Tuesday, August 16, 2016

California Part 1...

Eight years ago, we moved back to Colorado from a summer living in California.  It was a long drive, and Max was having one of his jags of refusing to eat or take his medicine.  Lack of sleep, lack of routine, and not enough food and seizure medicine meant instead of stopping to sleep when we got back to Denver, we went straight to Children's Hospital to the ER because we couldn't get his seizures to stop.  This was the end of a very busy moving season of our lives.  We had left Colorado in the winter and headed to Virginia for a month, then on to England, then California before landing back home in Colorado.  When Max's neurologist came into the room he gave us a hug, touched Max on the top of his head and turned to us and said "You can never take him away again." before starting a full battery of tests and treatments to get his patient well again.  

While it was a bit of hyperbole, we took that instruction to heart.  Up until last year when we took Max to Oklahoma for my mom's memorial, we hadn't taken Max much further than the mountains a couple of hours away since coming back from California.  We were afraid to travel because of his health.  We were unsure of how we would do it with how big he's gotten.  We were insecure in the ability to make it happen because that year of moving around has felt like such a mistake as far as Max's health went. 

I give you that background story to start this series of blog posts.......Max went to California to the ocean last week for vacation.  And for him, it was everything. 

Naturally, it took months to plan.  His village had to come together to pull it off, but we did it and it was a success.   We decided on Oxnard, CA and stayed on Hollywood Beach.  This is in Ventura County in Southern California.  We booked this house through airbnb.com that was exactly what we needed. We were able to take Max's nurses with us so we needed a lot of space! 

Last year before going to Oklahoma, we planned this trip to California. Max started telling his teacher around spring break that year he was going to California for vacation.  We had no intention of such a trip, but thought maybe we could take my mom with us when she moved to be with us at the end of her battle with cancer. When mom got here we knew she would not be able to make the trip, but we were charging ahead.  The day before we were to leave for California, the hospice doctor working with Mom told us we only had a couple weeks left with her.  We shifted plans and had two very meaningful last weeks with my mom.  When we were planning that trip, Steve built a bed in the back of the van with a seat belt attached for Max to be able to lay down and have a break from his wheelchair.  We put it to the test on the trip to Oklahoma last year and knew we would be using it on this trip too. 

We started early Saturday morning packing up the last things in Max's van and headed over the mountains and through the desert to our first stop in St. George, UT.  Max did really well and was so excited to be going to the ocean...FINALLY! I have to apologize for the lack of front range mountain photos....I was totally asleep.  But, once we went through the Eisenhower Tunnel to the west side of the mountains I picked up the camera and didn't stop for a week.  Get ready for the pictures, people. And remember, this is just the first two days!
Packing for Max is like moving house!
Our old girl, Olive, went with us while George stayed in Colorado with a neighbor who is also a dog trainer

Time to wake up!  Going through the tunnel under the Continental Divide is always a trip! We're under a mountain people!!

Oh look!  The western side has RAIN!!!  A sight for our parched eastern slope eyes. 

It was also 48 degrees.

It rained all the way through Dillon, Vail, Glenwood Springs.  It was so beautiful! 
 As we moved out of the mountains and into the western slope, we had more sunshine and a completely different landscape of Colorado than we're used to in the Denver metro area.

Did I mention Max was SO excited to be driving to California?
We started to get a view of the wild west!  We stopped in Grand Junction, CO to get lunch and snacks for the road before reaching the Colorado/Utah line.

Utah had some really incredible scenery, and really incredible extreme weather.  We got caught in a canyon rain storm and started to feel the desert heat.  

We thought this rainstorm was really impressive.  It created waterfalls on the sides of the mountains. 

We started to move out of the rain and found sunny skies again.  The kids were both taking a rest in the back, along with Olive.  

While Utah was beautiful, it was a long bit of the journey.  After 13 hours of driving we were happy to find our hotel to sleep for the night to get ready for day 2 through the rest of Utah, skip along a bit of Arizona, then Nevada, and California.
It took Max about 5 minutes to roll himself over and go to sleep at the hotel!

He was so tired, he hardly moved all night!  This was him in the morning.  I was the lucky one who got to share a bed with him.  He's so big now he takes most of it up!  We got loaded back into the van and headed out before the sun came up.

 The sun started to rise and we found ourselves in Arizona for a while.  We thought we would head straight into Nevada, but we were in Arizona just long enough to get a picture of a few things before crossing into Nevada.

Pictures just can not do justice to the colors and views we experienced with the sunrise in Arizona. It was so incredible.  Of course, Max slept all the way through it so we had to tell him when he woke up he had already been in three states before he woke up!

The transition to Nevada was so quick we missed the highway sign.  Fortunately, we found a smaller one at the first exit and rest stop.

But Max kept on sleeping. 

 Nevada was really pretty.  More real life wild west movie scenes rolling by us.

And then we drove into Vegas.  I know a lot of people really love visiting here, so I'll just leave it at this is one place that is just not our scene.  We try to scoot around and out of there as soon as we can.

 But hey, we found a Whole Foods there and Max decided to wake up!  We stopped to get more snacks and we were off for our final stretch to California.

 Once out of Vegas, the scenery started to change.

And then.....we made it! CALIFORNIA!

 We switched on to Sci-fi real quickly once over the border.  What sort of space-aged field is this?  It's full of mirrors and towers harnessing the sun's energy.

 Then hello Mojave desert...it was H.O.T.!!!

The only thing that can live in this heat was the aliens and United States Marines.  We were only allowed to take pictures of the aliens.  

  It was a pretty weird stop...but hey, we needed to use their facilities and it was air conditioned.

What is happening here?  We all were trying to guess how it's pronounced....just like it's spelled is what we came up with. Go ahead, sound it out for yourself.

 More desert scenery.  I have to admit, about now I was getting pretty tired of the desert heat and being in the van.  But we still had miles to go....before we hit SoCal traffic!

 I don't think we can ever really complain about Denver traffic when we've been in this mess.  It took us hours to move through it.

 And another unfortunate southern California scene, a fire that was burning in the distant mountains.

 Before we knew it, we were in the thick of L.A. traffic.  Our friends told us it was Sunday afternoon people coming back from Vegas traffic.  Yuck!

See, there's the city. 

We found our way out of the traffic and to our friends' house to pick up Max's special beach chair. We had it shipped to them so we didn't have to wedge it into our already packed van.  From their house it was only another half hour to our beach house.  And we were all SO ready to be out of the van!

Ventura County is very pretty.  It was nice to start seeing some green again after all the desert scenery. 

 Max wouldn't leave his glasses on, but he was looking out his window the whole time.

 Before we knew it, we were down the hill and driving along the Channel Islands Harbor.

We finally pulled up to the house, got Max out of his van and rolled him directly to the back deck which sat on to the beach.  We made it...his dream come true...a vacation at the ocean in California!

We will pick up next with part 2...sand and surf. Congratulations on making it through this first chapter!

1 comment:

ferfischer said...

Love these pics! That really is the perfect vehicle for this kind of trip! Would love to see the details of the bed in the van too - thanks for taking us along on this journey - perhaps we will be brave enough soon!