Yes, that is the three of us with a Budweiser Clydesdale at Sea World.  The other gentleman is RIch, one of the trainers there who was very nice.

Yes, that is the three of us with a Budweiser Clydesdale at Sea World. The other gentleman is Rich, one of the trainers there who was very nice.

Is too much to explain. Let me sum up:

We drove. A lot. We saw many family members and if some of them drove us a bit crazy we won’t say on this blog who it was. We played with dolphins, enjoyed a wedding and took 195 pictures at LegoLand. That last number is not an exaggeration. If you want more, there are two videos (here and here). Or click on the more button and read the day by day recap of our vacation.

Day 1 (8/19): Erik gets a horrible case of insomnia and starts packing the car at 4 in the morning, waking up Veronica at 5 and saying we should get going. We do, but he gets tired around Rochester and Veronica drives to Erie, PA, where they make an early dinner (3:45) stop at Steak and Shake. They decide to spend the night at the Marriott across the street, enjoy the pool and feel more rested in the morning. Erik is asleep by 6:45.

  • Mileage: 544.63
  • Total trip mileage: 544.63 (not including in town driving)

Day 2 (8/20): Up and gone a little after 7 AM, concerned about reports of thunderstorms and tornadoes. Some traffic in Chicago, but bad weather in Wisconsin moves east before we reach it (we see lightning over Lake Winnebago). At V’s dad’s by 5 PM in time for dinner.

  • Mileage: 630.61
  • Total trip: 1175.24 (which we did the 2 previous years in 1 day)

    Thomas and Kristen.  The background is what Wisconsin looks like in August.

    Thomas and Kristen. The background is what Wisconsin looks like in August.

Day 3 (8/21): Lunch with Kristen and dinner at Joel’s dad’s house. This functions as Veronica’s 15 year high school reunion. Two very nice meals.

Day 4 (8/22): V, Andrea and Erik go to Happy Tales, a bookstore in a barn and castle (converted from a slurry tank) in the middle of rural Wisconsin. Thomas plays with his Grandpa and Kathy. We then see Veronica’s Great Aunt Norma.

Thomas and his Grandma

Thomas and his Grandma

Day 5 (8/23): Drive to Green Bay to meet Tierney and Frank and then up to their house and to Lake of the Torches Casino where E and V discover they are not meant to gamble (they both lose $10 each).

Thomas and his Grandpa

Thomas and his Grandpa

  • Mileage: 232.57
  • Total trip: 1407.81

Day 6 (8/24): Back to the Fox Cities to visit with V’s grandparents and then dinner with Ron and Kathy and then to bed so we can rise early and continue.

Thomas, Morbe, Andrea, Frances, Veronica

Thomas, Morbe, Andrea, Frances, Veronica

  • Mileage: 169.60
  • Total trip: 1577.41

Day 7 (8/25): Up and out of the house a little after 4 so we can do over half the distance to Oregon. We are reminded that 90% of North Dakota is as boring as Kansas. We make it to Billings. E and V discuss Eunice Shriver and her public funeral and E says that if Teddy dies he wants to go to the public service. Seriously. This happened.

  • Mileage: 1110.94
  • Total trip: 2688.35

Day 8 (8/26): Up and gone early. Find NPR. Discover that Teddy died a few hours after our conversation. Realize we will miss any public service. Drive the rest of the day through gorgeous Montana and really boring eastern Washington before reaching the wonderful Gorge and getting to Forest Grove and E’s dad’s house.

  • Mileage: 921.42
  • Total trip: 3609.77

Day 9 (8/27): Go look at Pacific University. Go into Portland and run into one of Erik’s favorite profs on the Max (David DeMoss). Have lunch with V’s old co-worker Karen. Get home and have dinner with E’s college friends, Jon and Kari (and Kari’s husband).

Jon, Jason, Kari, Veronica, Erik

Jon, Jason, Kari, Veronica, Erik

Day 10 (8/28): Spend the day with John Ramirez. Get Erik’s diploma from PSU. Go to Jake’s for dinner and Powell’s for used Modern Library books.

Veronica, Thomas and John

Veronica, Thomas and John

Day 11 (8/29): Being forced to drive home on I-80, which is boring and which he has done before, Erik decides to see more of California, taking 101 to San Jose, then down to LA, and going back through Yosemite. Drive down I-5 in Oregon, then cut over to 101 down the coast. Longer but nicer. Get to San Jose and have pigs in a blanket for the first time in 20 years.

