Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Trip Across the Country

Trip taken at the end of August 2015

The journey across the country. That was a big one. Basically, it seemed like any other road trip (we love to take road trips) only it was going to be a very long one. I decided I would tell myself that I was only traveling to the destination we were planning for that day. For instance: "I am so excited for our trip to Cheyanne, then I am so excited for our trip to Omaha today, ect." This helped and made it so suddenly we were going to arrive at our East Coast home before we knew it. A long the way we had a great time. Thanks to Instagram, most of the trip was documented.

Wyoming is flat and boring across the I-80. No offense but it may be the only part of I-80 that is worse than Nevada. Once we arrived in Cheyanne it was quite beautiful. There were rolling hills and it was greener than what we'd seen in the rest of the state. We stayed at a shabby run down hotel but were excited to have a place to sleep and a shower. We saw a lot of semi trucks. The worker at the little gas station where we stayed was really sweet. She gave the kids free cookies for "Costumer Appreciation Day." Nice.

Nebraska. Much greener than Wyoming and we started to see massive windmills. We stopped off at an exit that had a dirt road going all the way to the horizon. We got out, had a roadside pee and walked down the road. McKay was ecstatic because there was dirt. The one thing McKay asked when we told him we were moving was "mom, is there dirt there?" There was a feeling about Nebraska I really liked. It was peaceful yet a little mysterious. I found myself wondering what it would be like to see a huge twister rip through those endless fields. Then again, I am glad there weren't any twisters! We visited Winter Quarters Museum in Omaha. This is where the Mormon pioneers camped during the harsh winter of 1847.

Then there was Iowa. I felt so far away from home in Iowa, like we had earned our traveling stripes. Iowa was beautiful. The corn went on for miles and miles. All over, there were signs that stated "build in the city, save our farms." I would be interested to learn more about the politics that exists behind this statement. Des Moines was an awesome city as well. Luckily, we were in Des Moines during the Iowa State Fair. This is a BIG deal! We met families who had been going to this fair for generations. It did cost money to get in but totally worth it. We ate at a yummy Mexican restaurant where the staff was super sweet. My Des Moines experience was a sure positive! Right on the border of Iowa and Illinois there is a city called Davenport. In Davenport, the John Deere headquarters has an amazing museum which is FREE and super awesome! There were massive farming machines which had stairs to get up to the driver's seats. The kids (and adults) were able to climb up and sit in the seat. There is a kids area with really fun activities that relate to logging and farming. There is a few simulators where you can operate an excavator (not as easy as it looks folks!). The John Deere Pavilion is a must visit if you pass through Davenport.

Up close at the Iowa State Fair
We found a sign later that said "no swimming" oops

Illinois, don't pronounce the s! It was very exciting for me to cross the Mississippi River but I was not a fan of the traffic south of Chicago. Illinois, in my opinion was more of the same with Iowa, only more city. I liked Iowa a little better.

Indiana: The crossroads of America. It seemed like we had just passed through south Chicago and we happened upon a big sign that said "Indiana." For some reason every state line we crossed the further from home I felt. This was uncharted territory for me. I remember learning about Indiana in Elementary school. I thought it was a strange name for a state and it was so far away, there was no way I would ever see the state of Indiana. When we approached Michigan City, Indiana Sean had an idea. He said "If this is east, then the shores of the great lakes should be that way" pointing left. He turned the car down the street on the left and drove toward Lake Michigan. Because of time we didn't stay long but I snapped a photo of Kayla by the edge. I have always wanted to see the great lakes, and now I have! I am glad that Sean's sense of adventure has benefits.
 Denny's Gary, Indiana

Ohio, well it was pretty cool but I will tell you the one thing I didn't like: toll roads. Man those things came up quick. We were on a toll road (the Ohio Turnpike) the whole was across the state. This made it hard to go and explore much of anything. The exits were all the same service stops with a gas station, Dunkin Donuts and a McDonalds with jacked up prices (the beauty of a monopoly). It was in Ohio that Brody had to poo so bad we snuck in the back door of an upscale hotel, left a treat in the perfectly decorated bathroom and then left before anyone saw us, regular criminals we are. We stayed near Cleveland, which was awesome. I liked Cleveland....good vibes.
 Love when Hotwire lands you in a Holiday Inn for $50....

