Oregon, Washington and Idaho

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

5 May Friday

It rained during the night and some rain came in through our open bedroom windows…no biggie. It’s a super dreary day…and then Tj threw his back out taking the sewer apart! I really thought we probably should extend here a day because of his back…the campground was pretty empty and we are hooked up to sewer…but Tj thought if Max and I did most of the work he could make it. So we did, and he did. I wonder how much of his eagerness to leave came from the ice maker waiting for us!

We made it to the Wal Mart in OR that had the ice maker and Tj decided to stay in the bus while I got it. His back isn’t great, but it’s ok. He came in after a bit to use the bathroom since we’ll be monitoring our usage at the park. It’s freezing here! I had on a couple of shirts and my big jacket, and this lady came walking out of Wal Mart with short sleeves and capris on. Heh, I’m a wuss!

We got to the state park fine, and there wasn’t much to hook up without sewer! It’s a 30 amp place so we’ll also have to keep an eye on our electricity. There’s a playground pretty close so we sent the boys to play while we set up. After we set up we drove around to the entrance and bought some firewood. The camp host was such a cute little lady! She was full of smiles with a cute silver haircut. We called the boys back and fed them leftover pizza while Tj and I had boiled shrimp. Then we had smores!! Now all our clothes smell like smoke, not to mention we smell like it, and we’re trying to use as little water as possible. Camping!

Jack was so tired after all that that I took him in and got him ready for bed. I laid down with him so he’d actually go to sleep, but that was about 9pm. We’ll try to get him in bed earlier tomorrow night.

6 May Saturday

Tj’s back is so much worse this morning! He says he should move around, but I’d always been taught ice/heat/rest. We were trying to decide if we were doing anything today or just letting him stay home. After an hour or two he felt better so we packed up and headed out to Crater Lake. The other reason we hesitated was there’s still so much snow at CL we weren’t sure we’d even get to see it. Boy am I glad we went!! It was beautiful!! It took us about an hour to get to the visitors center, and Jack’s pass got us in for free. The snow bank there was probably 20′! A little further down we all got out and climbed up to the rim, and it was gorgeous! I am constantly amazed that this is our life. We are so blessed to be able to see God’s beauty. We took a lot of photos and played in the snow. Jack pet every dog he came across, as usual. Max and I walked up the snow bank that covered the roof of a building! It was beautiful, but towards the end I got tired of randomly sinking up to one knee or the other.

When we were all freezing we headed to the gift shop. I found a few cute earrings and a tiny spice bowl I’d been keeping my eye out for, but in the end I settled on a pair of salad claws. I don’t want to buy a lot of things at any one place…I want to remember each place I get a souvenir.

We headed back to the bus and stopped at the one roadside place to eat on the way. Becki’s Cafe. We had the appetizer that was an assortment of fried things with the best ranch dressing I’ve ever had. Then Jack and I split a burger, Tj had a burger and Max had a patty melt. He was disappointed at the amount of smothered onions, but Tj said that’s how patty melts are supposed to be. After our meal Tj and the boys got chocolate pie, and I got blackberry pie with ice cream. I actually added sugar to my pie. I’m not proud of it, but it sure did taste better then.

We headed past the park to buy some cherries I’d seen on the way in yesterday, but the roadside stand was closed. Poo. We stopped at the Dollar General to buy Max some sunglasses, and he is styling now!

At the entrance of our park section we bought another batch of firewood. We sent the boys off to play while we rested and Tj iced his back again. Because our lunch was so big and so late the boys just had 2 smores for supper and I had some chocolate. I brought Jack in at 7:30 to get him started on bed and to clean up the pig sty that our place becomes when we spend most of our time outside. I got him into bed at 8 and laid down with him, and the bum wouldn’t go to sleep! I guess we’ll try 8pm to get into bed at 8:30 tomorrow night. I think all of us are doing fine, but Jack is once again balking at even the simple things we tell him to do. There may just be no getting over this for him. It is a stressful life, despite how wonderful it is.

7 May Sunday

Tj slept poorly, but woke up feeling much better than he did yesterday morning. I think he’s truly on the mend. He did most everything himself like he usually does, but I hovered a bit to make sure I’m around if he needs me. Now we’re heading to Coos Bay Or and are almost there. One more hour to go. We are in some beautiful country. I don’t know what it is but there’s almost nothing more beautiful than a big river at the foot of a tree covered mountain.

When we gassed up this morning we realized in OR you don’t pump your own gas. It’s so strange to stand around watching this girl much younger than us ask us if we want our receipt, then watch her punch the button, and wait for it to print and hand it to us.

We came across an accident that just happened. After a few minutes a guy got out to direct traffic, which was nice. If he hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have been able to get around it without me getting out to direct. It seemed like someone got t-boned at the 3-way intersection. It’s always so sad to see someone at such a hard time in their life.

We got to the campground and it was completely cramped. We didn’t have any trouble fitting the bus, but every campsite was thoroughly surrounded by bushes. It was great, but after Jack had been playing outside for a bit I realized there were lots of 3-leaved bushes!! I’m so paranoid about any of us getting poison ivy, but especially Jack…he’ll smear that everywhere and share it with all of us no matter how hard I try to contain it.

We set up partially, started a load of clothes (gotta wash all those smoky clothes), and headed to Face Rock Creamery. We’re on our own cheese tour through CA, OR and WA. We tasted a lot, and bought a lot, and also had some ice cream there. We saw several weed stores on the way! It surprised me to see them just blatently out there…obviously weed is legal in this state.

On our way back to the bus all the shops I wanted to visit were closed since this is Sunday, so we stopped at the Dollar Tree just to tool around a bit. I gave the boys $2 each just for fun. Max bought 2 bags of Smarties, and Jack bought a spinning toy and some peanut M&M’s. A little farther down the road we saw two women pushing a car so we stopped to help. Tj tried to pop the clutch to get the car started again, but it was no use. Poor people. Car trouble is such a pain!

I dropped the boys off at the beach and headed back to the bus to change out the wash. We’re on 30 amps again, and the washer uses 11 so we can do wash no problem, but we just need to be aware. I unpacked the bus and then picked up the boys again. Jack went immediately into the shower, Max vacuumed the bus, Tj set up the computer and I set out our variety of cheeses for supper. We watched What’s in the Bible while we ate.

8 May Monday

When we went to bed last night I checked the dehumidifier. There was only about a third of the tank full, so I thought we were good for overnight. I was really surprised around 7:30 this morning when it beeped that it was full! I realize now that I still have it on continuous run, but that might have been for the best. I hung our wet clothes in the living room to dry…Tj was slightly leery of running the computer and the dryer at the same time.

When we got to our new digs we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day, we’re still trying to get TJ’s back to normal. He’s doing most of the things, but I don’t want him to pick up the electrical cord cause that sucker weighs a ton! We parked the bus and set up a bit. After a while Max and I went to the really big convenience/gift store at the park’s entrance, and TJ and Jack went to the playground. They’re always lots of fun things in gift stores, but this time I limited my purchases to a selection of salt water taffy. Max and I walked back to the playground and we each tried out the flavors and decided which ones we liked best. After we were finished there we changed into our swimsuits and went to the pool. Nobody else was there the entire time we were in there until about the final five minutes. It was lovely! The hot tub was at about a hundred and one degrees, a little lower than we generally like it, but still very good.

I made bruschetta for supper, that stuff is just the best! Max wanted buffalo chicken pizza for supper, but I didn’t want to have to saute chicken and all of that just for the two of them. I compromised by cutting french bread slices and buttering them, I put provolone and an Italian cheese mix on top and broiled them. Then I put buffalo chicken sauce and ranch dressing on top. Max totally approved. Win one for Mom!

9Β MayΒ Tuesday

We were super lazy this morning. It was lovely. We finally got out of bed, I got the boys ready and we all headed across the street from our campground to BJ’s to try some seafood. There aren’t really that many seafood restaurants around here, but since we’re on the coast we had to get something from the sea! I had a Baja bowl and TJ had a mahi-mahi bowl. I loved the fish, but there were so many other ingredients that it kind of got lost. There were black beans and rice as a base, with shredded cabbage and pineapple on top of our choice of fish. We added a good bit of their sauces from the three options at the salsa bar they had. I could see trying to copy cat this a bit. The pineapple was really an interesting taste in there.

Before we got to the Tillamook Cheese Factory we saw a big Air Museum on the right. TJ said oh yeah that was on my list of places to stop, so we stopped. It was just a huge blimp hangar with a few old airplanes and other artifacts inside. On the side of one of the walls was a painting depicting how big the Hindenburg was versus other well-known blimps; amazing! There was a video playing about the Hindenburg and some people were interviewed that were there the day it crashed. I forgot that it was so close to the beginning of the war. And I also forgot how many people survived that crash.

Driving here yesterday and a lot today I noticed several quilt patches on the sides of barns and houses and buildings in the area. They’re so pretty. I didn’t stop to take any photos because the photos in a moving vehicle are never any good. Really none of our photos capture the true beauty that we get to see everyday, but some I take just as a reminder of where we are and what we’ve seen. The country here is so beautiful, lots of trees, mountainsides, rivers and lakes. This is a beautiful part of the country.

We finally headed to Tillamook, and saw another creamery on the way that we considered stopping at. Tillamook Creamery is undergoing an overhaul so we didn’t get to tour the factory. But it must be a big deal around here because they had a small display setup with fake cows and lots of information about why do cows get antibiotics and the cycle of a milking cow, getting pregnant, giving birth, and beginning to milk again. There were cheeses to taste, but not very many. I’ve confirmed again and again, I do like Swiss on some sandwiches like a Reuben, but I never want to eat just a piece of Swiss by itself. We bought several kinds of cheese, some salt water taffy and some beef jerky sticks. Then we moved on to the important stuff, the ice cream! We all got a scoop and I had mine in a waffle bowl. I love those things! It all tasted super great, but we had already seen a few stops we wanted to make on the way back home so we didn’t buy any ice cream to bring to the bus.

I had seen a Goodwill on the way and suggested to TJ that he take the boys to the McDonald’s playground we had also seen on the way while I shopped at Goodwill, but he was having none of it. We all went to Goodwill and I filled a buggy with sweaters and shoes. I ended up only buying one sweater, but TJ found Jack an R2D2 shirt, and Max got a skateboard. We left there and went to the McDonald’s playground. Jack is always so excited to see those, he jumps around in his seat and exclaims thank you Mama! a thousand times between the time we see it and the time we actually park. The boys played there for 20 to 30 minutes, and then we headed on down the road.

Traveling around it’s hard to tell what’s a new trend in grocery stores and what’s just different in a different area. The Fred Meyer that we went to to buy groceries was huge! It was like a super Walmart, only I think it’s a little bit bigger. The RV section had things there that I hadn’t seen anywhere except in a RV store.

We filled up the truck with gas. We were on the hunt for a good gas station for the bus, and this one would be a 10 minute drive out of our way. It’s a good backup though if we don’t find anything else.

We had seen a pretty little beach close to where we’re staying now, so we stopped there. We wanted to get back to the campground in time for the boys to go swimming, but we could tell we had already passed that point. At least we would still make it for the adult swim time which was 9 to 10 p.m. We walked around the beach and it was beautiful. I was a little nervous to drive out on the beach because I’ve never done that, but TJ said just don’t gun it, keep a steady rate of speed. When we got ready to go Max was still out on the beach so I drove out to pick him up. We got back to the bus and sent the boys off to the playground while I put up all of the groceries and TJ started planning our route out for tomorrow. We called the boys home and quickly fed them another meal of mock buffalo chicken pizza. TJ and I quickly got dressed and headed out to the swim time about 9:15. Imagine our surprise when it was closed! We should have read the notice more carefully, adult swim time is 9 to 10 a.m.! Boo!

Other things about this place: we saw several large deer feeding right on the side of the road, only about 5′ from our truck. There are lots of rabbits at this campground. They basically have the run of the place which is cool. But there’s a lot of holes in the ground as well. This campground was great except for the fact that after the first night the water pressure was about half of what it had been at first. Also, on our drive out to Tillamook we saw a chicken farm…lots of free range chickens!

10 May Wednesday

We saw more rabbits today. Most of them were black but some were spotted. You can walk very close to them, probably about 2 feet away before they run. It’s a nice place, we walked across the street to the restaurant and that distance again would have brought us to the water.

The boys went off to the playground to play while TJ and I got the bus ready and hooked it up to the truck. On the drive today we saw guys flying with whatever contraption has a skate board on the bottom and a kite on top. You’d think I’d get better at identifying the several types of contraptions that allow people to fly through the air without a plane…we sure have seen lots of them on the Pacific Coast.

When we got close to the campground we’re staying tonight I started looking it up on the phone but couldn’t see any campers on Google satellite view. I like this campground a lot, but of course we only stayed overnight. All the campers are parked parallel to the street with just a little pull off at each spot. There are lots of trees, and also lots of open space. After we pulled through the check-in area and Tj did not hit the woman’s fence (but the woman laughed and told TJ she thought he was going to hit her fence, and he was just a few inches away from it) we stopped at the playground and dropped the boys off while we went on to the campsite and setup. We found out that the ice maker needs to be still for two hours for the freon? to settle before it can make ice cubes. We called the boys back, had them wash their hands and faces, and headed off to a Mediterranean place I found. We made sure to go far inland and eat supper in Washington so that we could put another sticker on our map. Al-Basha Kabab had good food, but of course not the kind of shawarma salad I was hoping for. Their fries were covered in taziki sauce and sprinkled with feta. Yum! The boys got beef kabob on top of fries, with more feta. After supper we went to a little store and bought me a piece of chocolate, then headed back home. The land here is beautiful. Oregon was filled with trees and mountains and craggy drop offs, but just across the river/state line it’s just pretty rolling hills and basically no trees. The highway signs are funny, they’re silhouettes of George Washington’s head with the number inside the silhouette.

11 May Thursday

Tj’s back has flared up again so I’m trying to take it easy on him. Hopefully with us stopping now for the next 3 weeks it’ll have a chance to completely recover.

On our drive we were talking as we occasionally do about telling acquaintances that Jack has Down Syndrome. I don’t like to beat around the bush, I just say Down Syndrome. I told Tj, but then you run the risk of some (idiots) asking how Down’s is he? Without thinking about it at all it just popped out of my mouth that from now on I should answer he’s about this far down (and accompany this with a hand motion depicting his height). Heh. I still laugh every time I think about that. For the record there’s no amount of Down’s that a person is. You either have Down Syndrome or you don’t. Some people with Down Syndrome are more independent than others, but you can’t know how far your child will advance until they get older. You just have to push your child to be as independent as they are able. Kind of like with any other kid, honestly. And I really don’t mind questions of that sort, though I realize even stating the above makes it seem like I do. Because Jack takes up such a big part of my life, and obviously because he’s my son, I love him so much and I always want to talk about him. I find Down Syndrome a pretty fascinating subject and enjoy talking with others about the similarities and differences between him and his brother/other kids.

We passed a sign marking the 45th parallel, the
circle of latitude that is the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. Cool.

12 May Friday

We stayed in bed a good while, then got up to run some errands. Our first stop was to get the general delivery address so we can get mail! Finally! It’s been since Tucson that we’ve had the ability to have stuff shipped to us. Next we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate Max’s good grades this year. Then we spent a good amount of time at Camping World buying all the things (shower knob, windshield cleaner, sun shade for the bus), and then went out with a salesman to check out some new busses.

Then it was time to drop me off at the hotel!!! Tj surprised me with an overnight and a spa day! How lovely. We got to the hotel around 3:45. I parked in the garage and walked to the hotel…but the entrance wasn’t easy to find. First I went to the elevator that was labeled hotel entrance, but you had to have a room key to use it. So I took the stairs down to the outside, and proceeded to walk all the way around the block to about 10′ before the door I’d used to exit the garage, and there was the entrance. The sign for the hotel wasn’t on the same side of the building as the entrance. I finally checked in, though, and all was well.

I got a text from Tj later saying: I’m so used to you driving I just opened the passenger door! Since he drives the bus all around I do almost all of the in-town driving. Heh. He said as soon as I was gone Jack started asking where’s Mom?

I got to my room and just laid on the bed and did nothing but read my phone. I set an alarm so I’d be ready for my Uber pick-up for my Fork reservation. I kept telling Tj that I would just walk to the restaurant, but he really wanted me to take an Uber. I was nervous just because I’d never done it before, but then the weather looked like it might be bad so we reserved me a ride to the restaurant. I went to the lobby early, but when I checked my phone the address of the hotel was wrong! I texted the Uber driver the correct location, but I think before he read that he just called me and cancelled saying he’d circled the block 3 times without seeing the hotel. Before I’d even finished telling Tj all that happened and asking him what I should do another Uber driver said he was taking the ride. He showed up with no help from me, so it makes me think the other driver just had problems. In the end I made it to Fork a few minutes early.

I’d already chosen the spare ribs over mashed potatoes, but was still a bit full from lunch so wasn’t sure I could handle a full meal. The waitress said it was her favorite thing there, so I went for it πŸ™‚ The meal wasn’t as big as I expected, so I was able to eat it all. And it was wonderful. I asked for a small cup of jus on the side and don’t regret one calorie of it at all.

