Monday, September 17, 2012

Finding Joy in the Journey

After a few computer issues last week, I'm keeping my word and starting to share our adventure from the summer.

Here are the kids as we pulled out of the garage on Sunday June 24th about 11 am.  See how excited and happy they are?  Yeah, it didn't last the whole way, but they were actually really good for the most part in the car.
 Our anniversary is June 23rd, and as we were preparing to leave, Brad sneaked this under the visor.  It stayed there until we left to come home--by that time, it had been bonked and bruised and had mostly disintegrated, but I couldn't bear to take it down.  Ahhh.  So cute.
 We only drove to Albuquerque that first day.  Everyone was ready to eat some dinner and get out for a while, and that's when we had our first experience with Golden Corral.  The kids were in heaven, bouncing between french fries and green beans and watermelon and of course the chocolate fountain with delicacies to dip.  On the way out, they each had a cotton candy as big as their head!
It was a memorable way to end our first day.

I had promised myself that I would keep up my walking/running, so I got up around 5:30 and walked around the hotel and up and down the street for two miles before the kids woke up.  I loved having that morning to myself--time to be alone and just think.

This was our first day of really intense distance driving, so I decided we needed to set a routine, even if we were only in the car all day.  I discovered the best formula for these kiddos--While the kids were getting dressed, I rotated dirty clothes to a laundry bag and replaced them with a presorted bag of clean pjs and clothes for the next morning into only one suitcase.  This saved me from having to take five suitcases in and out of the car every night, and when we got to Pennsylvania, I already had the dirty laundry sorted out and ready to wash.  It was a great time-saver, as well as much easier on my sanity.

We would leave around 8 am, after having eaten breakfast at the hotel.  The kids loved eating at the hotel, because they could pick out whatever they wanted that morning, and I loved eating at the hotel because it was included in the price of the room, I didn't have to pack them up and go somewhere else, we could eat in our room, and it was one less meal a day where I had to eat at McDonald's.  Win-Win.

I started every day with an audio book.  We had many to choose from (thanks, Karen!), and we began with The 39 Clues.  Everyone loved that series, even me.  Listening to a book passes the time much more effectively than a movie because you have to think about what you're hearing in order to follow the story.  Often a kid would fall asleep for a little while, only to wake with a jolt and an exclamation of "What did I miss?"  We would then pause the book, catch everyone up on the story, then start in again.

After three hours of listening to a book, I'd try to plan an interesting pit stop.  Our first one was Cadillac Ranch, just outside Amarillo, TX.

Ten classic cars are buried in a row in the middle of a field with free access to whomever wants to stop for a while with some spray paint and a little artistic vision.
 I had forgotten our spray paint at home, but a nice family was leaving and hadn't used all of theirs, so they gave the kids a chance.
 Reminds me a little of the graffiti rock at my high school.
I think they would have stayed there for an hour, looking and marking and laughing.

This one was too funny to not include.

We grabbed lunch in Amarillo and quickly started off again.  One of the most valuable tips I've ever found on Pinterest is this:  Use a small craft caddy to hold kids' food in the car.  It is just the right size for a burger and fries--even a drink.  I found that I didn't want to spend our valuable stopped time sitting in a restaurant.  I wanted to get the kids out, pottied, and then running to burn off some energy, so I broke the cardinal rule of our new Suburban and let them eat in it.  I love how the caddies contain the gooey messes and they are easy to wash out every night.  Well worth the room they take up in the car.

Every afternoon began just as the morning:  a few hours of audio book, then after a potty break and a quick snack and run around outside, we'd all get back in the car to watch a movie before arriving at our stop for the night.  The second night, after driving across New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, we stopped in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Arkansas has to be one of the most beautiful yet miserable places on the planet.  When we got out of the car around 7 pm, it was still 108 degrees and at least 80% humidity.  In my still-inexperienced-with-humidty state, I wanted the kids to go play at a park before we sat even more at the hotel.
 They excitedly ran out of the car to the playground.
 Within minutes, they were all drenched in sweat.
 In just a few more minutes, all were complaining that they wanted to go to the hotel.
I gave in to their complaints (not like I was sweating or anything), dropped them off at the hotel and ran around the corner to a gem of the South--Braum's Ice Cream Parlor.  Just what we all needed--a little mindless time in front of the TV with delicious yummy creaminess in our mouths.


  1. I have been cracking up at your Golden Coral stories. Our kids LOVE Golden Coral too and everytime we go, I just get such a kick out of the thrill they get from it! So funny!

  2. Sounds like such a great adventure.
    They look pretty happy.

    I love the one where the girls are tipping over each other. Hopefully no one was hurt.

  3. We have not had luck with audio books...I guess cause they'd rather watch a movie. We will have to try that one. Glad you are sharing about your adventures. I am taking notes. We'd love to have an adventure like that some time.

  4. Great ideas. I love hearing about your trip

  5. Love the pictures. :) Miss you guys so much!!!

  6. I still can't believe you took this trip on, and you have my eternal admiration for doing so.

    I love reading about it.


  7. NOw I want to go to Amarillo Tx just for that Cadilac Ranch!