CYOA - Day 6 - Moss Forest & Driftwood Beach & Sand Dollars

Today marks the best day of our trip so far.
But since we have said that every day…we will see if it sticks.
We woke up in the Hoh National Forest.  We found an outlet on the side of the road last night, and slept away until the sun started shining this morning.  When it did, Micah and I quietly drove through the campgrounds and the area to check out the area.  As we were driving through a campground, Micah said, “WHOA!”  I looked over to him, and saw the hugest moose directly outside his window.
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This moose (who we made great memes out of), was literally four feet from us.  We stopped our car and he crossed right in front of us.  I got out and followed him for a few hundred feet, and just to give you an idea of how huge he was…
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Here is our buddy next to a four man tent!
He was huge.
The kids woke up to a wild moose roaming — pretty rad!
Then we headed to Moss Forest.
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Pippi loves moss, so I knew she would love it.
She did.
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As did Scout, who became the “troll of this bridge”, and made us solve a riddle to pass through.
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As did copycat Dash, who was the “troll of the trees”, who also made us solve riddles to pass by.
The best story from Moss Forest came from Dash.
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Scout had inched his way out over the water on this fallen tree.  He made it to the end and back without an issues.  We applauded him.  Then Dash got on it, and ran at a quick speed all the way to the end and back.  We all looked at each other with our mouths opened wide.  Then he did it again.  And again.  I finally said I would video him and to do it one last time.  Like before, he ran all the way to the end, turned around, ran back while dodging low branches..and at the very end leapt to the trail….
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AND FELL A FEW INCHES SHY OF HIS TARGET!
We were all laughing so hard, and he thought it was pretty funny too!
The poor boy must have stage fright!
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As we were leaving the Hoh National Forest, we followed a really pretty river.  I was aching for some fresh water to clean up in, and we found the perfect little spot.
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So just down river of me taking a river shower, my five partners in crime were perfecting their rock skipping skills.
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We think Dash has finally mastered it!
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When we left the forest, we headed to the coast. The drive itself was nothing short of magnificent.  Everything was beautiful.  Everything was bright green, the wildflowers were in full force, and the sun was shining down on us.
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This PCH is very different than our PCH!
As soon as we were right next to the water, we took the first turnout to a place named “Ruby Beach”.
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Who knew that this very short walk to the beach would be my favorite beach I have ever been to!
In one word…it was magic.
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As soon as the greenery stopped, the driftwood started.
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The exploring was awesome.  I was with Dash, and we spent 20 minutes checking out the driftwood.  And then we saw the sea stacks.  We spent another 20 minutes as Dash climbed and explored them!  We had no idea where everyone else was, and it didn’t matter, because we were in heaven ourselves.  We were sure they were in one of Heaven’s different rooms.
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There were driftwood bridges, driftwood huts, driftwood words…it was a free for all, with no shortage of driftwood.
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When we finally caught up to the others, Micah was teaching Pippi how to put posts in the sand.
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She collected driftwood for an hour, and created her very own “circus” where she sang and danced and even tamed a lion named Dash.
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Navy collected bigger pieces to expand and perfect the rad driftwood fort they had all started!