I walked back to the hotel when I was finished. The spa tomorrow is on the same street as Fork so if the weather’s good I’ll just walk there. The girl at the front desk asked if I’d made it ok; she’d told me the street address for the Uber update before supper. I headed up to my room and then my key wouldn’t work…I had to use it in order to use the elevator. Ugh. I went back to that same girl and apologized for being a problem child, but she was super sweet about the whole thing.

In my room I read my phone and watched TV, and then I went to bed when I wanted. What an awesome gift!

13 May Saturday

Despite the wonderfulness of this gift I didn’t sleep super well, and woke up early. I did doze a bit later, and took my time getting ready. I got to my spa appointment a few minutes early, and enjoyed every minute there! I got scrubbed down with a brush, a seaweed wrap, a lime/something scalp massage, took a shower and blow dried my hair, then a hot stone massage! After that I had a mimosa (my first) and waited for my pedicure. After my pedicure I had a kale/quinoa/feta/walnut/craisin salad. This wonderful day started at 10am and I walked out at 2:45. Amazing!

I walked almost all the way back to the hotel and went shopping at Trader Joe’s. I texted Tj while I was there and he came and got me. He had been hard at work this whole time trying to get all the stuff he needed to change the oil in the bus. In the end he had to order stuff from Amazon, so hopefully he can change it the day he gets back. He also did all the wash and fixed the shower knob. He’s such a handyman!

He cooked supper for us tonight: bone-in ribeyes! They were spot on. My man takes such good care of me!

14 May Sunday

Tj found us a church so we got there in time to find where the boys were going to go. We had to wait on the teacher a bit, and then I remembered I hadn’t sent Jack to the bathroom before leaving the bus. The 3 of us stood around while J went to the bathroom. The bathroom door was open and he just used the stall…so we could hear him flushing and washing, etc. After a minute or two I headed over to see what was taking him so long to come out…and then Tj offered to check on him. He wasn’t there!! Argh! I just kept laughing…here we go again. That sneaky little booger! We looked and looked, but I was being kinda discreet about it…if we’re going to go here 3 weeks they don’t need to know we lost Jack the first Sunday! Tj found him a minute or so later…in the baptistry! I guess there wasn’t water in it because Jack was dry. Heavens! Other than that church was normal πŸ™‚

We didn’t want to go out to eat figuring that since it was Mother’s Day restaurants would be full. We dropped the boys off at the playground and went to the bus and set up for lunch. All of us had a nap after lunch today…another great Mother’s Day present.

Later that afternoon Jack buttoned 2 tiny shirt buttons all by himself! It never ceases to amaze me how we take for granted all the learning that ‘normal’ kids do on their own. And here’s my practically 10-year-old over-the-moon-excited because he buttoned his shirt. He struggled with each button for probably 2 full minutes before he got that blasted button pulled through, and he was so proud of himself!

15 May Monday

We laid in bed all morning. After we got up at some point Tj and Max played Legos while​ I cut my hair. Sadly this haircut didn’t go as well as the others, it’s too short! I think/hope it’s not too bad, and fortunately the bad part is in the back where I can’t see it. It’ll grow out.

We went to a diner for lunch and I finally got a good Reuben. The fries were great too. I got Jack eggs benedict so I could have a taste, Tj got the chicken fried steak on a bed of hash browns with gravy, corn and an egg on top, and Max had a belgian waffle. I think I want to eat here again!

We headed to the grocery store but there was a Library! in the same strip mall building. We tried to go to it but it’s closed today. What’s with the exclamation point at the end of that word I wonder. Also in that strip mall was a thrift shop where I got Jack some pj pants.

When we got home I cut everyone’s hair, and then we went out for ice cream for supper. After the boys were in bed Tj and I watched the last of Mr. Robot and hit the hay.

16 May Tuesday

We left at 7am to bring Tj to work. Sometime later UPS called to say that they don’t deliver to the post office…so when the PO said sign up for general delivery and all your mail will come here I guess they just meant USPS. I don’t understand how Amazon doesn’t recognize that as a USPS address and ship it all by USPS.

I made us a salad for lunch and used my redwood bowl and Crater Lake salad claws for the first time. Afterward, during my nap, the UPS guy showed up with our packages! We were told we couldn’t receive our packages on the base, but the UPS guy says he’s already here every day, and until he goes on vacation he’ll deliver anything we get through UPS. Hooray! Fortunately Jack and I were able to fall back asleep pretty easily after that.

This afternoon we had our first hail storm in the bus! Thankfully the hail was tiny, and that part didn’t last long. I guess the wind blew the antenna around a bit because the handle fell from the ceiling at one point. I think all the wind and rain worried Max, but it wasn’t a big deal. I made cheese sauce for supper and we had that over broccoli and potatoes.

Today was the first day of me sending Jack to the bathroom every hour. Hopefully this will make a difference. Also today I started Jack’s basket; I crocheted 2 rounds.

17 May Wednesday

Max just asked me what the Humane Society was. I said I don’t know, they treat animals humanely. He asked if that was wrong. I asked how that would be wrong? He said, I don’t know, do they dress them up in human clothes? Oh how I laughed, but only on the inside.

This may be why we’re having a hard time with Jack keeping his underwear dry. He was playing the iPad this morning and the alarm went off for him to go potty. I told him to go to the bathroom, and he fussed a little bit because he wanted to keep playing, obviously. I asked him if his underwear were dry and he said no. I asked him if he wet his underwear and he said yes. I told him you can’t play the iPad anymore then, and sent him off to go potty. When he came back he tried to turn the iPad on, and I told him no, what did I tell you? He said disobey. I said what did you do, and he said disobey. I said how did you disobey? He didn’t have a good answer. I said are your underwear dry? He said yes. I said did you potty in your underwear? He said no. I felt his pants and they were dry. So the first time when he told me they were wet, he was wrong/lying/not comprehending the question. If I can’t get a straight answer out of him when the answer is a good one how much can I expect him to understand? How much truth should I expect of him?????

We read and messed around until lunch. Max made pancakes and I cooked some Trader Joe’s goyoza and egg rolls. We got cleaned up and then went to the FedEx office to get Tj’s new phone and ship it to him. We went to the library next and Jack set up a big train track and played with that a good while. Max read a Star Wars book. We went to a Goodwill next and got Jack a pj shirt and pants, and best of all a cat puppet. He’s sleeping with ‘Mew’ right now! So sweet.

When I was putting away the clean clothes tonight I found the fudge we bought at Tillamook! Sorry Tj! It won’t be any good by the time you get back. I didn’t mean to hide it, I just forgot about it.

18 May Thursday

The boys started playing tag this morning about 9, and I’ve already told them no tag in the bus, so I sent them outside​ to play on the playground. Heh. Sometimes it’s good to be the mom.

When they came back in I cleaned out the freezer while they played with playdough. After we had lunch I took a nap and let the boys watch a movie. I sent them out to play again and did some work around here…meal planning, cleaning and such. It was a nice boring day. I don’t know how many more of these Max can stand before he fights with Jack enough that I make us start summer school πŸ™‚

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

30 April Sunday

Meeting up with Jay was awesome today, but it was kind of like hanging out with Fran. Since TJ and I knew that going in it was easier to handle. He never specified an actual meeting place, just agreed when I suggested one. We parked at the fort at the base of the bridge and went inside to look around. Jay said he felt bad that he had never taken his family into the fort all the times he’s taken his friends and family members to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I said don’t worry about it, now you have something new to show them the next time. Tj mostly took care of Jack, and Max and Akira played together while Jay and I did all kinds of catching up. I guess the last time I saw him was when we lived in CA..15 or so years ago!

It was a really pretty area, and we just walked down the river a little bit and talked and talked and talked. Jay and I tried to name every person we could remember from college, and every teacher, and who knows what which person is doing now, and who’s still in architecture and who’s not. It was a lot of fun for me! Jay had suggested packing a picnic lunch and eating at the foot of the bridge, but when it came time to get our lunches out he said what food do you like to eat, let’s go to a restaurant, so off we went. He took Max and Akira in his vehicle and we just followed him. He told us when we got out that the boys had voted and we were having pizza. I was bummed because I was hoping for some really good Thai food, but the pizza place was awesome. We ordered two pizzas, one the boys chose and one large one for the adults. We didn’t think we’d be able to finish them, but in the end we brought home two slices of pizza and one fried cheese stick. Not bad! TJ suggested to me that we would pay and I agreed. When the lady brought the check Jay was surprised obviously, and said you guys are homeless; I help the homeless, I should be paying for y’all! This is shameful, we’re in my hometown and you are paying for me to eat. We all laughed so hard when he called us homeless, and the waitress said you’re homeless? She couldn’t believe that anybody would actually not have a house. She said, but how do the boys go to school? I don’t know if she’d ever met a family that homeschools before.

After lunch we left the trucks and walked some more in Golden Gate Park. We watched a couple of teams play baseball, heard a symphony playing, and then walked through a tunnel and found a playground for the kids to climb on. All in all it was an awesome day. On our way back Jay asked if we were ready for dessert. Since we paid for lunch I think he wanted to repay the favor. We went to The Creperie and there was an amazing looking crepe that I wanted to try with lots of interesting ingredients, walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, and several other things. But in the end I just stuck to old faithful and got strawberries, Nutella and walnuts. It was amazing! We walked back to the truck and split up at that point. What a fun day. On our way home we stopped at a grocery store to stock up, and drove by the Petaluma Creamery. I think we’ll visit that tomorrow.

Since we basically ate two full meals with Jay, when we got home we didn’t need any supper. Max still had 8 math problems left! So we told him to do that while I went outside with Jack to play on the playground right by the bus. This is a beautiful place; the mosquitoes are everywhere, but I haven’t gotten bitten once! There’s a pond on the far side of the playground from our bus, so we always want somebody going out with Jack. There are lots of willow trees around the pond, and a little island in the middle. Everything is so green here. There are also lots of geese squawking and flapping around. The funny thing is there are dog silhouettes on springs around here. I think they’re supposed to scare the geese away but they don’t do that at all. It took both TJ and me a few minutes to realize they weren’t actual dogs at first.

I haven’t looked at any of Max’s finals while he was doing them, because I didn’t know how hard it would be to not tell him to go back and look over his work if I saw that he was doing poorly on something. Since he was doing the same problem over and over, I told TJ we might need to put an end time limit on this math exam. If he were a public school he would have a limited amount of time to do the work, so we gave him 10 more minutes to finish up the last three problems he had. After we told him that I went ahead and looked at how he was doing on his test, and he made an 80. I figured out that even if he got zeros on the last three problems he would still pass the final, so that made me feel pretty good. I think he did get one of the problems correct, but he left the other two blank. In the end he made an 82 percent on his math final. Then TJ wanted to go over all of the problems with him really quickly, but really, how quickly can you go over 10 math problems that you got wrong? We did that though, and then Max said he was hungry. I gave him half a bagel to eat while he was getting ready for bed. Jack was already in bed but absolutely not near sleep since the lights were on and we were all being noisy. I’m so glad that school is over, but I forgot that Max still hasn’t officially turned in his final language arts project and I have to grade it. Ugh!

1 May Monday

We let the boys sleep as late as possible. I know they’re tired these days. I’m so glad school is over though! TJ had a breakfast place picked out for us, but in the end we just got on the road. We first went to check in since we hadn’t been on the base any of the times that the Hop was open. Then we headed back down to San Francisco. I drove over the bridge again and then down Lombard Street while TJ videoed the drive with our circle camera. TJ showed me the Google Map around Lombard and it’s amazing to see all of the grid-like streets and this one wackadoo street. From Lombard we went to Chinatown and TJ found us a parking garage. It was fun looking around there in Chinatown, of course I want to buy a million things, but living in the bus kind of necessitates a minimalist lifestyle. TJ and the boys went to the playground and I shopped for half an hour or so. I found this crossbody bag that I really liked and thought I would try out bargaining to see if they do it here, and apparently they don’t. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

We were hungry about then and it was about 12:15, so we looked on Google and Yelp for a recommendation. We found a Clay Pot restaurant that was nearby so headed there. It was little and cramped and upstairs, but all the round tables have big round lazy Susans on them. Fun! We ordered a mishmash, which is so much fun to do. We got Mongolian beef, sweet and sour chicken, cashew shrimp, and it came with wonton soup and some pot stickers that were heavenly! They were my favorite, especially with the dipping sauce. The sweet and sour chicken was also wonderful because there were big pieces of pineapple in there. The tea they served beforehand was kind of bitter and there was no sugar so it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I drank it all. All in all it was a fun experience and good food. And we left with about half as many leftovers as we started with so we’ll have that soon. Oh, there was also shrimp fried rice. I’ll probably make a Thai peanut sauce to put on top of all the leftovers except the Mongolian beef πŸ™‚

I shopped a little bit more while the boys went back to the playground. When we were all finished we decided to head home. It was still early and we could have seen the Chinese gate or driven down Lambert Street again, but we don’t want everybody to be so tired that we’re all miserable. We headed back home and stopped at the Petaluma Creamery near the base. We all got a scoop of ice cream and picked up some aged cheddar for our ham sandwiches for supper. Somehow at the grocery store last night a box of croissants got knocked over and opened so TJ felt like we should buy them. Twist my arm! We bought some really good ham and now with this awesome cheese we’re having ham and cheese croissants for supper tonight πŸ™‚

We stopped at a little RV repair shop to see about getting a knob for the shower. The boys have stripped the hot water knob so we’ve been using a pair of pliers for the last couple of days. And, honestly, we haven’t been showering much either. This Coast Guard base doesn’t have any sewer hookups. Also, we thought we were getting a 30 amp site, but we actually pulled into the only 50 amp there. Yay for us! So two days of no sewer hookups. I don’t think it’s going to be any big deal because we generally empty every other day when we have full hookups. But we’re going to be careful with our water usage anyway.

We watched What’s in the Bible for church tonight since we didn’t do that yesterday. That is such a good show! I often end up learning something new or remembering something I’d forgotten.

Since Max is finished with all of his other school and we got home early, I looked at his final paper, and then before bed TJ and I graded it. We don’t see eye-to-eye on how to grade it and that was a bump in our road, but we all went to bed early and most of us got a good night’s sleep.

2 May Tuesday

We got out of bed around around 8 this morning, and just started getting ready to go. The boys have been eating granola bars these last two mornings for breakfast so this was the first fried egg sandwich Jack had had in a few days πŸ™‚ Our neighbors across the street from us pulled out this morning so that made us getting out even easier. TJ made a u-turn and pulled into their spot and I did the same and pulled up behind him to hook up the truck. The boys played on the playground while we got ready, and went to the bathroom in the last few minutes, and then we hit the road. We stopped on base to get gas where it’s a good $0.40 cheaper than everywhere off base. We need to measure the height of the bus again, that was one thing we were concerned about with this little bitty gas station. It looked tall enough though, so we just drove in slowly and everything was fine. I planned on buying some ice there, I really miss the Seal Beach ice machine. That was a nice treat πŸ™‚ But at this gas station there was just a Subway. The guy told us to go up the road a bit and take a left and there was a store, but we didn’t feel like all that maneuvering with the bus. I asked how much a cup of ice would cost and he said if I had my own cup it was free! I went out to the bus and got the ice box that we use and headed back in the store, then TJ said maybe I should bring my cup in case he didn’t want me to use the box, so I went back in the bus, dug around and found a big cup and went back into the store. When I got in and had filled up the cup one time I asked the guy if he would mind if I filled up the box and he said no. Score! That’s so nice. We’ve seen countertop ice makers that are about $100 and really want to get one, but I think we’re serious enough about buying a new bus this October that it seems like the best plan would be just to wait. Probably most new buses are going to come with a full size refrigerator and most likely an ice maker, I guess patience is what we need.

3:10 p.m. we had the bus level and Tj was hooking up the sewer so we could run a load of wash before we left to go see redwoods! We stopped at a redwood stump that had been burned out and a door added. It was a cool, small room. Our next stop was to drive through a tree! I drove first, then we switched so we both could take pictures. Then Tj drove the truck up onto a big redwood stump. Lastly there we took pictures of the boys in cute tree houses. Our next stop was to walk into the redwood forest, where we got to stand in some trees. They are so magnificent! So huge! The forest was beautiful! After we got out and walked a bit J said he had to go to the bathroom. We made it back just in time…a big tourist bus of Japanese people unloaded and they all needed to use the bathrooms.

Before getting there, though, I shopped for a wooden bowl. Near the beginning of this trip I started wanting a big wooden salad bowl…I saw several in Goodwill, but they were all so worn. I’m so glad I waited! The gift shop at the RV park had beautiful bowls, but they were all sooooo expensive. Tj said go for it, but I figured we had a day or two to shop. I looked at the store across the street from the tree with a door, and those were also beautiful, and less expensive. It was so hard to choose! I almost bought two (the second one a little one just for cereal or something), but I figured I should stretch out my souvenir buying. I ended up buying a large (too large?) salad bowl. Yea!

