John has gone on several collecting trips on his own or with other students, but a couple of weeks ago George, Pearl, and I decided to join him when he headed down to southwestern Colorado and then New Mexico. His research is funded through a grant at BYU so he typically takes a university-issued car and credit card on these trips to pay for the gas, but since we were all coming along we had to take our own car, which means the university will reimburse us for the gas at 50 cents/mile. Which, if you do the math, means that we spent about $350.00 in gas and get reimbursed about $800.00. It almost feels dishonest, but that's how it works, and I won't complain. I think I should get paid to go on road trips with my family more often :).
It's becoming clear to me as I get started on this that there is no possible way for me to make this just one post. I'm going to have to break it up. We'll just see how far we get right now, I guess.
There was driving. Lots and lots of driving. We went 1640 miles in 4 days. I was (understandably) anxious about how the kids (especially Pearl) would handle all of that time strapped down in car seats, but God must've wanted to spare me a nervous breakdown because both of them were pretty great. This fact is even more remarkable when you take into account that the only amount of time where any type of electronic device was used for entertainment was when George got to play games on the iPad for about 45 minutes total spread out over those 4 days. I am not against electronic entertainment on road trips; we just don't have a portable DVD player and our iPad was having charging issues so we needed to preserve the battery since we were using it as a GPS. It might sort of sound like a nightmare, but it was actually really nice to be unplugged from anything other than each other for the whole time. Both kids read/looked at lots of books, played with lots of little toys, ate (way too many) snacks, and George learned the art of the knock-knock joke. (Which, trust me, gets pretty old after 45 completely random and made-up jokes that you have to pretend laugh at, but was highly entertaining in the beginning when John or I would tell him a joke that went something like this: J: Knock knock. G: Who's there? J: Ipe. G: Ipe who? Us in the front seat: snicker snicker, laugh laugh. G: I said, ipe who?! IPE WHO?! Us: uproarious laughter. This sequence was repeated multiple times with words like grape, wipe etc. Poor George.) John also told many, many stories. George would ask him to tell the Toy Story story or something, and John would proceed to relate the entire story with precise detail and many actual quotes, which was thoroughly entertaining for me as well as George. So anyway, there were definitely some rough moments where a little more thoughtless entertainment would've been welcome, but all in all, it was really fun to drive all that way just giving each other our attention. We had fun. Here are some of our en route pictures.
Lots of snacks, like I said. Most were not as healthy as these bananas :). (This was during one of those blessed iPad moments :). And yes, I did keep Pearl rear-facing the whole time. I debated about it because she does weigh (barely) enough to switch and she is 15 months old and I thought she might enjoy the ride more if she could see us and out the windows. In the end I just still felt like she was too small to face forward so I kept her rear-facing, knowing that if she was having a hard time or something I could always switch her around. She did pretty well, though, so it ended up working out.)
We drove through such a variety of scenery, and I was grateful for the opportunity to see places that we would never have reason to go to otherwise. There were some spots of breathtaking beauty, but I seriously have a hard time pulling out my camera just for landscapes, so there aren't many pictures. Here is one shot of a quaint little town called Ouray, Colorado.
And another one of some place in Colorado that I am sure John could tell you the name of, but he's not here right now. I snapped this out the window on our drive home.
George is almost always really good to his sister, and it was so nice to have him back there to keep her entertained when she would get bored or restless.
I love this one of their sweet little hands holding onto each other.
Remember that I said George is "almost always" really good to his sister? There were times on the trip where she would want something that he had (which she always does) and he wouldn't want to give it to her. Under normal circumstances, I would let him have the freedom to make that choice and then just redirect Pearl to something else, but when you are stuck in the car with limited items of entertainment and a baby is screaming for one thing in particular that her brother happens to have, sometimes the opportunity to choose is taken away and there is not another option other than to give the toy to the screaming baby. Which results in this:
He can keep the pout up for about 2 seconds, at which point he starts to cave and succumbs to my pathetic and humiliating (but effective) attempts to get him to smile.
"Must. Stay. Strong. Must. Not. Smile. Must. Cover. Face."
And then he gives up attempting to be pouty and angry and we have a happy boy again. If only adults could be pulled out of grumpiness so readily!
This was what John looked like most of the time. He just kept his waders on all day as we drove from location to location so he wouldn't have to take them on and off constantly. If you look closely you can see that he is absolutely soaking wet in this picture. We were up in a canyon in New Mexico and it started to pour. Like super pounding, huge drops of rain. Of course he still got out to sample the river there. There's not time to have a rain delay, I guess :).
When we'd get to a new river or stream John would typically get out and go do a quick sample to see if there were the right bugs in it before the rest of us got out. Here he is walking back towards us at a spot that there weren't any pteronarcella or drunella (which I was thankful for because I didn't really want to haul the kids and collecting stuff all that way down to the river).
This is a shot of him walking back to the car (in a rainstorm) letting me know that he had found one. One solitary little pteronarcella.
And this one is from a location where some fisherman and his wife saw John out kicking up rocks in the river and collecting the debris in his net and asked him what he was doing. John showed them some of the bugs from the river and the fisherman politely asked if he could have some to fish with. Luckily they weren't the species of bugs John needed so he was happy to give them away :).
Okay, that's it for this post. More of this: