The Long Drive Down

Thursday the kids and I packed up into the car, said goodbye to mom and dad, and hit the open road.  Well, really, I spent the two days prior packing all our junk-o-la that we somehow accumulated in 2 months in PA.  Then, we tested out the seating arrangements the night prior to our trip visiting mom at work.  I had to cram both kids seats over to the right side of the car – Zoe in the middle and Avi against the window – so I could lay down the left seat and get more trunk space.  For our junk.  So Zoe rode 3 days stuffed between a box and Avi but with a view straight out the front.  Surprisingly, there were no complaints about the arrangement and she was super helpful with the Avster.  She read him his books, handed him snacks, covered him when he slept, and tried to help calm him down the one time he completely lost it.  This was, of course, in stand still traffic 10 miles before our exit on day 2.  I had to just ignore so I could drive, and she was such a help!  That was the only time Avi seemed peeved about the trip, too.  He would watch Zoe, stare outside, listen to audio books, and SNACK!  For the most party, though, he slept.

I purposely planned our days so the kids would sleep in the car.  Lots of activity in the am, a good nap after lunch, a visit to a playplace, and then more napping before stops.  On the first day we drove from State College to Gettysburg.  I thought visiting Gettysburg on a Thursday would mean fewer crowds, but we still had to park in overflow parking.  It is a ridiculous place really…too many people, too much “stuff”.  We still had a good time learning  and especially getting another stamp in the parks passport. Instead of delving too much into the civil war (I’ve exhausted my interest after Zoe and my trip last summer – too many battlefields between here and there); so we elected to take a shuttle out to Eisenhower’s farm.  It was much enjoyable!  Neat old farm house and they let us just walk around as we pleased…and another stamp.  After returning to the car our few hours at Gettysburg were done, so we drove a half hour down the road to Catoctin Mountain park.  Stamp three for the day and a park more my pace.  We took a lovely hike on  a loop that taught us about making coal, and then out to a great view east.  The kids seemed much pleased with the fresh air after the car ride in the morning and the lines and people at Gettysburg.  Me too.  We spent a couple hours and then returned to the car for a final hour and a half jont down to Winchester, VA.  Our hotel for the night, and it’s indoor pool awaited!


I used my fancy schmancy new iphone to find and book a fancy schmancy hotel that had a good military discount.  The George Washington Hotel in Winchester is pretty cool!  We stayed in a king size bedroom that had a super comfy bed with fancy bedding.  They even brought in one of those rolly cribs for Avi, not a thin old pack and play.  The big highlight, though, was the indoor pool that looked like a spa pool with columns, fountain, and a statue.  I had driven through a taco bell (not fancy schmancy) on the way to the hotel and tried to conceal my uncool dinner as we walked through the marbel lobby to the elevator.  We scarfed our food in the room.  Avi has recently discovered that he loves beans and rice….as does Zoe.  I, of course, get a burrito supreme!  After wiping our rice off the nice floor we changed for the pool!  We swam and splashed.  Zoe found that the shallow end allowed her some freedom.  The hot tub was Avi’s favorite.  We had fun going back and forth from the hot to the cool pool. Didn’t take long for any of us to fall asleep, and after a restful night we hit the road again.  Next stop: Belle Plantation 20 minutes down the freeway.


So, this stop was another place to get my parks passport stamped, and also a good way for the kids to run around, burn energy, and learn before a car ride.  We didn’t tour the actual home because I figured the kids would wreck the place.  So, we stuck to the grounds.  There was a great garden, old orchard, cool old barn, a blacksmith shop, and an old smokehouse.  It was neat to explore using our “self guided tour” pamphlet.  We also joined in the ranger program at 11:30 which was a mistake.  It’s not for the kids – mostly just a history lecture.  When Zoe had to pee I gladly excused us to the porta johns and we headed out for the day.  The kids promptly fell asleep after a handful of snacks, so we made really good time.

We stopped at a McDonalds for some ‘lunch’ around 3:30 and a long time to play at the playplace.  This is essential for happy kids!  I don’t even really care if they eat – they can do that in the car.  But they MUST run around and get tired.  Avi fell asleep again in the car for the last 2 hour push while Zoe and I listened to Peter Pan.  This is the part when Avi awoke to find himself still in the car and lost it…just as we hit traffic.  It all worked out and we got to our hotel.  A Sleep Inn with and indoor pool in Northern Charlotte that offers cheapo rooms for military.  I new the kids would not stand for any drive to a restaurant, so we just walked to the Jack in the Box…ewww… and got dinner.  They actually had some nice rice bowl and salad options we jumped on.  Dropped the food in the room and went for a swim.   Another nice night.

In the morning I wanted the kids to swim again to burn some energy, but Zoe didn’t want too.  So, we got on the road early after our free breakfast.  Avi spent most of breakfast wandering around the food area while other folks laughed at him.  Good to be down south where people don’t care about that kind of thing.  Today was a long drive – 7 hours.  So, we broke it up alot, stopped 3 times at playplaces, and listened to alot of audio stories.  The kids did great.  We rolled into the garage at 7 pm.  The house looks great.  The lawn isn’t too scraggly, the back needs mowed, the garden is overgrown, but the inside is spotless like we left it.  It was 90 degrees and I was nervous the AC wouldn’t work because there had been an issue while I was gone.  It turned on and cranked down 10 degrees in 2 hours.  Works great!  Somehow I had the energy to unpack the car and dump it all in the front hall.  UGH.  Off to bed.  I miss Pennsylvania already.  No fireflies here and it smells funny.  pepperoni funny.

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