3 May Wednesday

We pulled out at 10:30 since our drive is short and checkout is at 11am. We’re right on the coast now, and can see the water amidst all the fog. It makes​ me laugh…we see all this picturesque beauty, and at the same time we’re bumping along in this big crazy camper with our clothes in the dryer drying as we drive. Hillbillies!!

TJ said when we got almost to our stop that we should look for a good seafood restaurant to try around here. We got a recommendation while we checked in at the campground, set up camp and went out to eat. We bought three meals, half a crab sandwich with a cup of clam chowder, beer batter fish and chips, and fried clam strips with coleslaw. It was all good, the crab sandwich had really big chunks of crab that just had a good flavor. I think my favorite was the fried clam strips though.

After lunch we headed over to Walmart to pick up a few groceries, then we went back home and went out to the beach. Tj got us a great spot; the front of our bus overlooks a small levee right out on the Pacific Ocean. The tide was so far out, there was so much sand in front of the water that we could walk on. We probably had to walk out thirty or forty feet to get to actual water. The boys played a good bit, TJ and I brought chairs and sat out on the levee and watched them for a bit. Jack was of course filthy when he came in so we put all of his clothes straight into the washer while he took a shower. I made hot chocolate to warm the boys up, it’s so gray and foggy here. The boys got to watch some cartoons and I took a snooze, and then Tj made sandwiches for their supper. We watched some more of The Force Awakens, that’s such a great movie! We got the boys settled into bed around 8 or 8:30, and he and I watched Arrival before going to bed.

4 May Thursday

We laid around a good bit this morning which was nice, we’re trying to stave off that extreme tiredness that hits with so many days in a row of travel. While the boys ate breakfast TJ and I sat in the front seat just looking out over the ocean. We left the curtains open all night because the view is so beautiful. We packed up a picnic lunch and we’re going to go look for a place to cook some sausages and have sausage sandwiches. I wanted to do the Sky Trail, but it’s closed for maintenance this one day of the year. Lol. It was a 9-minute monorail ride through the tops of the trees. I guess we’ll just have to enjoy the trees from the ground. Now we’re at this big playground and TJ is chasing the boys all over the place. He’s such a great dad!

We had packed up for a picnic lunch before we went to the playground. I loaded up sausages, a bell pepper, and all the other accoutrement for a lunch. TJ packed the little grill and after the park we had to go back for the propane tanks! I razzed him that I packed a million things and he only had to put 2 things in the truck. We drove about half an hour south where we had seen a gorgeous place. It was even more beautiful now that we stopped and got out. The Pacific Ocean was just crashing among such big and little rocks, there was black sand, and across the road were just mountains full of trees. There was an abandoned house there, which made me just daydream about living right there next to the ocean. I think that’s the only way I would ever want to live that close to a highway. We saw a dude who appeared to be living right there since all of his clothing was strewn all over one of the picnic tables there, and he had a bucket full of mussels or clams. I guess he was gathering them to cook and eat there. When we stood out on the big rocks we could see rocks just covered in those animals! It seems like such a neat thing to be able to gather/cook/eat from the land like that.

We didn’t do too badly ourselves, though. Tj got the grill started and I put my big cast iron skillet in it to preheat. I cut up the bell pepper and half the onion and put them in the pot to cook. We had that with sausage, cheese and mustard on big french buns. Yum! The boys played while we cooked. After lunch and playing some more we headed back to WalMart…Tj had seen that they had an ice maker and he decided we had to have one. We’ve been talking and thinking about it for a few weeks, but then I said it could be our Mother’s/Father’s day presents to each other. We were so bummed when we found out they were all gone! The online check Tj did showed 6 in stock, but the lady there checked and said they had none. When we got home Tj ordered one from the next town for us to pick up tomorrow. Patience. Ugh.

I dropped the three boys off at the playground and went home. I unloaded the truck and made pizza dough in case we wanted that for supper. They came home not long after Tj sent me this, “The entire 7th grade just showed up. Max is mad because “all these kids look like they’d say a bad word if they dropped their pencil.” And then one of them did say the B word.”

Tj didn’t really want pizza, but there wasn’t much around here, and we really didn’t feel like driving 30 minutes away…so I made pizza. We watched more Force Awakens. We made the kids shower since we won’t have hookups for the next two days and then went to bed.

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

21 April Friday

We were looking at animal pictures and I said that cat is playing with…and waited for Jack to finish my sentence. Jack said with sweet balls. Heh, Jack does love to play with balls. He used to only say sweet baby, or other obviously sweet things. Lately he’s been branching out and calling other things sweet, and it’s pretty funny sometimes.

I told Jack we could go to the beach today. I felt bad because we were supposed to go yesterday and time got away from me. I think there was a ship out there though, so we would have had to come back. So today I put a swimsuit in the truck and figured if the ship was still there I’d find him a playground. Either way we were getting out of the house. We drove the five minutes down the street to the beach and when I was helping Jack change into his swimsuit I realize he peed his pants! I can’t reward that kind of behavior so we headed on back home. I feel bad for him but when is he ever going to learn? I meant to remind him to go to the bathroom, so I felt a little guilty. But honestly at this point he should know better.

We went home and after a little while I made a bone collector pizza. I had made the dough before we left, so all I had to do was put the pizza together and bake it. I think I’ve found it! Somehow the dough wasn’t right, but everything else was perfect. I don’t know how to fix the dough problem. It just seemed breadier than the restaurant’s dough, drier…next time I’ll try more olive oil on the dough before baking.

22 April Saturday

Max is so funny sometimes. I thought I’d give the boys a treat, so I sent them off to the vending machine with my coin purse and told them they each had a dollar to spend. He bought Jack’s candy first, and the candy machine took his money. So he used his dollar to get Jack’s candy. When he came home I could tell something was wrong but I didn’t know what because I saw candy in his hand. I asked what the problem was and he told me what happened. I was surprised he didn’t just use the rest of the money to get his candy. And it was surprising to me that he didn’t storm in the door angry about what happened, he just seemed resigned. Anyway I wasn’t gonna make them share when it wasn’t his fault. I took him back to get his candy.

He decided he wanted a Snickers bar. I put the dollar in and of course the machine ate the dollar again! At that point I had called the number on the machine and reported that we lost $2. I had a dollar left in nickels and dimes so I decided to chance it and we lucked out, 2 Snickers fell. Max was so happy and kept saying I have two Snickers now! I told him he had a Snickers and I had a Snickers, and he was super crestfallen. All the points I gained for giving him a dollar, I lost for taking one of ‘his’ Snickers away. Sometimes you just can’t win as a parent. We went back home and had a few lessons left and then we were going to the beach. Jack went to the bathroom and when I checked on him I saw that he peed on the floor! Still not winning as a mother. I cleaned him up and emphasized again how to pee without getting it all over. Now we’re at the beach.

Well, maybe I am winning as a parent…Max is staying home by himself where he feels king of the castle, and Jack gets to play at the beach which is one of his favorite things. Filling up a bottle that he found on the beach with water and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out. I’ll probably let him do that for two hours and then we’ll go home.

When it was time to go we found the hose we used the other day and went to rinse off. Jack turned it on and it danced around full of water pressure like you see in the movies…it was so funny!

23 April Sunday

We went to Cerritos Baptist Church again for the 11 o’clock service. When I brought the boys to their class they said they’re on Hawaiian time and class usually starts 20 minutes late. I stood in the hallway and talked to 2 women about our magnificent trip. One of them is named Laura, and now we’re facebook friends. When their class started I headed to church where I’d missed the song service, but a woman was preaching! Doh! Good thing this is our last Sunday here.

I looked at a million places to go out to eat today for lunch, and found a deli with lots of good reviews that makes Reuben sandwiches. I was extremely disappointed when they brought me a pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut, mustard and pickles! That’s not a Reuben!!!!! I was so bummed! Of course when I read their description that’s how they described that sandwich. But really, everyone knows what a Reuben is, and that’s not it. Max got 6 hot wings…I had a bite of one and it was good. I bought Jack the breakfast burrito (chorizo, scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon), which was fine. I ate half of that and gave him half of my sandwich. The burrito was highly praised on Yelp, but I thought it was just ok. Overall the whole thing was a disappointment. I don’t go out to eat much when Tj’s not around so it’s annoying to have my treat not really be a treat.

After lunch Max wanted to go to Goodwill. It took me a few minutes to realize he just didn’t want to go home and finish that one lesson he had left, but I was happy to go shopping. In the end we went to 4 Goodwills and bought a scooter for each boy, a suit jacket for Max and an ice cube tray. Then we went to Walmart which is where I’d planned to go…Tj needs new jeans. While there I bought new pj’s. After I tried them on at home I decided I’d rather have the solid black instead of the gray color so I left both boys getting ready for bed and exchanged my pj’s by myself.

When I got in the truck and plugged my phone in the Pioneer screen just blinked off and on over and over. I was in a hurry so I just used my phone to navigate. I called Tj and chatted with him on the way and then figured out it was probably my phone having problems, not the stereo. I restarted my phone when I got to Walmart and everything worked fine on the way home. I hope I don’t have a repeat of my last phone…where I have to return this phone before they’ll send out a replacement.

24 April Monday

We only have 4 school days left!!

Sadly, today is a fighting day. Jack is bucking everything I say. I asked him to open the curtains, he opens half of them halfway. He asked (like he has the last 4 mornings) to open the windows and I said no…it’s too cold first thing in the morning. He opened them. He got out utensils after I’d already gotten some out and then he wouldn’t put his back. The other day I told him to stand on the world that’s pictured on the rug and he stood with just the barest part of his toes on it. When he does obey it’s with sooooo much disobedience/defiance. It really wears me down. I don’t want to fuss at him all the time, but I can’t let him get away with this stuff. I need a nap. Other things he routinely disobeys on: writing his name the way I tell him to. If I say write your full name he writes his first name and last initial, if I say write just your first name he writes his full name. This is not an understanding problem, it’s a willpower problem. Also, the shoe thing. I try to keep a lot of sand out of the bus. Every time he plays at the playground here he comes back with pants and shoes full of sand. I tell him to stay on the steps in the bus till his shoes are put away. So of course he takes one step into the bus. He usually doesn’t go much farther, he just steps on the rug and waits for me to see. Also the seatbelt. If he’s feeling moody he puts his seatbelt on as slowly as possible and leaves the belt over the arm of his booster, then watches me until I see and fuss at him. This post is depressing.

Sweet things about him: he snuggles with me each morning. In the middle of school a thousand times he’ll stop and reach across the table to give me a hug. He is really wonderful, but also wonderfully ornery.

If this post wasn’t bad enough, this is the day we found out that Max was using the computer inappropriately. He’s on restriction now.

25 April Tuesday

I stayed up late last night watching the rest of Grey’s Anatomy and waiting for the time I needed to leave to pick up TJ. I left the house around 12:30 am, and left the boys sleeping. TJ’s flight went a little long, so I had a little while to read my phone in the truck. After he got in we headed off to Randy’s Donuts again. I was so bummed they didn’t have an apple fritter! We got several things and headed back home where we found the boys still sound asleep. We went to bed ourselves, and of course Tj pulled his usual stunt: I’m not sleepy after he’d been exhausted five minutes before.

We got up and did school today and I made sandwiches for lunch at Tj’s request. Then I asked Tj to read with Jack and I made our end of year cake. Hannah found a wonderful looking cake recipe on fb the other day and I’ve been drooling over it ever since! I took out the butter and cream cheese for the icing last night before bed so it would be room temp when I was ready. Man, making a cake in this tiny place is a feat! I felt like an acrobat doing that with so little counter space while also helping the boys with their school as Tj finished up some work in the back.

While the cake was cooling we headed out to see the beach. I’ve been meaning to stop at the little shopette so we did that on the way. The lady there looked like she didn’t really appreciate little kids coming in; she followed us all around and after TJ told Jack not to touch the emergency exit door she made sure to tell him 3 or 4 more times not to open the emergency exit door. Good thing she was watching us like a hawk!

When we first walked in that store I saw somebody off to the right in my peripheral vision, I thought it was a mannequin. I was so surprised when it moved; it turned out to be another customer leaving the store! I laughed so hard I could hardly say anything, and TJ thought I was surprised and hadn’t seen the guy because he was in camo. That was also funny but not the reason.

When we were finished there we got back in the truck and headed to the beach. Sadly we saw there was a ship out, so we headed back home. Jack was disappointed but he got over it pretty quickly. We sent the boys out to play while I frosted the cake. I realized towards the end that I didn’t have enough frosting…the cake made more than a 11×17 pan, so I made 11 cupcakes also. Tj whipped up a batch of lemon frosting for the cupcakes. Before he was finished with that I made pizza dough for 2 pizzas, and we had buffalo pizza for supper. I think those were the best doughs I’ve ever made! I was so excited! After they rested a minute or two I poured lots of oil on the pan and turned and stretched them in that oil. Maybe that’s the secret!

26 April Wednesday

Today we went to Legoland. It was pretty fun, but after a few hours there we finally asked a dude who worked there what rides were good for older kids. There weren’t really any. I think Legoland is just mainly for kids up through age eight or so. The roller coasters may have been a little exciting for Jack but not so much for the rest of us. They were fun, just nothing that made me ever want to go back there again. We started off at the front letting Max go wherever he wanted and be the one to decide what to do. This day was mostly for him. After a little bit Jack got bored so I took him around and let him take the lead while TJ stayed with Max playing video games. Jack and I rode a little water ride and then we rode a round and round ride. A little bit later we decided to go back and find the rest of the family. It seemed like Max could spend the whole day looking at all the Lego models, especially all the Star Wars creations. Many of the battles were there and there were buttons to press for sound effects and to set the people to fighting or dancing or whatever they were doing. It was also neat to see all the interesting places in the world recreated in Legos: Vegas, New Orleans, Washington, etc. So many of the interesting places were places we have just been to this last year πŸ™‚ TJ started getting bored so I tried to shuttle Max into choosing some roller coasters, and then we saw a build your own boat and float it down little water way exhibit. The boys played with that for a while and then we headed to lunch. We all had Bon Mi sandwiches which were pretty good. It makes me wanna make some sort of marinated veggie slaw to put on our sandwiches and remember to put coleslaw on there too! The one we had was fried pork belly with slaw and cilantro.

After lunch we rode a couple of rides where you shoot bad guys and get points. Then we started looking for the dragon roller coaster, and on our way to it we saw a robotic arm ride. The line was so short I didn’t have a chance to read that there were five different levels of speed on this ride. Jack and I rode together on level 2. You can never tell how he’s going to react to a ride so we just hope for the best. I was told I had to take my earrings off, which kind of surprised me, but it looked pretty fun watching the other people. We strapped in and the guy turned the machine on and I just started laughing, it was so funny. That arm just picked us up and shook us around and around, oh my goodness I could have done that a few more times! Jack, on the other hand, was fussing the whole time. He kept calling my name and saying we’re finished we’re finished! I reached over to try to push his head back; the worst part of the ride was having your head banged around, but we were both in harnesses that came over our shoulders and down over our bellies which made it hard for me to reach his head, and yet I still laughed the whole time! TJ and Max rode it on a level 5 and I got a little video of that. After that we went through it again and Max rode by himself on level 1 and TJ and I rode on level 5. I much preferred level 2 just because of the head knocking around business.

The whole ride was 3 robotic arms reaching up from the ground, all set in a pool of water. When Jack and I were on it the first time I saw someone’s cell phone in water. When Tj and I rode it I asked the ride operator why the phone was still there. She said it was dropped this morning and they were only allowed to stop the ride and go into the water for certain things like medication and keys. Not phones. Doh!

We rode a couple more roller coasters after that, they were fine, just nothing exciting to talk about. About 4:30 we started heading back to the front because the whole place closes at 5. Right at the entrance was a minifigure shop so we let Max go in and look around and then bought him 3 mini figures. When we got back to the truck we searched around for a place to eat for a bit. I said that BBQ was kind of calling to me and found a place that had more than a thousand reviews, so we went there. I needed to parallel park on the passenger side, and the traffic was somewhat low so I set about about doing that, but I quickly realized it wasn’t working out. I asked TJ to help me, and the second time he told me when to cut the wheel. I was lining up properly, just not lining up properly for my first turn. I forgot that I needed to be about even with the back of the front car before turning. My second time I got us all in perfectly! And that was even with realizing at the beginning of the second time that there was somebody sitting in the car ahead of me waiting to pull out…it was a cop!! I kept my cool though and parked and we went to the restaurant. At first Tj said I hope it’s not that restaurant across the street because that looks too much like a bar and I don’t feel good about taking the kids in there. Haha! That was it of course. When we got closer though it looked fine. And that was a good thing cuz it turned out to have awesome BBQ! He read about the dirty fries on the way there so we got that for the appetizer. That consisted of wonderful french fries, macaroni and cheese sauce, pulled pork and jalapenos on top. The boys and I split the barbecue sampler which came with brisket, sausage which was heavenly, and ribs which were also pretty good. TJ got a brisket plate that was awesome. We brought back enough food to probably feed us again.

On our way home there was a semi pulling two trailers in our lane ahead of us by a few car lengths. I noticed it weaving left and right left and right in an alarming manner. I backed off a little bit and then zoomed around it. Fewf!

