Here it is... a minute by minute account of The Big Trip (that's my solo cross-country drive with 3 kids age 6, 4, 2 for those of you who don't know). An informal survey of gas prices across the nation. And occasional insights into my crazy thought process. Some of it may be boring but you should skim through anyway - there are a few gems and it-could-only-happen-to-Sheila stories.
July 23, 2006 - Day 1 of The Big Trip
2:11 pm - leave home
2:30 pm - leave Starbucks on Maple
7 minutes to the highway
2 girls are sleeping before we even get to MD
2:56 pm - Germantown, MD
I have decided that minivans need sound-powered phones or some other communication device from the middle/back seats to the front seat. I can't hear anything they are saying. This is good except when we actually need to communicate!
3:02 pm - Just remembered I forgot to email Bruce about Nathan's gift
3:03 pm - I think my eyeball is going to explode. This is SO not a stye! Why didn't I pack Motrin? I thought about it but then forgot again almost immediately. I think I have the Wild Bee Fever.
3:12 pm - I-70 West
3:18 pm - Braddock Mtn, elevation 985 feet. Our first mountain pass (if you can call it that!) on our trip.
3:19 pm - see our first State Trooper.
3:21 pm - You know, western MD is actually rather scenic. Who knew?
3:24 pm - dead raccoon on the side of the road. This is the 4th I've seen in a week. Do you think it qualifies as too gross for the kids to tally - total number dead raccoons along the highway?
3:26 pm - pass a broken down ice cream truck
3:29 pm - Pass our first cow farm. Anything with more than 10 cows qualifies.
3:35 pm - Passing I-81. Check the map... where was I supposed to turn? Oh yeah, I-68. A few miles left to go.
3:37 pm - pass huge Lenox warehouse
3:58 pm - made it to I-68W
4:00 pm - Bella is awake.
4:04 pm - another mountain summit. See the first runaway truck ramp.
4:05 pm - Ryan has headphones on. I ask him what he is listening too. He shows me the other end. "Nothing. There's nothing to plug them into." Okaaaaayyyy... may come in handy as ear plugs later though.
4:12 pm - Listening to the Lion King CD after figuring out the tape player has no batteries. The extra batteries are conveniently packed in the back of the car.
4:13 pm - Ryan is pouting.
4:16 pm - Polish Mtn., 1246 feet
4:18 pm - Felisa stirs - everyone hold your breath, maybe she'll go back to sleep
4:21 pm - have a discussion about taking turns with the radio. Threaten them with listening to my music for the whole trip if they can't share nicely.
4:29 pm - Allegheny College of MD - this looks like a nice little mountain town (from the highway anyway). I wouldn't have minded going to school here. Maybe one of the kids will...
4:37 pm - See a "Watch for Wildlife" sign. Will we see a bear, perhaps?
4:43 pm - Big Savage Mtn., 2800 feet
4:44 pm - uh oh. Too much coffee. I really need to pee! And I refuse to stop the car if the youngest passenger is sleeping!
4:45 pm - pass the 2nd cow farm
4:46 pm - Cross the Eastern Continental Divide, 2610 feet. I have never heard of an Eastern Continental Divide before. I thought there was only one, the REAL one in Colorado!
4:49 pm - Meadow Mtn, 2786 feet. How is this pass higher than the Divide? Clearly I have no idea what I continental divide is...
4:53 pm - Ate a croissant. My face hurts! :( Darn canker sore and Wild Bee Fever.
4:54 pm - Another deer/bear sign. Still haven't seen any...
5:08 pm - West Virginia!!!
5:16 pm - 69 miles to Washington, PA. Give the kids a one-hour warning. Ryan says, "I think we can be entertained for an hour".
5:20 pm - darn stowaway fly is buzzing in my face
5:24 pm - Cheat Lake and Fairchance Road - how funny is that?!
5:25 pm - Felisa wakes up. First words out of her mouth, "I'm hungry."
5:26 pm - % grade sign is tilted - does that make the grade steeper? hee hee
5:30 pm - break out the DVD player. Only took 3 hours into the journey to break down and turn it on... finishing Scooby Doo 2
5:41 pm - passing WVU - Allie's old stompin' grounds
5:45 pm - pause movie... We made it to PA!
5:51 pm - man, there sure is a lot of farting and burping in this Scooby movie. Apparently Scooby is no longer as entertaining as he originally was so many years ago so now we have to add body humor. Yuck!
5:52 pm - Felisa is whining... "I want to go home."
5:53 pm - first road construction zone
5:55 pm - very bumpy road - I am quite impressed with the anti-shock technology in the DVD player!
6:15 pm - Dinner at McD's
7:15 pm - Don't ask the locals for directions... spent almost an hour driving around town searching for a playground. Finally found one and it was closed. That's right, closed. With a fence and a padlock. Not sure why it was closed on Sunday evening but oh well. I'm sure none of the neighborhood kids who were riding around on their bikes would have wanted to play there...
7:29 pm - passing through WV again! Exit 5 - McD's playplace so we stop to play for a bit
8:33 pm - gas, $2.95/gallon - another hour of my life is GONE. I am insanely grumpy. Is it low blood sugar? I have a headache, my eye hurts, and it hurts to chew so I'm not really eating. Or it could be subconcious stress about the trip, traveling alone with the kids, just trying to get there.
8:51 pm - pass our 3rd cow farm
9:15 pm - it is officially dark now... not sure we're going to make it to the hotel
10:50 pm - finally arrive, Holiday Inn Express in London, OH
July 24, 2006 - Monday - Day 2 of The Big Trip
0600 - alarm goes off - VERY loud! Can someone please scrape me off the ceiling?!
