Move to San Diego

Day 8

Time to leave Vegas and head to our final destination…San Diego. After checking out of the hotel, we headed to get Camden. He was in the middle of his bath when we got there and he was EXTREMELY excited to see us…kept whimpering until he was released from the tub. Then it was time to get gas and hit the highway. Once the kids fell asleep (about 45 minutes into the drive) it was a pretty easy trip. Rip slept til about 1 hour north of San Diego and Riley slept until about 30 minutes north of San Diego. Traffic was pretty smooth sailing the whole time. We did hit a few slow spots but, much to our relief, they cleared up very quickly.

Once we got to San Diego, we headed straight to the Extended Stay, checked in, unloaded a few things and then went to Fashion Valley to eat at the food court. We hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and it was dinner time so we were all VERY hungry.

After scarfing down some food, we walked around the mall for awhile and then Mimi and Kirk when grocery shopping while Bumpa and I took the kids back to the hotel for baths and more car unloading. Have I mentioned how horrendous condition the mini van was in? Uggh! going to need a serious detail job. The trip had started taking a toll on me as evidenced by my juvenille behavior when Rip started pushing my buttons. I can’t even remember what started it all, but it ended with Rip throwing my camera and me throwing Rip’s transformer and telling him I was throwing all of his toys away. Not one of my proudest moments at all. We did manage to make peace with each other by the next morning but it was pretty sketchy for awhile.

Day 9

Mimi and Bumpa took a much deserved break and went back to the mall for some shopping. The kids and I headed to the beach and Kirk (a little under the weather) went to the beach with us but took Camden for a nice long walk on the boardwalk. The kids fell in love with the beach immediately. As soon as Riley’s feet touched the sand, she sat down and commenced playing. This would have been fabulous had we not been right in the lifeguard’s truck path. It took a little convincing to get Riley to move to a more safe spot. Rip, immediately grabbed a toy and headed down towards the water. It took him a few minutes to get his feet wet and then only a few more minutes to be frolicking in the waves. Please note, Rip’s frolicking in the waves consists of only going in up to his knees. At one point he did run out of the water and exclaim “I love the beach!!!”

One quick side note, throughout our trip (and even before) Kirk had been telling people that we would be living on the beach in a tent because home prices are so high in San Diego. Well, turns out that Rip had been listening to these statements and was taking them for face value. When Kirk and I were talking about find a place to live, Rip piped up and said, “I thought we were living on the beach?” And much to our surprise, he was very sad to find out that we weren’t going to be living in a tent on the beach. After looking at a rental property, Kirk and I agreed out loud that we didn’t like the property. Rip then said, “oh good, now we can live on the beach.”

After the fun time at the beach, we headed over to our friend’s house for a nice home cooked meal. Rip and Riley played famously with Gracie (2 weeks younger than Rip) and Jared (8 yrs old). The rest of us enjoyed relaxing in a home (vs. hotel) and chowed down on a yummy steak and chicken dinner. Thanks for the awesome welcome Tara and Steve!!! After some food coma and several adult beverages, we dragged the kids away and headed back to our extended stay room for some sleep.

Day 10

It was clear pretty quickly that the extended stay room would not be big enough for us to stay in for a couple of weeks. Mimi and Bumpa took the kids off to Sea World so Kirk & I could start searching for another place to live. Tara had referred us to a vacation rental website where we ended up finding a 3 bedroom 2 bath house we could rent for essentially the same price as the extended stay. Pretty much one look and we were sold. It’s not the fanciest place but compared to the hotel room, we felt like we were in paradise.

After driving by several places, we met Mimi and Bumpa back at the hotel room. Sea World, the kids and the sun wore them out so they took a break while Kirk & I fielded the kids. Our next stop was to visit with the Sutliff family. Another wonderful welcome with more friends! We hung out at the Sutliff home and had pizza delivered while drinking some more adult beverages. The kids played non stop and all got a long wonderfully. So nice to be hanging out with the San Diego crew! I’m pretty sure I could have hung out for a very long time but it was Sunday and the Sutliff kids had school the next day so as soon Riley started showing signs of tiredness, we hit the road.

Day 11

Mimi and Bumpa headed back to Michigan. Their flight left at 6:30 a.m….man that is EARLY! Thankfully we were pretty close to the airport so it was a short drive at 5am. After dropping them off, I went back and slept for a couple more hours. Then we all got up, started re-loading the cars and headed over to the new temporary home. Not quite settled but a little more so than driving all day and staying in hotels. These next few weeks we’ll focusing on finding a more permanant residence and getting the kids signed up for some type of school/day care. Once those two things are in place, I think we’ll feel a little more situated.


