Monday, March 25, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip: Recovery and Life Moves On

A heavy depression fell on me the day after we got home.  I woke up with the same vestibular imbalance, things pitching and lurching most of the day, especially if I stood up too quickly or bent over for something.  It went away after a few days; I still don't know what it was.  In many ways, it was good to be home.  I desperately missed my pillow and bed.  Having more than four outfits to choose from was kind of nice.  Letting the girls have space to move about was also good for us all. 

But it seemed all I was coming home to, was work.  Dishes.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Bills.  Calls to return.  Emails to answer.  And on top of it all, lots and lots of unpacking.  Which is still not done.  It seems like I spent the first three days home almost entirely in the kitchen, and not doing fun stuff.  Three meals a day for the family, plus dishes and a little cleaning.  After two weeks of driving, seeing new things, and eating out, it was overwhelmingly dull. 

But now, a week home, I'm somewhat recalibrated.  Dishes are not so daunting.  Things are more than 50% unpacked.  Some things are caught up.  I'm a little bit back in the rhythm of things.  So glad we still have another week of spring break.  We all slept so late last week, catching up.  This week, we're getting more in our own time zone. 

But life never stops!  This week is Hazel's birthday, Ed's parents come into town, Hazel's baptism this weekend, then Easter on Sunday.  Lots of things to arrange and people to feed.  Also everyone has doctor's and dentist check-ups to keep us all caught up.  So the trip was amazing.  Unbelievable.  Perfect.  But now it's over, and on to what's next.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 13: NOW we are headed home

There was not much to do today but square our shoulders and head for home.  The landscape became more rolling; I do love driving through Ohio.  But more traffic.  Slower speed limits.  Even some road construction, and a hazmat crew working on a rolled tanker.  But also better food options; lunch at Panera was a pleasure. 

During lunch, though, I started to feel super dizzy.  The place was spinning and rolling.  I closed my eyes, put my head down, ate my food.  Took a Tylenol.  After lunch, I drove, hoping that would still things.  It wasn't too bad driving, but when we stopped for gas in Wheeling, WV, late afternoon, I could barely walk across the parking lot; it was all pitching and lurching.  My stomach was fine; it was purely vestibular.  So Ed drove the rest of the way.  We finished The Sorcerer's Stone audio book and listened to a few short stories.  Some music, some movies, and then we were home.  We rolled in around 7:30 p.m.  Unloaded the car, put the kids to bed.  All the while everything kept spinning in my head.  Totally bizarre.  I went to bed as soon as I could because when I laid down, the lurching slowed and eventually stopped.  Sweet still bliss.

Over the days, Ed and I discovered a new shared disdain for dumb-sounding town names made up of other names.  Texarkana.  Kanorado.  Missinois.  Really?  Also a less profound, but still real, disapproval of names of other more famous places in lesser-known locales.  Like Brazil, Illinois.  And too many states have a "Paris."  Just leave Paris alone and make your own names.  These are just some of the thoughts that pass through a road-tripper's mind.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 12: My New Favorite City

St. Louis.  It's one of those cities that you've heard of, you know basically where it is.  You can probably even say a few things about it.  Mississippi River.  Big arch thing.  American history stuff.  But you don't really find yourself there much, unless maybe a layover at the airport.  It's not usually a destination.  Which is why we wanted to check it out, since we were passing through anyway.

After just a few minutes' research, I wanted to stay for a week.  I was especially taken by a project local second-graders did for the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission - a kid-made tour of the city, with kid-made activities to do at each spot.  (See here, scroll down.)  Love it. 

But we only had a half-day.  I thought maaaaybe we can squeeze in two things, but probably just one.  It seemed City Museum was not to be missed, so we went there first, more out of curiosity than certainty, hoping to visit the Gateway Arch briefly on our way out of town. 

The thing about City Museum in St. Louis is that there are actually no adequate words to describe it.  One website tries by saying, "Explore the unexpected at this exciting, interactive museum for children and adults. A mixture of funhouse, playground and architectural marvel."  But those words do not quite do it.  Others that may come to mind, like labyrinth, rebar, fantasy, concrete, caves, slides, hidden tunnels, scrap metal, shoelaces, body skate park, industrial design, maze, Tim-Burton-meets-Dr.-Seuss, mosaic, and wonderland, also do not even scratch the surface.  Two days later, I am still speechless.  All I can say is, I don't know when, but we are going back.  As often as possible.  And I recommend it to EVERYONE. 

Pictures don't do it justice, either, but I still couldn't help taking some anyway.
This is what you see from the parking lot.  And you know you're going to have a good time.

As soon as we got there, the girls climbed up this tunnel.   
 The tunnels at the top were dark and went in all directions; they were too scared to delve in, so they backed back down.  Only after exploring the underground caves for an hour or so did they become very courageous, and suddenly the tunnel labyrinth in this space's ceiling was no biggie.

You can hardly tell but this is a snack area.  See the table/bench under the stairs? 

The underground labyrinth.  Too dark and tight-spaced to take good pics.  A kid's dreamland.

 They had a vintage shoelace-weaving machine in here, and a small shop where they sold stuff it wove.  I bought the girls woven headbands for Easter baskets, and a new pair of shoelaces for myself.
There were even some real museum-y rooms.

Concrete slide bowl; Poppy instinctively chose the section right for her (green pants to the right; Hazel is in the pink coming down.)

And then we went outside.

Ginger is the middle person up there in the tunnel...and I took that picture from one story up; at the highest, it was four.  She was fearless!

We played hard for almost four hours.  There was always more to see and explore; we still didn't do it all.  Dude, if I lived anywhere within 2 hours, we would be members.  Best play area.  EVER!!!  I need to read a little history of the place; it looked like my brother and his buddies had designed it.  I just wondered how it ever got the funding - things this cool usually don't exist.  It made me an immediate fan of the entire city. 

Even though we had a hard time getting there.  Turns out it was the day before St. Patrick's.  Which I knew but didn't think about.  They had a fun run followed by a parade downtown.  Just used my trusty iPhone to navigate around things, but we did lose some time.

Everyone was tired, hungry, and very sweaty when we left.  Poppy fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot.  Which kind of dashed hopes of visiting Gateway park.  So instead, we pulled over, jumped out for a few pictures, jumped back in, and drove off down the highway.
A few miles into Illinois, pulled off for a mid-afternoon lunch at Golden Corral.  I could write a whole blog post about that place.  I don't think I'd been to a buffet-style restaurant in over ten years; the thought made me cringe.  But it was just right for us that day.  Something for everyone, even me, including a decent salad bar and some really good yeasty rolls hot from the oven.  Fun dessert bar, too, including chocolate fountain and cotton candy. 

Then we had to make some hay on the road.  We drove late into the night, with just a small supper in Indianapolis, landing exhausted in Richmond, Indiana, and only getting so-so sleep thanks to Poppy who was restless and kicking everyone.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 11: Best Laid Schemes

Best Laid Scheme #1
Ed and I made an awesome plan last night.  We've done these hotel morning routines enough now to really economize our time.  We wanted to get to St. Louis as soon as we could.  He would get up and take a shower while I got the girls all up and dressed.  Then he would take them to the breakfast room while I showered and packed up our things.  Then I would go and trade off with him, sit with the girls and eat breakfast while he finished packing up his things and the car.  This was a smart plan because the girls take so long to eat breakfast.  We would be up and out of there in no time, which I didn't mind a bit since Norman Bates appeared to still be on duty in the morning. 
It worked perfectly.  Until we were all packed up and ready in the car, and Ed kept not coming out of the hotel.  Ginger was with him so I thought she was using the bathroom or something, but after 10 minutes I went back to check on them.  He had something urgent from work come up, that he needed the wi-fi for, so he was scrambling away on his laptop.  I went back out with the girls and waited.  Waited, waited.  Washed the front windshield.  The back one.  All the windows.  Organized the snack bin.  And the supply bin.  Waited.  Forty-five minutes later, we bid Norman farewell and rolled onto the highway.  No sooner than if I'd slept an extra hour.

Best Laid Scheme #2
Right around 10 a.m. we need a rest stop, both to use the bathroom and to run around.  Because of our late start, we hoped to go past 10 or skip it altogether, but nature calls.  I was driving, so Ed checked my iExit app for upcoming rest stops, and there were none for 90 miles, so we had to pull off to a gas station.  And you know how those bathrooms are.  But there was a grassy lawn/ empty lot behind it, so we ran around a bit, clearing our noses of the stench and stretching our legs.  Ten minutes later we passed a lovely looking service area, the kind we prefer to stop at.  I looked at Ed.  He blamed the app.  Mhm.