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It turned out so rad!
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While Navy was perfecting, Scout and Dash were playing ninja warrior on some of the sea stacks,  they were having an absolute blast!  I love this stage of my kids, where all of them are still in love with playing and everyone is capable to do everything.
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Then Scout and Dash decided to make a bridge over a stream coming down from the mountains.
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After they finished it, it was awesome.  But they decided that there were a few things they could have done differently, and the engineers hired two other employees to help build another.  These four worked on making this a perfect dam/bridge for another hour.  They could have stayed at this beach for three more days.  Micah and I sat at the water’s edge watching our amazing kids, and collecting jade and agate as it washed up from the sea.  Can you imagine a better moment in life?
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Because the kids were filthy, they took a dip in the fresh water lake that was also at Ruby Beach.  They cleaned off and played in it for a while.  Watching them with the mist that hovered in the pine trees that edges the sand was like out of a dream.  Like I said — it was just magical!
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On our way out, we stopped by the teepee Dash found.  It said “All Welcome”, and that is exactly how we felt at Ruby Beach.  I hope that sign is there next year and the next, because I plan on returning many times in our lives.
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Our final stop of the night was found after we drove by a local oyster farm to see what it was all about.  They were just about to close up shop when Navy saw a huge barrel full of sand dollars.  She asked where they came from, and the nice guy behind the counter told us exactly where to go and collect them.  Then he told us all about another rad place we will visit tomorrow morning.  I love the whole “ask a local” thing, because we have had such great luck with it!
We followed his directions, and got to the beach where the sand dollars wash up.  He said it would be difficult to find whole sand dollars, which we nicknamed “Holy Molys”, but we were up for the task.
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Navy walked towards the mist, and took us out to the beach for our search.
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The beach was empty.
We were literally the only ones on the beach, which meant all of the sand dollars we could find could be ours!!!
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Scout and Navy were running all over the place  they had pretty decent luck with Holy Molys.
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They also kept finding these “blobs” or “squishys”.  Some were small like this, but there were others that were as big as our hand.
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Pippi found several pieces of sand dollars, but no Holy Molys…until we heard a loud shrill “HOLY MOLY”!  She had found one, and felt like a million bucks.
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Dash literally didn’t care too much about the hunt.  He was more interested in running, cartwheeling, karate chopping the sand, and any other stereotypical thing a six year old boy does!  Notice that Pippi is now in a sweatshirt.  Sweet Scout was a hero when he passed his warm and cozy sweatshirt over to his little sis.
Sidenote: Scout is the only one with a sweatshirt on the vacation.  Minus Micah who has a down jacket.
The rest of us…our adrenaline is keeping us warm.
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Navy and Scout were comparing some of their finds.
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in the end, we ended up with something like 35 Holy Molys.  Not bad for a local’s tip only 2 hours ago.  Now…we need to find way more to fill up one of our jars at home!
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This day was magical.  We went from one cool place to the next.  And all of the in between was beautiful.  I must sound like a broken record as I say…”Look at those wildflowers!” or “It is just sooo pretty and green”.  When I am old and looking back on my life, I know without any doubt, that today is one of the days I will look back on as one of our best.
That today is one of those days where everything in life just came together perfectly.