Day 5

Day 5 started out by waking up early and hitting the road right away. The evening of day 4 Riley was rather exhausted but was refusing to fall asleep. So we were forced to pull out the pack-n-play and let her “cry out it out” in one of the adjoining rooms while the adults had vodka and tonics in the other room. It took Riley approximately 2 minutes to fall asleep. Rip went down shortly therearfter. Then the adults finished their beverages and hit the sack too.

Flagstaff to Williams, AZ is only a 30 minute drive so we arrived at our destination in plenty of time. We checked Camden into the hotel kennel, found our train tickets and then watched a pre-train ride cowboy’ show. Have I mentioned that the weather didn’t cooperate much on the trip? our train was taking us to the Grand Canyon and it was 50 degrees with a seriously strong and cold wind. So watching the show was a little chilly and walking around at the Grand Canyon was a bit more chilly. Thankfully, the view at the canyon is so amazing that you pretty much overlook the cold.

The train ride itself was just OK. It was great not having to drive to and back from the canyon, but the on board entertainment and the scenery along the way were a little sub-par. There was a staged train robbery on the way back, but we were quite surprised that the actors were just there to collect tips. Oh well, the Grand Canyon was spectacular!

The hotel rooms were very nice and once again we had joining rooms which allowed the kids to run back and forth (endless entertainment πŸ™‚ The next morning we loaded up the car…in 32 degree weather!!! Yes, more snow flurries to start off our day. Thankfully we were heading to Las Vegas where it must be warm!

Day 6

A short 5 hour drive to Vegas. The scenery was pretty fabulous most of the trip and by the time we got to Hoover Dam it was practically tropical (50’s). The traffic going over the dam is pretty heavy and we had to get Camden to his doggie day care so we didn’t stop to tour the dam on the way into Vegas. They are building a Hoover Dam Bypass which looks unbelievable! Especially since it’s half built and the backdrop scenery is to die for! Mimi declared that she didn’t think she would be going on the bypass after seeing it built…too scary!

The Camden drop off went great. I had found a local doggie day care that did boarding so we decided to let Camden go there since we were staying in Vegas for 2 nights. Camden did fabulous during the drop off. He was first introduced to Molly, a GoldenDoodle and then jumped right in with the rest of the visiting dogs. After the drop off, we grabbed some lunch and watched Camden on the doggie cam…we missed him already! Then it was time to get to our hotel and spend some quality time in Vegas. We stayed at Circus Circus which was an absolute mad house when we got there. Thankfully, no glitches on our reservations and we were in the newly renovated West Tower. By far the most spacious and comfortable rooms on the trip. And our rooms were joined…woo hoo!!

The first thing we did was figure out what shows we were going to see. Mimi and Bumpa chose Jersy Boys at the Palazzo. Kirk & I piced Zumanity at New York, New York. After securing tickets, we took the kids to the arcade/circus area. While the kids were playing games, Bumpa managed to win $6 on the slots. Unbelievably, Mimi and Bumpa were the only ones that gambled and it was pretty minimal.

After getting some kid time in at the hotel, Kirk and I headed out to see our show. Typical of Cirque du Soleil, the show was awesome! Lots of audience participation with the participants being great sports as they were certainly asked to do some pretty risque things. After the show Kirk and I headed back to the hotel and crashed hard! Traveling has finally caught up to us and we are tired by now!

Day 7

Started the day off with the breakfast buffet. I’m pretty sure Kirk & I are done eating out with the kids for the next 1000 years. Their eating out manners are questionable to begin with and managed to deteriorate throughout the trip. By the time the buffet breakfast came around, I was able to eat one bite before the mayhem began. Riley had a few bites to eat and then wanted to wander around and climb on everything. My patience was zero so thankfully Mimi and Bump whisked her away to safe territory.

Following breakfast, we jumped in the mini van and headed out to Hoover Dam. The drive wasn’t too bad but by the time we got there (1pmish) the main parking garage was full so we had to cross over to the other side of the dam, park and then walk back to buy our tour tickets. And, of course, we were hungry so we had to get food before we could do anything. The tour was pretty cool. We got to down inside the dam and hear the rushing water. Thankfully we didn’t see any leaks while we were down there :-). Following the tour we took lots of pictures of the dam and the new bypass and then headed back to Vegas where Mimi & Bumpa headed to their show and Kirk, the kids and I headed to Excalibur to watch the Tournament of Kings. We were a little nervous about this show as we weren’t sure if Riley would be able to sit through it. Much to our surprise, Riley did great. She entertained herself with a glass of ice water for the first half hour and then actually watched the last bit of the show. Her favorite was the Jester…she clapped everytime she noticed him. Rip was completely entranced with the entire show. As soon as the lights went down, he stood up and stared with wide eyes and open mouth. The pyrotechnics were a little scary for him, but he just scooted a little closer to us and that was enough security.

