Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Road Trip!

Growing up, my family never really went on a road trip. Getting from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe was about the most we did. And that was fine. What kids enjoy sitting in a car for hours on end? Well, it turns out that mine don't mind it all that much, as long as there's a good audio book for everyone to listen to, we're all pretty happy.

Back in June, when Mam was still finishing up her travel softball season, I started feeling a little antsy about having so few plans for the summer. I'd tried to book the kids in as much camp as I could stomach, just so I could go to work. But summer shouldn't be about work. We should be able to do something awesome. They should have something to write about when they returned to school and had to write the latest installment of What I Did on my Summer Vacation. And I needed to indulge my sense of adventure, at least a little.

So, on August 10th at 5:30 in the morning, I packed the coolers, stuffed them in the mommymobile with a ton of other stuff that I'd packed the day before and we set out for Rose's Donuts and Cafe...a mere 15 minutes away at that hour of the day.
It didn't look like this. For starters, the sky was dark and the place was empty. We were the line for donuts and we could have whatever the heck we wanted. Yummm. I don't indulge in donuts often, but it was a nice start to a long day. Donuts and coffee. Of course, coffee.

And then we drove South. And then East. And finally, around 2 in the afternoon, we reached Mojave National Preserve.
It was hot, but not as hot as it could have been in the middle of the desert in mid-August. I whipped out the smallest cooler and made everyone sandwiches. I'd been a little worried about camping here in the middle of the desert. You couldn't reserve campsites. It was first-come-first served.
We were second to arrive at Hole-in-the-Wall Campground that day...a campground with more than 35 campsites. Camping? No problem. The kids found the only available shade alongside the minivan and dug into their lunches.
We paid for our campsite. We went to the little visitor's center for a moment and then took a little hike, climbing down the holey rocks
(with iron rings implanted in them for such adventures)and wandering through the open desert. It was hot and beautiful.
When we got back, we went for a little drive to see Kelso Dunes and the other side of the park. I'd misjudged just how big this park is...and how lousy some of the dirt roads are. It was a neat drive with views of rocky mountaintops, Joshua trees and sand dunes,
but it was also near dark when we rolled back into our campsite.

Fortunately, I'd planned ahead for something like this and although I'd scheduled us for a stirfry dinner, everything was in the cooler, cut up and ready to go. The only thing I hadn't really planned on was the volume of moths in the desert. There are moths of every size and shape. Some of them are plain enormous and all of them are, stereotypically, attracted to light. So it was hard to keep them at a distance. They crowded around the lantern, flew into the camp stove and doubtlessly into our food. Who doesn't like a little moth stirfry?

At one point, Smunch said excitedly that a BAT had landed on the side of our table. That seemed a little strange, but I went around to look. Wow. There was a tiny bat hanging on the side of the table. But then, on further inspection, it wasn't a bat after all. It did look like a bat, but it was just another huge bat-colored moth.

A little kangaroo rat peered over the edge of our campsite, just to see if our meal looked interesting.

Smunch and I set up the tent. I'm not sure why. Mam slept outside and seemed perfectly comfortable. The campground filled up a little as evening fell and at one point, an anonymous neighbor told us there was going to be a meteor show that night. How cool. A meteor shower would be awesome in the desert. But I'd gotten up at 4:30am. The meteors wouldn't show up until midnight. Not happening. Oh well...

Still, I've spent very little time in the California desert and I was happy to be there...away from everything, with two of my favorite people.

We were up early the next morning, shoving everything back in the van and on our way to greater adventures...

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