CYOA - Day 5 - Seattle and Beyond

Last night’s hotel stay was great.  We all got an extended sleep because we kept the hotel room dark and froze out the room, so we were all basically in a coma all night.  Good thing Micah was excited to get the chitlins up and get them fed at the free hotel breakfast, while I took a final 30 minutes of rejuvenation.
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Our morning was spent in Seattle.  We obviously stopped at Pike’s Place.  I don’t like to brag, but I got the best parking spot available, which always makes things a bit more exciting.
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The produce was beautiful.  The cheese monger was awesome, and helped me pick some out for our day’s drive.  We got some local honey, and obviously a good baguette.  And then my kids spotted the fresh mini donuts, and we got three dozen of those too.  It was really cool, but would have been a thousand times cooler with a third the amount of people.
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We also stopped by the most disgusting wall of my life!  Seattle’s gum wall is like nothing I have seen before.  It was a whole block of gum!
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But it did kind of make a cool backdrop for grumpy.
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We were all excited to get out of Seattle, and get back to the less-crowded parts of Washington.  The kids enjoyed their first ferry ride, as they watched Seattle get smaller and smaller in the distance.
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Dash was impressing us all with his “headstands on the ferry”!  This boy never stops moving.  Let me repeat…NEVER STOPS MOVING!
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Meet Pippi’s hedgehog.  Pippi has been a complete trooper this trip.  But for the first time yesterday, I noticed she was asking about home a lot.  I knew she needed to have a little make believe in her life during the road trip.  I ran into a toy store and got her this mini hedgehog, and they became fast friends.  She rocked it, sang to it, brushed its hair, and became that hedgehog’s mama.  It was just what the doctor ordered.
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We made it to highway 1, and turned left.  The drive was beautiful.  On the drive, we looked for little gems, and found plenty.  Navy introduced Micah to the wild blackberries of Washington.  Micah was sold.
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We spotted a fruit tree that was unfamiliar to us.  We figured out that it was a crossbreed of a cherry and an apricot.  It was a guess, but whatever it was, it was yummy.  We took some for the road.
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We also came upon tons and tons of wild sweet peas.  I don’t usually see pods on our sweet peas, but this variety had full pods…with SWEET PEAS!  They were also yummy.
As we drove on, we were talking about how whatever street you turn on, there is something to see.  WE talked about how if you look, there is always something interesting or cool.  And then we randomly turned down the ultimate street of all.  In the distance, we saw something that stuck out like a sore thumb.  We drove a few miles to get closer to a medieval castle in the middle of a little coastal town of 8 people.
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It was immaculate, and the grounds were huge — tons of acreage filled with orchards and different themed houses, and…
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…dragons and goblins and trolls!
This was the most bizarre sore thumb (that was immaculate) in the middle of nowhere!
We were SO stumped on the story of this place.
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After exploring all over, where it said “no trespassing” the gate opened to see this cool dude ride out on his motorcycle.  He literally looked like he should be filming a movie, and was right out of Hollywood.  Apparently, his family owns the whole area, and they rent it out for events.  Past the gates are tons of nice homes to rent out as well.  Again…it was so perfectly kept up, it was amazing.  The guy said that everyone from wedding parties to LARPing groups rents all or part of it out pretty regularly.  He then said, head over to our orchards, and pick some apples.  There is also a barn up the hill where you can hang out with our goats.  He was as nice as can be, and this was all the trippiest find of our trip yet!
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Before we left, we let Rapunzel let down her hair one last time!
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As we drove on, Scout lost his first molar.
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Micah ordered “a full order of California rolls”.
The Asian lady repeated “four order of California rolls”.
Micah said yes, without realizing the language barrier technicality.
When it came out, we all started laughing so hard!
And Micah had California rolls for the next “four” meals.
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Our final stop of the night was because Scout Chose His Own Adventure!  We were driving by the most beautiful lake surrounded by pine trees.  The sun was almost down, and Scout announced, “I want to swim in that lake”.
Done.
We drove around looking for a good access point, and found a boat ramp with a small walkway out over the water.
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Scout took the plunge!
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And for the next 45 minutes, the kids fooled around on that walkway.
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Are you wondering if Micah is liking the trip?
I’m pretty sure that is a resounding Y-E-S.
Welcome aboard Micah.

CYOA - Day 4 - Wild Berries and Wild Waves

Today was wild!
In every sense of the word!
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I always to see exactly where we stayed overnight when the sun comes up.  This morning, we found ourselves among tall pine trees, in a little outlet our car fit in perfectly.  All of us sleep like babies in the car, which has surprised me the most.  I always am the first to wake up.
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Dash has traded seats with me, so I sleep on the middle bench and he is on the driver’s seat.
After I wake, I quietly move him back to my bench, and as the kids sleep, I drive.  I love the silence.  I first find a breakfast place to go in and grab them something.  This morning I found a darling bakery that had banana muffins.  I stocked up on four, and drove towards Seattle.
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As the kids wake up one by one, they each get their food, and I get their approval or disapproval.
Today, I had good marks.
On our way towards Seattle, it was glorious.  (Not a word I use often — but the perfect description.)  Literally…glorious.  The sunbeams peeked through the trees, and bounced off the lakes we were driving by, that rivaled the prettiest lakes I have ever seen.  I am not a huge fan of pine trees.  I would take a quaking aspen or maple tree any day over a pine.  But today, I saw it differently.  Every mountain looked as if it was covered in fur.  The pine trees were so dense, you couldn’t see a dot of earth on them.  They were absolutely beautiful.  The kids and I oohed and aahed every new turn.  And the best part — you could smell the pine through our vents.  When we opened the windows, we were inhaling extra hard to let the pine scent linger.
On these road trips of ours, we take many, many offshoots.  If anyone sees a road they want to travel down, take it.  We have found that the greatest discoveries are in the hidden places.  And when we are surprised by finding a gem, it is all that much more exciting. Today, we took several roads and among other things, we found incredible wildflowers.  Navy was constantly looking up the wildflowers in her “Wildflowers of the North East” book, and on today’s drive, we found 3 new species to this trip.  Navy is my wildflower girl.  (Pippi is my moss girl.)
As we approached Seattle, it was amazing weather!  I knew the kids wouldn’t totally know where to go in the big city, so I did a few minutes of research for something I thought they would love today.  But on our way, we were stopped in our tracks by the coolest thing of the trip so far!!!
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It was a 1/2 mile long wall of wild blackberries!  The berries were totally ripe and ready to be picked, so I pulled over, and they kids went to town.
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Everyone was in great spirits…
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…until Pippi got eaten up by the berry plant!
Good thing Navy got her untangled.
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The kid’s fingers and mouths were stained purple, from the juiciest and best-tasting blackberries I have ever had.
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Scout’s bounty was impressive — and this is after he had eaten the same amount during picking.
We ended up picking for over an hour and a half.  I am pretty sure my kids would pick a berry wall over a candy store most days.
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Only a few miles beyond the berries, I drove by “Wild Waves”.  I kind of manufactured this adventure, but I needed a relaxing day in water.  Basically, I need a Choose Your Own Adventure shower!
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When we got there, the kids begged to go in, and I was the hero when I said yes!
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My first stop was the cabana rental booth.
Thank goodness I got the last one available!
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The day kind of went like this:
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The three big kids got to run around together for two rides at a time.  They would come back to the cabana and check in, and head out again.  The park was pretty small, and they were in and out about every 25 minutes.  After a few times, I would get up and go to a ride or two with them, and head back to the shade and the lounge chair.  I did this until Scout and Navy made me go on the most psychotic shoot-out slide…then I retired for the day.
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Meanwhile, Pippi was my little helper.  She went to go get new ice every few hours.  She retrieved the ketchup when needed.  She would organize and reorganize the cabana.  And she finally napped for a few hours.  When she wanted, we would go to a few slide and rides.  But she was perfectly content just hanging out in her cabana imaginary world next to me.
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There were so many great stories from the day, but the two best are:
#1
Dash and Scout had both earned $20 from their hill clomb a few days ago.  When they saw the Skycoaster, they wanted to go on it so badly!  I told them I wouldn’t pay for it, but they said they would pay for themselves.  I thought that was a great idea, and we headed over.  When they got over to it, Scout pulled Dash aside, and had a quiet conference together.  When they came back, Scout and Dash announced that between them, they had enough money to pay for Navy also, so they wanted her to go with them.  She was SO excited, and I was SO proud!
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Here they are — all suited up!
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And like three bugs in a rug…they soared with the biggest smiles.  When they got off, they were all recounting their adventure, and how Dash was so brave to pull the ripcord.  As the three of them ran off together, I felt so happy to see them as a team.
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#2
The three big kids discovered an arcade.  they know I will never give them two cents to waste on games, and dad wasn’t around, so they did what they always do — they scrounged.  Of course they looked under every machine and found a few tokens.  But then they befriended a kid that had pockets full of tokens.  And this kid was the most generous kid ever!  They kept coming back with prizes and tickets, for their new-found friend.  Apparently the parents were there and didn’t care that their boy was spreading the wealth, so I just stayed in the cabana and played dumb.
A bit later, they came in with an ice cream cone.  I asked them how they had it, and they said their friend had bought it, but decided he wanted a different flavor.  They ended up with it, and Pippi was stoked!  She started licking away.  I asked them how the story went down again…and that is when I heard a detail I hadn’t heard previously.
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The boy bought a strawberry ice cream cone.  He decided he wanted a different flavor and gave it to his little brother.  His little brother tasted it….did you hear the details….HIS LITTLE BROTHER TASTED IT…and decided he didn’t want it.  And that is how my kids aquired it and gave it to Pippi who was about half way done at this point.
WHAT!?!
I guess the damage was done.  I should have known when the big kids weren’t devouring the cone.
Ha!
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After a full day in the sun and three nights sleeping in the car, i told the kids that I demanded a hotel bed for the night.  They didn’t like the idea, but I just drove…because they didn’t know I had one last thing up my sleeve.  When we got there, they thought it was weird to knock at the door instead of check in.
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But when the biggest FOMO dad answered, they got it.
Micah just couldn’t see us adventuring like this without joining in.
Pippi was probably the happiest to see him, while I was the happiest to see a mattress!

