So things have been so crazy that I haven't really even blogged about our trip up here. It was hands down the most stress free long distance drive I've made, and we usually drive up here and back to Florida every summer, so we've tried just about every way there is.
Our first few trips, we went the portable dvd players, coloring books, toys, and cooler full of drinks and snacks route. We either drove the 18-20 hours straight through, leaving about four in the afternoon and arriving the next day, or split the drive up into to 9 or 10 hour days. We survived all of those, and I always counted our trips a success.
Of course, without fails, when we arrived at our destination our van would be trashed out beyond belief and we would be exhausted. So when Mara and I started to plan this trip, we changed things up.
This time around, I was a minimalist. Aside from the actual things we had packed for moving into the house in Indiana, we packed very light. I had one small bag for myself and all four kids with our clothes and pajamas, and Mara had one bag for herself and Ella, then I had one bag for my laptop and computer, etc. We both had purses, of course. Ava got a small journal that day that she wrote in throughout the trip as well.
For the ride, the kids were each in a car seat or booster seat and each had a small blanket with them and a small stuffed animal that Mara's husband, Tommy, gave them before we left. On the way to load up, Mara picked up three boxes of granola bars for the kids and a box of Special K bars for us to have as snacks, and a small pack of eight ounce water bottles.
And that was it. No other food or drink, no electronics, no crayons. I thought we might be signing on for a miserable trip, to tell you the truth. But the idea of the disaster zone the van had been every other time we went on a trip was clear in my mind, and I wanted to avoid it.
We drove five hours the fist day, ten the second day, and about four the third day. On the first day, we stopped just one time for dinner, then arrived at our hotel. The next morning we filled the tank with gas and made just one quick rest stop bathroom break before stopping for a late lunch and again getting gas after letting the kids run around a little. We didn't stop again until we got to the hotel. On the third day, we got gas first thing in the morning, then stopped once to use the restrooms at a rest stop and then made it into Auburn and grabbed lunch on the way to my Aunt's house.
I am still amazed at how smoothly the trip went. I have never stopped so few times, had the gas fill ups line up so perfectly with hotel and meal stops, and pull into the driveway with a car that was spotless after we folded up the kids' blankets and threw away their water bottles. On top of the logistical ease of everything, the kids were amazing. They actually looked out the window and played I Spy and other travel games. They told stories and laughed and kept track of everything that happened in Ava's journal. We listened to Adventure In Odyssey (Which is WAY heavier than I remember it!) and talked and it was actually really fun. I really think that the kids and Mara and I will have really fond memories of this trip, and it will be because we simplified things instead of going the electronics and lots of toys route.
And to think, there were five kids in the car! I would take a lot more road trips to fun places if I knew they'd all go like that one did!