Have We Lost Our Minds?
Pregnant with our fourth child, my husband has a moment of inspiration and suggests a cross-country family trip during maternity leave.
I had been awake for awhile when the alarm went off. I physically couldn't get out of bed though. Brogden had a rough night. Fussy and sweaty, he could not get comfortable. George stirred, took the ladies to breakfast, allowing myself and baby a chance to rest after a big burp and vomit. These moments remind me that I thought the beignets were worth it. I was able to pack up the room quickly alone and set out personal items.
They picked outfits for the day and George quickly bathed them. Baby took the opportunity to require a bath by peeing everywhere. Now we have one bed clean and one with pee and vomit all over. Guess which one Biscuit wants to be on.
George picked out two places he wanted to visit on the way out of town. Thrift stores.
First one was waaaaayyyy too classy for him and only sold women's clothes. On the way to the next one, I chimed in that I wanted to try Texas Tea. A building with a drive thru that seemed to only sell tea, water, and ice.
Pretty accurate statement. They did also sell snacks, water bottles, and all things Yeti. I selected sweet peach ginger green tea. Added cherries, strawberries, and blueberries as the add-ins. So yummy.
George spied another place called Roasters across the street and retrieved coffees for us. I still hadn't eaten and it was evidently clear. I had been asking for street tacos for a few days now. The answer presented itself in the form of this tiny box.
Lupita did not disappoint on the chorizo/egg burrito and the Clothez Exchange did not disappoint on great finds. It's all about the hunt. George found his 'Texas jeans' and a pair of shorts. We took turns while the girls stayed in the car. I found Brogden leather shoes that I wanted to get before we left home but never found time to. He also was awarded sunglasses because his future is so bright.
Biscuit will have a birthday on this trip and for some reason she has asked for a monkey book bag with a leash. I would have never bought her one except if it was $4.98 in an Amarillo thrift shop. Minnie Mouse dress up doll will be added to the bag for $2.98. I also picked her up a pair of shorts, swim shoes for Bubble, and a skort for myself (Turns out it was a youth girls skirt. Boo. Anyone want it?). I contemplated boots for the girls and myself but passed. Might regret that.
Finally got on the road for real. We had a long 8 hour drive to Colorado. And we chose to add to the drive to see Santa Fe. I cannot wait until stops are closer together. But until then, I can deal with the landscape views.
State line picture for New Mexico took a little forced perspective to turn out. The dry heat is noticeable. George's sweat cools his head like it should. Bubble, always cautious, keeps repeating "it is hot, I will not touch anything metal." Over. And. Over.
Stopped for fuel at the next exit and found a car museum inside so the whole family got out to see.
Make it to Cline's Corner for restrooms, nursing, and stretching. I realize that my talent in life might be having 5 people in one regular stall. Brogden nurses while three potty and Biscuit does her duty of holding while I used the bathroom.
Santa Fe is wild to me. Houses blend well. Almost too well. It is like a Where's Waldo to find the houses within nature. Dinner was the last try for the DDD app. It was good but not worth the time and hype for us. Bye bye, app. I noticed all the picnic areas off the interstate. We both would have preferred sandwiches out there and letting the girls run.
Picked up coffees walking back to the car. Prepared by the world's slowest barista meant twenty more minutes added to our trip.
FaceTime with grandparents and Biscuit has to tell each of them that she rode a trolley. New Orleans has her heart. George stopped to fill up on the edge of town and gave me $10. I was confused at his request- beef jerky? Then I saw the trailer. So doubtful of what was happening in that moment. I fulfilled the order with lemon pepper jerky, in a gallon bag. It was delectable. I was wrong. Thin and crunchy, like a cracker almost. Biscuit, George, and I had to stop ourselves. The sketchy jerky redeemed Santa Fe.
More impressive views. I feel small among the clouds.
Colorado state line was one sign. Passed it. Reversed. Girls got to run, fall down, and scrape legs while George set up for the shot. Biscuit found her monkey book bag. She was delighted and I acted clueless.
George watched storms in the distance. Girls watched Tangled. I watched the computer not upload videos and pictures from Saturday.
Ten minute driver change. George didn't like being cramped in my seat and wanted to be back at the helm. People back where they belong for him to drive to KOA. George called at dinner to let them know we would have a late arrival. Found information taped to the office door for us.
1:00 am select the site. 1:32 am sit in my sleeping bag typing this after girls are in bed. Still have Brogden in the Baby K'Tan. Big Bear makes his grand entrance and Biscuit cuddles him tight.
1:39 am brings a family trip to the bathroom. Bubble is the only one that puts on shoes.
1:57 am George changes baby diaper while he nurses to keep him quiet. 2:28 am finished today's post. All quiet on the western front.
Steps taken: 5,988 + 1,385 (technically Thursday)
Miles driven: 623.4
I woke up with my alarm. Failed to get up at that time. We did get up and in the car only an hour behind schedule. Schedule. Ha. We are on our own time. Breakfast at Boulin Creek Cafe was awesome. Read the food was awesome. Tiny bounced all over the place. Sorry for whoever needs salt at that tables next. I turned at some point to witness her making it her own salt lick. George wiped it off best he could. Girls had a blast in the bathroom drawing on the chalkboard stalls. It was the only time I have taken all the girls to the bathroom and not want to pull my hair out.