One funny thing I noticed about CA but haven’t thought to mention till now is how surprising to me it is to see oil derricks right in the middle of the city. I had this notion that CA was a mecca for people who were supremely earth conscious, and that it would just be clean and wonderful living here. I’ve been here before, but it’s been several years. I don’t know what I was thinking, no one area/state is ever fully homogenized. But I was surprised at the congestion (both in traffic and in tons of houses all crammed together on a hillside…like a neater version of Mexico) and oil derricks in this state.

27 April Thursday

We got up and worked on our second to last day of school! Woohoo! Around 2 or 3pm I asked TJ if we were going to the beach what time should we go. He said right now, so we wrapped up school, got our chairs and left.

We didn’t stay too long at the beach. It was colder than the other times I’ve been and TJ didn’t bring a jacket. We headed back to the bus and started packing up the outside stuff a little bit while Jack took a shower and got ready for tonight. We left at 5 for the pirate show. There were hour durves, they were probably all frozen prepared kids foods, but they were good. There were fried mozzarella sticks which were my favorite, fried macaroni and cheese bites which were TJ’s favorite, salami and cheese on french bread, ham and cheese on french bread, BBQ meatball on french bread, and we also went and got a plate of veggies with ranch dip. TJ got us all drinks and we sat at a little table and ate and laughed and talked until the the pre-show show started. Max and another boy his age walked around and played a bit, and then we had the pre-show.

After that we were all ushered into the dining area and got front row seats there. It was a good show, but again not quite as much fun as Dixie Stampede I guess. It did have my favorite part of all three of those types of shows though. I love it when the people dance with the huge strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, they roll themselves up in it twisting the fabric around their bodies and then unroll quickly toward the earth. I just think it’s amazing what humans can do when they work that hard. It’s amazing to me to see the muscles and the poise that comes from years of training. I know I could do that with my body if I just worked that hard, but I have very little interest in sacrificing that much!

28 April Friday

Max has 5 reviews, and 5 finals today and he needs to finish his autobiography. I think he has about a hundred words left to write and then to refine his autobiography. I hope this is his last day of school, but with the craziness that travel brings I won’t be surprised if he needs to do some of his work tomorrow.

I had kind of an epiphany yesterday as our whole family was on a walk by the base. We were talking about Jack wetting his pants and I said something about if it was like math where I knew he just didn’t understand it that would be one thing, and it made me think that maybe it is like math, maybe he just doesn’t have the capability to not pee his pants. He hasn’t had an accident in years that made a puddle on the floor, but he often has accidents that leave a significant visible spot on his pants. I think I want to stop punishing him for wetting his pants, just reiterate how sad his dad and I are when he does that.

Its 2:40 and we’re about 40 minutes away from our stopping point today. Max has taken 3 reviews and 3 final exams. He’s made an A on all finals so far: Bible, language arts and science. We decided to let him go watch TV with Jack for the rest of our ride and then he can take his other two finals tomorrow on our way up to San Francisco.

We checked in and pulled into our spot. We unhooked the truck, leveled the bus quickly, hooked up the water and electricity, turned the a/c’s on and hit the road. We drove a little over an hour to the San Andres Fault. There was a woman there from a geology museum that I talked to a bit and then we walked around a bit and took some pictures. There wasn’t much to see…I was surprised that it was a creek at this time, but it’s cool to think we walked from one tectonic plate to the other. That may not be the only time we’ve done that, but it was the only time I knew it when I did it!

On the way there I had Max bring his laptop and work on his final project…his autobiography turned story of our trip. He turned it in and now only has Math and History review/final. For real. I probably already said he was almost finished but I’d forgotten about this 700 word autobiography he had to do.

Tj and I looked on Yelp for places to eat. There was a cafe there at the tiny town at the fault I kinda wanted to try, but Tj wasn’t hungry and we had no internet connection to see if they had any reviews. Of course when we got back to the bus he had to tell me they had a good rating. We finally settled on going back to the bus. While the boys set up camp I reheated our leftover french fries/rosemary potatoes, put cheese on the top, put an egg on top of that for the boys, and heated up bbq pulled pork and ribs to also put on the top of mine and Tj’s. We watched The Force Awakens while we ate supper and finished off the cake. I really don’t know how good that cake was, but the icing was amazing!!

29 April Saturday

Well, we knew we would be a little late, but the bed fiasco meant we pulled out at 10:40. I awoke at 7:30 with the alarm. Actually I was awake before that…we slept with the windows open again (like we have almost every night since Tucson), and the light from the bathroom skylight/fan shone like a flashlight in my eyes. Tj woke up about 7:45 when Jay/Karit was fb messaging me about meeting up tomorrow. How does fb messager override the DND setting on my phone? This is the dumbest DND setup I’ve ever heard of. I was so excited that I got a tangible button on the side of my phone to mute it, but it bugs me to no end that the in-app alert on Textra alarms even with DND set. And now this one. Oh well. Technology isn’t perfect, but so much of it is really nice to have.

Back to getting ready to go. We decided to all shower this morning since we won’t be hooked up to sewer these next two days. Also, Tj wanted to flush the back black in case we had a blockage. So maybe we should’ve gotten up earlier? Nah. We got almost everything done, truck all hooked up and everything, and then the bed.

We’ve had troubles with it since that Florida trip the first year, but at least we’ve been able to get it up and down. These last few times I’ve pushed up on the right side as we’re putting it up to help it along, and we thought all was fine. But this morning the left side would go up a couple of revolutions and then stop! I tried pushing up on that side and couldn’t get it to budge. Then I pushed the button and Tj pushed up on that side and it worked fine, but then the right side wouldn’t go up enough to put the pin in. Ugh. We stayed calm and tried a few other things…I even suggested having Max come in and press the button while both Tj and I pushed up on the bed…but before we resorted to that we got it up. I think we shouldn’t put the bed down until we get to our next long stop in about 2 weeks, but Tj thinks we’re good to go again…that it got off track but now we know how to keep it on track. I guess we’ll see!

We stopped at about 1 o’clock to gas up the bus. There was a Wendy’s connected to the gas station so we had lunch there. TJ turned the Honda off, so we had to redo the tow vehicle/three minute deal before we left. After we checked the lights and I was heading back into the bus the car alarm went off in the tow vehicle! Later we figured out that it was the panic button on the other set of keys in TJ’s pocket that must have set it off. Fortunately that was our only excitement at the gas station. We got back on the road and I texted Jay a little bit about where we’re going to meet tomorrow.

I’m having fun. Tj tells me I’m playing Sigourney Weaver’s part in Galaxy Quest. I’m repeating everything Google says to him about how to get where we’re going today. And I just stuck my whole body out of the bus to adjust the side mirror that just got whacked by a tree. Good Times!

For supper I made a dish similar to a Pioneer Woman dish: I cooked a pound of turkey, added some black beans and other stuff, and added in some tortillas that I had laid on a burner to toast a little bit. I just ripped those up and put them in. It was good, but I think next time I need to over season the meat so that when we add lettuce and Greek yogurt etc you’ll still get that good flavor. I think I’m not going to buy anymore Cotija cheese either, because it doesn’t have a lot of flavor itself. Cheddar would have been better than that. And next time I’ll use 8 tortillas to a pound of ground beef.

Friday, April 21st, 2017

15 April Saturday

Last weekend Max found some kids to play with at the playground: Caroline, Avery, Hudson and Ethan.

Today he made a sign on our big whiteboard that said “Come play with my Legos” and Kaden, Gavin and Noah came to play. They were all closer to Jack’s age, and they rode their bikes a lot with Jack and played Legos with Max. It was awesome! I talked to their mom and dad, and they said after they went to the beach they’d have smores and we could come over for that. Wonderful! I offered to make some popcorn to share.

After it got dark they said the boys were showering. Then we saw them start a fire. I made the boys supper and then made Max clean up all his Legos while we waited for them to come get us. We waited and waited. Later we could see someone else sitting at their fire. I finally figured that they had changed their minds…it seemed so awkward…Max really wanted to go over there, but I didn’t feel right about us just bringing over our chairs, we needed to wait till they came and got us. Finally we gave up and I sent Jack to shower and get in his pj’s. When he was out and drying off one of the boys came and got us! We had such a good time out there chatting and eating. I’m glad we waited them out! But boy were my boys tired when we got back home!

16 April Sunday

I did some research and found Cerritos Baptist Church to go to this morning. I figured the boys would both sit in service with me, but when we got there a lady asked what ages/grades the boys were, and said there was an Easter egg hunt…so I sent both boys into the 5th grade class so Max could keep an eye on Jack. Afterwards Max said he really liked this church and wants to go back next week…I’m not sure if it was the church or just the egg hunt that he really liked.

I enjoyed the service. There was a group of about 6 women who Hula danced to the special songs….that was new to me, but enjoyable. It didn’t seem hokey or put on. I wouldn’t have chose that type of worship if I’d had my choice, but I’m surprised at how much I liked it. I love the broadening of horizons that’s happening on this road trip for all of us!!

I saw a grocery store on the way to church, so we stopped for some bread on the way back. Apparently H Mart is a Korean grocery store! I love looking at new foods…and love tasting them more! This store had tons of free samples so we tried Korean pears, chips, ginger/honey tea, etc! Again, I bought way too many foods, but they didn’t have the french bread that I came in for! Heh.

A strange thing has happened to me lately…it’s been fairly easy to deny myself extra food. I’ve always loved to eat. The taste of food is so wonderful! I’ve known for many years how to lose weight, and at times I’ve done really well with my weight. These last few years I’ve kept my weight at a reasonable place all year, but from Thanksgiving till my birthday I’ve let myself eat whatever I wanted. Lately I’ve been thinking I should eat whatever I want, just a smaller amount. But that’s sooooo hard!! Amazingly these last 2 or 3 days it’s been much easier to just stop eating! I’m so thankful, but I don’t know why it’s changed. I’ve not been so tempted. I’ve stopped eating between meals, and stopped nibbling while I am making the boys’ meals. I hope I can keep this up long term. I’m making sure that everything I eat is something I really want to eat, and I remind myself I’m not eating till I’m full, but until I’m not hungry. Hopefully I can make this a habit that sticks…but with our traveling and with the other people I live with it will be tough.

During lunch I boiled some eggs to dye, then took a nap with Jack. After we awoke we dyed them together.

Max put up a new board with all the stuff he likes…the actual wording was: Come play with me! I have Legos and I like Undertale, Minecraft, role playing, Lost, Dr. Who, Pokemon, Scratch. I’m a Christian, my name is Max. This cracks me up! I’m so proud of him. Later that day out of the blue he told me he’d met a lady named Lynn. I’d allowed him to take Jack to the laundry room to look at magazines (they have a large stack of free ones there) and she was in there. She asked if he was homeschooled and when he said yes she said his mom was so smart to not put him in PS. Ha! She asked if he was a Christian and he said yes. I asked if that’s why he put that on his sign and he said no. He put it on there because he didn’t want people to talk to him about evolution and other stuff like that! Great. So he’s not trying to be a witness, just trying to shut people up. Huh, may have to work on that. πŸ™‚

17 April Monday

I had 5 phone calls to make, and got them all done before lunch! I made reservations for all the camping places, and also for the pirate show we’re going to see next week.

After school Jack and I went to ITT to buy the pirate tickets and also tickets to Legoland for next week. Before I left I actually meal planned for the week so we also went to the grocery store. I allowed Max to go outside after he finished school, but before I got back. This is major first. I feel a little safer because we’re on a base, and the store I was going to was a 5 minute drive off base. I’ll have to talk to Tj to see what he thinks. I told Max to text me when he went outside so I could keep tabs on him.

Later that afternoon there were 3 other kids here playing with Max! His sign worked wonders! Awesome! He misses his friends from Cabot a good bit, so I’m always happy for him to have other people to play with. After a while I heard the girl (Shae) asking someone (Blaze) to leave. When all the kids left to ride their bikes I asked Max what happened. He said he’d asked Shae to ask Blaze to leave because Blaze was throwing Legos around, and tearing up other people’s builds. He said he realized he shouldn’t have asked Shae to do that, but he really didn’t want to do it himself. I said did he see now how easily it was done; she was respectful when she asked him and he left after she asked him twice. I told him he should come to me next time, and then asked if he’d thanked Shae and he said he had. I really like Shae and her brother Zach, they’ve been here a lot today playing with both Max and Jack.

Our neighbor came over and asked if we could use a chicken breast and 3 sweet potatoes they were going to cook on their grill…and said if we ever wanted to throw something on their grill when they were using it they usually had room. How nice! And I’ve eaten my first sweet potato with salt on it…it was good! A few days ago I had savory sweet potatoes for the first time and loved them. I roasted them with s/p and thyme. We’ll be having that more often for sure.

I just heard Jack in the bathroom reciting to himself
Ironing board…storage
Black ball…storage
Other home…storage
This life is awesome, but we do miss some things.

I folded Max’s clothes today. His two cabinets he has for clothes are pretty small and awkward. I kept having to refold his clothes, and I hate doing that! I quickly told him that I wouldn’t fold his clothes anymore if he wasn’t gonna keep them folded in the cabinets, so we’ve been just shoving his clothes in there. He’s fed up with it now, so I rolled all his shirts and folded his pants/shorts. We’ll see how long this lasts.

18 April Tuesday

Jack has been doing wonderful in math! I started him back on addition last week, and he’s asked to do the addition page again today.

After school we drove down to the private beach here on the base. I was told just drive down this road and if you don’t see a big ship you’re okay to go out to the beach. I drove down the road, stopped at the checkpoint where there wasn’t a person in the booth, and found some visitor parking, but I didn’t see a beach. We went into a couple of empty buildings to see if anyone was around to ask, and finally headed back to the truck. Before I got in the truck I saw an older couple driving past so I flagged them down and ask them about the beach. I just needed to follow the road, go right at the stop sign, and follow the road around a curve to the beach. It was pretty awesome to have a small little beach all to ourselves. The sand was warm which was unusual because the sand in San Diego had been cold the whole time. The beach was calmer because it was kind of a small inlet. There were rocks around the beach that help calm the waves. We stayed there for an hour and a half; I talked to Tj most of the time. He was driving out to Cabot to see John and John Paul and to have a burger and fries at David’s! Boy am I jealous! We came back home after that and the boys played with their friends for a long time while I made sausages with onions and bell peppers for supper.

19 April Wednesday

Monarch hasn’t been working well today, so we’ve been having lots of breaks. That’s more frustrating on the 8th to the last day of school than it would be on the 8th day of school. Even with all the stops and starts Max got all his school done.

I made a little fruit salad today to take to our neighbor who had brought us the chicken and sweet potatoes. The other day at H-Mart I bought us a fresh coconut with a straw for a treat, so today I used the last of the fresh coconut that I scooped out from it in the salad. I didn’t make it as sweet as I normally like it because she said she wasn’t really a sweets person. I also spent all morning reading the comments to the chocolate cake recipe that I’m planning on making next week. It’s making me so hungry for some of that!

In school I told Jack to get out four different colors. He got out blue, yellow, red, and yellow. I told him two of the colors were the same and asked him which ones they were. He pointed to the blue and yellow ones. I said what color is this one? He said blue. I said what color is this one? He said yellow. I said they’re not the same color, one is blue and one is yellow. Two of these colors are the same. Which ones are the same? He pointed to the red and the yellow. This went on for a few minutes before I finally switched the colors so that the two yellows were together. Then he could identify the same colors. Wow.

20 April Thursday

Just another regular day. It was nice. We did school (7 days left!) without incident. Monarch is back on track. I washed Jack’s comforter in the laundromat…the washer was big enough and laundry is free here. Jack and I put a blanket outside and read his book picnic-style. After a while an older dude came by and while he and I were chatting the boys got into a fight! Max had been burning stuff with a magnifying glass, and Jack wanted the glass. I don’t think we should ever let him have that one now or he may set our bus on fire! I hate it when my kids have a knock-down drag-out fight, especially in front of other people!

For supper I made thyme potatoes and spam sandwiches. The spam was good! Admittedly it was the kind with bacon in it, but we all liked it.

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

We played Sequence For Kids the other day, and when I gave Jack his cards he held his hand with all the cards facing out. He played a few rounds like that before I fixed them.

He had the word gorilla in Gemiini this week…he often pronounces it “gorillilla”, which is super cute!

28 March Tuesday

I cut my hair by myself! I’ve been working up to this for a few days/weeks…psyching myself up, watching a ton of youtube videos. So since I’d prepared so thoroughly and decided that I should wait till Tj was around in case I needed some help, I did it on the spur of the moment just after he’d left for work, and during school time. Heh. It turned out pretty good, though. I tied a rubber band around my dirty, dry hair at the nape of my neck. I made sure it was straight both left to right and front to back, and then hacked away. It took a long time to get it cut through! I tied a bag around my neck with a big opening at the back to catch most of the hair.

When I was finished it looked good! It was longer than I wanted, and a tiny bit longer on one side, but I was more confident; the next time I cut my hair it’ll be even better.

I made an awesome salad for lunch with avocado, tomatoes and cilantro and we ate that over lettuce.

We went to the beach from 3:30-5:30. By the time we leave here I’ll be a lot more comfortable with parallel parking as well!

