So you just knew there had to be an end to the honeymoon phase of the trip, right? Fortunately this one was short and…. well not-so-sweet, but sweet that it was super short. It hit us right around the time we say the Dahlia Street sign. We were headed into Denver city limits and K said he desperately had to go to the bathroom. He was not feeling so hot. It was hard to tell by what he was telling me exactly what was going on. He said his stomach hurt, he really needed to use a toilet and maybe it was car-sickness. So we bolt off the highway and drive into a gas station. He seems a bit better after that, so we try to get back on the road. Sun is setting at this point and in the mountains, it’s getting dark pretty quickly.
While on the highway I’m thinking of all that could be wrong. He was up super-duper late the night before. He literally looked like a boy at a frat party. He had the laptop on his lap with a bag of potato chips to one side and a can of soda on the other. This, keep in mind, was his 3rd or 4th soda for the day, and he has NEVER had more than a single can in a single day before. He had officially had more soda than water the day before, was up WAY too late, and had not had much sleep since. To top it off, we are entering the mountains, and I’m thinking this could potentially be motion sickness mounted with elevation sickness. He is kinda moaning in the back seat, and I’m thinking it’s really hard to gauge where he’s at b/c much of what comes out of his mouth is an over-exaggeration of what really is.
Without much warning he starts puking up a gut and half. D starts freaking out because this is coming from nowhere and she’s stuck in the back seat with him. I pull over as there are no exits to be seen ahead of us. People are flying by at 65+ mph, and I’m kinda at a loss as to how to handle what’s going on. I run to the side of the car and try to figure out what to do. He is, fortunately (or not), puking all over himself. There is not much to be done. If he attempts to get out of the car, we have it ALL over the car. And he’s on top of a blanket already on the seat. So, I just assure him to sit tight and get it all out at this point. Nothing can be done. When the whole thing is said and done, D is traumatized for life : ) (Just have to chuckle about this at this point b/c she for several nights afterwards refused to sleep with him b/c she was sure she would get yakked on.) He undresses, and we fold everything up in a bundle with the blanket that was there, dig out some clean clothes and clean blanket and at this point…. he is handed a puke bag for potential future episodes.
Shortly after this all happens he immediately says he’s feeling better, but he is quite shaky. His stomach is a mess, and he’s just so scared that it’s going to happen again. I try to get back on the road, and as we are winding in the darkness through the mountains I’m thinking this might be a good time to stop. M seems to be on the same wavelength as me as she is starting up and needs to nurse. She does not want to be in the car any longer. As I pull off the road again, this time at an exit and to a McD’s parking lot, we have a family pow-wow about needing to stop for the night. At this point, if we did stop for the night we were not going to make it on xmas eve (to L.A.) but probably would still make it on xmas day. The kids are disappointed, but K seems to feel like he really does need to stop.
We drive up to the next exit which happens to be Georgetown, CO and find a Motel 8 for the evening. We are just all thrilled to be out of the car and in a bed. We all turn in by 8pm for what I think is going to be a great night’s sleep…. just what we all need!
Well…. M had other plans. While K does pass out cold and gets the rest he truly needs, M is moving around and seems quite upset. It’s her turn at this point. She wakes about midnight and pukes her little heart out. I’m so bummed at this point, and wonder if this is indeed elevation sickness hitting. Since I need to be up holding her for a bit anyway, I get onto Google and figure out what is going on. As I’m poking around I do indeed find out that this could be elevation sickness, AND…. clever mom that I am… I have stopped at the highest point in the mountains! Georgetown elevation is at about 8600 feet! Ugh. Now I’m just kicking myself and feeling quite sick myself. I have a few visits to the toilet and holding onto little M to keep her happy. She sleeps a bit and I’m a ball of nerves. This was the one and only point in the whole trip where I completely doubted myself and what the heck I was doing with my kiddos. Here I was in the middle of the mountains with them feeling so crummy. Do we keep on or do we head home?!
So I Google around a bit more, various points on the map to figure out different elevations of what’s to come if we trek on. I do figure that we are at the highest point in Georgetown, and that it’s downhill from there (so-to-speak). Later in the night M decides she really wants a nursing fest, and seeing as it was more than 3 hours since she had thrown up the first time, I let her nurse her heart out. She sleeps a bit more, but by 6-7am she throws that up to. This was a BIG one, and seems to be the grand-finale. After that, she has a poopy diaper, and she’s her happy-little self and I just am flabbergasted. Really.
I’m thinking we just get the hell outta dodge, hit the road and drop our elevation. The kids, on the other hand, really want to go to the free breakfast before leaving! WHAT?!?! Breakfast?!?! Are you kidding me?! As leery as I am about that choice, I really don’t want to hear them yelling at me either as I’m driving like a mad-woman outta these mountains! ; ) So off to breakfast we go….. It’s xmas eve, and everyone is perfectly OK at this point (well… everyone but me : )
Georgetown was just beautiful I have to admit. Once I got some fresh air and the kids seemed to be on the mends and the other two were avoiding this yucky thing, I was able to really take in the amazing view around us. The mountains were breath-taking and these cool little towns with in them just so quaint and just a cool little vibe that came along with them. I really did love CO overall. It was really hard to take that in with my rushed feelings of needing to high-tail it out of there as soon as possible.
