191010: Hiking Conversation Topics

We went for a hike at Dinosaur Valley through a dry creek bed. As Malosi and Rance talk constantly I thought it would be good to document just a sampling of some of their conversation topics. It was difficult to track all of them: 

  • Jupiter
  • Prophesying
  • How long one can hold their pee
  • Lions
  • Trail vs mountain bikes
  • Sibling birth order privileges 
  • Fairness of life
  • Why God made mosquitos 

191010: Creation Story in Dinosaur Valley

Pulling out of my in-law’s house in a fully restored 1973 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht was gloriously nerve racking. The value of our rig from stem to stern was about what we owe on our first house. Not to mention I have no recent experience with bumper pull trailering, especially a 7,100 lbs 31’ beast.

Sorry, not a beast. The formal name for our trailer is “Abigail the Sovereign”, or Abby. Personification of vehicles has been somewhat of a family tradition and distinctly an American cultural oddity, at least from my observations of living overseas the past 11 years. Growing up most all our vehicles had names. There was “Martha” the 1985 Suburban, “Blue” the 1984 Dodge Lancer, “The Missile”, a 1968 Ford F100 long bed truck, my first vehicle, “Puddle Jumper”, a 2003 Toyota single cab Tacoma, and a handful assortment of other vehicle personalities.

Abby was found in the spring of this year hunkered down in open shed in Briscoe County Texas. Her last registration was 1997 and from all observations she hadn’t traveled since. Her hibernation amongst the West Texas rattlesnakes, dust storms, unrelenting heat, and rogue tumbleweeds treated her well. Typical problems with shuttered Airstreams of rotted floors, leaky windows, and stained aluminum shell, among many others, were amazingly missing. Her interior was largely intact with no crazy backyard amateur modifications. About the only sign of mistreatment was a bullet wound in her belly pan.

My sister, Emily, had known we had loose plans to buy an Airstream for a road trip in the fall. She randomly saw the for sale posting on a local buy and sell Facebook group. When she sent us a picture of the posting on March, 27, 2019 asking if we were interested we were living in Shanghai, China and on a family vacation to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were coming up on the end of our two year tour that summer. However, as typical with my project based tours, I’m a Foreign Service Construction Engineer managing Department of State Construction projects, I had no onward assignment and no real firm dates for our upcoming home leave in the States, mandated by the congress between Foreign Service assignments. More importantly, I also had no clue what it would take to restore a 46 year old Airstream. It really made no rational sense to purchase Abby sight unseen while tramping around ancient Cambodian ruins 7,000 miles away. However, as with many burgeoning relationships and adventures, rationality often takes a back seat to the beauty of the unknown.

After talking it over with Kelly and discussing with Emily’s husband, Paul, a former RV salesman who in no uncertain terms told me I was a fool if I didn’t jump on this opportunity, we pulled the trigger and PayPal’d the money to Emily. Thus started the journey with Abby.

Today is day one on the road with Abby. We choose a quick one night trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas as our soft opening test run. How we got from a field in West Texas to spot #24 over the last seven months is a story worth telling and a worthy launch pad to our Road School journey ahead.

Trip to Jeddah

Traveling 34 hours with two kids under two across nine time zones in three planes will test mental and physical toughness in unique ways.  Here is a little quiz to see if you have what it takes.

Q:   You’ve arrived at the first check in counter and suddenly realized you’ve left your 2-year-old’s only milk bottle in the car.  Choose the best response:

a) Run with arms flailing and the whites of your eyes clearly visible until you chase down the car and bottle is retrieved.
b) Act like you didn’t notice and say the kid must have hurled the milk from the stroller without anyone noticing if questioned.
c) Tell your kid to suck it up. Milk is for homebody-travel-rookie-sissies.
d) Act cool until getting through security and then say it must have been confiscated.

Q:  Your car seat travel dolly shears in two in the middle of a train door with your child strapped to it. The best response is:

a) Curse in a foreign language so people won’t think you’re a stupid American.
b) Play it cool and do nothing until everyone exits the car hoping nobody notices.
c) Accuse your child of secretly grinding loose the welds on the frame when you weren’t looking.
d) Drag the car seat out of the door and look at your wife with the “what in the H are we doing here look and who’s idea was this anyway” look.


Q:  The ideal response to the man on the plane in front of you yelling at you because your two-year-old is kicking his seat is?

a)    Nothing, pretend he doesn’t exist and go to your happy place.
b)   Curse in a foreign language so people won’t think you’re a stupid American.
c)     Offer him a shot of whiskey.  You’ve had five and feel great!
d)    Ask him if he has a spatula or a George Foreman grill to change the subject.


Q:  What do you do when the lady behind you on the plane yells at you for reclining your seat because she has a baby in her lap?

a)    Show her the baby strapped to your chest and the seat fully reclined in front of you.
b)   Poke her baby until he starts crying.
c)    Give her the spatula and George Foreman grill the guy in the plane before gave you.
d)    Lift up your seat and hope the one in front of you doesn’t crush your child’s head (or spill your whiskey).

Q:  How do you offload two car seats, two sleeping children, five carry-on bags, and two slightly crazed adults out of a plane, down 20’ of steps in freezing Frankfurt temperatures, and in to a packed bus on the tarmac?

a)    Don’t move until everyone exits the plane hoping all the flight attendants, who can’t leave until you do, do it for you.
b)   Hurl each bag in shot putter form from the top of the stair landing. (the guttural yell is critical to this move)
c)     Be the first to get up and block the aisle with all you stuff until other passengers start helping.
d)    Open the emergency exit, inflate the escape ramp, and slide everything down (make sure and put on your life jacket fully inflated to avoid questioning).


In all seriousness, though, these events did happen to us.  And I learned that no matter how much I prepare for a trip, there is no way to really prepare for everything, especially with kids.  That is what makes traveling with them so much fun!  Whenever I see other adults lugging screaming children through airports I will always remember this trip, and we will probably have several more like it to come. Thus I have a newfound respect for those parents and the level of mental and physical toughness it takes to take on kid-air-travel.