Cross-Country Road Trip 2016: Cali to Bama in a Pick-Up Truck

cross country road trip

One last basketball game with friends

cross country road trip

The movers came and boxed us up.

cross country road trip

Day 1: I promise our children do not normally consume sodas and play video games all day. Remember this was a manly trip…which really just means that I was not there, so don’t blame me. 😉

cross country road trip

California: Do you see the train going into the tunnel? Look closely.

cross country road trip

Arriving in Vegas. Don’t worry. I promise they didn’t see the shows, play the slots, or um…look around…

cross country road trip

hangin’ with friends

cross country road trip

What kids do in Vegas

cross country road trip

There was an Avengers thing-a-majig going on there,.

cross country road trip

And Caleb’s turn

Next Stop: North Rim of the Grand Canyon!!

cross country road trip

You will see them shading their eyes constantly in these photos. Our eyes have very little pigmentation. It’s hard! Plus, we couldn’t find their sunglasses.

cross country road trip

Were they not too sure about this at first?

cross country road trip

We gotta frame this.

cross country road trip 2016

Before the trip they thought the Grand Canyon was worth skipping. Ha! They get it now.

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And on the road again…

cross country road trip

I love these window landscape shots. The Southwest is uniquely beautiful.

cross country road trip

This one made me laugh. Bless their hearts. Buy them some sunglasses!!

Once you finish chuckling over their eye covers, check out the FOUR CORNERS behind them: You can be in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado all at the same time.

cross country road trip

I’m thinking this is probably Colorado. I wasn’t there, and Alan’s outside building a trampoline, so I can’t ask him. Poor Alan. So glad I’m not the one with the big muscles that builds things.

Mesa Verde National Park

cross country road trip

As I mentioned before, we learned about these Anasazi cliff-dwellers in school this year, so what a perfectly timed field trip.


cross country road trip

When do I get to go see this because I want to too!


cross country road trip









cross country road trip 2016

This part would have been my favorite!

IMG_4455 IMG_4457 cross country road trip 2016


cross country road trip

On the road again, just can’t wait to get back on the road again….



Next Stop: Oklahoma City


It just might’ve been his best birthday ever. And no, we’ve never been Braves fans, but I thought it went along with the whole becoming Southern thing. He approved. He also loved his bat bag and baseball cards.

cross country road trip 2016

They went to an OKC Dodgers (minor league baseball) game. Caleb is crazy for baseball this year.


cross country road trip 2016

It was a double-header, so Alan even got them a hotel where they could watch the game from their hotel room. Nice!

cross country road trip 2016

Yes, they loved this pool.

cross country road trip

What’s better than a day at the ballpark?

cross country road trip 2016

Well, iHop is a close second. Mmmm

cross country road trip 2016

happy happy happy

Oh yeah, and Alan also took them to Pops, a soda pop factory/store. (Thanks for all the ideas, Greg!) They brought back a cooler full of sodas too. I might as well go ahead and schedule their dental appointments. No, it hasn’t been a full 6 months, but there was this trip.

cross country road trip 2016

Do you think it will make him hyper?

cross country road trip 2016

Yes. Apparently.



On to Arkansas…


By this point, Alan was speeding the trip along, so they just whipped right through Arkansas, and on to Tennessee:

cross country road trip 2016

We were all intrigued to see what this giant pyramid was, and it turned out to be a BASS PRO SHOPS!! Haha!

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And no trip to Bammer is complete without a visit to Bryant-Denny. (That’s the University of Alabama football stadium, for all you non-southerners or non football fans.)

cross country road trip 2016

They had to shield their eyes from the glitter of all those national championship trophies. hehe Roll Tide!

And finally, they arrived and reunited with Mom and little brothers!

cross country road trip 2016

As far as I can tell, having three brothers is extremely fun.

