Saturday, April 29, 2017

Well You Don't See THAT In Seattle

On one of our many trips to San Diego, we took a detour through Colorado and stopped to see Chuck's mom and sister. Then we continued south to see my sister in a teeny, tiny town called Walsenburg.



We followed my sister and brother-in-law in their truck because we'd never have found their property on our own. We turned off the main road and onto a dirt road.

And we drove.

And we drove.

Eventually a herd of cattle began to run along side the truck! We couldn't believe it! You know you're in Colorado when you share the road with the cattle!


You can see we aren't driving in the ruts because there were 7 people in our 7-person van and we kept hitting bottom! Not fun for the people riding in the back. After more than 20 miles, we finally arrived at their property.

Me and my sister Kathy


My sister showed us around the property, where they're planning to build their home, where they've built the well. It really is a gorgeous place and you can see forever!


  
As we walked around we could see the clouds were getting thicker so we decided to head back. Chuck is a walking GPS so we made it back okay but not before driving smack into the middle of the rainstorm.



It POURED! Then, as fast as it came, it was gone! It was crazy!


By the time we got back to civilization, our van was barely recognizable! Wow! We've driven a lot of miles over the years but it's never been that dirty before!




Welcome to Walsenburg!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flip Flops, Well, Because

On some of our trips we can drive up to 12-13 hours in a day depending on where we're traveling, what the destination is and how long it's gonna take us to get there.

One of our best friends on a road trip is the truck stop. Now, before you call me crazy, hear me out.

Truck stops today are a lot different than they were 30-40 years ago. My dad was a long-haul truck driver and I rode with him a couple times when I was in high school and believe me, truck stops are different today. They're not the small, dark, smoke filled places they used to be.

One of our favorites is the Flying J. This thing is like coming home.

(All pictures are compliments of Google.)


We've been driving a while, everyone's acclimated to the air conditioning in the car. We pull up to the pump (we've learned over the years to wear sandals or flip flops in the car, easy on and easy off) begin to move our muscles as we find our flip flops, unbuckle our seat belts and open our doors. 

Then usually a blast of heat hits you as you step out into the sunlight and s-t-r-e-t-c-h!!

Now the Flying J Truck Stops are huge inside. The bathrooms are always so clean, they have full showers for all the truck drivers, and there are usually a couple restaurants attached like Subway, KFC, etc.




They have everything you could want. From motor oil to movies, from flashlights to clothing. Anything a trucker might need out on the road, they carry it. Which means they probably have everything you'd need while out on the road too!



And the snacks! Oh my, we've spent a long time inside the Flying J trying to decide what to buy! The girls and I use the bathroom while Chuck fills the tank and washes the windows. Then we all meet inside to get a snack and something to drink. 

Then you get that blast of heat again as you walk out the door (just thinking about it has me smiling!) and head back to the car.

Everyone shuffles their stuff around trying to figure out what they're gonna want with them for the next part of the trip.  The flip flops come off and the head phones go on.

Then we buckle up and settle in for a relaxing, stress-free ride on the open road.

Friday, April 21, 2017

More Than Yep (A Detour From Road Trips For A Minute)

Beth has never been much of a conversationalist but often she wouldn't talk at all. In fact, for most of her life she'd cry when something didn't go right. Or when something didn't work the way she wanted it to. 

Or she got her feelings hurt.

Or someone cut in line in front of her.

Or someone got a bigger piece.

For 99% of the things in her life she would just stand there and cry. Or she'd put her head down, walk away and cry.

I've told her, our whole family has told her, "Beth you need to talk. What's wrong?" "Beth, use your words." 

We've tried encouraging her, "Beth, we can't help you if you don't talk to us." "Beth if you want some help, you have to ask. Use your words."

Finally, after years and years, I gave up. When something happened and she would start to cry, I'd look the other way. Or I'd walk away. 

Or I'd just stare at her. 

She knew what I was gonna say anyway.

Eventually she stopped crying but she still wouldn't use her words. Even if she just wanted to say Hi to someone, she'd walk up to them and just stand there. Often they wouldn't see her and they would talk to someone else or they'd walk away but she never said a word!

