Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trip Recap

I knew that if I waited long enough, I'd forget everything we did, and guess what? I was right! Which doesn't give me as much pleasure as being right normally does. Anyhow, here's a quick overview of what we've been doing all week.

On Monday, we dropped Ryan off at his convention in downtown Albuquerque. This picture (which we actually took on Sunday) was a bench on the street by the convention center.

The boys' first choice for activities on Monday was the National Atomic Museum - not because they know that nuclear energy is the solution to the energy crisis, but because the museum has a giant rocket in front.

Zack is putting his massive amounts of energy to good use. Riding the bike powers a little black and white tv, which was showing Clifford at the time. If it was tuned to Nickelodeon, the kids might never have gotten off. I'm ordering three for our family room.

Zack took this picture, isn't it cuter than you'd expect from a four year old with a camera?

Zack took this picture, too. Just to prove he's not a gifted photographer.

For lunch, we had to go to Waffle House, where we spilled water not once, not twice, but three times! The poor waitress had to keep coming over to collect massive piles of wet napkins. If it hadn't been Waffle House, I would have left before we even ordered - I knew it was going to be that bad. But when else am I going to eat at a Waffle House??

After lunch we went back to the hotel for Darcey's nap, and two hours of Spongebob on Nickelodeon. Then we went back out and attempted to go to Petroglyph National Monument, which (after the Balloon Failure, I mean, Fiesta) was tops on my list. As it turns out, I forgot to pack a carrier for Darcey, and the one stroller-friendly hike had no petroglyphs. So we left, with two strikes on my must-see list.

That evening I took the boys swimming again, which they loved and I sat, freezing. The couple from last night showed up again, but we had chatted over breakfast and it turns out that they (especially the husband) were super friendly. I'm not sure why the wife seemed so grouchy that first night, maybe she needed one more styrofoam cup of wine to loosen up. Anyhow, it was enjoyable to chat with them and I got bonus points for taking them to the pool again.

On Tuesday, we started at my #3 site on my must-see list, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which was a little less interesting than I had hoped. One thing that made me particularly crazy was that the entrance to the museum was through a gift shop, which is lower than what Disneyland is even willing to stoop to. The kids wanted to touch everything, so they were banging on the drums and I kind of didn't care, since they made us go in there. On the bright side, it was easy enough to tell them we weren't buying anything, since they weren't used to asking for trinkets at the beginning. On the down side, they spent a lot of their short attention span on the gift shop and didn't care much for the exhibits. This was the beginning of the end of museums for us.

Afterwards, we hit the Natural History and Science Museum, which we all really liked. It had lots of learning-type of information, but all of the exhibits were as flashy and entertaining as they could make it. So the kids enjoyed it a lot, and I felt like we might be learning stuff too. They got to touch a snake, which they loved. Boys, whatever.

We watched The Alps on the big Imax-type screen, although I had to take Darcey and Zack out early because they were so loud. I thought it was pretty cool to see locations that we have actually been to, so it was especially disappointing to have to leave early. But if I had been thinking, I would have not bothered to have even tried, because it was so disappointing.

We had a late lunch at Wendy's, and for the record I am just done eating fast food. If I never have another cheeseburger in my life, it will be too soon.

On Wednesday, we took the museum part of our trip one museum too far. Brad had requested the Balloon Museum, but they were totally not able to focus at all on anything other than running from one thing to the next. It was not pleasant, for me anyhow.

I capitalized on their abundance of energy by taking them to a playground, which breathed new life into our trip. Wednesday needed to be a rest day - attempting a museum was probably a mistake, but they could have played at the playground for hours and hours.

On Thursday, Ryan was done with his conference, so we went together back to Petroglyph, with some fabric I bought as a wrap for Darcey. Instead of counting ancient Native American drawings, the boys counted how many gigantic millipedes they found on the trail, whether dead or alive. (There were 19.)
The petroglyphs were pretty much as cool as I had thought, but the whole being-out-in-nature thing is not my forte, as many of you know. I was fairly nervous about finding a snake or lizard or whatever that thing was that was making a clicking noise off in the bushes. We couldn't do the whole hike because Darcey wasn't too thrilled (it was near naptime) and Ryan, who has a cold, wasn't feeling 100%. But I got enough petroglyphs to say I have seen them, which is more than I can say for hot air balloons.

Zack sure loved running around the trail, stopping to look at the bushes and the stinkbug and the millipede he accidentally stepped on. He'd crouch down and examine everything with such intensity that I'm really glad we went there. I may not be too fond of nature, but my boys love it, and I want to nurture that. Just, from indoors if possible.

Another stroke of luck, although this sounds more like a bad news/good news story. On the way to Petroglyphs, the Check Engine light came on in the van. Which would be bad enough at home, but takes on all sorts of urgency when we're driving 10 hours through barren wastelands the very next day. I dropped off Ryan and Darcey for naptime, and took the boys to a Toyota dealership to have it looked at. The good news is, the part that is broken a)Is not essential, b)Doesn't need to be fixed before we leave, and c)Was a recall, so it's under warranty and I won't have to pay for anything. Whew! This could definitely have not ended well, but fortunately this Toyota has been a fantastic car to own.

I took the boys swimming this afternoon, during daylight hours for once and in moderately warm weather, so we stayed for an hour and a half or so. Then the whole family went into Old Town to look around, buy trinkets, eat authentic New Mexican food (which must mean expensive and not very good, according to the place we went), and watch some Native American dancers. We took a shortcut home, which in Mudgett parlance means we got lost, but made it back here eventually.

And that brings me to right now. We're leaving tomorrow, and we think we'll skip a scheduled stop at Arches to make it home by tomorrow night. I'm planning on stopping at Four Corners Monument, because that is exactly the kind of tourist trap I love. My life won't be complete without a picture of my children in four different states at the same time - I think it's the perfect physical representation of what being the mother of four kids is, being pulled in four different directions at once. If only they had a giant sombrero like at South Carolina's South of the Border - now there's a tourist trap that's close to my heart. I'll let you know how this one stacks up.

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