Best Laid Scheme #3
This one isn't really a scheme, but we've mostly stuck to our plans on this trip, and I was up for some spontaneity.  Not that there's a lot to do or see in Kansas, but sometimes those billboards have just the thing.  A sign for Moon Marble Company: Toys, Gifts, Marbles caught my attention, and I took the exit without hesitating.  A couple of miles later we parked in a gravel lot by the train tracks next to a run-down little building, and entered vintage toy utopia.
 An entire wall of every color marble on earth, sold from bulk bins.  We filled two tubes and a jar, more marbles than we could ever dream of needing. 
 We just couldn't stop ourselves.
Then we explored the rest of the store.  Games and toys from generations before mine, mixed in with some I recognized.  In the way back was a small stage with bleachers, and a man demonstrating how marbles are made.  To one side was a demo room, with a few toy sets open for anyone to come play with.  We could have spent hours and hundreds in there, but reigned it in at about 30 minutes and $24, for two tubes and a jar of marbles, a big die with hearts instead of dots, a Nemo PEZ (Ginger has decided to start collecting), and three small wooden tops for the girls' Easter baskets.  Fun.

Best Laid Scheme #4
I won't even get into what happened at lunch, and how Ed had to get out his laptop and work through lunch, and how we sat outside at Chipotle because it was a beautiful day, but a bit blustery, and we had several blow-away situations, and how Poppy wouldn't eat and then cried all afternoon, sometimes screaming, because she was so hungry and we wouldn't let her eat until dinner.  We wanted to get to St. Louis in time to do something touristy, but between Ed's work, and yes, my spontaneous stop, it was already dinner time.  We skipped the chain-restaurant fare near the hotel and consulted Urbanspoon for something different.  Strangely, I was really craving a simple bowl of spaghetti.  We found a down-to-earth family-run pizzeria, and it was just the thing.  All the waitresses were sisters, and looked Italian to boot, so we knew we were in good hands.  Afterwards, we drove a few more blocks, not knowing at all where we were, and found a frozen custard shop with one gazillion flavors.  The girls got extra excited when a firetruck showed up and then firemen came over to order some custard.  I've told the girls many times, firemen always know the best places to eat.
Sometimes, most times, it's good to plan.  Other times, when the plan doesn't work, it's still fun to see what happens.

Daily Report 
Miles: 474
DVD:  Bill Nye the Science Guy - Planets & Gravity
Activity:  magnetic travel Chinese checkers
Poppy:  Water Wow On the Go Vehicles
Snack:  Pirate's Booty
High Point:  Kari - the marble shop stop; Ed - dinner (spaghetti with Italian sausage); the girls are asleep but they would probably say seeing the firemen.
Low Point:  Super nasty toilet at the Phillips 66 in Topeka

*Do you know where "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men" comes from?  A profoundly moving poem by Robert Burns called "To a Mouse."  Read more about it here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 10: Grandmother's House

When I was a child, going to Grandma's house was magical.  I was lucky enough to have two Grandmas; one lived close, the other far away.  Grandma Cummings' house was like a maze, with endless nooks to discover and hide in, stone fireplaces, a huge floral print wallpaper in the kitchen, a treasure trunk of fancy dress-ups, and the yellow red-hot pot in her pantry, always within child's reach.  Grandma Younce's house smelled like her hand lotion; she had baskets of embroidery mid-project, stained glass and wood-worked things Grandpa had made, fascinating old pictures, cream soda in the fridge, and she made the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.

My girls also have a close Grandma and a far Grandma.  Ed's mom comes to see us about once a year, but we go to her house less often than that, so a half day at her house is exciting indeed.  She made the girls French toast for breakfast, then quick went mass shopping for all the food she has to prep for Natalee's Colorado reception this Friday.  The wedding is over, but her work has just begun!

Despite all that, Grandma still made time to fill 33 plastic Easter eggs with notes and candy, hide them all around the yard, make a basket for each girl filled with purple Easter grass, and send them on a hunt, beaming at and laughing with them as they sought high and low.  Some of the notes said to see Grandma for a prize, and she had a prize bag they could choose from, some fun things that wouldn't fit in eggs.

