Girl Meets West #3: Not How I Pictured This Day

If you missed the beginning of this series, you may want to go back to Part 1 and Part 2 first to read the first two posts of Girl Meets West.

On the way up to Lake Powell, where we’d be spending the first two nights, the formerly small people sat at the table and alternated between bursts of card games, video games, reading, and staring out the window at the cacti-laden terrain that seemed to roll higher with each mile. Midway though the journey, Baby-girl pulled out a small notebook I’d gotten her for the trip. She began writing down all the details of the last two days, stopping to ask clarifying questions from time to time.

IMG_0045IMG_0043By the time we arrived at Wahweap RV & Campground, it was just after dark, so we didn’t get a good view of the lake until morning. I was, therefore, thrilled when I opened the curtains the next morning and saw we were closer to the lake than I’d thought.

IMG_0036Indeed, the view was inspiring enough to convince Baby-Girl to run over to the general store to buy binoculars with her “trip money.” Then we spent some time exploring the grounds and testing out her new purchase.

As a child, LCB had visited Lake Powell and had wished that he could boat the lake. When we determined we’d be stopping at Lake Powell on this trip, LCB immediately mentioned the idea of reserving a boat for one day of our stay.

I’ll just put it this way: They’re mighty proud of their boats at Lake Powell.

But what’s taking out a second mortgage if it makes your spouse happy, right? So I gave him my blessing and he reserved a boat. Are you sensing yet that things didn’t go quite as planned? Because you should be.

First, we got a late start to the day after all our extended breakfasting, exploring the grounds, deliberating over binoculars, utilizing the aforementioned binoculars, and so forth. Second, you know those dreams where you keep walking and walking and it’s a hundred and four degrees out and you’re carrying several things and your whole family is walking with you and they’re complaining about how hot it is and you start to think about how by now you must have sweated out way more than the four glasses of water you consumed that day so you’re probably in the early stages of dehydration and you also realize that your regular workouts may be lacking a certain rigor because when you walk to the bottom of a very, very large hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain and realize you have to walk right back up it again you start trudging very, very slowly and you feel like the hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain might be kicking your glutes (which it is) and then your Baby-Girl asks if you could carry her up because she’s tired and you’d probably break into tears right then but you don’t because you realize there’s no way on God’s green earth that you can carry her right then so she’s just going to have to suck it up like a man and haul her own little self up the hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain one way or the other and the whole time your LCB is oscillating between audible thoughts that go something like A.) “This is family vacation time so I feel obligated to convince the formerly small people that they’re having fun facing heat exhaustion on their vacation but just don’t realize it yet” and B.) “I asked two different park employees for directions and tried to clarify with them when I suspected they were sending us in the wrong direction to the wrong marina in the wrong state but they told me I was wrong and so in a foolhardy move I decided to trust them since they are after all park rangers who live here but guess what they were totally wrong and now here we are walking a mile in the wrong direction just so we can turn around and walk a mile back to our starting spot so we can then walk another half mile or so in the other direction to the correct marina,” and you have to listen to the whole thing half a gazillion times on your trek to dehydration?

Well, I had one of those dreams while awake.

In a habit I’m sure my family finds endearing, I chose an ill-timed moment during one of our ascensions to share a piece of trivia I’d read in some park literature discussing best safety practices:

“Y’all, did you know six people die here every summer?”

This is also why I’d make a horrible elementary school teacher.

IMG_0073Anyhow, we finally made it to the marina, and of course there were unavoidable problems (i.e., they realized they’d lost the ignition key to our boat after getting us all set up in the boat, so they had to find us a new boat, which took… more time).

IMG_0056IMG_0071IMG_0061But we eventually made it onto a boat with an available ignition key, and ended up having two really good hours enjoying the fruits of our second mortgage.

IMG_0089Afterward, we returned to our campsite, built a fire, grilled our dinner, and roasted marshmallows as the sun dipped low in the sky.