After the show we headed back to the hotel and prepped for bed. Lights were out by 9:30 pm…all were exhausted!


Day 4 video

Day 5 video

Day 6 video

Day 7 video – coming soon.

Wow, I cannot believe how fast this trip is going! Except for a couple of things, I think I could extend this trip for a very long time. The few things stopping us from doing that:

1. Money. Ok, it’s very expensive to travel this way…and we are frugal!
2. Messy Minivan. No matter how hard I try, the minivan continues to be a total disaster area about 5 minutes after we load up into the car. And there now seems to be a lingering odor that I will have to deal with as soon as we land in San Diego.
3. Obesity. Eating out 3 meals a day and virtually no exercise is taking a serious toll on the belly. Can’t wait to get some home cooked meals and cardio exercise.

Other than those few things, I’m pretty sure I could do this forever πŸ™‚ Ok, now on to the highlights.

Day 3

This was our day to spend in Santa Fe. We kicked the day off with opening Easter Baskets from the Easter Bunny. We had managed to hide the baskets up until the night before when Rip spotted some unusual colors in the Infiniti (vs. the mini van). Thankfully he was easily distracted allowing the Easter Bunny visit to be a surprise.

After we managed to get everything packed up and loaded into the cars, Kirk & I gave the kids to Mimi and Bumpa and then went to meet with a franchisee of a franchise we’re considering investing in. The meeting went great and gave us an hour of downtime from the kids πŸ™‚ Mimi and Bumpa took the kids to Wal Mart to run around and pass the time.

Although we managed to remember Easter baskets, we didn’t really consider how the holiday would impact our visit to Santa Fe. It became clear quite quickly that between the incredibly cold temperature (35 degrees) and the holiday we were going to be limited on what we could do. We considered just skipping town and heading straight to Flagstaff (a night early) in hopes of having more time for the sights there. Of course it was lunch time so we needed to eat first, then we remembered Kirk was supposed to meet someone in Albuquerque so we ultimately decided to stay in Santa Fe. We ate at the La Fonda Hotel which was beautiful and had WONDERFUL food…and margaritas πŸ™‚ We then ventured out into the little shopping district to mostly window shop as it was a holiday and many of the stores were closed. Around 3pm we were all ready to get in the warm car and hit the round to Albuquerque. Nothing too exciting about the rest of the day except that Ripken and Riley spent some more quality time with Mimi and Bumpa in their hotel room. Riley fell asleep almost immediately after getting her PJs on. Rip sat in bed with Mimi and watched a movie. Kirk and I sat in our hotel room enjoying the no-kid time for the second time that day!

Day 4

Today was spent mostly driving. We had about 300 miles to get from Albuquerque to Flagstaff. Our main objective in Flagstaff was to visit Sunset Crater Volcano. We had forgotten about the time zone change which gave us an extra hour so we were able to stop at Meteor Crater about 40 minutes outside of Flagstaff. This was very cool to see and I totally recommend it to anyone who is in the area. And we were very grateful to step out of the cars to nice high 60’s temperatures. As a matter of fact, it was warm enough we were concerned about leaving Camden in the car for too long. The kids enjoyed getting out of the car and stretching their legs and the adults enjoyed the cool scenery and warm temps.

After an hour, we moved on to Flagstaff and the Sunset Crater Volcano. This was definitely the highlight of everyone’s day. We did a nice 1 mile loop that had fabulous views (make sure to checkout the slideshow to the right). Ripken had a blast hiking while Riley entertained herself playing in the crater dirt. After our short hike, we headed over to the Waputki Indian Ruins. This was pretty awesome as well. By the time we finished looking at the first ruin, we were all pretty tired and headed straight for the hotel. We were pretty convinced that the kids would be exhausted after short naps in the car and lots of exercise…how wrong we were! Riley was FIRED UP and it took us a couple hours to get her to sleep. Thankfully she is down and we are now relaxing and getting ready for bed. Tomorrow is the train ride to the Grand Canyon and then on to Vegas on Wednesday.