Next she laid a kid-size table with a tablecloth, her plastic tea set, juice, and cookies, and sat with the girls for a tea party.  Tea parties are Grandma Marsha's specialty; I am not invited, though I did get a few quick pics.  I got to overhear just a snippet of conversation - what they wanted to be when they grew up and who all their dolls are.

While they partied downstairs, Ed and I washed and chopped some vegetables for the reception, then folded and packed up our clean laundry and other things back into the car.  After lunch we had to hug and kiss everyone good-bye.  After a quick stop for gas and more bottled water, we were on our way again.

We usually open the surprise bag in the morning, but since we didn't leave until about 2 p.m., we opened it in the car.  Their activity was an easy oragami instruction book and a pack of oragami paper, so that kept them busy most of the afternoon.  We had dinner at Sonic in Colby, Kansas (hello, orange creamslush) and ate outside in the balmy sunshine - Ginger was thrilled to have tater tots, and I couldn't believe I'd been freezing just a week ago without my coat.  We changed the girls into their pajamas before loading back up, and drove on until about 10 p.m., in order to get some miles behind us before stopping in Salina for the night.

Daily Report
Miles: 406
DVD:  An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
Activity: Easy Origami and origami paper
Poppy:  musical kaleidoscope
Snack:  Lucky Charms
High Point:  Grandma time
Low Point:  Most definitely the uber creepy night clerk at our hotel - my very own Norman Bates.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 9: Look at All These Beautiful Things

Today we had to leave Moab and head substantially east.  I was sorry to do it, but easily consoled by the beauty of the drive.  Desert-ish shrubs and plateaus followed by the eastward traverse over the Rockies.  The girls loved the scenery as much as Ed and I did - Hazel often exclaimed, "Nice!"  Ginger, "Awesome!"  Poppy many times repeated her exclamation from Arches, "Look at all these beautiful things!"  My greatest consolation was that "all these beautiful things" no longer seem as far from Virginia as they once did; my perspective has changed, and a few days in the car is no big deal.

Instagram.  My friend Therese asked me to join a long time ago.  Beyond the blog, I am not so tech savvy, so I never figured it out.  I noticed my sister Maren gramming like crazy over Thanksgiving, so I asked her to help me sign up.  Then I promptly forgot my login.

But I've started to find my insta-groove on this trip.  You can follow me, and see other pics from the trip that I haven't posted here; I am disco_mom.

We had lunch in the charming ski town of Frisco; we were the only folks in the Log Cabin Cafe not wearing ear bands and turtlenecks.  But we've gotten sick of fast food; I couldn't eat something fried today.  I had a really good burrito; Hazel tried onion rings for the first time and loved them.

From Frisco we stayed off I-70 and took the back way on smaller roads, through smaller towns, to Colorado Springs.  Towns I knew the names of, and recognized here and there, though I didn't know when or why I'd been through.  My six years in Colorado ended eight years ago now, and it's sad to lose your memory.

But it's very happy to arrive at Grandma's house!  We got to Ed's parents' around 4:30 and had a great time rediscovering the house, especially the toy trunks.  We had dinner, and then the two families of cousins that live nearby came over for dessert.  Eight girls and two boys pretty much destroyed the whole basement, with toy mess overflow into other surprise places we discovered later.  Lots and lots of cousin love.  Especially for Ginger, who has two girl cousins here her exact age.  Meanwhile, I did two loads of laundry, caught up with the aunts and uncles, and after everyone had left, and our girls down to bed in "the room with the fish tank", Ed and I stayed up talking to his parents at the kitchen table.

Daily Report
Miles: 450
DVD:  The Flintstones season 4
Activity:  Junior Mad Libs
Poppy:  stretchy rubber lizards
Snack:  pink and white iced animal cookies
High Point:  Family time
Low Point:  Ed getting pulled over for speeding in Lake George, even after Ginger and I had both told him to watch his speed.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 8: Officially NOT Headed Home

Now is as good a time as any to talk about hotel living.  It's interesting what everyone has picked up on, and what we do and don't like about it.  Our little family has never stayed in so many hotels before; any trips longer than a week have been mostly staying at someone's house.  By now we're experts.

Poppy learned the first night that there is always a Bible in the nightstand drawer.  She learned this because she likes to open every drawer in the place, and what fun to find a book in one of them!  Now in every room she goes straight for the Bible drawer, takes it out, and totes it around the room officially.  How exciting to also find a Book of Mormon in the Utah hotel rooms!  She'd know that blue and gold book anywhere.  Hazel loves the breakfast.  We've mostly stayed in hotels with help-yourself breakfasts; I think Hazel has made herself a waffle almost every morning on this trip.  With plenty of syrup, whipped cream if there is some, and heaping loads of whatever else looks good.  We try to also get some fruit down everyone at breakfast.  Ginger has put herself in charge of shoes.  Her sisters waltz into the hotel room and kick their shoes off where they are sure to be tripped over.  Ginger collects all shoes and lines them up in pairs by the door.  She also puts all the coats in the closet, and helps me lay out the next day's outfits in a drawer.  

It would take a lot for me to complain about staying in hotels.  I don't have to clean, make the beds, do dishes, minimal laundry.  It feels like such a luxury, even in the budget accommodations we've had.  Granted, the pillows suck, you can hear through the walls, and I can't watch TV with the kids asleep.  And it's a pain to pack up and unpack every day.  But I am not complaining.  Not yet.  

Now.  After a hearty breakfast in the lodge, and packing up the car, we started to head out of Zion this morning.  As we turned east, Ed said definitively, "Well, we are now officially on our way home."  And that is just one of the many differences between how Ed and I think.  To him, we'd hit our western apex, and now, heading into the sun, we were on the way home.  To me, nuh-uh.  I'm on vacation until I start to see signs for Arlington, so no matter what direction we're headed, we are NOT headed home until there's nothing else we're going to do or see.  And that ain't today.

I did have to stop in the Visitor's Center just one more time to get the girls t-shirts for their Easter baskets.  I hadn't gotten them yesterday because I wanted to check out a couple shops.  Why are vacation t-shirts so ugly and lame?  I went back because I liked the Utah Rocks! shirts best.  Also some finger puppets for Ginger and Poppy, and some pioneer bar soap for Hazel.  Easter baskets are almost done!

We headed east out of the park, a different way than we'd come in.  My camera was packed in the back, so I didn't get any pictures of the drive, and I'm sad about that.  Canyonlands galore; one of the most beautiful drives of our trip so far - Highway 89 north to I-70 and then I-70 east to 191 and Arches.  Ed drove today, and I could have read my book, written postcards, napped, etc.  But all I did all day was stare out the windows in a trance, with my feet up on the dash.  So good for my soul.

But I was still entertained.  We've had some good audio books on this trip.  First we listened to How to Train Your Dragon, which we finished today and which was one of the best acted audio books I've ever heard.  Completely gripping for the whole family, especially since we've never read the book or seen the movie.  Then we tried some Tales of King Arthur I got from the library, but it skipped too much, so we started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone today.  My girls have of course heard of Harry Potter, but they've never read the books nor seen the movies.  Vague idea it's about wizard stuff.  It was so fun to sit with them through those first chapters when Harry finds out he's a wizard, and starts to learn about the wizard world, and explore Diagon Alley.  They are entranced.  

We landed at Arches National Park around 3:30 p.m. and spend 2.5 hours doing the quick tour - main road plus a few viewpoints and short hikes.  We had to sacrifice quantity for quality, as all the girls wanted to do was climb, climb, climb.  We couldn't deprive them of such prime climbing opps.  I didn't even go in the gift shop.

At the top of this rock, Poppy took a deep breath, waved her arm out in front of her and said, "Mom!  Look at all these beautiful things!"  A 2-year-old's appreciation for an amazing view.

Poppy threw a tantrum on the way down from Delicate Arch viewpoint because Ginger has having a turn in the backpack.  She got even madder when I took a picture of her crying.  But then I picked her up and distracted her with Backyardigans talk.  She's a total junkie, and all it took was, "What are all the songs in Mission to Mars?" for her to start listing and singing them.  Bought me enough time to get back to the car, and she was asleep before we were out of the parking lot.

  We had NY-style pizza in Moab, a quick dip in the hotel pool, and off to bed.  Another FABULOUS day on the road.

Daily Report
Miles: 350
DVD: Prima Princessa Swan Lake
Activity:  Travel Connect Four
Poppy: magnetic farm tin
Snack: Pizza goldfish and cinnamon bears
High Point:  The fresh air and rock climbing at Arches.
Low Point:  It's a toss-up between losing Ginger at Zion Lodge after breakfast, and Poppy pooping on the sheets before going to sleep tonight.           

