Day 33- mad Rush home

So of course- the kids wanted to race home to start hockey. Their teams all played and won on Saturday, so they were more motivated then ever to return.

We left at 6am…

Gray can’t ever seem to sleep in a comfortable position.

Both Gray and Franco were able to watch their teams on FB live posts.

We smartened you and hooked up phone to TV for Francos game.

The entire drive took 13 hours with all the stops (supposed to be 11h 15m w no stops.) Unclear why it took so long because all bathroom needs done in RV- no stopping for that. We did hit traffic an hour from home- our first true stopped on highway traffic of entire trip.

But we made it home by 7:00pm. Rye has arrived just before us with the dogs and the reunion was as expected. Pure joy from the dogs and cats and kids.

The dogs were full or mats and stunk something awful!!

33days- 5730miles and 99 RV hours (per Road trippers estimate- still can’t find odometer on BigE)

Day 32- more Chicago fun

Saturday fun day.

Oz park hockey. Scott is a Saint.

Kiki and C ran to Navy Pier… through Oz park, across the zoo, down the lake to navy pier and back. 9 MILES!!

On their own.

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Day 31- Back in the Windy City

Feels like we were just here and also that we were had been here months ago.

Morning walk (school break) with Franco and Nelly.

Tik tok lip filler prank. They almost fooled us.

Girls disappeared all morning in Kiki’s room with school. The rest of the guys spread out while Guns, Ty and Beau at school.

Ciela learned she got Philanthropy Chair Student Council position she had applied for!! Celebration time!

Woohoo!

Upon arriving to Chicago we learned that Michigan was just added to the quarantine list. Unfortunately our plan to spend the week in Michigan was foiled. We had meant to stay there and then head home to NJ. But if the kids want to be able to celebrate Halloween with their friends- we have to go directly home from here tomorrow in order to have two full weeks in quarantine. Ending on Halloween. Trying not to get to upset about it but this whole trip has been about going with the flow… so I’ve been working on this for a month now.

Scott back from hockey-

Walk with Nelly- loving the Halloween spirit in Chicago

Movie night- Enola Holmes. We all loved it!!

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Day 29-30 St Louis and Indy

Franco is hidden somewhere in all those sleeping bags.

The night was warm- didn’t turn the heat on until 6am. Kids didn’t have any problems with school.

Grayson had a break for gym and asked for another run. We did the entire loop of the RV park, passing one row of homes on a side street it backs up to, a cemetery and a lotta motor homes. The loop was .6 miles so we did it fives times plus a little more so we hit the 3.1 mile mark. Eminem motivating us. It was far easier than yesterday because of the shade.

Off to Indy after school-

I tried to get a covid test in St Louis (just because we have not tested this entire time and been to many states with increasing numbers) but I was turned away because I could not pull up to the Wallgreens window (????) because we would not have made the clearance in BigE. I walked up and tried to do but they turned me away because I was not in a car??? I have done this wallgreens test before- it is self administered and you get the test in the shoot (like bank teller) but they refused me nonetheless. So stupid.

Barbecue for lunch (C and I ate veggie sides) and the obligatory arch photo.

Stuck in train traffic-

St. Louis reminded me of the D with some beautiful old historic buildings.

Tram traffic.

Then off to Indy-

Bible Belt??

The ONLY gas station where the attendant was not wearing a mask (and was elderly) was in Martinsville Illinois.

Won’t forget it because it was eerie. Also because all the truck drivers used this remote stop to buy half cases of beer 😳.

Finally arrive in Zionsville Indiana- to a warm Pool on a warm fall night.

Hollys kids line up well with our crew- Sofi 9, Maddy 7 and Tate and Hudson almost 5.

It was instant fun. We lost them to the basement and all the toys.

school was a challenge because they wanted to be playing with the Fenechs who were off on fall break.

Zionsville such a charming town with its brick streets. Had to peel these guys away to get back on the road.

