I love road trips. Always have. The planning and packing of the car, scoping out new places along the way to explore, finding good local spots along the way to eat – it's almost more exciting to me than the destination itself.
My love for the road changed slightly when Elena came along. I still grew excited as each trip approached, but definitely felt the pressure to plan accordingly versus just throwing a few things in the car and taking off. I made my first trek to Indy from Nashville by myself with Elena when she was just 3 months old. Together we've driven back and forth to Nashville at least 20 times, to each of the Carolinas, to Cleveland, even to Houston. We got around.
Something about adding another kid into the mix threw off my game, though. Other than a few trips to Nashville and Ohio with the entire family, Eli has spent most of his life motoring around Indy. I did drive both kids down to the Florida Panhandle nearly two years ago, but my mom was my co-pilot. It was hellacious enough that I have blocked large portions of the trip from my memory. Let's just say there were lots of tears, and not all of them belonged to the children.
The kid is nearly three now, though, and it's time. Time for me to put on my big girl panties and get those kids in the car and out of the Midwest. I'll do it, and I'll share every gory detail for your reading pleasure, but I need your help. In less than 2 weeks, I'll be packing up the car for a 14-hour road trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We'll be spending a week at the beach with my family, but from Point A to Point B it will be just me and the kids. Mike will be staying behind, prepping the padded room for my return. If you love me, if you love this blog and want me to return with my sanity so I can keep writing, help me prepare for this trip. Specifically:
1. What To Do With The Children: I have the usual – one DVD player, a Nintendo DSi and iPod for Elena, books and assorted crappy toys collected from fast food chains. Elena is pretty easy, but how do I keep Eli entertained for long stretches at a time? I'm looking for toddler-friendly activities that will keep his hands busy. My friend Aimee suggested I just put Jay-Z's "Young Forever" on repeat for the guy. It probably would keep him happy for at least 6 hours, but I would definitely need that padded room upon return.
2. Where To Eat Along The Way: I can muster the energy to get through nearly any situation if I know there's good food at the end. I'll be driving through Cincinnati, Lexington KY, Charleston WV, and Richmond VA. If I knew there was a chance of Jamie Oliver still wandering around Huntington, WV, that would get me through at least an hour of sibling squabbles.
3. Recommendations On Where To Stay: I'm hoping to make it somewhere between Charleston, WV and Richmond, VA without leaving one of the kids on the side of the road. If you've been in the area and you know of a decent place with a pool, or if you have good ideas of how to find the best place to stay, I'd love you forever.
Here's to falling in love with road trips all over again. Or to coming home from road trips in one piece, without inflicting permanent psychological damage to your offspring. Anything in between would be okay with me.