Sunday, August 10, 2014

CA Adventure Part 3: Palm Springs

During the bleakest days of February, when I am chilled to the core with no end of winter in sight, I dream of California.  I dream of running through orchards full of tree-ripe avocados, lemons, limes... of wading into the cool waters of the Pacific... of lingering over memories and meals with family I'm lucky to call my own.  And I dream of palm trees, hot, sunny days, cold, frothy drinks - and the time to spend with friends, and to savor it all.  I dream of this:
Our tour of Southern California would be incomplete without time to spend with our beloved friends, the Grants; the line between family and friends on this California adventure is very blurred, indeed.  The boys picked up right where they left off last summer, when the Grants were in Virginia, and seemed more like brothers than ever before:
In Palm Springs, we held diving contests:

...while the biggest boys worked to perfect their "leisure dives.."
Um... I think you need to keep working on this, Jeff!
Practically website-worthy...
Meanwhile, Em and I made sure to stay well-hydrated...

 ...while a certain Carter child made sure to hydrate us from the OUTSIDE:

Lest you think it was all fun and games, there was serious work to be done.  Phone conferences were conducted:
...and important meetings were held:

A train was formed to transport important cargo:

...but eventually, the work gave way back to play.
We played nine thousand rounds of this game.  Because it *never* gets old.
This "all-play" relay was a huge hit with our crew!  Kids v. Grown ups... and they beat us.
Glo-sticks = fun times
We decided on a formal group shot this year:

 ...and clearly nailed it with just 57 takes!
When the nearing-the-end-of-vacation blues got us down, we embraced the motivational decor of the rental house and made it our own personal motto:
But then, seriously, we looked at these faces and felt happy again.  The grown ups can claim a friendship of 14 years or so... but these boys?  can claim it for a lifetime.
As I remind my kids from time to time, all good things must come to an end.  After four days of respite, relaxation, and rejuvenation, we said a tearful goodbye to the Grants and began the long trek home.  

Remember that blissful day of travel we had out west?  Yeah... not so much Eastbound.  L.A. traffic is nightmarish, which we knew.  But that morning, despite leaving 4 hours before our flight, we hit horrible traffic and crawled to the airport.  We finally pulled up to the terminal 55 minutes before our flight was to depart.  I unloaded all the bags and the kids, then Jeff dashed off to return the car.  25 agonizing minutes later, he returned.  I had to pretty-face my way through security and sweet talk them into letting us cut to the front of the line.  (You can imagine how popular we were.)  After making it thorough the checkpoint, we sprinted toward our gate, holding backpacks and Pax as I ran. I passed him off to Jeff at some point, then dashed ahead.  As I made my way to the finish line gate, the friendly agent greeted us - "Oh, you must be the Carter family! You're here now, you can relax.  We actually have a teeny bit of a wait."  She checked us in, we boarded the plane - sweating, gasping for breath, and still recovering from our white-knuckled drive through L.A. - only to hear the pilot announce, "There is currently a 2 hour delay out of the gate.  You are free to leave the plane." 

We recovered; the plane finally took off; but the kids were grumpy, we were all so tired.  There were no in-flight movies or television; it was a long 5 hours... with a few very beautiful moments mixed in:

Without prompting, Aidan and Leo journal-ed their CA adventures
Once on Virginia turf, we eventually collected our bags (after much delay) and went to find our shuttle to the hotel where we'd left the car.  With 15 people wanting 8 spots in the hotel shuttle, exasperated and exhausted, we hailed a cab and inched our way back to our car, which has never looked more inviting to me in my life.  We hit up Wendy's drive-thru at 10:00 p.m., then made our way home.  It was midnight when we pulled down our drive; nothing could have felt better that day. 

With the memories of our adventure playing on a continual track in our minds, we eased back into the waning days of our summer break, glad to be home again but wishing we were still adventure-ing...

Till next time --

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