A Road Trip | Arizona

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Even three kids deep, I feel like we are still learning so many of the basics of parenthood; like the freedom in forging our own paths and molding new traditions. For the last few years it’s felt like the holidays have brought a lot of fumbles, like they creep up so fast and take over before a plan ever gets formulated. Throw in the unpredictability of my hospital work schedule (I’m required to work one major holiday but do not get the official schedule until the being of December) and it’s easy to let the season grab us by the proverbial balls. So it felt nice this year to try something new and combine a bit of family with a bit of adventure. And so, we hit up a few towns in Arizona before making our way to Willy’s parent’s house outside of Phoenix.

We were able to take off a few days earlier than expected due to a last minute change in my hospital work schedule. So we got the last of our shop orders out, threw the final things in the truck, and headed to the town of Prescott to visit Willy’s old boss who has retired there. We watched the temperature drop from the 60s here in California (which to-be-fair is freezing by California standards) all the way to the low 30s as we made our way into Prescott. We spent time exploring the downtown and stayed at the historic St. Michael hotel, right on the corner at the end of Whiskey Row. If only you could safely leave sleeping children in a hotel room. Despite the cold temperatures, we walked quite a bit; I could feel my jeans get cold each time I took a step as they separated from my body only to return with a cold bite. The boys rocked jackets over t-shirts, refusing to wear any of the adorable knit sweaters I brought for them (luckily I hadn’t removed any tags. Ho hum.) and Sonny stayed bundled up in one of those zip up fleece onesies that had him looking – and I’m sure feeling – like the kid from A Christmas Story. And poor Van, sporting two left shoes for the entirety of our trip. At least they matched.

The trees in the center of downtown were all lit, a scarf wrapped around the base of most with the sweetest handwritten notes reading sentiments like, “take me, if you’re cold”. A town filled with lovely people, beautiful turquoise, and so much Christmas cheer it was hard to not stay and enjoy what ended up being 6 inches of snow on Christmas Eve.

But alas, we headed through the mountains to the town of Jerome. A super small mining town that boasts having once been the fourth largest city in Arizona but nowadays is more well known for its ghost tours; The Grand Hotel having once been a hospital that served as the end of the line for many of the miners that contracted TB.

We stayed at a historic home that arguably has a more captivating history than the town itself. Built in 1898 to house mining executives, then sold to a family of five who survived the mudslide in the 1950s that completely destroyed the majority of the home. The floor rolled up and tangled with heaps of mud until 2013, when the home was completely renovated back to it’s original glory. And when I say original glory, I’m talking original wood burning stove glory. Complete with the added battle-wound-markers, like the plaques that are found throughout the home to show just how high the mud reached. And heaps of framed photos documenting the restoration process. A process that had to be none other than a labor of love seeing just how difficult it was to drive our pickup truck up its windy steep path, let alone the machinery needed for that kind of construction.

It wasn’t a bad place to be stuck when a stomach bug took a few of us down. The tree swing proving a peaceful retreat during the breaks in the storm that came sweeping through and made staying in, despite illness, somewhat enjoyable. A break in the travel go-see-do mentality.

We spent the better part of a day driving through Sedona and stopped at Arcosanti on the way to Chandler, where Willy’s family lives. And from that point on it’s kind of a blur, with too many Christmas shenanigans to count and the mound of new toys making my head spin. The best kind of blur, I suppose.

We made it back just before the New Year and were greeted with rain, which for those in California is so coveted these days. The perfect way to ease back into the whirlwind that is everyday life. Unpacking, laundry, sorting, donating, regrouping. And, just like that, the calendar flips, one year ends, another begins, and life goes on.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is in an area referred to as “Slab City”, in Niland, not far from the Salton Sea. Slab City used to be the training grounds for the Marines back in 1942, but when operations ceased a few years later, the buildings were removed and sold. Since then, it remains abandoned with only cement foundations, hence the name “Slab City”. Today, RV campers occupy the area mostly in the winter months. Be what it may, when you ride up to it, it feels completely random and odd; Like walking through a weird dream.
We only encountered one other couple on our visit to Salvation Mountain. I guess there are some perks of going in the dreaded summer heat because I’ve read you can battle up to 100 people in the winter and well, it just wouldn’t have been the same.
Salvation Mountain was built by Leonard Knight who is currently 82 years old and resides in a nursing home in San Diego. He has volunteers that rotate watch on his mountain and are available to ask questions to if going up to a seemingly abandoned trailer in the middle of nowhere is your thing. And, you better believe, it’s my thing.
You can read about Leonard Knight by clicking here and more about the history of the mountain by clicking here.

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The Salton Sea

Oh the Salton Sea. There isn’t a place like it, that’s for sure. And any picture of the place only tells you a small sliver of the story, let me tell you. It’s kinda like looking at a picture of a men’s urinal from a dirty truck stop, you just can’t smell the urine and filth. Same same, but different.
In a photo, it looks like one of the most stunning places. Am I right, or am I right? Please allow me to ruin it for you now.
Use your senses: The temperature is 120F / 47C. It feels like you opened the oven door after you had it closed and heating for a couple of hours. The heat consumes you. It’s difficult to breath. Sweat trickles down your back and your dress becomes stuck to the back of your leg with each step you take. Your hair is crunchy, proof you’ve gone between the sweltering heat and the air conditioned car. Oh ya, and the air is completely stagnate. In 2012 the Salton Sea was confirmed as the source of the rotten egg smell in the LA Basin. The LA Basin is 150 miles away from the Salton Sea. Can you imagine how bad a fart would have to smell to travel even a mile? I’m trying to put this stench in perspective, people. I could tell you it smells like sulfur, but it’s worse than that. It’s more like sulfur with rotten egg with rotting corpse. As soon as you step out of your car, you hear the buzzing of a thousand flies. They land on your face and they invade your car. There is no amount of shooing that will stop them. As you walk closer to the water’s edge, you hear crunching only to look down and discover that what appears to be sand is really just mutilated fish bone and with each step you are making more, um, “sand”.
But oh it’s a site to behold, isn’t it?
We stopped in at a local bar in Bombay Beach to beat the heat, enjoyed some cold beer, and watched as the locals swatted flies with their oversized fly swatters. 
I mentioned the Bombay Beach documentary a while back. Here’s the trailer for it. Gotta love any documentary with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan. It was… interesting.

