We departed my family reunion early in the morning on Monday, August 3rd and set out on the longest travel day of our entire trip: the 8.5-hour drive from Cleveland to Pinehurst, NC. It actually went much better than anticipated, because the kids would be (for the most part) pretty good until maybe about a half hour before we were prepared to stop anyway, and then E.J. would fall asleep and take a pretty decent little car nap (by his standards). So, we were really able to push through and stay in the car for longer stretches than we anticipated. In fact, we made that entire drive with only two rest stops! It was amazing. It really helped us make pretty decent time.
Two sleeping kids = two thumbs up (other thumb not pictured, of course)
When I was in high school and we would drive to Cleveland from Florida regularly, we would drive through the night and always stopped at Shoney's for their breakfast buffet in the morning. E.J. was clearly excited for his first Shoney's experience, in the name of tradition.
Views along the drive: West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina welcome signs; Eric driving past some pretty views; a very impressive steaming (?) Pilot Mountain in North Carolina; and crossing the 2,000-mile threshold!
We arrived at our hotel in Pinehurst around dinnertime that evening. We let the kids run around and be crazy a bit, then fed them dinner and put them to bed. Eric and I had some dinner ourselves then called it a night, too.
My people walking hand-in-hand to our hotel
No AirBNB this time! This hotel was only slightly cheaper than the AirBNBs we found, and although the idea of staying in a little cabin in Pinehurst was appealing, we decided the "sterile" (read: relatively child-proof) environment of a hotel was a better bet this time. We still had two bedrooms and a kitchen, plus free wine in the lobby every evening and a great free breakfast buffet, so it was perfect!
E.J. being showered with kisses as they run around like lunatics
We chose Pinehurst as our rest stop halfway (or close enough) between Cleveland and Jacksonville because we knew we could easily spend a day there, splitting the 13-hour total drive into two days, with one rest day in the middle. The rest day would be a fun one for Eric and me, and pretty laid back for the kids, which sounded like just what the doctor ordered. And, it actually worked out that way!
Eric got up and moving relatively early on Tuesday so he could play a round of golf at the No. 2 course. You may recall he played there the last time we visited Pinehurst, which was also on a return trip from Cleveland, back on New Year's Day 2014. He enjoyed it then and was excited to have another opportunity! Here's what he had to say about it:
I really debated about whether to play No. 2 again or try another of the great courses on property, like No. 4, or even playing somewhere else in the area, like Pine Needles, which has hosted a Women's U.S. Open. Much like what used to happen to me at Bethpage, it was too hard to pass up playing one of the top public courses in America. I got there when the clubhouse opened and booked a time to play by myself. My goal was to choose a time that let me take my time warming up so I could shoot a good number. I have been playing pretty good golf this summer and wanted to really try and see what I could make happen on a U.S. Open Course.
I ended up hitting more balls than I planned and by the time I rolled my first putt on the practice green, the starter came to tell me it was my turn. He was very helpful and friendly, but I was not happy. I pulled my tee shot, which ended up being a huge problem because I was forced to take a cart, even though No. 2 is cart path only. The cart path runs down the right hand side of 17 holes. I missed tee shots left on the first five holes and had to basically carry my bag across the entire hole each time because the only yardage markers are on sprinkler heads and it wasn't clear where my ball was. I was 7 over through the first 5 and very upset that I was wasting my chance to play this course. I texted Meghan all of my frustrations and tried everything I could to hit a good shot. I got up and down on the par-3 sixth and then made par or better on eight of the last eleven holes. That also helped me notice how nice the weather was with a perfect blue picturesque cloud cover. All in all, it worked out.
The 2nd hole
4th hole from the green
Payne Stewart statue
While he golfed, my early riser E.J. helped me clean up our hotel room a bit...
Oh yeah. He made himself right at home.
...and when Ellie finally woke up, we all went down to the free hot breakfast buffet. It was a nice spread! (And, I managed to feed two kids breakfast, in public, and also ate myself and nobody cried!)
Then we went back up to the hotel so E.J. could nap a little. I let Ellie relax with some PBS while I wrote some thank you notes I had been meaning to get to. When E.J. woke up, we donned our swimsuits and made use of the hotel pool.
Tine to swim!
She's always up for a pool day!
Eric finished up his round and picked up lunch for us, then brought it back just as we were winding down in the pool. We ate and then the kids went down for naps, and I left for some fun of my own: spa time!
Come to Mama.
I very much enjoyed the spa last time we were at Pinehurst, and was excited to go back. I went a little early this time and made use of the hot tub before relaxing poolside with a smoothie until it was time for my massage. Afterwards I took my time in the showers and then went back to join my crew, feeling as refreshed as I could possibly get!
When I got back, we loaded everyone into the car and went back to the golf course for a little putting fun.
Eric and the kids on No. 2!
Walking off the 18th green, as he will do after winning the U.S. Open someday
Out for a walk
Ellie celebrating after making a putt
E.J. kept stealing Eric's ball, but every now and then he was helpful.
Eric, E.J. and Putter Boy!
Then, we decided to go "downtown" for a bit. We took a wrong turn and ended up on this lovely street...
....before eventually finding our way. Unfortunately, it was so late in the day that all the shops were closed already (I mean, it was like 6:30), but we still enjoyed walking around a little bit.
E.J. honking the nose of a Donald Ross statue in the town square
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and bedtime. Our last day of true vacation had been a great one!
The next morning, we hit the hotel breakfast buffet for a last vacation-y meal and then packed up all our stuff for the last time.
More yummy (free) food!
Climbers gotta climb, am I right?
The rest of the drive took roughly six hours, plus stop time, but we did pretty well there, too. I was impressed that even with our slightly late departure, we were back at home by 5:00 p.m., having officially logged 2,530 miles driven on that trip! What an adventure!
Back in our home state!
We made it! Home sweet home, after 2,530 miles on the road!
As soon as we got in, Ellie changed right into a costume and E.J. immediately set off in search of trouble in Ellie's room. Everyone was glad to be home!
Back to normal!
And that was our road trip!
To see more pictures from Pinehurst, click here.
Thank you for following along!