Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We Have Returned from Our Epic Trip

Oh, it’s been a long eleven days. How I love being home!IMGP9119

Dan and I took the kids on a long road trip to visit my relatives back East. We left home on July 2 and drove 12.5 hours to West Virginia to visit my Uncle Bob and Aunt Florence (Bob is my mom’s brother).

Let me stop the story right there. Do you have ANY idea how fantastical that statement was? I am a mother who has NEVER driven longer than three hours with Jackson. It just didn’t happen. But I surprised myself and quite a few relatives by agreeing to drive to West Virginia. And it turned out to be halfway pleasant! Dan drove, I hooked the kids into their own portable DVD players (thank you, God, for technology!), and I read THREE books in the car. Woo!IMGP9125

I forgot to mention: Katie lost her first front tooth before we even left our driveway. Her second one fell out about 24 hours later.IMGP9214a

So we arrived in West Virginia, in this little town called Great CaCapon – which is on the CaCapon River. We stayed in a hotel the first night, then went to Uncle Bob and Aunt Florence’s cabin (they call it the CaCabin on the CaCapon). We floated down the CaCapon River, then hung out on the front lawn of the CaCabin with relatives I haven’t seen in more than 15 years. I think there was a total of 41 people staying at the CaCabin.IMGP9335a

Of course, there wasn’t room inside so we all camped on the front lawn.IMGP9418

Stop the story again… did you hear that? I camped with my kid? Katie has done it, but it was another first for Jackson. (And a LAST one too. He cried a bit that first night and kept a few people awake, so I took him back to the hotel for the second night.)

We went to the Great CaCapon July 4th parade that evening, after a fried chicken dinner by the volunteer firefighters’ auxiliary. Small town America is such fun!IMGP9229

The night ended with fireworks.IMGP9399

On Monday (July 5), we loaded up the car and added an additional kid (my niece, Peyton) and drove to Washington, DC. We stopped at the White House for just a few minutes so we could show Katie.IMGP9519-

Jackson was NOT pleased to be there.IMGP9521

Dan caught a flight home to Missouri, and I picked up one more passenger – my cousin’s daughter, Hope. We drove one of the most harrowing roads I have ever been on (Interstate 95) and made it to Camp Grandma with my nerves frazzled after four hours in awful traffic.

Camp Grandma is at my Uncle John and Aunt Lucy’s house, near Williamsburg Virginia. (Uncle John is my dad’s brother.) Mama Lucy invites her grandkids to her house for a week of no rules, junk food, and fun day trips. It’s like a week-long slumber party on crack. Last year, Lucy invited my kids (and my sister’s kids), since there are no grandparents on our side of the family.

This year, there were six girls (three almost-12-year-olds, one 10-year-old, one 7-year-old, and one almost-6-year-old) plus my one 3-year-old boy. Oh, it was a mess. Jackson surprised me with how well he fit in with the girls. They liked him and thought he was so cute. And when he got annoying, they just sent him to play with another set of girls.

We spent the week staying up late, skipping naps, and eating junk. Our first day was a trip to the water park.DSCN1492

Our second day was a trip to Target for a grandma-funded mini shopping spree. That night, the kids decorated their own Camp Grandma shirts.IMGP9591

I also broke out the henna and decorated the kids. They wanted their bellies decorated, so I obliged.IMGP9610

Our third day was a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We were there for ELEVEN hours. Straight.DSC_0500a

Friday was a quieter day at home, when other relatives came to visit and join the fun for dinner.IMGP9732

The kids made their own birthday cakes so they could celebrate with Mama Lucy, since she can’t be with everyone on their birthdays. The cakes ended up smashed on the girls’ faces. Yuck.IMGP9734

Saturday was a trip to the local public beach, which was cut short by rain.IMGP9757

We went to see Toy Story 3 that night instead, and that wrapped up our week at Camp Grandma.

On Sunday, I loaded the kids in the car and drove 11 hours to Kentucky. Yes… by myself. And, yes, we survived. (Just barely.) Along the way, we stopped and saw my stepmother, Maureen.IMGP9802

We also stopped to visit the graves of my dad, my brother, my grandmother and my grandfathers. It was the closest my son has ever been to his namesake, Uncle Jackson. (And that brought on quite a few tears for me.)IMGP9810a

We ended the night in Kentucky at my sister-in-law’s house. Bonnie is my brother’s widow. Her son Jude is about to turn two, and he was so darn adorable. The kids played together in Jude’s inflatable pool, then we went inside for bath and bedtime.IMGP9859

We got up yesterday and drove the last five hours home.

It was an epic trip. In all, my kids met 58 living relatives from my side of the family – plus five dead ones, if you count the stop in the cemetery. Now we are home. My body is weary, my patience is almost non-existent, and I am beyond thrilled to have naptime to myself so I can blog (Katie is plugged into the desktop computer – can you blame me?). I NEED time to myself as badly as I need air to breathe.

So what’s the bottom line from our trip? Besides the educational aspect of visiting nine states with my kids (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky), I learned: I am capable of traveling with my kids, even by myself. I really miss mountains and tall trees. Jackson can survive without a nap (although he isn’t at peak performance level, of course). I am blessed to have extended family who include me and my kids in their traditions. I thrive on routine. So do my kids. I miss my parents with a deep ache. My tires need a good rotation and balance. Junk food makes me feel gross. I take uninterrupted sleep for granted. Life is lonely without Dan by my side.

And there truly IS no place like home.


Gina said...

This sounds like the best vacation EVER. (Maybe second to Jamaica.) And you, my friend, are my new hero. There's no way I would have been brave enough to do what you did on that trip!!

Scenes From The Barn Door said...

What a meaningful trip. I LOVE the camp grandma idea...will definitely have to borrow that one.

Mary said...

TeeHee...made me laugh:) Told you that you could and would survive!!!


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