Now that we’re all scurrying back into our school routines (or non-routines), I’m going to pause and enjoy that last glass of summer with you. For the three and half weeks that crossed the boundary between July and August, the Ridenhour clan traveled across the country, visiting friends and family in Texas, Alabama, the Carolinas, and many other states between the southeast and North Dakota. We all piled in our little 4-door Toyota Camry, with the 55 pound dog in the floorboard of the front seat. Cozy, and not nearly as uncomfortable as it sounds. At the end of our long adventure, we still felt pretty fresh, happy, and energized, though admittedly our tushes were a bit weary. So how does one remain sane in such circumstances, you may ask? Never fear: I’m here to share our secrets.
Here is a list of things we brought on our trip:
- Approximately 65 books, consisting of around 20 novels for Ian and Eva, 40 homeschooling resources for school planning, and 5 novels for Husband-Jamie and myself, plus the Nook. Oh yeah, and a box of Eva’s books for selling/sharing as we went along.
- A cooler of ice and fresh fruit and water, cheese and crackers, bread and graham crackers
- Travel coffee mugs and water bottles
- Personal computers (one for each person)
- IPod and headphones
- Cell phones for texting friends (and playing speaker phone Magic the Gathering with friends all over the country)
Here is a list of things we did not bring on our trip:
- Video gaming units, like a DS, etc.
- TV/DVD units
- Junk food
- Sodas (see junk food)
One of the advantages of bringing healthy food options on a trip like this is that we avoided that sick, dirty, greasy, exhausted sensation that so often follows a lengthy car trip. We just didn’t feel it, even after our two 17-hour car days. Ok. Well, we did feel exhausted. But not the rest.
I make a lot of room for books on every trip we take, and I picked up dozens more from a homeschooling friend in Texas during the first leg of our trip (not included in our 65 number above). In our trunk there were enough books to fill one large cloth shopping bag, one canvas satchel, one large plastic hanging file box, one large cardboard box, plus a couple more stashed in trunk gaps, and of course the ones we had in the actual passenger area of the car (sharing my seat all the way were What’s Math Got to Do With It? by Jo Boaler and Deathless by Catherynne Valente). Though we never get to all the books we bring, on this trip we cracked open and/or devoured approximately 80% of them. Car trips are great for that.
Finally, a word in support of personal computers vs. video gaming/DVD devices. The personal computers we bring can be used for movie watching (though we didn’t as the screen was too daylit to do it), music listening, and limited video gaming like Bookworm or whatever else comes standard on a laptop these days. But their great strength is that they provide other more creative outlets as well. On our trip, Eva worked on a book draft for a new rhyming children’s book. She also jotted down ideas of other books she wants to write. Though Ian didn’t do it much on this trip (due to a dying battery), in the past he has often used his to compose new songs while covering the miles. Jamie wrote the majority of a new Reggie Spiffington short story (which I’m laughing at just thinking about), and I wrote several blog posts. I also made tons of homeschooling plans and solidified my book proposal outline. We see our car time as a gift.
And of course we also looked out the windows, talked, and played traditional road trip games like License Plate (ours being North Dakota was the most exotic) and Find All the Letters of the Alphabet. We breathed in the mountains, trees, fog, sunlight, and lakes and rivers of Kentucky’s Cumberland Gap and North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. We also spent fun family time helping Eva brainstorm more rhyming words for her story.
The last, and perhaps most important part of the trip was thanks to our fabulous dog, who is 17 years old and sweet as sugar. Dakota’s arthritic hips made us stop the car and stretch our legs every 2-3 hours. That was a life saver for all of us.
For those of you who travel like this, what’s your secret to a successful vacation?