It is the middle of first road trip 2015 for our small clan. We have a few planned this year. So the blog will get fed some play-by-play. This roadie has landed us in Salt Lake City, us being my wife, our dogs Kaia and Bella, and me. It has started out pretty darn good! So here is a report for the first 24 hours.
We fired up the car yesterday evening for the trip. Laid down the back seats so the dogs had a little more space and prepared for a quick vacation. Everyone loaded into the jeep we hit the highway for some fun. Salt Lake City is a bit of a drive away, so we planned for it. We would drive well into Montana and then sleep in the car for a few hours, before completing the drive.
We started the drive with Tiana at the wheel. Usually this doesn’t last very long. Shortly after we would start previous trips, Tiana would report her eyes were too heavy to carry on. Shortly after that I would be driving alone as my wife would be snoring in the passenger’s seat. Navigating her dreams and not our trip. This was a different story, Tiana was a trooper driving a huge segment of our travels. The mostly boring trip got us to the border. Usually a spot that is a bit of fun, the American guards generally are friendly and have a good sense of humour. This day however was a short four car line and a matter of fact border guard. He asked us why we were headed to Salt Lake, how long and what our jobs were at home. Impressed with our answers he told us to enjoy our trip, Generally I assume these guys are laughing when we tell them how short we are going to be in Salt Lake. Otherwise uneventful. Mostly some great conversation with my wife for the trip, that is until shortly before great falls. As a general rule we would fill up our black jeep in Shelby at the large gas station/casino on the highway. But our car said we could easily make Great Falls, we skipped Shelby. Kind of sad because now I would have to wait a bit longer for my first Wild Cherry Pepsi of the trip. Then shortly before Great Falls the fuel light went off well before we expected. We uneasily distracted ourselves from our fear of running out of gas prior to our destination. It wasn’t easy, and finally we rolled into a Great Falls gas station. Our little 45 litre gas station took 13.5 gallons (51.1 litres). Really pushed our luck I am guessing.
From Great Falls on I would take over the driving duties. Sounded good to me and we would continue until I needed sleep. We planned for Helena Montana to be that stop. Again my wife surprised by staying awake for this section of the trip. At Helena we stopped at a Wal-Mart for dog food and some other items before deciding to make it to Butte Montana. There we would Wal-Mart camp. We arrived at Wal-Mart, Tiana went to the washroom, we let the dogs out for a potty and parked at the back of the lot for a bit of rest, it was about 1:30AM. I drifted off to a peaceful sleep quickly. Just before 3AM I awoke, Tiana sleeping in the back on a foamy and me in my driver seat. The windows were all covered in condensation from the four of us sleeping. But what had awoke me through me off. A man’s voice had drifted into my dream world and pulled me back to reality. I looked around but couldn’t make anyone out through our frosted glass. I tried to get back to sleep but again heard a voice. Looking out the driver’s side window was a man sitting in blue jeans and a grey hoody on a small parking lot median about 15′ away. I was startled, as he continued to talk, through a large garbage bag aside and then do something with a cue-tips before he would through each cue-tip over his shoulder. It was weird. I watched him for 10 minutes trying to decide if starting my car might startle this man who was talking to himself loudly. I chose to leave the car off and not potential make him uncomfortable. He got up and walk directly past the back of our car and disappeared behind the frost of our windows. After a few minutes I decided I had to move or I wouldn’t be able to sleep, was just feeling unnerved. I started the car, drove to the front of the Wal-Mart, used their washroom and drove to a totally different area of the lot to go back to sleep. I quickly returned to sleep by about 3:20AM. At 5:35AM I woke from the cold of our car, again all of the side and rear windows were covered in a frosty condensation. I was ready to go, but as soon as I looked up some guy was sitting in his truck parked in the drive lane right in front of our car. People are weird. Funny enough I forget I had run the remote start and set off the car alarm, startling this poor bastard in his silver ford pickup, he drove off. Somewhere, some dude is blogging about the moron who feel asleep in his car at Wal-Mart and couldn’t start his car without setting of an alarm.
This portion of the drive Tiana held up to her standard. From Butte to Idaho Falls she snored away while I listened to music and drove. I love the 80MPH speed limit in this region. For the most part the desert mountain areas aren’t that exciting, especially in the dark. So we successful rolled into Salt Lake City shortly after noon.
We proceeded to the doggy day care centre we had contacted. Our Dogs had been limited to a couple of short jaunts to pee and a short trip to the Idaho Falls dog park. So they doggy day care is a nice spot for them to have a nice afternoon and burn off some energy. It also allowed us to complete our required soda run to target and Wal-Mart.
The doggy daycare was a new place and they seemed to be running a good ship, the dogs were in for their first visit, what was actually an interview so they could return tomorrow for a little more time. Both had very successful visits to the daycare and had a lot of fun.
Right after day care we headed to Target. We acquired a couple of new t shirts as is the standard. I found an awesome batman onesie with a cape on the back, for adults, unfortunately not one in my size. Made me sad. Headed over to the soda aisle and acquired wild cherry Pepsi, cherry coke, vanilla coke, throwback mountain dew, real sugar Pepsi and an A&W Cream Soda. Very excited to take a few months of soda back home. We also acquired All Berry Cap’n Crunch and some Frozen cereal for our favourite 4.5 year old!
