Day 9

Mile 3623.  On the road again. Family reunion, ho!  Everyone's a little cranky nine days in, but we had a nice visit with uncle and aunt-to-be last night and home is in sight.  We can do this.

Mile 3675.  Talking with Shmoogie about having only one day left in our trip.  She wants to leave early tomorrow so we get home early.  We agree.  "Will it be a long drive tomorrow?"  "A little long, but not so long."

Mile 3712.  Starting to think ahead.  What to do with the kids while everything we own is being unloaded into the house?

Mile 3783.  Family reunions are amazing.  Leaving three short hours later, I ask the kids how was that? and they grin and say "Happy!"

Mile 3898.  Pit stop at McDonald's.  Still toying with the idea of driving straight through today.  Shmoogie and Mr. P are both in favor.  We tell them we'll get as far as we can safely.  Shmoogie says, "We want to get there safely but we also want to get there as fast as possible."  We get back on the highway going west.  This is not a good sign.

Mile 3904.  Back on the highway heading east.

Mile 4055. Final clock change accomplished.

Mile 4107. West Virginia!!!

Mile 4121.  Kids so excited to get happy meals for dinner.  I didn't know McDonald's won't give you a happy meal without knowing if it's for a boy or a girl.  Can we just stop it with all that crap already?

Mile 4138. A deer leaps into the highway not too far ahead and my brain is whirring trying to determine how to react (a deer leapt into the front of my car once, the day after I got my license; it's not a good thing to have happen to you) but the deer's brain is whirring too.  It springs straight up in the air, twists 180 degrees, and bounds right off the highway again.

Mile 4440.  Well out of the mountains now.  I've had a nap.  The roads have been so empty tonight.

Mile 4517.  Last state boundary!  Feeling like road tripping across the county is actually more surreal than flying.  Especially when you're ending up on familiar ground.

Mile 4531.  Drive by home.

Mile 4533.  Hotel.  Everyone awake.  Bayboh a little wild, tumbling on the bed while Shmoogie looks miserably put upon trying to sleep next to him while I get the pack n play set up.  Then, very quickly, everyone asleep again.

Day 8

Mile 3103.  The time change is working against us this morning.  Also, Shmoogie has been feeling sick and seems to have a slight fever.

Mile 3107.  Billboard "Oklahoma schools:  Funded by wind energy."

Mile 3169.8.  Changed the dashboard clock by two hours to get on local time.

Mile 3170.  Mr. P pipes up from the back seat: "Hey!  It's 10:55!"  (We've been enforcing a no screens until 10:30 rule.)

Mile 3194.  We realize we will run out of gas in 8 miles.

Mile 3195.  It's lucky we're on a reasonably populated stretch of highway.  Tank is full again.

Mile 3230.  Realize that the package I ordered yesterday has the wrong address on it, flipped two numbers.  Call customer service.  They're amazing.  Might be ok afterall.  Or not.  We'll see. 

Mile 3306.  Children peaceful.  Grown ups cranky.  Shmoogie seems to be feeling fine.

Mile 3317.  Pit stop in the hope Bayboh will soon nap.  It's only 90 degrees but feels more oppressively hot than the desert did a few days ago.  We must be in the humid parts of the country.

Mile 3330.  Billboard for "Precious Moments Chapel".  How interesting

Mile 3386.  Missouri is so green.  The grass is so tall.  There are so many trees!  Also, Missouri loves fireworks.

Mile 3418.  The Candy Store would like us to stop at "The World's Largest Gift Store".  We would not. 

Mile 3463.  Bayboh awake.  Decent nap, there.

Mile 3498.  Still green.  Still trees.  A lot cooler, though.  Bet it's still humid.

Mile 3561. Time for Raffi

Mile 3566. I see a sign for Seamless Sweaters... er... no, wait... Gutters... ;)

Mile 3622.  Made it.  Bayboh is happily toddling around and around.  Loves the cat.  Shmoogie and Mr. P enjoying a few games of chess under the tutelage of their uncle.

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Day 6

Mile 1766. Passing Ivanpah concentrated solar power plant. The tops of the towers are painfully bright. Very interesting technology.  Turns out the wind farm we passed yesterday is the largest in the US.  More on both those in a minute.

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Mile 1771. Crossing into Nevada! Sudden burst of civilization, Las Vegas style.
Mile 1825. CONDOS FOR RENT. ONE MONTH FREE! They look pretty nice, too. Bit different than Seattle.

