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The last chapter of our epic road trip

Arizona and California and finally back home in Oregon!

It was an amazing five weeks, 8000 miles and 14 states, packed with so many fun things to see and do. Road trip 2011 is a success!

A rest stop in Arizona…

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Saguaro National Park…

The kids wanted to see some giant cacti and so we did!

Starting with this beaut…

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Ha! Okay here’s the biggun’s

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We had a lovely Couchsurfing experience with a woman in Tucson. She has a lovely home, soup in the crock pot, towel sets laid out for each of us. We are definitely going to have to step up our hosting game. She sets the bar high!

I didn’t take any pics of Joan unfortunately but here is Lotus on the bed wondering if a lock might make a good nipple;)

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On our way out, early the next morning, my friend Timmi in Phoenix was up for a visit. The kids had a blast playing and it was great to meet a longtime online friend in the flesh. We loved Timmi’s house!

I wish you could see how long her gorgeous hair is. Jealous!!!!

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We stopped and saw the giant dinosaurs (featured in the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure movie).

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They are up inside the head of the T-rex here…

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It was wonderful and a little odd being back home. It almost felt like we were walking into someone else’s home. BUT, we slept great and it is GOOD TO BE HOME!!!!!!!

Driving, driving, driving…

We’re making our way home and finishing up day three of our week long drive.

The first two days didn’t include very much sight seeing other than the gorgeous views out the window. We breezed through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and started the long trek through Texas.

We had a wonderful couchsurfing experience in San Antonio with the Lavens. They were the sweetest folks, making us feel right at home. They got the kids cozy on the couch for a movie and popcorn. They know just what kids need to wind down after a long day on the road.

Then they sent us off with one of their CDs. Great music! I wish we could have made it to one of their shows.

Lots-o-photos time…

Isaac says he is unable to sleep in the car, so Jason keeps snapping photos of him “not sleeping.” ha!

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Big ol’ wagon wheel at a Texan rest stop…

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And finally Carlsbad(ass) Caverns. It was HUGE and beautiful.

Even more amazing than the caves was that we were told to whisper quietly while in the cave and the kids were actually near silent the entire time we were inside. Yes, Simon was quiet??! !

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After the caves we drove to Carlsbad, NM to find a hotel. The town looked dumpy at first but we found a river that is a flanked by playgrounds running up and down both sides….seriously, a different play structure every 200 yards or so. Wonderful parks!

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Ha! Weeeeeeh! 😉

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Sick of beach pics yet?

This evenings beach photos are brought to you by Clearwater Beach. Only one more day left in Florida!

It wasn’t *this* dark yet but exposure was tough against all the white sand, bright sun and reflective water. Nevertheless, you get the idea: It was gorgeous!

Those two tiny dots on the water are Isaac and Simon’s heads.

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Check out that sheet of rain out there, luckily not on us.

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more week three fun

We spent a day at Adventure Island water park…

This cabana had a mini fridge, locker and concierge. Spoiled!!!!

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It was fun! The kid areas were awesome.

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and the frozen margaritas were great too;)

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We got together with our Florida friends again and had a fabulous time.

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Having lunch together at their house.

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Then we hit the park. A really big one with lots of different sections, laid out in a giant butterfly shape.

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I spy with my little eye…a baby grin. Isn’t this photo funny? She loves her brothers so much.

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Eeeeeeek! Less than two days left here in sunny Florida. As Isaac said, “driving for a week feels more like three weeks. Staying here three feels more like one week.” The time went by way too fast. Luckily the drive home looks to be filled with more fun and adventure.

Now off to the beach while we still can…

Week three in Florida

And soaking up every minute of the sun and surf we can before we have to leave.

The best part about staying here for a full, relaxing three weeks is the extra time we have to chat with the locals and explore places we would have missed otherwise.

A guy on his motorcycle pulled to the side of the road told us we should have lunch at this restaurant where the kids can feed alligators…

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While eating our lunch, the waitress told us about a great spray park down the road. So we dropped Jason back home to get back to work and off we went to see the park…

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While the kids enjoyed the spray park, I sat on a bench and chatted with another lady. She told me about a nice beach just a little further down the road called Sand Key. So after they played, we headed to the beach.

The walk from the parking lot…

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Watching two pelicans fish together and my boys having fun makes me happy!

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The water is so clear and with each wave a school of small fish can be seen rushing by.

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I begged them to stay on this beach here with me forever but they insisted on going home eventually.

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And just because this pic was in the batch I imported off the camera. Lotus having fun pulling out all the plastic. She is getting so close to walking!

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Primate Sanctuary

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, FL is just down the road from where we are staying. The staff is completely made up of volunteers and they were so nice!

The grandma at the door gave us a history, the printed guide and a bag of monkey food. Then we were off on our own to look around. The place is quiet. We saw four different volunteers doing the lunch feeding and just one other couple visiting.

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The kids are calling “Pongo”…

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Here’s Pongo, a three year old male orangutan.

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This monkey was kind of scary. He threw his slide around the cage and then slammed up against the side, shrieking at us. These are not good pets, people…and why they end up here, unable to live in the wild. A showcase of rip-yo-face-off monkeys.

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Quite a few birds have come to live here too.

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This is the chimp “Cheetah Mike.” He was one of the chimps featured in the Tarzan movies in the 1930s and he is 81 year old.

The grandma also explained the average lifespan in the wild is 12-15 years; in the zoo: 40-50 years and in a sanctuary: much longer because of the lower stress environment. I wonder if he is bored? The couple that used to own this place toured them around as “boxing chimps” in the 50s. Yikes.

Leave those apes in the jungle!

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Primate Sanctuary preview

I hope the fuzzier primates we see today are having this much fun…

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Tampa Zoo

After so many trips to Florida, I have never been to the zoo. When spending more than a week I guess we have time to see what else is here.

The Zoo here is CRAZY! The center is like a kids amusement park: rides, fountains for playing, jungle gym. We “had” to see the monkeys to get to it but then the kids spent four hours playing. It was so hot we could have left without seeing anymore animals…but that seemed like a TRAVESTY to me. We managed to break the spell and ride the tram thing to see all the animals. Whew! I could go home without the shame of spending $80 (yep) and not seeing any animals at a zoo.

The best part was getting to meet some friends! One of the moms on an online forum, for babies born in May 2001, lives here. We have been a part of this forum for over 10 years and never met in real life until now. Lyanna is an absolute gem and her kids (exact same age as my three boys) are wonderful. They had a great time together and we look forward to meeting in a park once more before our journey home.


Our little fruit bats. Those fruit bats are NOT little, by the way. They looked like cats with wings hanging in their exhibit.


The hog-nosed turtles were fun, coming up for food and petting.


Gems from the other camera

Jason bought us a memory card reader so I can import the pics off our little point and shoot camera. I found some more fun pics from our journey here…




The location of this dinosaur park in Utah could not be any more beautiful, nestled at the base of these mountains.


The museum was cool too. Isaac enjoyed the display of gems and rock types. He was comparing the real thing to the mining he has done in the game Minecraft, “OH! So that’s obsidian!” hehe


The herd of deer crossing the road, on our way to the Ames Broher’s Pyramid. I wasn’t quick enough to get my camera out but Jason caught it. Yay!


We have seen a lot of windmills. Also, had to do a little online detective work to learn what snow drift fencing is. We drove by miles and miles of it, reassuring us we made the right decision to take the north route while it was still summer. 😀



We try to split up the driving 50/50 but Jason does more. He enjoys it. I do too, but it makes me sleepy.


Want to see our cozy little Florida home?

I thought I’d take pics of our little home here in Florida. It is exactly how my grandparents left it.

My aunt was so kind to let us stay here. The house is for sale and I will be sad when it is no longer an option to stay here:(

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The dishwasher s kinda blurry in this pic but it’s there! j/k, Babe.

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The thrift stores shopping is fantastic. We picked up this highchair for $15…and we’ll be re-donating it before we leave.

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A real grandparents home with FOUR recliners and THREE rocking chairs.

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Aside from the kids Nintendo DSs, Jason’s little laptop is the only source of possible TV watching. He has it sitting close to his office for his Magic Jack phone and an adapter to the TV so we can watch and hear on the TV screen. We watch Netflix in the evening sometimes.

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One of the four bedrooms Jason chose for his office. He is working from here the next two weeks.

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Kids are getting a lesson on how we used to turn on the TV and change the channel. Times were ROUGH back in our day!

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It is a comfortable little home!