But lately...

I saw her the other day at church - I so wished I had taken a picture but I was talking with someone else and didn't want to be rude - but I heard some women laughing and I glanced over to see Beth standing there with 3 other women, she had her phone out and she was showing them pictures! I heard her tell them about our trip to Snoqualmie Falls the weekend before! And these women were all facing Beth, she was leading the conversation!

Then last night at the grocery store, she was paying for her groceries and I was helping the bagger (he has special needs) with some special food items and as I finished and looked up, I heard Beth say something that I couldn't quite make out but then the checker laughed and said, "Oh you're right, I'm so sorry!" and he handed her some cash back. Beth said thank you and we were on our way.

Before we headed to the parking lot I stopped and told her how proud I was of her for speaking up. I told her she talked and everything worked out great; that she didn't cry and she got what she needed. "That's excellent Beth!"

She smiled and said, "Yep."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Pool Slide on Steroids!

It was 17 years ago today - April 19 - that we pulled back into our driveway after an eight-day seven-state road trip. We headed to Colorado to see Chuck's mom and sister but planned a few stops along the way.

In April of 2003 Diana was 12, Sharaya was 16 and Beth was 18. They were Road Trip Masters by this point. We booked a night at the Econo Lodge in Rapid City South Dakota for one reason and one reason only.

The pool.

Not only was it an indoor pool, but it had a slide. And this wasn't just any slide!


This was a slide to beat all motel pool slides!


I don't think Diana went on it but Sharaya and Beth had so much fun! We wish every hotel had a pool like this one!!

The next day we got up and headed to Mount Rushmore. Now I've heard people complain about it because technically it's only a bunch of rocks. But it really is fascinating, the enormous size of those faces, the passion Gutzon Borglum put in to all that work, as well as the beautiful scenery.

There is an interactive area with videos and models of the mountain, history, artifacts, and the gift shop. 


But once you head out to see the mountain and carvings themselves, everything changes. Behind a large amphitheater you follow a trail that takes you around the mountain, kind of winds back and forth giving you different perspectives of the carvings.





 I love a good zoom lens!


 They've even cut a path through the mountain.





One of my all-time favorite photos of my girls is of them at Mount Rushmore. I took it while they were trying to look through one of those tourist telescopes. I've been typing, then deleting, then typing and deleting, trying to explain why I like it so much. It's the three of them together, it's spontaneous, we're on a road trip, we're at a National Monument... I don't know, I just really love it!




Have you ever been to Mount Rushmore? Have you been to other National Parks or Monuments? Do you have a favorite?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our Very First Was With Our Second

Our very first road trip was in 1986 and was actually from San Diego to Seattle. Chuck had an aunt and cousin that lived here and we decided that year to visit them for Thanksgiving.

 Beth was 2 and Sharaya was just 1 month old.

 Home from the hospital

I remember they both slept almost the entire way. Well, not really but they sure slept a lot and we couldn't believe how easy it was! To be honest, I don't remember a whole lot about the road trip itself.
Beth - the hood of the car was warm!



Chuck and Sharaya 



I do remember we stayed at a Motel 6 in Weed, CA and we were at the base of Mount Shasta. We didn't have mountains like that in San Diego and waking up in the morning, seeing this majestic, snow-covered mountain was just spectacular!

It's been more than 30 years but I've never forgotten the sight of that mountain on that cold, November morning. (Wouldn't you know it, I've spent 3 days looking for the picture I took of our car at the motel with Mount Shasta in the background and I can't find it anywhere.)

These pictures will give you some perspective of the mountain in relation to the geography around it. (These next 3 pics are courtesy of Google.)



This is Mt Shasta, taken from the parking lot of the motel we stayed in.
 

But this is what it was like when we were there. In fact, it had snowed the night we stayed at the motel and even though there was no snow on the roads (thank you Lord!) the air was cold and there was snow on the trees when we woke up. It was a spectacular site!


Thanksgiving was wonderful. It was so much fun being in Washington and with Chuck's family, they told a lot of stories about him growing up!

