Whitakers Head West 2016: Part Two

You can read all about our journey from Texas to California, and back, in parts onetwo, threefour, five and six

Believe it or not, the drive from El Paso to San Diego was only an hour longer than from Austin to El Paso.

How’s that for a visual?

Oh, and we GAINED two hours on this drive which made for – wait for it – the longest day ever. But, God gifted us with the prettiest rest stop in Arizona. Just look at that view.

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As pretty as that rest stop was, the heat in Arizona a few hours down the road? Y’all, it was 111. When we got out of the van in Yuma for a pit stop, Luke was all, “MOM, MY EYEBALLS ARE MELTING.” And, I was all, “Stop being dramatic.”

Then, I stepped out of the van and said, “OH LORD, MY EYEBALLS ARE MELTING.” Not an exaggeration.

The worst, and hottest part of the drive was through Devil’s Canyon. The internet will tell you it’s a pretty place. LIES! All lies. Pro tip: When there’s a radiator cooling station every mile and the sign says to turn off your AC for the next 16 miles, you’re in hell. It was the most stressful drive of the entire trip, and the one I volunteered to do!

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But, about an hour after we left the canyon the temps had dropped to 83. I’m not too proud to tell you we rolled down our windows and shouted, “Hallelujah!” and started singing with the radio. We may, or may not, have labeled ourselves as the tourists from Texas to all the locals. We pulled into the driveway of one of my dearest friends from college. Chad and I were Fish Camp co-chairs in the same session at Texas A&M. I finally met his wife, Hillary (we share a birthday!), and two great sons. They spoiled us real good with a great BBQ dinner, pool time, cold beer, delicious cake, the loveliest guest house and the best conversation. We could’ve stayed a week, but alas I wouldn’t put our crazy on anyone for that length of time.

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Everyone slept like rocks. We got going the next morning pretty early (benefit of still having bodies on Texas time) and hit the beach. Dog Beach, that is. No, we did not have a dog, but we went anyway. With boogie boards, sunscreen, beach chairs and an umbrella in hand – thanks Chad and Hillary – we had an absolute blast of a morning. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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I believe this is when I heard Luke shout, “Oh yeah!”

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Gianna and the beach sand? Not a fan.

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After a full morning of riding the waves, we stopped in at a great, local pizza joint with seats that had a beautiful view of the ocean. That breeze! That pizza! That morning! All awesome. No wonder people visit here and never leave.

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This photo should be titled, “We’re only smiling because our Mom threatened us.” What a bunch of stinkers.

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We headed back to Chad’s house for showers, clean off all the beach gear and load the van. Our time in San Diego was short, but fantastic. There are lots of things we could’ve done – zoo, more beaches, parks, museums – but ultimately we spent it just enjoying one another’s company. After several rounds of hugs, we journeyed north for Mass at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Originally, we planned to tour the mission, but after the entire crew crashed on the van ride and woke up a wee bit cranky (Exhibits A and B):

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we opted for Plan B: walk around and enjoy the pretty weather. Good parenting decision.

Mass included Scott sitting with five kids, while I played jungle gym with Gianna in the back. Season of life. After Mass, the priest was kind enough to give us the most beautiful of blessings, then we snapped a few photos, found a great local eatery down the street with some authentic Mexican food and hopped back in the van for one last hour of driving to Kendra’s house.

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When we pulled in to Gramblewood (a nickname for their awesome fixer upper), you should’ve heard the banter among the kids. “Wait, y’all have how many?” “How old are you?” “Where are we sleeping?” “Want to play some card games?” We could all learn something about friendship from kids.

After we broke up the party, we got everyone situated in rooms, only to have to break up a rousing game of Black Jack among all the boys. The adults enjoyed some “beverages” and great conversation. It was the loveliest of evenings and I’m so grateful an internet friend became a real one.

Tomorrow, we get a killer view, find our own personal tour guide, drink way too many Dr Peppers and learn what it means to have the very best of evenings.


  1. Verdina on September 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    You are so BRAVE! I feel like a total failure at traveling with kids. We had just two, remember. We gave them both Dramimine (Chris was prone to car sickness and Leslie was in constant jabbering mode). We also gave the dog Thorazine (she had developed car nervousness after a trip with Don over a mountain pass that made him nervous). We did have very peaceful trips, though.

  2. Molly on September 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    We just drove back from
    Michigan yesterday and I thought I was going to poke my eyeballs out…6 week old who hates the car seat…lawd. I think we will hold off on Mount Rushmore for a few months 🙂

  3. John on September 10, 2016 at 10:53 am

    You take some awesome pictures and looks like you’re making awesome memories with the family! Way to go Team Whitaker! At least you didn’t run into any of the nasty sewer roaches here in Yuma!!

  4. Whitakers Head West 2016: Part Three - Team Whitaker on September 12, 2016 at 6:46 am

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  6. Mary Wilkerson on September 16, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I’m just catching up on your trip… did you seriously JUST take a mini van with kids and gear?
    That is crazy impressive.

    • Kathryn on September 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      We did. And no topper on the van either! That tip is coming next week.

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