On the way back home we saw the truck that sits atop the concrete barrier on the bridge and moves it to change the number of incoming/outgoing lanes! I didn’t even know there were such trucks.

We went to Big Thyme for supper. I’d searched online for a Reuben sandwich, and this one was fine, but I wouldn’t go back. Now I want a really good one! The boys shared a good turkey, bacon, avo sandwich. While it was being made the boys played Mario Cart, and after eating the owner played it against Max. He told me that he wasn’t gonna let Max win everything like I do, he was gonna show him that you don’t always get your way. This made me chuckle since he’d already talked about how polite my boys were and said that his kids would just yell at him and demand what they wanted instead of asking. Yeah, I see how he shows his kids the way the world works.

We went home then and Jack jumped outside on the trampoline while Max showered. Then Max role played with his friend from Christmas Island while Jack got ready for bed.

I talked to Mom this morning and Papa is doing so well now. She said he’d spent the last 5 months in the bed, and it had been 6 months since he’d driven! I’m so grateful he’s getting more independent now.

29 March Wednesday

Around 10 Johnny asked me to come to finalize the paperwork to get a new stereo in the truck! While there I walked over to an ATM to withdraw the first payment. After I walked inside the bank, and the out to the drive-thru ATM and got the money, I walked the other way around the bank back to Johnny’s shop and saw the walk-up ATM. Heh. Oh well. I’m so excited about this stereo! And worried. And hopeful/excited!

We finished up school when I got back, and went to the beach again before supper. Before we went to bed we cleaned out all the stuff from the truck so I could drop it off tomorrow morning.

30 March Thursday

Johnny told me to drive the truck there at 10. I double checked that he didn’t want me to call first and he said no. Of course when I got there he told me he was the only one there and couldn’t leave the shop…he called his other guy and it would be about an hour before he got there. So why didn’t he call me 15 minutes ago and​ tell me this? Whatever.

I went to Sally Beauty to get some thinning shears for my next haircut attempt. On the way back home just as I’d passed his shop Johnny called to say his guy was there. I made a u-turn and picked Johnny up so he could drive my truck to his shop after dropping Jack and me off at home. Now we’re stranded, but I’m a hermit so it’s no biggie.

31 March Friday

At noon I got the truck!!! The pockets Johnny had weren’t the right size for the truck, so we still have components that don’t work there. Now the hard part…learning how to use this monster!

After Max finished school we cleaned the truck thoroughly. I’m sad we let the leather on the front seats crack so badly!

When Tj was available we texted back and forth about the stereo. He told me to call Johnny to fix the USB…apparently Johnny didn’t follow Tj’s directions about which cable we need since I have an android, not an iPhone. I went to his shop around 4 and instead of changing the cable out, he just installed 2 more! Although my phone connects to the stereo by Bluetooth for music, I have to plug it in to display the GPS. I sat in the truck trying to display it after Johnny added the cables. After a few minutes Johnny came out and got in my truck. I told him what I was trying to do and he seemed apologetic, but said that he didn’t think it would work like we thought. He seemed to think we’d have to order another part to ever display GPS. He went inside to his computer to research it a bit and I called Tj. He said he’d specifically picked this stereo for this, and we just had to work it out. It only took about another minute or two before we got it! I ran inside to tell Johnny and he was relieved.

I programmed Walmart into the GPS and off we went. I saw Aldi on the way and stopped there and bought way to many great looking foods. We went to Walmart next to get the things Aldi didn’t have, but on the way there the phone just disconnected from the stereo!!! Ugh!!! I reset it again, but missed a few turns again when it disconnected once more. I can’t wait till Tj comes home and helps me out of this fix!

I wanted to grocery shop since we were already out, and I’d planned on having ice cream for supper the day I got the stereo, so we finally made it into Walmart. I just found a recipe for a Reuben casserole and I need meat and cheese for it. Ugh!!! This Walmart doesn’t have a deli counter!!! Stupid. I’ll have to stop at Von’s on the way home for the corned beef/pastrami.

I found a gas station on the way home since my gas light came on. Gassing up in CA is annoying…I looked for the cheapest place I could find, and didn’t see the note above the pump that they only take debit cards. That took a few minutes and a trip inside. Then the pump didn’t start, so I asked another customer for help…but he had no idea either. I started over and it finally worked, but there’s no lock for the gas pump, and I swear those pumps are tight! They’re much harder to squeeze than pumps in other states.

We finally made it home and I was the best mom ever for having ice cream for supper.

1 April Saturday
I made the boys chocolate chip pancakes for the second time, got them all settled in, and then cut my hair again. This time I used 2 barrettes to get my hair in about the same place as the last time, but more evenly spread across. With the rubber band cut the front of my hair was longer and angled down along my chin. It was good, but it didn’t look different from the front than before the cut. This time it was more a straight-line bob.

Jack and I went to pick TJ up at the airport around 5:15pm. We got to watch his plane land! I let Jack stand up on the console with his head out of the sunroof and he loved it! I told TJ before I went to get him that I had 2 errands to run, so we went to Home Depot and got a board cut to use as our door lock. Then TJ was hungry so we looked around for a restaurant. I said fried chicken was calling to me since I didn’t have my chicken craving filled the last time we had hot wings. He found the Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken and we placed an order for that sitting in the parking lot. It said it would be ready in 40 minutes! We drove to closer to where it was and then looked around for a grocery store for my second errand.

After I got what I needed we went and parked a block away from the restaurant and TJ and Jack walked down the street to get our food. We got back home pretty late and ate, and it was really good! I bought this monster chicken sandwich; I had to take half of the chicken off just so I could fit it in my mouth! There was a fried egg on it, coleslaw, fried chicken, and fried chicken skin! That chicken skin was awesome. I do have to say it didn’t have much flavor/seaaoning, so I dipped it in some buffalo chicken sauce we had here and it was amazing! We ate as much as we could, wrapped up the rest for later, and all got in the bed. TJ was wiped out.

2 April Sunday

We had a really lazy day today. I finally got TJ out of bed at 10:45. I made Reuben casserole, and everybody liked it. I thought it was okay, TJ says it would have been better if I put more Thousand Island on it before baking it. We will definitely eat that a lot more.

I bought a basil plant Friday night, and Saturday morning it was starting to wilt. By this morning it was ridiculously practically dead. I finally talked TJ into going to the store with me to exchange it, and he also wanted to check out the gas station situation for the bus. We left Jack and made a date of it. We also bought a whole lot more fun food than we should have. I was glad that they let me exchange that plant with no problem, and though I explicitly followed the directions with the new one it still wilted by the next morning. I guess that’s just the way it goes.

I made bruschetta for supper and it was heavenly! I forgot to buy garlic to rub on the bread, but it was awesome with just some minced garlic thrown in with the tomatoes.

3 April Monday

We got up on time and started school. There are only 19 more days of school left! I want to get this finished!

We planned to go to the beach today, so after we finished school, ate lunch, and took a nap we asked Jack if he wanted to go to the beach. He said no! I never expected that in a hundred years. We asked him again and one more time again, and he kept saying no! So we didn’t go to the beach. We walked down to the entrance and played at the playground there. We met a family with twin 4 year old boys. One of the boys played with Jack a lot, he and Jack seemed about the same mental age. He wanted to play hide-and-seek so Jack went to hide: he stood on top of a rock at the other end of the playground. Heh.

The other boy has autism, the mom told me later, and has a vocabulary of four words now. I have often been grateful that Max came before Jack. I know I was a lot more relaxed about Jack because of having had Max whose development was so typical. I would have been so super stressed if Jack had been my first child. And I know Jack benefits from having Max to watch and emulate. He absolutely wants to do everything that Max does now. It’s pretty sweet to see. But how funny to have twin boys that are so different. Either way, life is one big learning experience the whole time I think.

While we visited and the boys played together TJ and Max went around and did all the exercise stations that were there at the park. Then we all went on a family walk and went on an overpass and watched the traffic for a little bit. The walk back to the bus was a small dirt path between high grass on either side. It reminded me so much of all the summers in the pasture across the street from my house, bringing a book and reading out there, playing in the pine trees Pawpaw planted years ago. Good memories. Being on that overpass also remind me of the time we were driving home after church trip, I think to Six Flags over Texas, when some kids on an overpass threw eggs down and they went through the glass of the bus and landed in my hair etc. I think Greg Swanson was driving.

TJ made 50/50 Burgers, half bacon and half filet mignon. They were super awesome, and super messy as always.

We watched 2 episodes of lost. Jack has cried twice now while we’ve watched that…we can’t watch anymore with him, poor bug. Too many people getting beat up! Until now he just hadn’t been very aware of what was going on in the show. I’ll miss the show, but it’s a good step for him!

4 April Tuesday

We checked out around noon and headed to Seal Beach. We gassed up on the way, and thankfully everything went smoothly.

After we checked in we sent the kids over to the playground and washed the bus.

5 April Wednesday

Got up at the usual time and the boys started school. We adults got ready and we all headed out to Hollywood. We saw the sign on the drive in. We went to the movies and saw Beauty and the Beast. We walked almost a mile to a little restaurant and had poutine for lunch. One original and one w pulled pork, bacon and gravy. We ordered 2 meal sized poutines and she also gave us an extra box of plain fries. There was so much food! I’m excited to take our leftovers and see if I can get them to taste almost as good as the gooey fries we had at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant.

We had Ghirardelli ice cream for supper at 4. It was in the Disney store so we looked around a bit. We sat at the bar facing the street and watched people paying to take photos in a car…a Lamborghini if I remember. Heh. We were both disappointed with the ice cream. It was fine, but no better than Blue Bunny. I don’t think I’ll be tempted by them again.

We headed home and dropped the boys off at the playground while we went for a walk. The boys had pb sandwiches and Tj had garlic naan with cheddar for second supper.

6 April Thursday

We did school, had meats and cheese for lunch, and then went to Medieval Times. It was good, but not as good as Dixie Stampede. The same sorts of things went on…mostly skill with horses, but I think there was more story here to follow, which is hard…it was hard to hear/understand the storyline. With Dixie Stampede it was more skill, a person balancing on two horses, etc. One thing I think we haven’t seen with Dixie Stampede was this place had a trained falcon flying around at one point.

We went to cold stone creamery, then to WM for a clasp for my bracelet and a few groceries. We got home around 9:15pm.

7 April Friday

My new phone came in!! Tj plugged it in to charge and we headed out to the La Brea Tar Pits. That was a fun place…so funny and interesting to see tar bubbling up right there in downtown LA! It was cool looking in the ‘fishbowl’ at the scientists sorting through bones they’re still finding in the pits. We watched a 3D show about evolution/tar, and walked around a bit till we were ready to go.

Then we headed to In and Out Burger for some plane watching. I’d read about it on FTF…we ate at the outside tables at the restaurant and then took a picnic blanket across the street to a little green space and watched planes land next door at the airport. They were so low!! I got a great picture of one right overhead.

8 April Saturday

Since we skipped school yesterday we did it today. Max made a C on his math which isn’t the best, but he was acting like it was the end of the world. We started going through the problems and lo and behold he confessed to having been using the calculator! Since Christmas!!! I remember him asking me if he could use one and I said no, so this was a really big deal. Tj and I discussed what to do while he went back to work.

Last night Tj found us a Korean place for lunch today. We went there and I signed the page on the clipboard to keep our place in line. We’d decided to order a meal for 3 since Yelp reviews said there was way too much food. At the end Tj decided to also get bimbimap…and the reviews were spot on. We walked out with enough food to feed us all again. I loved the variety…that’s usually my favorite thing to do…have a little bit of a lot of foods. The octopus was my favorite, along with the vinegar sauce they gave us to dip the beef in.

We headed home and got Tj ready to leave in the morning. The light over the sink has gone out again so I asked if he would fix it before he left. He looked online to find a replacement and there was an RV place close by with the part…and also lots of RVs to look at!!! We’d love to get something a little better suited to the fulltime life, so we spent way too much time looking at new RVs.

After that, surprise! Tj found us another ice cream place! We went to the beach part of town and had some wonderful ice cream for supper.

When we got back home and the boys were getting ready for bed I started heating up the poutine for their supper. When TJ went outside to dump so he’d be ready to shower in the morning he saw that we had hit the bollard with the slide out! How could we not have seen that??!!?? We debated over what to do…it was barely touching our slide-out…and we were cranky…we needed sleep! Tj had to get up super early in the morning so we really needed to go to bed, but he couldn’t leave us with this mess. In the end we moved the bus about a foot forward…but that meant pulling in all the slides and supports. We didn’t unhook anything so I stayed outside making sure nothing got run over. Fun.

9 April Sunday

We left about 4:30am to bring Tj to work. He’d found Randy’s doughnuts and put it on our big bus trip map, and since it was pretty close to the airport I ran over to get some after we dropped him off. I was really low on gas again so I found a place to fill up nearby. I’m using my phone on my dash again until we get a new cable…we found what worked for my old phone, but my new phone uses a USB-C cable so here we go again. I was worried about filling up in this area since it was still dark out, but we got it done and headed home.

We got home and amazingly Jack fell asleep! Of course he only slept about 10 mins, but it’s obvious he needs to catch up on his sleep after these few days of sightseeing.

When we all got up and the boys had breakfast Max started working on school again and Jack and I headed out to Goodwill. Max’s school will take a bit longer now…he has to do all his math by hand in his notebook and then enter it into the computer. The bad thing is that means I have to review all the math he does, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I may have lost my Goodwill mojo, or it may just be that I can’t buy much since we live in such a tiny place. Oh well. We had lunch and then took a nap. Lovely. After supper we watched What’s in the Bible for Church. We decided we’ll watch it all the way through from the beginning to the end, and of course next week is Easter. Heh.

10 April Monday

I called around looking for a dentist on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. It only took the second call to find someone who had openings for me and the boys! I was able to make an appointment for Jack for today, and Max and I have appointments on the 27th. When I’m there with Jack today I’ll ask if there is any way we can move that time up. That’s during the time that TJ is home, and I prefer to get this done when he’s not here.

The dentist’s office is beautiful, lots of large windows. They say on a clear day you can see the Hollywood sign, and of course it’s hazy today. All the technicians and dentists are super nice and they’re now all in love with Jack. The dentist asked if she could take him home πŸ™‚ She got x-rays done, and his teeth cleaned and flossed. I’m going to start flossing his teeth a couple times a week. I need to get him and Max in a habit of flossing. When I was checking out I mentioned to the receptionist that Max and I were hoping to move our appointments up, and she has two appointments for tomorrow morning! I’m so thankful we’ll get this taken care of now.

11 April Tuesday

Max and I went to the dentist this morning, and both had pretty good checkups. I have five not quite cavities, but will become cavities sooner if I don’t do something about it now.

I’m teaching Jack to floss tonight and I tell him take your flosser and go stand in front of the mirror please. He goes into the dark bathroom, doesn’t turn the light on, and starts flossing in front of the mirror that’s too tall for him to see himself in. After a full minute I went in there and told him he had to find a mirror where he could actually see himself.

Also tonight as he was showering he was in there so long I finally went and checked on him. It’s a good thing I did; he was sitting in water that was about half an inch from the rim of the shower stall. I can’t wait till he can tell me that we need to dump, or any other common sense thing.

12 April Wednesday

I’m still not taking flonase! I really wonder how much longer this can last, it’s probably been about a month and a half since I stopped.

I thought today would be a stay-at-home day, but I needed to go get our packages. The USPS doesn’t deliver here on base so that was my first stop, to pick up my phone case and screen protectors. I hate using my phone without a case! Not only do I worry about getting scratches on it (which affects resale value), but I press all the buttons all the time! Then I had to drive out to Compton to get our other packages. On the way home we stopped at Goodwill and I blatantly used Jack to make my way into Goodwill bathroom. After that we hit up the Walmart for groceries and Easter goodies.

TJ got his schedule today so we started planning our route up through San Francisco to see some redwoods and then out of California. Planning is so tricky, I’m grateful that TJ generally does all of that!

I think my new cord works; I hope and pray it does. It got me all the way to Goodwill, then to Walmart, then home. I’m still working all the bugs out…it really is just figuring out how it all works. Thank goodness though that I can actually see the screen. The first several days of using it the screen was dark enough that I couldn’t wear my sunglasses and see the screen. I think we figured out that I have to keep my headlights off in order for the screen to be bright enough to see. That’s a small price to pay for such a nice convenience.

I saw a list like this on FTF and thought I’d give my take. The benefits of staying in a spot for a month:
Easier on the budget; usually a two week stay costs about the same as a month long stay. Lower fuel costs than if you travel weekly.
Settled feeling that doesn’t come when you move every couple of weeks.
More of a comfort level with the roads, stores, and communities.
Longer window of time for mail and packages to catch up to you.
Disadvantages: don’t cover as much ground; but have the opportunity to go deeper with exploring.
Sometimes being familiar quickly turns to boring depending on location and perception.

13 April Thursday

Jack says Han Sulu instead of Han Solo.

We stayed home all day!! I love that. There’s no school tomorrow for Good Friday, so Max and I had to get all his work caught up. After today he has only 10 days left!!! Hallelujah!