We enjoyed being together for a couple of days, all of us as a family in our new house. But our work is not done. Alan, Joshua, and Caleb are over at my parents’ house, helping them move, and Joshua and Caleb are going to stay for the rest of the week. They are super excited because the Wii died in the fire, so Grandaddy has promised to buy an x-box for their house.

Happy Summer, y’all!!

Cross Country Road Trip 2016: The Man Show

cross country road trip

This beautiful lone cypress (a trademark of Carmel/Monterey area) painting was a thank you gift to Alan for being a basketball and baseball and tee-ball coach. It was painted by a grandfather of boys on those teams. This artist was at almost every single game. Thank you so much, sweet friends!!

It’s purely a man show this time, y’all. Last time it was just Alan and me. This time it’s Alan, Joshua, and Caleb.They are crossing the country mostly on I-40 riding in a full cab pick-up truck with a camper-cover. Is that what you call those things? I don’t know.  It’s a truck with a hut built on it to keep your luggage dry.

If you follow Alan on Facebook, then I have no news for you because Alan used up his text message plan and I took these pics from Facebook. Don’t you think it’s time for him to upgrade to unlimited texts?

Day 1, Friday:

Morning–hung out with friends and cleared out of old house. This military housing office was very easy to work with. Highly recommend!

Afternoon–Drove to Las Vegas

Evening–stayed at Treasure Island Resort


breakfast in Vegas with friends

Day 2, Saturday:

Morning–Hung out with the same friends they hung out with on Friday. If you’ve been to our house in California this past year, then I’m sure you met Tom and Amy and family. We love these people.

Afternoon–Drove to the Grand Canyon, North Rim (because we saw the South Rim last time)


dinner at sunset, overlooking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Evening–Go to bed early because boys are desperately sleep deprived after having so much fun with their friends and 2 sleepovers prior to the trip. (See, Alan could have made them sleep in the truck, but he is kind.)

Caleb has tried over and over again to get out of this road trip. He begged to fly with me and JD, but we insisted. There is no experience like seeing the American Southwest for yourself. We wanted him to experience seeing America, appreciate the great distances, and see the Grand Canyon.

I think it’s going quite well.

Last night Alan said this in an email:

And, April, please know that we actually are having fun. I may point out a bad thing or two that’s happened but it’s mostly “really cool”, “really awesome road trip”, “thanks, Dad”, …with an occasional “No, I meant, you and Josh fly with me to Georgia and then come back and get the truck!?!” Yea, he asked for that during a lull today…BUT, it’s not much at all of the trip.

Future Plans:

Last night Alan said, “We’re staying the night in Jacob Lake, AZ and tomorrow is 4 corners, Anasazi Cliff Dwellers in Mesa Verde and then…who knows!”

I’m so excited that they get to see the Anasazi Villages!!  That one was mine and Caleb’s request!!  Remember, I’m only not there because my hip went rogue this year and won’t let me sit for long periods. I am the kind of person that would LOVE to be on a cross-country road trip. In fact, I went last time, and I blogged about it.

Have you seen the Anasazi Villages? We learned about them in the Classical Conversations curriculum this year. We even memorized this song:

“The Anasazi of the Southwestern United Stated built adobe villages on the sides of the cliffs from 500 BC to 1200 AD.”

Want to see what they look like? Here’s a short YouTube video:

When I talked to them on the phone a few minutes ago, they’d already left Four Corners. Apparently, the line was an hour and a half long, so they just took photos and left. We are not line people. I also skipped the Liberty Bell a few years ago because eh, history is interesting and all, but waiting in line? How many things are really worth that?

Meanwhile, Dan, JD, and I are relaxing at my parents’ temporary house. Tomorrow I’m going to go polish my floors.

Wait. Did I say “my floors”?? That’s right! We take occupancy tomorrow!  We don’t have furniture until at least next weekend, but I’m just pleased as punch to not have to put my stuff in storage or live homeless like I did last time we moved!!

Yep. We are happy, happy, happy!

Want to read more Road Trip posts? See this list from last time!

Cross Country Road Trip: Days 2 &3




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Running Away from it All: Yosemite Day One

San Luis Reservoir

Day One: You know we love a road trip.

Today we did something wild and crazy. We left our children with Alan’s parents, and got ourselves out of town! Does Alan have big, important projects due on Monday? Yes. Do I have important things to do Monday? Yes. Do we have children recovering from illness? Yes.

Do we have a wonderful life that we are thankful for and don’t actually NEED to RUN away from? YES! We just needed REST. Alan needed to go to bed at 9, and I need to sleep all night and wake up at 7–like a wild woman! We just need to be together, just the two of us, and remember who we are, outside of our jobs and our stress.

So excited!

Yosemite National Park, here we come!
Sometimes you just HAVE to get away.
First, we had a road trip, just a few hours. Alan drove. I built next year’s school calendar for Pacific Christian Academy. I got all the way through quarter 3, and then the Doritos and soda kicked in and I felt a little like hurling, so I put all the books away and just enjoyed the rest of the ride.
Why do I eat things that I KNOW will make me feel terrible? Bad decisions, repeating mistakes: One of life’s mysteries.

It looks beautiful, but don’t touch it. Now that we live here, we know that that tall, brown grass that covers everything is actually full of thorns. Yow!

The drive was, of course, beautiful. Endless, endless farms and ranches, mountains, valleys, hills, and plains. God just shows off in California.
Only one thing missing. Facilities. I can neither confirm nor deny if anyone peed on the roadside for the very first time. 70/ounces of water/day is a lot; that’s all I’m saying…

Ah, so nice!

And then we saw it: our little piece of paradise: a one bedroom cottage, with a kitchen, a gas fireplace, a gigantic bathtub, and…..WIFI.

So comfortable! You gotta visit this place!

This mirror reminds me of the ones they sell in Mexican border towns. I bet that’s where they got it. Now I wish I had bought one in Mexico myself!

We are so happy. We even took a couple selfie in a mirror, just like the “young people” do. 😉

We found an awesome BBQ joint!

After hours of seeing no sign of civilization, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that we are staying 10 minutes from the town of Oakhurst. By this time, it had been three hours since the Doritos/Coke mistake, so we headed on over to a BBQ joint in town, Alice’s Cookhouse. I love finding pulled pork BBQ in California. This is the food of my people. It just feels like home!

Did you see the wall sign behind Alan in the above photo: “Vegetarian” of Indian origin: meaning “bad hunter”. LOL!  Meanwhile, this place forever changed my ability to enjoy an ordinary BBQ sandwich!


They put put coleslaw in the sandwich, right on top of the pulled pork. I couldn’t get over it. SO DELICIOUS! Now I just need to learn how to make coleslaw…
Tomorrow: we hike Yosemite. That will be the really good pictures! Don’t worry. I will share.

Tonight: Alan passed out at 9pm, and I’m plotting ways to get the whole family to this amazing vacation location!! That’s the thing about vacationing without the children. We needed the rest so badly, but I just keep thinking, “Oh, the boys would love this!!” And they will! Boys, I think this looks an awful lot like “Science Camp.” 😉 Field trip planning is in the works!


Can we go to Chima now: the 2nd Day of Legoland


We have now been back from vacation for three days. I suppose one would expect us to be fully unpacked and ready to go back to school tomorrow.

Alas, that isn’t exactly the case. We have made great strides in that direction; however, Daniel and J.D.’s suitcases remain stuffed. Plus, there is one great complicating factor. The neighborhood kids are STILL on Spring Break. They get TWO weeks. I can’t do that! Then the boys would be in school until June. I want to get this year over and finished with.  So I have to teach these boys this week without the neighborhood kids beckoning my home schooled children out of their books. *groan*

But that’s not what we’re here to discuss is it? Let’s talk about Legoland!

Day 2 of Legoland was even more successful than day one.