Even getting back to the hotel later than intended, girls swam for about an hour. Beach balls from the cousin's party the day before we left are awesome pool toys. And each girl has their own.
George loaded up the car and left out only what was needed to bath them after the pool. These girls are getting good at listening and following directions so bathing them is now a treat instead of a chore. And ice buckets hold the right amount of water to rinse conditioner from their hair. So much better then those flimsy plastic cups.
After baths, Tiny showed us how tiny she is and crawled under the bed with my phone. She documented her own adventure with a video which is pretty cute. And long. Biscuit joined in on the fun and interviewed the tot in a much shorter segament.
A quick rearrangement, trash cleared out, and on the road for Amarillo
George announced that we could pick up more car bagels since we were in Austin. Bruegger's is important enough to look up locations when we left Raleigh. Loralea overheard bagels and it was all she wrote. We had to get some.
George went in the bakery to secure more car provisions and Brogden used that time well nursing. Headed back on the road to find a Texas flag sticker for the roof top box. Internet said it was at a place appropriately named 'The Texas Store' at a mall on the way out of town. Mall map gave us exact location. Upper level outside Macy's. Found the perfect addition to the cargo carrier and a few more postcards. I desperately need to find a pen so the girls can send postcards to the grandparents.
Taking the escalator for the child afraid of elevators brought a ice cream shop into view. Unnoticed by the girls, I brought it to their attention since this ice cream was made with liquid nitrogen. They each selected a popsicle, dug in, and stayed clean! Since they started cooler, they seemed to melt slower. A mother's dream.
Bubble found that her shoes would fit under Biscuit's headrest. Finding shoes at stops is a PAIN. George put Tiny's in my headrest and Biscuit added hers to the Driver's seat. Now for a solution that I have been contemplating. The headphones. Oh, the headphones. First stored at each seat. Lost all the time. I have to turn them on and off each time they are used so I wanted them within my reach. George removed the headrest in front of me to clear my view. Added the headsets and it was golden. Until you barely knock one and they would all slide down. I wanted a pencil to fashion stops for each side where the headrest supports entered the seat. I can't find a pen, do you think I can find a pencil. I have looked for five days. Nothing. So I search the mall parking lot for a stick. Success. Time will tell if this problem is fully solved or if modifications are in order.
Back on the road. To literally cross the road. George wants to try dry ice in the coolers. The coolers stay cold but all the cold water is a pain to drain. Solid CO2 expands when melting. Each cooler came with warnings everywhere to not use dry ice. We are trying the drain plug out on the hard side cooler and the zipper not closed on the soft sided one. I also have the window cracked for the carbon dioxide to escape the enclosed car. Time will also tell.
I am not sure how George bribed Google Maps to stay off controlled access highways but the drive today has some pretty views. Pretty views and little cell signal. I couldn't work on the posts so I took pictures and we watched Frozen twice. Texas is so big that we are having to travel more hours in a day than we would like just to stay on the planned schedule.
I cannot explain how good these children are about being in the car. Brogden was fussy for a while but also produced a huge diaper and spit up quite a bit. I have been advised that it takes up to two weeks to clear the intolerance causing proteins from both of our systems. Each day gets a little better for him. I promise to never knowingly consume dairy and soy again.
Bagels and leftover dinner from Trudy's filled the bellies of everyone in the car except myself. I settled with the leftover meat from Rouse's market.
I like to stop at regional grocery stores when traveling to see all the differences. And to buy food. Road tripping with a family is easier to me with a cooler in the car. Now, we just needed to restock it. Most of the time I find everyone is just as satisfied, maybe more satisfied, with sandwiches in a hotel room than the stress of locating a decent restaurant and children behaving well during the meal.
This is grocery store was clean. I mean clean. With trash cans st the end of every other aisle. There were fun leaf decorations above the produce section and a Starbucks. We did not purchase coffee (Insert shocked face) though it helps to gauge the community. I did pick up some lemon chia seed marshmallows and the makings of trail mix for snacking. Fancy I know. George got ham, three different cheeses, and bean chips.
Continued onto Amarillo singing George Strait every fifteen minutes. And lots of windmills. Windmills as far as the eye could see.
Made it to Amarillo by (1:23 am) morning.
Steps taken: 8,948
Miles driven: 523.2
George pulled off the interstate for gas and ice. The cheapest ice I have seen $0.69 for 8 lbs. We also notice that many people have coolers in the back of their trucks and are buying a lot of ice. Maybe they are out working on oil rigs. I don't know. Just observations.
Circled to the outskirts of the gas station behind another traveler. Set up to sleep for a few hours. It was too early to start the day and too late to find a hotel. Girls were all out and George and I settled in for the little bit of time. Someone woke up and needed to go to the bathroom. I think it was Bubble. George debated on best course of action. Drove to the Whataburger to take each child in for the facilities and brought back breakfast for them. Kept in in the bag for later as it was only 4:30 or so. Headed into town to scope out the Alamo. Easy to follow directions when no one in the on the road with you. Got the lay of the land and decided to find a car wash. Suburban was showing the miles we had asked of it. Do not know if one was closer but we had the time to spare.
