A trip filled with good, bad, and ugly

March 17, 2008

by Jennifer Gallus

Family vacations always create memories of every sort – good, bad, and ugly – but usually more good than the other two.

Our recent trip to visit my mom and step-dad in Arizona yielded just that.

All-in-all, we had a great time. My mom kept us hopping and brought us to a wide array of scenic attractions and kid-friendly activities.

One of my favorites was a place called Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Farm. The boys were in heaven as they fed deer, ostrich, emu, and even birds.

The ostriches were huge and all muscle. Feeding those things without getting a finger bitten off was challenging. One even took my mom’s cup of food out of her hand in an instant, tipped it back, and swallowed its stolen meal before I could even get my camera ready to snap a picture.

We proceeded to enter a large enclosed area that housed lorakeets – rainbow colored parakeet-type birds. We were given small cups of nectar and instructed to stand still as they would come to us.

Well, that was an understatement. As soon as we stepped into the enclosed area, we were suddenly swarmed by the birds landing on all parts of our bodies. My mom suddenly looked like some strange bird lady with birds even on her head. My boys were in shock as the birds landed on their baseball hats, their hoods, their shoulders and arms – anywhere they could perch.

I was busy capturing this hysterical scene on camera, and had a hard time holding still long enough so the pictures wouldn’t be blurred because I was laughing so much. I think I laughed five minutes straight.

Even afterwards, when I would tell people about the experience, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Another highlight was Kartchner Caverns. These caves were discovered in 1974 and have beautiful formations inside. It was very warm and humid in the caves – they said it was 99 percent humidity – and it felt like it. It was strange to walk from dry desert air into very humid air.

We also visited the Sonoran National Park, Tombstone, Old Tucson Studios, and a fun mini-golf/go-cart place. However, sprinkled in between these great memories are bouts of sickness that my poor 8-year-old endured.

It all started the day my husband was to leave since he was just staying the weekend, while the boys and I were staying the week.

The bad part started when my little guy woke with a fever, but felt a little better with some Tylenol. Since it was my husband’s last day, we wanted to make the most of it and drove into the desert to the Desert Museum.

As we pulled into the parking lot, in the middle of nowhere-land, my son says, “I’m going to throw up!”

This is where it gets ugly. We couldn’t pull over fast enough and with me sitting on one side of him in the backseat, and my other son sitting on the other side of him, he cups his hands and up comes breakfast.

Oh, and this is in the rental car. Amazingly enough, he did a pretty good job of getting it mostly on himself and not anyone else or much of the car!

We had no spare clothing, no wipes, or anything to clean the poor guy up with. So, I went into the museum, got some paper towels, and returned to find that my husband had cleaned the “debris” off of him.

My husband then tells me, “He’s fine, he’ll dry off, let’s go.”

This is when I gave him “the look of death.” There’s no way I was going to make our poor kid march around, even if we were outside, with wet, barfy clothes until he dries off.

I told him and my other son to go ahead, start walking the museum, while my mom and I went to this very small town we found out about that actually had a dollar store in it.

To our delight, they had clothing for him. We cleaned him all up, put new clothes on him, and returned to the museum. To our surprise, the rental car didn’t even smell after that.

Well, this story is getting a little long, so I will add a part two next week!


My step-dad was explaining that in addition to his job at the Red Cross, he cleans the pool in their gated community.

My 7-year-old said, “Oh, so you’re a pool janitor?”