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Sparrow's Epic Road Trip of 2012

26 July 2012
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"Self," I told myself one hot day in June, "we need to go to the ocean. It's too hot here in Utah, and it's cooler at the ocean, and my best friend lives in California so let's go visit her! I know, Self, let's take a road trip! With Sparrow! And leave Hawk at home! Nothing could possibly go wrong with just me and a 4 year old in the car for 11 hours, right?"

I never claimed to be sane.

And after this trip I am even less so.

Don't get me wrong, Sparrow was angelic the whole time. I'm actually so impressed with him. But I wasn't ready for a trip on this scale. If I had taken Hawk, it would have been okay. But me being alone and in charge of food, entertainment, transportation, gas, navigating, potty breaks, luggage, hotels... it was too hard and too stressful. I was having panic attacks the whole time. We had a good time but it was so scary for me.

We stayed overnight in Las Vegas at The Golden Nugget hotel. This hotel has a pool with an aquarium and shark tank in the middle of it. There is also a three story waterslide that runs through the aquarium. It was so cool! The hotel was very, very nice and we loved our stay there.

104_0015 Check out that shark!

Contrast this with Buffalo Bill's, where we stayed on the way home. It was horrible. I wrote a review here but suffice to say, I will never stay there again and I will warn away anyone who is traveling through Primm, Nevada to also stay away.

IMG_1060 Dove and Kestrel, together again at last!

Gross hotel rooms and trip drama aside, we had fun. It was so good to see my friend Dove again and I miss her every day. But I am glad she lives in California so I have a free place to stay when I visit! Sparrow LOVED the ocean. I was surprised at how much he loved it. We stayed at the beach for 4 hours and he didn't want to leave. He talks about the ocean every day. He just loved it, and for that alone, I am so glad we went.

100_0975 Sparrow loved playing in the sand with his betrothed (Dove's beautiful daughter.)

We also really enjoyed visiting the Mormon Battalion site in San Diego. It is by far the neatest historical exhibit thing the Church has ever done. I cannot recommend it enough - if you are in San Diego, visiting or a resident, PLEASE go visit the Mormon Battalion! It's just plain NEAT, and so much fun for all ages. After the museum-y parts (which is actually watching a movie about the Mormon Battalion in a few different rooms, each made to look like a different place in the Mormon Battalion's journey) you can take old fashioned pictures, pan for gold, build adobe bricks, and more! It's free and awesome.

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Sparrow loved driving us in the wagon!

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He got to dress up as a Mormon Battalion soldier. His favorite part was the gun. Sigh.

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Panning for gold! You get to keep 2 pieces of "gold" you find.

We only stayed in California for 3 days. It was not enough time at all. We are going to Disneyland for Sparrow's 5th birthday in January, but we're flying next time. Driving was too hard and too hot.

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The Las Vegas, Nevada temple.

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The St. George, Utah temple.

I hope Sparrow remembers this trip, but I hope he only remembers the good parts. I hope he forgets how cranky and stressed I was. Next time we go on a trip, I want to be more organized. I want to pack more healthy food, plan better rest stops, and make a plan of things to do when we get to our destination. This time I just played it by ear, and it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Maybe next time we'll just spend every day at the beach, since Sparrow loved it so much. I love that little boy. I am grateful I have the opportunity to give him experiences like we had last week.

Sparrow told me on the way home, "I miss my daddy one hundred million miles!" I missed Hawk so much too. Sparrow is DYING to take Hawk "to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego and to see the soldier cowboys in the Mormon Battalion!" So Hawk, we love you a hundred million miles and we can't wait to take you to see the ocean with us.

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Even if the ocean does taste like licking a fish.

Communing with Nature

10 July 2012
Hawk and I are wannabe outdoor enthusiasts. Six months after we were married, we moved to Arkansas. It was June, we lived in a stunningly beautiful area surrounded by national parks, and so we bought a big camping kit and made plans to start camping and hiking every weekend!

Then I found out I was pregnant, and shortly after I got too sick to even leave the house. Our dreams were waylaid.

When Sparrow was about 2, we thought about going camping. But he was so rambunctious I had fears of him getting eaten by bears, or running into the fire pit or keeping the entire mountain awake with random screams. So we skipped it. When he was 3, we were this-close to going. But I had the same fears, minus the screams because we'd gotten that under control. Phew.

Sparrow is now 4. This was the year. On Friday I woke up and thought "we are going camping this weekend. Our next month is completely booked and this is our only chance until August. I am dying to go. We're going."

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I threw our tent and Sparrow in the car and took off. The first campground I tried was full, so I headed up to one further in the mountains. "If this one is full," I told myself, "then we will give up until August." The campground was Albion Basin in Little Cottonwood Canyon and it is deep in the mountains. It took about 45 minutes to get there, and I couldn't set the tent up by myself, so I left our tent on the picnic table and turned right back around to pick Hawk up from work (squealing with glee that I managed to find a camping place! Woot!)

I picked up Hawk and we ran home and started throwing stuff in the car. It was a spur of the moment, impromptu trip and next time I would like to spend more time planning out menus and activities. We stopped at Walmart and bought a few supplies we were lacking and some snacks, and off we went!

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Of course, as we started back up the canyon, it started hailing. And thunder-lightning. Of course. Hawk bravely set the tent up in the rain, and we had a dinner of bologna sandwiches, chips and apple slices. The rain quit after about a half hour and suddenly everything was green and beautiful and cool.

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I forgot our jackets and warm clothing. That was stupid.

We went on a short hike, then came back to the campsite and roasted marshmallows. It got dark at 10 p.m., so we crawled into the tent and prepared to fight Sparrow to get him to sleep.

He passed right out. We were shocked. Sparrow had his own sleeping bag, plus a big fleece blanket folded into fourths over him. Hawk and I had our own sleeping bags which were cheapie Walmart ones. Hawk and I froze our butts off. It got down to the mid 30s that night and it was miserable. Sparrow slept like the dead and was perfectly warm.

The next morning, we got up at 8:30. I used some of our waterbottles to wash my hair because I can't stand not having washed hair. I'm weird. Then we set off on a hike. We followed a trail to Cecret Lake. The hike was a little hard for Hawk and me because we are very large and out of shape, but we lived.

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Sparrow had a blast and loved the parts where streams crossed over the trail because it meant he got to WALK THROUGH WATER. WOW.

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The lake itself was underwhelming, but the hike was fun, and it was beautiful scenery.

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We had the campsite for 2 nights, but when we got back from the hike, I took Sparrow to the outhouse. This was my mistake. There were flies. Sparrow is currently terrified of bees and flies. He gets hysterical no matter what we do. Sparrow flipped out and ended up throwing a two hour panic attack tantrum. After the first half hour, Hawk and I decided to call our camping test-run quits. We packed it in and headed home.

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Sparrow had a nap and seemed to reset himself. Then he bawled the rest of the night that we weren't camping anymore.

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So it was actually a huge success, despite having to leave earlier than planned. Next time I will go more prepared with bug zappers, warm clothing, and food other than Poptarts, bread, and trail mix. We can't wait to go camping again! Hooray for the great outdoors!