I imagined that when I was writing today’s “we finally made it” post I would have some brutal war stories to share from our Georgia-to-Colorado road trip. But the truth is it wasn’t half bad. Granted, Rob and I spent at least half of our non-driving time squeezed in the back seat between Will and Owen so that we could keep the kids entertained or fed, but Owen never had a major meltdown (although now that we’ve arrived he’s out of sorts) and even after day three, Will agreed that road trips are fun. His enthusiasm did wane a bit though over the course of the trip. Three hours in, he announced, “I’m having a nice time.” Today, as we conquered the last two-hour jaunt from Denver to Eagle, he announced several times, “I want to STOP.” At which point, we’d find something to preoccupy him until the complaining started again.
It helped immensely that we got to enjoy two nice visits along the way – one with friends in Russellville, Arkansas, and one with my cousin and his family in Denver. In Russellville, 5-year-old Evan stepped in as our road trip guardian angel when he decided, with no prompting from his parents, to give Will his Cars coloring book as a gift. Will (who is an ardent fan of “cars with eyes”) spent hours coloring the thing over the course of the next two days. Other pastimes for Will included coloring states in on a map when we spotted license plates, playing tottering games of Chutes and Ladders that left me slightly nauseated, reading E.B. White’s Stuart Little, listening to music, singing along as Rob played a half-hour-long rendition of Old MacDonald had a farm and consuming rare treats like juice boxes, lollipops, and yes, Cheetos (which I had never before purchased for Will in his life). Owen meanwhile loved being entertained by puppets and this-little-piggy games and he enjoyed handling masking tape, board books and cell phones (and even managed to turn Rob’s phone on and call a couple folks on his contact list before we realized how proficient he was with the thing.)
The real secret though was making the decision to eat every meal on the road. I figured time spent sitting (which is how we tend to eat) should be time spent in the car. So if we stopped at McDonald’s we spent the full time on the indoor playground moving our stiff muscles and then took an ice cream or some chicken nuggets (more rare treats) for on-the-road consumption. Our backseat is still a crumb-filled disaster zone, but we made good time with that eating-on-the-move strategy and preoccupied the kids for nice little chunks of time.
Of course, we've still got the return trip looming over us, and that leg of the journey -- with nothing but a return to work and life as usual to look forward to -- sounds a bit more ominous already.
(Since, in these times of soaring gas prices, you might be wondering about the price tag for this excursion: We totaled $167.98 in gas receipts for the outgoing trip. And that doesn’t feel half bad after my conversation with a neighboring gas-pumper in the-middle-of-nowhere Missouri. He was filling up his mega-RV, with a trailer in tow, and told me he spends well over $200 per fill-up. “It’s the government,” he muttered. “I guess they’re waiting so whoever gets elected can say they brought down gas prices.” Hmmm, I thought to myself.)