Girls and I watched Shrek while George washed the mighty carriage. Doled out the pancakes, bacon, hash browns, and OJ. Searched online for a good activity that opened at 7:00 for the ladies. None. All opened at 9:00, same as the Alamo. Plan was to see the Alamo, San Antonio Zoo, and bug out for Austin. Settled on a trip to Walmart for deep conditioner. Our locks were dry, dry, dry with the traveling. Several Walmarts were around but not too convenient to us at the moment.
Routed to the store without using the interstate per George's request. It was crazy with Upper and Lower Interstates and car zooming all around. Afforded us to see more of the town. I noticed stray dogs everywhere.
Completed walking around the store and finding conditioner. It was quiet in the store. Not the normal hustle of the Walmarts back home, even at this hour. Remember the story about people found dead in the back of an eighteen-wheeler? Yea, it was this Walmart. George asked me why there was live news set up at the end of the lot. Then it dawned on us. Of all the Walmarts in San Antonio, this is the one we chose. Sobering to think what took place just a few days before.
Passed a playground that caught some eyes from the back on the way to the store. We headed back that way and the girls enjoyed running, stretching, and being free. Returned to the car in good spirits and hungry. The split breakfast plate was a snack so many hours ago. Adults needed coffee.
Parked at the Alamo, the only place within walking distance was a McDonalds. Hotcakes and coffee deposited in bellies, we headed back to the Alamo.
No pictures in the church. Girls a little young for the guided tour. Mommy and Daddy a little tired to take in all that took place on that site. Did run into one of my students in the gift shop. That was a hoot to be in Texas and talking to one of my FFA kids and family.
Onto the zoo! Bubble was looking forward to this zoo visit the most after watching YouTube videos with George in preparation. Found a parking spot super close (employee lot, I think) and set up a picnic lunch.
After filling that need we headed up to the zoo. Girls loved spying the large bugs all over the grounds. The carousel ride with choices of all their favorite animals required us to sit and watch it go around thirty more times. Feeding the lorries was a trip. Tiny would not get anywhere near the birds.
Riding the train was more of an experience than I expected. It was a train like Pullen Park's train but the track was long and informative. Multiple stops were available for exploring but we were on the second to last train for the night so we stayed on until back at the main station.
It was waiting for the train that we realized Biscuit's fan was gone. She diligently carried it to cool the baby. It was at the lorries that she went to the bathroom by herself. Those rooms were not cooled so I stayed out of them as much as possible with the baby. We ran back to the zoos entrance and the office called down to where I thought she left it. Nothing. I felt terrible for her. She was so proud of searching and finding that fan in the first place. It broke my heart.
Drove all around Austin evaluating hotels for the night. Settled on one near downtown. It had to have a pool since we did not let them swim back in Mobile.
I bathed all the offspring while George went out to source dinner. He found a great place really close called Trudy's. It was delicious.
Tiny fell asleep with the cheese quesadilla in her hand.
Steps taken: 12,924
Miles driven: 137.9
I woke up early to do laundry for the family. Passing the baby over to a sleeping daddy, I begrudgingly dressed and headed out with a body bag of smelly goods. Spraying stain remover and turning clothes right side out to find spots, I mentally noted to do this at undressing each day. I pushed the quarters in on the last machine and the chimes of CBS Sunday Morning News brought a smile to my face. I was graced with a quiet morning of coffee, blogging, and mommy's news as it is known. Blessings come when we least expected it. Of course I was surrounded by strangers bustling their luggage and dodging each other for breakfast items. I am sure there is no other place that removes personal space bubbles like a hotel lobby breakfast bar. It did not matter. I was in my own world. Attempting to upload photos and failing. Trying plan B, C, and D again to achieve success, moderately.
George brought everyone down right at 9:30 am and we closed down the breakfast bar at 10:00 am. I moved the laundry to dryers and ran them twice. All the girls used the lobby bathroom for racing. Biscuit stayed with me, my constant companion.
Reorganizing the clothes was a pain with four children that demanded my attention. We pushed the noon checkout time to the second. Still took more time in the parking lot getting all the bags back in the car. This had to get better as will did it more..... I hope.
One last stop at Café du Monde for what turned out to be beignets for lunch. Proud parent moment.
Took the long, scenic way from New Orleans to see as much as Louisiana as we could. Had the iconic family vacation sing-a-long, parent-style.
Tried and failed to book a swamp tour. Probably for the best as Bubble was not pleased with the thought of an air boat ride after watching videos.
Our route took us through Houma and let me tell you. They hide money in Houma. Those houses were huge!
Found a market to purchase supplies for dinner and landed at a campground with shelters for picnicking. Girls had fun running for a bit in a setting that was reminiscent of White Lake, NC.
Onward to Texas. Miles of sugar cane lined the drive. Hwy 70 to the beach is lined the same way with corn. Thoughts of home came across in our conversations. FaceTimed grandparents before the girls fell asleep.
Made it to Texas by 9:30 pm and greeting with a work of art for the state line picture. The "Watch out for rattlesnakes" signs sent Bubble over the edge and we had to shine a light on pretty much every step she made. Raccoons wanted to carry off Tiny at the welcome center. She was a bit crazy from being woken up so I found a good place for her while the rest of us girls used the facilities.
All the girls fell asleep and I continued work on the posts. Got quite a bit of writing done. I still encounter issues with photos and videos. Those slow down progress. George has his radio and I read what I wrote to check for errors and to keep us both alert.
Made it to San Antonio city limits at 2:30 am on Day Eight.
Steps taken: 7,203
Miles driven: 577.3
Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Checked the radar. Spotty showers every where means a lazy morning for us. Made it to breakfast, weekends have a 10:00 am end time. Thank goodness or we would not have eaten.
Horton hears a Who was found on the tv and a hangout session in PJs continued while I worked on the site. Finally, everyone got dressed and ready to head out for the day.... well to a Walmart for laundry pods since we forgot them at the Trader Joe's. George took the girls and left Brogden and I at the hotel. He called to let me know when to come downstairs.
Selected a lunch spot on the 15 min drive into town that was also near a spot to buy more one day streetcar/bus passes. There was no price discount from a 1-day pass to a 3-day pass so we stuck with the 1-day passes.
Drove around looking for a parking spot on the side streets when the bottom fell out of the sky again. Secured a spot but it did not matter since we did not get out of the car. There was flooding happening all around us. I have no idea why we ended up at the sea wall but it was closed in many places. George spoke with someone later on the bus who informed him that was not typical rain or flooding and they had standing water to their thigh that morning. Not every moment is wonderful as you can see from the snapshot of us waiting for the rain to let up and hungry.
Everyone was smiles again when we found street parking in front of Mahony's. We took an outdoor table and settled in for a delicious meal and some drinks. Girls shared pig fries and loved them. Biscuit ate the garnish out of George's Bloody Mary.
Next door was a running shop. I peeked in quickly to find a great deal on socks made for the shoes I have pretty much worn every day of this trip so far.
Chose to walk the path of the Magazine St bus towards Canal Street instead of just waiting standing at the bus stop. George took advantage of the extra time we had and visited the fire station we passed. Bubble stretched out on the bus and Biscuit looked out at passing sights.
Short walk down Canal Street to the ferry; Biscuit drug us in each souvenir shop searching for the illusive fan that was in her mind. Empty handed, we loaded on the ferry after a short wait. Took a short walk around Algiers Point and hung out with our waters and daiquiris before riding the ferry back to New Orleans.
Found a street vendor outside the outlet mall and, BINGO, Biscuit located the perfect fan. It was a blue fan with an embroidered flamingo. She was so happy and pleased that she had something Bubble wanted. Bubble picked out a fan for herself back in Raleigh and toted it everywhere. I used it often to cool the baby while he was pressed against me in the carrier, intensively multiplying our body heat.
George wanted to take the Canal Streetcar all the way north to check out the cemetery. We found a car with a/c and I feel in love.
Tiny did not like the graveyard and whispered in George's ear, "No, no, no, no, no!" Our resident cheerleader had to pee again and we were in no man's land for open businesses. Spotted: a port-a-potty in a construction site. Biscuit was carried in and out. Brogden on my front and Tiny on my back, Bubble and I hung out on the corner like nothing was up.
Magazine Street bus took us right back to the suburban. Best part? Parked in an oasis that was free for the whole day.
Showers at the hotel and our sweet girls fell fast asleep.
Loralea woke up me with news that something did happen in the middle of the night. She wasn't scared anymore. I am grateful that she was able to find peace in the quiet darkness. I decided not to push our luck on a bath for her since she still found that scary. Brogden was on point with knowing when each hour passed throughout the night because that is when he would start fussing, right on cue. I waited until 7:30 am to take him to George for cuddling so I could attempt sleep.
George and the girls plotted to strike out to find food and leave me and baby to rest more. Before I got the baby back, George had to change shirts from vomit. He shared that it had some distance so that mixed with how upset he was all night made me question the white fish on my salad two night ago and the cat fish. George reasoned that if I was already 'contaminated' with dairy/soy I might as well eat a beignet. I laid in bed pondering the idea of eating the famous doughnuts and decided he was right. I joined the group in starting the day which snowballed into packing and loading up to drive to the French Quarter instead of walking.
Found reasonable parking near where we wanted to be and suited up for our trek. Brogden has become comfortable in the Baby K'Tan since I watched a few YouTube videos to remind myself how it works. The girls watched Princess and the Frog in preparation for beignets and New Orleans on the ride yesterday.
Cafe du Monde was the first stop for our family. We wanted what they had and it was going on 11:00 am and this was going to be the first meal of the day. The line for table service was moving quickly and it did not take long to secure a table for our crowd. George ordered two cafe au laits, three rounds of beignets, and five waters. Waiting affording us the chance to sit, visit, and take pictures.
Waitress brought our treasure, still hot from the oil. The girls were a little bummed they had to wait for them to cool down. Worth the wait. Powered sugar was everywhere. I am pretty sure I remember one of the girls licking the plate. I typically try to monitor their sugar intake. Today, I practically dumped it down their throat.
Bellies full. We walked out the back way, mulling over buying more to go. Caught sight of the golden pillows being formed and fried. Girls. Had. To. Watch. Which caused some ladies to walk back to see the show through the window. I feel they have unlocked some creeper status level.
On a rebellious sugar high, I decided that I would also eat my beloved pralines. Of course, Biscuit went all creeper again in the window. Bought original for me and bananas foster for George. This is craziness to me. Original is the way to go.
George wanted to see live music while in New Orleans. Little did he realize that musicians played on pretty much every corner. The elders started bouncing around that they heard a 'marching band' so we were off to investigate. Found a small ensemble playing at the north end of Jackson Square. Being the good parents we are, girls got pralines (more sugar) and watched the show.
Always the problem solver, Bubble used the fountain in Jackson Square to rinse her hands of the stickiness. Biscuit checked out the banana trees growing in the park. She had to be stopped from picking one to eat. The adults were researching how to purchase passes for the trolley when Biscuit announced that she had to go to the bathroom.
Made our way back to the market where the pralines were bought to investigate the restroom sign that caught my eye
earoler. Found the public restrooms and gathered we were back near the car. George took the rest of the pralines to the car and retrieved water bottles for all. Brogden and I enjoyed Bubble's company while he nursed in the shade. New Orleans, I can nurse anywhere and nobody bats an eye.
Found a CVS for George to get his meds refilled. They could do it while we waited. Decided to clear out the list of small items on my phone. George needed new socks from his being too low on his heel. They were too low because they were mine. Funny dude. Brogden's rolls needed baby powder. My lips needed balm. Picked up a few quarts of water for good measure. Looked up where to get passes for public transportation. Across the street at Walgreens. Looked like we were going to be spending all day in drug stores.
Passes secured from Walgreens and a map studying session prepared us for the next adventure of public transportation. Girls wanted to ride the streetcars and George got a tip of the only snoball place we needed to visit.
Quick three block walk from the streetcar stop to Williams-Plum Snocones. Smallest box for customers so George stayed outside and the rest of us made our selections. Girls went crazy and chose root beer, George wanted king cake flavor, and I picked mango at the last second.
Caught a ride back, fully loaded with more sweets. If you have kept up, we have fed them beignets, pralines, and snocones only so far and it is 4:00.
Figured we were right on time for an early dinner and trekked over to Napoleon House on recommendation from my friend we visited last night. George ordered a muffuletta, Pimm's cup, and a sazerac before we could get all the children settled. Biscuit dove right into her cheeseburger as she decided it was. Check out her Hungry Girl videos here.
Finished up dinner and decided to take a stroll down Bourbon Street before it got too rowdy. Let me tell you. Drunken souls love the babies. Bubble, being all proper, had some of the funniest looks when she saw stuff that was different than her norm. Biscuit wanted to go in each and every shop to search out the most perfect fan. She never found exactly what she was looking for this day. Girls intensely studied the street performers and attempted to pick up every stray coin they saw. Yuck.
Leisurely worked our way back to the suburban. Parked outside the sea wall meant a few steps to the Mississippi River so we checked it out.
George and I discussed staying extra nights in New Orleans since it was one of the main places we wanted to see on this trip. Bubble was so hesitant about the Airbnb that we secured a hotel. She was pleased with our choice.
Stopped at the Trader Joe's on the way to the hotel for provisions and because they have little carts. Bubble and Tiny danced around the freezer aisle, working out the last of their energy.
Unloaded most of the back of the car to reorganize and get all the dirty laundry together. I knew I wanted to wash here before we left on Sunday.
Showers and PJs and these ladies were out!
Steps taken: 14,325
Miles driven: 16.8
Woke up around the usual 8:00 am but when hotel breakfast ends at 9:00, a little rushing is due. George scoped out the goods and reported back that he was okay with skipping it in favor of finding a little cafe. Carb laden fare is right up the girls alley though. I took the elders down in pjs while Tiny slept a little while longer. She might be tiny but fierce and mean when she is tired.
I am not the only one that swoons over matching pjs. Tiny, Brogden, and George quickly met us and the crowds went wild when there were three. The girls went wild too. Making all sorts of food requests. I was fetching items for 25 minutes before I got to sit down and eat a bowl of oatmeal myself. George asked if I was going to eat a beignet over his coffee. Again. This has been a huge decision since I really, really, really, really want one but it would upset Brogden's tummy. With being on the road, in close quarters, and without my washing machine, I did not know if it was worth it. I shared all of those points and that I was still contemplating the idea.
We had discussed visiting the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile and ultimately decided to press on to New Orleans since that was one of the main stops we wanted to visit.
Breakfast did not satisfy big George; he found a cafe/coffee shop that he wanted to check out on the way out of town. He has been very efficient at finding coffee whenever we are so I trust this will be a good choice. Turned out not only to be the most delicious granola apart from my homemade but they had cake balls for the rest of the family. The girls behind the counter included two extra balls that the girls shared with daddy. George hung out inside for the coffees and I took the crew outside for a table in the courtyard. He overheard the two employees discussing how to present the granola since it is not something they normally sell on its own. They choose well because I was awarded a bowl, a real bowl, with granola and blueberries and sliced strawberries and bananas all drizzled with honey. IT WAS A TREAT! It was also a great place for pictures seeing that it was at the corners of something and George Street. If you find yourself in Mobile, AL, then make a trip to Cream and Sugar.
Onward to Mississippi. Pretty skies and marshlands provided the scenery on the drive.
Girls had just settled in for the ride. Shoes off. Mississippi here. Bubble and Daddy practice spelling. Rest of us are ready to get back on the road.
Brogden was the most excited about the break for Louisiana state line picture. He was getting desperate to stretch. Inside the welcome center, Biscuit charmed the ladies into coloring packets for all the sisters. I lied and said yes we had crayons for them. Wax colored sticks in a car asking to melt. No thank you. Biscuit does love to flip through the pages to tell me the animals she sees. I do not think she realizes they were supposed to be colored. Winning.
Bridges, water, and the Folgers plant greet us in New Orleans.
Found the Airbnb reserved for the night. Girls find great pleasure in weighting themselves. I document to reference for Tylenol dosing on the trip. Fun and educational.
Nobody is surprised when George wants to walk to a coffee shop for a treat. Biscuit has wised up to our parenting style and brings herself a bagel. Just in case we don't feed her. Again.
Bubble carries Bubble when she is nervous. She was extremely nervous about the Airbnb. It was an older New Orleans home and out of her comfort zone. Maybe it was the Princess and the Frog movie from the trip here that is making her think the apartment is haunted with spirits. Biscuit takes a treat. And a knife. Got to be prepared on the streets.
Treme Coffeehouse was a huge hit. Girls got their classic 'wedding cake' snoball, George got 'tiger's blood', and I rounded out the order with marzipan Italian soda sans cream since it was made in front of us. We are indeed an almond flavor family between snoballs, sodas, and car snacks.
George and I ordered iced coffee and tea to go for the hot walk back. Sorry girls, you got mommy's ice. Headed up north of the city to visit with one of my old friends and co-workers. Girls loved their backyard. The Georges loved their swing. Amazon will be delivering this contraption to our house. Bet you five dollars.
Catfish so good you could slap somebody. Children bribed with juice boxes to eat two pieces. Successful gamble. Girls found out they liked catfish and ate more fish then french fries. Legos came out and I thought Biscuit was going to try to move in. Said our goodbyes. So sad but I get to see her at huge work functions.
Made our way back to New Orleans. No showers tonight. I'm counting the water gun fight. Bubble did not even make a fuss but George did sleep in the same room as her. We all fall asleep in our clothes leaving me wondering if I should mail home pajamas to make more room in the car.
Steps taken: 8,651
Miles driven: 281.7
We got the word that everything went well with the surgery and they were on the way back home so we can get quick hugs and be on the way to Alabama. Ride was nice and quiet once most of the children got to sleep so I took the time to write a bit on the different posts. George would stop me to take pictures of sights or engage in general conversation. This KIA plant was the longest building he had ever seen. Guessed it was a mile long with thousands of completed cars at the end of it. It was truly a sight to be seen.
I spent some time researching activities to break up the trip to Mobile for the girls and George jammed out to his XM radio.
The two hour timer went off during a nursing session while George took the girls to the restroom at the Alabama line. The girls are starting to get into the habit of taking the state line pictures and are good about smiling. Most of the time we take only two pictures just for insurance. This one was not the case. Four pictures in and we just called it good.
Driving into Alabama we were treated with great skies which George got shots from the dash cam to share.
One travel tip from George: in order to keep the car peaceful, keep the adults fed. Someone in front of me apparently kept asking for snacks and I would say, "Okay, let me get to a good stopping point," and never get him food. So he took it upon himself to find Alabama BBQ.
He did get me some to try so I forgave him. Not sure if he forgave me. BTW, Alabama BBQ comes with dill pickles if you order a sandwich or a plate. Not something I, nor him, are used to but it works. The stop allowed me to get out coloring for the girls. Fun for about fifteen minutes, then I was driven crazy with missing markers and having to pass around colors.
The aquarium membership saves the day again with FREE entrance to the City of Montgomery Zoo. Nice halfway activity for the children. I wasn't really sure what this stop would bring upon seeing a peacock walk around the parking lot. Not to mention that the ample parking selection screamed the zoo was desolate. We were pleasantly surprised to find a quaint little zoo. Although the desolate part was correct. We had the run of the place. Maybe because it was an hour before closing time. Tiny enthusiastically said yes to feeding giraffes and quickly rescinded when presented an actual giraffe that wanted her alfalfa hay.
Bubble and Biscuit declared it was the best part of their day. They also enjoyed running from exhibit to exhibit without us calling them back to hold hands. The NC Zoo had us spoiled for what to expect for zoo habitats. Other than it being extremely humid to the point of hanging out in the bathroom to cool the baby, it was a fantastic place to visit.
Hot, sweaty, and exhausted people got back in the suburban to finish out the trek to Mobile. George had selected the Gumbo House from the DDD app in Fairhope for dinner. Found the establishment. It was closed. Like closed down. Posts on Facebook two weeks ago. WTF? All the other restaurants around closed at 9:00 pm. The whole city seemed to close in thirty minutes.