More windmills and beautiful skies en route to Chicago. Three+ hours, 185 mile drive that was delayed by two major accidents including a tractor trailer on its side.

Then a familiar site with a lucky parking spot in front to boot.

Harry Potter themed Halloween decor nearby. So cool!

Kids so happy to be back with cousins!

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Day 28- Drive to St Louis MO

School was easy with excellent WiFi. The sun came up and it was warm enough to school outside.

The girls preferred inside schooling.

With the announcement of hockey back on in NJ, Gray asked if I would run with him so he can be ready to skate. 😳 We only had a half hour window after school and when we had to check out so we bolted right at 11:30. Kansas is incredibly flat but we some how managed to find the hills. We are also near some air force base- was cool to see the fighter jets fly by as well as the larger air craft carriers.

The sun was hot midday- 75degrees- we got a great sweat on. Then drove to St Louis.

Kansas City looked like an actual city. Five hours later we searched for healthy food stop near our KOA. Didn’t find a single option.

Veggie burgers fireside. Was a fantastic end to the night. The boys making the fire again and happy to now have dry leaves to get it going. We finally hit deciduous trees.

Great sleeping weather too. Didn’t need the heat until morning.

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Day 27- drive to Topeka Kansas

We got to sleep in until 7am – yahoo!!!

After finishing school in the Bast Western Wakeeny KS- we started our drive to Topeka Ks. The kids were ecstatic to eat at Qdoba for lunch. Forever loving Mexican food.

Grayson did afternoon school via cell phone in shotgun. Oil rigs behind. What a drastic change between last nights windstorm and today.

Blue skies and sunshine. No clouds anywhere. 75 and sunny.

We were happy to arrive to our KOA in Topeka KS. A larger town with plenty fo shopping- we skipped it all to go to our RV camp and unwind. Was great to get loads of laundry done and clean the RV. Ciela, without me asking- insisted on cleaning the RV. On her own- she took everything down and wiped everything down.

Took her over an hour. Vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom inside and out. I was so happy. Made my day. And clearly SHE needed to do it. Rice and beans for dinner and fireside (made by boys.)

We got the amazing news that NJ hockey back in action. The kids are excited to get on the ice.

The kids found the crazy seed of a tree. They create a milk that animals eat. The seeds are massive and loom like brains. They are hard. A local said they use them to play softball when he was a kid.

Early to bed after hot showers. R and r day although mama never got her nap.

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Day 27- Wakeeney Kansas

School was easy with awesome WiFi. The kids were so happy to sleep in until 7am. After schooling-

We drove to Topeka Kansas.

Blue skies, flat roads, east after our. Easy night the night before.

Oil rigs in the background.

Super cool fruit from the trees in the RV park.

Ciela asked to clean BigE for no reason. I wish I had a little of her clean genes.

we are Battleborn!! Gold and blue bird tattoos for each of us. Selfie of our tats impossible.

We finished the book “96 Miles” today and it was just awesome. All of us hooked. A story of two brothers, 14 and 12yo living on their own during a west coast blackout while their father was away for work.

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Day 26- Boulder Colorado and crazy drive

We slept in (7:40am for the boys) and did some reading while we waited for the girls to wake. Gray reading about Teddy Roosevelt. Breakfast outside and some tree climbing=

We spied a converted school bus at our RV camp.

It helps to talk to your neighbors in the RV parks. We never do but this morning, I learned that there were elk on the golf course in town. Apparently they had taken over a tee.

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Estes is a fun town. Some great old buildings and movie theater. Cool shops.

From there we drove 45 minutes to Boulder, Colorado. The kids absolutely loved Pearl street. There were homeless people everywhere. Activists preaching about all kinds of things, most aggressive about circumcision and how it is sexual abuse of an infant. A man walked in white pants with red paint on his crotch, holding a sign that read “I am a jew and I didn’t want t to be circumcised.” They directed their hollaring at our boys- “ask your mother if she circumcised you and why.”

The kite/toy store was a favorite as to be expected.