Mary Ellen and Aunt Virginia



The 4 of us all slept in one room, the girls were in the playpen (Beth was 2, but small so they both fit) and Chuck and I in the bed. It was pouring rain and the thunder was so loud I thought it was gonna wake up the girls but thankfully they slept through it. Chuck and I laid in bed and listened to the pounding rain, the thunder and lightning, the sound was deafening and I was so scared! It shook the entire house! I'd never experienced anything like that and I told Chuck I never wanted to come back!

Despite the rain though, we did have a great time. Our very first road trip was one to be remembered and it began a passion that has lasted many years!

By the way, two years after that trip to WA State, we moved here. Never say never! :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Master Planner

It doesn't matter how old you are; buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9 year old was given $100. lisaxy424 - Readers Digest


My husband is a master at planning for road trips. He'll map out the route, looking at all the rest stops, calculating the distance between them and comparing them to the gas mileage our vehicle gets, so he knows which ones we need to stop at so we never run out of gas. 

He lists all the local radio stations along the route so we can just keep tuning the radio to get clear signals... he is amazing at this! And he loves doing it! 

We were talking the other day about maybe going back east in 2018 and when I got home from work he had the route all planned and couldn't wait to show me what he had come up with. He's too funny.

I sometimes hear people talk about how they'd never take small kids on a road trip and I always try to get them to reconsider. Our girls have always traveled well in the car and we were thankful that none of them ever got car sick!

This picture was taken back in the late 80's when they didn't have to be in a car seat after 2 years old or something like that. It was much more relaxed back then. Beth was 4 and Sharaya was 2. Or close to that. These trays were perfect because it gave the girls a place to color or play but then you were able to fold them up and they took up very little space.


One thing we learned going on long road trips with small kids was to stop every few hours for a break. That's where rest stops come in handy! We would pack a beach ball because they'll fit anywhere, no matter how packed your car is!

We'd stop at a rest stop and because we had 3 girls, I'd take them to the bathroom while Chuck blew up the ball and got out some toys. Then we'd spend 30 minutes or so just playing. The rest stops are like small parks that are great for exploring. The kids would find sticks and pretty rocks; we'd go for a walk, take pictures and play tag. It really just allowed them to run off some energy.




Then it was back to the bathroom while Dad got the snacks ready. When they were really small it was things like dry cheerios, raisins, grapes, finger foods that they could eat without a lot of mess. 

Then we'd all get back in the car and they would eat and read or they'd color or play with small toys and before we knew it, they'd be sound asleep! We could usually go 4-5 hours before needing to stop again.

There really isn't anything about a road trip that we don't like, except maybe when it's over! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Gathering Place

For many years we'd drive down I-5 all the way to San Diego but it's very boring and can get very hot. There's really nothing to look driving through the San Joaquin (wah-keen) Valley and it goes on for hours. And hours!


I took this once when we were headed back home.



We decided one time to take Hwy 99 and we've driven that way ever since. It's just a little bit east of I-5 but takes the same amount of time. There's a lot of small towns dotting the highway and it just makes it more interesting. We get to drive by Turlock and Atwater and Chowchilla, it also helps us feel a little more secure knowing there are places we can get to if we have car trouble.

Although with all the thousands of miles we've traveled, we've had very little car trouble. We've been so thankful.

We arrive in San Diego usually in the evening and go straight to our hotel (timeshare condo) in Mission Valley. It's about 15 minutes from the coast. Course, we call all the family and tell them we made it, we don't want anyone worrying about us.

One time we told them that one of the things we wanted to do while we were there was spend an entire day at the beach. My nephew made the suggestion that we have a bonfire and we were absolutely up for that! 

He went to the grocery store and got a few free pallets and that's what we burned. We got to the beach early so we could reserve a fire ring and when I say reserved, I mean we put our stuff around it to let others know it was ours! As the day rolled on and the sun began to go down, we started the fire. Surfers would come out of the water and come over, others would stop by to get warm and we'd talk for a while. It's such a gathering place! It's one of our favorite memories of visiting San Diego!