Day 3 Video

Enjoy πŸ™‚

p.s. Day 3 updates and video coming shortly

Day 0
Completely packed up and out of the Skyflower house. Pick up Mim at the airport and visit with our fabulous friends Heather and Stephanie at Waterloo on 360. After a great dinner and several beers, we head to our hotel room. Mimi and Bumpa stayed at the Crown Plaza while the rest of us headed over to to the Extended Stay America. Our plan was to have Riley sleep in the portable crib, Rip sleep on the pull out and Kirk & I in the double bed. It was apparent pretty quickly that Rip was not going to sleep on the pull out so when the lights went out it was Riley in the portable crib and Kirk, Rip and me in the double bed. Maybe two hours later, Riley decided she didn’t want to be left out and joined us…yes, that means there were 4 of us in the double bed. Needless to say, Kirk and I got very little sleep that night.

Day 1
Close on the house: 10 am. While Kirk and I were signing papers, Riley and Ripken were getting spoiled by Mimi & Bumpa. Riley ended up with a new outfit, new pair of shoes and some socks. Ripken ended up with new fireman boots and a really cool fireman jacket.
Depart Austin, TX: 11:30am
Arrive: Lubbock, TX 7: 30 pm


First Stop: Little Country Dinner…about 20 miles outside of Austin! Kids were starving and we figured it would be good to get them fed so they could go fast to sleep. And sure enough, they ate and went to sleep for several hours!

First Mishap: Eden, TX. It’s not widely known, but Eden, TX (population 2500) has approximately 2 cop cars for every car that travels through this little town. We think it has something to do with the detention facility located in the center of the town (maximum security from what I can tell). Anyhow, the road leading into Eden has a speed limit of 70 mph and abruptly goes down to 45 mph. And much to our sadness, we did not slow down fast enough and Kirk was given a speeding ticket. The police officer couldn’t have been more stereotypical of a southern, small town police officer: jeans, cowboy boots/hat, chewing/spitting tobacco. We didn’t really want to start the trip out this way but I think we’ve gotten over it…well everyone except for Kirk πŸ™‚

Last Stop: McDonalds and a playground down the street. The natives of the kid variety started getting restless around 5:30 so we hit the McDonalds thinking there would be a playyard for them to get their energy out. Unfortunately, this particular McD’s only had food. So we ate and then headed over to a playground we say a mile back and let the kids and dog run around for awhile.

LaQuinta in Lubbock. Was a great place to stay. They take dogs, rooms were very spacious and best of all, TWO BEDS!!! Riley slept with Mimi and Bumpa which was very helpful as Kirk and McDonalds did not get along very well and Kirk needed some space. Rip, Riley and I were so tired we slept through a fire alarm in the hotel. Thankfully it was a false alarm!

Day 2

Depart Lubbock, TX: 9:30 am
Arrive Santa Fe, NM: 3pm (mountain time)

Nothing too exciting to report on this day. The rest of the drive through Texas was pretty dismal. Lots of little towns that are not quite ghost towns…very depressing. It took a couple of hours into New Mexico before the scenery changed into something interesting. First it started out as plains with antelope here and there. Then it started raining a little. Then we started going up in elevation. Then the rain turned to snow. Yep, that’s right, while it was 90 degrees in Austin on Thursday, on Saturday we were in a snow storm an hour outside of Santa Fe. The temperatures over the next few days is less than ideal…40’s – 50’s. Hopefully the sights will make up for the weather πŸ™‚

As soon as we landed in Santa Fe we checked into our hotel and headed straight for food (did I mention we didn’t eat since breakfast???). We were very surprised to find a wait at the Olive Garden at 3:30 in the afternoon. While we waited, we fed the kids bread sticks as they were famished. Unfortunately, by the time dinner arrived, they were filled up on the breadsticks are ready to run around. Kirk and I tag teamed: Kirk ate while I watched the kids in the lobby then Kirk took over the kids while I ate.

After dinner we took the kids to the hotel pool in hopes of burning off some energy and getting them to bed at a reasonable hour. The big notable about the pool time is that Riley peed on Bumpa. I don’t think he was very happy about that πŸ™‚

Now we’re all in our rooms relaxing and prepping to go to sleep. Here’s a link to the video so far. We’ll post more tomorrow.

Few other comments:

Camden is a little confused about whats going on. He’s enjoying going between our room and Mimi/Bumpa’s room. He’s riding in the car pretty well but I think he’s ready to get some exercise. Thankfully in Las Vegas he gets to go to a doggie day care where he’ll get lots of exercise!

Mimi and Bumpa hae been a HUGE help on this trip. I seriously doubt we would have been able to do this on our own so we are extremely appreciative of them taking the time to join us.

Ripken and Riley are doing GREAT in the car. The only time there has been any issues is when they need a break from the car seats and thankfully that has coincided right about the time we arrive in a town with space to run.