CYOA - Day 3 - Vale, Oregon

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After last nights nightmare drive, I was so excited to wake up to a peaceful sunrise.  The kids were still sleeping, so I quietly drove down the hill to get to Boise.  When I got there, I ran into a Whole Foods for blueberry muffins and some shampoo and conditioner.  This whole sleeping in the car thing has its advantages…AND DISADVANTAGES!  Like getting properly clean being high on that list!
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Look at the kids making due when the sun starts waking them up!
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I know the kids get to choose these adventures, but I started driving to Vale, Oregon because I knew they would love to have Vale on their adventure.
Why???
Because it is on the Oregon Trail?
Nope.
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Because Lexi is serving her mission in Vale!
It was perfect, because Lexi was going to take one of my coats that was at Tristen’s house, but she never got it.  So with the coat in hand…we sought out to get it to her.
We got Lexi’s mailing address from Angi, and headed over.  We found the apartment, and knocked.
No answer.
I then said…”Okay guys…we need to be sleuths.  Where would a sister missionary go on a Monday morning?”
They thought and thought.  The first suggestion was to drive the streets to see if we could find two girls on bikes.  Then someone said, “Let’s go to the church.”
We agreed that someone there might have the missionaries phone number.
We drove on to the church, and walked around to see if any of the doors happened to be open.  The kids went one way, I went the other.  All of a sudden, I heard “Mom..Mom!!!”  I looked over, and there was Lexi!!!
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My kids had caught her on her P Day at the church.
They were all so excited to see her, and so happy we found her!
It was such a fun morning.  We chatted with her for about 20 minutes, and hugged her goodbye.
AS we drove off, I announced to the kids that we were all filthy, and we needed to find a way to get clean!  We looked up a local reservoir , and drove 10 minutes to it.
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Navy said Bully Creek Reservoir was named after Scout!
We all jumped in, lathered up, and got ourselves back to some sort of clean.
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I think we would have stayed for hours, but there were prickly bushes we had to avoid, so we only spent an hour at Scout…I mean Bully Creek.
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I stopped at a bank on our way out, and the kids created a storage unit for our car.  I was so impressed with their ingenuity.  I loved it, but couldn’t see out the back– so I ended up vetoing it.
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Our drive was fun today.  We stopped at random towns with parks and rivers.  When Dash (or anyone else) was naughty in the car, I made the offender run.  Dash got a hill run for extra naughtiness.
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Our favorite town stop was Baker City, Oregon.  There were fruit trees everywhere, darling parks, a perfect river through town, and an incredibly delicious homemade sandwich and ice cream shop.  As we drove by any fruit trees, the kids always wanted to pick a snack.  This apple tree was incredible.  At first I told them no because it was in front of someone’s house.  But there was so much ripe fruit, and plenty that had fallen to the ground, that when they begged, I told them to go ask.  There was nobody home, so my kids took the liberty of grabbing just one apple that was way too high to reach.  They jumped and jumped, to no avail.  Then they used teamwork.  Navy created a bench with her body, and Scout jumped off of it.  Apple picked!
Just as they were coming to the car, a lady (the neighbor) came towards us with a rake.  I was humiliated.  But she said, “The only things that eat those apples are the deer!  Please pick as many as you’d like.”  She then proceeded to help them get a ton down with the rake.
One thing we have all noticed on this CYOA trip, is how kind everyone is.  Literally everyone thinks our trip is awesome, and is helpful and nice.  We keep talking about it in the car, and repeatedly decide that we want to be that same way.
We drove north again.  They wanted to head into Washington.  Their ultimate goal is to get to the coast, and drive south along the Pacific Ocean.  So Washington…here we come.

