This is just a wrap up of our trip west. I have posted some about Memphis, the Grand Canyon, and San Francisco. This is just a general post about traveling west. This was our third trip across the US in about 7 months. That does not make me an expert in traveling by rather a bit crazy. At times I can’t believe that we did.
We were not as organized in our packing and planning. I think all the organization when into getting our house packed which meant sorting things to ship and putting things in storage. We got that finished on Saturday and then left on the trip on Tuesday morning. We went south and then west. That was to avoid possible winter weather and also to visit some family and friends along the way. This trip took us through 14 states.
We did plan two sightseeing and rest days along the way. One in Memphis where we were able to spend time with my brother and his family. We went to the Children’s museum and ate some Memphis BBQ at Central BBQ.
Miss K the dentist. She loved the museum and loved even more playing with her cousin.
An afternoon with some wonderful friends, a morning at the Grand Canyon, and a day in San Francisco. Jack was enjoying the organ and we were remembering so many good times, classes we taught, students we knew, restaurants we ate at with our friends from Taiwan.
We didn’t plan that many activities for the car. Thankfully, grandma sent a bag full of treat bags with instructions like “open when you get to Virginia.” That gave the kids some new activities and things to look forward to.
We did drive through Las Vegas just to see it. I tried to take some pictures from the car as we were driving down the strip.
Some things don’t always go as planned. When they say that there can be snow at Yosemite in March. They really do mean that. We had planned to go there for a day but got snowed out. I think that was the most snow that we have seen this winter.
I think by the time we got here we were tired of fast food and were ready to unpack and stay. We are here to stay until the beginning of July. Then to Asia for about a month and then to Europe. We are in transition.
Today is Down Syndrome day. It is the 21st day of the 3rd month so we are celebrating the 3rd copy of the 21 chromosome.
I remember back to when we were first told that Miss K might have Down Syndrome. Then we waited for the chromosome test results to come back and it was confirmed she had Down Syndrome. At that time celebrating Down Syndrome was not something I thought I would celebrate. It is a disorder, it is not normal, there are delays, medical issues and there was quite a bit of unknowns. Yes, those are all true but even in all this we see that God is good and we can trust that this is part of his plan for our lives.
Down Syndrome affects about 1 in every 700 children here in the US. Down Syndrome. It is not normal — there should be a total of 46 chromosomes but with Down Syndrome there are 47. There are delays in physical ability, and mental which impacts walking, running, jumping, skipping, speaking, learning but it is delays. There are medical issues for Miss K that meant surgery to correct duodenal stenosis and then heart surgery both before she was even a month old.
So what is there to celebrate? There are numerous things to celebrate — the medical care that Miss K has received since birth. She was born overseas and it was there that she had the first two surgeries. We are thankful for the doctors and therapists that treated her when she was born. There are the doctors and other therapists that we have met along the way. The speech therapist that lived in the same village as we did in Hong Kong and offered her services, and most recently the therapy center near our house providing the boost that Miss K needed at this time.
Because of the delays we tend to celebrate the accomplishments even more. She hit a number of the baby milestones and the end of the range. Now she has learned to skip and hop. She loves ballet and her skipping and hopping are needed for that. We celebrate things like learning to zip her coat and then we have to push her to keep doing it. Miss K is reading and that means she can read the menu and decide that she wants pizza. We celebrate her improved speech at the same time having to deal with what that means. She has learned to make excuses — she can’t sit in the chair because “it is too pokey” or she can’t put leave her stuffed animal at home because “he is shy”.
Miss K has an incredible memory which continues to amaze us. She was right in remembering the neighbor’s name when we got back to the house here in the northwest. She has memorized the books of the Old Testament with her Sunday School class. She has her timeline down from Classical Conversations.
So many of those unknowns have turned into blessings. I am thankful that while they are unknown to me, God knows them and has planned out all the details.
She keeps us laughing. As we were doing math this morning, I asked her what 2+2= she replied, “that is a good question.”
We continue to have challenges but isn’t that true with each child. We celebrate who Miss K is and all that she has done. Down Syndrome is part of who she is but she is so much more than that. Look beyond that and see a girl who loves life, princesses, pink, ballet, sparkles, chocolate, and chocolate mint ice cream.
We celebrate life today.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. As we planned our trip, we wanted to have a few places where we could just rest and spend two nights in the same place instead of having to unpack for the night, sleep, and then pack and leave. One place was Memphis and the second place was San Francisco. We had family and friends to stay with and so that made it nice.
I had been to Alcatraz on one of my previous trips to San Francisco and so that was on the top of my list. I thought this would be a place that my husband and J would enjoy.
We took the boat there which is just a mile from San Francisco.
We went to a short film that they were showing that included a bit about the history of Alcatraz. Some of the beginning history was as a fort during the Civil War. I tend to not think of the Civil War as this far west but it did protect the bay.
The admission to included an audio tour which really does make the tour much more interesting to hear some of the stories from former prisoners, workers and even children who lived there.
