I’ve learned to pack some extras before going on a drive anywhere out of our city and this week I am very thankful for that predisposition. We loaded up yesterday morning to adventure down to Seward and the SeaLife Center for the day…and then come back home…right?!
Wrong! Can you hear Mother Nature laughing?! She likes to do that type of thing to us (aka triplets!…).
We started the day with quite a snowy and windy drive out of town. It was close to questionable if we should call it and head home, but our group is tough and headed along with eleven kids and five adults spanning three cars. We eventually made it to a wet and more breakup looking Seward- a TON of snacks were eaten and movie clips and songs played; we managed to get there without too much grumpiness. Having Grandma and/or Daddy in the very backseat, feeding the food into the tiny minions hands definitely helped.
We unloaded and hustled the kiddos through the wind and inside to see the sea lions! as the girls quoted the whole drive down. All the kids did great checking out the exhibits and actually returning when called. As you might imagine, it is not easy to smoothly move through anywhere with a headcount of ELEVEN kids under age eight…but hey, we like a challenge and it went really well! They really enjoyed the large sea lion exhibit, looking at the different types of fish and the temporary touch tank (since the normal one is under renovation). There were a lot of little hands touching the sea urchins and star fish with great enthusiasm as well as the comments about the cold water. The kids lasted a little longer than our visit last summer but we still went through the whole thing faster than preferable. Everyone picked out a stuffed animal at the gift shop (three black bear requestes were vetoed since we already have them!) and Emerie ended up leaving with a cute, green turtle, Harper grabbed a red octopus, and Reagan a spotted grey seal. Reagan keeps asking me to hold her seal so her sisters can’t take it. Silly kids.
Instead of sitting down at a restaurant and eating lunch, we dressed everyone in full snow gear and pushed them out of the vehicle to play at Seward’s awesome toddler park. It was windy and very icy and met with great enthusiasm from the whole bunch. I cannot wait for summer when we can visit again under more pleasant conditions. This outdoor activity inspired half the kids to demand use of the portable potty chair we brought and several clothing changes. By the third kid we were ready to load up and head back home.
I do have to mention one of my favorite moments from this adventure. Two of the kiddos in our group were chatting and one noted to the other that she was related to the triplets. She proceeded to say that she can’t tell them apart so she calls them Strawberry (Harper), Grape (Emerie) and Blueberry (Reagan). I love seeing how other kids view the girls when they indeed look identical unless you are constantly around them and can distinguish by personalities or small differential traits like chipped teeth. This makes me want to design them cute fruit shirts!!
Cue a change in background music…because little did we know the real adventure for the day was just beginning. The roads appeared clearer than the way in, with the temperature finally above freezing and the roads more wet than icy, making us feel confident and optimistic on a faster drive home than that morning. This thought was shattered when our speed demon driver of the group, Heather, called about the time we arrived in Moose Pass with a warning the highway was closed from an avalanche, making the road impassable.
We managed to meet up at the pull off ahead of it with our whole kid entourage. More snacks were consumed and we made the executive decision to head to Kenai and see if the road would clear in a few hours. At this point I wasn’t sure how well the girls would do with more time in the car, especially after a busy morning and no one napping yet; overall they handled it really well. I should also mention avalanche news inspired us to open the wrapped presents from Cousin Jamie and crew, because why not? The singing baby sharks greatly assisted in keeping toddler moods pleasant as we detoured an unplanned direction.
After hitting up the Soldotna Fred Meyer for more snacks (of course), melatonin and changes of clothes for the rest of the group (we had enough for us due to our forethought!), we sat down for a nice dinner in the backroom of a restaurant in Kenai (the name is already escaping me). The whole evening adventure worked out well for two reasons, 1) we have a great group of kiddos and parents that help each other, and 2) the backroom allowed for said hyper children to run circles, snack on some dinner, run more circles, and repeat. By the time we finished dinner, it was already past the girls’ normal bedtime and yet we weren’t completely immersed in meltdowns. This was both surprising and glorious, and shows that when given the chance, kids can adapt to things. We haven’t tested this theory very much in the past three years, since the triplet bubble remains tight and regimented, so it is really great to know when a wrench gets thrown in your plans, it is survivable!
By the time dinner was over the highway was not yet clear and open. Instead of chancing driving that distance again and not getting through with very tired toddlers in the car, in the dark on icy road conditions, we opted to hit up a hotel for the night and take our chances with convincing the girls to sleep somewhere new.
As we drove to the hotel, the toddler questions in the backseat eventually ended with a we are going on an “venture” and met with acceptance, even though they had no idea what that meant.
It was close to dark and way past standard bedtime by the time we made it back to Soldotna’s hotel and the girls (and adults) were definitely losing steam. First things first, everyone HAD to check out the bathroom, test to see if the potty is loud (which it wasn’t), open the mini fridge, push microwave buttons until it turned on, and jump on the beds. No pajamas meant the girls slept in their dresses from the day, but luckily had their normal bedtime stuffies and a single binkie we packed for each. Within an hour or so everyone was snuggled in a bed and asleep; Emerie snoring quietly next to me while holding her monkey, Harper cuddled with Craig on the second bed, and Reagan sound asleep next to Grandma Sue on the pull out sofa bed. And everyone slept WELL and extra pillows meant no one fell off the sides!
There isn’t much to tell about the ride home, with the avalanche cleared and no snow falling or potty stops needed, but I will readily admit I am really excited for summer conditions to get here already so we can try out more planned out-of-town adventures. Three years mostly confined to this city is a long time and we are lucky to live in a central location with many fun places within a few, short hours. It is nice to know it might be doable to try new places out and let the girls see other parts of Alaska that we grew up enjoying. Things should go fine as long as there are enough snacks, an overnight bag in the car just in case, extra hands and lots of car ride activities!