Mile 1837. Sight of Lake Meade

Mile 1846. It's 100 degrees and no shade anywhere and I'm more than a little relieved that we're not allowed to take the full Hoover Dam tour with children under 8. The shorter, inside-only tour is great.  Our guide has a great dry sense of humor. Shmoogie's a little nervous at the mention that we're in a tunnel carved from bedrock because apparently "bedrock" in Minecraft means you're about to hit lava and die. Everyone's a little rattled when the gigantic pipe under us roars to life, but the guide explains it's just a generator got turned on so the water started to flow. Bayboh wants up, wants down, wants a nap, wants down, wants out, wants up, wants a nap. We drive across the dam on our way to the Grand Canyon!

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Mile 1847.  We drive back across the dam because it turns out the road out this way is closed.

Mile 1851.  This means we have to cross that super high bridge behind the dam.

Mile 1852.  The sides of the bridge are so high that you can't see out, so it's not as scary as it looks.  And now we're in Arizona!

And I have a minute to write a bit more about the dam.  I read up on it a little before we came and had formed a sense of it as an astounding feat of engineering, but also as a compete alteration of the lower river ecosystem and a dangerous construction process that killed hundreds of workers (and reported numerous probable asphyxiations as "pneumonia" deaths to avoid paying benefits) and drew thousands of desperate families out here to the desert during the Depression in hopes of a job.  The museum at the end of the tour makes some reference to the difficulty of the job and of life out here, but mostly in service of continuing to tell the heroic story of the dam controlling the "dangerous" and "destructive" river to create a "good life" in the desert for many people and irrigation for crops for many more.

I'll admit to being very skeptical of dams ever since reading When the Rivers Run Dry (really really good book), but mostly I just find complicated stories more interesting than unalloyed-good stories.

The desert is still the desert and now we're being quiet for Bayboh's nap, so let's talk a bit about power generation.  I knew all these things at one point in my life, but to answer Shmoogie's questions, I need to do a little research and it looks like you're coming along for the ride...

I think we all have a sense that power is measured in Watts.  But what is a Watt?  Wikipedia is probably right on this kind of thing: "The unit is defined as 1 joule per second[1] and can be used to express the rate of energy conversion or transfer with respect to time. It has dimensions of Mass·LengthTime−3."  Reaching back to high school physics and reading some other stuff on the Internet, I'm going to think about it this way:  force is measured in mass*length*time^-2, which is the same as mass times acceleration (velocity is distance/time, acceleration is increase in velocity over time, so distance/(time*time). Gravity causes acceleration of things that have mass, so when you feel the weight of a rock in your hand, you are feeling force.  "Work," in the technical physics sense, is force times distance.  When you lift a rock, you are doing "work" (against the force of gravity).  That's how we get from the force units mass*length/(time*time) to the work units mass*length*length/(time*time).  Work and energy are measured in the same units because energy does work and work can create energy.  The rock you lifted now stores that work you did in lifting it as potential energy, which will be released if you drop the rock.

We're really close now.  (Is this simple enough my kids will get it?)  Power is work or energy per time unit, which is how we get to mass*length*length/(time*time*time), which is what a Watt measures!  But one more thing... because factoring out time like that isn't actually the way we use or pay for power, it makes more sense to talk about energy than power.  So we multiply by time again, go back to just (time * time) in the denominator, and have a unit like gigawatt-hours (GWh).  Got it?  I wish I had the time and stamina to edit that further, but for now that's what I can do.

Now for the comparison.

The Ivanpah towers aren't expected to achieve peak generation for another year or two and I couldn't find really recent data, but the site produced 108 GWh in the first quarter of 2014. It cost $2.2 billion to build (I'm not going to hunt for maintenance costs right now) and it burns some natural gas (that is, carbon) as part of normal operations.

The Alta Wind Energy Center (aka the Mojave Wind Farm) produces 2,680 GWh according to Wikipedia and I'm going to assume that's per year.  So, 670 GWh per quarter on average.  It looks like it cost $1.85 billion to build and I'm sure there are fossil fuel costs to its operation in repairs, bringing in equipment, that kind of thing, but there isn't any required for the actual power generation.

Finally, Hoover Dam.  Power generation here depends on the flow of the Colorado River.  Its production peaked in 1984 at 10,348 GWh and was lowest in 1956, at 2,648 GWh.  Wikipedia quotes 4,200 GWh per year in recent years (I recall reading more like 3,500  GWh, but hey), so we can estimate about 1,000 GWh per quarter.  And Marketplace reported it cost $750 million dollars to build in 2010 dollars.

So.  Stuff to think about.  It looks like the wind farm produces roughly 50% (a bit more, really) what Hoover Dam produces.  And the solar furnace only produces one sixth what the wind farm does.

And, because I wanted to know, it looks like new electric cars are getting about 30 miles per kWh.

Also, it shouldn't be this frigging hard to accurately compare production of various power facilities!  Just quote everything in GWh per year, please!  I could forgive the Hoover Dam site quoting in TWh to make things simple, but they use kWh so they can say "billions" and that feels deceptive.  (Or maybe they're just trying to be accessible to people used to seeing kWh on their electric bills.)

Mile 1920.  Moving the chocolate stash to the cool box.  Better late than never.  

Mile 1999.  A loud bump in the road wakes Bayboh.

Mile 2030.  So this is Route 66.

Mile 2035.  Oh.  Trees.

Mile 2036.  Late lunch early dinner.  We are all a bit fried.

Mile 2050.  More wind turbines.  :)

Mile 2095.  The Grand Canyon.  Wow.  It's not as scary as I had feared, although I'm definitely on alert even though the kids are being really good, unlike a bunch of other people that I'm trying not to worry about.  It starts to rain and we catch the last 15 minutes of the gift shop to stamp passports and let Bayboh fall in love with a stuffed mountain lion, which he calls "cat", smiles at shyly, and hugs.  Because it's just been his birthday and because so far the older kids have both gotten stuffies on the trip, we get it for him.  He is very happy.

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Mile 2100. Driving a bit along the rim of the canyon. When a view opens up, there's a curtain of rain pouring down right in the middle, which is really far away.

Mile 2218. Desert View. Wow. Wow. Storm and lightning and right at the edge of the canyon with a view of the river. Wow.

Bayboh is done with all this.  The snack bar here is open and has milk and cheese.  Bayboh is feeling better.

Mile 2186. Bayboh is asleep. The other two are claiming to be asleep and bitterly complaining any time we "wake them up" by talking quietly to each other or stopping to view a herd of mule deer grazing and crossing the road. It's nearly dark and the canyon is full of rain, you can only see the outlines of the cliffs on this side.

Day 5

Mile 1353.  Grant's Grove.  Hard to believe we're going to see an even bigger tree in a few hours.  The fallen trunk tunnel part of the trail is really cool. 

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Mile 1354. We finally locate Shmoogie's park passport, lost for the second time so far, under my seat.

Mile 1369.  Entering Sequoia National Park!

Mile 1376.  "I hate physics," says Mr. P, who wants to be traveling faster.

Mile 1386.  The kids are excited to climb a big rock, but first we're going to see the largest tree in the world!  The forest service has very cleverly set this up as a steep trail from exactly the elevation of the tree top, so you get a sense of the scale of the thing.  Especially effective while you're trudging back up with a toddler on your back and a 9 year old tugging on your hand and whining about how he doesn't want to do another hike.

Mile 1390. We visit the Giant Forest Museum, are amazed, and decide that with nap approaching and a long drive ahead and tempers short, we won't take that 400-steps-carved-into-rock hike after all.  No one is very upset about this at the moment.

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Mile 1398.  Feeling a little carsick.  Bayboh still awake.

Mile 1401.  Still with the impressive winding road going down down down.  Twenty degrees hotter.  Bayboh still awake.

Mile 1406.  Exiting the park. It's now 103 degrees outside. Bayboh is giggling like crazy because Shmoogie is being silly for him.

Mile 1418. A big lake in dry country.  It's a reservoir, you can see the tops of drowned trees sticking out of the water and rings of higher past water levels.  Bayboh still awake.  Not so happy.

Mile 1421.  Houseboats on the reservoir!

Mile 1433.  Bayboh seems to finally be asleep.

Mile 1521.  Turned East.

Mile 1531.  Field full of apricot (?) trees and pumps.  Only one of the pumps seems to be working.  50 more minutes to chosen food stop.  Bayboh still sleeping.

Mile 1533. Solar panels!!

Mile 1539.  Looking back on the valley, it looks so green.

Mile 1545.  Passing the town of Caliente.  It's way over 100 degrees right now. 

Mile 1558.  The grown ups have a lengthy conversation about whether today is Wednesday or Tuesday.  It's Wednesday.

Mile 1560.  A huge, beautiful wind farm!  I love wind farms!

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 Mile 1580.  Bayboh's nap must end because this looks like about our last chance for food today.  The wind is steady, strong, and hot.  Shmoogie drops a marker getting out of the car and it lands so far under the car we can't reach it.  By the time we get back, it's resting in a crack two parking spaces over.

Mile 1582.  Shmoogie is singing "The Wind is Called Mariah," her favorite song from preschool, since I called her attention to a hotel called Mariah.

Mile 1622.  Realize the funny looking tree things we've been seeing are Joshua Trees.

Mile 1645.  We cross what's labeled as the Mojave River.  It has no water.  It doesn't even have any mud.  It's a slight depression barely distinguishable from the surrounding area.  Wikipedia says most of its flow is underground most of the time.

Mile 1677.  Shmoogie's battery has run out.  Luckily the view out the window is pretty interesting, with the sun getting low and cloud shadows besides.

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Mile 1717.  I have finally knitted back all the yarn I ripped out the first day of this trip (row gauge wasn't what I'd expected, had to switch to an increase every 7 rows instead of every 6).

 Mile 1727.  I wish I could still read in a moving car like I did as a kid.  Gripped with a sudden desire to read all the SpriteKit documentation.

Mile 1734. We're 72 miles from Las Vegas.  We're not going to Las Vegas.

Mile 1747.  "Downgrade next ten miles.  Trucks check brakes."  Mr. P wants a bathroom stop.  Bayboh wants out.  We just want to get through the last 20 minutes of the drive...

Mile 1754.  Bayboh says, "Out!  Out!"  Shmoogie says, "We're just letting Mr. P out because he really really needs to pee."

Mile 1759.  A tiny outpost in the desert.  Beautiful sunset, some stars.  I'm apparently the only one who couldn't sleep through the four freight trains running by 30 yards from our rooms.

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Day 4

Mile 1152. A nice breakfast and an anger-tinged repacking job.  Road trips are stressful.

Mile 1162. Shmoogie is reading about the Wawona tree, the one they cut a tunnel through for tourists to drive their cars. Tried to give her a reference point for the year it fell by relating it to Daddy's age. "Daddy, you really were born a long time ago."

Mile 1184. I have just finished reading the health and safety information from the Yosemite visitor guide. Mr. P decides, "I'm not even getting out of the car. It's too dangerous." We laugh and tell him it's not. "Yes, it is! There's currents and plague and lions and dangerous mouse poop."

Mile 1185. "I think I saw mouse poop."

Mile 1187. We are still trying to talk Mr. P down from his new found fear of plague. He has a song now, "It's scary, it's scary, it's scary. Not fun, not fun, not fun." I am the best mother.

Mile 1188. "I think I saw mouse poop. Why are there red trees?"

Mile 1193. We arrive at the Ahwahnee Lodge (currently called the Majestic Yosemite Lodge, because someone let the service company that last had the contract trademark the name) thinking we'll have an early lunch before nap time, and find that Bayboh is asleep. Mr. P is still worrying about the plague and about mouse poop. We keep stressing that plague is very treatable (and avoiding the fact that mouse poop gives you Hanta virus, which isn't).

Mile 1202. On our way out of Yosemite. Another wow. Even Mr. P enjoyed it in the end. Hot and crowded, though! 101 degrees right now.

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Mile 1210.  We briefly consider adding an hour or more to today's car time by going out to Glacier Point, but decide against it.

Mile 1224.  Mr. P claims to have seen a bear. "I consider myself lucky.  It's too bad you guys didn't... Oh! I see another one!"

Mile 1225.  Mr. P has now claimed to have seen 5 bears and a mountain lion.  Shmoogie is rapidly catching up.  We are ignoring.

Mile 1242.  Emergency pee stop for Mr. P

Mile 1268.  Worried Bayboh may be fixing to take a nap again, right before we arrive in Fresno for late lunch.

Mile 1277.  Palm trees in front of vineyards.

Mile 1286.  Excellent dönner sandwiches at the Berlin Street Grill in Fresno.  Bayboh still awake, jealously guarding an enormous pile of french fries, which he likes to dip in hummus.  First meal we've gotten water in plastic cups instead of styrofoam in California.  What is it with California and styrofoam cups???

Mile 1306.  So many nut trees.  Big nut trees.  Little nut trees.  Tiny baby nut trees.  I should relisten to that Planet Money episode about the perverse incentives for water use during drought.

Mile 1309.  Fruit stand!

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Mile 1324.  Bayboh, who has been an absolute champ so far, wants to get "OUT!"  Twenty miles to go....

Mile 1343.  6000 ft elevation.  The temperature has dropped 29 degrees since we left Fresno.

***

Those fruit stand peaches plums and nectarines were amazing.  Also, the dried apricots.  Which Bayboh adores.  "Cat! Cat!"

We finally saw a sunset... from an amazing panoramic view point... that faces east.  The fireball sun light through a thick evergreen screen was pretty cool, though.

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Bayboh and Shmoogie love dirt. They were covered in it.  Mr. P loves running ahead heedless of mountain lion warnings.

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How have I never heard of an It's-It before?!

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The water pipes in this lodge sound like thunder when someone turns on the shower.

Day 3

Mile 675. Abortion rights upheld 5-3!  Finally some sense.  Hyper aware of what's at stake in November.

Mile 679. "How many miles have we gone so far?"

Mile 691. Coffee stop at Nellie's Lemonade and Espresso because Daddy is sure he would be better with coffee.  Attendant: "Normally I'd put 3 shots in an Americano that size."  Daddy: "Two is probably fine."  Attendant: "Oh.  I already put 3 in, I was going to offer you a 4th!"  She was super nice, wished us lots of luck on our trip (I don't think she'd even seen the 2yo in the car).

Mile 770.  We finally stop by the side of the road for a desperate pee break for Shmoogie.

Mile 771.  The town of Adin has a cute general store.  With a bathroom.

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Mile 806.  Back in cell service!

Mile 840.  Bayboh is falling asleep 5 miles short of lunch.  We frantically chat at him to keep him awake and it works.  The sun ship only takes cash, so we cross the street to an ATM with three California Fire officers.

Mile 844. Swarm of grasshoppers hits the windshield for a mile!!! No other signs of the apocalypse.

Mile 894. Lone large tree on the side of US 395 is hung with hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Mile 960.  Bathroom stop at a playground with facilities outside of Carson City.  We park in the shade of a cottonwood but the hot wind blasts the sunglasses off my face as soon as I open the door.  Mr. P declares it too hot to play at the playground.  They haven't been in temps over 95 in a long time.

Mile 969.  Spooner Summit, 7,140 ft.  Ten degrees cooler.

Mile 971.  Sight of Lake Tahoe.  After all that hot dry terrain...  Wow!

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Mile 1000. Lighted highway sign: "SEVERE DROUGHT. LIMIT OUTDOOR WATER USE."

Mile 1019.  "Ebbett's Pass ahead.  Very steep, narrow, winding road.  Vehicles over 25' not advisable."  Hmm.

Mile 1023.  Wondering if we've already been through the narrow windy steep part?  It wasn't that bad.

Mile 1025.  Oh.

Mile 1026.  Eep!

Mile 1027.  Whew.  Over the crest now.

Mile 1029. A little lake!

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Mile 1030.  Ebbett's Pass. 8,730 ft

Mile 1038.  Eep!  And then another beautiful tiny lake.  Lake Mosquito.

Mile 1055.  False alarm poopy diaper change at a peaceful picnic area.  Toilets not so great, but the flies seem really happy with them.

Mile 1061. Wonder when we'll have cell service again.

Mile 1063.  Bayboh wants a "cookie".  No, not that cookie. That cookie is "done."  That cookie is "trash".  Actually, he wants a "cracker".  No, not that cracker!  This cracker?  Maybe.  This cracker might be acceptable.

Mile 1084.  Mr. P is upset because his ears have been pressurized ever since the pass.  He's also sick of being in the car.  Half an hour left, we tell him, and we're thinking of having pizza for dinner.  Bayboh knows his favorite food when he hears it.  "Peetie!  Peetie.  Peetie."

Pizza is a hit, so is the canopy bed at the historic hotel.  Playground pretty nice as the evening cools off, but we leave when the guy who'd been lying sick on a park bench stands up and starts to wobble in our direction.

Day 2

Mr. P: "This is the best hotel ever, dad. You did a great job."

Bayboh: "Molk? Molk?"

Shmoogie is huddled in a ball on the chair under her beloved froggie blanket.

At breakfast the waiter asks us, "Would you be better with coffee?"

Mile 362 Shmoogie writes "We had ice cream at a cheese factory," in her journal for yesterday and starts to think about what she should write for today. She refuses suggestion of "Mommy cried and I was cold," although that is a reasonably accurate description of our brief walk on the beach before leaving (it was also beautiful). Bayboh is also accurate: "Beach!" "Win(d)!" "Co(ld)!"

Mile 415 Shmoogie says, "I thought moving wouldn't be fun at all, but it's interesting!" The Oregon coast is gorgeous.

Mile 429 Crossing the Umpqua River. Bayboh has been asleep since shortly after breakfast. 