The story came to life as we walked down the walkways, looking in the cells and hearing the stories. We heard about the escape and how the three men who escaped created a head from concrete and glue and then climbed through the vents.
I am not sure why her mouth is open — maybe she was yelling for help.
San Francisco is just a mile away. One of the things that they said on the audio tour was that especially on New Year’s Eve you could hear the parties. I guess that gives meaning to the saying, so close and yet so far away.
After our tour of Alcatraz, we ate a picnic lunch and then walked around Pier 39. We wandered in some of the shops and saw the sea lions.
We watched them play and listened to them bark. They really are loud. You can hear them before you see them. They are bigger than I thought.
We were getting tired and it was getting to be a bit overcast so we decided to just drive about the city a bit. We went to Lombard Street. That was even considered an attraction in our GPS. The worst part of getting to Lombard Street was going up one hill that seemed to be about a 30 degree angle. I wasn’t sure our van was going to make it. It reminded me of going up to the Victoria Peak on the tram.
We did it, twisting and turning. We made our way to the bottom and then I took a few pictures. It is very much a tourist attraction. There were a number of people at the bottom taking pictures.
We drove and saw some of the cable cars and tried not to sing “Rice Roni, the San Francisco treat.”
The last thing that we did was drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. My husband said that one of the times that he visited he walked across the bridge. I think I prefer to drive across. Just thinking about walking across brings out that dislike of heights.
It was a fun day and gave us a break that we needed in our travels. I think we must have rested up because as we were leaving the next day, Stuart asked if I thought we could drive all the way — 12 hours. We did it, arriving at 1:30 am but it was good to be at our destination and not have to unpack and repack the car.
I am sharing these just because.
My mom was great at saving all kinds of things from our childhood. I have a book of old Fisher Price toys that she saved for me. This is one of those things that she saved. At one time I had it hanging as decoration. My mom made this for me one year for spring. It was a bit tight for Miss K. I should have found it a year ago and she could have worn it.Here is another memory item that I had in Miss K’s room.
My grandmother made these years ago. I remember them hanging in her bedroom and then every now and then my cousins and I would get one for Christmas. The girl with the mirror was one of my favorites maybe because it had a bit of a mirror. These were one of those things that I didn’t know what to do with so I hung them in Miss K’s room. They are now in storage and so they are memories.
During our recent drive across the country we stopped for an extra day in Memphis. We had a few things on our list of things to do — the Civil Rights Museum, a tour of St. Jude, and spending time with family. Graceland was not on the list.
The Civil Rights Museum is at the Lorraine Motel which is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.
Part of the museum was closed for some renovations but to compensate they have the room that he was staying open so you could look in. It looked very much like a 1960’s motel room.
The museum part that was open was across the street where the boarding house was located it was from the open window in the bathroom that the shot went out across the street.
One of the interesting things in the museum was just to see the evidence. They had quite a bit of evidence there which was interesting from a law enforcement side and detective work.
We have not studies much of this time period — we did learn about Brown and the Board of Education. It is nice when you can visit a place or museum after studying about it but sometimes you have the opportunity to go and so you take that opportunity and then later talk about and remember what you saw.
After the rush to get to the Grand Canyon before sunrise, we went back to our hotel and ate breakfast then we went back to the Grand Canyon. I was a bit surprised that even though it was the beginning of March a number of the hotels had no vacancy.
As we drove into the park, we saw a mule deer. It reminded us a bit of Yellowstone.
We started off at the Visitor’s Center so the children could pick up the book for the Jr. Ranger program. We have done it at a number of the national parks and I find it a helpful way to get some educational aspects into our visit.
One of the things that was required for the Jr. Ranger program was to attend a Ranger program. We went on a nature walk with one of the rangers. We did learn some interesting things about the yucca plant — the Native Americans used the roots to make a soap as well as a few other things.
We then drove along the rim towards the watchtower. J really wanted to hike and he was able to “hike” to the watchtower. We stopped at a few places along the way back to the Visitor’s Center.
There was a bit of snow on the ground so we can prove that we were there in the winter.
Kylie had spent the previous day looking out the car window and thinking that the hills we saw were the Grand Canyon. In preparation for our visit, we had watched Awesome Science Grand Canyon video. It was a good introduction to the Grand Canyon.
We learned that the average visitor spends 3 1/2 hours at the Grand Canyon. We were a bit higher than the average as we stayed about 6 hours.
It was a fun day and I am glad that we were able to take the children there. Now we continue our drive across the country.
We did it. We got up early and went to the Grand Canyon for sunrise. I think I am still amazed that we did it. We got to Mather Point as the sun was beginning to break through the horizon.
We were thankful that we were here in March as the sunrise was at 6:56 and not in June when the sunrise is at 5:13.
It was cold early in the morning. We were at the South Rim which is about 6000 feet elevation. I don’t think we really thought about how cold it would be there.
The view really is amazing. I don’t know that photos will really show the view. We stood in awe of God’s creation, the beauty and majesty.
As the sun rose, we were able to see the changes in the canyon. The shadows moved and the colors were bright.
This is part of our drive across the US via the southern route this time.