Missouri Vacation: Part I {The Drive}

After our Johnson family get-together in November, all of us realized how well we get along (something that doesn’t always happens in families I hear).  Then, the first of May my brother and his family moved back to Missouri from Boston.  That had me homesick for sure, knowing everyone was hanging out - except me.  So I talked Elliott into taking a week off the end of May (before his busy season began) and driving out to see my family and help celebrate my niece’s first birthday.

For those keeping track it is a little over 1,000 miles between our house in Utah and my sister’s home in Missouri – a whopping 17 hours straight across I-80 through all of Wyoming and Nebraska.  Both Elliott and were nervous about being in the car so long with four little girls, but I knew a few things about my kids – they love watching shows on the portable DVD player (I use it every Saturday for them when we go garage saling) and as long as they have snacks, they are good to go. 

I picked up 10 DVDs from our local library (the max I could check out at one time) that I knew they would like and I bought a few fun treats they don’t normally get, like Twizzlers and Nilla Wafers along with some lunchtime picnic foods, like cheese sticks, juice boxes, carrot sticks, and grapes (I can only feed them chicken nuggets and french fries so many times on the road).

I packed up the car the day before since the night would be busy with preschool graduation and was surprised at how much room we still had in the car; I guess it helps when your sisters are providing the bulk of your baby gear, like a Pack n Play and stroller.  We had plenty of room to stretch out and a spot for me to sit next to Emma if she needed some comforting.

The girls slept in their traveling clothes the night before, so we could head straight out in the morning.  We planned on getting on the road at 7am, so I woke the girls up shortly before take-off and got them into their carseats.  (They ate breakfast in the car.)  And guess what?  We were on the road on timeSeriously, did you expect any less from this hyper-organized traveler?

The girls were amazing (AH-MAZING!!) travelers and I heard little whining.  I doled out snacks every couple of hours and the girls took turns picking out the next DVD to watch.  Even if somebody disagreed with the other person’s choice, they usually kept quiet and looked forward to their turn to pick.  I fed them their picnic lunch on the road and then leaned Lily and Piper back in their carseats to take a nap (which they did.)  Emma was such a sweetheart and was perfectly happy to perform her normal routine of drinking, eating, smiling, giggling, napping and playing from her car seat.

We only stopped for gas a few times and made the most of the stops.  Once in Wyoming we also got lunch for Elliott and I, and once in Nebraska we picked up dinner for everyone and changed the girls into their pajamas.  We also stopped at a rest area in Nebraska so everyone could get out and run around and use the bathroom.  Everyone loved that!

As for Elliott and I, he drove and I took care of the kids.  I asked if he wanted to take turns, but I think he thought his task was easier than mine (probably was!) and opted to stick to driving.  I took my laptop with me and spent time checking our credit reports and writing letters to correct things (Elliott’s showed that we hadn’t sold our house in Las Vegas and still owed the mortgage!) as well as writing some blog posts and reading.

We rolled into Missouri right on schedule and simply relocated the girls from the car to their sleeping bags in the bedroom we all shared.  They went right back to sleep and were up and at ‘em first thing in the morning.  (My sister took the morning shift and let Elliott and I sleep in a bit, which was so nice.)

The next day we jumped right into things and the vacation began….

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