Road Trip 2013: Day 1, August 30, 2013

(click here for today's pictures)
14 hours later and we're in New Mexico!

Robby and I didn’t  make our goal of going to bed at 10 but it was nearly 11.  That was about 2 hours earlier than usual so we were pleased.  Whitman stirred at 1:30 to eat and then again at 3:30.  Actually, I just handed him the bottle at 1:30 and he must have dropped it and soon went back to sleep.  That was probably why he was hungry at 3:30. We weren’t planning on waking up until 5 to leave at 6 but soon Robby said that he was just going to get out of bed.  I tried to talk him out of it (not really because I
wasn’t too far behind him)  And Whitman must
have been excited about his first big road trip (traveling to 6 new states for him) because he was just rolling around in the floor cooing.

Robby and I didn’t feel like we had to rush so we just continually kept adding things into the van.  As it stands now, Nonna will have to sit on the roof when we pick her up from the airport.  Juice boxes, pop tarts, bibs (almost taking every bib that I own for my spitty baby)...I guess I can talk about our packing now.  I am sure you are curious just what a family of 8 brings for an 18 day road trip and if you are not you can skip a few paragraphs. 

Starting in the front seat with Robby and me-we have one medium size ice chest with food stuff-meat, cheese, cheese sticks, grapes, dip, pimento cheese.  Beside that ice chest is a matching one containing drinks.  And under those two is a big ice chest filled half with dry food and the other half is our coke storage area.  We also have about 100 DVDs and that many rice krispy treats.  And I have my bag of magazines, pen and paper, candy (shhh) and trip documents.  Under Robby’s seat are two bags to pass out to homeless folks that we made the other day and 3 spare towels.  Under my seat is a huge box of cereal and an atlas. 

The first row is Whitman’s row.  On the floor in front of him is Robby’s backpack with his computer and manly stuff (I don’t really know what makes that bag so heavy but it weighs at least 70 pounds).  There is our large Disney diaper bag which is fully stocked.  It will be used anytime we are far away from the car.  Also down on the floor is a box of diapers for my diaper wearers and my bag of kid goodies/activities/prizes.  On Whitman’s seat is a box of formula and bottles and beside that is ice chest 4.  Yes, we had to add another one the last minute.  This one had the kids early morning milk along with juice boxes.  It is collapsible so maybe we can collapse and store it.  And under Whitman’s seat is 3 bins. This first one has extra clothes for the kids, paper towels and band aids (the emergency box).  The next one is picnic food-bread, chips and all that jazz.  Then there is a smaller one with snack food that I can reach from my seat and finally there is a trash can and my small diaper bag under that seat. 

Second row is Keaton’s row.  Beside Keaton is a box with her toys, coloring book and some of Whitman’s toys.  She has her towel to cover up with and baby doll with her. Under her feet are about 5 boxes of juice boxes.  And under her seat is a bin of extra diapers (can never have too many), a large bin of the kids clothes, a bin containing enough cords to stretch to China and back and finally a refill box.  What is in the refill box?  Well, the obvious things like 5 Flat Stanleys, passport books, masking tape, laundry detergent, candles, a birthday hat-just stuff like that.

The next rows are a bit more crowded.  Row 3 is Anderson and Campbell’s row.  They have a box between them with their toys, pencils, sunglasses, hats and stuff.  Also they both have their towels to cover with and a stuffed animal.  Under them is a box with 4 cans of spray paint.  Yep, you never know when you are going to need it.  Actually, we are ready for Cadillac Ranch on the way back. The second big box of kids clothes is under them with another little bin containing more food.  And finally there is a bin with the kids light jackets stuffed in them.  And as of right now I would be delighted to wear those coats anytime (since it is HOT so far).  Now I know we will probably never use them but after last years road trip and 18 inches of unexpected snow at Yellowstone and me in practically sandals you can never be too prepared. 
And finally the fourth row with Reagan and Graham.  Graham is in the very back corner of the van and seems to like it there-the remote control is hanging on the side nearest him. They have their towels, little animal and the box between them has their pencils, notebooks, toys and other similar stuff.  Also there is a little box with a handle (similar to what I carry my cleaning products around in but much smaller) that we use to pass food and drinks back and trash up.  Under Reagan and Graham is a stroller, Robby’s bin of clothes, my bin of clothes (which is half full of kid stuff-formula, kid medicine, wipes, diapers) and then on the other side is 5 sleeping bags stuffed in a tiny nook.

That is what all we packed-obviously there are a few more things stuffed places like Whitman’s carrier, a ton of magazines, about 20 coke bottle lids for me to work on and now there are also 10 shoes strewn about the car and that many socks. 

Back to the day, after Robby and I had gotten ready and loaded everything else we could think of, we started working on the kids.  Whitman was the first and I put his clothes on and buckled him in his car seat.  Then I went upstairs and started waking up Reagan.  In just a few seconds everyone was up, pottying, brushing teeth and putting on clothes.  You would never have know that it was a bit after 4.  Once everyone was loaded and buckled, we pulled out of the driveway at 4:37.  Before we pulled out, everyone noticed the picture of the van with all of our faces headed towards the state cut outs all around the van.  By the time our van picture gets all the way around the van we will have visited all of the states on our itinerary and will be almost home.  Graham was more interested in his bin beside him and had already opened it and was starting to draw a picture with his notebook before Robby made it to the car.  I tried to explain that it would be dark when we left the lights of the garage and he couldn’t draw anymore.

The kids were quiet but would occasionally ask for a movie but for the most part, it was a quiet first 2 hours.  There was a bit of candy wrappers rattling as I had put their smartie packages from Lilly’s birthday party in baggies beside them so I am sure they are all devoured by now.  Around 6:30, we passed out packages of cereal and then a few minutes later milk was passed to the back.  At 7, we turned on the movie and watched the first few episodes of Duck Dynasty. 

