My mom adventures in Fort Collins

The Great Summer Roadtrip

About a week after all the scary fires around here began*, our family headed out on our biggest road tripping adventure to date. We covered Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

The Road Trip went like this:

  • Saturday, June 16th–head out at 4 am from home, get as far as Iowa City (about 12 hours of drive time)
  • Sunday, June 17th (Father’s Day–HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DADS!)–continue our travels to land in my hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (about 6 hours of drive time)
  • Tuesday, June 19th–Take Cory to the airport (an hour each way) and send him on a round-trip ticket out of Milwaukee back to Colorado where he has to work (boo!)
  • Spend a week and a half with my girls and their grammy and papa in the near-“I’m melting”-style humidity of Wisconsin, all the while enjoying “The Lake” (Lake Michigan) and fun activities that we don’t usually get to take advantage of back home including a quick overnight to Chicago (3 hours each way) and a long weekend at my aunt and uncle’s cottage in Northern Wisconsin (2 hours each way)
  • Saturday, June 30th–Cory returns to Wisconsin and we head for Madison to visit friends, and stay overnight in Baraboo, Wisconsin (about 3 hours total drive time)
  • Sunday, July 1st–Drive to Minneapolis (about 4 hours) to spend a night with my brother, a.k.a. Uncle Jake
  • Monday, July 2nd–Drive a short bit (4 hours) to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where we had the worst Chinese food ever (Why on God’s green earth my husband had his heart set on Chinese food in Sioux Fall, South Dakota, I’m not sure…)
  • Tuesday, July 3rd–Drive the remaining way to the other Grandma and Papa’s house in Wyoming (about 7 hours)
  • July 4th through July 8th–Hang with my husband’s side of the family, enjoy the time with cousins up until the point when they start treating one another like sisters instead of cousins
  • Return home on July 8th (about 6 hours)–Yay for sleeping in our own beds!

I think this brings my conservative estimate of time spent in the car to 54 hours in three weeks time. And our DVD Player broke about half-way through. Surprisingly, the whole trip went very well–with or without the DVD player. In fact, I think only now I’m realizing how lucky we are that things went so well. With a cumulative 54 hours of car-time logged in recent time, here are a few things that I’ve learned for assisting this process.

  1. Have snacks readily available. Bucket loads of snacks. Variety of snacks. Favorites for us are fruit snacks, animal crackers, goldfish crackers, bananas, and granola bars.
  2. Have books, crayons, coloring books, toys, and other activities at hand. I kept a box between the two girls’ car seats that they could reach into. We also had great lucks with those silly little lap-tops (we just have cheap-os from the junk store, but I have heard great things about the Leap Frog stuff).
  3. The DVD player helps, but it’s more helpful if it works the entire time. So, apparently, invest in a good one. And always bring lots and lots of movies, more than you would think humanly possible to watch.
  4. Have water bottles very accessible–preferably where they can reach them themselves.
  5. Keep track of blankets (in my kids’ cases) or other loveys.
  6. My personal philosophy is that you don’t stop if you can avoid it: “Make hay while the sun is shining” is the phrase that comes to mind. So, we stop for a decent meal maybe once and  make the most of it: everyone goes to the bathroom, everyone eats, everyone stretches their legs and I force the issue if necessary. While on the road, we look for healthy-options if we can not so much because it’s “healthy” but because my husband and I both tend to feel like yuck after a fast-food meal. I’d rather not have to listen to complaints of “Oooh, I shouldn’t have ate so much” from him or myself.
  7. Get some rest. I let the kids rest whenever, unless I know it’s going to goof them up. For me, I don’t like to push the envelope when we’re driving–we don’t do a drive-all-night deal because I don’t function well during or the next day. To me, it’s worth the money to spend the night in a hotel and (if possible) get a swim and a good night’s rest.

This is not exactly a list of tips and tricks, as much as it is common sense. The truth is the list absolutely needs another thing: Good luck. As any parent can attest to, kids are unpredictable. Whining, crying, sniffling, (heaven-forbid) puking, fighting, sweating, car-mishaps, and all sorts of other things could accompany any road trip. I can say that we were very fortunate to have healthy, generally happy travelers. As with anything, you know your kid. I doubt we would have undertaken such an ambitious trip had we not gone to Arizona in March and spent 14 hours one-way in the car. And believe me, I was absolutely astounded that the trip didn’t completely fall apart along with the DVD player. What I’ve noticed with our kids (you may or may not pick up on similar trends with your own) is that they do better in the morning, worse as the day wears on. Napping in the car works for our kids, but I think the times we’ve asked them to start their bedtimes strapped into a five-point-harness we’ve sorely regretted it.

To me, this trip was worth it. Just look.

Any fun traveling trips from you?  I’m always eager to hear what works for other people. Happy travels, everyone.

*By the way, High Park Fire is contained, as are a few others including the nationally televised Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. There are still more wildfires burning in Wyoming that we could smell when visiting my in-laws. And, sadly, around here we’ve received a fair amount of rain now, so many fire vicitms are now dealing with flooding and mudslides.


4 Comments so far
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Sounds like a great trip! Even if you did lose the DVD player. I’d love to take a trip out west one day.

Comment by the domestic fringe

You’re so sweet to comment, we did indeed survive without the DVD player. Who knew? And, certainly, there is much more to the west than what we covered, lots more to explore!

Comment by jaymers

So glad your home is ok (re: the fires!) …
Will definitely share these travel tips with my niece (she has 2 under 3 & one due in August) who roadtrips from Mississippi to Virginia to visit the fam – a long journey (we will see her this week – yaaay! : )

Comment by Virginia

Thanks for commenting. Oh dear, if your niece has 2 under 3 and one on the way, she’s the one who should be giving ME tips! Ha!

Comment by jaymers

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