11:00 PM, Saturday - Go to bed.
11:20 PM, Saturday - Fall asleep.
2:20 AM, Sunday - Allie wakes me up because she needs help using the bathroom.
2:30 AM, Sunday - Go back to sleep, Sarah. Come on. Fall asleep.
2:40 AM, Sunday - I NEED TO FALL ASLEEP!
2:50 AM, Sunday - Okay, I give up.
2:59 AM, Sunday - Turn off alarm before it goes off.
3:00 AM, Sunday - Rich and I crept around in the dark, changing clothes and brushing teeth. We gathered up any remaining bags and took off for the van while Grammy watched the girls. We moved the van so that it was right outside of the lobby. Interestingly enough, there was someone stationed out front even at that time. She had no problem with us parking there but did request that we leave our car keys with her in case of an emergency.
It's almost impossible to move my kids while they are sleeping. They always wake up. The girls were all chatty as we carried them to the van but they did, thankfully, fall back asleep.
3:40 AM, Sunday - Good-bye, Orlando.
We didn't really have a game plan. I had suggested driving straight through with no hotel stops. (I sometimes like to think that I am the same person I was 10 years ago.) We decided to just drive and see how far we could make it. Unfortunately, three hours of sleep was not the best condition to be in. Rich and I took turns driving but while he was driving in the early morning hours, I was afraid to sleep. It's not that I didn't trust him; I didn't trust other drivers and I thought that an extra set of eyes would be helpful. I tried to nap during the day but with the kids and noise from the DVD player, real sleep wasn't possible.
Our plan of leaving super early in the morning was successful and we made really good time until around 4:00 that afternoon when we found ourselves in a torrential rain storm in the middle of Virginia. It all went downhill from there. There was traffic from multiple rain storms and then we didn't stop soon enough for dinner so by the time we had to stop, we weren't in an area with easy on/easy off restaurants. We pulled off an exit outside of DC and couldn't find anywhere to eat. And then Emmy was car sick and every time we would stop, she would puke.
We stopped at the first rest area in Maryland at 8:30 that night. If we were going to stop at a hotel for the night, that would have been the time to start looking for a place to stay. I just wanted to be home. Allie still wasn't back to her normal self and had stated that her arms and legs felt really heavy multiple times. Emmy was car sick. Everyone was tired. We still had another six hours or so of driving (without traffic) and the thought of another day on the road was not a pleasant one.
We drove home without a hotel stop. There was heavy traffic on the GW Bridge, which we passed over at midnight. I drove from the beginning of the NJ Turnpike (10:00 PM) until we were into Connecticut (1:15 AM.) I will never do that again with kids in the car. It is too dangerous. I would try to stay with cars driving around the speed limit and usually found myself in the middle lane. Cars and trucks were passing us in the right line driving at least 90 miles an hour. I was afraid to go into that lane for fear that someone would ram into us.
We arrived home in Massachusetts at 3:40 AM, exactly 24 hours from when we left Orlando. The girls woke up, of course. We acted like it was just late, not almost morning. They used the bathroom, changed into pajamas and went back to sleep in their own beds. We went to bed a bit after 4:00 and the girls woke us up for the day at 8:45. Rich and I took turns napping for a few hours each. Honestly, I felt exhausted for two weeks after.
It was a tough drive but it all worked out in the end. Allie ate so much food that first day back home. Aside from Emily being car sick, the girls traveled well. There was no complaining or whining. I couldn't make a decision so I never purchased any handheld games and there was never a point during the trip when I wish I had either. The girls watched movies, worked in activity books or colored. We did buy some Melissa and Doug travel games, which were good but not huge hits. (I think the girls need to be a bit older and/or taller.)
Here's a summary of our roundtrip travel costs:
For a total cost of $767.