I went back to work briefly the past few months for those not in the know. Wente Vineyards as the creative services project manager to be specific. The opportunity came up rather suddenly when a friend reached out to me asking if I would be interested in helping out temporarily until a full-time replacement was found. I’m glad I did it for several reasons: 1. it was nice to hold adult conversations that didn’t involve my children’s tantrums or potty accidents, 2. I was able to prove to myself that despite not being in a workplace setting for nearly six years, I could still jump right back into it and rock it and 3. it made me realize that two parents working with one car is one of the hardest things to deal with. I was asked if I wanted to have the job full-time but I realized that with Ryan being co-owner of a start-up that is based in Oakland, it would be damn near impossible for me to work full-time in the opposite direction without paying for childcare which is not something that I want to invest in.
When I no longer had to be in the office every day and my replacement was fully trained, I suddenly realized that most of our summer was nearly over and between school schedules and start-up frenzies, we needed some time away from the mundane day-to-day routine. We looked briefly at Disneyland, San Diego, Hawaii and found everything was so darn expensive. I kind of threw out the idea of a road trip to visit our friends in Colorado who had just had a baby and surprisingly, Ryan was game. We knew going into the trip that our main job would be to keep Miles and Liv content while they remained in the backseat for hours upon end. I remember doing this as a kid and as much as I disliked it then, I do have an appreciation for it now. I saw quite a few things on the road that otherwise I never would have seen if my parents didn’t force me to tag along. Besides, there is so much more for kids these days between the in-car dvd’s to the iPads and everything else really. I only had a walkman and my thoughts. It’s ok to feel sorry for me.
We had very little planned in terms of our trip. We knew we were going to Longmont, Colorado and we knew we were ending the trip in Manchester Beach, California to meet up with my folks and family friends for a few days of camping. We decided to travel different routes to and from to make things more exciting for everyone. We found a great app called Roadtrippers which we pretty much used exclusively throughout the trip. We used this app to find the obscure roadside attractions that otherwise you would never know about. We also used the app to track down nearby restaurants and lodging options since we didn’t book a single thing with the exception of our stay in Longmont. We did this because we really didn’t know what to expect. Our trip was so last minute, I didn’t even get the car in for a much needed service so most of the trip was spent with the air conditioner off and fingers crossed that the car wouldn’t break down along the way.
On the first day, we decided to leave extremely early with the goal of arriving in Utah by night’s end. Very ambitious as I look back now. We packed up the car the night before and I filled a goody box between the kids, filled with books, activities and other surprises. We introduced the kids to car bingo which surprisingly entertained the kids for hours. Shocked? Me too! The kids were super excited to embark on our “car adventure” as we coined it and were more than willing to jump out of bed at 3:45am in their pajamas to go along on the ride.
I hauled ass the first leg of the trip and we arrived in Bakersfield in just around 3.5 hours. We stopped for breakfast at an IHOP after our first attempt at breakfast came in the form of a shady looking establishment that was attached to a divvy bar. I like adventure but not that soon into the trip. We continued on our way through the desert where I was the most nervous about the car overheating. Thankfully we tried to tackle this stretch in the late morning, before the day was at it’s hottest. Thanks to our trusty road app, I discovered the world’s largest thermometer that was basically the world’s weakest roadside attraction. At this point, the kids had been in the car for roughly seven hours and neither kid was extremely excited to step outside of the comfortable car to stand in front of a hokey thermometer in 104 degree weather.
The rest of the drive was pretty much the same: rocks, cactuses, trains and desolate lands. We came upon Las Vegas and decided to drive down the strip to show them the attractions. Olivia and Miles were ecstatic to see the giant hotels, the larger than life signage, the eiffel tower and so on. We decided to park to walk around on the strip to stretch our legs for embarking on the final leg of our stay. Word to the wise, it is damn near impossible to park a car near the strip. After circling around for nearly twenty minutes and realizing the temperature outside was 108 degrees, we decided just to drive down the strip again to see the rest of the attractions from the comfort of our car. Quite frankly, Las Vegas is much better for me from this viewpoint.
We continued on our way for the rest of the afternoon through Nevada, Arizona and then finally, into Utah. After some discussion, we decided to spend the second day in Bryce Canyon National Park. We stayed the first night in Brian Head, Utah which is known as a ski destination in the winter. Despite it being the town’s off-season, it still was a beautiful location. I was quite bummed that we only stayed a short night because our room was amazing! We drove roughly twelve hours that first day and we were all incredibly beat by the time we arrived at our hotel but I’m amazed how well these kids did. As a treat, we let them play in the indoor pool well past their bedtime just because they were vibrating with energy after having been cooped up in the car. From that point on, we realized every hotel we stayed in had to have an indoor pool. That or the children would have been left on the side of the road.
We embarked the next day for Bryce Canyon and set off on another hour and a half drive that was insanely beautiful. Really unlike any landscape you see here in California. Our hotel didn’t serve breakfast until long after we needed to leave by so we thought maybe we could find something along the way. Turns out the road to Bryce Canyon is desolate. Besides a couple gas stations, there really wasn’t much else. About thirty minutes from our destination, we pulled into a small town and via our trusty app, was able to track down a breakfast spot that was nearby. The Flying M restaurant is just about everything you could ask for in a coffee shop: it’s old, a little dusty around the edges and all of the staff looks like they’ve been there since the beginning. Upon entering the restaurant, the smell immediately reminded me of my grandparent’s house. Not just a generic smell but the actual smell from my grandparent’s home and it actually brought me to tears because I haven’t smelled that smell in decades and I realized I missed it.
After we consumed a behemoth breakfast, we arrived at Bryce Canyon. I’m not one to be brought to tears easily by nature but Bryce is very unassuming. Yes, upon entering the vicinity you pass Red Canyon and other various extraordinary rocks but when you walk up to Bryce Canyon and you see the vast landscape in front of you. It brought me to tears.
Ryan did a little research beforehand and mentioned we could walk a trail that is considered one of the more popular trails given its easy access to everything. Given it was just around three miles, I figured that would be the most our kids could endure. Now, I’m thinking the trail is a paved sidewalk that circles the opening of the canyon. Ryan points to an entrance and all I can see are tiny moving specs that appear to be other people climbing into a tiny crack of the canyon. There is a single path that traverses back and forth with no guard rail. Reluctantly, we descend into the canyon while my hands become quite sweaty over my nerves of the kids pacing too close to the edge. I’m conflicted because as anxiety-filled as I am, the scenery around us is absolutely breathtaking. Words really cannot do it justice. We descend for roughly forty-five minutes when finally we reach the floor of the canyon. From this point, the trail is pretty flat but the temperature is starting to rise and when there’s heat, there are cranky children. Well, I should be fair to Olivia who was just fine. Where there’s heat, there’s a cranky Miles.
In our hike, we saw an amazing hoodoo that is appropriately called “The Queen” for it’s striking resemblance to just that. The kids were ecstatic to find her and for a brief moment, the whoas of Miles disappeared.
As we made our climb out of the canyon, once again we were presented with absolute beautiful views of the canyon. A few times Olivia would walk over to the edge by herself and just sit back as she took everything in. Ryan had the pleasure of actually hearing her say that she would forever keep Bryce Canyon in her heart.
The climb out of the canyon was most definitely harder that the descent but despite our exhaustion and despite the fact that two of us have tiny legs (Ryan, I’m talking to you) we all did quite well. I’m bummed we couldn’t stay longer because I can only imagine what the sky looks like at night there but sadly, we had to move along. If you’ve never been to Bryce Canyon, I highly recommend it. By far, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
For part 2 of our road trippin’ recap, I’ll tell you about why Colorado should really invest in guardrails, quite possibly the cutest little town in Colorado and the scariest hotel that ever was in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Until then, my instagram has even more pictures of the exquisite Bryce Canyon and the rest of our road adventure.