1. We didn’t lose any children.

2. We did rides, the water park, this giant playground thing, and Seascape (Legoland aquarium).

3. Water rides are the way to children’s hearts; I have decided. For men, you need good cooking. For children, you need water. 😉

Brief Recap of Day One:




Coastal Cruise


Dan entertained us with his monkey impersonation.


Two more pics from Day One. I found them on Alan’s camera, and thought they were perfect:




Lego shopping. They did even more of this on day 2.

Day Two

We headed straight for the back of the park. We were hoping to hit the rides that we’d missed on day one. The first thing we did was send Daniel to “driving school.” It’s just a ride where kids ages 3-5 drive Lego cars that are just their size.


We ran into our neighbors. Our actual neighbors! As in, they live across the street, two houses over! How weird is that!!??  We ran into them THREE times that day. I have been meaning to get to know them better, so this was a good first step.

Even more bizarre: they have a one year old boy, a three-year old boy, and a seven-year old boy. You can’t make this stuff up!

No, I failed as a blogger. I did not get a picture of us, with them. tututut


Day Two!!! Daniel is holding his driver’s license, which he earned at “driving school.”


Bigger kid driving school


my favorite picture of the year!!!


The big boys and Alan rode this fire truck thing while JD and I listened to the Lego Mariachi band over and over and over and over. JD loved it.




lego mariachi

Do you see the Lego mariachi band in the background? You just never know what the children will take a liking to.


my dancing boys. Yes, I do realize how super NOT cute my outfit was. I was going for comfort, ya’ll. *shake my head*

Lego policeman

“Is it strange that I find that Lego policeman attractive?”


heading into our Egyptian Lego adventure

After we showed the boys the sign to prove that the water park wasn’t open until 12pm, we took a little pyramid mystery adventure.



That’s Joshua. Or Caleb. Okay. This is a hard one.


Airplane ride!



This Medieval style playground was incredible. The boys played in it for 20 minutes, until we pulled them out for lunch.

My favorite thing about that playground was watching the boys play together so sweetly. They stuck together the whole time.

We grabbed lunch, and then it was……… WATER PARK TIME!

First, there is a free splash park area, so we did that.


Caleb seems oblivious to freezing cold water.


JD was not so easily convinced. He decided to stay dry.

This is very indicative of his personality. Ya’ll, this boy! He doesn’t like change. He doesn’t like to try new things. He is skeptical of new ideas. He’s very practical for a 21-month-old. “Splash park in 70 degree weather? No, thanks.”


He walked up close to the sprinklers, but he still managed to stay dry.


Happy, fun-loving Daniel: not a dry speck on him.


Can we go?


Before long, Joshua got out of the Splash castle and informed us that the water was way too cold. He was ready to move on too. We put them in the dryer.

Pretty cool dryer, huh? We didn’t want to lug around a bag full of towels, so this was our answer. Don’t worry. At the end of the day, Alan did purchase a gigantic Legoland beach towel to wipe the kids dry.


The Lego Land water park has multiple pools. We were very happy with it. This is kiddie pool #1. There are two very similar to this: this one in the front, and then the “Swamp” in the Chima portion of the park.


Daniel did the little water slide.


Daniel got a little nervous about this bigger water slide.

This was really sweet. The lifeguard went down the slide with Dan. Then he walked him through the deeper water back to Alan. Where are this kid’s parents anyway, geesh! 😉


Yep. I got in too.

The Lazy River was WONDERFUL. Of course, there was nothing lazy about the way we ran past everyone in our floats. Those floats were just decorations for us. Boys. They are who they are.

Joshua was so cute. He and Caleb did this by themselves first. Then Joshua came out of the first round, and he told me, “Mom! Go put on your swimsuit while we are going around it again. When you are done, you can go around it again WITH us! It’s great! The water is WARM!”




Meanwhile, at the kiddie pool…..

Daniel was so cold. Alan had him take off his swim shirt and lay down on the hot concrete to warm up. Poor little darling.


And JD just wanted to do this.