Our first stop was at Sulphur Springs at McDonalds for breakfast.  It was the only McDonalds around and would you believe it had a play place!  Usually, we like the play areas but not when we are on a road trip and have a zillion miles to travel.  We did forego eating breakfast and let the kids potty and then play instead.  Then we just ate breakfast in the car while zooming back down the road.  Inside McDonalds, the kids played, ran and squealed like they had been in the car all night long and not just a few hours.  Before we got back on the road, we stopped for gas and then away we went. 

The kids ate and then we worked on their worksheets for the trip.  Robby has them maps that have a few questions about the day (circle the day of the week, what day of the trip is it, we will drive more/less miles than yesterday) and it has the highlights of the day (places we are visiting and our hotel name-Graham always needs to know our hotels name).  After that I passed out one of my busy activities-putting stickers on toilet paper rolls.  Campbell had to match letters, Graham had to match words, Reagan and Anderson had math problems to solve and put the sticker on the answer and Keaton just had stickers to put on hers.  It kept them quiet for about 5 minutes-well worth it!

The next stop was Weatherford for a potty stop.  The goal is 20 minutes for a stop but there is no way we could accomplish that-8 people to climb out of the car, 10 shoes to put on, 6 people to potty, 2 diapers to change and 8 people to buckle back up-I don’t know if 20 minutes is even possible.  But so far we are doing good on our time so there is no rush.  Robby even stopped for gas because he is already noticing that the gas prices are creeping up the further west we go!

The kids then had a bit of Kindle time followed by a bit of quiet time.  Somehow during this time, Campbell’s seat belt became stuck.  I had to crawl back there (over those 3 ice chests) to work on that.  This wasn’t my first time to do that so far-probably more like my 4th or 5th.  I had to work on that seat belt for about 15 minutes but think I have finally fixed it.  I think that the state picture beside her might just have fallen into that seat belt.  It is working now so that is good.

Whitman is traveling well so far.  He has had a few bottles but has mostly looked at his feet and played with a few toys.  Keaton has been napping off and on and at one time asked if she could unbuckle.  I think she had dropped something and when I said that she couldn’t unbuckle she looked at me and grinned so big!

The next stop was for lunch in Abilene.  Robby thought he had found a place to stop but we drove past something even better-the best Sonic ever.  It had a huge playground (twice the size of the church’s) and even had a sand volleyball court.  We sure did play on their playground without ordering anything!  In fact, we pulled out all of our picnic stuff and had us a big feast.  After pottying, we were back in the car and we were hot, hot, hot!  Seriously, it must have been a zillion degrees out there.  The kids were all red faced and inhaled their water when we passed it out. 

We drove aways watching Magic School Bus and even had squeeze applesauce for a snack.  I believe that most of the Dennies like this squeeze applesauce.  Reagan (my picky one) does not-she said she wanted it in a bowl but since this isn’t the Ritz that won’t be happening.  Keaton’s eyes were huge when she sucked up the applesauce-she had never had anything like that before.  We are just pulling out all of the stops on this trip.

Down the road aways, we stopped at a rest stop and Robby took one crew in while I was getting the others out of the van.  Keaton was with him and he asked if she needed to go to the potty.  She said “momma” so she accompanied me on the next round of pottying.  And that little stinker went potty-all of that pottying work that she has been doing at Grannymom’s house is paying off. 

At 5, we made it into New Mexico.  This is Reagan’s 48th state, Anderson’s 46th state, Graham’s 43rd state, Campbell’s 42nd state, Keaton’s 18th state and Whitman’s 4th state.  Not too shabby at all for my little travelers.  We stopped at a sign to take a picture and stretch our legs for a bit.  Then it was back in the car for more kindle time and more of Duck Dynasty. 

Campbell has been keeping entertained by monitoring the train tracks near the road and thank goodness we have seen a few trains.  We have also seen quite a few windmills and at one point we were very near them.  You could easily tell how large they were and Anderson said “oh, my.”  For the last few hours Campbell has constantly been wanting to know what road we are on.  At first we tried to tell her the name of the road that we were actually on but now we just call out random numbers when she asks.  “701” is what I just told her.  I pulled out the pipe cleaners for the kids to play with and they played and played with them.  I just handed out 3 of them-good thing I have the economy pack!  We will now do pipe cleaners every single hour!

When we made it to Carlsbad, we ate at a burger/ice cream place on the same street as our hotel.  I believe that half of the town of Carlsbad came in while we were inside.  At least 3 people said something to us about the kids.  When we were back in the car, Robby said “I guess anytime you have 6 kids you are just sort of a freak show.”  Freak show or not, the food was good and the ice cream was even better.

At the hotel, the kids were a bit wired-but after traveling for 14 hours, who wouldn’t be.  Fortunately, we were on the first floor so that helped some since we knew their was no one below us to complain.  We were pretty hard on the kids tonight about being quiet so maybe at the next 14 or so hotels they will remember to be quietish.

The kids had baths while Robby ran all of our laundry down the hall.  Then we worked on the kids trip notebooks.  Next up was kindle time while we tried to get the little 2 asleep.  I managed to get Whitman asleep but Robby didn’t do as good with Keaton.  Oh and we didn’t bring the pack n play or bouncy-we are just living on the wild side.  Keaton has practiced napping on the floor but despite our early wake up time, she has had plenty of cat naps in the car so she probably isn’t that tired.  And Whitman has started arching his back and wants to stretch out on the floor so we thought we would oblige him.  So as of now we have 5 kids sleeping and the laundry folded.  Hopefully Keaton will crash-before we do!