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.

Day 23- Edwards Colorado

I slept really hard- a fantastic hard sleep. So lucky to be here. The kids were up at normal 6am for school.

After morning session we went on a hike with Rosie and Starr.

Can’t believe she lives here.

Franco has to play right even though a lefty because we didn’t bring our clubs. Molly loaned the boys her boys older clubs. So fun!!

While Smols took my boys golfing (am sure they were impressed by her D1 skillz,) I took Ciela for a chop-

She looks too old.

Another walk with our girls- Admiring the mountain lion/ cougar scratches on the trees in her front yard.

Later the boys went to collect lost golf balls by hole 2- where people miss the green and they fall in the ditch. Grayson discovered a massive coyote den at the very bottom. Molly later told us that the coyotes would lure dogs down to the den and then they would ambush it and kill/ eat them. 😳mica and Evie put on performances for us- the tango and various other dances.

Then the boys pulled out three teeth between the two of them. ?!?

Had to peel them away from Hungry Hippo to go to bed. We went to sleep waaaaaay too late!

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Passing the time while driving

The driving time FLIES if we are listening to an audiobook. Finding one that all will enjoy has been a challenge. But all four kids absolutely loved “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. It is exceptional. There are a few adult moments that I skipped over but for the most part, aside from the curse words- it was an amazing book. They learned about Apartheid and his experience growing up as a mixed race boy in South Africa. His very existence was ilegal- his parents could have gone to jail for five years for being together because his mother was black and his father white. We all cracked up at the humor he found in the absurd experiences he had. The audiobook was read by the author and his delivery was exceptional- explaining his success as a comedian/ performer in real life. His stories of his childhood captured all our attention. We would get into a car and they would say “turn on Trevor!”

Once that was done, we moved on to “The Outsiders.” They are hooked but they prefer nonfiction.

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Day 22- Utah, Dinosaurs

After having excellent WiFi and finishing morning school at 10:30am- we went to explore Utah. The Dry Forks Petroglyphs in Vernal Utah- on private property… 200ft high sandstone cliff has petroglyphs carved into the stone dating back from 1-1200 AD.

The kids were questioning the authenticity of the carvings because the cliff was accessible to anyone. In their minds, anyone could have carved them.

From there we drove to Dinosaur National Monument Quarry in Jenson Utah. This was super cool. Located between Colorado and Utah- the quarry became a reservoir for the skeletons of the dinosaurs after flooding hit the area. So many dinosaur bones all gathered there and were discovered 100 years ago. In the 1950s they built a structure enclosing the most prominent wall of bones. That’s what we were able to visit.

It was wild seeing all these bones all in one place. And being able to touch them was even cooler.

After exploring the wall of bones- we went for a hike in the 80degree direct sun heat.

Then we hit the road for Edwards, to visit Molly.

We saw very few cars the entire time. We finished listening to The Outsiders.

The kids cracked up because the only cars we did see- were road workers painting the lines. We got stuck behind them for 20minutes. I didn’t feel comfortable passing them because I knew I would be crossing the wet yellow lines… but eventually we did.

The drive was beautiful. The mountains were red!

Four and a half hours and 213 miles later, we arrived at Molly’s home.

Just in time for dinner and bedtime stories. Mica won’t want to leave!!! Evie and Mica were instant buds.

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Day 21- leaving Jackson, Utah

School was SO easy when doing it from Jack Mac’s. PB banana smoothies for breakfast. While kids schooled, mom packed up the RV and all our gear. Did a quick RV clean and gathered the kids to go.

I was super bummed that we never got to rollerblade the bike route along the Tetons… so we did it after dropping off rental car. (Small hiccup with rental car- the rental agreement had Jackson airport as return spot but when we arrived we learned the Budget was in Jackson- blocks from where we were staying. We went to airport for nothing!)

The kids were SO happy to be on their blades again. We parked and I told them to blade to a tree I saw far in the distance. I couldn’t guess how far it was but I could not see them when they got to it. I loved how safe it felt because the bike route never intersects with anything the entire route. Beautifully paved asphalt with the Tetons as a backdrop. After returning they asked if they could go again… so I let them. After that return, gray begged for one more go… he was the only one to go three times.

Then we hit the road. 276 miles and 5.5 hours to Vernal Utah. The ride was spectacular. Much of the route running along side rolling rivers. I kept hollering for the kids to “look out the window.”

We passed some previous fire sites and were sad to see so much destruction.

A highlight of the drive was coming upon ranchers moving their cattle.

There was a young girl in braids also working-

Our girls caught up on sleep.

More driving…

I am constantly thinking “where is everyone?” as I drive. The entire time, I may have seen a handful of cars. I have never once been in traffic except for about fifteen minutes outside of Chicago. It is surreal. No one is on the roads.

We knew we were close when we hit the dam-

Our first stop in Utah was at Red Fleet State Park. We arrived around 5:30pm and there was only one RV in the entire parking lot and one other car. A couple was kayaking on the water and loaded up to leave in that car as we arrived. I wanted to hike and explore- this park known for dinosaur footprints embedded in the rock. But the kids begged to blare on the open expanse of the parking lot. Again, surreal to be in this massive state park alone.

Ciela finished math homework in the RV and then joined us.

As the sun set, I loaded everyone back in the car to drive before dark. The rocks looked painted and reminded me of Salta, Argentina.

We arrived at the Vernal KOA just as it was closing. Franco helped me hookup. The boys lit a fire while Ciela finished more school work. S’mores as a treat and early to bed.

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