For Thanksgiving this year we drove down to Texas to visit with Jess' family. Christopher & Jenny and their kids were going to be down from Colorado and Cameron was home from school. Chance & Rachel and their kids live in the general area as well as Colton; so it was a pseudo-family-reunion kind of thing.
We had originally intended to leave Livermore the morning of November 19, but Heather's preschool had their Thanksgiving Feast that day around noon. So we stayed for that and left immediately after.
Heather made the front-page of our local paper when the kids were singing the songs they've been learning:
Once the feast was over we loaded up in the van and drove to Needles, CA for the night. On Friday we loaded up and drove into Oatman, AZ to see the burros. Heather was a little apprehensive, but it was still a good way to get out of the car and stretch for a bit.
From Oatman it was on to Flagstaff, AZ. We grabbed dinner (at Chick-Fil-A) and then headed up to the Lowell Observatory. They have public viewing and talks each evening. We got to see the moon up close through their largest telescope and we saw Uranus as well (even with a building-mounted telescope it still only looks like a fuzzy blue dot).
We also listened to a talk about Pluto. The Lowell Observatory is where Pluto was discovered. In July of this year the New Horizons Probe completed it's 9.5 year journey to flyby Pluto and take the best pictures of it the world has ever seen. Heather was actually somewhat interested in the talk, but she really wanted to interrupt every few minutes to ask unrelated questions or make statements. They were always still space related though. I had to threaten to leave if she didn't wait to ask her questions at the end. She reluctantly agreed to do so. Then she asked the presenter what hit Uranus to tip it sideways.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki
The next day we drove North to see Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments. Sunset Crater is one out of a string of dormant cinder cone volcanoes in Northern Arizona. North of the volcano a ways is an old pueblo from the 1100's.
By the time we finished at the National Monuments and headed back out the East side of Flagstaff the sun was already setting. We drove to Albuquerque, NM and stayed the night there and then drove straight on to Frisco, TX. I had more stops planned, but by Albuquerque we were already almost a full day behind schedule, so we skipped the remaining stops.
Thanksgiving in Frisco
We spent November 22 through November 29 in Frisco. We went to the Zoo with Christopher & Jenny and kids on Wednesday, but mostly just hung out.
We did get Johnson Family pictures taken while we were there and one of just our little family as well:
When our week in Frisco was up we began our long trip back home. Weather looked clear so we opted for the Northern route up through Colorado and across Utah and Nevada. We stayed the first night in Amarillo, TX and then angled up across the corner of New Mexico. We passed by Capulin Volcano National Monument on the way. We had to drive down a snow-covered road to get to it, but the park entrance had been plowed by the personnel running the monument.
Unfortunately, they hadn't plowed the road that runs up to and around the rim of the (dormant) volcano so we couldn't go up and have a look around.
Our destination that evening was Christopher & Jenny's house in Colorado Springs, CO. We stayed a couple of nights there and gave Heather the chance to play in snow.
Arches National Park
We drove out the West side of Colorado and spent the night in Moab, UT. The next morning we drove through the first third or so of Arches National Park before continuing on our way to Lehi, UT.
From Arches we drove up to Lehi, UT to spend a night at the house of some friends from college. Then it was on to Winnemucca, NV and home the day after that.
It was a lot of driving which was made bearable by having the Raspberry Pi running Kodi and hooked in to the van's entertainment system. We had movies and TV shows to watch to keep Heather occupied as we drove across hundreds of miles of nothingness. I caught up on all my podcasts which could be played through the front speakers using Bluetooth while Heather watched stuff in the back with headphones. I'm not sure how my family growing up survived driving across the country from Connecticut to Utah and back without such conveniences.