Day One: Just Drive

23 Jun

Phew! Day One of CMRT: Summer 2013 Edition is in the books! Was it exciting? Not really. Do I have much to say here? Not really. Am I going to write about it in excruciating detail anyway? You bet! I’m annoying like that. And guess what, I’m not even going to proof read. At least not tonight. So this will probably be full of errors, of all varieties. Here’s hoping the typos are at least amusing…

Let me start by saying it was a surprisingly great day. Not going to lie, I thought it was going to be a miserable slog. Something I just had to grind through, and survive. But it wasn’t like that at all. The kids were well behaved, we didn’t have to stop very often, and when we did it was relatively efficient. Surprisingly no one fell asleep even once. Except me. Okay, not really, but there was this one point right in the middle of the day where it felt like I might, thus necessitating our second stop of the day for blood flow/caffeine-reloading. And considering how well the day went, I find it utterly inconceivable that approximately 12 hours ago I was in my own home, and right now I’m in a crappy La Quinta Inn on the southern edge of Richmond, VA. Feels shockingly bizarre. As ready as I was for this trip to start, even 600+ miles later it feels strange that it has.

Alright, from the beginning. Last night the kids spent the night at their dad’s house, which was a total blessing. It gave me the afternoon & evening to finish all the last minute preparations (like packing my laptop & Beau’s daily medication), clean my house (I was going to say it was a half-assed effort, but to be honest, it was more like a quarter-assed, or possibly even eighth-assed effort), and just relax. Take advantage of the opportunity to store up some restful good feelings before departing on this epic adventure of closeness with my kiddos. It was nice to get a brilliant night’s sleep without fear of being awakened in the middle of the night. And it was excellent to pull up to their dad’s house this morning where they were waiting outside for me, roll down the windows, and ask, “Anyone want to go on a road trip?” Their loud, joyous chorus of “YES!!!” was awesome. They loaded up quickly, and we pulled away at 8:05am. Only 5 minutes behind my originally scheduled departure time, and off to a great start.

As always, my rule is no movies until we cross the Georgia state line. Seeing as how we live in extreme north Florida, that’s really only the equivalent of a drive across town. And since I do allow them to play with their handheld electronic devices (DS & LeapPad) from the second their cute little butts hit the booster seats, they are immediately happily ensconced in their own personal cones of silence; which means I get to listen to my favorite mix cd, and in less than an hour we’re in the next state. But since I don’t exactly point out the We’re Glad Georgia’s on Your Mind sign, I keep driving, just trying to put miles under our belt before we move on to this additional form of entertainment. Today I managed to get 100 miles in before someone says, I know we’re in Georgia by now, can we start the movie? The original plan the kids had concocted was to watch the Jurassic Park trilogy, but when it came time to start the first movie Beau was so happy playing with his DS (probably because it’s forbidden unless we are on road trips over 2 hours long) he said the girls could watch whatever they wanted. First up? Mary Poppins. And here’s where I sing the praises of my new mini-van and it’s Rear Entertainment System. I have no words for how brilliant it was to pass back the wireless headsets, and then start the movie, all from the comfort of the drivers’ seat, and without having to get off the interstate. There was no break in rhythm, no break in flow. And best of all, those wireless headsets meant that I didn’t have to listen to their movie (though I do love Mary Poppins!) Instead I got to listen to my book on tape (yeah, yeah, it’s on cd now, and I’m supposed to call it an audio book or some nonsense, but I will persist in calling it a book on tape because I’m a dinosaur and I like it that way!) But there we were, churning out the miles, everyone happy, and we didn’t make our first stop until we’d already been traveling for 3 hours and 7 minutes, having covered an impressive 227.3 miles. Only hitch in the stop, it was one of those annoying exits that promises a restaurant, and then when you get off the signs tell you it’s something like 2 miles away from the interstate. Grrrr. Not that 2 miles is more than a drop in the bucket on a day like today, but I prefer 0.2 miles, and for some reason that kind of highway interchange trickery annoys me. But a quick 35 minute total lunch break at a shabby Mickey D’s and we were back on I-95 North.

Here’s the part of the day where I expected someone to fall asleep. I just wasn’t expecting it to be me. I was hoping to churn out another 3 hour block of travel time, but I started feeling really road weary, and for safety’s sake a second stop after just another hour and a half of travel was a necessity. I had to get up, get some blood flowing, replenish my IV of Coca-Cola. The traffic in South Carolina was a bit heavier, and the going was a little slower, so stop two occurred at 335.7 miles in. This stop was a little longer than I would have liked, but I was still feeling good about the time we were making, and since it was imperative for everyone to use the bathroom, and for me to wake the heck up, it seemed a reasonable use of time.

Back on the road, feeling good, making time. That is until I needed to use the bathroom. It really is a vicious cycle. But we had put almost another 100 miles under the tires, and that urge coincided with needing to fill up with gas, so one quick 10 minute stop later we were empty, the van was filled, and we were back on the road. At this point we’re already in North Carolina, and I was amused to pass signs for Exit 61 – Wade. Exactly the sort of road sign my brother needed for his dorm room back in the day, if he had been the sign stealing sort of guy. Which he’s not, just to be clear.

We took our 4th and final stop at exactly 9 hours into our travel day. By this point we had covered 542.8 miles. Which is pretty damn impressive considering that indicates an average speed of 60 mph – including three previous stops, and I don’t drive that fast, at least, certainly not Jen Hughes Manley fast! Anyway, this meant we were only 75 miles away from our hotel for the night, which to my way of thinking meant we had earned a sit-down dinner. Okay, so Cracker Barrel isn’t exactly haute cuisine, but it’s pretty quick, and it cost me the same amount as dinner at any fast food restaurant. Plus it meant I got breakfast for dinner (a favorite of mine). What made our dinner stop drag on for over an hour was the additional stop – a little side trip to the Wal-Mart across the street. I had promised Beau a digital camera so he didn’t have to tote his years old Fisher-Price monstrosity that takes grainy, mostly unfocused pictures. Problem was that my old digital camera wasn’t at all workable (now I remember why I replaced it!), and my parents couldn’t find their old one. So, knowing they now make really cheap ones, I figured we’d pick up one of those. And I won’t have to be all bunched up about the way the kids treat it. Obviously I expect them to take care of it and be careful, but it won’t be mine. And if they break it, so be it, no more camera for them. Only thing I forgot? A memory card. Sigh. Now you know our first stop of the morning before we head into DC…

Anyway, we were back on the road at 6:12pm, and drove directly into our first stop & go traffic of the day. Encountered exactly 50 miles from our final destination. Another sigh. But it cleared quickly, and at 7:26pm we arrived at our hotel. With 617.1 miles traveled, and 11 hours and 21 minutes spent on the road. But it really didn’t feel like that long of a day. The driving was relatively painless, and the stops were unhurried and relaxed. I am amazed. I am grateful. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

As an aside, today was an epic day for the license plate game. Got a total of 36 states (including the elusive Montana), and the District of Columbia. And perhaps one of my favorite moments of the day? When Harper was looking at herself in one of the bathroom mirrors, and she declared, simply and in a completely guileless manner, “I never miss a chance to look at myself.” True, that. But another great moment? During that last hour to the hotel I was listening to music, the kids did not have a movie playing, and Avery, who is particularly excited about the addition of XM radio that the new mini-van has brought into our lives, asked very sweetly, “Can we please listen to the beautiful music of Symphony Hall?” Ah, yes. So, it was on classical music that we glided on home for the night.


Tomorrow: Museums of the DC Mall, and descending upon the Deppes in Maryland…


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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim