4 years ago), he was scared of almost every ride.  Guess he grew up a little.

Katria got to ask Crush the Turtle a question.  So she asked “How do you get into your shell?”  Crush responded that he actually couldn’t but then proceeded to show how difficult it was.  Michelle and I never saw the result, but the kids swear that after a short time of making funny faces and trying to get into his shell, Crush farted a little bit.

Chelsey’s favourite ride was Space Mountain.  She hated Splash Mountain.  She was quite the screamer on the rides with big drops; we got the impression she was having fun.  She hated “It’s a Small World”, but really, who doesn’t?

We walked A LOT over the two days.  From the hotel to the park, around the park, back to the hotel, and then repeat the next day.  Our feet got a little sore!  So on the last day we soaked our feet in the cool pool and then in the hot tub.

We definitely had fun and were glad we could do this.  We’ll be home in a couple of days but the memories of Disney will last a while.


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