"Day 1" finally arrived. Here are a few things we saw, felt, and learned on Day 1:
* No matter how carefully you plan, your plans will change. Jodie and I had talked for weeks about the best plan for Saturday morning. We modified, and modified, and modified again. We ended up with what should have been a great plan. A child having an early-morning seizure just before Jodie was to pick us up was our first departure from said plan. But we "flexed"...the first time of many on the trip...and finally got everything and everybody loaded in the car.
* Do not depend on children sleeping in the car, no matter how little sleep they have had or how early they were awakened. We thought the girls...particularly the little girls...would sleep a good bit of the trip. Nope. They tried to sleep...at times they looked like they were sleeping...but they didn't sleep. We thought this was because they were too excited. However, the same thing happened on the way home. They finally slept when we were less than three hours from home...less than 3 hours out of what ended up being 30 hours on the road. :-O
* It's an amazing thing to drive down the interstate jamming to Guy Penrod and realize that in 30 hours or so you are going to be seeing him in person. Just sayin'! :)
* Jodie is Wonder Woman. And an amazing driver. I will probably say this more than once. It needs to be said more than once. She drove the entire 30 hours herself. And went non-stop in between. She's not only an amazing driver, but an amazing friend. I'll probably say that more than once, too. :) She's just amazing. And she has the Wonder Woman shoes to prove it. :) (Just for the record, I did *offer* to drive. But she never got that desperate. And lest you think I'm that bad a driver, I'm not. Jodie just likes to drive. :))
* It doesn't take much to excite Jodie and I. Or my girls. You'll hear more about that later, too. You should have seen the excitement when we saw a CVS drugstore in Kansas City. We've both always wanted to go to a CVS (not to be confused with the local chain of CVs Family Food Stores...much cooler! :))
* For those of you who have never driven through Iowa, allow me to make a brief Public Service Announcement. If you see a restroom, stop. If you see something that MIGHT be a restroom, stop. This applies whether you think you might need a restroom in the next hour of the trip or not. Because for those of you from our part of the world, where there are McDonalds and convenience stores and even Wal-Marts every 10 minutes down the interstate, let me tell you...Iowa is a WHOLE different ball of wax. You can drive for MILES and MILES and MILES without seeing a sign of civilization, other than an occasional farmhouse in the distance or perhaps a small herd of cows every hour or so. And if you skip an exit with a restroom, the smallest member of your party will immediately afterward announce that she needs a restroom. 15 minutes later, she will be practically in tears. 15 minutes later YOU will be practically in tears. 10 minutes after that, you will take your chances and pull off onto an exit, only to discover that there is STILL no restroom in sight for miles. Then just when you are to the point of hysteria, you will round a curve and see the most amazing conglomeration of chain restaurants and retail stores you have ever in your life seen...like an oasis in the desert. Said panicky smallest member of your party will then announce that the Subway you race into is her "very favorite restaurant in the whole wide world". The guy working in Subway will explain that he has to drive an hour in any direction to get to a Wal-Mart. You will all decide that you could NEVER live in Iowa. Oh...and when you get back ON the interstate, you will discover that had you stayed on that interstate and driven just a couple more miles, you would have been able to drive right into a populated area brimming with restrooms. Ask us how we know...:)
|Gracie's favorite restaurant in the whole, entire world!|
* I know you probably figured this out from the last point, but again, for those who have never driven through Iowa...be prepared. Iowa is mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile of farmland. And more farmland. And more farmland. More on this in the return trip report. :)
|This quaint church was a break in the miles and miles of Iowa farmland.|
* No matter how often or how recently you have checked the 10 day forecast for your destination on a long road trip, the weather is likely to be dramatically different from what you expect. I'd been checking for days, and there was a 0% chance of precipitation on our route Saturday. Just as we got to the Twin Cities metro area, it began to rain. That rain soon turned into a torrential downpour. We pulled off the road twice because the visibility was so poor. As mentioned in part 1, we were less than an hour from our hotel at the time. So close, and yet so very, very far.
* As also mentioned in part 1, that torrential downpour turned into a hailstorm. Those of you who know my children well know that some of them have an extreme phobia of hail, stemming from a hailstorm several years ago which took out the large front window of our house, sending glass all over our living room. The mere mention of hail sends them diving for cover and brings the threat of tears to their eyes. We sat in a convenience store parking lot trying to soothe them and figure out how to get back on track to our hotel when it was over, until we heard sirens. Yes, THOSE sirens. The ones that go off in our part of the world when a tornado is approaching. The ones that every self-respecting Arkansan knows mean "Hit the fraidy hole!" We didn't have a fraidy hole, but we decided that the inside of the convenience store had to be better than the car in the parking lot under a tree. So Jodie dropped the girls and I off and went to park the car, planning to follow us momentarily.
We run into the store, dripping wet, with tears still trailing down some of the girls' cheeks, only to see the proprietor calmly talking on the phone. He gets off the phone and I say, "Ummm...the tornado sirens are going off...?" He replies, in heavily accented English, "Yes, but not tornado. Just hail. Sirens for hail." I say, "The sirens are for HAIL?" We're from Arkansas, and in Arkansas when the sirens go off, that means there is a tornado headed our way." "No, no tornado, just hail. Sirens are for hail." Seriously?? HAIL sirens?? Not to mention the fact that the hail was OVER before the sirens started. They do things a little different up north, friends. :)
* When you've been on the road for 15 hours, any hotel looks wonderful. But I'm pretty sure that even had we *not* been on the road for 15 hours, the Shoreview Hilton Garden Inn would have looked wonderful. I have never been so thankful to pull into a parking lot in my entire life!
* When you arrive at a hotel after 15 hours on the road, you don't look your best. When you arrive at a hotel after 15 hours on the road, the last hour of which included getting out in a torrential rainfall, you don't even look remotely presentable. (That's what I'm claiming the problem as, at least, since Jodie looked WAY better than I did at that point, and she didn't get out of the car in the rain. :)) When you arrive at a hotel after 15 hours on the road with three children in the car, they want a snack, a drink, the remote, and their pjs.
All of that being the case, when the hotel phone rings just as everyone is settling into their rooms and the desk clerk says, "there are some ladies down here who would like to see you," you call your much-more-presentable-looking friend across the hall, tell your girls, "just throw your jackets on over your pjs", slap a bit of lipstick on (knowing that it is really hopeless), and race for the elevator. :)
And that, I think, is as good a place as any to stop for now. :) I started this post almost a MONTH ago...just before we left for Family Camp. Since then, we've been gone for a week to camp, I spent almost a week in bed with a stubborn infection, we had a week of VBS, and this past week we've just tried to stay cool and play catch up. But I am finally to "catch up blog" on my list, so hopefully I'll be knocking out posts like crazy this week! :) That's the thought anyway. So...tune in tomorrow to hear what (or who) was at the other end of that late-night elevator ride!