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Pit stops on a monster road trip: How bad could it be?

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It’s 4:30 a.m., and I scan the house for any missed essentials before heading to the garage, where my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Adventure, has the car warmed up, full of our sleeping children, son age 4, daughter age 2, and son age 6 months. If we’re lucky, we’ll hit the Kansas border before they wake up.

Why did we do this crazy-long road trip, through three states, staying in three different places, with a preschooler, a potty-training pre-preschooler and an infant? Well, when you are blessed enough to have a grandmother turning 90, you don’t miss the party! We have known, barring a sad turn of events, that we would be heading to the big birthday party and family reunion for over a year. We had two options: the ridiculous cost of gasoline for the 953-mile drive, or the insanely ridiculous cost of airplane tickets, plus rental car and its gas.

How bad could it be? After all, Mr. Adventure and I have always enjoyed road trips. Back before we were even engaged, we drove across seven states together, visiting family and friends. Our typical stop in those days went something like this:

*Pull off interstate and stop at gas station.
*Mr. Adventure pumps gas, squeegees windows.
*I run inside, hitting the ladies’ and buying road snacks.
*I come out, stash said snacks, and finish pumping gas while he heads inside to use the restroom.
*He comes back, we take off, eating while we drive.
Total time: 15 minutes, max!

Now we try to get on the road super early, because the longer the kids sleep in the car, the more ground we cover before we have to stop. And stops are agonizing. One went like this:

*Pull off and stop at the Golden Arches.
*We all pile out not forgetting the diaper bag.
*Mr. Adventure takes oldest son potty, I take daughter potty, and change infant.
*We pick a table, he goes to order for us, I immediately take out my nursing drape and start feeding the infant.
*I bat away my daughter – errrr– gently ask her to stop lifting the drape to play peek-a-boo with the infant. Infant laughs and dribbles milk all over me.
*Son bounces in the booth. He falls out of the booth in front of another patron carrying a huge tray of food. I flash half the restaurant grabbing him to keep him from getting covered in french fries. (Uh, disaster averted?)
*Mr. Adventure returns with the food, divvies it up for everyone.
*Son and daughter eat at their normal pace, which is glacial.
*I scarf down my sandwich, burp infant.
*I stand infant up on my lap and let him stretch while Mr. Adventure takes the older two to the play place.
*We let them play for 15 minutes.
*We ask them to come down. Only son comes down.
*Mr. Adventure climbs into play place to retrieve daughter.
*I take the older two to the potty one more time (daughter refuses to go).
*We load everyone into car.
*I switch out movies in the DVD player, put away the toys they’ve had all morning, and bring out a couple “new�? ones.
*We pull onto the interstate.
*Take off down the road, get off at next exit because we forgot to get gas at the last stop.
*Mr. Adventure pumps gas while I try to get daughter to go potty again. She refuses. Son protests loudly about not getting out of the car. Get back on the road.
*Ten miles later, pull off at “no services” exit because daughter now proclaims her need to go potty.
*Whip out emergency “camping potty” in a farm equipment dealership parking lot, let daughter go potty.
*Despite being HIGHLY annoyed with her, cheer loudly because her underwear is still dry.

Total time: 95 minutes

This is how an eight-hour drive turns into a twelve hour one. Yet, we made it without accidents of the vehicular or underwear sort. And it was worth the two days driving there and the two days driving home to watch the kids play around Mr. Adventure’s grandma, giving her hugs and kisses with the phrase “I love you, Great-grandma” tripping off their lips. It was worth every frayed nerve and early gray hair.

Still, when my normally-happy-go-lucky infant was crying just at the sight of his carseat by the last day of driving, I could totally sympathize with him.

Did you take any big trips with your kids this summer?

Guest blogger Kagey is a mom of three living in southeast Centennial with her husband, Mr. Adventure and her dog.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Catherine Dix July 3, 2008

    We try to keep road trips to a minimum because my two youngest children can’t hold down their cookies for more than fifteen minutes into a drive, any ol’ drive. It makes for a long, stinky, miserable experience.

    And I’m so happy that you were able to make the 90th birthday party!!! My gramps turned 90 in April and it still makes my heart hurt that I wasn’t able to make it.

  • comment avatar Landry Smith July 3, 2008

    I don’t take long trips with my kids, so that’s how I keep it from being miserable! We fly a lot but our flights are usually limited to 2-3 hours, which is definitely managable.

    I admire your courage. 🙂

  • comment avatar Amber July 3, 2008

    You’re not exactly instilling a lot of confidence re: our raodtrip to Yellowstone next month!

  • comment avatar Jen Smith July 3, 2008

    So great to see you with an actual blog post, Kagey! I have enjoyed reading your insights in the forums. You’re a great writer!

  • comment avatar Jen Smith July 3, 2008

    P.S. I LAUGHED about the potty training toddler. I have sooo been there on a roadtrip!

  • comment avatar Kagey July 3, 2008

    You know, only one stop was this bad. To use Mr. Adventure’s word, we recalibrated after that. We never again forgot to get gas, and we figured out what we could do concurrently, like one of us watching kids play while the other went to get gas. I don’t think we ever took longer than 45 minutes again, although we did have two more emergency pit stops.
    Come on, Amber! Yellowstone will be a piece of cake!

  • comment avatar Jody July 3, 2008

    We took our first family roadtrip to AZ last month. Similar situation, our kids needed to meet their great-grandparents. We were insane though, and stayed on the road for about 14 hours. There were so many stops and carseat tantrums, I thought I would lose my mind! Now I know why my parents ALWAYS drove through the night with excessive amounts of caffiene – it’s easier to do that than deal with being tired than to deal with kids that are AWAKE on a roadtrip!

    Jody @ Mile High Mommy

  • comment avatar Melissa July 5, 2008

    We just got back from a road trip. We stopped at Wendy’s to eat dinner, but that was made difficult for me by the fact that I had to go into the bathroom seven times because my two daughters kept saying they had to go potty–they were desperate and their bum couldn’t hold it–and then nothing would happen. But since we touched the potty, we all had to wash our hands anyway. Repeat twice with each daugher and change the baby’s diaper inbetween. I spent more time in the bathroom than eating my food, which is why I was the last one done.

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