SO, here we go:
May 28 - left home at 6am and drove for 3/4 tank of gas, while the kids snacked and watched DVDs through most of the mountains of Colorado. Thank goodness we DON'T suffer from motion sickness in our family. Ate a picnic lunch at a rest area somewhere in Utah. Hit a rest stop in somewhere between the start of I-15 southbound and Cedar City. Arrived at our hotel (which was NOT nearly as nice as the travel website made it out to be - liars...), swam, walked across the street to dinner, returned to our hotel room, where BB set the thermostat to "ARCTIC" and proceeded to listen to Captain Chaos cough and hack his way through the night while trying not to fall out of bed, or let Littlest One fall out either (she refused the crappy port-a-crib and was COLD so she slept on my chest).
May 29 - enjoyed the complimentary and not too shabby free breakfast at the hotel, loaded up the overnight bag and swim gear and hit the road. Around 9am PST we hit the Vegas Speedway, and discovered, much to our dismay, that tours do not start until 11am on Sundays. Found a cool truck stop not too far away and found suitable race-car-ish cheap souvenirs. The kids again snacked their way through a state (Nevada in case you forgot your geography), and we arrived in Barstow, CA near lunchtime. Due to the INSANE gusting wind and COLD temps (seriously people it was only 62!!!), we had a "truck picnic" and pushed on. Arrived in Bakersfield, got checked into our hotel, left a message for my brother's family, and hit the pool. We swam in the sun and got cleaned up in time to head the 8 miles to my brother's house and enjoy dinner with them. Finished up with a full night of sleep (thanks to some OTC kid-friendly meds for all 3, as they were coughing too - dirty air will do that to a person).
May 30 - enjoyed baked oatmeal and spinach and mushroom scrambles with the family, watched my Dad teach my graduating nephew how to make the famous secret family recipe spaghetti sauce and meatballs. Did laundry. Had lunch and sat in the sun by the pool while the kids took a non-nap. Went back for dinner, and made it an early night due to non-nap status and overtired children.
May 31 - enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our favorite chain "Mimi's Cafe" - eat at one whenever you can. Seriously. Arrived brother's house around 9:30ish, let kids play and helped finish sauce while brother (PreacherMan) and SIL were at an awards ceremony for niece). Enjoyed lunch and headed back to the hotel where the kids decided to have a nap. Ate In-n-Out burgers for dinner and went to nephew's Bible Club sponsored baccalaureate, enjoyed dessert with family.
June 1 - breakfast with family, assembled secret family recipe lasagna while brother and SIL went to awards ceremony for youngest nephew. Oldest nephew had grad practice, and got to chat more with my sister (we'll go there another day). Had a graduation party and celebratory lasagna meal, and headed to graduation (whoever decided these things should start at 6pm and last 4 freaking hours should be shot - say their names faster and only have one student and one adult speaker. Seriously!) where my nephew was 9th in his class of 493, a Golden State Scholar, a National Merit Scholar, and several other special honors. He missed being Valedictorian (along with the top 8) by .05 on his GPA - he got a B+ in one of his AP classes...sheesh. :D
June 2 - woke at oh-dark-thirty, packed up our stuff, loaded truck, hit the Golden Arches for a breakfast on the road (nothing like a greasy pseudo-poached egg on a soggy muffin to start your day right! mmm good!), and hit Fresno around lunchtime, when we discovered BB left his phone at my brother's house (more on that later too). Had lunch with BB's Grandma, and hit the road right around nap time. Got to San Jose around 4pm, and were met in the parking lot by MIL and FIL with very cranky, tired children. Barely had time to grab necessities out of truck before MIL was insisting upon meeting SIL and niece for dinner. Enjoyed Outback with family, sitting at opposite end of table from MIL.
June 3 - breakfasted with MIL and FIL in hotel dining room (love free breakfasts!!!!), and spent most of morning just sitting around. Realized we needed to do laundry and found place to do it. Big kids played with grandparents, Littlest One napped and BB and I hung out and had a laundry "date" where we enjoyed coffee, the smell of detergent and dryer sheets, and some uninterrupted conversation wherein we also asked my brother to ship BB's phone home. Ate a giant lunch, and after kids napped went to niece's graduation (started at 6, done by 8:15 for 398 kids - now that's the way to do it!). Drove to a sports bar/restaurant that BIL and SIL apparently love, and got to eat dinner around 9:30. Soon as the Giants/Rockies game ended, the place cleared out. Slept like rocks.
June 4 - breakfasted with MIL and FIL again. Spent morning packing and organizing our belongings while BB and FIL took kids to nearby Home Depot for their Kid Clinic. Ate a "light lunch" and met SIL and niece to follow them to niece's Girl Scout Bridging Ceremony, which lasted 90 minutes. We were supposed to have an "early dinner/late lunch" but somehow didn't end up at Mimi's Cafe until 7pm...BB and I enjoyed our dinners. Went back to hotel, and loaded up some of our bags and then slept like rocks.
June 5 - breakfasted in dining room, joined by MIL and FIL and lingered there til 9am. Hit the road and drove through Northern California (really pretty country if you've never been), and Northern Nevada, including the famed Donner Pass (ironically right at lunchtime!), and ate lunch on the road. Arrived at our hotel in Elko Nevada right around 4pm. Got checked in, swam, and hit a local dive for dinner. We should have gone to the other restaurant, but we had fun, and went to bed early.
June 6 - overslept but ate an awesome breakfast at the other place - if you're ever in Elko Nevada, eat at the Coffee Mug restaurant off exit 301 along I-80! Holy freaking cow that was the best food EVER... Anyway...hit the road around 8am, and drove and drove and drove and drove through the rest of Nevada, all of Utah (the Great Salt Lake is really cool too by the way! my first time seeing it in person, photos do NOT do it justice at all, and was sad to not have time to drive THROUGH city to see the Tabernacle - no we're not Mormon, I'm just curious to see the outside of it). Hit Park City for lunch and saw the ski runs with their Olympic logos from the highway. Drove and drove and drove and drove and drove through Wyoming (yawn!!!) and hit Laramie for supper. Drove another 3 hours and arrived home, safe and sound at 9:30pm, whereupon we unloaded ONLY the bag with our toiletries (gotta have those toothbrushes!), put the kids to bed, and promptly tumbled into our own bed.
It was, overall, a good vacation. It was not without it's trials and frustrations, but we were safe, healthy, no injuries, made some new friends, saw some family (and that's what it's all about!), and enjoyed watching a niece and another nephew graduate from High School!
Thanks for your prayers for our journey...now, back to that laundry and tackling those dust bunnies!