Thanksgiving Road Trip

Salt_Lake_Temple,_Utah_-_Sept_2004-2

Pre-Trip Planning

So once again it’s Turkey time and time to travel to Salt Lake City for the family feast. But this year we have 2 additions to our family, and those additions put a quick airline flight out of our financial reach. That said, in the end we should have just bought the tickets.

IMG_3817Since we own a Mormon assault vehicle, we decided to drive. We had done the drive years ago together without kids, so we knew we could do it. Only question was could the kids? In the weeks running up to the trip we cleaned the van, got the oil changed and figured out ways to keep baby and the kids quiet and happy on a 12 hour car ride. Joshua picked up a power adapter which allowed us to add our Wii to the backset with all of it’s Dream Cube games. We also loaded up the iPads with movies and picked up a few new kid DVD’s for the trip.

The Sunday before our trip, Joshua took the Van to our local tire shop. First to get chains (just in case) and to have them look at the low tire light that had just come on. Arriving on Sunday to a closed store he turned around and got back on the freeway and headed home. It was at this point, in the pouring rain, the front drivers side tire exploded. Not sure what hurt him more. Changing a tire in the rain or the near $900.000 cost for the full set of tires he had to buy. This was GOD telling us to stay home, but we did not listen.

Trip Day

We woke at 2:45am and with the car packed the night before all we had to do was load the kids. Starting in the back seat with Jayme we moved him down and made him a little bed and strapped him in. We then moved on to Elijah and last Gabriel with a warm bottle.

The plan was the boys would sleep until Boise, where we would have breakfast. But they didn’t want to sleep…. until dawn. Once the sun came up the boys when down. After a few stops we got to Boise, a bit later then we wanted but the upside was we found a great breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. Surprisingly this leg of the trip was easy, apart from the 12 hour drive. Gabriel was not too fussy and the boys had lots to do in the car.

We arrived in SLC and checked into our hotel. The Homewood Suites by Hilton in MidVale. We thought we had booked a 2 queen room and would be roughing it. So when we walked in and found it was a King with a private room for the dad’s, a full size fridge, microwave and dishwasher. Well we were super happy. Well everyone but Jayme who learned he had to share the sofa bed with Elijah. Elijah on the other hand was thrilled to share with his big brother.
We dropped the bags and headed back out to pick up some dinner, Wendy’s and Wienerschnitzel for Elijah (our hot dog lover), Joshua the took Elijah and Jayme swimming in the hotel pool. While Anthony worked on putting Gabriel down.

Turkey Day

Blissfully we slept in. With no where to be and no one expecting us until the afternoon. We had some well earned quiet time at the hotel. We had expected to head over to the family house first thing, but where told to stay away until 2:00pm (later we where told we should have not come until 5:00pm). So Shiloh (Joshua’s little brother) came over to the hotel with his two kids and we took all of the kids out to a park to play. The cousins all got to play and get to know each other while the 3 dads all talked about life and the latest family news.

After the park and with it being 2:00pm we headed over to the family home, this is when we found out we were not expected until much later. Grandma had told us to be there at 2pm was not there, she was at a friend’s house. So Shiloh and Anthony cleaned up the dog poop in the backyard and tried to keep the 5 children outside and away from the chefs.

It was a much smaller Thanksgiving then in the past. The adults all ate in one room and our family ate with the kids. The irony of course was the Dad’s were longing for adult conversation, but ended up at the kids table.

Dinner was good and ended quickly. The one big thing to note here was while everyone was leaving; cousin Rowan (only 1 day younger then Gabe) started throwing up in the car and had to come back in to be cleaned off. At the time everyone said it was because he drank too much milk…. BOY were they all wrong! But more on that later.

Childrens Day

We woke the next day and headed to Denny’s for breakfast with the family. Shiloh and his two kids, Grandma, Uncle James, Jayme, Elijah, Gabe, Anthony and Joshua all sat down to a so so breakfast.

Shilo had to go to work so Rowan headed out with Grandma to be dropped off at daycare and cousin Aspen joined our family for the day. We all piled in the van and headed to Discovery Gateway. It’s like a OMSI and Children’s Museum rolled into one, but smaller then both. When we arrived we were surprised to see Grandma with Rowan, he had started to cry at daycare so she decided to keep him with her for the day. Which was great for Gabriel as he had a playmate when Rowan was not busy exploring the area with Grandma. Jayme and Aspen had a ton of fun together. So much so it was hard for Elijah not to be monkey in the middle. The Dad’s spent lots of extra time with him to help him not feel so left out.

After we had seen and done it all we said goodbye to Rowan and Grandma and took the kids swimming at our hotel. They had a blast.

