Handy Family Vacation: The Trail of Diapers, Part 1
The biggest takeaways from our trip:
- We thrive off of Walmarts. I feel disorientated if I don’t know where the closest Walmart is.
- Don’t lose a diaper in your car. After a few days, we had to gut our car out.
- The crazy people get all the attention after they are dead.
- There are only so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can eat before you go bat crazy.
- Our child would live off raisins if she could.
- Surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or even a killer whale, Charlee just wants the rocks.
- We hate Las Vegas.
- Cheetos are horrible snacks for a 2 year old. They stain everything.
- Traveling with a two year old you must have an endless supply of Cheetos or crying ensues.
- It takes us a LONG time to get out the door. Gone are the days where we could just look at each other and ask, “Ready to go?” and leave.
I wish I had more photos of our adventures. I took my big girl camera, but I had my little guy strapped to me most of the time and juggling him, a purse, a backpack and trying to help with Charlee was difficult enough without trying to take a lot of pictures. Regardless we still have enough that I’m doing this in two parts.
As a family, we mastered the art of staying in hotels and packing relatively fast every morning. Charlee and Everett did really great in the car most of the time. Everett was the most difficult as he wanted to be held and the kids has to eat constantly.
Day One of our trip started with us flying into Las Vegas where we got our rented car (home) for the next three weeks. Sitting in line at the light behind all the topless Mustangs, we realized how much our life has changed as they turned towards the strip and we headed towards the nearest Walmart to pack up on diapers, food, and a cooler.
The next day we were able to visit my brother and his family. Charlee got to swim, ride horses, and make mud pies with her cousins all day long. Everett got smothered with love and kisses. He was a big hit. They have the neatest property with roaming ducks and chickens, a pool, and a pony. Dave said that this might have been one of the funnest days of our trip and I agree. It was good to visit with my family and catch up.
The next day we headed out on our biggest drive in California. 6 hours to Sequoia National Park to visit General Sherman, the largest sequoia, and largest tree on earth by mass (if you don’t count a grove of quaking aspens, which is typically a single living organism. The more you know). It is unfathomable how large these trees are. You see them from a few feet away and think “Yep, that’s big but not that big.” But standing right up next to one you truly get a feel for how majestic these trees are. We were excited to see them and started into the park before it got dark. By the time we got to General Sherman, we were worried about whether we would have enough gas to get down the mountain in the dark, and we were nearly out of gas. We made it down safely. California really does have some beautiful mountains and views. Dave and I really enjoyed the drive up the mountain.
Charlee was excited about the tree and kept pointing it out to everyone that would pay attention to her. The brick that Dave is laying down on is the size of General Sherman at its largest width. It shows how massive these trees are! I loved looking at all the orange orchards that we passed to and fro the Sequoia forest. I asked Dave to pull over just so I could take a picture of one of the fields. The farm area around Fresno is gorgeous.
The next day we set out for Yosemite stopping by the SunMaid Raisin store to get chocolate covered raisins and cherries. Charlee took a spill on the sidewalk here and got a bloody nose and lip, which she sported for a few days. Yosemite the next day was amazing. We stood on the valley floor looking at the granite mountains. We were glad that we were able to see anything that day as the clouds were really low and it rained off and on. The waterfalls were roaring which one of the guides told us they haven’t seen in years due to the drought. The valley was formed by glaciers. The Ahwahneechee tribe that lived in Yosemite were not nomadic, they built permanent buildings out of tree bark. They would create these large granaries to hold acorns. They would collect somewhere close to a ton of acorns in these because some years the acorn production wasn’t as plentiful. We did a short hike to the waterfalls where both our kiddos fell asleep and we were able to enjoy the natural beauty of the valley.
The next day we made our way to Monterey Bay to start traveling down Route 1 through Big Sur. We stopped by the Underground Gardens in Fresno. This crazy guy created a 36 acre underground network of tunnels and rooms. Baldasare Forestiere, an Italian immigrant, dug over a period of 40 years a huge home that he hoped to turn into a resort. He wanted to be a citrus fruit farmer but he hopes were dashed when he discovered the land he bought was hard rock. He created subterranean gardens with skylights and catch basins for water. He experimented with fruit trees. One of the trees we saw grew both lemons and oranges. We walked a lot but learned that we only saw 2% of his work. It was a really fun off-beat experience. We also stopped by San Juan Bautista and toured the old mission there. It had beautiful gardens, cemetery, and an overall peaceful place.
Our time spent in Monterey was split between exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, the aquarium, and 17-mile drive. We spent a little time on the beach where we learned Charlee is deathly afraid of the ocean and loves the sandy beach. The aquarium was too crowded for us and Charlee didn’t seem that interested in looking at the animals. After she fell asleep, Dave and I spent some time looking closer at the exhibits and then left.
We headed out for Big Sur the next day. Driving along the coast of California is beautiful. We stopped by Brixby bridge and a few pullouts along the way. The coast was very cloudy and foggy, the clouds hanging low over the mountains. In San Simeon we saw the elephant seals. These amazing creatures come to these beaches every year to have their children.
We stayed at San Simeon and headed out to Hearst Castle the next day. I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this but it ended up being really neat. The amount of art collected in this mansion is amazing. He was an extremely wealthy rancher an media mogul. He collaborated with an architect in San Francisco to build a castle-styled estate. He had already collected a massive amount of art from all around the world, and he integrated this art into the building everywhere. He hung wood reliefs from European cathedrals from the concrete ceiling, making a false ceiling 8 feet lower. He has choir seating (again, from European cathedrals) as wainscoting. There are medieval tapestries hung all over, mosaics integrated into walls, egyptian statues in the courtyard, and every other type of art you could imagine. You may think such a hodgepodge of different styles would clash or look like an odd museum, but they made it work amazingly well. It seemed cohesive and ancient (even though it was build in the 20th century). His children donated the estate to the state of California, and it is now a state park that you can tour.