Hello from Dale, Indiana! Today was our longest day of driving for the entire trip. We managed ten hours of actual driving which translated to a roughly 12-hour day after factoring in all the rest stops required with three little kids. After noting that there were at least six affordable hotel options at every exit we pulled in to the town we wanted to stop in and found . . . two. Eric and I are not hardcore fitness enthusiasts but when we've spent all day in the car we really, really like to get in a swim and a run, respectively. The obviously-more-affordable place offered us nothing along these lines so we tentatively went across the street and found that the rooms were about half price. Amazing! It is very nice to stay in a comfortable place with a chance to work out all the muscle stiffness from a day in the car.
A few observations from our travels today . . . Northern West Virginia is prettier than Southern West Virginia. The ride was pretty today but nothing like we'd seen on previous trips west.
Kentucky is gorgeous. I've been to almost every state that borders Kentucky but never even passed through a corner of the state. We loved driving through the rolling hills and horse farms. We passed an exit for the distillery that makes our favorite bourbon and we were so tempted to stop. But we didn't. I doubt there'd be much for kids at a distillery.
And almost immediately after passing into Indiana we saw a sign for a winery. Oddly enough, we weren't at all tempted to stop and sample Indiana wine.
I know I'm a dork for taking pictures of the state welcome signs but it is hard! I don't know why a sign looming so large in front of me turns out so tiny in the pictures.
My friend Sarah asked how we keep the kids busy in the car. We are far from experts on this. This is the third year in a row we've done a multi-day road trip like this and this year's is much more involved. We are good enough at maintaining sanity all around that we do this every year but there are definitely tense moments. The biggest thing is that we have drastically different parenting standards in the car. I all but ban noisy, battery-operated toys at home but they don't bother me in the car. We pack lots and lots of snacks trying to strike a balance between novelty and healthfulness. I bag them into serving sizes before the trip and the kids can have pretty much as many as they want. I save new books or magazines for the road. I hit up the dollar store for novel and highly entertaining trinkets. We sing, we dance, I act like a total goof ball to keep the kids laughing. William is generally happy if everyone else is happy. Joseph is fantastic at entertaining himself with the slightest occupation (he can draw for hours with a white board, for example) and Margaret requires pretty much full-time attention.
One thing we've found really helpful is to preserve our routine as much as possible. We do family prayer at the same time but in the car. I brought a few school books and we do a short school time in the car. The after lunch stretch is rest time. At the hotel we read the same chapter book we've been using for bedtime at home.
It all works pretty well for us. We'd much rather drive and be on our own schedule and actually see the country than fly and deal with luggage and juggling car seats and getting a wheelchair on a plane. And Eric and I always pack a nice beer to drink after the kids are in bed. So with that I'm off to enjoy a Belgian Ale before trying to finally get caught up on sleep.