We drove out of town just after Memorial day weekend, eager to start our 18-day trip to Alaska.
We stopped frequently. Zach was 15 months old and Kris was 6 months pregnant. Chili’s, Love’s Truck Stops, and Dairy Queen provided our sustenance the first couple of days.
Our first big stop was our first national park as a family: the Petrified Forest National Park. We looked at the painted desert and the rock-like trees and renewed our vow to visit all the national park sites.
We spent that night in Arizona.
We went to the Grand Canyon early in the morning. We put Zach in the backpack, hiked the rim trail, ate a picnic lunch, and bought a souvenir patch, the first of many, to remember our time.
Enthralled with nature, we drove to Las Vegas. We stayed in a dated Circus Circus room, showing Zach the circus shows on the half-hour and looking at the spectacle of the Las Vegas strip.
Circus Circus reminded us of our Kansas home because they had a Krispy Kreme there. We stayed in Vegas for one night and headed down to Northridge to visit my family.
We swam, we laughed, and we said goodbye. The barbecue was good, as was playing catch with my siblings. My parents would come up in a few months when the baby was born. We didn’t know when we’d make it back to California.
But we headed north. We had no reservations other than a date to pick up the ferry in Bellingham in five days. We were ready to continue our adventure.