14 April Friday

Jack just fell out of bed at midnight! I was still up watching Mr. Robot. I’m staying up tonight out of rebellion…since we’re in such a tight place with no outdoors where Jack doesn’t need lots of supervision I don’t ever watch my TV shows during the day.

When I told Max I was going to make him a milk jug Easter basket like Monmom used to make us, he said there were milk jugs when your grandmother was alive?

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

18 March Saturday

I told Max to get the jet pack for our trip over to Vegas, and later saw that he had put it by my purse. When we went to leave TJ asked why it was in its regular place. Jack is so “helpful” he put it back where it goes.

Jack read a sign on our drive that said “Do Not Enter” and he said “Do yes enter.” Antonym!

We didn’t really have a plan for the Hoover Dam, we just wanted to see it. It was just as well that they weren’t having tours this day. We walked all along the dam and it was really impressive. The color of the water was beautiful, too. The bridge we’d driven over on our way to Vegas the other day was fun to see from the ground. At some point we saw someone there filling up their bottled with water and pouring it out and the wind was blowing up the curve of the dam and blew the water up into the air!

When we were finished walking we got ice cream and started looking for a restaurant. Fried chicken sounded good to me, so Tj picked out the Chicken Shack because it had such good reviews. For some reason I was just thinking of a piece of fried chicken and not hot wings, so I was a little thrown off when we got there and were ordering. Their buffalo chicken wings were awesome, their fries were out of this world, and the potato salad was really good too. I got my half of the wings with chili lime sauce, and they were okay, but not at all what anybody wanted.

By the time we were finished with lunch we had enough time to drive back to Vegas, find the parking garage, find the zipline place and not much more time than that. I didn’t want to stand in line for however long and then ride a zipline with something holding me face down without making a bathroom stop, so we looked around for a public restroom. There aren’t that many of those around this place. I ended up going into a casino, but I almost always make Jack go when I go and Tj wasn’t sure if we could take Jack into the casino. I went to the bathroom and then we all walked back to the zipline place and left TJ and Jack. The information about the zip lines said that we had to be there at 4 but we might wait as long as an hour before our turn came. In the end we waited an hour and a half, but boy was it worth it! I would ride that again in a heartbeat, it was so much fun!

I hope I haven’t ruined our scale by bringing it on the bus, but we don’t have a place to store it that’s easy to reach and where it can lay flat. It seems to not be measuring correctly, so now I’ve taken the batteries out and just put it in storage under the dinette seat. When TJ bought the tickets the line we wanted to go on said you had to weigh a minimum of 80 pounds. We were pretty sure that’s how much Max weighed, but it’s been a long time since we weighed him. When we got to the zipline wait line TJ saw that there was an outdoor scale at a restaurant nearby. They claim something like if you weigh over 300 pounds to give you your meal for free, but in any case there was a scale right there! We told Max to get on it and checked his weight πŸ™‚ I don’t know what we were going to do at that point, it’s not like we could leave him and Jack out there by themselves while TJ and I rode the zipline if Max was underweight! The scale said he would be fine so we went and got in line. When we got inside the structure there was a woman weighing everyone separately. Max passed that test, but the lady told me that she made a note to add 40 pounds to his weight so that he wouldn’t get stuck out on the zipline. In a way I wanted him to get stuck because how awesome would that be?! Ziplines always go so quickly I don’t ever get to see as much as I would like to see when I’m on them. So the waiting begin; we got suited up and I chatted with TJ on text, and after a while I looked up some memes on the phone to pass the time. When it was finally our turn I really wasn’t nervous at all. What a fun ride! And Max did get stuck! So I and the other two women who went on the zipline at the same time had to lay there on the tables while a guy hooked himself up to a harness and then hand-over-hand pulled himself out to where Max was and drug Max back. What an experience!

When we got down and found TJ I realized that Max had gotten stuck right over him and Jack! It was so cool; TJ said all the people were yelling for Max and so excited for him. I couldn’t tell that because we landed right over a band playing such loud music! What an awesome experience. I was so thirsty so we started heading back to the truck and stopped at a shop to buy something to drink. We passed several of the same people we had seen earlier…I was so surprised by the amount of nudity that was allowed out in public! I know this is Vegas, and I knew it wasn’t a place for kids, but I didn’t realize the level of nudity that was allowed. She was a rather large woman wearing only pasties on top sitting in a wheelchair with a sign next to her that said retired stripper and a bucket for collecting money. There were lots of scantily clad men and women that were just walking around trying to get you to take your picture with them so then you would pay them. We headed back to the truck and on the way I saw some street performers that looked like something our family could enjoy. There were three guys and it looked like they were getting ready to start dancing, so I asked TJ to stop for a minute. The music cranked up and then the biggest guy proceeded to turn his arm around so that he dislocated his shoulder! All of us were so horrified! But Tj and I were also laughing our heads off! After that I was pretty much done with Vegas. We went back to the truck and got back to the bus at 6:45 p.m.

19 March Sunday

We slept late, and it was wonderful. For the second night in a row we told Jack to come into our bed when he woke up. We all need more sleep, and I think if he gets more sleep in the morning it will do him best. Somehow naps don’t materialize, and neither does going to bed early. We didn’t rush around doing anything, and I left around 10:30 or 11 to go check out the Goodwills. I found a beaded bracelet at the first store that I think I can use to make a bracelet like the one I lost, and it was only $3. I had my eye on a bag of beads from Amazon but that was $15, so if this works it will be great. I got back home around 3 p.m. We sent the kids out to play at the playground that’s within sight of our windows, and wasted time for another hour. It was lovely just relaxing.

At 4:30 I started making smothered potatoes. They came out tasting like Monmon’s I think, but they don’t look like hers. I think I have the fire up too high and stir them too much because they’re more broken up than hers. But they are awesome! TJ cooked our steaks on our little grill and they were awesome. We ate supper and then watched the Hooper sermon from November. That’s the last thing I think we’ll watch from FBC. Oh, I just remembered we’re not planning on staying a month at many places in the future, so maybe we’ll go ahead and watch the rest of those sermons. I think we have three or four from FBC that we haven’t seen. Otherwise we have a creation DVD set I bought. We’ll just have to see.

20 March Monday

It’s 11 o’clock and we’ve been on the road for half an hour or more. While Tj fueled up at the base I headed to the wrong gas station! We got down the road and had to drive 360Β° around to get onto the interstate. Three-quarters of the way through that turn the freezer door opened and all the ice fell out onto the floor. Poop.

21 March Tuesday

School, including writing Austin a thank-you card for the books he leant Max. Lunch.
Then we drove out to the Pacific Ocean and put our toes in. Driving here is more frustrating than in Tucson…I’m gonna miss that place for this reason!

I made taco nachos for supper again, and this time I used Laura’s recipe for white cheese dip to pour on top. Oh were they good! After we got the boys in bed TJ and I had a Walking Dead marathon and then Tj scheduled Uber for the morning since he’ll be leaving for the airport at 5:15am.

22 March Wednesday

I was making pb & j sandwiches and Jack was watching me. Finally he slowly and deliberately said, “I want jelly in my mouth, please Mom.” I got that boy some jelly! We’re still pushing the full sentences…and it seems like we’ll be pushing them for a few more years before they take hold full time. We’re also working hard on the on/in/over/under stuff. He’ll do it all one day, it just takes time!

In other news, I’m pretty sure Jack lost a receipt of a watch I wanted to return. He asked me if he could play with it and I said no. Now a few hours later I can’t find it at all. He put his flag down the back of the dinette seating today, and it’s unreachable now. Tj says it’s a favorite place of his, so that may be where the receipt is. I’m also pretty sure I brought 4 steak knives on the bus and now we only have 3…Jack!!!

I decreed that everyone was taking a nap today. Attitudes are still not in the right place. When we got up from our nap Max said that there were two bees in our bus, but he was so calm while he said it. In the past any sight of bees or wasps nearby has sent him into a frenzy, but this entire time he was calm. I was able to open the window and they both flew out, thank the Lord. I like bees, but I don’t want them in a confined space with me!

23 March Thursday

We had a nice relaxing school day today. I texted with TJ off and on during school. When we first started traveling and TJ was brand new flying for FedEx it seemed that the next nine months or so of his time there would be spent mostly sitting reserve in Memphis. Since he had so much time on his hands I sent him a couple of soup recipes and he made two batches. He filled up his crash pad freezer with soup, and then he got called out to fly! Now the last couple of times he’s been there he hasn’t even looked for flights but they book him to fly. It cracks me up, but I’m sure it’s not very funny to his pad mates! He had a few things to do this time at the beginning of this reserve trip. He figured with as tired as he was he would take a few days to relax and get that work done, and then he would start looking for a flight. Also, FBC has been having trouble with a computer he put together so they asked him if they could drive it out to where he was and would he work on it for them. He was happy to do so and he had nothing on his horizon, then before he knew it he got called out on a flight! I know he feels bad that he can’t work on the computer now, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

After school today Jack and I hit up 2 Goodwills, but it’s just not the same here. The first Goodwill I had to park on the street, and when I went to pay the meter, which I have only ever done a couple of times in my life, there was a sign saying it was broken. Then I wasn’t sure if it was OK for me to park there. I went into the store and asked another customer since the clerk wasn’t available, and she said it was fine. Jack asked to go to the bathroom while we were there but I saw a sign saying no public restrooms. Ugh. The next store did have some parking off the street, but we had to park pretty far away. I asked about a restroom, and as the guy was showing us to it I saw another sign saying no public restrooms. Huh. Guess I’ll do more research before going to other Goodwills.

In other news I found my bracelet!! It was in the bag I keep in the back of the truck. I’m so excited! Now to figure out how to solve my clasp problem.

24 March Friday

We were looking at cat and dog pictures and talking about them, and Jack said “That dog is make a supper.” He”s still trying out articles and verb forms. I really think one day he’ll speak correctly, but he’s almost 10 now and still very rarely uses a full sentence, not to mention saying it completely correctly.

The Lord gave me some verses this morning about traffic here in San Diego…”I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God:”
Psalms 3:6‭-‬7a. And then it goes on to talk about God breaking their teeth, which is what I really want to do.

We left the bus at 9:45 to go see the USS Midway, and arrived around 10:20. It was impressive. More than 4,000 people can live on it at once, but such cramped spaces! Of course it’s just about how we’re living now πŸ™‚ I let Max lead us around. Again, I’d have gone in an orderly manner and read every plaque, but I knew that wouldn’t go over well with either kid, so I mostly followed. We never made it to the video showing, but we saw so much! The docents gave such interesting talks, too, about landing a plane on the ship and working the anchor. I loved the 1:48 scale model made of plexiglass…it was fascinating! I also enjoyed seeing how the ship had changed over the years…it had started smaller and they added more and more to it. We got the free headsets but I hardly listened to any of the info. Max did, though, he went through the junior sailor program they did and earned his wings after. I think he enjoyed hearing the audiofiles, but think he felt a little too old for the wings. Topside there were two ceremonies being performed. There was a plane up there with both of its wings folded up over its body, and a plane on the other deck whose wheels folded into its body. Planes are awesome!

The night before Max had asked a couple of times if there were any flight simulators onboard. I’d read some about them, but didn’t elaborate to him. There were about 6 different flight decks he and Jack got to sit in and flip all the switches, and there were 2 paying rides. The first one was just a ride, but the second one was interactive!! The only problem was you had to have 2 riders. I would never leave Jack by himself, but Max and I were both really worried that Jack would freak out on the ride. Some of the simulators were going really crazy! Max would be the one flying it, but if Jack started freaking out what could he do? We looked for a bit but couldn’t find anyone else looking for a lone rider. I saw someone promising, but then she offered to keep Jack so Max and I could ride together. Max asked me worriedly if I’d ever let anyone else keep Jack like that…he’s such a worrier sometimes! We decided to wait a bit and come back later, and about this time Jack started fussing and asking to ride that ride! That doesn’t always mean what it’s supposed to mean…and what would we do if he started freaking out when the guy started strapping him in?? We came back half an hour later and when we got close to the ride Jack again started saying he wanted to ‘ride the blue one’. Now it took some convincing to get Max to go. I don’t know how much of it was fear of Jack and how much was fear of going all the way around in that thing! Either way I almost forced him to go. We paid our $16 and got in line and Jack never wavered. He smiled so big when he was putting on his seatbelt! I videoed the footage of what was going on inside the enclosed simulator, and Jack had a good time the whole time. Max wanted to do it again but I said no. We had such a good time there!

We left at 2pm. I’d found Valentine’s Mexican Food which had good ratings on Yelp, and was around the corner from the Donut shop. Awesome! Now to make it there and see what parking was like! I drove around the block and found a space, and then parallel parked all by myself! Woot! I did brush the curb, but I did a good job if I do say so myself. We passed the doughnut shop on the way to the restaurant and it was closed until 5pm!! What the heck??!! Lunch was good though, and the salsa bar had some great salsa.

After that we headed to the beach…we got there about 4pm and stayed till 6:15. As Max was playing he said I’m just waiting for some unsuspecting pedestrian to pedestrianize by. Heh.

Afterwards we went to Walmart for another bike helmet for Max…he needs an adult size. We picked up a frozen pizza and were still eating supper at 9pm. And I wonder why we’re so tired! Though I must say I think we’re finally catching up.

In other news, the last couple of times that we parked the bus we’ve been able to estimate the number of support blocks we needed under the tires to get our bus pretty well level. We have an auto leveler on the bus, but it doesn’t seem to work well. Tj has tried to calibrate it a couple of times and that hasn’t fixed the problem.

25 March Saturday
We did school today since we had our field trip yesterday. We only have 24 days of school left, and I’m hoping we can keep it at that. We started at 10am and I figured Max would take all day. I let him do 2 units and then play 15 minutes of Minecraft and continue that cycle till he was finished. He actually finished at 2pm, even though we took about an hour for lunch. Not bad!

After school we all walked down/rode our bikes to the entrance of the park where there’s a bigger playground. Of course the first day we go somebody rented it out and there’s a bouncy castle and all kinds of cake and stuff. Oh well. Jack didn’t fuss too much when I told him the bouncy castle wasn’t for us

Jack is now calling another woman Mommy. Traitor!

We’ve just seen the second wedding here at the campground!

26 March Sunday

5:14am I just woke up hearing creaking on Max’s ladder. I looked down the hall, but it’s dark so I couldn’t see anything. I shone my flashlight and I see Jack’s little head peeping over the rope and Max’s curtain. I made him come down, go potty, get in my bed and he’s yawning as big as his whole head. Hopefully we’ll both go back to sleep now.

Now, 5 minutes later, the dehumidifier beeped about 20 times to let me know it was full! Once would’ve been enough! I got up to empty that, and now hopefully back to sleep!

I’m reading my book and Jack just said Mom, get out of bed you old lazybones!

I made pancakes for the boys’ breakfast. Now we’ve just watched What’s In the Bible for church…I love that show! Looks like we may not get out of our pj’s today!! Success!

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

16 March Thursday

We pulled out at 10:20 and the mileage is 8888.

After we’d been on the road a while a little white car passed us and just hung out in front of us in the passing lane. A semi came up behind them somewhat quickly, and then gave a really long honk at them, but they never budged! I don’t understand at all why people just stay in that lane! And then blocking in someone else to boot!

TJ had looked at our route for the day and saw that there was an In-N-Out Burger about halfway to our stop. There was also a gas station and he looked at it briefly, but thought that we would probably just go straight to Las Vegas. When we got closer two our mid-way stop we decided to get gas first, because it’s exit was before the restaurant, and then we’d go stop and eat lunch. Our drive was short enough that this would be a good break. We never stop for food when we’re driving, I always make us something on the road. This seemed like a good change to our routine. While we were driving I checked out the In-N-Out and decided we had a few options for parking either in the parking lot or in a nearby parking lot. TJ had already looked at the Pilot and saw that there was an RV lane so he felt we were set. We turned off the highway, turned right onto the side street and turned right into the Pilot. Tj needed to take an immediate left to go into the RV lane, but I was thrown off because there were two gas pumps there and a UPS truck was parked by one. The other lane looked too narrow and the curve too tight for us to make it. I said to TJ I don’t think you’ll fit in there, and so he just pulled in straight. Then we were kind of stuck. There was no drive completely around the building so now we would have to just make our way around the pumps and back out. Before I could figure out what I thought we should do TJ turned left to go through the regular pumps and make a u-turn back around the opposite way into the RV pump area. He made it almost all the way, and then realized that he couldn’t cut hard enough. He ended up backing us up a couple of feet three different times and then we were in the RV lane just fine. When we got out there were two guys in the lot next to the gas station that clapped and told him what a great job he did and that they had had money riding on us. We were both still a little shaken up and were just glad that everything worked out. We went back to check on the truck and he had rubbed the front bumper with the bike tires, but other than that we were completely fine! I was so impressed with his maneuvering today. He sure manages to get us out of some very tight spots.

I later asked him if there was anything he wanted me to do differently in the future. He said he shouldn’t have listened to me when I said he couldn’t fit in the RV lane, but he should have listened to me when I said he couldn’t fit through the regular pumps! Ugh! When we head into a situation I’ll try to help, but when I see he’s committed to a plan of action I just sit back and be quiet. I guess these are just things we have to go through as new-ish campers.