After shopping we checked into our hotel. Any interesting ordeal since twice they had a tough time finding our reservation and then the front desk agent required help spelling the word Legacy. The manager of the hotel was exploding about the guy in room 112 smoking in his room, and lucky us we get the room next door to the hated 112 nicotine fiend. Dropped our stuff in the room and it was time for this fat guy to have lunch.
Off we went to Famous Dave’s BBQ. This place is awesome. We had enjoyed Dave’s fame in Kalispell in the past and were happy to have the same feast for 2 again. The feast for two includes the following items. – half rack of Louisiana ribs, bbq pork and brisket, a bbq half chicken, french fries, 6 half cobs of corn, some very good corn bread, kick ass spicy beans and coleslaw. By feast for two it means two cities. Many a starving nations don’t see this much food in a calendar year. I boastful stated to Tiana we would not be taking any left overs home. The feature picture on this blog is the left overs we took home. The food is freaking amazing and enough for three meals for both of us for $35.99. The waiter said only about 10% of his customers even consider the dessert menu and he has almost never seen the feast polished off. I made a bold effort and ended up with a very full and sore stomach.
We left Famous Dave’s with our left overs and need to purge for our next stop. Our, now, traditional american visit to a local firearms range. We selected discount guns and ammo, a fairly nice facility off of one of the main highways. Tiana and I grabbed a couple of 9mm firearms from them for a very cheap rental fee. $15 for as many different firearms as we want and the ammo was definitely discount. The lane rental fee was $12 for the first person and $6 for the second. At first we selected a springfield 9mm that was a little stubby in the butt and the larger Sig Sauer P320. The Sig Sauer was an awesome handgun to fire. Right away I found I was doing a lot better with this firearm than the glocks and S&Ws I had fired in the past. The springfield was not accurate for Tiana, and while I found it accurate for me the butt sat in my palm only down to about the line of my ring finger. A lot of my palm was underneath and it felt awkward to fire. Tiana returned the springfield in exchange for another. She is a fan of the Glock 19 we used in Montana. It wasn’t available but the range guy said we might find the M&P to be fairly similar. Tiana was equally not a fan of this firearm and it was definitely not helping my very mediocre accuracy. So we ended up firing our favourite Sig Sauer through 250 rounds over the next 1.5 hours.
I made the executive decision to change targets for the last box of bullets. I also decided we would compete in this last 50. 25 rounds each. I got the dart board and we decided to play around the world on the board. I had been firing pretty darn well up to this point and thought I could keep up with the marksmen in our family. Tiana unloaded her first 5 rounds. She took down 1,2 and 3 missing with only two shots. I stepped up for my first five shots. I loaded the magazine focusing on the task at hand. Not wanting my wife to have bragging rights on this one. I pushed each bullet into the magazine replaying the good advice I had heard from some previous range guys. Don’t grip too tight, start pulling the trigger back until I could feel the tension and firing only after settling there. Not punching the gun forward. I was going to win. I fired off my first round, missing the 1. I reset my stance, focused on the sights and prepared to sweep the next four shots. I pulled the trigger as I had learned over and over through my next four rounds. At the end of the first round of competition Tiana was aiming at 4 an I was only able to hit the 1. At the end of this exciting and close race to see who was the better shot, Tiana completed the task through 12. I was stuck at 5. In fact with my last five shots and still stuck on 4, Tiana pitied me and told me I hit the 4, I did not. But I took it, my pride means nothing to me.
We left, having paid a grand total of $90 for a great time, good enough we will likely return tomorrow, and tomorrow I will win darts. Off to grab the puppies and read their daycare report cards. Apparently both performed pretty well and are welcome back tomorrow. We took them back to our hotel and curled up to watch some NASCAR and a quick bit of rest. From there we headed out for dinner. With the pups it means a fast food joint and there is a Hawaiian favourite in town, L&L. However L&L is obviously forgetting its Hawaiian routes on the mainland, they ran out of food (well just shrimp for the garlic shrimp but its the only thing we wanted). That is a Hawaiian sin, I have always been told by our Hawaiian family a good Hawaiian never runs out of food with people over. The back up plan was cheese dogs and deep fried cheese curds at A&W. I much prefer the American version of this fast food chain.
So far this has been a great trip. I complete this day’s blog in bed for the perfect Van Dyk vacation family and relaxation. Four of us are in the bed. Bella resting on the pillow draped above Tiana’s head, Kaia stretched out between us, Ass at our hips and head hanging off the foot of the bed (obviously for ease of TV watching). Tiana with her phone texting friends back home and finding out we have a friend who will help us become better shooters at a range back home and me typing out this blog. The pitter patter of feet up and down the hall as other families wrap up their nights and tuck into bed. I am sure the dogs can hear the flicking of room 112s lighter as he says “fuck the man” and smokes in his room. The finicky air conditioning/heating unit cycling the environment between too hot and too cold no goldilocks zone here. We plan tomorrows day. Family is awesome and I am glad to be spending this time with my very special wife and our fur family,