The Journey Home

I’m completely exhausted.

I’m physically and mentally worn out.

The trip home was painful.

Saturday afternoon, Dustin and I scheduled a boat ride on the SeaBlaster so we could take a ride on the bay and also see some dolphins. We knew they kids would have a blast. What I’m not sure we knew was how much fun we’d have as a family. The pure joy ran deep in our veins. The faces in front of us, enjoying life together, making memories that will last our lifetimes. Reluctant for the ride to be over, we knew what was ahead… our vacation was quickly coming to an end. That long drive home sneaking to the front of my mind. Clouding that fun.

We went back to the hotel room to finish packing. All physical symbols of this vacation were placed into the back of the van. The kids ate a bit of left overs in the room. I loaded up on some coffee. The hallway that once led us to adventures of the day was now leading us to our trip’s end.

Dustin helped me get the kids buckled in. As I looked at him, my heart and body ached. I was deeply saddened because not only was the vacation over for the kids and I, but we had to leave Dustin behind. He didn’t get to come home with us. Now, I know some people wouldn’t understand this. Actually, it appears a lot of people wouldn’t understand the agony we both felt. It’s not that I love my husband more than the next gal, but the thing is, my husband is my best friend. He’s the one I choose to do life with. He’s the one that I have the most fun with. He’s the one that understands my needs more than I understand myself. He’s the one that spoils me when I’m at home and gives more than I will ever understand how one can give. The two children we have, they are an extension of us. The love we have for one another is deepened in the eyes of those children. We love our family. We love being together and doing life together. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when the kids and I pulled away from that hotel parking lot, leaving the hotel in the rearview mirror, the tears fell from my face. I was leaving a piece of me behind. A piece of my life missing from that front seat. The tears also fell because I’m so grateful that the life we’ve created is one that is so different than others around us. We pray nightly that our family would be different because we are different. That Saturday night, we were reassured, our family is indeed different.

I just assumed I’d be writing about the journey home, giving tips and tricks, and letting you in on what occurred inside that mom van. If that had been the case, I would have left out a huge chunk had I not shared the agony that came from leaving my husband behind.

As we drove across the bridge that took us out of Destin, I sobered and remembered I am still on vacation with the two children in the back seat. My co-pilots were the best ever. There was no fighting, no screaming, no yelling. It was all laughing, giggles, and the never ending, “Snack please.”

We left at 6:04pm Central time, and hour later Eastern time. The drive through the forests and things was so long. It was windy, green and brown turning to dark grey as it was misting. There was this lovely pollen stuck to my windows, side mirrors, and the camera attached to the right side mirror. All that combined made for visual difficulties and I’m glad we drove that section in daylight. Cell signal dropped during most of that time as well also making it a bit challenging as I lost my Google Map on my phone. (Glad I wrote the directions down, old school style, too!)

There are hardly any places to stop along that route, too. Just a fair warning! Of course Dietrich had to use the potty in the middle of nowhere. Randomly a Marathon station popped up on the left. We pulled in. There were some sketchy folks around. I grabbed my kids and ran in to the bathroom as fast as I could. I’m pretty sure my paranoia was totally unwarranted. When we got in the bathroom I noticed the countertops were granite, the facility was immaculately clean (probably cleaner than my own bathroom). Outside it looked like normal vacationers were fueling up. Whew! My mind raced to crazy movies–we were in the forest, no lights except this gas station. Was just a bit freaked out.

I-65 was ahead. Alabama is now my least favorite state to drive. I thought it was Indiana on I-69, but Alabama takes the cake. Montgomery is very pretty. If you need to stop somewhere near Montgomery, Exit 179 is great. They have a little bit of everything including a cupcake place :). It’s very safe and lots of Airmen around ;).

By the time we got to Birmingham Daylan was asleep. Dietrich was still wide awake and told me to put on my audio book and he’d use the headphones to watch his movie. Birmingham’s skyline is pretty. The mountains/hills are beautiful at night with the light pollution illuminating them. Just north of town Dietrich was snoring. It was about 10:30 Central time. We still had one more hour to go until our half way point at Athens, Alabama where we planned to stay for the night. Athens, Alabama is a bible college town. Very low-key, southern charm kind of place. Days Inn welcomed us and I never thought I’d be so happy to see a bed. This Exit (state road 72 I believe) is safe, has a Chik Fil A, Starbucks, and was right next to I-65.

It was 11:45 central when we pulled into Days Inn. I was exhausted. Could barely keep my eyes open. I got checked in, drove to our room. Luckily that morning I packed a bag specific for us to use at this hotel so I wasn’t lugging in our huge bag. Inside the bag were Pjs, a change of clothes, toothbrushes/paste, kids blankets, and medicines.

I put Daylan on our king bed and didn’t change her out of her dress. Just threw blankets on her and let her sleep. Dietrich got changed into his jammies and laid down. I got changed and laid down and we were out by 12:30 or 1 that night.

7:50 rolled around and we were back up and at it. Got some breakfast, some Starbucks, gas, cleaned the pollen off my windows and mirrors, and off we went. We drove straight through Tennessee and stopped just south of Glascow, Ky for some lunch and bathroom break.

The next stop was on the south side of Louisville, got a little more gas (glad I did as Indiana’s was much higher!) and had another potty break. We got about 40 minutes from home and had to do one more potty break and we rolled in around 3:45pm Eastern time.

The whole trip home we did nothing special. We did buy the kids a new dvd of a tv show for the car, but that was it. No iPads, no games, nothing. They were content with their snacks and their blankets/teddy bears. 

I broke the home trip up into 5 1/2 hour increments. 5 1/2 hours from Destin to Athens and then 5 1/2 hours from Athens to Indianapolis. The travel time included our stops.

I was joking with someone the other day about how the philosophy I was told on driving long distances was to stop to eat, pee, and fuel up all at the same time. That philosophy doesn’t work when you can drive nearly 500 miles on a tank of gas. I’m going all out bragging here, but the 2014 Honda Odyssey got 28.9 miles a gallon on this trip. Woo hoo for fuel mileage! So if you have a fuel efficient vehicle and plan to travel, just be aware you’ll stop more for restroom breaks than you will for fuel!

Next post will include some family pictures, some of the things we did while in Destin, and some fun things I wish we would have had the time to do.

What’s been your experience with road trips?

Will you take a road trip alone with the kids?

How about your family situation, do you feel the physical separation from your spouse and children when you’re apart? Do you yearn for your family or do you like your distance? Does your family breathe life into your very being? If not, why?

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hey, i’m Danielle

I love Jesus. I love my family. And I get joy from having a front row view of people growing toward their goals because of what I’ve taught.

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