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip Day 7: Zion

Come to Zion, come to Zion,
And within her walls rejoice.

This was the most amazing day.  There are no words for the breathtaking vistas, views, canyons, rock formations, and arches in Zion National Park.  I took about 200 pictures today, and they are all perfect, even the ones taken from the car window.  I couldn't stop shooting.  

We stayed at Zion Lodge, which is the only non-camping accommodations inside the park itself.  It was dark when we checked in, so imagine my gasp when I opened the blinds this morning to see this:

We had breakfast in the main lodge's restaurant, then started out our day at the Visitor's Center.  What this actually means is, Ed and the girls gathered maps and information, and read the stuff in the Visitor's Center while I hit the gift shop, and made some savvy purchases.  A sun hat for Poppy, a monocular, a stack of postcards, National Parks DVD set, and three of these thermometer/compass keychains for the girls.

 Best purchases ever, by the way.  The girls checked our direction and temperature all day, and just loved their souvenirs.  

By now it was late morning so we headed to our first hike: Canyon Overlook.  Up the switchbacks, through the Mt. Carmel tunnel, and up the trailhead we went. 


And here was the view at the top:
Worth every step.

Now something to know about our girls is that they love rocks.  They love to collect them, throw them, and most of all climb them.  They are basically never happier than when climbing on big rocks.  Luckily we were able to do a ton of bouldering today.

We had lunch back at the lodge, then, to take advantage of the few hours of sunlight on the green, Ed played chase with the girls while I investigated the lodge gift shop.  Totally different stuff than the Visitor's Center and I had to check it out.  I was very conservative, and only got a few gifts, plus a super nice Tilley hat for Ed. 

In the afternoon we headed out to another hike - easier but longer: Riverwalk.  It followed the Virgin River  up this astounding narrow but high canyon, ending at a rocky sandbar, where, you guessed it, we threw rocks into the water.  They could have done it for hours.


We threw rocks for a long time, but eventually made our way back to the car, with lots and lots of rock climbing on the way.  I had to decide early in the day to not care what happened to their clothes.

We went into Springdale for dinner, a hoppin' joint called Oscar's Cafe.  The kids' menu offerings on the trip are getting tiresome, but we're doing what we can to get some variety and fresh food into them.  We had promised dessert - I forget now what the bribe was for - oh yeah, to get Ginger to go the distance on that last hike - so we walked down the street for ice cream cones.  On the way back I told the girls about a Food Network show I'd seen about a Haagen Dazs ice cream flavor competition, and we all made up flavors.  Hazel: triple fudge with vanilla and caramel swirls.  Ginger: baby ice cream called Bungaroo Cream - banana ice cream with different colored gummy candies in baby shapes like pacifiers and bottles.  Me: Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie ice cream - vanilla pudding ice cream with pieces of pastry crust, a thick fudge swirl, and tiny pieces of fresh banana; must be served with whipped cream.  It was a fun conversation.

We got back, bathed the girls, and they fell asleep very quickly.  It's been kind of fun running them ragged. I will say, they were adequately appreciative of the adventure today.  Many times they, especially Ginger, exclaimed how beautiful it all was, and thank you, thank you for this wonderful trip

This should have been the most exhausting day for me, too, on my feet hiking almost all day without much down time.  I found it strange that I was actually not as tired at 10 p.m. as I have been other days, and this was the first day in five or so that I haven't had a headache.  All day as I soaked in the views, I thought, being here is good for the soul.  I think it's been good for everything.

Daily Report
Miles: N/A
No surprise bag, not a travel day
High Point: Hazel & Ginger - everything.  Poppy - rock climbing.  Ed - Canyon Overlook hike.  Kari - Riverwalk hike.
Low Point: When we thought we'd lost Poppy.  We were on our way back on the Riverwalk, and Ed was rock climbing with the big girls.  I thought Poppy was with him on the other side, but he came around and asked where she was.  We looked all around, then up and down the trail in both directions, calling her name.  I ran along the trail and found her, around a bend, walking precariously along a stone wall, teetering with a 12-foot drop behind her, and smiling at me.  Luckily she lost her balance in favor of the trail, and I scooped her up and rocked her until my heart slowed down.  The look on my face had scared her, so she started to cry, and we just rocked and rocked. 
And for fun, here are just a few more pictures:

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