0615 - get out of bed
0730 - in the car... news on the radio tells of a sniper in IN. Great...
0734 - McD's drive-thru - a lightning bug is crawling on my windshield near the spot that was glowing green last night. Is he looking for his lost brother who didn't make it home and was last seen in the vicinity of my windshield?
0736 - gas, $2.88/gallon and coffee
0757 - finally cleaned up after the coffee bomb exploded in the front seat. Maybe 99 cents for the large coffee wasn't such a good deal after all... And I'm definitely not getting the white chocolate caramel flavor again - way to sticky!
0810 - Bella is asking for a movie already
0815 - we are passing our first cornfield!
0834 - more cornfields... how long do you think the excitement and novelty of it all will last?
0840 - Bella wants a picture of the cornfield
0905 - Felisa and Ryan have been sleeping since Dayton. Can we get past Indianapolis before we have to stop?
0907 - first cows of the day
0910 - Indiana!
0911 - we just passed 10 HUGE billboards in a row for some RV store... they were lining both sides of the highway like a gauntlet. A little overkill perhaps?
0920 - Felisa is awake
0923 - the DVDs have begun... this morning's movie will be Emperor's New Groove (last night we watched My Little Pony and Dora)
1025 - onto I-74
1036 - Brownsburg, IN ... found a nice neighborhood to walk through with a little pond and waterfall
1142 - gas, $3.09/gallon, miles so far today = 183.4, Wendy's for lunch
1156 - after a whiny start, I am now enjoying a blessedly peaceful moment. I am listening to my music and all 3 kids are coloring. Any bets on how many seconds it will last? I'll be generous and say 10
12:02 pm - look - another VA car! Gee, there sure are a lot of bugs on his windshield. Oh wait - there are a lot of bugs on my windshield too that I just noticed. I must've been distracted by all the WHINING in the back. (though it is still quiet at the moment)
12:15 pm - Felisa gave up and went back to sleep
12:18 pm - passed a truck hauling pigs
12:19 pm - Reflecting on how to be better for Felisa ... can't really interact with her or give her things while I am driving. And of course I am constantly asking her to speak up since I can't hear her. I need a driver and a cruise director. It is impossible to do both at the same time when driving with a toddler and a pre-schooler. Ryan is self-sufficient enough and is old enough to play traveling games such as the license plate game (though we haven't played any yet - I'm saving them for emergencies!)
12:26 pm - Hmmm... an empty pig truck headed the other way. I wonder what that could mean... :)
12:27 pm - passed Turkey Run State Park. I remember going there when we lived in IL. A great place for a hiking day trip. Maybe someday we can take the kids there.
12:40 pm - Illinois!
12:46 pm - called Grandma to give her an update on our progress. She has been cooking beef and noodles. YUM!!!
12:55 pm - Bella is asleep too. Darn. I was hoping to stop in Mahomet and show the kids my old house. But is it really wise to wake them when we still have 3 hours to go? Probably not.
1:28 pm - lots of signs along the road for guns save life.com
1:32 pm - Ryan asks, "Why are people so afraid of rats? They're just like mice." I just don't have a rational answer to that one so I won't even try. I'll just say it's because rats are bigger.
1:40 pm - Smack. Thwack. Thunk. The bugs are much bigger and juicier in IL!
1:52 pm - Turning onto I-55S wakes up Felisa. I was afraid of that.
2:03 pm - We are off the interstate! Hwy 136. On a separate note, I have noticed that there are not many trees around here. Lots of corn and soybeans though... And yes, they are soy beans, not green beans. I'm not sure when I realized this - fairly recently I'm sure. I know that growing up, on those many long drives to Grandma's house, I thought they were green beans. After all, that's what Grandma grows in her garden. And I probably didn't even know such a thing as a soy bean even existed.
2:55 pm - Stop in Havana for gas. $2.99/gallon. Asked the lady at the gas station where to find a park.
3:06 pm - found the park! Wow - so much easier than last night!
3:08 pm - Oh wait - it's not 3:00. It's 2:00. I forgot all about the time change. Cool. I just gained an hour. Maybe we'll make it in time for dinner after all!
2:53 pm - Back to the car. What a great use of our "found hour". I was able to call S and welcome her back to the country. I relaxed on the playground while the kids played. No rushing - just relaxing and getting a needed break from the road. While we were there, I was lying on my back on one of the platforms of the playground equipment with my feet propped up on the pole (gotta reverse the blood flow after sitting in the car for 2 days!). Here's a conversation between Felisa and I...
F: Mommy - you sitting on you head?
F: Don't do that!
M: Okay. (while continuing to do just that...)
I feel so much better now. Thank you, Havana!
3:00 pm - cross the IL river
3:09 - Hey! I remember this corner from all those childhood drives. How weird is that! And I recognize it as a corner that says "We're almost there!"
3:41 pm - Stop at Nelson's Clothing in Macomb, IL to say hi to Aunt Lana at work before heading over to Grandma's. She shows us the map of where they are moving to. Northern SC - so much closer to us!
4:10 pm - Ryan's guess of how many miles we have travelled since leaving home = 900 (Was he listening when I said in the store we have gone 900 miles and have 900 more to go?)
4:41 pm - Good Hope, IL!!! We made it!
Mileage so far... 893 miles. Driving time... 8.5 hours yesterday, 9 hours today