Imagine spending 24 hours (spread over 4 days) in the car with a three-year old and a five-year old. To most, it would send chills up the spine and maybe even bring a tear to the eye. Initially, Andrew and I had the same reaction. However, it seemed worth it in order to spend Thanksgiving with family. So we packed up the car and headed out.
We got on the road at about 1:00. We got a late start due to Maya’s Kindergarten field trip (Cinderella, Old Log Cabin Theater, awesome). When we finally got going, we headed south through Iowa. Our first overnight stop was Bloomington, IL. I figured that we would do our long portion of the drive first, so the kids would sleep for the nighttime portion of the trip. What should have been an eight-hour drive turned into ten and a half hours, after several potty and food breaks. At one point I wondered if potty training had really been a good idea, these kids have no bladder control. We stopped three times in one hour for Ethan. Apparently he has a bladder the size of a walnut. For anyone that has ever driven through Iowa, one hour covers about three country road exits. We stopped at three consecutive country roads. My sincere apologizes to those innocent country roads. I am sure that Ethan was not the first, nor the last to tinkle on these roads. We got into Bloomington, IL at about 11:30 pm. Thank you Hampton Inn. We had warm beds and free breakfasts.
We watched the thermometer in the car go up one degree at a time the further we got from home. By the time we got to Bloomington it was about 15 degrees warmer than it had been at home. Oh so cozy!
Day two was the shorter leg of the drive. It was more of the same with the potty situation. The kids continued to do well together. They watched several movies, but at least they were not fighting. Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois were very flat. There was not much to see. I was impressed by the farms and the vast open lots. The windmills were pretty cool too. We arrived just in time to avoid a sibling meltdown. Like I said, they did great. However, every kid has a melting point and our butts were getting really sore.
We had a wonderful time with my Uncle and his family. I got to visit with my cousins and their kids. In the six years since the last time we were all together we have all had children, six in total. It was fun to have the little kids together. We had two amazing meals. One of the fondest memories I have of visiting my Aunt and Uncle when I was a kid was the food. That side of the family always comes together over great food. The most memorable part of this particular trip for my kiddos, will probably be that they got to go for a ride in a golf cart around the golf course.
It was difficult to say goodbye, especially knowing that we would be heading back to colder weather, with no extended family. Did I mention that it was over sixty degrees pretty much everyday we were in Ohio?
The drive home was a bit more difficult. Although we not have the same potty issues, the end of any travel seems to be more difficult due to fatigue and the coming down from the rush of an adventure. We did have some rain, but not bad. We considered driving through Chicago and grabbing some good eats, but decided that Chicago probably warranted its own trip. We headed home through Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin made the sixth state in as many days. The kids again, did very well. They were a bit more wiggly this time, and a bit more short tempered but still a pleasure to travel with. We made it to Madison without issue. The final leg of the adventure was from Madison home. That’s about five hours of travel time. I am glad that we did the this part of the drive in the light of day. Wisconsin is a beautiful state. There are rolling hills and amazing sandstone cliffs, not to mention the Great Lakes, which we did not get to see.
All in all, we had a great trip. A great big “Thank you,” to my kids for using their best manners while we were visiting my family, and for not killing each other in the car. We did a ton of driving over the past few days. Maybe all the parenting stuff we do really does make a difference, even though we can’t always see it right away. This trip gives me hope for future family adventures.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.