We have a nice rainy morning here in Texas that has cooled things down a bit. The girls and I got up, had breakfast and started cleaning. Last week was a low key week, with Katya sick and Papa gone, so we are getting things moving today.
Now, about that vacation. We traveled from Texas, up through Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and then Washington state. I must say that the journey through southern Wyoming and Idaho was a real bore. So, we came back through Montana Idaho and Montana, then down through Wyoming on the way home. This was a much better route and really beautiful, and it only tacked on about 40 extra minutes! The US. is a beautiful country!
I have so many people who ask how we road trip with three young girls and I must say they do really well. One key thing is getting up really early if you are trying to make time. For us, our vacation really starts when we get to Washington. So, we beeline it from here to there. That is three long days in the van.
We pack our suitcases in a carrier on top of the van and then each of us gets a backpack or duffle to carry in for the two nights on the road. Plus, we all share a toiletry case. We also eat out of the van as much as possible. So, say we are on the road by 4:00a.m. (even earlier if you can swing it). Then we stop for breakfast in a nice rest area around 8 or 9:00. After that we have to make stops for bathroom every now and again. At that time Fr. tops off the gas to save time (when your on the road for 15 hours, every minute counts...).
We then stop at around 12 or 1:00 for lunch. If we are coming upon a town and haven't seen a nice rest stop, then we find the local park in the upcoming town (or town square) and stop for about an hour. We let the girls play, we eat and then we all take a walk, go to the bathroom and hit the road again. We've started keeping notes in Fr. Justin's travel log about nice towns to stop in or nice rest areas with play grounds.
When we get to our destination for the evening, we always get a hotel with a pool. Don't unload the van yet though! We have made the mistake of getting the room, unpacking and then trying to get the girls back in the van to go out for dinner and it's not fun. Just try to get three little kids back in the van after 15 hours on the road. It's hard to do. Get the room, go eat (and we eat at a restaurant for dinner) and then come back and unpack and hit the pool. Our kids pass out pretty darn fast.
When we throw them in the van the next morning they are still pretty groggy and very quickly fall asleep for a few hours.
We take lots of fruit and snacks: nuts, fruit bars, etc. For breakfast we have boiled eggs, bread, bagels, jelly, cream cheese, fruit, yogurt and sausage. For lunch we have hummus, tomatoes, carrots, chips, cheese and crackers, p-nut butter and jelly and fruit. Don't use ice bags for the ice chest. It will melt and ruin your food. We use the blue ice blocks that you keep in the freezer. They will last for two days on the road. Do take some disposable table clothes so you can eat and then toss the cloth and not have to worry about it. Do take a few beers so that you and hubby can share a little hops and decompress after being in the van with three chatty chicks.
For entertainment, we let the girls take a portable DVD player, but I will say that it never gets used that much (their choice). We take colors, coloring books, paper dolls, books (lots of books), polly pockets, whatever the girls are into at the time, we let them bring-within reason. We play games, talk, study maps and enjoy one another's company. We talk about geography and history.
I'm telling you it's easy. The girls love road tripping. They love having picnics on the road. They love seeing the mountains and wildlife. Kids are so easy to please and very eager to learn about, well, anything.
Here are a few pics at rest stops and attractions. The girls found a bunch of friendly prairie dogs in Wyoming (Thea reported that they "Just love grapes"). We had a rodeo in Montana, with one cowgirl who insisted on riding her horse backward. And made our final stop at Snoqualmie Falls for a break in Washington before hopping on the ferry for our final destination of Whidbey Island.