I want to paint a picture for you.
Imagine a small mini-van, circa 2001. Four small children all in some sort of child safety restraint device. Black bags containing clothing, shoes, accessories, entertainment, in every available void. Two adults haggard and weary in the front seat. Pillows, pillow pets, and sleeping bags.
Is this family going camping? Is this family living in their van? Is this family going on a long vacation?
No, this family is going to drive cross country (in all fairness from the middle to the edge)!
As we planned our route we had two choices, long or short. What do you think we choose? Of course, we took the long route. That is the way we roll around here. We don't do anything fast and easy.
We decided to take the scenic route and to only drive 8-9 hours at a time with a day to rest. That would make what could have been a 3 day trip a 5 day trip. And... it wasn't as bad as I thought! And we didn't resort to the portable DVD player during that entire time (probably because I didn't mention that we had it in the car).
I wish I would have used some of the great ideas people so graciously gave me regarding how to keep the kids entertained and mark our progress. In reality, I barely had time to think about what we needed to live with for 2+ months. Throwing M&M parties at each 100 mile mark we successfully covered was the last of my worries.
The kids did great. Only once did we have to make a stop specifically for a bathroom break. Of course that would be driving through a state in the middle of a snow storm equipped with only flip-flops because we couldn't bring clothing for every possible weather condition.
We stayed in hotels, ate junk food even though we had brought some healthy foods, drank too little water, started to smell stale, and looked like the crazy people we were at every stop. There is nothing like having to hold all your belongs while you open the door so they don't fall out and then throw them in and shut the door before they bounce out. And the kids, thankfully they don't have very long legs so we could use all the space under them. But every time we unloaded to get into the hotel it was like putting a jig saw puzzle together.
Speaking of hotels. We stayed at some nice ones and then at some less than desirable ones. I have come to the conclusion that our children are spoiled. They have only stayed in Hotels with formal lobbies and rooms that are entered from the inside. I had almost forgotten that some places have an office for check in, and rooms with doors that face the parking lot. As a kid those were the kind of motels we stayed at if we were lucky enough to go on vacation or unlucky enough to drive cross country.
My DrH took time off (which is why he didn't have time off to help us pack up, etc) so that he could drive us out. We pulled in late on Tuesday night and he was on a flight the next morning. He has plans to fly down for a long weekend mid-May and then I am hoping to fly back in June for his graduation dinner. The thought of him being alone on that night that marks 6 years of sacrifice and achievement makes me sad - I need to be there. I wish we could all be there.
Now every time we get in the car to go somewhere my kids ask how long it will take. I think they may be afraid that we will be taking another long trip:-)