Friday, January 1, 2010

Over the river, and through the woods...

..and over some hills, through the mountains, through the plains, and 11 hours later, we are at Grandma and Grandpa Lang's house in Missouri.

Since Connor sleeps so well at night, I thought that it would be easier (notice, I didn't say EASY, but easiER) for us to drive through the night. I figured that if we (Dennis, Kelly, Connor and I) left right after Connor's last feeding, we'd be able to make really good time because we wouldn't have to stop to feed him until we arrived at my parents house. Well, I was right in that sense - we didn't have to stop for him. But, we did have to stop to get coffee, use the restroom, and let Echo out. Yes, we brought Echo, too.

Kelly was great. She is never short on things to talk about so she sat up front with Dennis to keep him awake. Echo was at her feet because she (Echo) refused to stay in the very back as we originally planned. The photo below shows our attempt to keep Echo satisfied in the very back of the car. But OHHH NNOOOO...she had other plans.

So, Dennis, Kelly and Echo in the front. Connor and I were in back. Connor slept off and on throughout the longest 11 hours of all of our lives. I can't really blame him, though, because that car seat doesn't look all that comfortable. Thank goodness we didn't have to be strapped in to those things when we were little.

Dennis is amazing for too many reason to list but the one reason that stood out in my mind that night was because he drove 9.5 hours of the 11 hour trip. He woke me up around 4:30am to drive the last hour or so of the trip. In the dark. And the rain. Fun times, let me tell ya.

We pulled into the driveway at my parents house just as my mom was about to leave for work. She usually leaves around 6am but was probably a few minutes late that morning since her two daughters, her son-in-law, her grandson and grand-dog came bounding in the house at the ungodly hour of 6am. Early mornings aren't a bad thing. They are only bad when they follow a night of very minimal, if any, sleep and being in a car for 11 hours. That's when 6am sucks.

You are probably wondering what we learned from this driving adventure. How do I say this nicely...we are not going to do that EVER AGAIN. We vowed to never drive through the night without stopping to get a hotel room or find some way to sleep. At least a little.

Being the experienced parent-with-child-travelers that we were at this point, we decided on the trip home that we would drive only a few hours after Connor had has 7pm bottle, spend the night at a dog-friendly hotel, and then get up early the next day to finish the drive feeling refreshed. Yeah, that sounded great. But, as Dennis and I have learned, the best laid plans never EVER work out as you anticipate.

Around 7:15pm on a snowy December 27th, we gave my parents good-bye hugs and kisses, loaded up the car, and left town. We made a pit-stop right away to get some wine for Dennis (he said that he'd need a glass before bed after the drive), baby food for Connor, and some Red Bull.

Echo and I sat in front this time since my sister wasn't riding with us (she flew home a few days earlier). We drove and drove and drove, or so it seemed. Around 11pm, we stopped in Marion, Illinois and stayed at a luxurious Drury Inn. As we unloaded the car - not an easy task - Echo barked and Connor started to cry. FANtastic. Both Dennis and I were looking forward to going to sleep.

Once we were in the SMALL hotel room, we used baby gates to pin Echo in a corner (we found out the hard way that she will bark at people in the hall if she isn't pinned in a corner) with her bed and covers and set up Connor's pack-and-play. Connor didn't want to go back to sleep. Instead, he thought that crying was a much better option. We bounced, we sang, we rocked and finally begged Connor to please go to sleep. He gave in around midnight and as he drifted off, Dennis realized that he was finally going to have a chance to open his much-needed bottle of wine.

The lights were out and our kiddos were asleep. Finally, a little peace and quiet. I looked over to the other side of the bed and although I could hardly make out Dennis' shape in the darkness, I started to laugh at him. And at us. He was drinking his glass of wine in bed. Under the covers. And in the dark. Man how things have changed.

So, when you decide to travel with a young child, a sister, and a dog, don't ask Dennis or me for advice because we clearly haven't figured it out yet. Or, maybe the realization here is that there isn't an easy way and so you might as well drive during the day so you can at least see where you are going.


Jamie Massey said...

Awesome Story. No-there is NO way to drive anywhere for the holidays that is easy! Ask Chad. We did the "18hourdrivetoNormanOklahoma" with just the two of us and two dogs. The whining he had to listen to was me!

Katie said...

But the memories are always worth it..... :)

Anonymous said...

I was waiting to hear the story. But I knew you were trying to figure how to put it nicely - not "the trip from hell", but it was well worth it to be in MO for Christmas and to make people happy. bam

Anonymous said...

You've just confirmed my decision to only fly to KC for family visits!! Glad you made it home safe and sound.