Oh, the part of the vacation plans that Rich just absolutely LOVED (insert sarcasm here) - the (approximately) 850 mile drive, which I insist that we do in one day.
We spent all day last Saturday finishing laundry and packing. I'm now convinced that the more time I have to pack, the longer it takes me to pack. Rich and I try to split the packing duties. I take care of the girls' clothes and shoes while he packs the food and entertainment for the van. Naturally, we confer with each other and try to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
So while others jet set to Paris or Mexico or the Caribbean, our stereotypical minivan hit the road at 4:15 AM Sunday morning for Michigan. I know that Michigan has a lot to offer in terms of beautiful lake vacation spots but we had only planned to stay in the area where my family lives, which is about 25 miles northwest of Detroit.
The girls were excited for our new adventure, especially Emily, who had trouble falling asleep Saturday night. About 45 minutes after I had tucked them in, I heard the stairway gate clinking and Emily saying, "Mommy, tuck me in." When I went upstairs I discovered that she had gone into Allie's room, rifled through the basket of pajamas and changed from shorts into pants. (I want to add that we don't lock the gate until we are all upstairs for the night. Even though the girls can easily come down the stairs, they never do at night. They always just stand the lightly move the gate to make noise.)
The girls eventually did fall back asleep in the van. Oh, I should mention that we did wake them up so that we could cath Anna and have Allie and Em go to the bathroom. I drove the first shift and Grammy told me that Anna didn't fall asleep until right before we reached the New York border. I think Em slept the longest at over two hours. They all took about an hour and a half nap after lunch as well.
Happy kids at our first rest area stop.
When we visited with my friend, Heather, back in May, she asked me if my girls were into Polly Pocket dolls as we commiserated over teeny tiny toys. I told her that the girls had not yet been exposed to them so they had no idea what they were. Well, Grammy fixed that problem.
It's all good because the new toys provided much needed entertainment throughout our vacation.
Elmo strapped into Allie's seat playing with Emily's Polly Pocket dolls during our lunch break.
Anna's doll is ready to go! (Taken underneath the front seat head rest.)
From the Boston area, there are three routes to drive to Detroit. You can take Interstate 90 across the entire state of New York to Buffalo and then cut through Canada to Michigan. Or once in Buffalo, you can continue on 90 through Ohio and then drive up into Michigan. The third way is to drive down through Connecticut, a bit of New York and a corner of New Jersey to pick up Interstate 80, which goes all the way across Pennsylvania and meets up with 90. The Canada route, on average, takes us 12 hours while the other two take 14 hours.
Within the past ten years, the Canada route has greatly changed. You can easily lose that two hour advantage waiting at the border. And now you need passports. So we decided to drive Interstate 90 through New York and at Buffalo, continue through to Ohio. There are a lot of farms and old towns to view while driving through New York along with a ton of rest areas complete with food and gas.
In the past, my mom and I have driven this route in under 14 hours. With three four year olds, the drive took 15 hours. We ended up making four stops at 30 to 40 minutes per stop and then we were held up in traffic right in Detroit because of a Paul McCartney show. I do have to add that driving through Detroit was eerie. I knew about the housing crisis but to actually witness it was another thing. From Interstate 75, we could see boarded up, burnt out houses, a large vacant office building with most of its windows broken out and then there were all of the older buildings that were in the process of being demolished. Very sad.
We drove straight to my grandparents' house to drop off Grammy and eat some dinner. It was just after 7:00 when we arrived. My brother, John, was also visiting from California. He and Grammy were going to stay with Mamaw and Papaw while we stayed at a nearby hotel.
We completely lucked out with our hotel. All of the rooms were suites and by suites, I mean real suites. We stayed at a "suites" hotel on our way to Florida last year and all they did was push the beds down to the end of the room and squeeze a couch in. This hotel room was very spacious and only cost $89 a night, which I realize is a reflection of the cost of living in the area. Our room had two double beds and a large pull out sofa bed. There was a half wall separating the beds from the living room area and we were able to push one of the beds over against that wall so that whoever was sleeping there wouldn't be able to roll out. (Emily rolling out of the bed at Disney still haunts me.)
The sofa was L shaped so when we pulled out the bed, the bottom of the L was against one side of the bed so a munchkin couldn't roll out and we pushed the footstool against the other side of the bed. Because the sofa bed was roll-proof, we thought that two of the girls could sleep on that while I slept in the bed pushed against the wall with Anna (because she rolls around like crazy) and Rich could have a bed to himself.
Well, the girls were in full-out overtired hyper mode by the time we got them in bed and Rich and I were completely exhausted. It was 9:00 at that point and we just wanted to go to sleep ourselves. I was in the middle of the sofa bed pretending to be going to sleep but Allie and Em would not stop. They were feeding off of each other and Anna, who couldn't even see us, was laughing and trying to join in. We finally moved Allie to Rich's empty bed to separate them and they all fell asleep.
I wasn't planning on sleeping on that sofa bed because I was experiencing a lot of back pain from the long drive and I could clearly feel the springs in the mattress. It was almost 10:00 and Rich and I were trying to get ready for bed when these loud women came down the hall and woke up Emily so I ended up in the sofa bed with her, Rich slept with Anna and Miss Allie had a nice, big, super comfortable bed all to herself.
I hope you want to hear all about our vacation because that's what is coming up this week!