CYOA - Day 2 - Twin Falls/Sun Valley

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I will have to admit that out of every camping spot I’ve ever had in my life, under the Twin Falls Temple takes the top spot.  The kids all slept like babies.  And I got to watch the sun rise behind the temple.  By the time all of the kids woke up, we were all pretty happy with our first day of CYOA.
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Day two started out with a quick stopover to Target, where we brushed our teeth and washed our faces for church.  I was thinking the kids would be bummed on getting cleaned up at Target, but they thought it added to the adventure.   We got some breakfast in the food aisles, grabbed our church clothes out of the trunk…and headed to our three hours of church.
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Don’t let this picture deceive you.  They were awful!
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This picture is a bit more telling of their behavior.
This was during the prayer…but was also a frozen moment of the wrestling that was taking place right before the prayer.
While at church, the kids asked around and heard that Twin Falls was the “Niagara of the West”, and was just a few minutes away.  We were literally in flat country, so we were a bit perplexed.  But we drove, and started going down a crevice, and we couldn’t believe Twin Falls!
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It was awesome!  The falls were massive, powerful, and a huge surprise to us!
Thanks locals.
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The kids wanted to head north to the Ice Cave the lady at the gas station had told us about.  We drove…and in the middle of nowhere — we saw the sign that said C A V E.
We turned in.
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We drove up to the sketchiest place ever.  It looked like an old ghost town with a bunch of peacocks running around.  We walked into the “shop” (a run down building that housed every taxidermy animal you could think of — including two headed chickens).  There was a homeless-looking man (the son of the now-deceased owners) ready to take our payment.  I thought it was all a little odd, and when I saw that he was watching a Netflix show about a perfect murder, I got the creeps.  The kids really wanted to head into the cave, so we decided we were just going to make the whole thing fast.
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There were dead rats, it was pitch black, and at the end there was a sign that talked about how this cave has housed moonshiners, runaway slaves and murderers.  I looked at the kids and said, “Kids…we are just a mom and four kids.  This is creeping me out so badly!  Walk fast, and let’s get the heck out of here.”  As we rushed out, I kept recreating the perfect opening scene to a horror movie in my mind, and this was it!!!
We jammed out of there.
As we drove away, we all started asking where the ice was?  And the lady was so right about the City of Rocks…how could she be so wrong about the cave?  About ten minutes later, we came upon a huge sign that read  “I C E   C A V E S!”  Are you kidding me!!!  We went in to their front shop and it was great!  We told them we had mistaken the other cave for theirs, and they said it happens all of the time, and smirked as they asked if we liked it.  They said the original owners were great, but ever since the son took over, it had gotten really sketchy.
We ditched out on caves all together, and just got out of creepy dodge.
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The kids were divided in where to go next, but we ended up heading to Sun Valley, Idaho.
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The town was idyllic.  It was bustling with people, the perfect weather, and a beautiful setting.  A lady in a sports shop told us about the opening night of the symphony at the base of the ski mountain.  Obviously we headed there next.  I dropped Scout and Navy off to get spots for us.  I was so proud of my little mini me children, as they got the second to the front spots with our blankets.  We hung there for a bit, but decided to go to the back, where all of the children were playing during the symphony.
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Soccer, headstands, and goofing off while Beethoven was playing in the background.
It might have been a perfect moment in our lives.
I asked the kids what we wanted to do next.  We could stay, or drive on.  They chose to drive on.
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We drove up and over the mountain ridge of Sun Valley, and came over to see the most glorious valley below.
It was so breathtaking, we had to get out to see and admire the scenery.
Have I mentioned that the kids and I are having such a good time…I hope it never ends!
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As we drove on, we got to a place called Smiley Creek.  Right before we pulled in, we saw a gang of Raccoons!  Pippi has had a weird obsession with raccoons lately, so we were all beside ourselves with her good fortune!  We drove around to see them three times because we were all freaking out so much!  Pippi was love drunk after the event, and just kept saying, “Never in my life!”  She didn’t finish the sentence, which made it all that much funnier.  We tried to stay in Smiley Creek’s teepee, but they were booked.  As was EVERY SINGLE OTHER PLACE FOR TWO HOURS!  WE saw so many great towns to stop in, but there was nowhere!  So we drove.
As it got dark, I pulled over to make everyone’s “spot” comfy.  What became a tradition on the drive was everyone getting comfy (with seat belts still on), we would say family prayer, I would drive on while listening to this year’s primary CD, and the kids would gradually fall asleep one by one.  It was perfect.
But this night…even though those elements were perfect, the drive was psychotic.  I came face to face with a wild goat and her baby, many deer, a cow, two fox, several raccoons and about four narrow detours over the course of three grueling hours.  There were more hairpin turns than I can count, the fog was crazy thick in some spots, the animal hazards were frightening, and I literally white knuckled it the whole way.  It was literally exhausting.  I drove about 30 mph most of the way, because I just kept thinking about my precious cargo in the back.  I only encountered a few cars the entire way, so when I started seeing other cars, it was a relief.  I finally pulled up a dirt road, and stopped the car.  At that moment, I was so grateful for a trusty car, for a safe drive and for cell phone reception so I could tell Micah all about it.  After retelling my crazy night, I unbuckled each of the kids, created my own spot, and passed out until morning light.

CYOA - Day 1 - City of Rocks, Idaho

We drove away from Tristen’s house today to Choose Our Own Adventure!  (More like the kid’s adventure!)
They chose north, and I drove.
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We decided that signs along the roadside could give them great clues about what was around them, so when they started seeing signs for “City of Rocks”, the kids said…”Follow Those Signs!”
We followed them off the road for ten minutes, when we decided to get some snacks and fill up.  When we were there, I told them the drill.  They needed to talk to the locals, and ask them for the tips and tricks of their area.  Scout and Dash headed in, where Scout headed up the conversation.  He was talking to the lady behind the counter, and said, “Hi there.  We are heading to The City of Rocks.  Is it cool?  And is there anything else to look for while we are out there?”  She inquired a little more and when she heard what we were doing, she spouted off tons of great stuff.  She told them all about the City of Rocks and some Ice Caves north of us.  She was awesome, and a perfect first local to engage with.  Dash didn’t do a ton of the talking, but he watched how it worked and was taking mental notes.
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When we got to the City of Rocks, it was beautiful.  There was also a huge group of people who had just finished rock climbing.  The kids in that group were all playing Ultimate Frisbee.  Scout and Dash watched for a while, and soon enough, they were given positions in the game.
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At one point, Dash ran back to me to excitedly tell me, “Mom…Mom!!!  I asked a local, and know the next thing we need to do!”  I knew he was watching…
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After Ultimate Frisbee, we headed to the rocks.  Apparently, this place is known in the rock climbing community, and has famous rocks to climb.  The kids and I found a great area where they could climb and explore.
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After climbing for a few hours, Dash directed us to Thermal Pools his local buddy told him about.
We drove about a mile away, and the dusty and filthy kids jumped in the perfectly warm pools.
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And then Dash ran and bombed in another of their pools.  This one was perfectly hot.  When he came up, he was screaming over how hot it was!  Scout, who had inched his way in a few minutes before, and I were dying laughing.
After swimming in the thermal pools (which were a blast), we drove through the rest of The City of Rocks.  It was a 90 minute drive that turned into a 3 hour drive.  The rocks were amazing, and we stopped and watched insane rock climbers, who were everywhere!  Our favorite was Elephant Rock — we were there for a solid 45 minutes oohing and aahing over the rock climbers and their brave routes.
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As we drove on, I saw a tall mountain. Since we all had adrenaline pumping through our bodies from watching the rock climbing daredevils, I told the kids that whichever of them could make it to the top in 20 minutes, would get 20 bucks of spending cash on the trip.
All four started.
Within seconds, Pippi was back.
It was too scratchy.
Within minutes, Navy was back.
It was too hard on her burn.
Dash and Scout….they never stopped.
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About 10 minutes in, they were what appeared to be close, but based on how small they looked, they were really far.
Another 7 or 8 minutes had gone by, and I started to get a pit in my stomach.
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They were so tiny, I couldn’t even find them without my zoom lens.  Thank goodness they were both in bright colors.  But like I said — I had a pit in my stomach.  Scout was determined to make that $20, and I was determined to bring him back to safety.  I honked and honked.  Then I yelled to Scout.  No answer.  I finally reached Dash by yelling, and he was then able to yell to Scout to turn around.  About 20 minutes later, they were both safe and sound in my presence.
Dash’s legs were so beat up, but he was so proud of himself.  He told me he would have made it if I hadn’t called them back.  He then asked if he got any money, and I offered him a penny.
Scout said he was getting really dizzy and having a hard time breathing by the end.  Holy high altitude!!!  He also said he got all the way to a barbed wire fence, and that he was looking for a way around it.  Holy cow am I glad he turned around.  That could have been a bad situation.
In the end, I gave them both $20 spending cash for the trip, because it was all very impressive.
When they got back in the car, I just felt so grateful for all four kids being safe and sound in the car…and we adventured on while we listened to Scout and Dash comparing their stories for an hour!
The kids chose Twin Falls (a big city) for our next stop.
I told them to feel free to doze off as I drove, and that when we got to a hotel, I would wake them up.
The kids were stunned when I mentioned a hotel, and all of them said, “No Way!!!  We want to sleep in the car!”
What!?!
I knew they got to choose the adventure — but not the sleeping arrangements too!?!
But they begged.
As we drove into Twin Falls, I was a little nervous about where we would all sleep in the car safely.  I told the kids I wasn’t sure where to sleep.  As we got closer, there was a bright white building in the distance, that became the outline of one of our temple steeples as we got closer.  The kids were so excited to see a temple, and all agreed that we would sleep under the Temple, because they were sure we would be safe there.
I almost got choked up, and drove straight to the temple parking lot, where we got out every blanket and pillow we had, and made our spot for the night.
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And I am pretty sure Scout and Dash slept the soundest.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

