Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Midwestern Road Trip Success!

We're back! What an awesome vacation we just had. It was a long one: 17 days and 2,530 miles of driving (plus a roundtrip flight to St. Louis), taking us through 10 states (with actual activities in eight of them), to five hotels and two family members' homes, four baseball games, one bucket list item crossed off for both Eric and me, one family reunion and one birthday party. Talk about big fun!

The trip was not without glitches, of course. You just can't expect to be on the road for 17 days (with a toddler, no less) and not expect a couple issues to pop up. We had some awfully nasty weather in Milwaukee (ummm, 40-some degrees with wind and rain on Memorial Day? Say what?), and Ellie and I came down with colds for the second half of our trip. However, we handled both things in stride and didn't let either put a damper on our fun.

And Ellie, by the way, was a rock star. It's possible that girl was born to travel. She had a little trouble sleeping our last two nights of the trip, but the rest of the time, she was a sleeping CHAMP. We're talking better sleeping than she does at home. She went down for the night with no trouble, slept through till morning, and took 2-3 hour naps regularly. WHO IS THIS CHILD. She had no trouble transitioning from hotel to hotel (in fact, she loved exploring all of them) and really just rocked the whole trip. And, she did all that while dealing with many other potentially sleep-disrupting, grump-inducing factors: she cut two teeth and started working on a third (her first molar), she fought off a cold, and she learned to walk. That's right, folks, we have a full-blown toddler on our hands. Brace yourself for some video coming your way soon!

No matter how great Ellie was, however, traveling like that with a baby is nothing short of exhausting. There was definitely a noticeable difference in our traveling style: whenever possible, we wouldn't get our day started until mid-afternoon, after Ellie's nap. Then, we'd try to be home in time to get her dinner and to bed at a relatively reasonable hour. We had to be careful to preserve her eating schedule, as well, which often meant preparing her favorite foods and carting them around with us all day. But the biggest thing was checking in and out of hotels - talk about a process. No matter whether we stayed three nights or just one, we had a cartful of stuff to lug in and set up after check-in and pack up and drag back out after check-out. We had her Pack 'N Play, our suitcase, a bag of food, a box fan, diaper bag, backpack, purse, stroller, etc. It's just so much stuff. Babies do not travel light.

But really, all in all, the trip was fantastic. My favorite event was, of course, being an Honorary Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Memphis overall was my favorite city, actually, and we had the best food of our trip there, too. Eric loved golfing at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and has declared Miller Park as his favorite MLB stadium of the trip. We also had a great time visiting with family (and friends!) in Cleveland and went to an awesome monster-themed first birthday party for my nephew Santiago in Illinois. And I can't wait to share all these fun things with you!

But first, I must regroup. I have roughly a gazillion pictures to sort through, but even that must be put on hold because Eric leaves this week for Teach for America Institute in Jacksonville. He'll be staying in a dorm on the UNF campus, which means this week we have to outfit him for dorm life (anyone have an old set of extra long twin sheets laying around?) and get him moved up there. Then Ellie and I will be on our own for six weeks of mama-daughter bonding while Eric learns how to actually be a teacher. Exciting stuff, my friends - all our plans are finally getting underway!

I'll have a couple of other things to share with you this week while I get the trip recaps together, and hopefully we can get started on those next week. In the meantime, here's a little teaser including one picture from each of the cities where we made a stop:

Top half, clockwise from left: Ellie and me underneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Ellie running out of the tunnel onto the field at Notre Dame, Ellie chowing down on Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, Eric's Uncle Steve giving Ellie a flower at our lunch stop in Nashville, and Ellie rocking the Brewers beanie we bought her to wear in the Milwaukee cold.
Bottom half, clockwise from left: Ellie and me with the Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, my family reunion in Cleveland, and birthday boy Santiago about to go to work on his birthday cake!

Stay tuned for more details about all of these super fun things!


Meghan said...

It looks like you had a blast! It's awesome that Ellie was such a trooper, too!

Lauren said...

How awesome and that of course Ellie got to go along to see all the awesome sights :)