We stopped for coffee, gas, and donuts and then headed over to gather the kids from my mom's house, where they'd spent the night so we could go to a wedding the night before. They were awake and dressed, and we bundled them into their car seats with their blankets tucked around them and their travel bags of toys and books next to each seat.
That first day, we didn't know how far we'd get. we only knew that our goal was to make it as far as we could before we lost both kids to epic meltdowns. We made it to Flagstaff around breakfast, so we stopped at a McDonald's so the kids could work out some energy and we could all use the restroom and get something to eat and drink. They were pretty excited to get back on the road, and we were anxious to put some distance behind us. The next few hours took us around the Grand Canyon National Park to the east, through reservation land where the sand is colored salmon and ochre and violet and the skies are baby blue. It was still early, and with the windows down and a cool breeze the ride was easy and went quickly enough. We stopped for an early lunch outside of Lake Powell.
Before hitting the road again, I took a few minutes to snuggle my puppies in the back of the van and telling them it was time to take a nap. Amazing as it seems, they DID nap. Success!
A few hours later, we checked into a hotel south of Salt Lake City and took the kids to dinner. The weather was amazing and the mountain range was topped in white snow when we found a sweet little elementary school and raided their park. Poor kids were so beat from a day of travel that they only played for a bit before asking to go to the hotel to sleep.
We went for a quick swim at the hotel's indoor pool, bathed the kids, and tucked in for the night. Luca and I laid down in one queen bed and Mo started the night next to Darrick. Before I fell asleep I felt his warm little body climb in next to me, and I drifted off for the first night of vacation sandwiched between my two kids and completely in bliss.
10 hours on the road, complete.
(to be continued)