This summer was changed from its original blueprint.  Instead of heading back east at the end of July with my family and my mom, I was tied up in Utah helping my dad with some stuff.  Now that everything has been partially tackled, my Dad is in his new place, and his health seems to be getting good, I have ants in my pants!  I want to go adventure!  (Yes — adventure is strictly a verb in this family!)
I have had an idea in my mind for a few years that I want to tackle.  And although this wasn’t on my radar for this summer…I figured — The is no time like the present!!!
So I woke my kids up this morning.
I told them that we needed to be back in Dana Point for school by the 16th.
We packed up and drove to the bookstore.
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I bought a map of the western United States and taught them all how to read it.
I said we are going on a “Choose Your Own Adventure” trip…and they got to choose everything!
There was one caveat….
They weren’t allowed to look anything up!  They were only allowed to figure out where to go and what to do…..by asking the locals!
And with excitement running through our veins…we are heading north!

Head Rush

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ALWAYS…ALWAYS ON HIS HEAD.

Random Plaque Testing

This morning I sat my kids down and talked to them all about random drug testing.  I told them that when people are known to do loser things, they get surprise tested to tell important people if they are still losers.  I then told them they were going to be randomly tested.
They were confused.
Then I told them I was pretty confident that none of them were taking drugs, but I was also pretty confident that they were all being a little “loserish” in one aspect of their life.  Then I handed them each a dark purple pill, to expose all of the plaque they left on their teeth after “brushing” just minutes before.
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Navy was our best brusher — with only a few minor spots at the gumline.
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Pippi has the front tops and bottoms down to a science.  I explained to her that there are also teeth that need attention on the sides of her mouth.
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Dash…oh Dash!  I’m glad he had a few clean on the top.  His bottom adult teeth looked like they had been plucked from Barney — the big purple dinosaur’s mouth!
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And the biggest embarrassment to our family comes in the form of our oldest child.
Is he kidding?

Visiting Pops

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Since we were trekking down to Papa’s place, we decided to make it extra fun by visiting the nearby water park.  Truth be told…I actually went to visit a sick friend, and Tristen took my kids and Blush to Papas.  About an hour into it, she texted this picture, and said there was the hugest hail storm EVER, and the water park was closed fora  few hours for safety purposes.
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When I finally got to my dad’s place, the kids were all in his warm dry stuff, while their wet stuff was in the dryer.
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For his new place being just a few days old, my kids certainly christened it.
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Poor Pops…who couldn’t have seen this type of crazy coming!
I think his face says it all.