Dinner 

For our final night in Salt Lake City we where looking forward to a nice family dinner. Getting some good face time for our two new boys with the clan was something we really wanted for Elijah and Gabriel. Grandma suggested the Cheesecake Factory, as it would be fun for the kids and there would be something for everyone to eat. But when we found out they would not take reservations, there was concern that having the kids wait outside on a Friday night might not work out well. So a Italian restaurant near by was suggested, Joshua called and got reservations for the 12 of us.

When the six of us arrived the hostess escorted us to the table and we noticed that our party had bloomed. Which was great, but the Dad’s ended up having to share one place setting with Joshua seating on the corner edge of the table which was not so great. A large event was happening in the restaurant in a curtained off area. Loud dance music pulsed through the dining room, talking to the person next to you was hard. So in the end it didn’t matter where we were seated the family contact we had hoped for was just not going to be possible.  This really bummed us out. This family dinner felt more like 2 or 3 dinner parties forced to share a small loud table, it was awkward and upsetting.

The wait staff seemed to be in the weeds all night. Even with two waiters they failed to take the Dad’s drink orders, forgot to take the Dad’s food orders, which just helped our injured feelings over the lost of a nice family dinner to just boil over into plain anger at the waste of it all. The food didn’t help much either. None of the food we ordered was good and none of the kids wanted to eat it. We are also sure that Anthony was served the wrong dish entirely. In all we spent $100.00 plus tip on bad food and ZERO time with the people we drove hours and hours to see. When the kids finished, moving their food around on their plates, we said our goodbyes and headed to Taco Bell.

Later That Night

Remember Rowan throwing up the day before… welcome to our families weeklong nightmare. At 3am Elijah woke up scared and came into the Dad’s room and woke Anthony up. After putting him back down, Anthony was unable to fall back to sleep. Whenever he gets upset it is hard for him to turn off his brain.  Well two TV shows later at 5:00am he decided to take a warm bath to help him unwind and fall asleep before the long road trip ahead that day.

Laying naked in the warm water, his eyelids started to droop and the warm water started to lull him towards night nightland. When Joshua storms in with a SCREAMING Gabriel. A screaming Gabriel covered in vomit and mucus pouring off him like some sort of Sci-fi horror movie alien birth.

 

Ice…. did you say ice?

We didn’t leave Salt Lake City, we evacuated from it. Gabriel kept throwing up and screaming until well past 7:00am. It was a team effort to get him calm and slumbering on the Dad’s bed. Once he was calm everyone packed quickly and after a bland free breakfast in the hotel we packed the van and hit the road. We texted the local family telling them we were on the road, then floored it.

Again we waited until Boise to stop for lunch, this time it was Shari’s. Unlike the ride to SLC the ride home was loud. Gabriel was not happy and unable to keep anything down. So our normal trick of cookies was not possible, one of the Dad’s was either in the backseat with him or turned 360 in the front seat rubbing his feet or legs for the whole trip.

Prior to our trip we knew we would have to travel through the passes in Utah and Oregon. The weather in Utah was warm and nice, so nice the kids played outside. But the Passes in Oregon where cold and we started to get worried when the sunset and the first snowflakes started to fall.

Now Joshua grew up in Salt Lake City, is use to driving in snow and ice. Anthony grew up in Portland, were the sighting of 3 snowflakes close the city for at least a week. The kids just saw snow and got excited.

IMG_3904We made it through the first pass, the snow was just blowing across the roads more pretty then scary. But as we exited the next and arrived in Pendleton things got much worse. We pulled off the highway into the Arrowhead travel center. the snow was coming down now heavy and while the Dad’s did there best not to panic all Elijah wanted to do was build a snowman. While in the travel center we found out that the pass had just been closed. Panic set in… it took a few moments for us to find out that the road to Portland was still open but outbound was shut. Now while this was great news, the thought that 10 feet away would be a closed highway due to weather, was not a confidence booster.

The final pass was a high speed terror ride on a block of compacted snow. Joshua who was driving was a rock, but the smaller cars and trucks (not commercial) that should know better made a bad situation worse. Somehow with a screaming sick toddler and two children who just wanted us to pull over so they could play, somehow we made it out and down into the wet columbia gorge.

In all the snow in the passes added 4 hours to our drive. We arrived home near 11pm

PostScript

The following evening Jayme began to get sick. It started with vomiting then the diarrhea kicked in. It was so bad Jayme missed a full week of school. By the end of the week Anthony was sick as well and then Joshua. Only Elijah escaped unharmed. Someone said it might be because the three of us contracted the Norovirus last year in Disney World and our guts were still recovering making us more susceptible. Whatever the reason no one wants to drive to Salt Lake City again next year. We are currently looking into Thanksgiving cruises.