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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Chelsey’s Birthday post


Late – occurring, coming, or being after the usual or proper time: late frosts; a late spring.

Also, committing to complete the trilogy of blog posts about your kids birthday stories and then finally writing it 10 days after your oldest daughter’s birthday.

Ouch.  But I think it’s fair as she arrived 10 days late…

Chelsey’s birthday was at the end of June and we were on the road.  We celebrated it pretty quietly.  I seem to remember a muffin at a restaurant or something.  And she does have a party next week.  So it is not like we were total losers and just forgot her 11th birthday.

Chelsey – age 11

But let’s get to the story of what happened 11 years ago.

We had moved into our first house a month earlier and Michelle was definitely pregnant.  Her parents had come up from Oregon to be there for the due date, which was the 19th of June.  That day came, and went.  No arrival yet.  Not even a hint that it would be soon.  This kid did not want to come out.

After it was 7 days past the due date, Michelle and I visited the doctor.  She told us everything was fine and the baby was good.  All signs pointed to the fact that we should deliver any day now.  By this time Michelle was finished being pregnant.  FINISHED.  Also, her parents had to leave in another week or so and they were really hoping to actually see the baby before they left.  So we asked if we could schedule an induction.

The doctor agreed to see if they could get us on the list, but made no guarantees.  They would call us if/when they had an opening.  We waited three more days and finally got a phone call. “Can you come in for three?”

Uh, ya.

There is something relatively nice about having lots of notice to go to the hospital.  Unlike with Jared where we did the panic rush and barely made it.  But then again, having that much time brought out a little bit of ugliness.  We had time to think about all the possibilities.  I remember one “discussion” Michelle and I had on the way to the hospital.

Michelle: “Ryan, if they have to take the baby, promise me you’ll stay with it.  Ok?”

Me: “Um, why?”

Michelle: “Because I don’t want there to be any chance they accidentally switch our baby with someone else’s.  I’ve heard of it happening before.”

Me: “Seriously?”  (Ya, wrong answer on my part)

I’m not going to complete the conversation in text but I will say that all it takes for my always calm wife to “lose it” is 9 months and 10 days of pregnancy.  Needless to say I agreed to stay with the baby if the nurses took it out of the room.

We got to the hospital and were shown to our room.  They wanted to start the induction with drugs and Michelle asked if they could just try breaking her water.  The nurses swore numerous times that it wouldn’t work and it would take too long.  They must’ve not seen my hand signals and broken spirit from my previous disagreement with her, but they also finally relented and did what she asked.

They broke her water and then told us to walk around.  From this point they were sure it was going to take a few hours before labour started.

10 minutes later my wife was in hard labour.

I guess I’m glad that I was able to witness labour, since with the other two I either didn’t see the delivery or just arrived for the end of the short time.  I’m glad because I saw a physical strength and stamina I would never have known my wife had.  But I also remember the sheer helplessness I felt as she went through five hours of hard labour.

Chelsey, a couple hours old.

And at a little after 10PM, we had our first child!  A daughter!

Things moved really quickly after this.  I can remember cutting the cord.  She was weighed and measured.  I recall holding Chelsey, giving her to Michelle, me holding her again and having no idea how to calm her and then being shown by a nurse what to do.  I brought her out of the room where Michelle’s parents and sister were and then I have no idea what happened after that.  And I don’t know if I followed the nurses if they even took Chelsey out of the room.  It was all a blur.

At some point I left Michelle and Chelsey in their room and made it home.  There may have been a run to Wendy’s then or the next night.  I honestly don’t know when.  It did happen though.  I was back at the hospital the next morning and we were released sometime that day.  And I don’t think we slept much that first night home.  But Chelsey was amazing.  We have a bunch of pictures of her first months.  It took us a few hours to scan them into the computer since back then we didn’t have a digital camera!

I really wish I could remember more, but it was a long time ago.  Needless to say, we’re awfully proud of Chelsey and how she has grown up.  It’s a little stunning to us to think that she’s closer to an adult now than a baby.

In fact, I don’t want to think about it.  This blog post is over.