I still love the feeling of freedom and adventure I get when I gas up the car and climb behind the wheel and take off for a long trip… even if I know exactly where I’m heading and even if the backseat is full up with the two kids and their related paraphernalia. There’s something about the open(ish, sometimes) road and the truth in not ever being entirely, 100% sure what the trip will bring.
We often drive the I-95 corridor between NC and PA. By often, I mean 3 or 4 times a year. But there is always something different and no trip is the same. My husband and I used to do Indiana to PA and, after that, Illinois to PA before we moved south six years ago. Those trips were longer in miles, but now that we have kids, our trips north take almost as long as those longer east-west drives.
At the end of the drive, we get to visit my family. With two kids who love their grandparents and extended family (2 cousins, an aunt and an uncle, and a menagerie of greats, including great-grandpa), the trip is more meaningful now than before.
Along the way, we try to keep the kiddos happy in the car. Our nearly four year old now understands that she is going to arrive at her beloved Grams’ house, which is a help, but also makes her that much more anxious to get to the destination. We’ve been trying to show our kids how to embrace the road trip part of the process (being as it is a full day up and a full day back).
This road trip’s highlights included taking a break at a Virginia rest stop where we found acorns while we walked around to stretch our legs. We also spotted a blimp in flight over Baltimore, which my husband described to our 19 month old as “like a fish in the sky.” The baby spent the next 10 or 15 minutes, while the dirigible remained visible, saying “ooooh, bish!” and clapping. We stopped at an IKEA for dinner and got the bonus of ‘free kids meals in August’ (I think it officially is just until August 21), but it saved us a few dollars and the kids really enjoyed playing in the kids’ section of the store. The kids fell asleep for about an hour and a half after dinner and woke up as we approached my folks’ house.
Probably my top highlight was that the drive went smoothly, with only a few minor moments of whining and crying (the kids, not us, I swear!) and a mere 45 minutes or so of slow traffic (near the DC area, which we hit right around rush hour).
The kids have loved spending time with family. We still have several legs to our journey. I’m curious to see if the kids continue their good-natured, take-it-as-it-comes attitudes in their car seats for leg two (PA to CT) after the weekend of visiting. Just in case, I’ve packed a variety of little toys, books, coloring books and crayons, activities (like a scavenger hunt and knock-knock jokes) for my elder child, a new electronic game each and some movies.