Now every soul in the car is still exhausted and sweaty, mix in starvation and you have a volatile combination. It blew up. Girls asked for oatmeal in the hotel room. George wasn't speaking and you know I wasn't making anything better either.
Found the hotel and checked in. George got us out of the car. Didn't lead the group to the hotel room but to a restaurant 'two blocks' away. Liar.
Nothing around us flashed family atmosphere at the time of night we ate at the restaurant but we sat on the street. Characters were seen and I had a fan blowing directly on baby and me. Food was delicious. Montego's was worth the walk, trust me.
Steps taken: 9,489
Miles driven: 341.5
Other than Brogden waking me up a few times, I slept like the dead. The most gracious, bestest, kindness, sweetest, thoughtfulness hostess brought me a cup of coffee in bed! I was ready to give up the whole trip and move in at that moment. Turns out that the baby and I were the last to wake in our room. George got up and headed to a 6:00 am class at Crossfit Addiction.
We were treated to a scrumptious meal of Belgian waffles, bacon, sausage, strawberries, mango, and all the powdered sugar! Adults and children were moving slower than normal with the late night arrival. With eyes on the prize of Zoo Atlanta, motivation was found to dress and fill water bottles for the day. Tiny even caught a pretty stellar picture of Brogden while keeping him entertained during the sunscreen application of all girls.
Atlanta traffic around noon is serious business. Having full confidence in George's ability to follow the lead car and block for lane changes, I sat back and typed up two blog posts on the way to Grant Park. Zoo Atlanta is nestled in a neighborhood that reminded me of parts of home with tighter streets. Made it safely to the zoo and got everyone unloaded from the car and Brogden loaded into the carrier. If you decide to take your family on a huge trip, I highly suggest becoming a member of your state's zoo/aquarium and childrens' museum. Our NC Aquarium membership awarded us half off admission and a discount in gift shop. Our first stop was at the flamingos. This amazing and 'with it' momma packed and dressed the younger girls in matching flamingo outfits just for this occasion. Not really. I packed them and they were in the selected bag when George procured clothes for the family that morning. Nonetheless, the girls HAD to show their kindred spirits they were twinsies.
Then came posing with lion statues.... all the pictures. Girls would have been happy if they day stopped there. Our friends' youngest lead our group confidently around the zoo, making sure to keep us together and on task. I desperately attempted to bring him on the rest of our journey. Well, I wanted to bring all their children. Their daughter was energetic enough to keep up with Tiny and their eldest son was seriously a baby whisperer. Bubble got some *good shots of animals mainly the turtles and others in the reptile exhibit. Brogden had the best day in my opinion. He had so many options for people to hold him that he was hardly ever in the carrier.
Once the zoo kicked us out at closing time, we headed to dinner. The adults google searched the mess out of dinner with kids, family, and groups to finally settle on a Tex-Mex place called Superica. George and I both wondered about the kid-friendliness of this dining establishment but were proven wrong. It looked so fancy inside and totally hipster.
All the children sat at their own table beside the adult table. We could supervise coloring without being surrounded by it. Once one of them realized they forgot the blessing, we saw a ring of arms joined and several prayers sent up as each child was allowed to recite their own rendition.
We walked out a side door of the establishment to find a whole market of different restaurants and shops. It was like the flea market met a food court and had a baby. Purchases of coffee, drinking chocolate, Kissing Mermaids chocolate bar, and a new bone for the German Shepard pup were all made. Everything is fancier in this realm we found. The water dispenser not only provided chilled or non-chilled water options but sparkling as well. Just hanging out in the middle of the rustic tables where individuals could select from myriad of dining choices and meet back up for a cohesive gathering.
Our whole gang loaded up to head home for swimming time. The gals nominated the guys to take the children to the pool. That afforded some quiet visiting porch swinging and our sweet hostess allowed me to take a shower while she cuddled a baby that may have cried most of the time. I know Brogden was please to not touch anyone once everyone got home. George bathed the girls, rung out bathing suits, and dressed clean girls, all while I feed Brogden. Full of memories and depleted of energy, girls drifted off to sleep.
Steps taken: 10,128
Miles driven: 77.3
George does not race anywhere with eyes on the destination. He indulges in the journey. The process of finding your outcome. He chose 'Vacilando' as the name of our boat from John Steinbeck's use of the Spanish word in Travels with Charley. I have never come across a more perfect word to describe the man I married. From always taking new ways to everyday landmarks to the journey of completing projects around the house.
George is a traveler, I married a traveler, we made children that are travelers. This trip in a way is natural for us. Many think we are crazy and I do not deny their sentiments at all. It is crazy to take four young children in a suburban on a car ride that lasts weeks. It is also our life, a life of traveling. Traveling to work, school, museums, Craigslist finds, visit family, beaches, mountains, and days of unending errands. These children roll with the flow. Sometimes better than others but I feel this journey will find us stronger on the flip side.
The departure day arrives! Baby is fussy most of the night. Awesome. Hop in the shower and a realize that I am at peace. At peace with the trip, all we have prepared, and all that we will do. I know that God has our back in this crazy life. I get a few minutes to myself then Biscuits saunters in and asks if she can watch. You see nobody tells you that becoming a mother means automatically becoming an exhibitionist. Then Bubble joins her to watch mommy wash her face. That is when George brings me Brogden. Since I cannot remember the last time he was bathed, I asked if George would wait a bit for the baby to join me.
I clean the baby, George takes him to dry and dress, finish the shower, dry and dress myself, and look at the clock in time to panic. I yell for everyone to start getting in the car or we will be late to Brogden's morning appointment. I hear George faintly say something that I cannot believe. The exterminator is here. What?!?!? They were supposed to come around 10:00am not 8:30 when we have a 8:45 appt then followed by a 9:10 appt. I race out to light a fire under my precious wanders and I find one still asleep in the bed. (Hello preview of teen years) Get the girls out the door only to realize that I am holding the baby and did not grab the infant seat. George heads back in for the seat and to tell the exterminator how to lock up. I am sure that guy thought we were nuts.
I get in the Jeep to follow so I can head to my six week appointment and the four wheel drive is on from George moving the boat. Waved my arms. He drove away. Tried to call him. Phone left inside. Called my dad. He had no clue. Called baby brother. To the rescue again. Talked me through getting into two wheel drive. Called the pediatric office to tell them we were running a little behind. Appointment with nurse could not have gone smoother. Baby gained two pounds in two weeks and got two shots like a champ.
Brogden gets back in the seat to head to my check up. I never pumped milk to allow for him to stay with George. So we race to my appt which was scheduled 25 minutes after his appt. All lights, roads, traffic jams, and parking spots were in our favor and we made it to my OB on time. I had some breathing time and got to visit with all the sweet folks at my doctor's office before heading back home to finish the packing and rolling out.
The girls were amazingly helpful carrying bags out for George to purposefully place in the suburban. Tiny decided to gather all her special things (sleeping stuffed animals and blanket) and sit in her car seat until go time.
We pulled out at 12:54 pm, bearly achieving the self-imposed deadline of 1:00 pm. Hit the road. To run last minute errands. Off to return the wrong Rain-X to Walmart, mail thank you notes and purchase post card stamps at the post office, deposit funds at the bank, and make a pick up from George's doctor and schedule a physical for when we return.
It was at the post office that the girls started asking for food. At first I was thinking already?!?! Then I realized they never ate breakfast in the rush to leave this morning or ate lunch in the attempt to keep the house clean before we left. I feel slightly bad as a mother and start to peel cuties for the cuties in the car. After a conference with George, we determine the best course of action is to pick up a bakers' dozen bagels from Brueggers and add it to the road snack stash.
A reset of the tripmeter to take out all the Raleigh errand miles and we hit 40 Westbound..... around 2:30 pm. We updated our friends in Atlanta that we were heading to that we got started later. I start to pass out bagels/cream cheese to the hungry passengers, which they gobble up as fast as I can smear the strawberry goodness.
Made it to South Carolina uneventfully, huge blessing considering some of the rain and traffic we encountered. We timed hitting the Charlotte after work congestion perfectly to catch most of it. ;) But for real, it wasn't as bad as it could have been with the direction we were going.
I passed out 2 pounds of apples, 3 oranges, 2 more bagels, almonds all around before it dawned on me that actual dinner might be due. If you have never heard me promote the Chick-fil-a One app, you are missing out. I was able to locate, order, and pay for a family meal from the backseat riding down I-85S. George was even a lucky recipient of a free peach milkshake from my rewards.
The Duncan, SC location offered curbside pick up which entails our black SUV sitting in the marked parking spot for the dinner fairy to fly out with hot food, literally 3 minutes after placing the car in park. The entire stop added 5 minutes to our arrival time.
Now onto doling out sustainance without creating a mess for myself later. Girls all chose their regular applesauce and nuggets which they had to consume first before they got their milk. They were prepped for not being allowed ketchup and honey for dipping. Could you imagine that potential catastrophe? Once I got all trash back then they were able to have their prepared milk to drink.
Our timing has worked so far and I hope that it continues. I am reminded that we are not alone on this trip when crossing the state line into Georgia this view pops up. I snap a picture while singing Corey Smith lyrics in my head.
Traveling with young children is different than driving to spring break with your college buddies. It is a race to get to Florida beaches, stopping only when restroom breaks are required. George sets a timer for break reminders every two hours. Allowing 10-15 minutes worth of stretch, nursing, and potty breaks. For this first day of travel, they have lined up with our state line pictures, very handy.
Make it into Atlanta at a time when traffic is not an issue and we can focus on finding our way. Our hosts for the first two night of this journey are kind to allow for this family of six to descend upon them at such a late hour, around 10:45 pm. Our friends stayed up to greet us and gently introduce the girls to their German Shepherd puppy. The elders had their beds made and were encouraged to select a few stuffed animals to make their space extra cozy. The adults took time to catch up on life since we last visited with them and make a few plans for the next day. We all fell fast asleep in the most comfy bed. I was personally so relieved to have one day down.
Steps taken: 7,452
Miles driven: 433.7