So we do hit the road pretty quickly. I’m just anxious and need to feel a relief personally that I had not been the selfish unprotective mama dragging her kids across country irresponsibly. I need to see true signs of life and enjoyment and feel like I’d not made a huge mistake. We hit the road and check out all of the really neat ski towns, watch the skiers and the ski lifts. It really is quite a lifestyle up there! We absorb just how cool it is living up there in these peeks, and as the elevation starts to drop, even I feel myself breathing lighter, and feeling better! Wow…. so I too had been experiencing elevation sickness as well!? Yep. Me too. Not nearly as seriously as K and M, but what I thought were my “bad-mama nerves” was actually elevation sickness! We drop by at least 1500-2000 feet and have driven about 2 hours when I’m feeling like a break is a good idea. They need fresh air, and we need to take it easy. Enjoy what’s left of this mountain range and kinda get back to the groovy feelings we had the day before. We stop in Glenwood Canyon, CO. As soon as I saw a sign that said “No Name Rest Stop” I knew that was the place for us : )
Pulling off and getting out, we are in a little canyon with a river/rapids running through it. There is a railway line going through, and cliffs to climb. It reminds both me and K of one of his favorite books, “Me All Alone at the End of the World.” It’s been one of his favorites for quite a few years, and this place reminded us both of this book. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and climbed all over the place just soaking it all in.
We probably spent a good half hour to an hour at No Name Rest Stop. The kids enjoyed popping some money into a vending machine and getting some chocolate to munch on. That seemed to bring spirits even higher ; ) While I was still a tad bit on nerves b/c I did not want to see chocolate coming back up : ) But they were all doing fabulously and thoroughly enjoying, so I needed to get with the program and realize that this was just a small kink in the road not seeming to repeat itself.
As we head back on the highway elevation is dropping even more, and everyone’s ears a popping here and there. M seems to be the super-power napper this entire trip. She seems to soak in the pit stops and pass out on the drives, and it was literally till we pulled back into Chicago that I am still amazed at how tremendous of a traveler she just truly is. While she’s snoozing and the older 2 put on a movie, S is singing and yelling. I really have a hard time even asking him to tone it down for M’s nap b/c it is just so freakin’ hilarious. He’s playing around with the sound/self-reflection he is hearing in his head/ears, and it’s just too funny to keep a straight face. As we head down and closer to UT I see this sign that reads, “Speed is checked by aircraft.” I just had to chuckle at this one. What with all of the talk of UFO’s with K all of the time, this sign just had to have you looking to the skies to see just who was up there checking on my speed ; )
Into UT we head! And wow what a difference in the terrain. Still mountainous, but very Mars-like. It was funny too b/c we were just told that by A.J. that when we did enter we realized just how right-on she was with the description. It was really really beautiful. I was just kind of taken a back as to how desolate it truly was. This was one of those times when I was squeaking by with a very low gas tank and thrilled to find just ONE pit stop to fill up! When I asked the gentleman at that station where the next restaurant stop was he mentioned it was 26 miles up the road. Well…. yes it was a minimum of 26 miles up the road, AND it was in a po-dunk lil’ town that had a Subway a good 10 miles off the highway as well. Green River was the town. The strip itself reminded me of Rte 66 featured in the movie CARS, and the scenery around us reminded me of the movie Land of the Lost. Quite a combination!
During lunch we make a family decision to try to plow through UT and get to Vegas (or at the very least over the NV border) that night. If we could do that, we’d just be steps away from our destination and would make it to CA for xmas. The kids promise to nap in the car after their Subway feast, and the compromise at this point is that if they nap, we make it to NV, that yes, they could have a night swim in a pool b/c we would have gained yet another hour in our travels.
To my surprise, they totally sleep! And sleep WELL! The older two slept about 2-3 hours and the younger two about 3-4 hours! It was so awesome. I cruised through UT during sunset and then the dark. I was involved in a hard-core wildlife murder that all of the kids slept through. Ok…. well… let’s just have it be known this way b/c I still harbor horrible guilt for that little animal that jetted out right to my front tire and smothered to smithereens. Let’s just say that crazy homeschool mom of 4 who drove across country with her kiddos alone to make to L.A. for xmas with her brother…. yea, she is just so bad-ass that she took out the wildlife in her trek through UT. She didn’t even look back. Just kept on truckin’. A woman on a mission with her wee-ones. Nothing was getting in her way. (Yep, that’s a much better story than the true fact that I still feel so horrible for hitting a wee animal in the middle of UT in the darkness of the mountains.)
The rest of that trip was pretty uneventful that day. We cruised through UT smoothly, the corner of AZ, and alas NV! I was thinking I’d be stopping right over the border to house us for the night, but we had NO luck finding a place! In fact, in that small part of NV, we had to drive 7 miles off the highway to find gas (a bit frightening at that time of night, to be on fumes and wondering if you’ll make it to the station!) Since no hotels were in reach, once we had refueled….. we ventured onward. We made it all the way to Vegas that night. Not really by choice, but in search of a hotel. We find in just the second stop off the road, and La Quinta, that not only has a free breakfast for us, but an indoor pool open 24 hours! My well-slept-in-the-car-kiddos got their swim that night and they were the happiest clams ever!
UT, sunset and coming into Vegas at night!
(Story continues with pt.3 : )