  • Mileage: 749.56

    three generations of Becks

    three generations of Becks

  • Total trip: 4359.33

Day 12 (8/30): Go visit Amanda and Michael in El Cerrito. We get hit by what we at first think is a shoe thrown up by another car’s tire, but given the gouge in our hood, must have been a rock. We are lucky it hit the hood first and not the windshield given that it gouged a gash through the hood.

  • Mileage: 110.32
  • Total trip: 4469.65

Day 13 (8/31): Drive down 101 to San Diego. Predictions by Erik’s mother that they will arrive at 8 at night are scuttled when we arrive a little before 3. What looks like a mushroom cloud over LA prompts a comment from Erik hoping that it hasn’t been nuked as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are there. Veronica points out it is probably smoke from the Station Fire.

  • Mileage: 483.85
  • Total trip: 4953.5

Day 14 (9/1): Help Erik’s mom run some errands. Hang around in the air conditioned house. Erik discovers that Tioga Pass is closed and that the drive back will be long and boring.

Day 15 (9/2): Meet up with V’s co-worker, Jen at Sea World where we get to play with dolphins because Jen’s sister works there. Much fun. See the videos up above.

Veronica and Thomas watch as Megan gives eye drops to the dolphin at Sea World

Veronica and Thomas watch as Megan gives eye drops to the dolphin at Sea World

Day 16 (9/3): Erik finally makes it to Lego Land. He takes 195 pictures. Thomas also has fun. Then we all head up to his brother’s house in Yorba Linda.

Erik faces off against Vader in Lego Land

Erik faces off against Vader in Lego Land

  • Mileage: 99.67
  • Total trip: 5053.17

Day 17 (9/4): Drive with GrandMartha up to San Jose. Starts off with Thomas waking up at 3 AM and puking in San Dimas, but everything is fine after that.

  • Mileage: 380.19
  • Total trip: 5433.36

Day 18 (9/5): Jay and Christina’s wedding. Very nice. Many pictures. Also Peggy’s birthday.

the happy couple - Jay and Christina

the happy couple - Jay and Christina

  • Mileage: 112.10
  • Total trip: 5545.46

Day 19 (9/6): Much later start than Erik intended. Very boring Nevada. Dusk in the Salt Flats. As we leave Salt Lake City and go into the mountains, we see a bright light over the hills and think maybe it is Park City. We get a little higher and discover it is the moon, as bright as we have ever seen it. A leaky diaper forces a quick stop in Utah, but we make it to Evanston, Wyoming.

  • Mileage: 853.65
  • Total trip: 6399.11

    Thomas with GrandMartha

    Thomas with GrandMartha

Day 20 (9/7): Even though we are travelling East, which is much harder (light is behind you at the end of the day, you lose an hour instead of gaining one), Erik gets insane notion he can make it home on the 8th if we get far enough. We cover Wyoming in 5 hours (thank you higher speed limits). Nebraska takes longer, but it is 60 miles longer. We get 200 miles into Iowa and Erik decides to get some sleep and go for the whole shebang the next day. Based on mileage estimates and leaving at 5 AM, he decides if he can make the Mass Pike by midnight he’ll keep going to Boston.

  • Mileage: 1097.24
  • Total trip: 7496.35

Day 21 (9/8): We make the Mass Pike just before 11 PM. We go for it as we have been planning all day (very few stops, ate in the car). Constant construction (the stimulus money must have hit) on the Pike, then on 95, then on Route 2, but we get home just after 1 AM. Longest day on the road we’ve ever done and we did it going East. We go to sleep, exhausted. Erik wisely pulls the shade and the morning light makes no dent in our sleep. Our first meal the next day is lunch.

  • Mileage: 1191.65
  • Total trip (without in-town): 8688 miles

Overall, the trip was great. It was a bummer to miss all the stuff with Teddy’s funeral, but it was a nice vacation, good to be away from work and home, good to give Thomas a chance to see family rather than be cooped up while out of school. He did fantastic with the driving, wearing nighttime diapers while in the car, but almost always using the potty at every step and rarely wetting the diapers. The last day was a killer, though and that may be it for us for really long days on the road. Perhaps our next trip will be down towards DC as we’ve cancelled four (really, 4!) trips down there in the last year and Thomas keeps talking about seeing Auntie Stacy and Cousin Will and Cousin Harry (he’s working on Hadley’s name).

Thomas shows Vader who's boss

Thomas shows Vader who's boss

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