Friday I had to work a little, but didn't get much done since we had a Christmas potluck for lunch and I was antsy anyway. We had great ribs, which the sawmill manager barbequed until the meat was falling off the bones. Yum. Somewhere around 2 I ducked out of the office and ran home, where Cory and I loaded up the car and headed up to Albany really quickly for some Burgerville and to grab a couple of things from Costco; and then we started south.
On the way through Oregon, we decided we'd pick up Joel and then continue driving, rather than stop there for a nap and start up again in the morning. So we arrived in Concord, California at about 1, loaded Joel and his luggage into the car, and continued south.
I drove a stretch at about 4am while Joel and Cory were asleep where I had to change highways a couple of times. I misread the directions, so instead of skirting around LA to the north, I went up the Grapevine and we had to cut across to I10 in northern Los Angeles. Which was OK because it was Saturday morning and there was no rush hour traffic.
We kept hanging on through eastern California, and Arizona, and most of New Mexico, finally stopping after about 30 hours of driving in Las Cruces, NM. It felt very nice to be horizontal - sleeping in a car is crappy.
Sunday morning around 6 we hopped back in the car and began the last leg of our journey there - the long, flat west Texas leg. It actually wasn't horrible - we could go 80mph (and went faster than that usually) and there was interesting stuff to see (cacti, rocky outcroppings, roadkill, etc.). (Somewhere in west Texas I got the phone call from Dad saying Grandpa had passed away.) We had to go all the way to The Woodlands, which is north of Houston, so it took all day to get through Texas. We stopped in San Antonio right around dinnertime, and we took advantage of the good timing to have BBQ at County Line restaurant on the River Walk. By the time we were finished we could only drive past the Alamo and take a picture since it was closed. Traffic was icky and we had trouble finding the onramp back to the freeway, but we finally got going the right way.
We got to Lisa's house at almost 11pm, and basically crashed within half an hour of arriving. We had enough time to blow up the inflatable bed and that was about it. I think we all felt like zombies.
The next day was Christmas eve. Anna (8) and Sydney (5) warmed up to us immediately despite having not seen us for 4 years, but Hayden (14mo) had a fever and never got to the point where we could hold him without him crying for his mama, but we still had great fun flirting with him. His smile lights up his entire face - he's adorable. We watched the girls decorate sugar cookies (their technique included pouring tons of sprinkles on a cookie and licking most of it off - we decided not to eat that batch) and build a gingerbread house. We walked over to the pond, where we basked in the sunshine and sat in the grass, an impossibility for anyplace in Oregon in December (too muddy). Sydney gathered some feathers and tried to fly with them. And then she got splashed by Anna and that was the end of the pond.
We had Christmas dinner for lunch on Christmas eve - ham and mashed yams and scalloped potatoes and such. It was yummy, and we picked at the leftovers for the rest of the day and into Christmas day. We rounded out the Eve watching Polar Express and feeding the reindeer and setting out cookies and milk for Santa. We gave the kids Christmas Eve presents: UglyDolls The girls liked theirs, but Hayden was terrified of his, crying if it got anywhere near him. (He warmed up to it by the end of Christmas Day though.) After the girls went to bed, Cory and Joel got to do the eating-Santa-cookie honors and Lisa wrapped a few presents, and then we hit the hay.
On Christmas morning, of course, the girls woke up earlier than I wanted to. I heard squealing in the other room, and little feet running downstairs, and "You won't BELIEVE all the presents!" Cory got up before me, and came in to get me up so we could start unwrapping. Grandma felt good enough to come out of her room for an hour and watch the festivities, and we all got to open a thing or two. The girls picked out a necklace for me, and Cory and I each got a Star Wars Mr Potatohead. Heh.
Most of the rest of the day was spent playing with their new toys and reading their new books and eating candy, and when it got dark we went for a drive looking for Christmas lights. The Woodlands has a nice little walk-through display, and then a lot of the houses were decked out too. The girls fell asleep in the van towards the end- they had a long day.
Boxing Day was relatively quiet, as we prepared ourselves for another long car trip. Lisa took Hayden to the doctor and then the pharmacy in the morning, as he'd had a fever for two days, and so the three of us got to babysit Anna and Sydney for awhile. We put on some music and the girls danced, and then eventually dancing turned into a little horseplay with girls jumping on uncles and such. When Lisa got home we took the opportunity to go out on our own a little bit. We hit Merribee Needle Arts yarn/embroidery/latchhook store, which I was a little disappointed in but I got a few skeins of deep blue linen to play with. We also found our way to a little shop to pick up Texas paraphernalia for the kids who took care of Trout while we were away. After dinner we went to bed at the same time as the girls, so that we could get up early to leave.
At about 4am on the 27th we said goodbye to Lisa's house and set off. We hit San Antonio again for some coffee, and then got through west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We hadn't quite recovered from our trip back east, but we did pretty good, having to stop in Blythe, CA which is right on the border of Cali/Arizona. The next morning I drove a bit on rural roads to skirt LA, and we went through some odd towns in the southeastern Cali desert. We got to Joel's house in Concord just after 5, and then we met up with my Grandma on the other side of the bay. We had dinner at a little grill in her neighborhood, and though it was a short visit it was nice. We had originally planned to spend the night with Joel and then have breakfast with Grandma, but we're glad we ended up having dinner with her the night before instead, because we got almost all the way to Redding before we had to crash, in Willows. That put us in a good spot for the last bit of driving.
Yesterday we traversed Mt. Shasta, which was a little slushy on the road, and the Siskiyou Pass, which wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. We stopped for lunch in Weed like we usually do, and then I drove from Southern Oregon all the way home. Trout was super happy to see us (and vice versa!) and we threw all our stuff on the floor and sat for awhile, and then went to bed early.
And now there are Seahawks to watch and laundry to do and showers to take and Christmas trees to take down and all sorts of fun stuff. Three points to you for getting to the end.