We checked in at the campsite at 3:15.

17 March Friday

TJ got us a Groupon for the Bodies exhibit so that’s where we headed today. Finding the parking garage was a feat! But I only had to drive around the block one extra time for us to figure out where it was. It was amazing to see all these once live people reduced to muscle and tendon and bone. It is amazing to think about what we take for granted, every time you move your hand or your leg or your back or twist your arm around opening the door, it’s crazy to think how many different muscles and tendons and joints and ligaments you’re actually moving! As usual I could have stayed there a lot longer and read every sign about every different display, but nobody else in my family feels the same way about any museum. πŸ™‚

Nothing was really calling to me for lunch, but it was time for us to eat. I didn’t want to just get some little something here, there were so many awesome sounding places, but then we run into that problem everywhere we go. I’m sure we shouldn’t eat out so much, but if this is the only time we do this trip we want to take full advantage of it! There are so many awesome things in the world to eat, and I sure am doing my share to try them all. We ended up deciding to go to Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR restaurant. We walked over there and only waited in line for about 10 minutes. I’d read a couple of reviews and already knew pretty much what I wanted. TJ added an appetizer and we were set. The ahi tuna sliders we’re okay, but TJ enjoyed them. The gooey fries were the star of the show! Fries with lots of vintage white cheddar, smoked gouda and toscano salami with an over easy egg on top; if I had known I would have made that my meal so I didn’t have to share with anybody! We bought two burgers as well to split among the four of us and I thought they were good, but nothing touched those fries.

When Max heard we were coming to Las Vegas he was so excited, it’s the first time he’s shown real excitement about someplace on our trip before we even got there. When I asked him what he was most excited about he said it was the architecture. I don’t even have anything to say to that. He said he was excited to go take a picture in front of the original ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. He wanted to show that to his friends, so that’s what we did next. I didn’t realize it but there’s a little parking spot right next to the sign because everybody wants a picture with that sign! Just like at Devil’s Bridge people were waiting in line for their turn to take a picture. We got a couple of just him and a couple as a family and then headed back to the bus.

On the way into town this morning the architecture was amazing I have to admit. One of the things that caused almost all of us to have heart palpitations was seeing the roller coaster on top of the high-rise. You could see the car go down the angled slope, stop, go back up, and go back down again several times. My head knows that that thing has to be safe for it to be an actual ride here in America, but my heart and my stomach felt like they would both come out my throat if I tried to ride that.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

11 March Saturday

After supper last night when we were all getting into bed TJ remembered he needed to go dump. That ended up being a fiasco, and when he was finished and came in for the night he tripped over the fan, it broke, and he fell down. That was the final straw. He left to go buy another fan at Walmart and we were all asleep when he got back. I didn’t know what time he got back so I didn’t wake him up this morning.

We’re all so tired these days. I feel like we don’t plan a lot to do, and each thing is interspersed with a long break of driving, but even so we’re all fairly grumpy. I don’t want this bus trip to be a drudgery. We had 3 places we wanted to see today, but we decided to pick our favorite and only do that. I’m not even looking at the other 2 things I wanted to do. We’ll have to catch them next time…if there is a next time.

Because we were playing it so much by ear I packed lots of little oranges (we need to eat/freeze all our produce before we get to CA) and a bottle of water for each of us in the backpack. It worked out just fine, but a few granola bars and more water than that would have been better. We got to the place around 11:45 and started looking for a parking spot near the hike. The hike out to Devil’s Bridge was 1.8 miles each way and we didn’t want Jack to have to walk much more than that. We cruised the parking lot which only held about 20 cars and then gave up and cruised down the street to park on the side of the road along with a hundred or so other people. We were three quarters of the way to the end when TJ realized the best plan would be to drop us off in the parking lot and then park on the street and come meet us. That way we could make one last bathroom trip with Jack and be ready to go at about the same time that he got back. I made a u-turn, we switched seats and when we got back to the parking lot lo and behold there was a beautiful space under a shady tree! We got out and all went to the bathroom; it was essentially a hole in the ground but it did have a toilet seat over it, so that was nice. At this point I was thinking we needed more nourishment for this hike since we’d already driven an hour and a half to get there. It had been at least that long since the boys had eaten, and Tj and I had only had a cranberry orange scone apiece. I found a few almonds I always keep in my purse for just such an emergency and we headed out.

The first part of the hike was kind of annoying because it was open to four-wheel-drive vehicles, so every so often we have to move to one side of the road or the other as they noisily pass us. The whole walk was just dust, it was so sandy that I could feel it in my toes. Since the heel came off my hiking boots yesterday I was just wearing my tennis shoes, and there’s a big mesh part on top. When I got home my toes were orange from all of that orange dust. The first half was easy though, it was for the most part fairly flat, broken up here and there by big boulders and one time a small crevasse in the middle of the road. When we got to the halfway point though, that’s where it got a little trickier. Sometimes we walked over lots of hand-sized pebbles and other times we walked on step-like rocks. All in all it wasn’t hard, it just was long. Right at the end there were two very steep places and at the first one someone let their dog loose. I didn’t realize it at first but that’s what it was pushing up against my calves while I was helping Jack up. He’s got pretty good balance, but he’s still a 9 year old kid with Down Syndrome who doesn’t understand how careful he needs to be. I finally just told him to turn around and sit down while we waited for the dog to push past us. I was so annoyed those people had let their dog off the leash, and then there was a person ahead of us at the top of the cliff and a person behind us, both calling the dog! Honestly I would have kicked the dog if I thought I wouldn’t have lost my balance. Of course the whole time I’m remembering Max blacking out after the whole Don and Dar dog incident just a month ago.

So we finally got to the top with no more trouble and it was a beautiful sight. There were beautiful sites all along the walk, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a natural bridge in person, much less been able to walk out on it. We decided Max and I would go stand on the bridge and TJ would take a picture, and then we’d come back and TJ would go wait in line for his picture, and we wouldn’t bring Jack out there. Everyone else there wanted their picture on the bridge, and they were all in a line, taking their turns. Nice. When we were the second to first people in line a girl ran out to the girl ahead of us and said okay, here’s the plan, you take your picture by yourself, then we’ll switch out, I’ll take my picture by myself, then the girl over there is going to run around and somebody’ll take our picture all together as a group, then we run back and I take the camera and I’ll take her picture by herself. That’s boloney! I was frustrated, but there wasn’t really much I could do. It really does amaze me that some people have no regard for other people in the world. So that’s what they did, they took four times as long as anybody else out there took. There was a guy at the tail end of the line by this time who yelled a few times “Switch out, time for somebody else to take a picture”, but these girls didn’t seem to mind at all. I, of course being the bossy mom that I am, took the time to explain to Max why we don’t do this to other people and how unfair it is when you’re on the receiving end of it. We finally got our pictures and headed back up.

When I was walking back to TJ I was standing on a steepish stair-like ledge and passing by this dog that Max had just passed by and the stupid thing jumped out at me and growled and barked at me! I don’t know what I did today to make dogs angry but I know what they did to make me angry! When we got back to Tj he asked about taking Jack out there. I thought it would be fine, but I think Max was pretty tired, I could see he was getting emotional and he said not to bring Jack out there. The bridge really was pretty wide and I didn’t think there was any real risk with TJ holding Jack’s hand, so they headed out there.

After we had all the pictures we wanted, ate all the oranges and drank all but one water we headed back out. TJ told Max he could go ahead, but to stop every once in awhile to give us time to catch up. We walked back down without any problems with Jack, thankfully. We went out on a secondary ledge we had seen but had decided to forgo on the way up. I was surprised but not alarmed that Max didn’t wait there for us. We started walking down and this first part was so slow because it was the rockiest. After a while TJ said walk at your own pace ahead of us, you’ll probably run into Max pretty quickly. I have a lot of faith in Max, he seems pretty level headed in these types of situations. There have been more of these situations since we’ve been on this trip…I really believe I can trust him to make good decisions, but he’s not the only one I have to think about. An adult can overpower him, or he could have an accident, or he could just get lost. I don’t want to hover, he needs to learn independence, but how far to push/let him push is the answer. When we were in AR I knew our Wal-mart and felt comfortable with letting him go to another part of the store without me, but when we’re in a new town I don’t always like the feel of the grocery stores. And campgrounds are the same way. I do a lot of praying these days! I wasn’t really worried about him walking ahead to the truck, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about him either.

I ended up going three quarters of the way back to the truck before I found him! And halfway to him I realized I was the only one with any water or car keys, and Jack probably needed more water than any of us, his face was a little red and ours wasn’t. Anyway, I finally found Max and we sat on the side of the road waiting till TJ and Jack caught up. Max tried to hitch a ride at one point when a jeep full of girls drove by. I told them that I had already told him he couldn’t hitchhike because who knew what kind of lunatics were in their vehicle! They all laughed and one of them said oh we’re really nice, I’m a teacher, and we talked back and forth for a minute or so before they drove on.

When we got back to the truck and had our fill of water we started looking for a place to eat. We left the park around 4 and headed to a Mexican place that was okay, but nothing special. I ordered the queso fundido, but I need to stop ordering that. I got hooked on it because one of the first restaurants I ate it at put chorizo in it, but not a lot of them do that. This restaurant’s version was just cheese dip. Nothing special, and I wouldn’t have ordered it if I’d known that’s what it was. TJ got the best dish, carne asada. The guacamole that came as a side was awesome by itself, and even better when all of the stuff was rolled up into a fajita. Max’s order looked awesome too and was huge! We had decided he and Jack would split, we’re trying to lesson our cost at restaurants since we eat out so much more now, and normally we don’t need to order that much food because we don’t have a whole lot of room for leftovers in the bus anyway. So we only ordered 3 dishes. Max’s was a breakfast quesadilla. It must have been stuffed with about 6 scrambled eggs! There was also bacon and a lot of cheese in there. I’m really going to have to make that one day, it was pretty good. After that we found a parking space near some shops and I shopped a little bit but didn’t see anything I had to have. We needed to go to Walmart to return the fan TJ bought because it wasn’t noisy enough, although we’ve also decided to have Max start using his Bible-phone as a noise machine at night. We need more of a sound buffer for him because of what we want to watch on TV at night. We returned the fan and bought a few groceries and TJ had a hankering for some ice cream so we bought that too. I got a chance to use my new ice cream scoop that I got at Goodwill at the same time as I bought all of our other utensils. We all showered when we got in because all of our clothing was so full of dust. I washed all the clothes the boys and I wore after everybody was done with showers. TJ and I watched a couple of episodes of Chuck before I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

12 March Sunday

We were supposed to get up leisurely this morning, but my phone changed time zones even though Arizona doesn’t. Nobody else’s phone changed, so who knows what’s up with that. That means my alarm woke me at 6:30 instead of 7:30. Ugh! We laid in bed for a few hours and that was lovely. The boys were fairly quiet as well. I made lunch from a hummus mix that I’ve had for a little while, pickles, olives, and cheese and crackers. When everything was laid out TJ said he felt sick so he ended up not eating lunch with us. After that we watched the creationist video for church since we didn’t have access to the last few FBC downloads available. When that was over it was noon and we needed to get serious about leaving because check-out was at one. We packed everything up while the boys played on the tiny little playground here, and drove through the gate at 12:57. Perfect timing! Now we’re on our way to Williams and on to see the Grand Canyon. I’m so excited to see this! This is our first of the top three spots we picked for this bus trip.

13 March Monday

We got to the Grand Canyon at 11. But the trip there was a pain…for some reason the heat was on in the truck, full blast! No matter what we did we couldn’t get it to go off/lower the temp/lessen the force of air blowing. Ugh.

The Canyon was beautiful. We hiked along the rim from the Visitor’s Center to the place where the food was. Food…always a great motivator for us! We did some climbing out onto ledges. At one point when Jack was with Tj standing right at the edge (he’s had no fear of heights since the museum we went to in San Antonio with Robin and Dave) Jack said, “Fly!” Talk about make your heart stop! Tj told him he couldn’t fly, he was a boy, and Jack said, “Bird” and started flapping his arms like wings. He does this a lot and it’s always been so cute…till he’s standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon!!! We were doubly sure to firmly hold his hand after that!

Tj told us we were halfway to the restaurant area, and then when we got to the actual halfway point it was a little discouraging! But we made it. The first place we went to said they closed at 2 and if we weren’t already on the list they wouldn’t take us. There was a place about a 10 minute walk that closed at 3 and another past that that closed at 4. We got to the first one around 2:15 and had a 10 minute wait for a table. Tj got the winner dish with a steak sandwich. The steak was tough, but the flavor was wonderful! I got tacos that were fine, but I’d never order them again. The slaw on top was too much for the amount of chicken. But the fries that came with the boys’ mac and cheese were the best I’d ever eaten!

After we got back home we all changed into our swimsuits and headed over to the hot tub/swimming pool.

14 March Tuesday

We hemmed and hawed about what to do today, and if we were going back to the Grand Canyon today, or if we were ever going back. It was really beautiful and awesome and awe inspiring, but after walking a mile or two along the rim the view was the same as where we started…it’s just that vast! I did love seeing the bridge far in the distance that spanned the river at the bottom, but we’re so tired; I think more emotionally tired than physically tired. I know I’m repeating myself, but we really are just tired to the bone around here. In the end we decided to do nothing today.

And that nothing included the boys going to the playground across the street, TJ watching numerous youtube videos to see if he could fix the truck’s A/C, him scheduling an appointment and then taking the truck to the shop and being told they couldn’t fix it but confirming what the problem was, Tj ordering the part we needed to be sent to our next stop, me scoring us a tour inside someone’s camper to see if we want to buy that one, me making 3 meals and cleaning up from all of them, me doing laundry and various other housekeeping things I do every day, us going on a family bike ride, Tj and me going on a ‘date’ to the grocery store. You know, nothing.

Later this day we realized Max actually got sunburned at the GC! The back of my neck felt warm when we got back yesterday, but really, if I didn’t sunburn how could he??!! There was no denying, though, under his eyes was a little swollen. Bad parents!

15 March Wednesday

We’re still trying to take it easy a little bit. Monday was a real doozy! We got up, got ready and headed out to the Grand Canyon again. We were both unsure how to make the decision whether to go again or not, but really, who knows when we’ll be back? We also debated long and hard about whether to get a helicopter ride over the canyon. I thought the helicopters went down through the canyon and that really made it important to me. I think that is something that we would all remember forever. But it was so expensive! TJ did a little research and thought that the helicopters don’t go down in the canyon, they only fly over it. As much fun as that would be, it made it easier for me to agree that we should skip it. Pros of the ride: it’s a 30 to 45-minute helicopter ride, but the con was it was almost $300 per person!

Anyway, we packed some granola bars and water bottles and headed out again. Tj showed me how to manually adjust the a/c lever up inside the console of the truck so we didn’t have to drive with Hell-like conditions the whole way there.

I wanted to be able to walk down into the canyon. I knew we wouldn’t be able to go very far down, but I wanted to go as far as we could. So we drove the hour out there, and another half an hour or so getting to the right place and looking for a parking spot. Again, for Jack’s sake we wanted to park kinda close so we wouldn’t end up carrying him out of the GC. We circled around a little bit and TJ used his parking spot finder magic and found us a place not too far from the start of the trail. We started hiking sometime around noon and got to the lower tunnel at 12:45. The hike down was as easy as it could get…except for the parts that weren’t. There were about 3 or 4 places where the trail was still in shadow and the path was pure mud. This wasn’t such a big deal except for the fact that apparently my tennis shoes have zero traction left! I couldn’t step on the mud at all or I slipped like crazy! So down was super easy, but going back up was deceptively hard! The slope seemed so gradual when we were going down, but it was just continuous going back up. My legs felt fine, but my lungs were working really hard!

The only other thing that we wanted to see was tower that TJ read about on another part of the Grand Canyon’s rim. We piled into the truck and figured we’d quickly see that and then have lunch. After we’d driven 10 or so minutes we saw a sign saying that it was a 25-mile drive away, and the speed limit was 25 miles an hour! We debated back and forth whether it was worth it, neither of us had strong feelings about that and it was getting on to lunch time. Neither of us could tell how serious the other one was about wanting to see it or not caring, and in the end we went ahead and drove there. It was a neat place to see, and another whole side of the Grand Canyon. We looked around for a little while and then decided to check out their snack shop for lunch. He and I ended up getting sandwiches there that were pretty good, and the boys split a pizza. We also shared two pieces of pre-made pie between the four of us. The Oreo pie was a clear winner over the Hershey’s pie.

Friday, March 24th, 2017

4 March Saturday

I wanted to lay around and just stay home today, but I needed to get my passport taken care of. We don’t have plans to go into Mexico, but if we wanted to things would be easier if we all had current passports. TJ got me all fixed up with the paperwork, so Jack and I headed out around 10 or 10:30 to get my photo taken and mail it off. We did that and hit one Goodwill, and then went to Serial Grillers for the second time. We just got a large Bone Crusher pizza and fries. I brought freezy packs because I knew the pizza would sit in the truck all day while Jack and I shopped at as many Goodwill’s as we could fit in. We had a good time.