IMG_0131The next morning we rose, packed up the RV, and headed north, to higher and drier ground.

Up next: Our Brush with the Law

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Girl Meets West #2: The RV, Our German Friends, and Why I Refuse To Shop with LCB Again (Bless His Heart)

If you missed my last post, you may want to click here to read part one of our Southwest trip.

IMG_0011We arrived in Phoenix late that night, checked into a hotel near the airport, and crashed. We awoke the next morning and looked out the window; while the palm trees felt like home, the mountains reminded us that we’d definitely left Kansas.

IMG_0015As soon as LCB made a breakfast run to the Circle K next door (high-class and health-forward all the way, baby), we headed to Cruise America to pick up our RV. The formerly small people sat outside and feigned patience while LCB checked us in. They jumped up when he returned, ready to enter our RV, only to find that more feigned patience was now required. Since we hadn’t rented from Cruise America before, they asked us to watch a “short video.” For informative purposes, they define “short” as “thirty very long minutes.”

IMG_0012Do you know what it’s like to make three kids, with their RV in plain sight, sit for thirty minutes to watch an informative, I-sure-hope-it-was-made-in-the-eighties video when they’ve been anticipating renting this RV for approximately three hundred and fifty days?

It’s not good, folks.

It also didn’t help that the male parental figure in their lives sat rolling his eyes for the duration.

Anyway, we survived the video and were finally able to board our RV. Midway through moving our suitcases inside the RV, a man approached our door and asked, “Excuse me, anyone speak German?”

LCB said something that sounded like a mix of German and English and laughed, presumably at his own rusty German. Then the man continued, in English that was quite good, mind you, to ask if we wanted to buy a coffee maker, a toaster, and an assortment of other supplies off of him for twenty dollars.

Y’all, when things like this happen, my mind automatically goes in three directions simultaneously.

Direction One: This is so cool! We’re going to buy a bunch of miscellaneous stuff off some Germans we’ve never met in a large parking lot off the side of the highway in Phoenix. It’s like Breaking Bad minus any drugs, crime, or subterfuge.

Direction Two: (Eyeing the merchants) I don’t know these people at all, so I have no knowledge of their standards of cleanliness. There are no females in the group, and they’ve just been camping who knows where for an undetermined amount of time. Therefore, I will have to scour any and all purchases like there’s no tomorrow before I will be able to use them. This is a point to consider.

Direction Three: LCB loves this stuff. It’s a potential deal and an “experience” all rolled into one. The man’s in his element here.

So, we bought the stuff, and while we were finishing unpacking, the Germans walked by several more times and threw additional items (thankfully paper products, not toasters) in our RV door.

Each time I saw something come through the door, I had a half-second of fear until I realized it was just one of the Germans whipping more paper products at us. Then, it became funny, because how often are you in a situation where strangers are throwing things at you and it’s all good?

Once we were loaded up, we drove to the store to pick up food and supplies. I’d like to tell you about this experience but, gee, where do I start?

Let me just put it this way: When you (I’m using the impersonal you when I refer to LCB here) A). stop to weigh the merits of the brands, sizes, and sources of every product you’re purchasing as well as their percentages of riboflavin and overall durability because you are committing to all of them for at least one meal and to some of them for a whopping six days, and B). then when you return to the RV with your carefully chosen items and decide you need to develop a detailed organizational plan for every square inch of the twenty-seven foot vehicle you’ve rented for six whole days because who could possibly survive for six whole days without a detailed organizational plan for their RV, and C). then when you decide that since you’re parked anyway why not make yourself a hot and cold lunch buffet that rivals the one at Old Country Buffet, and D). when during this whole process you decide to run back to the store three times for things you decide you might need that were not on your list, at the end, YOU MIGHT GLANCE AT YOUR WATCH AND BE STUNNED TO DISCOVER THAT YOU’VE BEEN ON THE GROUNDS OF THE SAME STORE FOR FIVE HOURS.

