fighting the good fight
As with our previous Foreign Service assignments, we have decided to mark the end of our tour abroad with an American road trip. After Kenya we had spent three weeks driving around California; following two years in Moldova we had returned home just long enough to drop our bags before heading to the Southwest. This time we strung together an itinerary that starts off in Salt Lake City and takes in parts of Wyoming and Idaho before culminating in Boise.
This vacation we also might have bitten off a bit more than we can chew. This is the first time that we have done a home leave road trip with kids. Although we travel with our children all the time, we rarely do so when skipping multiple time zones. Five days in, and we are still fighting what feels like a losing battle against jet lag.
The trip back home from Kigali, passing through Entebbe and featuring a six-hour layover in Amsterdam, was manageable but far from enjoyable. Whereas both kids snoozed on the red-eye to Europe, the final leg of the trip was considerably more painful, and we were at our wits’ end by the time the plane began its final descent into JFK, some 30 hours after we had bid our final adieu to our Kigali home. We spent two nights on the East Coast – just long enough to repack, leave our dog in good hands, and spend a little bit of time with friends and family – before heading west again.
At least we had had the good sense to ease into our road trip by spending a few nights with friends in Salt Lake City first – the same ones who had welcomed us three years ago. After watching first us and then the movers pack and take away his toys over the course of the previous month, Munchkin has found himself in heaven. Our friends have three kids, so he has been overjoyed to have new playmates and access to a well-stocked playroom.
Adventuring out of the house has been a bit more of a challenge. Yesterday we drove out to do some light hiking in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Munchkin did reasonably well on the 1.5-mile trail up to Donut Falls, but he stumbled and fell into the water on arrival at the falls, and D had to carry him down in our hiking backpack on the return leg. We then drove to nearby Silver Lake, where Munchkin adamantly refused to set foot on the trail. Fortunately, the short path around the lake is inlaid with boardwalks, so we were able to complete the loop with Munchkin in the stroller.
Today was a bit better. We took the kids to the Tracy Aviary in SLC’s Liberty Park. After balking initially, Munchkin found a second gear after the aviary’s informative and entertaining bird show. Not only did he run around a bunch inside the aviary, but he also found enough energy for the park’s playground while Junebug took a short nap in the stroller. If only we could find the kind of energy he exhibited this morning! The kids are finally in bed, it’s barely past 9 p.m., and we are once again utterly spent.