Monday, July 23, 2012

Best Road Trip Ever

Let me be the first to say that I cannot believe we conquered 8 states, 2986 miles, in 8 days.  But let me also be the first to say it was the most incredible vacation I've ever taken.
Every day of prep was worth it.
Every moment spent researching and pinning was worth it.
Every printable was worth it.
Every memory created... perfection.

We took the detour off the Columbia River Trail in Oregon to stop at the historic Oregon Waterfalls.  Can I go back now?

Ok, snapping back into reality now.  I'll give you the low-down on everything we did to stay sane.  Brace yourselves... this will be a picture heavy post and LOADED with information.  You might want to grab a cup of coffee.

~Let's start with the pre-trip prep~
First of all, activity baskets are a must.  Of course, we brought library books and movies with us, but those don't last long enough.  Every item in these baskets, except for the disposable cameras, came from the Dollar Tree.  Mom for the win!  Here is what I included:
  • Disposable Camera
  • Water Bottle
  • Dry Erase Board and Marker
  • Dry Erase Activity Pack
  • Coloring Book and Crayons
  • Clipboard
  • Binder (contents explained below)

Colored coded for the kiddos.  Never a fight over mixed up goods.  Awesome.
Now for the binder.  This was a lifesaver.  I'm not one for wanting to put on hours upon hours of movies in the car.  So these came in handy the entire trip.  After scouring Pinterest, I've included links for some of the best printables I used.  The "grade-appropriate" worksheets for my two almost third graders came from workbooks that were sent home at the end of the school year and the ones for my almost Kindergarten came from the internet.  I'm all for keeping your brain going through the summer months.  Here's a breakdown of the binder:
  • Road Trip Map
  • Pouch for Pencils and Dry Erase Markers
  • Games (put in sheet protectors so they could use their dry erase markers on, then re-use later... again a lifesaver)
  • Vacation Journal Pages to document their favorite moments
  • An empty sheet protector for them to slip brochures, tickets, etc into along the way
  • Worksheet Activities divided up by day

Here are the fantastic blogs I got the printables from:

Look at how happy my little blondie is with his board.  :)  I love that I have lots of images imprinted in my mind of looking back to happy faces.

So what's the next thing you need besides activities?  S.N.A.C.K.S.  I've got this covered.  Hubs and I went on a snack shopping spree at the Dollar Tree and Vons and I organized them in the cooler.  I made a detailed list of each snack and how much we had, slapped them in a sheet protector, and crossed the quantities out as we used them.  There was never a struggle determining what we had, how much we had left or where to find them.  Plus, the kids each had their own cupcake pans (which I of course use almost daily), and that made snack time all the more, well, easy.  Super easy separation.  Super easy clean up.

Ok, packing.  I hate packing.  I checked the weather daily to see what each day would be like in each different state.  This was by far the biggest task at hand.  However, I'm a big believer in organizing by ziplock bags, so that's exactly what I did.  I've used ziplock bags for years when we travel.  It's so easy to get the air out and get everything packed so neatly.  Plus, I got all three kids packed for 8 days in ONE suticase.  Go ahead and read that sentence again.  Including shoes.  Yup.  I labeled each bag with their names, day, city (or cities) and the weather expected.  As they would get dressed in the morning, we would put the previous day's dirty clothes in the bag, zip it up and put it back in the suitcase.  No clean clothes touched any dirty clothes ever.

~Let's get on the road~
So at 7:45am on Friday the 13th, we set out on the road.  Of course our first stop was for donuts and coffee... because you just have to.  :)  The same blog that I got the license plate game from also had great printables for a road trip countdown.  I hung them with a ribbon across the van and labeled each large city we were stopping at.  As we went along, we removed each tag and the countdown got smaller.  The kids got a real kick out of it.  They also have a game for the hubby and wife to play while driving.  I've heard that road trips can make or break it for some people.  Let me just go on the record and say, I'm more in love with my husband than the day I said "I do" after this trip.  The questions were so much fun to ask each other and (sometimes) the answers were even better.

Last but not least, my favorite part of the ride (and probably my children's), was the "good behavior" dollar bills.  I picked up some play money from the Dollar Tree (I should seriously get royalties for plugging them so much).

Each half hour, the kids could earn a dollar bill for good behavior.  When they reached four dollars, they could turn them in for a treat (Pixie Sticks, Airheads, Ring Pops, Suckers).  Believe me when I say if you forget when the half hour has passed, they certainly have not.

Here's a couple of my favorite pics to close with:

This is the Clark Fork River we paralleled the entire time through Montana on I-90.  It was so incredible. 
In two places at once!  Standing on the Idaho-Montana border. 
Driving through the clouds of the Idaho mountain roads... can we say beautiful?  And can I just point out that ummmmm, sunset at 9:10pm?  LOL
We spontaneously stayed in Eugene, OR for the night after stopping for gas.  After 10 hours on the road already, the kids were spent, we were spent, and hotwire's "book a room tonight" was fantastic.  We visited the Ducks campus and stopped by their baseball stadium for a local Minor League baseball game.  Perfection.
If you haven't been to the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwoods Forest, I HIGHLY recommend it.  It's a 32 mile detour off the 101, with various "auto stops" along the way to learn different things about the forest.  It was in one word: breathtaking.
Our last big stop was spending the afternoon in one of my favorite little towns, Solvang, CA.  I loved this place as a kid and I felt so fortunate to bring my children to it.  Here is the Mr. Crazy and I on the carriage ride through town to learn more about the history.

And of course, we bought the Olsen's famous (and deadly delicious) butter cookies.

So that's it folks.  Successful, crazy, interesting, l.o.n.g, exhausting, but super fun road trip!  Are you ready to plan one now?  I would love to hear your thoughts!  You should see the stack of laundry I need to get to so I must get back to being a domestic goddess.  Check back in a couple of days for the much requested tutorial on the transformation of my step-daughter's dresser.  I teased with pics on Facebook, but I'll put all the details here.  Have a blessed day friends!


1 comment:

  1. We're moving to who knows where by end of March 2013. We'll have an almost 3 year old, and a 5 month old. Ugh. What a nightmare that will be. But I gotta remember that ziplock bag trick, and hopefully I can find activities to keep an almost 3 year old busy!