Mica read me all the quotes on every banner they sold.

We had steak and veggie burgers for lunch outside-

The kids did not want to leave because they loved the stores and the drama on the streets.

We leave Boulder at 2:30pm and start driving. Got out of town and about 45 minutes later, see this.

I have no idea what it is- looks like fire/smoke/no clue. As we get closer the wind picks up. We proceed to drive for seven four win 60-90mph winds. The RV shaking side to side. Visibility started to drop and we could not see very far. It was surreal. Debris- mostly corn husks- flew across the road. The kids are nauseated for much of it. I had to constantly correct the RV. I was comforted by the fact that other cars were on the road. I kept pulling over at gas stations to ask if it was normal and the response I got was “yep the cold is coming. Kansas winds are tough this time of year. To give perspective- Finally my eta jumps an hour later. I decide to pull over to figure out why. When I do, I see police cars race past and the entrance ramp to the highway we were on was closed.

We looked around and saw a hotel up to road. We were not the only people to emergently stay the night there. The kids were so thankful. Our RV swayed back and forth when parked-

Soon we learned that the reason my eta was extended was route 70 eastbound was closed because of a serious accident due to the winds. We were happy to be not moving and fell asleep early.

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Day 25- Rocky Mountain National Park

Molly spoiled us with eggs and salsa usage breakfast- the boys keep raving about her cooking.

Tears on both ends when we departed. Never easy to say goodbye.

Three hour drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. We went via the scenic route- was spectacular. When we arrived at the entrance at 2pm we learned that we needed a reservation!!??? The first time it ever happened. We were not allowed in until 5pm.

So we turned around and explored the town of Grand lake nearby- We stumbled upon a wedding about to start. Next we decided to do a hike to Adams Falls which is technically part of the national park. Our favorite part of the hikes is exploring the area slightly off the path- when allowed. This time we explored the river. The water was freezing!

We started challenging each other with balance tricks. Standing bow pose- on a fallen tree that fell over the river. Falling in the water with rocks everywhere would have been a problem 😬

Ciela just a spec on the upper left of this last pic.

Five pm came and we were allowed into the park. It was a 1.5 hour drive through to Estes, CO on the other side. We drove slowly and took in the beauty.

The road was very windy with steep drops on one side.

It grew very windy up top. The higher we went the more barren and cold it got.

We timed it to catch the sunset on the highest peak.

The photos don’t do it justice. We only saw one other RV at the top. It was a very windy two lane road that had massive drops on the one side. With the wind, I took it slow but really couldn’t enjoy the views.

As we made our way out of the park with the sun setting, mindful of wildlife in mating season and running wild- we spotted two elk learning to battle against each other. I think they were just practicing because there were no female around and because minutes before they were grazing next to each other. I wish we had better light because we were close to them but the sun had set and it was too dark to be clear.

We drove into Estes Colorado in darkness. There were tons of people walking the streets. Pulling into our RV park at 8:30pm- we learned we did not have a full hookup because the temperatures got so cold that the pipes could freeze. So I had to fill my fresh water tank in the dark at the entrance and then back into a spot on a hill in the dark.

The wind was so strong that night, our RV swayed even with the levels down.

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Day 24- Vail Colorado

I mean- could school get any more beautiful??? The aspens are our favorite- that burst of yellow exploding everywhere.

We visited Britten in her studio. So happy she is back in Edwards and so jealous that Molly gets to be with her. Then we all drove to Vail to walk around. Another spectacular day with blue skies and sunshine.

The candy store was a huge hit.

Man I love Mol. Was too little time to be together but had so much fun.

Molly and Oliver treated us to dinner at the golf club.

We had an awesome table by the wall of glass doors- open air dining but felt like we were inside.

Mica and Evie Twinsies.

Home for Oliver’s sugar bowl and the Wizard of Oz.

The boys played pool with Andrew. He was so great to spend time with them. The kids were floored by his illustrations. I am bummed we never got to see his parking spot he painted at school. Love his imagination.