The beach. Enticing. Relaxing. The sounds that are so unfamiliar to the landlocked world in which I do life. The heat, the humidity, so different when next to the beach. The air even smells different.
My husband was given the opportunity to provide support for another unit utilizing a range near Eglin AFB (Destin, Florida). It’s a two week mission period and how could I just let him sit pretty on the beach alone? After all our ten year wedding anniversary would fall on a date while he was gone. I mean all the cards just seemed right that we spend our 10th on the beach.
I scavenged all airline websites looking for a great deal. I planned to go down on Wednesday and then come home on Sunday. Surely the tickets should be cheap since those are random times. Sadly, we could fly in but there weren’t flights out the day we wanted to leave.
I made the decision to drive.
736 miles with two children aged 4 and 2.
In my mom van.
Straight down I-65.
Not in the morning or anything, but after I picked Dietrich up from school on that Wednesday. Mind you he gets out of preschool at 11am…
I talked with many women regarding my decision and the response was an resounding, “You’re one brave woman.” I didn’t quite understand that response. I honestly didn’t expect that response. I am not scared to drive my children anywhere, even out of state. I am not afraid of their behavior. I was definitely more afraid at the number of stops we’d have, the unknowns, and the time on the road.
The kids and I took that 736 mile challenge and rocked it. As I’m writing right now, I am sitting in front of the computer the night after we drove. I’ve recovered a whole day here in Florida.
Preparations for the trip down:
- I made a list the weekend before and continued to add to it until the day before. This was I didn’t feel rushed or overwhelmed by the packing. I began physically packing the bags the day before we left.
- I did laundry and had all done the day before we left.
- The house is cleaned, mopped, scrubbed so I could come home to a clean house.
- I turned the HVAC to a high setting so it would use less energy while I was gone.
- All outside toys are put away
- Snacks are packed. Drinks packed. I used a Thirty-One Thermal Market Tote (I think that’s what it is called) and packed all my dry goods in there. I used a Thirty-One Thermal Picnic tote for the cold items. I used a gallon ziplock baggy filled with ice and put it in my Picnic tote to keep the cold items cold.
- snacks included: string cheese, pretzels, raisins, rice cakes, veggie straws, the mickey mouse shaped snacks in the fruit/veggie section at the store, go-gurts, water bottles (camelbacks)
- I had two empty Costco cottage cheese tubs to use for my snack bowls and food bowls. I couldn’t find the pinterest tote anywhere!
- I placed all items I needed on my front passenger seat and floorboard:
- DVDs, charging cords, iPads, snack tote, cold tote, my wallet.
- All drinks were in place in the cupholders next to me. I limited all drinks to only while we were eating a meal. There was a water bottle full of water for us to sip on, though.
- I download the OverDrive app from our online library. I borrowed an audio book from the library that allowed me to play it via blue tooth over my car’s speakers while the kids watched the DVD player with the van’s headphones.
- I prepped my podcasts for sermons I wanted to hear along the way. Again over blue tooth in my car.
Wouldn’t you know it we only needed to stop about an hour and a half after lunch. We drove the full length of Kentucky, Tennessee, and stopped in Athens, Alabama for Chik Fil A and some fuel. We were making excellent time until we got to Birmingham, Al and hit their massive rush hour. This was rush hour that made me think I was in Chicago. We were halted either at a stop or at a very slow speed for close to an hour. There went my early arrival time. Once I knew that was out the window, we stopped on the north side of Montgomery, had a potty break and ordered some Starbucks. That was our last top. With a 2 year old and a 4 year old our 736 mile journey consisted of only 3 stops! Praise God! And dare I say it? I enjoyed the trip with my kids.
What would I do differently?
1. I’d have organized the DVDs better on the front seat because it was hard to handle them loose on the front seat and pay attention to the road.
2. I’d drink more water. I only had 1 large sugar free iced coffee from McDonalds, a diet lemonade from Chik Fil A, and then a Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. I had a terrible headache that lasted through this morning. The dehydration also caused me to not be able to relax and fall asleep for a few hours.
3. I’d have made a scheduled time for calling ppl to call along the way. People I hadn’t talked to in a long time. The two people I did talk to on my way down really enlighten me and raised my spirits on the long haul (Uh hem, Alabama!).
4. I’d have left at 6am instead of a little after 11am, trying to avoid rush hours better and if I drove from 6am-4pm, it would be like a work day and I could have gotten here, unpacked the car, and just relaxed by the pool.
If you’re contemplating a trip like this, my response would be DO IT! Do it scared. Do it afraid. Do it nervous. My friend told me before we left, “Remember the vacation starts as soon as you’re in that car. Enjoy it.” Perspective. I could have been in terrible spirits about the trip, most especially the stopped rush hour period, but when I took the time to enjoy the memories being made in that car ride down, that’s what was important. The memories, the fun, the one-on-one time I get with my children. We won’t always have this type of time together.
I didn’t bring any special games, any special treats, nothing was out of the ordinary for this trip. We left–Mom, son, daughter–exactly who we are and our normal lives and went with it.
So returning to the original thoughts people said to me when I told them what I was doing–they called me brave. At first I can see this. I can see that it is brave. But what is more than brave… it is bold. I will continue to be a bold woman of God, putting full faith in Him, tackling every task and obstacle ahead of me, showing my kids as living proof that they, too, can be bold.
What are your thoughts? Will you be bold and do something like this? Have you already been bold in other ways? Share your thoughts below.
Homeward saga in the next post.