Whoopsie! I totally forgot to post about our road trip to Illinois. It was pretty horrific, so honestly I think I was just trying to block it out for sanity reasons...
The drive TO Illinois wasn't anything extraordinary. We left the area by 7, after a full day of work. Ariel, Travis and I were supposed to share the driving responsibilities, but an hour into Ariel's first turn threw that out the window. She got pulled over because the license plate lights were out on the truck (we had no idea). She was mugged a while ago and has never gone back to get her license renewed. I don't really understand why, but that's how it goes. She's been using her Passport as a photo ID in the meantime. When the cop pulled up her driver's license on his computer, it turned out her license was expired. He was really nice and let her off with a warning, but that took her off the drivers list. Less sleep for Nikki. We stopped at the first truck stop we passed and bought replacement bulbs so we wouldn't get pulled over again. The entire trip took us 17.5 hours. Before kids, the trip took us 16 hours, so I didn't think that was so bad.
The drive back was a horrific nightmare that easily competes with the Hurricane Ike evacuation. Here's a quick overview of the Ike drive: 4 humans, 3 dogs, 3 cats (One of which was mewling incessantly and peed all over herself. After the Benedryl she drooled all over her cage as well.) Two hours into our hungover ride back, all the luggage fell off the roof rack into traffic on the Interstate. Imagine all the headache/nausea-ridden people chasing down suitcases before a semi ran over it. Good times.
But this trip may have been worse. I think it was because it lasted three times as long. The drive back from Illinois took us 22 hours and here's why: We left at 5 pm and I was the first to drive. It was POURING rain, so we had covered the bed (with all our Christmas presents, luggage and Ariel's new moped) of the truck with a giant tarp. The radar on weather.com showed a giant red rain cloud over our entire route. We decided to change our path so our entire drive would not be in rain.
Two hours into our trip (still in Illinois), all traffic was being directed off the Interstate. All of it. No cars going, no cars coming. We stopped at a gas station for dinner and to see what was going on. When we got out of the truck, we noticed the tarp had split in half and all our belongings were soaked. No tarps for sale at the gas station. Traffic was being redirected because there had been a hazmat semi accident/chemical spill TWO DAYS PRIOR and they were still cleaning it up. I remember saying, "Starting this trip off with a bang." There was no advance warning about what we were supposed to do. How hard is it to get a road sign out there? We were redirected onto some tiny two lane road without street lights. Because it was so late, it was mostly 18-wheelers out on this winding, dark, wet road. SO SCARY. Three miles later, we were back on the Interstate headed to the nearest Walmart for a tarp (20 miles away).
It was 45 degrees out and we weren't up for spending the remainder of the trip soaking wet, so Travis picked up some rain ponchos when he got the new tarp. My hands were numb by the time we got the tattered remains of the old tarp off and the new one on. That stop took us an hour and a half. Three hours later we stopped for gas and noticed the second tarp had tore in half as well. We gave up on it at that point.
Travis and I took turns driving 50-60 mph in the torrential down pour. It finally let up when we got to Mississippi. We made a stop for gas at some point. Aiden had to use the restroom so I took the time to check Mila's diaper. At some point unbeknownst to us, she had a complete poopy diaper blowout. I couldn't believe none of us smelled it. Maybe it was packed under her well enough we didn't notice? Maybe we were all too stressed to notice anything aside from the task at hand? Thankfully I had an extra set of clothes for both kids in the cab of the truck. I threw Mila's clothes directly into the trash since I knew the stain would set before we made it home. I didn't want to carry her through the gas station, so she got a bath by baby wipes in the parking lot. Between cleaning her and her car seat I think I used half a pack of wipes.
Back on the road again... I think it was 7 am when we stopped for breakfast at a Waffle House. The kids were both awake (Aiden didn't sleep much) and I wanted to give them a chance to stretch their legs. We had a greasy breakfast, refueled the truck and got back on the road. About an hour after breakfast, Aiden decided it wasn't sitting well with him and regurgitated the entire meal. Thankfully he complained first so I had a bag handy, but some of it made it down his front despite our efforts. Stop #352. Wipe bath #2. Hoping there were no more stops for clothing changes or our kids would drive the rest of the way naked.
That was it. I think. Travis, Mila and I were all on the tail-end of horrific colds during the drive. Ariel was on the front-end of her's. Aiden made it through it all without ever getting it. We hadn't slept all week because Mila was teething, so she thought waking up between 4 and 5 every morning was necessary. Needless to say, it was the worst drive of my life. I was absolutely exhausted and thankful I had taken Monday off from work to unpack and do laundry. I was hoping to take a nap that day, but of course I didn't. I took a couple breaks to read though.
I think, at this point in the kids' lives, the longest road trip we will tackle is 4 hours. When they get older, perhaps we'll try it again. I remember taking lots of road trips when I was a kid and I remember them fondly. Though most of them were in an RV, so we had room to sprawl out. No different than being stuck inside on a rainy day at home, really.
See why I was blocking it out?