Wednesday, June 14, 2017

sabbatical vaca - Zion, Legoland

We're going on a vacation! A real one! Wahoo! Our last vacation was the staycation here in the Hills last fall. A couple years ago we went to Minnesota to visit Nathan and Ana for a few days. In 2014 when Ezra still couldn't even walk, we made a quick trip to Nebraska to visit the Omaha Zoo and attend a student's wedding. Before that was the only "real vacation" I think we've ever taken as a family - to Red Lodge, Montana with Terry's folks and sister in 2009. And we didn't even have the littles then because I was pregnant with Samuel. We are so due for a real vacation longer than a few days!

For months and months, and maybe even a year, Terry and I have been discussing where to go during his sabbatical. I have always wanted to go back to Zion National Park, the place I visited when I was Noah's age in seventh grade but the idea of camping and packing and planning for something like that  paralyzed me.
Nathan, me, and Stephanie

The kids have wanted to go to Disneyland or Legoland for ages but we just didn't know if that was possible. Originally we thought our dream trip would consist of going to Zion, Legoland, then up the California and Oregon coasts until we reached Seattle-ish to visit Stephanie, back through Montana where we'd stay at Terry's family cabin, and then home. But upon figuring out how incredibly far that would be and how long it would take and how much money would be required, we sort of abandoned the idea. We just let the whole idea settle for a while. Then I had the thought of doing half of that trip and looked into it. I let the idea percolate for a while. Finally in April, when sabbatical was quickly approaching, I figured if we were going to do anything I was going to have to do some research! I looked at hotels briefly but quickly switched to AirBnB. Hotels are too expensive for a family of six since that number of people exceeds their occupancy rules. I found a nice camper outside of Zion National Park and we booked it! We were officially going!
My parent's old Zion pictures

The only thing that remained to be done was plan the rest of our trip. My dad was some help since they've done that drive many times. Besides my mid-nineties family trip, my sister used to live and work there in 2012 and 2013-ish and my folks helped her move and perhaps visited her. 

Many evenings were spent by me researching where else we could stay and what else we could do but I finally booked it all up and we were officially going.

I loved Zion as a kid and I can't wait to go back. It was like heaven on earth to me even back then. It really made an impact on me. We weren't actually there nearly long enough to see everything since the Virgin River flooded and all the campgrounds had to be completely evacuated. 

I posted on Facebook on May 1 that we were gonna do it! This is our route.

When we told the kids about our trip, Evie was so excited that she had to have all the details and she wrote them all down.

Night one will be spent in Laramie. Night two in Grand Junction, CO, taking the route my dad suggested on top of the mountains and avoiding Denver.

We'll drive on Highway 12 in Utah which my dad said is the most scenic in the country and then stay at Junction.  

The following day we'll spend in Bryce Canyon before going to Hurricane to the camper where we'll spend the next four nights in. I have a whole list of things to see, plus on the last day we will drive southeast to the Grand Canyon.  

From there we will go to stay with Terry's cousin Jackson and his wife Janea in Los Angeles. The kids have never seen the ocean so we're gonna spend two days on the beach just relaxing. After that we'll drive south to Carlsbad and go to Legoland! We're staying at an AirBnB a half hour east of there.

From there we will pack up and start the long drive home, staying first in Cedar City and then again in Laramie. I have no doubt we'll be very tired and ready to be home, but hopefully, and prayerfully, we will a great time and make some special memories. 

I did some research online for ways to keep the costs of a road trip down since eating out creates an enormous bill, especially for a family of six. We can eat sandwiches for lunch every day but what about breakfast and dinner? One of my first ideas was breakfast burritos to avoid cereal and milk, etc.. I spent seven days today making ten burritos a day for a total of 71 burritos for Terry and the kids to eat every morning of our trip. Then I made myself some eggs free breakfast burritos. 

Next up were some dinner meals. So far I've prepared seven to eight meals. I would just double whatever we were having for dinner and put freeze the second half. Here's lovely chicken pot pie. 

Baked chimichangas! We're gonna be dragging food around in coolers and transporting it to the freezer of wherever we're staying for quite some time, but it should keep the cost down. Plus we'll get to eat mommy's delicious food! I feel so proud. :D

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