Catch the Wind

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After the kids ate all of the tiny chocolate pieces out of our trail mix, my wife declared that she had no reason to live. It may seem melodramatic to an outsider, but you have to understand we’d been in the car for a total of 67 hours at this point. Our kids had spent 65 of those collective hours singing made up songs about pooping on each other. Sometimes they sang songs about the imaginary squirrels and mice that live in my daughter’s head. But mostly it was about pooping on each other. Toots and the McGoots’ next album is going to be dark.

Just a few minutes prior to the trail mix incident, we watched two seriously cute chipmunks frolic in harmony at a rest stop, only to turn on each other over a leftover Cheez-It. They battled it out Thunderdome style.  We were beginning to turn on each other in much the same way when my wife noticed the lack of chocolate in the trail mix. She only buys the trail mix so she can eat the M&Ms. Her theory is, if the M&M’s hang out in the same bag as nuts and raisins, they become healthy too. Good by association. I’ve learned not to question her leaps of logic.

So it was looking dire in our minivan stuffed with over-priced inner tubes, a cooler with melted ice and questionable yogurt products. The landscape was classic Southern Utah—sand, scrub brush and the occasional mirage. It was the perfect place to bury a body. Not that any of us were thinking that.

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But then the scenery changed and great spires of colorful rock popped out of that depressing sand. My wife rolled down the windows and cranked Drivin’ n Cryin’ and suddenly, all was well. A happy family of mini-van gypsies cruising toward their next adventure, singing “catch the wind.”

Does this meatball make my head look tiny?

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Viva Las Vegas

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Whether you like Vegas or loathe Vegas, you cannot deny that the city is perfectly located. After dragging my family through the desert for several days of hiking and camping in a series of National Parks, everyone was dying for a bit of air conditioning. Enter Las Vegas, land of the well-air conditioned space. We picked the hotel with the most kick ass pool and spent 48 hours trying to get the desert sands out of our nooks and crannies. It was love at first sight for my kids. My daughter was impressed that music played everywhere (even in the potty!) and everyone wore glitter. The kids ate giant meatballs and helped me crack crab legs at the overpriced buffet and spent hours in the wave pool and lazy river. Taking little kids to Vegas is a concern for some parents, mainly because there are hookers everywhere and there’s a good chance you’ll see someone spontaneously combust thanks to a dangerous combination of cigarettes, gin, and polyester. But I see these nuisances as potential teaching moments. In New York New York, there are women who dance on the casino tables in lingerie. My son took one look at the show, and asked, “why is that lady dancing on the table?”

“Because she didn’t go to college, son. Because she didn’t go to college.”

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Road Games

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In Boulder we counted how many Punch Buggies we saw, then we moved on to Mini Coopers. We had epic thumb wars in Moab, and the world’s shortest staring contests outside Canyonlands. (Some new info: my daughter blinks 211 times a minute).

At one point, we tried to teach the kids some Spanish but they just kept making up their own words and teaching us: “chiminobo” “it means lets go to the volcano.”

We had an ice cream eating contest outside of Zion, then Liz tried to see who could stay quiet the longest. That game was over before it started.

At one point, my son tried to see how many Scooby Snacks he could eat without throwing up. Normally, Scooby Snacks are not part of the Averill Recommended Diet, but we let it go. “They’re just graham crackers” we told ourselves. Graham crackers coated in sugar. It’s like meth for 4-year-olds.

Also in Zion, my son tried to see how many tantrums he could throw before I threw him off the side of a cliff. He almost found out.

Now, the kids are watching cartoons in a swank hotel room in Las Vegas and for some reason, my son feels the need to tell me, “daddy, you are not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” about every 30 seconds. As if I needed a reminder.

All this is to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to all the dads out there. In the words of fine ‘80s television: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life. The Facts of Life.”

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Daddy Drinks Goes West

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The family is at the precipice of the Great American Road Trip: Three weeks, one minivan, two four-year olds, half a dozen national parks, and 2,000 pounds of luggage. There is no event or catastrophe that we don’t have supplies for tucked away in one of our purple suitcases. Lantern, check; snow mittens, check; malaria pills, check; snow chains, check.

We’re hitting the big sites between Colorado and California  (Las Vegas!, Pikes Peak!, L.A.!) but also hoping to tackle some classic American adventures like panning for gold and maybe starting a small forest fire with an illegal fireworks display.

So far, we’re only a couple of days into the trip, so we’re still in the honeymoon phase. I haven’t even started drinking liquor yet. Okay, I’ve had a little liquor. But not during daylight hours, so that’s good.

A couple of questions I’m curious about answering as we make our way further West:

1)   How will my kids react to all of the free porn that litters the sidewalks of Las Vegas?

2)   How do you get busy with your hot wife in a tent with two kids sleeping between you?

We’ve learned so much already in just a couple of short days. For instance, flying with two four-year-olds is fun if let your wife sit with them while you sit in a completely separate row and drink beers and play Transformers. Also, the cup-holder of a child’s safety seat is not a good place to store a handful of smashed turkey for two days. And this is interesting: if you buy hundreds of dollars worth of food and camping gear at Target, the check out guy will ask if you’re a doomsday prepper.

Feel free to write that info down.

Some pictures.

Optimus Prime likes cheap beer.

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This is just one of the carts we needed.

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How cute are these kids?

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