Instead I listened to new songs about Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. And the downpours took my full concentration. I clicked some pictures to document the journey.
I found the Louisiana countryside beautiful while listening to Mo Leverett.
And I got a good kick out of the sign: Drive Clean Across Texas. Because I aimed to.
When I arrived in Texas, we had a lot of packing and sorting to do. It was a complicated mess of packing, because we had piles of things to be taken camping, piles of things that we were borrowing for camping, piles of things to be gotten rid of/returned, piles of things to be thrown out, piles of things we'd want in the car for the trip to NJ but not with us camping, piles of things to be packed that they'd want access to in NJ, and piles of things to be packed tight till Prague. And I didn't know much about what qualified. And with three kids moving around, stuff got moved around too. At one point we gave the kids a bowl of ice cream and stuck them in an empty bath tub so we could get some work done for 20 minutes. Then Elizabeth gave them a bath while Milan and I finished another suitcase.
The night before we left, we picked up the rental van for the journey and loaded up all the cars with boxes and bags to be left at a friend's house while we camped. We dropped off our cars at about 10pm and started to head home...till I realized I left something important in my car, like my National Park Pass... When we got home we stuck the kids on their makeshift camping beds, and proceeded to load the car for camping. That's when we realized how much we had (much of which simply didn't need to come with us, but we had to empty the apartment). I think we got to bed about 2 or 3, and woke up at 5 or so, loaded the sleepy kids in the stuffed car, and got on the road. Later that morning we stopped for breakfast at a MacDonalds, drinking their coffee and eating an assortment of goodies made by Elizabeth: for Mark, it was a "cracked egg." Daniel and Anna were piled to their elbows in stuff, but they look pretty cheerful:
It was a long day driving. I didn't realize how long it takes to drive 600 miles with three kids. It takes longer. Yes. Hmm. But we took a route through a town the name of which I can't remember...to see historic Texas. We saw a fort, which didn't look to me like a fort at all, but was just a bunch of buildings. I guess a fort in the middle of the dessert doesn't have to be fortified, because you can see anyone coming for miles. We stopped again at dinnertime to buy groceries, eat dinner, and repack the car. Then we attempted to leave town, but we had to stop at the edge of town to use the potty. And then Anna realized she left her stagecoach toy bought at the fort, and her daddy was so nice to turn around and we got it.
Thus, we arrived at the park at about midnight. Maybe 11...it was late, and it was dark. It was a long drive that evening. Daniel and Anna were awake most of the way, and they were anxious to be there. My memory of those miles that slowly went by was that the road had a peculiar dip. Signs said something about flooding, but we couldn't figure out why you'd want the road to dip into a flood. Nevertheless, this west-Texas phenomenon would give the kids something to occupy them. Anna either loved it or hated it. She either demanded another one, or demanded there be no more. (Neither which Elizabeth had any control of, but I suppose that doesn't occur to a four-year-old.) Generally she was capricious and determined like that. Her opinion might change in a minute, but whatever she felt, she felt strongly. It proceeded to grow dark, and the landscape began to change. Daniel and Anna were still awake when we entered the park's boundary, and they sure didn't understand how we could be there, but not there yet. I guess they fell asleep in the last few miles. Mark, on the other hand, slept the evening through, and was wide awake when we were trying to set up the tents. Apparently he didn't want to go to sleep when everything had gotten settled, which was a problem for Elizabeth and Milan. I lay out my tarp and settled under the stars (praying for no scorpions).