For the first time in four years, we went on a real vacation that lasted longer than 36 hours.
Day 1 - Boise to Hawthorne, NV
We left Eagle and had to turn right back around because Mommy forgot the headphones. We started out again and made it to McDermitt for lunch. I packed their activity books and their new two screen DVD player, a hit on the trip. We hit some weather in the Jordan Valley to Winnemucca stretch, but after that it was pretty clear on the roads. We had planned to stay in Fallon, but got there early enough that we decided to press on. First, we took a little detour East of Fallon to the Grimes Point Petroglyphs. It was bitter cold and a bit windy, but we took a quick hike around the site to see the petroglyphs. The snow on the rocks made it especially pretty. Clyde ran all over the place. He's gotten to the point where both he and I feel OK about him straying away from the adults. The petroglyphs were remarkably similar to the ones at Celebration Park. We hopped back on the highway and headed to Hawthorne where Grandpa Harry had recommended we stay at the "El Capitan" Casino. It was underwhelming. Greasy bad food in the restaurant and an old room, but we were happy to be an hour closer to our next destination.
Day 2 - Hawthorne, NV to Ridgecrest, CA
We started out kind of early because no one slept well. We snacked in the room and hit the road in the dark. We were lucky to make it to the only gas station just south of Walker Lake. It truly was a wasteland with no services. But, the air was so crisp and clear and in the first few hours, we followed the moon.
We saw two bunches of wild horses. It looked like a rough way to live for sure!
We passed the highest point in Nevada, Boundary Peak on the NV/CA border.
We ate breakfast in Bishop at a place that was kind of strange, set in an old house that was kind of dumpy. That's what I get for using yelp. Not too far south of Bishop, Ben saw a tower and decided to pull over and check it out. We wound up touring the Manzanar Japanese Relocation Camp from WWII. It had a fabulous visitor's center and was in a striking setting, with California's highest peak, Mt. Whitney in the background. So many sad stories there.
Reconstructed dormitory buildings - in its heyday there were over 100 of these poorly built accommodations.
A Joshua Tree at the old administration area. It was amazing to see how little the tree had changed from the old photos. The park had a junior ranger program that Clyde completed so he got a badge which was fun.
Ben's sister Mindy has been living in Ridgecrest for about 3 years. We'd never even met Ellie, who is the same age as Alice. So it was really fun to be able to stay there for New Year's Eve. Mindy put together some great activities for the kids. Each hour the kids popped confetti filled balloons to count down 'til the New Year (celebrated hours early of course). There was a photo booth with props...
We ate a great barbecue chicken sandwich dinner. We played a lot on the trampoline, and at the appointed hour, we had a balloon drop....
The noisemakers were so loud - the kids loved it!
Day 3 - Ridgecrest, CA to La Jolla (San Diego), CA
The next morning, we had french toast from Ben's bread and played on the trampoline some more. Alice looked like she belonged with her Rowley/Rydalch cousins.
Then we headed to Fossil Falls, an extinct waterfall a little north of Ridgecrest. Where once there was a waterfall now there are fascinating formations in lava rock shaped by the water's movement. There was obsidian scattered all over the former riverbed and a cinder cone in the distance.
We bid farewell to our cousins and headed to San Diego to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. We arrived about 5:30 and Mumsy had a New Year's Celebration in her room with the kids. We settled into to our comfy hotel room/condo for the week.