Friday morning we were kinda lazy about getting going. I think we all just wanted to linger longer with our family.
The kids swam a bunch and then Baby got tired of water so Aunt Amber brought out all her fun clay stuff and Baby was in heaven.
Clay is a great sensory "toy" and although water is great for sensory input too, I think she was just ready for something more tactile. Besides, look how adorable that elephant is! I really need to find this same clay set, it was adorable.
Amber takes care of kids in her home and has held on to all her kids' fun toys. She was even kind enough to send us home with one toy that Baby kept her interest in and that was the little "Alphie" robot. Loved him until I realized late at night in the van he could give me quite a scare... you'll get that story in a minute.
We finally got around to packing up and leaving at about 2:00 figuring we'd get to Vegas about 10:00 and just get a hotel last minute for the night.
We were off with smiling faces.
We had tentatively planned a short stop in Tehachapi to see the famous train loop that is there that Brother has watched a bazillion times on YouTube.
As I said before, Marc really wanted to make this trip about the kids and what they would enjoy and we all know how much trains mean to Brother.
We decided we didn't mind getting to Vegas a little later and that this stop would be worth it.
It took a little effort to find the route to the Tehachapi Loop, but on our way up we could hear a train going by and just knew that Brother's dream would come true and we'd be watching trains in real life on the famous Tehachapi Loop!
We got to the look-out spot and there were already a few officianados there waiting for the next train.
We waited a few minutes thinking the next train would come any moment. Our new train friend informed us that the trains enter the loop every 15 minutes and there would be another one coming along any moment...
Fifteen minutes turned to thirty and we were getting a tad discouraged as we were trying to still get to Vegas at a fairly decent time.
When we approached Brother to inform him that we should move on because of time we could see the longing in his eyes and just couldn't bring ourselves to make him leave. Marc and I agreed that we would give it 45 more minutes so we could say we gave it a good solid hour.
I mean when you see a kid looking on anxiously like this, you just have to hope his dream will come true...
After 45 minutes we started thinking that there must be something wrong and that the trucks that were along the loop's tracks were possibly doing repair work and the trains just weren't going to come.
I knew we had a few more minutes so I thought I'd just snap some pics from my phone to pass the time.
|There's the Tehachapi Loop out there. This picture may give you an idea of how hot it was out there and show you the love we have for Brother...|
After and hour we finally heard a train whistle and we all got excited and gathered to the viewing spot with great excitement and squinted our eyes as we tried to focus on the train that was over 5 miles away... and then it stopped...
We thought maybe it was waiting for another train before it came to the loop so we thought we'd wait a little longer. Besides, you could cut the anticipation with a knife at this point... or maybe it was just all that heat and humidity... at any rate, it was intense.
Brother had become quite the buddy with these two train buffs that had been there for the long hall with us and I had to sneak a picture.
Brother is so shy and really won't talk to strangers, but if you know about trains, you're his friend. I also think these two gentlemen were quite impressed with Brother's knowledge of trains—they all had a good train discussion.
Well, sadly, after one and half hours of waiting for the trains to come to the loop we had to give up hope and conceded that the trains weren't gonna be moving soon enough that we could stay to watch.
So our epic end to the trip wasn't so epic.
But, I was happy that Brother was still excited that he was even at the Tehachapi Loop.
(And in case you were wondering, yes, the girls were not really thrilled about this hour and a half wait, and were even more of a handful when they had realized we waited for nothing, but we've talked about them enough, that I think we can just leave it to your imagination.)
Drive through Tehachapi the fields would wisp as we sped by and the sunset was magnificent so I tried to capture a shot.
We stopped at, yet another, Taco Bell in Tehachapi... wait... wait... Wait! Have I even told you about Taco Bell? I can't remember. Well, anyway, Sister always wanted to eat at Taco Bell. If there was a Taco Bell that was where we would eat. We were just grateful that something was keeping her fed and happy.
So we were a few hours from Vegas, but now I had no cellular connection so I couldn't start looking for a hotel. We weren't too worried though, you can always find something in Vegas or nearby...
Hmmm... did we forget it was Memorial Day weekend?
Long story short, Vegas had NOTHING available... and when I say, "NOTHING" I mean no rooms under $500. I know, there's the places just before that like, Primm, but I said I was keeping this short.
Well, we had no choice, but to go to Mesquite at this point as it was 12am and we weren't about to call my aunt and uncle in Vegas for a place to stay that late, so we had to go to the nearest city.
On our way to Mesquite I called the Casablanca and there were no rooms available there, but the receptionist was sweet enough (I think she heard the desperation in my voice and the melting of the children) and she called around to all the hotels in the area for me! So kind. Such great service from the Casablanca in Mesquite and we didn't even stay there! She found an available room at a Best Western on the north end of Mesquite and there were only 2 rooms left so she gave me the number to call. I called and booked over the phone and we were finally in a hotel parking lot by 2:45am...
We were all toast.
Tired, ornery, tired, grumpy and in the car with each other too long we tripped and lumped up to the second floor to our room. All the while Sister was screaming and yelling for one reason or other and then Brother was crying because of her antics and then Marc and I realized how short our fuzes were and we even had the audacity to concern ourselves with the neighboring tenants and tried to get Sister to be quiet to no avail.
We had to concede that we would be "those" people coming into the hotel.
I'm sure it was because of all the commotion and such that I forgot a few things and Marc was already getting to bed so I just went down to the darkened parking lot by myself.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I didn't really know what the area looked like because it was all dark and I wasn't sure if there was someone lurking in the bushes so I just tried to act tough, confident and strong as I strolled to my van, all the while moving my eyes about so as to find anything that might be coming to get me.
Then I realized I had forgotten my keys...
I had to rewind all that, go back to the room to get my keys and then play it all over again.
I decided I would open my van door from a distance so as to deter any weirdos with the light beaming from the back of my van like a firefly.
Then I heard it...
it was subtle...
but it was there.
I looked up to see if Sister had come out of the room to wonder where I had gone to, but nothing was on the stoop.
I trepidatiously walked to the rear of my van hoping the voice was just a creak or a owl or something.
As I approached the van I realized that the voice I heard was Alphie's ... the toy robot Amber had given the kids.
That darn thing nearly gave me a heart attack.
Finally at 3:45 I had settled in bed, car safely locked, Alphie secure, kids in bed and I zonked, but not before I thought to take a selfie to commemorate the moment...
The next morning we woke up late enough to miss the "free" breakfast but early enough to get checked out in time.
As I stepped out into the light I laughed when I saw that our hotel was nestled next to a Taco Bell... most people would think, "Oh, it was meant to be!" We shuffled Sister quickly into the van hoping she would not see the Taco Bell as we had all had enough of Taco Bell for a while... thank you Taco Bell, but no thank you...
Our way home wasn't bad, really, at all... just those few times we missed Sister's cues for potty breaks.
We stopped in Nephi to celebrate MrT's birthday with the family for a while and then continued on home.
We were all happy to be home again. I was especially happy to see that my roses had bloomed while I was gone.
As cheesy as it sounds, I have to say that my roses weren't the only thing that bloomed while we were on this trip. Our family bond had bloomed to a bright and beautiful hue and we have to say that, even with all the struggles and trials, we were truly grateful to have bloomed brighter and stronger than we though we could.