The Wogsland Family Road Trip 2005 - Take two

(con Cara, Maxwell, y Zara)

August 2 - 10

Alora and Brittan riding in the back of the minivan in Arkansas (look closely and see the bugs on the window behind them).
Well, while talking to my sister on the phone Monday night, Brittan hatched a plan to visit her Aunt Jaime in San Diego, CA during her last week of summer. Her father, quickly seeing the brilliance of this plan, decided upon its implementation. Her mother, with newborn in tow, took a bit more persuasion.

Unfortunately, we had to wait until Tuesday afternoon to leave because Zara needed to go to the doctor. While holding her Monday afternoon, Maxwell sneezed on her face, so Zara woke up Tuesday with pinkeye. We headed westward on I-40 at about 3PM. Our goal was to make it to Texas by dawn, but we had to stop every three hours so Zara could nurse. When we stopped in Arkansas just across the Mississippi River, our car got invested with mosquitos. While Zara nursed, Alora, Brittan & I killed mosquitos and Maxwell pointed them out screaming "Bug right dare! Bug right dare!"

Cara giving Zara her pinkeye drops in Texas.

Molly and Maxwell are ready to get out of the minivan in Texas.
Cara and I took turns driving while the other slept overnight through Arkansas and Oklahoma. We made it to Texas by dawn as planned, but just barely, and breakfasted in Amarillo. Northern Texas looks pretty much like a drier version of Kansas - flat, endless fields. Molly loves to ride in the car with us, but she won't eat until we reach our destination and unpack the car. Even at a long stop at a rest area she refuses her food!

By the time I-40 gets to New Mexico, you're in the desert. Cara, however, doesn't count anything as a desert unless there are sand dunes. There were lots of speed traps, especially in Albequerque, where for some reason they paint all the overpasses pink.
Alora, Maxwell, Molly (behind sign) and Brittan.

Maxwell demonstrates what we all did when we finally got to Jaime & Amir's.
Believe it or not, northern Arizona is rather mountainous and the area around Flagstaff is quite lush. We crossed the Colorado River into California well after sunset. Driving through the Mohave Desert the stars were beautiful, but it was pitch black because the moon wasn't up yet. I-40 deadends into I-15 north of L.A. and I-15 goes straight to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in San Diego where Jaime & Amir live. Mapquest, however, has a very incorrect map of the interior of the base. I guess that's for national security purposes, but at 3AM after driving for 39 hours straight it can be a bit disconcerting. Eventually we gave up and just started making an exhaustive search of the residential areas.

Of course, we weren't the first visitors to the Golshani residence in Miramar. The Eliases had been there just a couple weeks before. Dell also remarked on the similarities between herself long ago and Jaime: married to a man of middle-eastern descent, living in California, a brother with many children, and so on and so forth.
Kristen, Julie, Dell and Jaime.

Jaime had quite a few crafties ready for Brittan and Alora to do.
Considering our trip was rather spur of the moment, Jaime & Amir had quite a bit for us to do when we got there. Amir had to work Thursday and Friday though, so we saved the really exciting stuph for the weekend. Thursday we spent recovering from our driving ordeal and the girls did a whole bunch of craft activities Jaime had gotten for them. She even got them hats to decorate with puffy paints.

That evening when Amir got home he made us burgers. Then we sent the kids to bed and enjoyed a relaxing evening just sitting around talking.
Amir shows Brad and Cara little Amir pictures.

Old Town San Diego

Brittan, Alora, Jaime, Cara and Maxwell pose with cacti in Old Town San Diego.
The girls are wearing their hats they made with Aunt Jaime.

Old Town rates as a fun place because you are allowed to climb on the cannons.
On Friday we spent the day walking around Old Town San Diego. There are were lots of neat old western historical things too, like climbing cannons, looking at old buildings, and seeing demonstrations of period intsruments.

Maxwell really enjoyed running around the big grassy plaza, and there was lots of neat stuph for him to look at. The girls, grown-ups and kids, came for the shopping. Alora collects keychains as momentos of the places she's visited and Brittan collects magnets.
Maxwell gets a closer look at a cactus.

Jaime and Cara decide to stuff Alora into a kiln. (There were scary cobwebs inside)
It's fairly difficult to find momentos for Zara. She hasn't really developed any interests beyond boobs and napping yet. Maxwell is easy; he likes pretty much anything with wheels.

Admittedly, I bought some junk too, but the highlight for me was the food. One forgets how good Mexican food really can be not living in California. The place we stopped was little more than a stand with tables, but their cheap fare bested any upscale Mexican cuisine back home.
Every one is ready to eat at the "Alamo", especially Zara!

Relaxing back at the Golshani's.
Amir, who had to work Thursday and Friday, was glad to finally be able to relax and hang out with us over the weekend after only seeing us in the evenings.

The San Diego Zoo

Maxwell bonding with Uncle Amir.
Saturday we took Maxwell to his first zoo; unfortunately, all other zoos that I have ever been to pale in comparison to the San Diego Zoo so it will be a hard act to follow. Uncle Amir is Maxwell's new favorite person. They were practically inseperable all weekend, Maxwell usually being on Amir's shoulders. I was surprised with the adeptness with which Amir adopted the role of uncle. And I think he enjoys messing with the girls almost as much as I do. I can't wait until he and Jaime have kids of their own. We saw most of the big animals, but really only scratched the surface of all the neat stuph that is there. The attention to detail is incredible, and there are thousands of interesting plants there as well. We even saw (and touched) a tree that has large, sharp thorns all the way up its trunk.

The San Diego Zoo uses a variety of tricks to convince the animals to hang out in their pens in the places were humans can best view them. For example, there is a water jet at this spot in the tank, so the hippo just sits here and gets a tummy massage.

Alora with the Hippopotomus.

With no minivan nearby a stroller must suffice as the giant pocketbook for a housewife.
For some reason at the zoo one takes pictures mostly of animals. We have about a hundred pictures, but only a few of people. We even have a picture of the grizzly bear poop Maxwell got so excited about.

Sunday was our day trip to M�xico. We left Cara and Zara back at Miramar because Zara hasn't had any vaccines or gotten a birth certificate yet. This was safer for Zara and Cara got to rest, but she missed out on the junk shopping. Amir has been to Baja California before, so he refused to take us to Tijuana, which he said was nasty and dangerous. Instead we drove ~50 km further south to the small seaside town of Puerto Nuevo. Admittedly, Amir had alterior motives however, as Puerto Nuevo is known for its excellent langosta. The rest of us are not langosta fans, but we still enjoyed great Mexican fare.
Ahhh . . . junk shopping.

Our langosta lunch in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California.

Why are these people singing at us dad?
Amir was our designated haggler, as I am apparently wearing a sign that says "dumb gringo" on it. Nevertheless, I gave the girls each ten dollars to spend and they proved to have their mother's haggling and bargain-finding abilities. I was amazed by all they managed to get! The only thing Amir didn't haggle over was the price of a song by this Mariachi band, five dollars. I thought this was entirely too much, considering we had already heard several songs played at nearby tables, but I guess Amir has a soft spot for fellow musical performers.

Baja California is like a drier version of the state to the north. There was sparce vegitation along the road, and the Pacific Ocean was bordered by cliffs.
Maxwell gets his first look at the Pacific..

Not the best spellers those Mexicans.
Obviously, most of Puerto Nuevo caters to tourism from the North, but it is still a dirty place like much of Latin America. Sanitation and trash collection are luxuries in this part of the world, where shanties populate the hills around towering ocean resorts. On the road into M�xico it was hard to tell when one crossed the border, the interstate just dumped you in downtown Tijuana all the sudden. The way back was a very different story, waiting for hours in the two mile line to get through customs into the US. We, of course, had all the proper documentation this time...

The long line to get back into the US in Tijuana and the wares being hawked among us.

Amir and Alora relax and watch TV back at Miramar.
Our last night at Jaime & Amir's they took us to their favorite Italian restaurant. One really forgets just how good the food is everywhere in California. Back at Miramar, Cara and I packed up the minivan to depart as soon as we awoke the next morning - sleeping as long as possible before another two straight days of driving.

Monday morning around 9AM we began the long journey homeward. For a change of scenery we decided to take the 8 eastward. In southern California they say "the" in front of all the number roads for some reason. I guess the drift of American English has just gone further there than elsewhere. We stopped in Imperial Valley and got Darth Vader Slurpees - we had to stop about every three hours so Cara could nurse Zara. The 8 only took us a little ways into Arizona where we picked up I-10, but it is a beautiful drive where one can actually see the cactuses upon which all cartoon cactuses are based. In Wilcox, AZ Zara finally lost her umbilical cord during a diaper change. I-10 took us into New Mexico and the night, but we stopped for dinner and to run around a little in Las Cruces. Then it was on into Texas through El Paso . . .
Maxwell in the Gila Valley, Arizona.

Zara's new bellybutton.

Since she was such a big girl now, we let her drive awhile.

Alora and Brittan displaying their guitars at a stop in Texas.
Brittan and Alora serenaded us for much of the trip singing and playing the instruments they bought in M�xico. Both had guitars, but Alora also got a flute, which she was especially adept at putting Zara to sleep with. We stopped at a McDonald's for pancakes in eastern Texas on Tuesday morning and the kiddos were very sad that it was raining, because they weren't allowed to go on the playground. Alora asked the McDonald's people if they could please unlock the playground even though it was raining, but her request was refused for liability issues. In the bathroom there were crickets in the urinals that sang a cricket song while I was in there. Cara and I were a little slap-happy by this point, so when we got back into the car and I started singing about these crickets, she insisted that I make it into a full blown song (lyrics below). Cara really wanted me to make an animation of crickets singing on one of those blue things in the urinals, but I don't care quite that much. If you want to hear the tune, I'll sing it for you sometime.

The Bathroom Cricket Song

Welcome to the bathroom
We're the bathroom crickets
We live in the bathroom
Please don't pee on us

We're the bathroom crickets
We sing while you're peeing
We're the bathroom crickets
Please don't pee on us

When you are a' peeing
We, we are a' singing
We're the bathroom crickets
Please don't pee on us

If you leave some dookie
Leave it over there
'Cause we don't like dookie
And please don't pee on us

Now that you are leaving
We will sing goodbye
We're the bathroom crickets
Don't forget to flush

Well, after picking up I-20 in western Texas, we stayed on that awhile. We stopped in Dallas to feed Zara, but she had a massive spit-up shortly after we got back on the road. We pulled over to the side of the interstate to change her real quick, and, while Cara put a new outfit on her, a gust of wind from passing cars blew the window off the minivan door. In all fairness, we had already broken off the little piece that opens the window, which we learned also prevents it from opening too far and breaking. Fortunately, we had just passed a Walmart, so we headed back there to by some epoxy to glue the window, which amzingly enough didn't shatter, back on. This little project only cost us about two hours though, and now the window is better than it was before: no longer opening when we hit bumps. We continued on I-20 through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, until we picked up I-59 to take us back up to Tennessee through Georgia. We got home around 9AM - 45 hours in the car plus a 3 hour time change. No rest for the weary, we showered and got back in the car to head to Nashville for the day . . .
Maxwell and Brittan were glad to be home and eating hotdogs again.

Last modified on 13 August 2005 by Bradley James Wogsland.

Copyright 2005 Bradley James Wogsland.