You read my itali-caps correctly.

IMG_0020LCB drove north from Phoenix for the first hour like a man stunned by his own self. Seriously, the man was rendered semi-mute for a good twelve minutes.

I had no earthly idea what to do. So, I did what I often do in these incomprehensible situations.

I read a book.

That poor, poor man.

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Girl Meets West #1: What a Difference a Plane Makes

IMG_0037Some of you are familiar with my series of posts from last summer’s road trip entitled We Went Off. You can go here to start the series and find out a bit about our personal story and why that trip out West was somewhat of a BIG DEAL if you’d like, but the slightly shorter version is that due to work constraints, the classic all-American summer vacation had eluded us until last summer. Naturally, then, we were thrilled when the stars aligned and allowed for another road trip this summer.

In last year’s series, I wrote about my pre-trip hopes of “coming back new.” This year, however, I left for our trip with no expectations, mainly just because I’d been too busy to formulate any. But I was hopeful about our transportation changes; this time around, we were heading to the Southwest via plane and traveling from there via an RV and a rental car, thus cutting down on travel time and ensuring that any possible transmission problems, should they recur, would mainly be the rental agency’s problems.

I do what I can to avoid actually being personally responsible for anything that has the potential to cause inconvenience or long stays on the side of the road.

Anyway, we’d scheduled an evening flight to Phoenix, where we’d reserved an RV for the following morning. This was the first time all five of us had flown together, so everyone was excited when we arrived at the airport that evening. Baby-Girl even wore her pink cowgirl hat, the one acquired on last year’s trip, in anticipation of our journey westward. And at first, the check-in process went smoothly. LCB and the formerly small people made it through everything without incident. I was bringing up the rear, however, and as I passed through security, I noticed my shoes being pulled out, first for closer inspection and then for a swabbing. A moment later, someone pulled me aside and asked me to stand on a mat off to one side. Apparently, my orthotics that provide arch support also offer the added service of doubling as custom-made red flags for airport security. And in a great stroke of luck, further examination had revealed fertilizer on my shoes.

So now they needed to check “the rest of me.”

Y’all, in our pre-offspring days, I flew regularly, but since then, it’s been once every few years. And yet there I was, the only person I could see who was about to get the good old pat down.

Lovely odds, mine are.

While I waited on the mat, LCB made exasperated faces at me, not knowing much of what had transpired. A TSA agent came over and asked if she could do the pat down right there. Personally, I thought this was kind of creepy, especially given that the formerly small people along with, I don’t know, a large roomful of people with functioning eyes in their heads, were all sitting nearby, so I asked for a private area. While we walked over to the sectioned-off area and waited for another female agent to arrive, the agent and I had an interesting conversation. She told me a couple of fascinatingly terrible stories about bawdy passengers and explained that she was taking classes so that she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life doing this.

Believe me, if you’d heard the stories, you’d understand why.

As another female agent approached, she concluded our informative exchange (by exchange, I mean she talked and I gaped at key narrative moments) by thanking me for being a small person and for being, generally speaking, hygienic. Less square footage to search and less stench, I guess.

I do what I can for those working to keep the skies friendly.

After I passed inspection, LCB looked puzzled as I approached him smiling. I grinned up at him and said, “We haven’t even left yet, and I’ve already got myself a little story to tell.” Technically, I now had three stories to tell if you count the two I heard while waiting to be “inspected,” but this isn’t really that kind of blog.

Sorry and you’re welcome.

Minutes later, we boarded the plane, and I have to tell you that I couldn’t create a take-off any better than this one was. The plane taxied down the runway and took off just as the sun was beginning to set, sending a shimmer of gold, orange, and pink hues over the land and the water beneath us. And so we rose higher in the air, westward bound, headed toward all that colored brilliance, right into the sunset like characters always do in any good Western.

Up Next: The RV, Our German Friends, and Why I Refuse To Shop with LCB Again (Bless His Heart)

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