Want to read more about why the Salton Sea is the way it is? This article is one of the best I’ve read.

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A Girls Long Weekend, Palm Springs

Those who follow me on Instagram know I was recently in Palm Springs for some much needed girl time. I returned back just a few days later with Willy and the boys’ and had an awesome time hanging out with this beautiful family, but there will be more on that later.
I had been feeling so down and out after weaning, wondering when the funk would pass. I knew it was hormonal, but having the knowledge of the culprit did absolutely nothing in terms of digging myself out of the hole. I cried for two days. And I napped, which sounds dreamy – I know – but it was more of the depressed I-don’t-have-energy-to-do-anything kinda nap as opposed to the physically drained I-earned-a-nap kinda nap.
It lasted two days and even though those two days felt like marathon days, in hindsight it passed pretty quickly. Like having a newborn, when you’re in the trenches, not only do you not see the light but you don’t even know if you’re walking in the right direction. For all I knew, life was getting darker. Looking up depression after weaning, like everything else, was both a blessing and a curse; cool, I’m not alone… Ho hum, sometimes this lasts months?!
We had that nice weekend I spoke of here and a few days after that, I hit the road with my best friend.
And there’s nothing like the open road with your best friend. There just isn’t.
Sometimes when I’m away from the kids it feels like all I do is talk about them. But while our children came up in passing, we talked about so many other things: memories, work, dreams, travel, our husbands, things we are working on around the home, design, photography. We threw around quotes we had come across that made something clear that was a bit fuzzy before and we talked about some of the new documentaries we had watched. We listened to music, pulled over often to stretch our legs, and threw stuff in the back of the truck as if we had assistants back there to sort it all out for us.
It was just what I need and right when I needed it.
So please excuse the next few posts as I get caught up on sharing some photos from our adventure. There were no kids, so – ya know – we stopped a lot and drove a lot and photographed a lot.
Take that, you evil mom guilt. I’m not even feeling guilty about a

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few days away. I’m not. I said I’m not. And if I say it three times, I must be true.

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Palm Springs, Part 1

I always imagined Palm Springs to be a ridiculously hip desert hideaway with sprawling mid-century homes and wall after wall begging to have you stand in front of it for a picture. Not to say I was wrong, the mid-century homes are definitely there; hiding beneath the surface like the pocket of your pants. But Palm Springs is also… weird, for lack of better words. I told Willy it reminded me of the wheelers from the Wizard of Oz; partly abandoned with an eerie mix of dessert wanderers, tourists, retired old folk, homeless, and prostitutes.
Willy’s been having to go often for work and we tag along when we can. Translation: We spend a lot of time in random hotels jumping on furniture.
Part 2 is coming your way tomorrow.

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Arizona, On the Farm part 2

Better late than never is what they say, right? I had loads of pics to

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go through (sorry for the photo bomb). In any case, here’s the recap:

We spent the weekend hanging with family, celebrating a new addition that’s right around the corner (I’m going to be a first-time aunt), and even catching a spring training baseball game. The weather was perfect and waking up with the warm rays of sun beaming through the window felt good. The cows are a bigger and bigger hit with Hooper each time we come to visit.
We returned home with more than we anticipated. Sarah, as I mentioned before, had a horrible ear infection in both ears and Hooper contracted rotavirus (possibly unrelated, who knows). In any case, it was a lovely drive and a nice time spent with those we love.
Side note: Special congrats to Vera for winning the DiaNoche Designs giveaway.

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Arizona, from the road

I rarely turn down a road trip. One of my favorite books is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. There’s something about being on the open road that takes me back to when Janet and I drove all the way to Louisiana and back. I love driving and I love pit stops and I love the random restaurants along the way, filled with truckers, passersby, and the few patrons that call the roadside stop home interspersed in a sea of strangers. The open road has a way of making the world feel both big and small at the same time. And I love that too.
Both boys travel well. Van gets cranky only when he’s ready to eat and I think Hoop would be content staring out the window until the car ran out of gas. We took Sarah too and there’s one secret I must share that made her a trooper as well: Benadryl.
The drive from California to Arizona is about 6 hours (8 hours with kids) and somehow we made it door to door with good attitudes albeit having to juggle back to back to back conference calls for work, poop that required a change of clothes (yup, you all know how that goes), newly scabbed knees, growling stomachs, and shotty naps. Hash tag: It won’t always work out this well.
More from Arizona to come.

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San Francisco

As promised, a wee little video from our first family road trip to San Francisco. Hope you enjoy. I think I enjoy making these videos a little too much…

San Francisco from The Stork & The Beanstalk on Vimeo.

San Francisco from The Stork & The Beanstalk on Vimeo.
And in case you missed it, we have a giveaway from etsy seller Truly Sanctuary going on now! You can enter by visiting their online store and leaving a comment on yesterday’s post. They are also offering a 15% discount off your entire purchase with promo code STORKANDTHEBEANSTALK. I’m told this promo code is good for a while, but don’t procrastinate, the holidays are a’ comin’ (just hear sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling).