Monday, August 22, 2011

Highlights, But Just the Dramatic Ones

You are probably aware that Team Stimey went on vacation a while back, but that I haven't written about it much. That is because it turns out that airplane and hotel travel with my family is...difficult.

We were about three days in when Jack reached the super saturation point of disregulation and started ping ponging around the American Southwest. He hung in there, but I'm not sure he spoke for the last week. Sam spoke—often and loudly—and sometimes accompanied by angrily crossed arms, furrowed brow, and a well-honed ability to throw an ill-timed tantrum. Quinn was Quinn, willing to follow the emotions of whomever had his attention at the time.

That's why I didn't write. At bedtime, I was too tired to do anything but lay in bed. Then it took me a week to recover once we got home. That said, my kids are funny, loving, wonderful, and, accepting their limitations, we had an amazing time.

Our trip was originally planned to go to the wedding of a friend in Colorado. It seemed ridiculous to be that far west and not visit my sister and her family in New Mexico, so we tacked on a week for that. Happily, my mother was able to join us in Albuquerque as well.

So there you have the back story. I will now present you with, for lack of a better phrase, The Front Stories.

Grand Junction, Colorado

You already know about our trip to Grand Junction. It was classic Team Stimey. Frankly, it couldn't have been MORE Team Stimey. Once we were there, however, we had a lovely time.

We stayed at a hotel in downtown Grand Junction, which could have also been named Land of Much Statuary. Seriously. Like on every corner. Much of it was really cool. I still haven't decided how I feel about some of it though. Like this zipper:


This bull was fun. It was in front of a bank.

There is a fourth poser in this photo that you will be meeting soon.
Do you see him?

Pig-icken (Vegetarians, look away!)

Remember how I told you that there was a barbecue the night before the wedding and they served pigicken? Well now Imma gonna show you! I'm sorry, but it is rare that I see a whole cooked pig head, especially one whose body has been stuffed with chickens.  I was suitably impressed.


I kept telling random kids about the pig head on the tray over by the parking lot, because I figured if anyone would be as impressed as I was, it would be a six-year-old.

My goodness, but Colorado is gorgeous.

 So say we all.

I love that photo up there of the Q-ball. The barbecue was up in the...mountains? Canyons? Mesas? Whatever the hell you wanna call them, they are gorgeous. There was a trailhead at the picnic site and the munchkins and I went on a couple of jaunts up into the hills.

The kiddos (Sam pictured here) wanted to bushwhack.
Fortunately, they only found a rabbit and not a rattlesnake.

Our friends' families had planned well and had all kinds of games prepared to keep everyone's kids busy. Sam and Quinn were delighted, especially once they found out that they could win things such as recorders and whoopie cushions. Alex and I were thrilled because recorders and whoopie cushions are essential for plane travel with smallish children.

Quinn and Sam also won these fancy cups, which traveled all the way back to Maryland with us.

You might notice that Quinn's cup has a lemon on it. He harassed the bartender until she gave it to him. He also spent a good amount of time chatting her up all by himself as well, so I feel proud that he is learning some crucial life skills.

Jack was especially excited about the potential for hiking. We had a hard time making him turn back on our last trip out and then, when we were trying to eat, he kept trying to escape up into the wilderness.

Shortly after this, we handed him an iPad  to keep him
in one place for his safety and our sanity.

Grand Junction —> Albuquerque

The day after the wedding we departed for Albuquerque. We had to leave really early in the morning to get to the airport on time, which is always dangerous for Team Stimey Junior and their sensitive stomachs. The fact that Quinn curled up in a ball on the floor of the hotel breakfast area should have tipped us off to what we were in for.

He was the first to puke in the rental car.

Immediately afterward, however, he felt better and started demanding food. Yay! One down!

About an hour later, Jack said, "Will you pull over so I can barf?" Alex told him to hold on because there was an exit coming up in a couple of miles. Jack then horked ALL OVER the floor of the backseat. Alex has learned his lesson. And that lesson is: Trust Jack.

After our clean-up stop, Sam said something to the effect of, "I'm a little nervous that I'm the only one who hasn't thrown up."

And well, he should have been nervous, because what was once an observation and a joke about, ha, ha, our family pukes a lot, isn't Team Stimey ridiculous? has become an HONEST TO GOD WE CAN'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT VOMITING ALL OVER PHENOMENON. Seriously. What up wit dat?

Anywho. When Sam said he needed us to pull over a while later, Alex listened. Fortunately, he didn't need to puke.

He DID need to lie in the brush by the side of the road though.

I felt sorry for him, so I let him sit in the front seat and I sat in the back, which at least gave me a close up view of the next time Jack threw up all over the car.

It was kind of embarrassing to return that rental car.

In happier news, no one has thrown up since.


My kids haven't seen my sister and her family for at least a couple of years, but they walked in and were immediately best friends. Although I kind of blew Quinn's mind by telling him that those kids he was playing with? They were his cousins.

This is Quinn at the exact moment he said with total amazement, "COUSINS?!"

Oh, of course! THAT is why we flew here to hang out with these people.

My kids hadn't been to New Mexico to see my sister and her family for more than three years, but Jack walked in, took a loop around the house and asked, "Where is the typewriter?" He was remembering a typewriter that had been on a table three years ago but that wasn't there anymore. My sister-in-law went and found it, commented that the keys were all jammed, and told Jack he could play on it all he wanted. Then Jack fixed the typewriter.

That kid amazes me every single day.

The day after we got to Albuquerque, my mom flew in. Quinn was completely bummed out to have cousins, aunts, and a nana to play with.

Completely bummed.

The Tram

There is this great place in Albuquerque where you can take the WORLD'S LONGEST (passenger) TRAMWAY up the mountain. It was cool.

If you remember from a few days ago, I forced everyone to go on a hike. Contrary to all the whining, it was a really nice hike with some beautiful vistas along the way.

I asked my mom to move a little to her left, but she refused.

Alex and Sam crapped out first, so they missed this little outcropping where I let Quinn hang out on the edge of a cliff.

What? I didn't push him off or anything.

Shortly thereafter, my sister, her kids, and Quinn fell by the wayside, leaving only me, Jack, and my mom. Jack wanted to walk to the end of the trail, but I felt bad about abandoning most of our party by the wayside, so we turned back, but not until we stopped at one last viewpoint.

Petroglyph National Monument

I also forced my family to go on another hike, this one with even more disastrous results. We went to this place that has petroglyphs on rocks and you walk around and look at them, or, if you're Sam, you run up and down the mountain and glance at the petroglyphs as you speed by.

We arrived before my sister did, so me, Alex, and our munchkins headed up the trail while my mom waited for my sister. Of course, we had to first apply sunscreen, which Alex coated liberally on the children, who then used the extra on their bodies to cover Alex too.

Look at Quinn's legs.

We made it to the top...

(the top)

...and were halfway down by the time my sister arrived. Her older kid immediately joined Sam in his galloping up and down the hill, while her younger son and my mom decided to hike it together. My sister, who is clearly related to me, sat at the bottom of the hill with Team Stimey and watched Quinn get more and more agitated over the fact that the only one who had thought to bring water (my mom) was presently at the top of a small mountain.

"The only thing that could possibly make me madder
is if you take a photo of me...AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!"

The "mountain" was small enough that you could see the hikers on it almost all the way up and down, so we kept tabs on my mom in hopes that she would hustle down the mountain and give us her water.

My mom and nephew are about a third of the way down the slope there.
Sam is in white in the middle.

At some point, we looked up and watched her walking up the mountain toward my nephew, which was weird, considering they were on their way down the trail. Then, we saw her pouring the precious, precious water out. My sister and I, being my sister and I, started whining and complaining about these actions.

Naturally when we found out later that she was walking back up to my nephew because she had TUMBLED DOWN THE TRAIL and that she had been pouring water ONTO HER BLOODY HAND, we felt bad about making fun of her.

I feel kind of lucky that she didn't crack her head open or break a bone considering the nature of the trail and the calamitous fall. Mostly she got abraded and bruised and also suffered a dramatic slice on her leg.

Somewhat awesomely, my sister is a real live doctor.

And also kind of a nerd-ball.

The Zoo

Trips to the zoo are always fun, especially when that zoo has a train and polar bears. The Albuquerque Zoo also has a gorilla that Alex watched barf into its hand and then re-eat it. Even wild animals are willing to play along with Team Stimey. You're welcome for my not sharing THAT photo.

Instead I'll show you one of the polar bears. Because polar bears are awesome.

I like that he's a triangle here.

I am also going to show you this photo of my kids and my nephews because I got thiiiiis close to capturing five smiles on five kids.

Damn you, Quinn.

The Rest

There were, of course, other things that happened while we were on vacation, but I think I captured the most dramatic here. Mostly we had a good time with my sister and her family. They're really cool people. I wish it were not so hard to find ways to see them more often.

Our trip home was pretty uneventful, but for our long layover in Houston, where we (read: Jack) broke a glass at dinner and we ended up with kind of the perfect setting for my last vacation photo.

CAUTION. We are hazardous.

I took that photo above shortly before Jack was almost pancaked by a speeding airport cart. I did not find the Houston airport very welcoming. I wrote about it last week. Aside from the incident recounted there, I also got dirty looks about a kid behavior from some other people, including a lady who ended up sitting next to me for the flight from Houston to Baltimore. THAT was awesome. I cold shouldered her like nobody's business. I don't think she noticed.

And that was that. We are home and we don't have to travel again for months. MONTHS! And all of America, but for a small swath of the DC Metro area, breathes easy.

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