Then there was Pennsylvania. What a State! Beautiful green rolling hills. Bridges with large rivers. I-80 took us over the Susquehanna River twice. There were a lot of farming communities a long the way. So far, this was the greenest state we had been through. This day was rough. I believe we had been on the road for 5 straight days and the kids had had it. I remember snapping a photo of poor McKay, dirty face, tired eyes and huge crocodile tears. He was so done with being strapped in to a carseat. I got out of me seat, climbed in the back, hugged him and held his hand. Poor guy. We stopped at a rest stop and McKay took his monster truck with him (mistake #1). Then, when Sean went in to the restroom he placed the truck on top of the vending machines where he thought no one would be able to reach it (mistake #2). Well, someone took the monster truck. I hope Karma bites the thief in the butt one day! Pennsylvania took a long time to drive through.

He never lets me take his photo

 The mentioned photo of poor McKay

New Jersey! When got to New Jersey, it was dark. That is the problem with our family and road trips. It takes about an eternity to get anywhere. The biggest danger is stopping. Getting the kids motivated to get BACK in the car after having a short break is nearly impossible. Therefore, when the trip is "8 Hours" just plan on 12. New Jersey was exciting, I felt like I was officially on the East Coast. I take it many New Yorkers don't like New Jersey because the response to my facebook post "we're in New Jersey" came the response "I hope it doesn't last long." and "Oh I'm so sorry." It didn't seem too terrible and we found gas for 2.15 a gallon! We arrived at the Tappen Zee Bridge and were ready with the toll. As we crossed over, there was the city, off in the distance, New York City. Even though you could only see lights it was still exciting. Kayla smiled as she said "We are really here mom, I just saw the lights of New York City."

Passing over the bridge we suddenly entered New York State. We were excited but so tired that we just hoped the sign for Connecticut would come soon. Dark, and much like the roads in New Jersey it really wasn't that exciting to be in New York.

Finally it came, the sign to Connecticut!! We had waited so long to arrive. We were almost there! Even though dark, we could see the trees overhanging the road. I couldn't see the trees but I could tell there were a lot of them. We entered the our little town around 11PM, exhausted. We were really confused because after 10PM some of the traffic lights turn into stop signed by blinking red for one way and yellow for the other way. We were confused but now that it's our everyday life it's not that big of a challenge. It was the end of August and it was just about a perfect temperature outside. The boys were asleep but Kayla was too excited. Kayla walked in to the dim house (with no overhead lighting) and was so happy. She went straight to her room, led by the phone flashlight and claimed her space. We all slept in our room together. We slept good, really good.

There you go, including Utah, we passed through 10 states. If you ever have a chance to take a cross country drive, do it! It was such a blast.

Just a few words of advice is you are going to move your family in a mini van thousands of miles:

1. Pack a bag for each day with a clean change of clothes for each person, including socks, unders, etc. This way you grab one bag out of the car instead of multiple pieces of luggage. Then, when everyone changes, put the dirty clothes from the day before in the same bag and it's then zipped up and kept in the car until it arrives safely at your new home, ready to be laundered.

2. Pack a toiletry bag which includes a pair of PJs for everyone, if you are really careful and you don't have any major bed wettings, one pair of PJs will last the trip! This bad goes in the hotel every night. We literally were able to walk in to the hotel room and NOT go back to the car for luggage. Loved it. Will never travel any other way.

3. Keep activities simple. Crayons and paper were the most popular.

4. We planned for about 6-8 hours of driving per day. This was perfect because when you drive that many days in a row, stamina dwindles.

5. See a few things. You will regret it if you don't. Sean is Mr adventure and I am woman on a mission, get there and don't mess around. We made a good balance.