It took a WHOLE LOT of convincing, but I finally got JD to sit on the very edge of the Swamp.

Yes, my swimsuit has a skirt. Laugh all you want, but I get to walk around freely, not worried at all about jiggling bits, uncovered areas, or cellulite, and that makes me really happy. 🙂 Besides, I like to tell myself that it’s a “cool” LL Bean skirt, not like the ruffled kind. Yeah, I know. I’m reaching.


Only the big boys were tall enough to play in the Chima wave pool.

Activities that only included part of the family just don’t last long for us. It’s not fun to have to split up the group. By this time, I had JD soundly asleep, under the LegoLand beach towel, in the stroller.


Caleb and his boat creation.

Outside the wave pool, they had this area where you could race Chima speeders and another area where you could race boats down this little pool. The boys played with that for about 20 minutes.


all smiles from a successful Chima water park day!


Our white, blue-eyed tribe has a little trouble with the sun.


We left the water park area. I found coffee, and they found another Lego store. I found myself a nice bench inside the store while they shopped. After a good, loooong while I noticed that I didn’t hear their voices or see them.

I hopped up and looked around. They were gone!!!!

*moment of realization!* Huuuuuh?? I am the lost one! They lost me??? That’s not…how is that possible??

No worries. I found them rather quickly. They were all standing around, in the middle of the road together, looking confused. “Where is Mom????”

All was forgiven, as I tried to explain to a group full of males that Lego stores are actually not interesting at all to me..

One last ride through Storybook Land before we leave….



Goofing around:




We headed over to Legoland’s Seascapes, which is their aquarium.




Caleb was excited to see the sharks.


See the shark made of Lego blocks?

There really wasn’t much to the aquarium. Onto dinner! We didn’t stay at Legoland Hotel, but we did eat supper there that night:


If every kid were as easy to please as Caleb….oh how great life would be!

As we headed out of our 2nd day in Lego land, Caleb ACTUALLY said, “Oh, look, a man made out of Legos!”

I guess some things never get old.


So we said good-bye to Legoland. On to the San Diego Zoo for Day 4 of our Spring Break adventure! Come back tomorrow to see one of the world’s most famous zoos!


Click and done! Thank you!

Destination: San Diego, Day 1. Bringing Happy Back.

another sighting we can check off our bucket list...which doesn't exist. We have no list.

Here’s another sighting we can check off our bucket list…which doesn’t exist. We have no list.

I have never been so badly in need of a vacation as I was this Spring Break. Actually, I’ve lived in need of a vacation since June 2013. I promise I wasn’t always this tired and whiny.

There were actually lots of years where I felt relaxed and happy. Here’s a photo from one of my happy/relaxed phases. I was busy, but it was a healthy level of busy:


2012. Alan had just returned home from Afghanistan. The boys were happy at their school, and I was in the process of whipping my body back into shape again. Life felt GOOD.

I want to get back to that healthy level of busy, but happy again!!!  Forget this overwhelmed, stressed, and slightly homesick version of April. I am busting out of this. I know I can do it. This vacation felt like the first step.

Actually, I take that back. When Jennings visited, that felt like the first step. Jennings said something that reminded me that some changes have been for the better. She said, “You are so different now than back when you had two kids, just a few years ago. You’re so much calmer now.” (or something like that)

That’s true. I am calmer. Our whole act runs a little smoother, which is kind of bizarre because there are even more boys now. A lot of that is just experience. Toddlers get a lot of forgiveness, and when in public, that’s what strollers are for.

Alan has also been asking me what we could do to get that “happy, outgoing” April back.

Mostly: Finish my first year of teaching. I didn’t enjoy teaching when I tried it in the public school, and I haven’t LOVED it this time either. I DO love being with my boys all day. I adore my boys; however, I’m not so sure I will be a home school mom forever. We all have different callings in life. What’s important is that I fulfill my God-given purpose. How long that will include home-schooling, I’m just not sure yet.


I have a few goals for this last 9 weeks for getting “happy, outgoing April” back:

1. Exercise every single day. I saw pictures of myself from the rear on this vacation. It wasn’t pretty. I tend to put on inches when I’m bummed, and that’s been happening.

2. Finish lesson plans!!! If I can get this done, I will feel so much happier.

3. Alan wants me to start “entertaining friends” and “hosting” again. We’ll take a stab at being more social.

and 4. Plan summer and fall vacations, because man, are they important!!!

OKay. I know. That’s not what you came here to read about. You wanted to see San Diego, right? Well, Day One was really just a road trip. It was 10pm when we rolled into San Diego. However, I DO have Los Angeles photos, so aren’t you glad you stopped by? 😉

Day One:


We started out by letting Daniel open one last birthday present:

Dan was not as excited about his Big Hero 6 gift as we'd hoped. "Thank you," he said politely.

Dan was not as excited about his Big Hero 6 gift as we’d hoped. “Thank you,” he said politely.


all four brothers

all four brothers

Alan had this trip planned out military style. He printed out papers, in a binder, of a detailed agenda for every single day of the trip! He even researched restaurant options and routes through LegoLand and the San Diego Zoo, to optimize our vacation experience.

Caleb was fascinated with the "humongous" leaves on whatever this plant is. DaddyO? Can you name this plant?

Caleb was fascinated with the “humongous” leaves on whatever this plant is, in Los Angeles. DaddyO? Can you name this plant?

Can you see the forms of the people, standing on the hill to get a look at the Hollywood sign? There were THOUSANDS of people at this observatory. It was insane.

Can you see the forms of the people, standing on the hill to get a look at the Hollywood sign? There were THOUSANDS of people at this observatory. It was insane.

Alan planned for us to stop at an Observatory in Los Angeles, from which you can see the Hollywood sign. What we didn’t realize was that this is apparently “the place” to be at sunset, so the crowds and parking were INSANE.

Not only did I have to drive in LA, against my better judgement, but I had to drive up the hills to this observatory thing and find parking. Ugh. We did a quick driver switcher-oo for the parallel parking portion. I am so bad at parallel parking!

Oh, and as I was anxiously driving the 8 lane highway through LA, Daniel suddenly let out a “WHOOO-YEAHHHH!”

“Daniel! What in the world are you yelling for?”

Daniel grinned sheepishly, “LegoLand. Me excited ’bout LegoLand.”


LA skyline, smog and all

LA skyline, smog and all

The Observatory, from which you can see the actual stars, as well as the Hollywood sign.

The Observatory, from which you can see the actual stars, as well as the Hollywood sign.

sunset over Los Angelos

sunset over Los Angeles

lots of palm trees throughout Los Angelos. I think this photo was taken on Melrose Avenue.

lots of palm trees throughout Los Angeles. I think this photo was taken on Melrose Avenue.

all tucked in for bed I think they lasted in one bed for 10 minutes. Then Joshua moved onto the couch fold-out bed.

all tucked in for bed
I think they lasted in one bed for 10 minutes. Then Joshua moved onto the couch fold-out bed.

One great thing about having four children is that it forces you to get nice hotel rooms. We stayed at a suite that could comfortably sleep six. We experimented with bunking Joshua and Daniel together, so we wouldn’t have to unfold the sofa bed. That lasted all of ten minutes.

This road trip was an amazing success. All children were well behaved, quiet, and excited. There were no traffic jams, car problems, or accidents. We even pulled into a “full service” gas station where they pumped our gas and washed our windshield for us, old school style. We never even got out of the car.

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll actually tell you about the vacation! 😉

Today I’ve been cycling mountains of laundry, uploading photos, studying the book of Luke, and WORKING OUT. That’s right. I did 30 minutes of P90x, because “ain’t nobody” got time to exercise for 90 minutes. 😉 Meanwhile, I’m sure my arms will be killing me tomorrow.

We are bringing happy April back!



“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Genesis 4:6-7

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