Mile 434 Elk viewing area. No elk.

Mile 442 Bayboh waking up, probably because I asked Shmoogie to pass grapes back to Mr. P, who utterly refused to acknowledge anything was happening, despite my increasingly loud whispers.

Mile 466 This.

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Also this.

There was water, too, but these little feet wanted nothing to do with that. 

There was water, too, but these little feet wanted nothing to do with that. 

Mile 506. Crossing NE Rifle Range St

Mile 656 A huge tube, made of wood, held together by steel bands, and supported on concrete posts, is covered in moss and spurting water out of thousands of leaks. Built in 1949, it carries water from a dam 1500 ft to a hydro electric turbine.

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Mile 601. Crater Lake. Astounding. I sincerely doubt the deepest blue will come through in photos. Kids petulant about us trying to get them in photos, happy to play with snow (except when they get hit themselves), Bayboh in tears when I won't let him take the two pumice rocks he picked up, but at least the older two are a little wowed when I show them the rock and then put it in their hands. So light!

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Mile 606. Writing "If found please return! THANK YOU!" plus address in all the kids' National Park passports, having jogged back to retrieve one of them from the cancellation station.

Mile 615. Bayboh is playing with his socks, his toes, and a Duplo pig. Gleefully.

Mile 619. "How many minutes until we get to the hotel?" Shmoogie wants to know. We tell her we don't know yet, because there's no cell service here.

Mile 620 But, "See that number on the dashboard, where it says 620? We have to go 57 miles, so when it says 677, that's when we'll be there."

Mile 620.9 "It still says 620." Yep.

Mile 621. "Now it says 621." Yep. "So that means it's been a mile?" Yep.

Mile 622. "Now it says 622." Yep. "This is gonna take FOREVER!"

Mile 626. Shmoogie is asleep.

Mile 640. We finally get cell service back, search for our destination, and find we are 107 miles away and it will take us two hours. Tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth.

Mile 642. Realize the map search was an error. We're headed where we thought we were all along. 35 more miles, about as many minutes. Shmoogie still blissfully asleep.

Mile 657. "Mmm. I was just taking a little nap. I think I fell asleep."

Mile 668. First anti-abortion billboard if the trip.  Was already feeling plenty of anticipatory stress about the SCOTUS decision coming on Monday.

Mile 671. Waffles. WAFFLES. For dinner.

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Another successful day, also gone awry at the very end, this time with a frightening moment at the hotel pool, but everyone is fine and that's that.

Day 1

My phone ate my day 1 post.  Waaaah!!!!

Here's what I remember...

Mr. P asked 3 blocks in, "How long is this going to take?" Turns out he meant "until we get to breakfast," but still funny.

Bayboh learned to say "Watch!" to ask for a video.

Preparing the kids to break out of the electronic daze in a few minutes, I cheerfully chirped, "We're about to stop at Cape Disappointment!  We'll learn about Louis and Clark and find the snacks, ok?"  Silence from the kids.  We pass a field and I shout, "Look cows!" hoping to garner some interest.  Still silence.  Daddy says, "What did Mommy just say, guys?"  Shmoogie knows, "Cows."  Mr. P heard, "We're going to learn about Louis and Clark and find the Oreos."

Cape Disappointment is pretty cool.  The only disappointment is our failure to fund parks.  This place, the place from which Louis and Clark's expedition first sighted the Pacific Ocean, is a state park inside of a national park.  Meaning that we had to pay a $10 entrance fee to even get there, despite already having bought an annual National Parks pass.  And if we'd wanted to go in the little museum, which we rather did but didn't have much time to spend, it would have cost our family another $17.50.  When you consider the expense of even getting to one of these places, which are rarely public-transit accessible...  I want our parks to be easier for anyone to enjoy.

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Ten miles from the hotel, Shmoogie announced, "One day successful!"

The Fates heard that, because we then spent an hour waiting for food at a restaurant that lost our order, so we missed the sunset over the Pacific wrangling tired hungry kids up way past their bedtime.

I took a walk with Bayboh, though, and he was asleep in moments.  Day 1!  Done!

 

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Two

Having only recently developed any sense of birthdays (Bayboh did sing "happy happy to" when I uncharacteristically lit a candle for the dinner table shortly after the spate of spring birthdays at our house), turning two is always a happy if slightly bewildering surprise that really doesn't suffer at all from living out of a hotel preparing to move across the country.  A special "hat", a single string of flags, a new teether toy, and a cupcake.  What more does a birthday need?