TJ recently got Max a GroupMe account and this was the first time we really put it to the test. I texted Max a few times after I left and he didn’t respond. Finally TJ texted me, he’d just gotten into Japan I think. I asked him if he could get Max’s attention or if I needed to just go home. Finally Max realized what was going on and texted me back, so all is well. I think it’s now fixed so it alerts Max when I’m texting. During all that I found some awesome cutlery for the bus! Now we have many forks that we can use, not just a set I like and a set and a half I don’t like πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’ve logged about it yet, but sadly I think Jack threw away one of Monmon’s forks. Somehow I ended up with just one of her set here on the bus and the rest was a cheap set I bought at Walmart just for camping. Several months ago when we first started and were using a lot of paper plates and sometimes plastic forks I think Jack dumped it in the garbage can along with his plate! Oh well, I guess that’s how it goes. πŸ™

5 March Sunday

This was our last Sunday at this church. We’ve made some really good friends here, the ladies I’ve enjoyed talking to are Amy, the preacher’s wife, Karen, the children’s coordinator, and Sarah, a fellow camper while she waits for her house to be built. Max has made a few friends too, and Jack loves the playground that is between the two buildings. He gets to play on it between every church service.

Sunday night was the final race. The first Sunday we were here they handed out blocks of wood to all the kids for a pinewood derby. Neither Max nor Jack won; Jack had a blast, and Max kept his temper pretty well, I think.

I am definitely going to miss the drive to church. It’s super short, but I’m always amazed at the view. When we cross the road the valley opens up and you can see mountains in the distance and hills all in the valley. The other Sunday it was raining far off and the rainbows were tremendous!

7 March Tuesday

My alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. but TJ told me to check FlightAware to see if he was on time, and their flight had been delayed a few hours. It’s really hard to figure out what’s going on at that time of the morning, but I finally realized I needed to set my alarm for 6:30. I got Jack up then and we went to pick TJ up. This is the third time I’ve gone to this airport to pick him up, and the first time that we didn’t go out to eat at Jerry Bob’s restaurant. TJ look whipped! We stopped at the cheapest gas station around to fill up the truck, and TJ asked me to get him a snack. We drove straight home and he went straight to bed. The boys and I did school and then I woke TJ up at 12:30. He took a shower and then we headed to Serial Grillers for an extra large Bone Crusher Pizza. For the first time it wasn’t 100% awesome, and I think that’s because the Philly cheese steak we also got was. It’s listed as Gormogon Ribeye Cheesesteak: double order of ribeye, grilled onions, cherry peppers, sweet peppers, bacon, 6 slices white American cheese, and topped with fries and rings. I’m a sucker for anything with with french fries on it, and there was something tangy/vinegary…maybe the cherry peppers? Or the cheese? Either way it was AWESOME!!

After lunch we went to Trader Joe’s and shopped around just for fun. I could tell TJ was feeling jet lagged again, but we had to get some groceries before we went home. We stopped at Fry’s and got stuff for burgers and just generally stocked up. By the time we left I think he was feeling better. When we were three quarters of the way home I realized I lost my bracelet. I bought a seed bead bracelet at the Salvation Army store in Tucson last Saturday. It had ugly birds on it but I took those off and then restrung it to the length I wanted. After a few days I decided I’d rather wear it as a bracelet because I love wearing my airplane necklace so I restrung it again to the right length. I was still trying to decide what to do about the clasp because it didn’t hold well and it was kind of prickly. I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to file off the rough parts or just change it out or just tie it on my wrist permanently. Now I don’t have to worry about it since it’s gone πŸ™

8 March Wednesday

I got out of the bed at 8 and we did our school as usual. For the last few days Jack has written his numbers in order without a fight, what a blessing! He can be so hard-headed and it’s frustrating when I know he can do the work, he just chooses not to. His numbers are being formed a little more clearly, they’re easier to read a little bit now. He’s still sloppy when he’s in a hurry, just like all of us.

We bought hamburger stuff yesterday so TJ chopped up the sirloin and made us awesome burgers for lunch and we watched Lost while eating it. TJ and I walked to the office to tell them our meter number. On the way there he told me that he thought our meter wasn’t running! It should be moving all the time since we’re using at least some electricity all the time, but the numbers weren’t moving at all. He took a picture of the meter number to show the lady, and I’m curious to see what they have to say about it.

When we got in the office it was Bob’s wife Barb who needed the number. She said Bob had already checked our meter and told us the number. Tj said that’s exactly what the number on his photo was. Then she said we hadn’t used any electricity at all in a week!!! That can’t be right! Tj told her he thought our meter must be broken, it wasn’t moving, etc. She smiled and just said that they read the meter and that was that, we had no charge for the week! We’d been there earlier that day to find out the procedure for paying for our last weeks worth of electricity, and she’d seemed harried and said it had been a tough day. When we walked there this time I brought some of Monmon’s dream pie we had in the freezer as a treat for her. I’m sure that didn’t hurt our situation at all πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to make friends with your neighbors!

We packed up all of the outside stuff tonight so tomorrow we can just pack up the inside and go. We moved the hammock to the horizontal skinny part under the bus because it was too heavy for the cabinet it had been in. We ate our leftover Bonecrusher Pizza and salad for supper, and then left the boys to get ready for bed while TJ and I went to the hot tub. It was okay temperature, but it’s a public hot tub so it wasn’t as hot as we would have it πŸ™‚

9 March Thursday

We got out of the bed at 8 and slowly started packing up. We said we wanted to leave by 9:30, but then we didn’t work really hard at it. We sent the boys off to play by the barn while we finished packing up and hooked the truck up to the bus. As we were getting that all taken care of Mr. Bob came by with a little note of thanks for Monmon’s dream pie, and I think he was tearing up when he said how much he enjoyed having the boys and us here at the park. That was so sweet. We’ve seen him around the park a bit and always stopped to talk but I didn’t think that we had made that much of an impression.

Bus mileage as we left 8480.

We pulled out at 10:20 a.m. As we were coming up to the exit we could see that the Sunstar in front of us had one of their storage compartment doors swinging open, so I ran up to them looking like a fool waving my arms around and finally got their attention…after they stoped for the stop sign. Hopefully we’ve got all of our stuff taken care of!

We headed down the road and everything seemed to be fine, and all of a sudden TJ was worried that he’d left our surge protector. I had walked around behind the bus as he pulled away and felt sure I would have seen it on the ground, it is pretty big, but when you have something worth $300 what probably happened isn’t good enough and it kept preying at him. I don’t think he’s over the jetlag yet and that didn’t help. I told him we’d come to a good pull off in a couple of miles but he took the first exit and I went back and opened the cabinet and there it was, thank the Lord! We got back out on the road, had a little sugar for breakfast, and I think we’re okay now πŸ™‚

Well it’s 11:22 and TJ just got flipped off by an ambulance driver because he wouldn’t slow down to let her in from the merge lane! I was taught you speed up if you’re the one merging, I guess she learned a different way πŸ™‚

We just passed some dude probably doing 55 on a motorcycle; he’s not wearing a helmet, and he’s a wooly booger. His hair is going back and his beard is flying forward. It just looks so funny, like a big ole Amish beard whipping straight out in front of him!

We arrived around 5pm.

10 March Friday

We left the house around 9:30 and headed out to Meteor Crater. This was a fun place to visit…but we had so much to do today that we didn’t want to take the guided tour. They wouldn’t let you walk around the rim of the crater if you didn’t, but to take the tour you had to commit to at least an hour…they locked the door behind the group and there was no going back early. So we looked all over the museum, and then walked outside as much as we could. It’s pretty impressive!

We planned to head to our next stop, Grand Falls, and eat lunch near there before seeing it. But Google took us a different way than it said last night. We ended up in an area with nothing to eat so we went to see the falls. Google said it would take more than 30 minutes to get to the falls…so we just blindly followed along. After a while we came to a dirt road and then we remembered we’d read that in the comments last night. After more and more driving on the dirt road we realized we were in for a long trek. All in all I think it was 45 minutes on an absolutely nothing but dirt road! After we’d driven at least 30 minutes Google told me to turn left, but that dirt looked surprisingly like mud…and it made me nervous. I stopped the truck and Tj and I switched places. It had been wet before, but now it was dry. And super bumpy. We finally made it to the falls, and it was so cool…for miles and miles and 45 minutes we’d had super flat ground all around us, and mountains far off in the distance, and then all of a sudden there was a waterfall carved into the earth! We could see people and cars and a pavilion or two across these huge falls, but we were on the ‘wrong’ side, and there was only one other car here! Awesome! We all climbed down a bit and just enjoyed the falls. The water was rushing so forcefully, you could hear the power! It was impossible to hear anything else. It was beautiful, but also super muddy…the water was as brown as the dirt around it. What a sight. When we were through climbing and looking, we had another 45 minute drive to get back to civilization!

We drove to our next stop and had lunch at a hole in the wall called Darrel’s Rootbeer Stand in Winslow Arizona. There was no seating inside so we ate at one of the 3 picnic tables outside. I got chili cheese fries…those are always so bad and so good at the same time.

After lunch we took our photos on the corner in Winslow Arizona, and then the heel of my boot fell off completely! Fortunately I had my tennies in the truck. We headed back toward the highway because we saw a Walmart there (we figured we’d buy shoe goo to repair my shoe), but couldn’t find it the second time around and there was no internet connection so we couldn’t search for it either. We filled up at a gas station and were right by the interstate so we just headed on down to our last stop of the day, Walnut Canyon. They were closing in 45 minutes and locking the gate so we couldn’t even walk around the park while they weren’t there. We walked a couple of the trails pretty quickly and saw some of the ruins. They were kind of cool but I’d much rather have seen them up close. Tomorrow we have some other ruins planned so hopefully that will pan out. We were 10 minutes away from Walmart so we stopped before heading home.

The scenery is beautiful here, lots of open flat land with very low trees, and then in the distance far and near you can see where the ground has been pushed up. When we were closer to the waterfall the shrubs were a lot closer to the ground and there were so many plateaus you could see a ways off. The ground there that had been pushed up was just red, red earth and on the top plates of rock that just looked shattered. It’s so beautiful in a way that’s completely different from anything I grew up with or lived in before.

We’re heading home now; it’s 6 o’clock, and we are all beat. We’re starting to bite each other’s heads off so we need to get to bed soon πŸ™‚ I’ll probably make us a salad when we get home, have the boys shower and then we’ll all just rest before we go to sleep.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

21 February Tuesday

After lunch we headed to Tombstone. We saw the good guys standing in the street waiting for the showdown. It took us a while to figure out where to get our tickets, but we finally did and got to the gunfight right before it started. It really wasn’t my thing, but Tj and Max enjoyed it. At the first gunshot Jack jumped and yelped, but once we knew what to expect he did fine. I more enjoyed seeing the full-sized mannequins placed in the position the gunfighters were reported to have been in the corral. There were other exhibitions we looked at, and then we did a little shopping. We also stopped by to get our paper, The Tombstone Epitaph, that came with our ticket purchase. Reading the first-hand reports of the day makes it hard to determine if the ‘good guys’ behaved very good in this instance.

I think this is where we ended up getting gelato, and bringing home those little blue cups. On the way out of town we stopped by Boothill to see some memorable graves.

22 February Wednesday

Since we planned on going to the museum tomorrow, we took the day off to celebrate my birthday!! I was lazy all day! I read a whole book! Tj made blueberry muffins from his new Alton Brown book and Monmon’s dream pie.

23 February Thursday

Today we headed to theΒ Pima Air & Space Museum and the boneyard. There was such a long line when we got there, even though Tj made sure we were there when the doors opened. We got the second shift of tour busses for the boneyard, so we spent our time touring the museum. I do enjoy looking at planes. There were a few training flight decks the boys got to climb in. Tj taught us more stuff about aviation. This was fun. Then we lined up for our boneyard tour and that was just so amazing! To see all those planes out in the desert, wrapped up, and many of them propped up on wooden saw horses. Wow. Our guide also pointed out a coyote out in the field, heh.

We had lunch at the museum, and Tj had a massive sandwich…a burger with buns made of grilled cheese sandwiches! I had a hot dog wrapped in bacon. It wasn’t quite as exciting as it should have been. But it tasted better than a plain old hot dog!

24 February Friday

Got out of bed at 8, did school. Then we went to tour the Titan Missile Museum. I was amazed and awed at the size of the springs there…the whole underground base was supported by springs, and they were massive! We learned about the guy who didn’t want to go all the way back to get a wrench (I think), so he used one he had that wasn’t a perfect fit, then it slipped from his hand, and ended up causing an explosion which killed him and wounded his mate. I think that was in Arkansas. The wrench he dropped caused the two types of fuel (?) to mix…and they’re never supposed to touch each other until the missile is ready to launch.

25 February Saturday

Today I went Goodwilling in Sierra Vista with Jack. I bought a glass bead necklace, a pizza stone, more yarn to make another basket, a pizza scraper, and another book for Jack. A great day!

27 February Monday

We went to Saguaro National Park East (I’m pretty sure it was east, not west). The desert is a beautiful place, and I’m glad we get to spend so much time here, but I rather enjoy the beauty of green green green trees and grass.

Afterwards we met up with Don and Dar for one last get-together. I’d told Tj so much about the awesome burger I had so we went back to Thursty’s and got one. I realized while waiting for our food (and this second time here we waited quite a bit!) that my eyes were dry probably because I needed to stop taking my flonase. When we first got to Tucson my nose was horrible…bleeding and so super dry. I stopped flonase a day or two, but then I sneezed all day! I’ve been taking it since then, but starting tomorrow I’m going to stop flonase and see how that works for me.

1 March Wednesday

We took TJ to the airport this morning. After school Jack and I took our usual walk around the park and then decided to go into the rec room to see what was up. Jack started playing with the cue ball on the pool table they have there. After we’d been there 5 or so minutes a lady came in from the laundromat in the other room and just watched him play. After a bit she went and got her husband and they asked me if it would be okay if they paid for Jack to play a game of pool. When I said that would be fine the wife told the husband he needed to teach Jack how to play πŸ™‚ The lady went back in to check on their laundry and the man started teaching Jack how to play, and then he told me that they had a grandson, and made a significant face so I knew that he had a grandson with Down Syndrome. It just makes me chuckle, I think older people are still a little shy about Down Syndrome. There’s not near as much stigma as there used to be, and younger people don’t hesitate to ask me or talk about Jack, but this guy didn’t really want to say the words, so I did. He was sweet though; they both were. He taught Jack how to handle the cue stick and just had a little fun with him. Come to find out it didn’t take any money to play, you just had to push the coin slide all the way in for all the balls to release. I see us doing this a lot in the future πŸ™‚ The guy was nice enough, but kept emphasizing how well each of his children were doing and how many well-known people they knew and were friendly with. Apparently he has a daughter who knows somebody high up in Disneyland so they get in there for free. His son knows somebody well place in the racing industry in Florida so they get to ride in the truck around the racetrack before the race starts. And they have a son who works in Dubai so you know how much money he makes. And also Fed Ex isn’t a great company for anybody except for pilots. I just smiled and nodded and tried to be more polite on the outside than I was on the inside.

2 March Thursday

Teaching/Mothering Jack is hard. Last night it was about peeing in his pants. Today at school it was this: he had a word bank and 12 sentences. These are all words he knows. One sentence was “A dime is this many pennies.” Ok, he’s not gonna know that, though he knows a dime from a penny. I told him to look in the first column: tent, ten, bell. Which word is a number? He guesses tent, and then bell. Really?? Is he playing me, or does he really not know? I ask him a few more questions, then finally ask him if ten is a number, and he says no. Fine. I tell him it is a number and tell him to write it in the blank. Another sentence is “Baby birds stay in it.” and he automatically says “Cage!”!!!! We’ve read all the words in the word bank out loud, but he says cage, not nest. Ok. Heh. So he knows birds stay in a cage (when’s the last time he saw a bird in a cage??), but can’t remember that ten is a number (we practice numbers at least every school day)? From day to day and sometimes moment to moment I can’t tell what’s playing me vs. what’s lack of knowledge. Sigh.

Well he just used his big toe to push his glasses back into place, so I guess that tells me something.

I went to pay our electrical bill today. I was gearing myself up for a big bill. I thought we were doing pretty good…I’ve probably turned on the a/c 4 times this month…but then I remembered all the loads of laundry I’ve washed and dried!! Oh well, it’s time to pay the piper. I went in and asked how much it was and she said 1546. I thought, over a thousand!!!!!! She said well, that’s kind of low, huh? And I said a thousand is low??!! She clarified $15.46!!! HA!! $15 for a whole month’s worth of electricity?? That’s awesome! I wonder if she got the number wrong? Their credit card machine wasn’t working so I’ll go back and pay later.

3 March Friday

Max just asked Jack if he was asleep, and Jack said yes!

Sometime during our time here we saw a little family of roadrunners run across the street in the park.

The other day Jack had an actual conversation with someone outside of our family! We were walking to the garbage and he saw a man washing his truck and Jack said how’s it going? The man says it’s going good, how are you? Jack said I’m good. An actual exchange between two people of more than two words each! That was exciting πŸ™‚