7. Old Friends Are Gold
We were lucky enough to see old friends in several different states along the way. It was an absolute pleasure to accept their warm hospitality and donated socks.
I wasn’t kidding when I said socks kept going missing on this trip! I’m used to the odd disappearance in a dryer, but we misplaced an implausible number of socks last summer. We must have left a continuous trail behind stretching from Ohio to Oregon. One sock every 100 miles seems like it would be about right.
We often stayed in a nearby hotel to give us a home base (and solid naptime, alone time for my introvert husband, etc.), but many hours were spent talking and reconnecting with friends. So often, Scott and I carried sleepy kids into the hotel at the end of a great day and exclaimed over how it felt like no time at all had passed since the last time we had seen our friends.
Obviously photography was not a focus for me on this trip, and it was actually a wonderful change of pace. I decided it was most important for me to be “in the picture” instead of behind a lens. It was a good decision, though as I look through the photos I realize there are lots of gaps!
8. Seeing Wild Dolphins in Mexico
While we were already on the road, my friend who we planned to visit in Arizona mentioned we should visit her family’s beach house in Mexico as well.
I’m not sure I’ve ever jumped on an opportunity so fast.
We already had passports for the kids and several days at a beachfront house in Mexico with great friends was a dream come true!
Getting back into the U.S. was a completely different kind of dream… but that story belongs in another kind of post.
Our view from the back patio.
It was so wild and crazy to be there in the first place, that I had to jump on the chance to go four-wheeling in the sand (a first for me) and paddle boarding (also a first for me). And when we spotted dolphins out the window, it was totally natural to run and jump on a jet ski and go find them in the waves.
I’m still pinching myself that that all happened to me.
Something else that happened to me: While we were driving down there, I saw a spider that was so big, I spotted it crossing the freeway in front of us at night.
9. Stocking up on Extended Family Memories
I wasn’t close to any cousins or aunts and uncles growing up, so I relish the chance my kids have to be with their extended family. Living all the way in Ohio, though, we weren’t close to anyone. Oregon is a bit better but we still have to leave the state to meet up.
The trip was family paradise, however. 🙂
Aunt Melanie is always a huge hit:
We hit the Salt Lake City Zoo with a gaggle of cousins:
An ocean-full of girlie cousins at the magnificent San Diego SmugMug retreat:
Every kid should have an Uncle Paul:
Do I even need to mention that he’s the one holding the camel’s tail?
Daniel thought he’d died and gone to heaven when Paul with his bottomless energy zoomed him around the cobblestone walkways at the San Diego Zoo. I’ll confess I thought Daniel might very well die and go to heaven on a few of the tighter turns, but all’s well that ends well. 😉
Caitlyn got some quality swing time in with her only redheaded Bean cousin. (She has one redhead on my side, too!):
Nobody pushes a swing quite like my Grandpa Johnson, though:
We visited Grandma Bean at work:
My kids adore her because she so clearly adores them.
Mackenzie found some likeminded cousins:
And my personal favorite… Caitlyn’s uncle solicited her help in fixing his car.
She came into the house greasy and glowing.
10. Walking Into a Tree (and into a new adventure…)
I’m not sure why we pulled over at this particular spot in the redwood forests of northern California, but as we explored we discovered a hollow tree together.
We could crawl in there and see straight up to the sky.
We also took a wonderful hike together nearby. It was towards the tail end of our trip and the majesty, peace and beauty of that forest will stay with me for a long time. We hardly saw anyone else in the hours we were there. It was utterly quiet and smelled heavenly. I loved breathing that air as a family and knowing we were going to start a new chapter of our lives together in just a few days.
What a summer!