 

A mighty struggle as Mommy tries to keep control of the plate until we can get through "Happy Birthday!" 

A mighty struggle as Mommy tries to keep control of the plate until we can get through "Happy Birthday!" 

Mother's Day

The kitchen door is shut and there's an index card taped to it, hinged-like on one side, that says "KiDs not waiting yet GO Back to Bed Mom love you".  Signed by Mr. P, who demonstrated it for me last night when he had to go retrieve the grocery list since I wasn't allowed in the kitchen. 

The other side says, "Come in mom Happy mothers Day," also signed by Mr. P, although I know Shmoogie is in on whatever this scheme is, too, since they both wanted their alarms set for early "before you wake up".  (I talked them out of that and promised to call them when I woke up, except that I'm going to wait a little and enjoy the quiet.)

I was given a heart, cut out of the middle of the index card on the kitchen door, which I'm to think of as a key that only works when the card is flipped to the "Come in" side.  This is all pretty cool.  :)

Easter

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WHAT WE HAD: 

 - some hopeful sprigs of mint

- a healthy batch of parsley

- 18 boiled eggs  

- 12 raw eggs

- 2 sweet potatoes

- paprika

- sourdough pasta bought on a whim yesterday

 - a bit of cream cheese in the bottom of the container

- boullion

- a cold downpour

 

WHAT WE DID: 

- ate candy

- moped and whined

- pushed an update to the App Store

- delivered stuffed plastic eggs to a neighbor

- put Bayboh down for a nap

- rushed out the door, late, with the older two for the neighborhood egg hunt

- ate more candy

- bundled Bayboh and Mommy for a jog to the grocery store

- laundry

 

WHAT WE BOUGHT: 

- fresh peas in shells

- sliced mushrooms

- shredded mozzarella

- a bottle of Pinot Gris

 

WHAT WE WERE GIVEN: 

- warm sunshine with misty rain sparkling in the air

- a screaming fit from one over-sugared and under-fed Screamy McScreamypants (the older one)

 

WHAT WE ATE: 

- pasta with fresh peas, sautéed mushrooms, green onions, mint, parsley, and a dash of cream cheese and boullion, topped with chopped hard boiled eggs, and, well, a splash of Pinot Gris

 - sweet potato skillet (but I forgot the initial microwave step; don't forget that; it's important)

- deviled egg boats, which our children may now forever know as "Boaty McBoatface" eggs because of the

- bottle of Pinot Gris

 

And now these moments pass into memory.   The season turns again and life goes on. 

But I want it remembered that, although we had no plan until after noon and the Pinot Gris played a major role, "I crushed it!" as far as Easter dinner goes, as long as the guidelines are "something fresh" and "use up some boiled eggs, for heck's sake".   Which are totally the guidelines, right?

 

 

Jiminy Cricket

Mr. P is his normal challenging self, as ever, but something new is happening lately.  Inconvenient feelings of remorse, guilt, and concern for other people's happiness keep cropping up and he's clearly finding it uncomfortable.

He'll be going on and on about wanting to buy a remote controlled helicopter, say, when suddenly a look of anguish comes over him as he grips his hair and exclaims, "Sorry!  I'm being so greedy!"  It's ok, we say, you're excited about your birthday, but he moans, "I just feel so BAD!"

Or he'll come find me, wanting me to unlock the iPad for him, except that I don't even realize that at first because he starts off asking me about what I'm doing and having a (short but) very pleasant conversation.  And then he apologizes for wanting to have the iPad, "I just feel so BAD!"

But this is wonderful! we beam at him.  You're developing a conscience!  This is a very important part of growing up!

He is skeptical, but seems to be working this idea into his sense of the world.  It's "weird," he says, "I'm sorry, Mom, it's just that now that I have this moral sense.... It's good in a way, but bad in a way."

This is not a milestone I knew to expect, but it is so cool!

***

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We have survived our first sleepover birthday party.  There was cake and pizza and a movie (two movies) and a tent in the living room.   They were quiet by 1 am, after Mr. Right decided to sleep on the couch next to them. 

 ***

On a rare outing just Mr. P and me, he's in a philosophical birthday mood.  "Mom, I just wish I could make a potion so that I could stay a boy forever and you could stay my nice mommy forever."  Heart melting, I tell him, That's so sweet!  You know, I will always be your mommy and, as much as I love having you be my little boy, I am so excited to be finding out who you're growing up to be.

Silence

There’s been so much happening in the world.  A few years ago, when this blog was new and the only outlet for my mental energy besides everything I was doing at home, you would have heard from me about it regularly.  Indeed, a lot of posts have winked into potential existence in my mind, responding to this that or the other thing, but deprived of mental sunshine and nutrients (because those are going other places), they never even sprouted a first set of leaves.

One thought has been growing, though.  How quick we are to throw people away.  How much we focus on punishment instead of help or understanding.  How afraid we are.

Some related things, since I'm out of time:

Ta Nahesi Coates, interviewed by Diane Rehm, with (among other things) a poetic understanding of the fear that underlies toughness and which drives violence against others, which can even channel love into violence.

A clarifying political science look at why xenophobic racist politicians seem to take off with terrifying ferocity at certain points in time.  The question they don't answer is how to put out the fire, which is where I hope a discussion can continue.

And my Twitter feed full of brave people standing up for the right to bodily autonomy and stepping away from shame in front of the Supreme Court this morning.  Having experienced pregnancy, childbirth, and raising several children, I am quite convinced that in a moral world, each person must have control over what happens to their uterus.  And cannot be allowed to control anyone else's.  That does mean that people without a uterus won't get to decide anything about any uteruses, but that will be ok.  Really.  (This one is harder to provide a link to, so I'll just put the Twitter hashtag #StopTheSham, which of course means the full mess of humanity on all sides of the issue, fair warning.)

It was the best of vacations, it was the worst of vacations.

The best because we saw almost everyone we most wanted to, despite snow and illness and bothersome things like jobs.  The best because the snow was beautiful and the kids gleefully threw handfuls of it at anyone and no one, had shovelfuls of it mischievously thrown at them by their DiDi, and enjoyed wild sled runs steered expertly by their cousins (Shmoogie hesitated, but got on board in the end; Bayboh would gladly have gone, but we restricted him to butt-sliding, which he got pretty good at, considering his restrictively small snow suit).  The best because we were there.

The worst because eight days isn't long enough to see everyone.  The worst because two hours in a restaurant (children or no) isn't long enough to make up for years of not seeing your best friends.  The worst because we thought we'd left a mild stomach bug at home but actually brought a vicious one with us (so very sorry if we gave it to you!)  The worst because we had to leave again.

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Noncooperation

He sees the toothbrush coming and is instantly flat on his face to avoid it.  

When I don't fight him right away, he's curious why not and discovers I have the camera out.  

I haven't gotten the shot yet, though, so I hold up the toothbrush again and he whips back into position.  Over and over again.  Camera, curious.  Toothbrush, face down.

I get the shot in the end, and I get his teeth brushed, too.

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Twenty-Three

The walk to school yesterday was warm and drizzly and very exciting.  "Mommy, be careful!  There are worms ALL OVER!" 

 "There are, like, a hundred worms!"

"Let's count them!" cries Shmoogie, who loves to count things.  She is at 15 before I even get the stroller moving out of the carport.

Together, she and Mr. P count as we walk and he bikes carefully up the sidewalk "16...17...18!..."  But Shmoogie decides she must enforce some standards, "No, that one's dead.  You can't count dead ones.  You can only count live ones."

There's a near tragedy when Mr. P's tire catches the tip of one worm, leaving it slightly bloody and writhing on the pavement.  It takes several tries before we successfully airlift it to the grass and Shmoogie deems it alive and countable. 

We arrive at school with a count of 23 (including one extremely impressive foot long specimen), certified by Shmoogie herself.  The ten minute wait for best friends to arrive only heightens the excitement.  "You can tell R," offers Shmoogie, "but I get to tell L."

Soon, R is spotted heading our way across the field.  Mr. P shouts out, "R!!  WE SAW TWENTY THREE WORMS THIS MORNING!!!!"

I watch, wondering a little anxiously how this is going to go, relaxing as soon as R smiles back and shouts, "COOL!" 

Cherry Pie Day

Shmoogie never met my dad, but she knows cherry pie means it's his birthday! 

The oldest relative I remember had a portrait of a several generations ago ancestor on her wall her whole life.  And the one thing I know about him is that he loved oysters and, I think, pears.  I wonder how many of us live longest in memories of our favorite foods?

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New Thing

Bayboh can climb up onto the kitchen nook benches all by himself

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This makes him very happy.

He can see out the window, "Birdie!"   He can grab things off the shelves that have hitherto been unreachable!  He can climb onto the pedestal table that barely stays upright with his weight on the edge! 

He can be repeatedly snatched off said table by a safety-conscious but unfeeling adult, and deposited, wailing, back on the boring old floor.