Friday, November 13, 2009

The Latest Trip

I started this blog to keep people posted on our adventures touring with children, and I've kind of drifted from that but have decided to go back to it. Anyone can post opinions on politics, but how many people can tell tales of touring at all, much less with 5 children in tow? (That's where the title of the blog even came from. We call our van Melody Yellowvan and even have a song about her!)

So, the trip home:

We were warm and comfy at Grandma's house, and trying to struggle through piles and piles of random stuff from the move out of Las Vegas. Slogging through the chaos, we didn't get things together very well (as usual), so we didn't manage to leave Lehi until after 8:30 pm. We would have stayed one more night had we not been racing a snowstorm that was supposed to travel across Wyoming in the direction we were traveling (read: we would have been stuck in it the whole way across). Wyoming is NOT where you want to travel in snow, so we left.

When we were dating, Tim and I joked about some day just taking that "Cheyenne" exit out of SLC and just going....and going...and going. It still holds a sense of promise and adventure and romance for us. Talking about taking that exit when we were teens was exciting--it was the key to leaving the state, and experiencing the world, and being together doing new and interesting things. We loved to travel then, and even now driving along a road we've never been on is one of our favorite things to do together. We like the road less taken.

Leaving from Lehi, we finally get to take that exit.

But then we have to drive through Wyoming. When we moved to Las Vegas, one of my comments was, "Thank goodness we never have to do that awful drive through Wyoming anymore!"  Wyoming might be fine during the day. We always seem to be driving through it at night. Wyoming at night is so dark you can't see anything around but the occasional racoon or wolf running across the road. It's cold and windy, so stopping for anything is an icy, biting experience--and a pain when you have to find 5 pairs of discarded shoes. There are long long stretches with few to no exits (and no services at the few exits), so when a kid says, "I have to go potty" (which they do frequently), it's a serious thing.

So we started an all-night drive across Wyoming. Again. Hoorah.

It wasn't so bad.
Our children travel well. That helps.

Mostly Tim drives and I tend to children and chatter to keep his brain engaged. We never have a car with a working radio, and now is no different. So we end up talking a lot about projects we are dreaming up, how to make music a viable business, what cool things Tim wants to do with his music or I want to do with my novel, songs to put on the next album, how to deal with hiccups in the business, casting shows, what happened in each of his recent workshops and performances, how went the after parties, what we can do with videos, how is working out his latest composing/songwriting contracts, etc. This time I was listing for him albums I want to hear done by him, multi-tracked (an opera album, a ska album, a jazz album) and whether it is professional death or genius to break the "single genre" rule, and also what he's doing with his schedule if a certain contract came through (it did!) or not so I could figure out if we can make it back to Utah for Thanksgiving.

At some point, we had to pull off an exit that said, "Riverside Embankment" to let the kids pee. It was kinda funny seeing all the boys lined up in the shadow of a large sign, peeing with their backs to the wind!

One thing Wyoming has going for it is the stars. Since we're studying astronomy right now, it was fun to watch the sky for shooting stars, constellations, the Milky Way. Those things are all visible in Wyoming and not Las Vegas (which has so many lights that nature is obscured).

Consistent problem in Wyoming: there is no place to find food after midnight. As we drove into Rock Springs looking for dinner at 1:00 am, we both groaned. Once we had to eat sitting on the lawn outside the WalMart. Once we'd promised the kids milk shakes and had to drive ALL OVER TOWN to find some place open, and then their milkshake machine was broken so we had to start over. When we ask where to find food, they always say proudly, "Our McDonalds is 24-hour!" Except only the drivethrough is. And generally speaking I'd rather eat cardboard than McDonald's food. If there is ANY other choice, including the grocery store, we choose the other. (I guess this is a common problem for musicians, who often want to eat after gigs--so, at midnight or so. My cousin is a working musician and she mentioned it, too--you can never find food after the gig, and you need it!).

With the heavy trailer and the stiff wind, we had another problem. 50 miles outside Laramie, we were low on gas and there are no services there. 30  miles out, I noticed and got worried. 20 miles out we switched drivers and almost immediately the gas light ("you have 5 miles to find gas") came on.

And I started praying.

And the light went off. And back on. More prayers. Off. On. More prayers. Off.....

We made it to the first gas station in Laramie!

And then Tim fell dead asleep, which he almost never does when we're traveling. And, even more rare, he slept until we got home. Usually he sleeps about 20 minutes and then is good to go for 5 more hours. So I drove the rest of the way home, with the big kids and I having an extensive, lively discussion of cool language things (okay...lets name all the idioms we can think of and where it came from; I'll do a word, you give me first synonyms and then antonyms; let's name all the homophones we can think of; now let's do all the homonyms; rhyming words!; greek and latin roots to words; can you guess what "pseudonym" means?). One of the kids' favorite games to play while we drive is "What's wrong with this sentence?"--"Someone I know said they were 'cooking and listening to Bocelli'--what's wrong with that sentence? How would you fix it?" They are especially delighted when they find road signs that don't have the right meaning like, "Exit here when flashing" and "road closed when flashing" (both of which you see all over Wyoming).

So we drove and drove and pulled into our driveway at dawn, unloaded car and trailer, and went to bed.

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