There's just something about being at the ocean in the evening with a huge bonfire to keep you warm!

Have you ever been on a road trip? 
Do you have a favorite memory? 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Going The Distance

The distance between Seattle and San Diego is approximately 1,256 miles and we have driven it so many times, we finally stopped counting at 35. Seriously. 

Our family loves road trips!


Just looking at this picture brings feelings of euphoria!

I was born and raised in San Diego, Chuck was born in L.A. (Fullerton) but grew up in San Diego. That's where we went to rival high schools (Go Monarchs!), we met, married and started our family there.

So when we moved to Seattle, it became the natural thing to travel back there for just about every single vacation. It was surreal to go back 'home' and yet get lost because so much had changed.

One time we decided to play tourist and we showed our girls around San Diego. We took them to Old Town, and had lunch at Bazaar Del Mundo. All the restaurants have traditional Mexican food and the shops are filled with gifts, art, and jewelry from all over Latin America.
 



(Thanks Google)
 

 (Thanks Google)


 We also took them to El Presidio, one of the first missions in San Diego. This was one of the settlements from which San Diego grew and eventually became the city we know today.



It's a beautiful mission and we loved being able to show our girls around the beautiful city we called home.

More road trip adventures to come!

Friday, March 31, 2017

There Are A Few Changes Coming

I've been a little bored with my blog lately. To be honest, there just isn't that much to write about. I started this blog as a way to share our story. To tell what it's like to live with someone who has Down Syndrome.

There are contrasts between Beth and her sisters that I could write about, but they're not that major and they really don't impact our lives that much. Sharaya and Diana learned to drive, Beth didn't. They go out at night with friends, Beth rarely goes out at night and when she does Chuck and I drive her. They know how much laundry soap to use, Beth uses so much you can smell it clear out in the yard. They know how to spit their toothpaste into the sink, Beth spits all over the faucet and the counters and the mirror... (I swear she's like a sprinkler!)

Their lives are just... different. They would be different even if Beth didn't have Down Syndrome. Beth is a loner. She's like me, she likes her alone time. Life keeps her busy with boring, mundane things and when she gets a few minutes to relax, she likes to be alone. She doesn't talk much and is uncomfortable around people.

There's nothing wrong with that but it certainly doesn't make interesting blogging material.

So, I'm going to start blogging about things that are a little more interesting than toothpaste. Something our family has been doing for more than 30 years.

I know many people dread just the thought of it, but we absolutely love it! Stay tuned!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Movie, A Photo Booth, and Chocolate

Beth was 20 years old when World Down Syndrome Day was established so we haven't really participated in anything. We went on one Buddy Walk, but we haven't worn the socks or T shirts or done anything really to bring awareness to Down Syndrome. But this year I decided to do a little something. It's not much but it's a start.

I've really liked the whole Random Acts of Kindness thing. I think that's good any day of the year! But to celebrate WDSD in a way that shows love and consideration to others just seems right to me. So I went on-line and copied a little note I'd seen, made a card - blue and yellow of course! - and filled some small baggies with chocolate. Then as we went about our day, I had Beth hand them out to people. I explained what they were for and why we were handing them out. The clerk at the drug store, the waiter at Red Robin, the cashier at the grocery store... everyone was overwhelmed and kept thanking Beth.


They looked at her. They thanked her. That's what surprised me the most, people genuinely engaged her, some for the very first time even though we're in these stores many times a week. I plan to do this again next year, but more of them and maybe something other than chocolate.

After we handed out all of our baggies, we went and saw Beauty and the Beast and we loved it! Before we went in we told Beth that she couldn't sing out loud because she knows every word to every song and we knew she would sing them! But she did very good and didn't sing at all, at least not loud enough that we could hear.

The music was wonderful, the sets were magnificent, the story... old as time. (Didja see what I did there?) 😊

  
We got there early so Beth and I decided to get inside the photo booth! I don't think I'd ever done it before but I think they turned out pretty cute!


 On Sunday we're meeting Nick at a different theater and she gets to see it again with him. She told me she hopes there's a photo booth there! We might have to keep at eye on those two!