A few weeks ago the family and I made the 16-hour drive from Portland to California. It was spontaneous – we decided on Thursday night at 11:30pm to leave Friday (the very next day) at 5pm. Spontaneity can go one of a few ways, of course. Fortunately for us, the time on the road was mild and tolerable and the fun California was 98% rainbows and unicorns (and 2% terrible two’s freakout shit).
We had been texting with Isaac’s adorably pregnant (and past due) sister all Thursday. All signs pointed to the arrival of our new niece on Friday. Isaac frantically hunted for a flight out of PDX that would get him to LA by Saturday morning. As he reviewed the super pricy flight selections, I wrestled with the tragedy of missing out on meeting our niece. We joked about jumping on the freeway and heading down as a family… and then one thing led to another and we decided to do just that. Isaac booked a flight from LAX to PDX in time to make it back to work the next week and I planned to spend the remainder of the week in Newport… crossing my fingers that I could find a driving buddy to join me on the return trip the following weekend.
Isaac packed his bag Thursday night and I spent Friday packing for the rest of us. By the time Isaac got home from work Friday, the Bodenettes were showered, the car was packed (mainly with food and bikinis) and the iPad was loaded with movies and episodes of Dinosaur Train and Curious George. We hit the road at 5:30pm and were holding our darling niece at 10am the following morning. It was so very good.
I love roadtripping because driving puts me in full control of all the trip details, it’s cheaper than buying airfare for the whole family and saves us from having to rent a car in the final destination city. It’s also a great time for solid, uninterrupted conversation with Isaac. We’ve done a lot of roadtripping in our time and we keep coming back for more. The drive from Portland to Newport Beach was the longest drive I had ever made.
However… the bummer about roadtrips is the obvious necessity of being stuck in a car for hours on end. And the terrifying part of roadtripping with kids is being trapped in the car with kids for hours on end. “Are we there yet?” is just the tip of the iceberg, trust me.
But, thanks to a few roadtrip essentials, the trip to California was rather breezy for our family of four:
- Epic Timing – We drove through the night. This was tough and mighty tiring, but so worth it. The road can be a dark place for a parent when they have pissed little people in tow. However, it can be rather relaxing if those little people are asleep. So, we minimized the time the kids spent awake in the car. I think this was the most critical element to our successful trip… It’s also the main contributing factor to my utter exhaustion the past week. I draw back was driving through Oregon and Northern California in the dark – it looks like that stretch of land is breathtaking.
- Food – Food, food and more food. I brought everything from seaweed to PB sandwiches to packets of oatmeal to popcorn. My middle of the night driving shifts were fueled by cut up bell peppers, seaweed and dark chocolate. Isaac went with the more traditional roadtrip munchie of choice, sunflower seeds.
- Entertainment – Movies and TV episodes for the kids, music and podcasts for Isaac and I. Since I had yet to jump on the Serial bandwagon, it was perfect listening for my middle of the night driving shifts.
- Pillows and Such – Being as I wanted my kids to sleep, I brought large blankets for them and allowed them to bring a few stuffed animals for padding. Since Isaac and I switched off driving through the night, I brought one pillow and a kid’s size sleeping bag for the passenger seat.
As it turned out, my dad was able to make the return trip to Portland with me. Again we left around 5pm and arrived the following morning. Aside from a three hour period of Bodenette revolt in the middle of the night, we made it through unscathed.
P.S. The actual time in California was awesome. In many ways it was as if I had never left… which was a relief but a little sad too.
Are you a roadtripper? What’s the most memorable trip you have ever made?