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Thursday, July 02, 2009

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Mile Marker: Day 5

We crossed the border into Canada today, after overnight stops in Maryland, New York, and Maine. We've come through eleven states, three time zones, and nearly 2,000 miles, and still have two provinces and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to cross.

Here's a quick update on what's been working, and what's not:

Routine is our friend. We drive 8 hour days max, getting on and off the road about the same time most days. The kids know what to expect. I've built in short horizon lines, like a movie after lunch, and an ice cream stop late afternoon. The ice cream idea came from the same road wizard who told me to "swim their hinies off," and in my opinion, this woman needs to be consulted on the situation in Iraq. She'll have it all sorted out in no time.

Another invaluable tip from Bridget was to be sure to book hotels with indoor pools. "Huh?" I said, at the time, from my house in sunny and dry Arkansas. "OH!" I said, as we drove into rain all the way up the Appalachians and into New England. Genius.

Those daily swims--sometimes, after dark-- have been our salvation, I am convinced.

Something I wish I'd brought is a travel clothsline. I've had to roll wet swimsuits into towels and pack them more than once.

Another thing I'd take next time is a bigger road atlas, one that shows every highway interchange clearly. We have the coil-bound, medium Rand Mcnally, and there have been times we've had to second guess my Blackberry gps app, TelNav (we call her Clarisse), or the satellite craps out at a delicate juncture (Clarisse can get passive-aggressive). GPS is fantastic, and I can't imagine making a trek like this without it, but it's not infallible. In fact, today we analysed the atlas and overrode Clarisse for the last 60 miles through Maine, which ended up being a wise decision, though she cussed us out for a while.

Which brings me to another lesson learned: scenic byways are highly overrated. We've taken two detours off the Interstate--Rte 30 through Pennsylvania, and Rte 1 through Maine, and those are years of my life I will never get back. Wet, dreary years. Yes, we passed through a few charming villages and chuckled over the odd kooky bit of roadside Americana, but I'd rather have had more time at our destinations. On the way back, we'll be sticking to the Interstate.

The kids continue to amaze me with their patience and good humor. Several people suggested stocking up on games and activities from the dollar bin, and rationing them out as needed. The fact that Mom's bag of tricks is still quite full is a testament to how well they've been travelling. And it's not like they are zombies in front of a video screen all day--we have one movie per day, and just an hour or so of DS. Up in the cockpit, my co-pilot and I are enjoying their conversations and observations so much.

Lots more to come.

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel



Blogger Tere said...

I have really enjoyed your twitter posts as well as your blog updates. This reminds me so much of a trip during the early 70s that my family took, without the technology of course.

We landed in California (returning from a 2 year tour in Okinawa) and with the three of us kids in the back seat and my parents in the front of our new car, drove across the country, stopping at sights along the way and visiting family. We made our way across the US, into upstate NY, crossed into Ottawa, then went back, returning back to our new base in Kansas.

It was a trip none of us will ever forget and my siblings and I still talk about it almost 40 years later. I hope your family has the same type of great memories.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Jomama said...

I am so jealous--my kids can't get to the mall without bickering.

Sounds like you are all having an idyllic trip.

5:52 PM  

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