I haven't been able to communicate with the blog recently since I was too busy playing and not worrying about any of the usual day to day grind. No kids to drive to events, no chores, no stations. Nothing. Just fun and family. Isn't that what a vacation should be?
We took off to California for our summer getaway. One might think we went to Disneyland, but we went somewhere more fun. We headed to Santa Rosa to visit family. (I kid you not...way more fun than long lines and spending enough for a small car.) Getting to CA is half the fun. (Okay, that is a lie. Driving is not very fun, but it is a necessary step in the journey. But if you are a Cazier, you know it won't be boring.)
We have learned that an early departure gets some miles under your belt before everyone is up and stirring and it does make the trip a little shorter for everyone but the driver. I was up packing at 3:30 am and Tyler drove our first shift as we left at 5:00 am. I don't support energy drinks unless we are up before the sun. Then I am more interested in our driver staying awake than anything else. (Thanks Tyler for always being a stud.)
Breakfast in the car. Blurry bagels. (Don't worrry, they still taste good even when they are blurry.)
Got to take pictures of interesting names on signs. (This one and Deadman Pass are a favorite.)
Tyler drove us all the way to Elko NV for our first interesting stop. The world's largest stuffed polar bear was supposed to be at a casino there. Lest you worry that I am taking my kids to a casino...it isn't the first one. Remember the death car? We arrived and found the polar bear right away.
Wait a minute. That polar bear can NOT be real. It looked super fake and it had obviously been painted multiple times. Can you see the cracks?
We went back to the car and reread the info. Oops...the real polar bear was inside. So, we circled around to check it out again. Oh look, another very fake polar bear over the other entrance.
It was morning, so I wasn't sure the casino would be open. It was. Tyler went as our scout and assured us we were okay to enter and see the polar bear. Now, that is what I'm talking about. This polar bear was pretty awesome and definitely huge. That had to be one brave Eskimo to shoot that beastie.
Can I just say that Nevada stinks. Literally. Elko smelled like pee, and the casino was its own mix of old cigarettes and filth. But it doesn't stop there folks. We switched drivers because it was Tyler's turn to sleep. I jumped on the highway and was headed for the freeway. I was getting everything situated in the car for my turn at the wheel and suddenly there were lights flashing in my rearview mirror. Seriously? A nice, but condescending officer explained that I was going 11 miles over the limit. Not surprising since I hadn't even seen a speed sign since getting behind the wheel. Just my luck that this particular highway was 45 mph and a money hungry cop was waiting for victims. A warning would have been sufficient considering I was from out of town and wasn't driving recklessly or endangering anyone. (I simply hadn't seen a sign.) Instead, he was so generous as to write me a ticket for only traveling 5 miles over the limit. I'm not fooled. I know you are happy to take my money Elko, since I will never spend it in town. I was all too happy to leave that stop behind and then drive the rest of the way across Nevada. Never ending bland landscape. The last stop before Callie is Reno. Another city that I could do without. Tyler had another interesting stop there, but we couldn't find it and I was more than happy to put all of Nevada behind me.
In CA, we opted to stop in Sacramento for another exploration. We visited Old Town Sacramento. It still has that old time feel with the shops lined up and some cobblestones here and there.
We went to the visitor's center first and read up on the pony express. It was fascinating to learn a lot about that time period and the hard work it took to take mail across the country. It wasn't surprising that they liked to hire orphans to ride the ponies. Here is an old stage coach that used to take mail as well.
It is fairly impressive to think about. The trip to Missouri is almost 2,000 miles. The pony express only ran for 18 months, but during that time, they delivered 35,000 pieces of mail with the loss of only one pouch. Good job boys! I have trouble getting my mail from the mailbox to the house sometimes.
There were plenty of shops to browse and things to see. It felt like we were in an oven, so it was nice to step into the AC occasionally. This guy was happy to share his bench.
We found an amazing Christmas shop. It was great to take a break in there. (There were some brilliant mermaid ornaments, mom.) I found a shoe for my shoe tree. No peeking yet. It isn't Christmas.
We walked down and strolled around the riverboat. It used to travel up and down the Sacramento River, but now it is a hotel. Pretty sweet. Tyler took a cool panorama.
After sauntering around in the heat, the perfect end to the trip was ice cream. Yum.
From Sacramento, it was only a hop, skip, and jump over to Santa Rosa. We checked into our hotel and went over to the Kelly's where there was a hot meal waiting for us. (Bless you Kelly's. Car food is edible, but nothing beats warm food for some reason.) Even though time was slipping away, we went back to the hotel for an evening swim. We met some very nice people and as usual, people are always surprised with our five daughters. When they are all together, they cause a stir. Five kids is a lot in California, but more unique is the fact that they are all girls. We had a blast swimming and spending plenty of time in the jacuzzi, since it was cooler out. Then Tyler packed up two girls and took them over to sleep at the Kelly's. We split with four at the hotel and three at the Kelly's. It worked out well and we only had to spring for one room. (Thank you a million Kelly's.) I spent the bulk of the time at the hotel, and I hear I was missing out on breakfast. Tim cooked every morning. (And then he wondered why no one was eating the Lucky Charms. :)
It was nice to be in California after a long day. Tomorrow, pictures of festivities at the Kelly's. (With a guest appearance from Jim & Tim.)