The Big Trip

October was craaaazaaaay. My production of Cinderella happened, for one thing. That was a lot of fun, but 30+ high school kids…there was a lot of traffic direction to do.

The same weekend that it opened, I took my family across the country, leaving the production in the hands of my (very capable!) stage manager.

Oh, and I also was working all the jobs. Sorry for not posting or seeing anyone. It got kind of intense.

But now we’re back, and I’d like to share some pictures and things from the trip. Many of these photos were taken by other people; I will try to credit them as appropriate. I think we’ll be spreading this trip recap over a few days.

Right, so we went to Arizona. Petra was two years, two weeks, and two days old on the morning when we boarded. This meant that she had to have a real plane ticket, like a human. Which meant that everything was x4, instead of x3…which meant that the difference between leaving on the first flight out and leaving at a more humane hour was going to be nearly $1000 round-trip. Not happening.

So we flew out of Dulles at a little before 6 am. My stepdad had the great idea that we should stay the night before at a hotel close to the airport, and they would give us free parking. I had never even thought of such a thing, but it was the world’s best idea. We spent the night very close the airport, there was a free shuttle to take us there at 4:30 in the morning, and to pick us up at the end of our trip, and the whole shebang didn’t cost much more than parking at the airport for a week. We stayed at Aloft, although apparently many hotels offer this service. We liked Aloft, incidentally, and would absolutely recommend it. It was gorgeous, an example of how much good design and typography can make a place feel upscale without actually adding much cost. The staff was great, the beds were nice. We weren’t there very long, but the time we spent was perfect.

Then we flew across the country. We went with Southwest, which, other than the stress of preboarding online at the crack of dawn the day before (as if getting up crazy early one day wasn’t enough, we did it two-in-a-row), was pretty good. The service was better than we’ve gotten with United, anyway, which is the only option if we fly out of our local airport. Friendly staff, decent enough snacks, and we could each check TWO BAGS. It’s so unusual, I kept checking it. But it was true!

The kids did really well on the trip. They both love planes. The layovers each way (Denver on the way there, Chicago-Midway on the return) were the right length–enough to run around, but not enough to get super bored.

I posted this pair of photos, which I called “Mothering at the airport/Fathering at the airport,” and it struck a nerve, apparently. I guess my kids aren’t the only ones who like to swarm all over mama. JC absolutely pulled his weight, and then some. The difference between traveling to Boston/New Hampshire without him and doing this trip with him was just night and day. That said, when we had some down time and the kids were free to choose…they definitely wanted to climb on me, while JC played Pokemon or whatever he was doing.

1-20141016_082556 2-20141016_082641When we got to Arizona, we rented a van (a van! Petra was so excited! I only picked it because they were having a special on vans when I made my reservations, but she was so thrilled.), and went to my dad’s house to chill out for a bit. He has a pool, so the kids were super thrilled.

After hanging out there for a while, we went to the place we were sleeping–a couch surf. We’ve been hosting and visiting with people we met on CouchSurfing since at least 2005. It’s my preferred way to travel, although it’s trickier with kids. People think I’m crazy when I say that I stay with complete strangers that I met on the internet, but it’s fine. I only stay with people who are well-reviewed and vetted. I often stay with people who have hosted other people I’ve known. We host a good bit from time to time, including a couple of Swiss ladies (for a week), a Saudi guy (for a night), and lots of folks from the US. JC and I have couch surfed in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, DC, and Costa Rica. We’ve met interesting people and gotten a local feel for the places we’ve gone. But finding people who are willing to host a pair of toddlers–FOR A WEEK–is hard.

We’re so lucky we found Mike and Charlotte. They live about half an hour from my dad’s place, in a cute neighborhood. They are roomies who met through Couchsurfing, and are deeply devoted to the mission of hospitality. We adored them.

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The children adored their rabbit.

Petra keeps asking when we’re getting a bunny.

Next up…exploring Phoenix/Scottsdale…



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