I had booked us a hotel in Winchester, VA which is about a 7 hour drive from Asheville. I figured the trip would take me about 8.5 including stops.
We left at 11 AM on the dot.
That allowed for an hour lunch at a McDonald's Playland as well as some bathroom breaks later on in the day.
For those of you who don't know some McD's have an indoor play structure... and you can actually use the McD's trip planner to find them along your route. The Playland stop is key for many reasons. #1 They have changing tables in their bathrooms. #2 The kids are happy to eat there and it doesn't matter if they are loud. #3 They can play and get tons of physical exercise in; no matter the weather. These are all important on a long road trip. I don't want to eat at McDonalds three times a day but I will if I have to. I try to map these out as a back up plan just in case we can't find anything better along the way.
We made it to our McDonald's and spent about an hour there then loaded back up.
Of course I had to pee about 30 minutes later, so that was another stop. The kids got out and ran along the rest stop's paths for about 15 minutes. Kid sat on the toilet but due to her public restroom phobia (loud automatic flushing and hand dryers not germs) she couldn't go. Baby peed in her diaper as soon as we got back to the car so after all potty time I still had to change her on my partially reclined seat.
The kids did great. Really great. It was harder on me because I was bored out of my mind. In order for the kids to watch their movies (key to Baby doing "really great") I have to listen to them. The kids aren't old enough to tolerate headphones yet and unfortunately for me Sleeping Beauty and Blues Clues lack a little something when you can't see them. I also hate talking on the phone while driving and so... 7 hours of listening to Baby singing and chanting loudly throughout every movie is kind of... well... grating.
Around 4 I was looking for a place to grab my daily coffee. Of course, wouldn't you know, that that would coincide with a random long stretch of serviceless highway. Around 5 I finally got off. Got some gas, loaded up the snacks and headed into yet another McDonald's for a coffee and some chocolate milk. Kid refused to use the toilet... Baby insisted on touching the toilet and so we all had to wash up and then they both refused to use the blow dryers. That's when baby saw a crumpled up piece of used toilet paper in a stall, ran in, and dried her hands on it. Fantastic. So another round of washing and then we finally ordered our drinks. Of course they forgot our order and after waiting for some unseemly amount of time while Baby rolled around on the floor and practically made out with the tiles (so much for the washing of hands) they finally gave them to us.
We got in the car. Baby couldn't find her pacie. We're down to two for the trip so that was not good. I actually (don't call the cops) left them in the car in the parking lot (I had already buckled them in and was not about to take them out again) and ran back in and all through the restaurant and bathrooms... no dice.
So, all in all, that pit stop added another, unplanned for and unnecessary, 30 minutes on to our trip.
We had about 2 hours left to go.
Things we're going pretty well again.
When we were about an hour from our hotel and I had just finished this...
We ran into this...
People, there was an accident about 1/8 of mile ahead of me on the highway. About 5 seconds before we got there a car ran off the road and burst into flames. An 1/8 of a mile beyond the accident was the next rest stop. I sat there wondering how long before I had to take off my underwear and put on one of Baby's diapers (I'm not kidding). There were miles of cars and trucks lined up behind us so it's not like I could just pee on the side of the road. The kids were happily enjoying The Little Mermaid. I was tired and ready to get this day over with. At least I was able to get out and stretch for awhile. During this time I decided that next time I'm going to plan my trip for no more than 6 hours of driving just to take this kind of thing into account. While I can handle 7... I really can't handle 8... by myself... with absolutely no help... with the sun setting into my rearview mirrors. Because it's not like when I finally get out of the car I'm not still on duty for the rest of the freaking night.
About 30 minutes later (surprisingly fast) we started to move and I drove straight to the rest stop like 95% of the cars around me.
60 minutes later we finally got off the highway. We were hungry. It was now 8 PM. I was truthfully right about where I would have need to pull over even if we hadn't gotten to our destination. I saw a sign for Outback and we drove straight there.
The kids enjoyed it.
I was happy to be at a nicer restaurant (well comparatively). They actually both ate decent dinners. I let Baby hang out under the table... whatever... it can't be worse than the McDonald's floor. We even ordered dessert.
They sprinkled Meth on Baby's.
We got to our hotel around 9 and planned to check in and go swimming. Our hotel is really, really, nice. It's a new Courtyard and the bed is fantastic. The kids ran in our room and Kid called out "Hey Mom! There is a shower!!" And as if it couldn't get any better "The toilet paper is folded in a triangle!!". See? It's fancy here.
But within a minute I realized I had a problem on my hands. Baby. She was really out of her mind. She was yelling everything and running and jumping and... well... I'm always paranoid about disturbing others. It was really stressing me out. I told her we weren't allowed to run or jump. Baby doesn't really know how to locomote without running or jumping so I might as well have asked her not to breathe. When I tried to hold her down in hopes of settling her she just started screaming and then started banging against the walls. I decided running and jumping was better and released her.
We went swimming. The pool was clean... and... had towels! I was hoping that the exercise would run them down a bit.
I realized for Baby, who is really physical, I need to make more playground pit stops during our drives. She is great at holding it together while she's in the car... but... once you let her out she's totally out of control as she tries to release all that pent up energy.
In the pool she decided she could swim. She was adamant and kept yelling at me and trying to get out of my arms. As it so happens she can't. So... that was fun and relaxing. I put up with that, in combination with Kid's insistence that she, in fact, can't swim for a good half an hour before calling it a night.
It didn't wear them out... at all.
Baby was literally bouncing off the walls.
Kid was anxious about sleeping on the pullout bed a good... oh... 1.5 feet away from my bed.
I'd try in vain to
You know it's kind of cute to listen to a two year old screaming out the lyrics to "Somewhere Out There"... but not so much at 11:45 PM.
After lying with them both, separately, ... while silently screaming in my head... they are now asleep.
And I can't wait for tomorrow when I get to do it all over again!!
Thankfully tomorrow is a "short" day and I only have 4 hours of driving (theoretically).