Well, we're back home. Saturday we spent the whole day hanging with my Uncle and his family in Phoenix. Usually the only times we see them are when they come to CA, so it was nice to get to see them in their world for a while. My cousins are growing up fast, and they're three great kids, so it was a lot of fun getting caught up on their lives.
Sunday was the uneventful but pallatable drive back home.
My recommendation for anyone looking down the barrel of a long roadtrip: Books on Tape/CD.
This is the absolute best way to dispense with dozens of hours on the road. Even if its a book you've already read, or a movie you've already seen, just having a narrative you can pay a little attention to makes the drive so much easier. Its less troublesome than trying to find (and keep) a talk radio station, and lasts a lot longer. We first figured this out after buying an abridged recording of Jurassic Park coming back from Vegas one time. Despite the crushing holiday traffic, the drive just seemed easier somehow. Now we never take long roadtrips without something in the arsenal.
This trip was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which was selected as much for its great length (21 CDs) as for our love of the books. Jim Dale has read all of the Potter books thus far and he has a real talent. Its also a real joy to have the continuity of presentation from book to book. Cars put Kimberley to sleep, she normally can't even make a 2 1/2 hour drive to L.A. without dozing, but with the book she stayed with me through the 9+ hours to the Grand Canyon, the short hops in between, and the 7 or so hours from Phoenix back home!
I also highly recommend Tom Clancy's The Cardinal of the Kremlin as read by David Ogden Stiers. Its amazing how a book can come alive when read by a really talented actor. Clancy can be a little dry in the first third of any book as he sets up the characters and plotlines, but Stiers ability as an actor really translates to helping you establish characters in your mind. Cardinal is one of only two Jack Ryan-universe books that I haven't actually read in book form, and I may not read it myself, as I'm sure that experience would not eclipse Stiers' performance of it.
Back to the real world now!