Sunday, June 3, 2012

Road trip to Michigan...

After 939.7 miles, the boys and I are safe and sound in Escanaba, MI. What an adventure it was traveling through 5 states, with two kids, solo!!! All in all it wasn't terrible, but the boys are definitely glad to be here and not strapped in their car seats. I have feeling the trip back home is going to be miserable!
We left on Thursday morning about 10:30 after all my last minute errands, and making sure things on the home front were good. The first three hours were amazing, the boys watched their movies, slept, and other than an occasional request for another dum-dum, I was able to concentrate on driving as far as I could before stopping. Then the fourth hour set in... hungry, tired boys, and a car that needed gas. We stopped for lunch in Kentucky, along with ice cream and continued on. Thankfully the boys took a good nap and I winced through having to go to the bathroom after my fourth cup of coffee, but I was determined to get as far as I could before the boys woke up. I had originally planned on driving 400 miles, but I took advantage of the daylight and ended up going 567.
We drove through Kentucky and almost through Indiana before the sky opened up and decided to start storming. About 75 miles from our stopping point, we drove by a wind farm with the same type of windmills that Dean has worked on in the past. I immediately started slapping Jaxon's leg, who has learned to completely tune me out and focus on his movies. He took off his head phones with a, "yeah Mommy, what is it?" I pointed out the window and told him to look at the windmills. He was so excited, I think more so because he thought we were at Daddy's and no longer needed to be punished in the van... For the past three weeks, on our countdown to go see Daddy, he's told everyone that we are going to see Daddy at his windmill show, after watching a new show on the weather channel called 'Turbine Cowboys'. He was crushed when I told him that we still had a long way to go, and that Daddy was not anywhere in that windmill farm. I forgot how big they are when you are right up next to them, but even then, they still looked small since I have stared straight up one before.
After we marveled at the sights of the big windmills, we passed another windmill farm, that was much smaller, and were the older latice style. Jax was not impressed with these at all. We finally pulled into Merrillville, IN where we got a rude welcoming when checking into the hotel Dean had prebooked for us. Apparently this city was a big project sight for BP and there were about 2500 men staying there for the job. We were expecting to just check in, and go to sleep, but were only given the option of a smoking room, which after checking it out, wouldn't have been much different then sleeping on a bar room floor. So we cancelled our reservations only to be told that we would have to pay the full price anyways... (don't worry I got it worked out with the help of two screaming, extremely tired babies!) Out of 16 hotels in a 5 minute radius, we got the last NS room at nice hotel, and called it a night. 10 hours on the road had all three of us out in minutes.

The next morning, we started out planning on a much quicker trip and arriving to our Home Away From Home by 2:30-3:00. We only had a little over 300 miles to go, and so I figured 4 1/2 hours and that was it... NOT THE CASE.

I'm certain that the boys were set out to ruin my day as much as I ruined theirs by strapping them back in their car seats. Neither one was having anything to do with the van today! We drove less than an hour and had stopped three times already. Then it got worse! As we were headed up the interstate, we came across our first toll road. Dean had warned me about them, but for some reason I thought they were going to be on the other side of Chicago. I didn't want to risk stopping again, at the cost of another multi-melt down, so I scrounged up the cash I had and just drove... 5 TOLL ROADS LATER... If it weren't for my awesome three year old, I would have sailed through these with no issues, but somebody, ahem, told Jax that if he saved up enough money, he could buy the next Disney Cars car he's been wanting. This has resulted in him "finding" money in every nook in cranny of every home, vehicle and parking lot for the last month. Therefore I was literally asking Jax for money to pay the last toll. When we finally got onto this toll road with five pennies to spare, THEN Jax had to go potty. I wasn't about to ask him if he could hold it, because I know too well that he holds it anyways, and so asking him to hold it even longer would result in an accident. Soooo, as soon as we paid our fee, we had to take the next exit. When we finally got off, I realized I had picked the absolute worst exit to take. No gas stations, no restaurants, just an executive building complex. I had no choice but to force Jax to pee in the grass, which of course led to tears and an all out tantrum only to remember that as soon as you get back on a toll road, you must pay AGAIN... When you have no money, you pay extra... Lovely! The very next exit was an Oasis that had lots of places to eat in one building, bathrooms, gas and an ATM, it was also free to come and go without penalty of paying to enter the toll road. Go figure. Thankfully I had cash now, and only one more toll to go!!!

As soon as we got past all of THAT, Liam was out, and again, I concentrated on going as fast and as far as I could before our next stop. Had Liam not been asleep, I think I would have lost my mind as we entered Chicago. First of all, living in the sticks has completely ruined any chance of big city living again!!! I was so scared, white knuckle gripping as cars zoomed past me on either side. For the first time in a loooong time, I was actually doing the speed limit willingly! With every car that passed us, our van shook and all I could think about was getting in a wreck with the boys, and the thought of the airbag exploding into my nose! After 30 minutes of complete chaos and merging 6 lanes over, I was in a groove with the traffic, and stopped long enough to snap a few pictures of Sweet Home Chicago... :) What a beautiful city, even through the rain! The old buildings on each side of the interstate were breathtaking. I am really hoping to stop in Chicago on our way back, maybe even swing by Cellular Stadium since it's right off the interstate! :)
After the terrifying drive through the city, we were Wisconsin Bound with blue sky's peaking out through the rain! For the most part, Wisconsin is nothing but flat plains and farm lands. Also very pretty. I was surprised though as we approached Green Bay that there weren't more buildings or a big city. I thought it would have a pretty skyline and that Lambeau Field would have green and yellow lights shining down from the Heavens... I'm pretty sure that I saw the stadium, all by itself in the middle of nowhere, but it could have been the Port of Green Bay for all I know... Anyways, not as impressive as I thought it would have been, but also do plan on stopping there on the way back to pick up some Packers gear for a few friends!

From Green Bay, we only had 120 miles to go... Once again, we had about four more stops before we actually made any progress! The boys were beyond annoyed about another hour and a half, but I finally had the right mindset to tune them out!
We finally got to Escanaba at 6:45 pm, which was 3 hours past our goal, and less than half way in the same time!!
Several things I noted on this road trip: 1. If everything I was suppose to learn (and retain) in school were put in a song, I would have passed with a 4.0! Thank you Pandora for getting me here with nothing but oldies, which I had EVERY SINGLE SONG BUT ONE memorized! 2. Lake Michigan is GINORMOUS! 3. A bag of dum-dums last exactly 939.7 miles. 4. My kids hate the Hotyssey. 5. Car seats lead to matted hair balls. 6. Cheerleading ruined my knees! 7. Two days without using a Neti pot sucks! 8. TN to MI is a VERY long drive, but still less than half way to WA, so that will NEVER happen... And 9. Milwaukee is NOT a state (see #1).
I won't admit that I sped the ENTIRE way, but I will say that it's a miracle going through 5 states that I didn't get a ticket! I still have the trip home, so I won't count my chickens before they hatch, but you know that makes for a nice ride! I'm also in love with the van!! Other than my knees hurting from being bent for 10 hours, two days in a row, I was extremely comfortable, and wasn't sore at all!! In past vehicles, even a trip to Nashville ended up with a sore back, so the review on the comfort and seating is a 10+ for sure!! Was also nice having the sunroof open on day one, and getting a nice pink "tan" on my right side!!
I'm so excited for the next 20 days here as a family! The town is very cute and quiet! Today we drove around and found some parks, restaurants and marveled at the beautiful Victorian neighborhoods!! If it weren't for the winters here, I would love to stay!!!
Hoping the next few weeks warm up some. I checked the weather before packing, but got a rude awakening stepping outside wearing shorts and tank tops in 47 degrees!!! I also forgot you could easily subtract 10 for the wind that comes off the water!! I know it would have been a nightmare, but my only regret is leaving Nash at home. Argo would never work here, but Nash would have the time of his life with water surrounding him!!! Maybe next time!!!

I will update often with our MI summer excursion!!! There is a lot to do here, and I definitely can't wait to make some memories!!

Love you,