Subtitle: World’s Longest Blog Post! Grab a cup of coffee and your comfy chair… you’re going to be here awhile!
Last week we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime! Well, of their little lifetimes so far. Turns out they are awesome travelers so hopefully we’ll have many more adventures!
Day 1: We left home bright and early Saturday morning and headed to NYC. We planned to have lunch at Liberty Park, but when we got there (after sitting in lots of NYC traffic) it was cold and windy and rainy, which was too bad because Liberty Park is beautiful. There was a nice garden and awesome playground, but instead of hanging out we used the bathrooms, ran halfway out to the water and then decided to head back to the car. Good times. :) We did have fun sight seeing and we all want to go back for a few days. Hopefully a few warmer, less rainy days!
We checked into our hotel in NJ and then we went to Mark & Barbara’s house for dinner. That was a lot of fun. I think you can tell true friends because you can fall back into easy conversation after… umm… many years of being apart! Three years in this case, I think. Barbara made a delicious dinner and we all hung out until late. It was nice to see her son again (all grown up!) and meet their baby girl. I was hoping to get a picture of the kids together, but that didn’t happen. Oh well. Maybe another time.
Day 2: Sunday morning we woke up and hit the road again. Actually we hit a few playgrounds and parking lots as Alan did some work on the car.
The night before our trip Alan and I were doing a final review of the map and we realized that our path goes right through Washington DC. Alan made the brilliant suggestion to stop at the Air & Space Museum for a quick visit. The timing worked out well and the kids loved it. Actually, Eve was pretty tired and she made her way from chair to chair, insisting on watching all sorts of random videos, but I do think she enjoyed it. Then we refueled at Starbucks (caffeine for the grownups, fruit parfaits for the kids) and got back in the car to do a little driving tour of DC. We wanted to show the kids the White House, but we mostly just sat in traffic. That added a lot of time to our day, but the kids were good and we got to see some things. Everyone decided we should come back to DC again soon for a longer stay.
When we finally got out of DC traffic we headed to Virginia to visit Aunt Joyce!!! Yay!
We got there pretty late so Sunday night we just hung out in the hotel for awhile. Eve wailed when Joyce left. It was funny, except it was so late and she was so tired that she fell off the heater and scraped up her back. Poor girl.
Day 3: Monday morning we went to York Beach to watch the weapons ship coming in. This is where Joyce works. We saw this giant bridge open and the ship come in. It was neat to see what she does. After the bridge closed and the boat had passed through we spent the morning playing at the beach. The water was COLD, but that didn’t stop the kids! They didn’t fully swim, but they got half way in and had a great time. Then we walked across the street and had lunch at a Delly (seriously) and then up the street for dessert at Ben & Jerry’s.
After lunch and dessert Alan took the tired kids back to the hotel for quiet time while Joyce and I got mani/pedis. I love sister time. I never quite get enough of it. I wanted to get a picture of our lovely matching nails, but for all the pictures I did take that was not one of them. After that Joyce and her friend Mike babysat the kids at her house (pillow fights and peanut butter on graham crackers!) while Alan and I went out to dinner (Olive Garden and red wine on the deck!). I think we all had a fun evening.
Day 4: Tuesday we packed up again. First we had breakfast at a local pancake joint where we all ate way too much delicious food. Peanut butter waffles anyone?! Yum! Then off to another playground to burn off some sugar energy. Then back to the hotel where Joyce watched the kids at the playground while we packed up and checked out. We had a nice tour of east coast playgrounds. :)
Here is Joyce’s picture. An action shot!
It was sad to leave Joyce, but we were excited to be on the road again and heading to visit more friends!
After a journey through the rolling hills of Virgina we arrived in an even hillier Roanoke to visit Michelle and family! As I said above, true friends are those you can fall back into conversation with like no time as past. In this case it was just under a year, but other than the new house and new state, not much has changed. We had a great visit. Their house and neighborhood are large and beautiful, flowers, sunshine, good times. The kids all played nicely together and once they were in bed the grownups stayed up late chatting. I miss them!!
Day 5: We walked Dylan to the bus stop in the morning (he had to go to school), then the rest of us spent the morning at the zoo. It was a smallish zoo, but perfect for their ages. Everything was compact and they could run around and everyone had fun. By the end they were tired and hungry so we took a quick trip up hill to see the Roanoke Star, then off to lunch.
We got home from lunch just in time to get Dylan off the bus and the kids immediately started playing some more. After awhile Eve told me she was tired and wanted a rest. We largely skipped naps and quiet times on this vacation. I brought her and Caitlin in to watch a show with Alan while the boys kept playing outside. Then snack and everyone back outside. This was fun for awhile until Eve had the biggest meltdown of her life. I can’t say I blame her. She was exhausted and had been holding up remarkably well for a just barely 4yr old. She kicked and screamed and made a huge water mess in the bathroom while I bathed her (she was covered in sunscreen and grime so I forced the bath). I ended up holding her down while she screamed for awhile, then she relaxed and I sang to her and she fell asleep around 5pm. Guess who was awake at 10pm looking for dinner and friends to play with?!? :)
I took over 350 pictures on this trip (!!!) and yet I didn’t get any good ones of Dylan and I didn’t one of the four of them together. Michelle has a beautiful wicker swing that we found on the second day and I was hoping to get them all on the swing together, but then Eve had a meltdown and that was the end of that. Oh well. Next time!
Day 6: Thursday morning we walked Dylan to the bus stop again and then packed up to leave. Caitlin was also at school that day, which helped make it easier for my kids. Still, it was probably our hardest goodbye. I think the kids (and me and Alan!) could have happily stayed a few weeks. Michelle probably would have kicked us out long before that though! :) Anyway, with chocolate on the brain we packed up, said our good byes, and headed north to Hershey, PA.
Hours later we found ourselves in Hershey, PA. We checked in to a nice Hampton Inn (my favorite hotels!) and walked next door for a fantastic dinner. I talked Alan into sharing a dessert with me, but then we both regretted it with over stuffed stomachs. It was yummy though, dinner and dessert both! After dinner I took the kids to the pool while Alan exercised. We lasted about 20 minutes in the pool before Lex started complaining about an upset stomach. I hurried us all back to the room. I didn’t want vomit in the pool, or anywhere really! I snuggled them into warm pjs and conveniently found Sesame St. on TV. Everyone chilled. Then Alan snuggled with them while I went to exercise and I came back to find them all watching a crazy show about daring feats and acts of strength and people falling off giant mats into the water. They were all riled up! We all had fun. :)
Day 7: Friday morning, after a great breakfast in the hotel lobby, we packed up, checked out, and headed for Hershey’s Chocolate World. This place, I’ll admit, was my mistake. I thought it sounded like fun and the brochure seemed to imply there was lots to do. What I didn’t count on was the crowds and what the brochure failed to mention is that everything costs extra money and is designed to funnel you into the giant gift shops. I think the gift shops were at least 50% of the place. Anyway, we wandered around this place in a state of overwhelmedness (that’s a word, right?) for the morning, finding ourselves standing in lines for who knows what, and listening to dancing mechanical cows telling us that Hershey’s chocolate is mooo-tritious. Riiiight…. I was not fooled. We decided we could each choose one thing to buy from the gift shops. Lex chose a bucket of mixed chocolates which we have all been enjoying, Alan chose fancy chocolate that he did not enjoy, Eve chose a box of kisses which we haven’t even opened yet, and I chose a Christmas tree ornament :) Then we had lunch at the cafe there where I paid $6.95 for PB&J sandwiches that I HAD TO MAKE MYSELF! Seriously. They gave me two slices of bread, jelly packets, and tiny cup of Reece’s peanut butter. Seriously. However, I think it was karma or something because just a few days earlier I was complaining about how whenever you get PB&J at restaurants they put waaaay to much jelly on the sandwiches. So, now I got to make my own.
We left around noon and we were all in a funky, overstimulated mood. Then we had a miserable drive through PA. Seriously miserable. The weather and scenery was totally depressing, especially coming from beautiful VA, the two stops we made were depressing and fruitless… sigh. We were happy to finally arrive in Franklin. It was cold and rainy, but we were there and out of the car. Finally.
We had a nice night in Franklin with the family. Pizza, chocolate, Hess trucks. What more can you ask for :)
Day 8: Saturday morning we got a slow start. It was cold and rainy and no one was eager to hit the road again. We played, and colored Easter eggs, and had several egg hunts. That was fun. Then we packed up and hit the road one final time. We had a great drive home, everyone was happy and calm, and we rolled into our driveway at 6pm. The best part of that trip was that despite the FB snow reports, and the inches we drove through in the mountains, we arrived home to greenish grass and no snow! Whew!
We had an awesome bunch of Easter egg hunts and I have more pictures but for some reason I’m having trouble getting them off my camera. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m posting way to many pictures anyway!
Hmm… anyone still with me in this book of a post? I’ll probably find myself posting other tidbits throughout the week as I remember them. Right now I’m exhausted (it’s 8pm) and ready for bed. We had a nice Easter Sunday (more on that in another post) and the kids were in bed nice and early. Lex says he is excited to go to school tomorrow. Hopefully he holds on to that sentiment until tomorrow, and the rest of the week!
I have one more thought for this post though. I just want to mention that this trip was so great because I had awesome travelers with me! We each lost it once or twice, but overall everyone held it together very well and the kids did great in the car and in all the hotels. We really asked a lot of them and threw all schedules to the wind, but everyone came through and had a blast. One thing that helped was audiobooks. I downloaded a few books from Audible.com to see if the kids would like them. Turns out they LOVED them. We listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, two Magic Tree House books, Beezus and Ramona, James and the Giant Peach, a Magic School Bus book, and Pippi Longstocking. I paused it sometimes to do a review and make sure the kids knew what was going on and they loved them. I’m so excited. Eve even asked to listen to Beezus and Ramona at quiet time today. I hooked my phone up to her speakers and she had the quietest quiet time she’s had in a long time. Who knew?! We had a portable DVD player with us in the car but didn’t use it once, the kids were so excited about the audio books.
Lastly, in case you didn’t get enough pictures in this post, I put all of them up in my Picasa album. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading :)