So remember how I was nuts and said we were driving to WDW from New Mexico? I wanted to drive for a few reasons. #1 airfare for a family of 5 is ridiculous! Seriously, you have to have the finances of a small country to get the privilege of being vigorously frisked by TSA only to be stuffed in an airtight tube with the rest of the passengers like traveling sardines. #2 I feel every kid should experience a good old fashioned road trip, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It allows the kids to actually see parts of the country they couldn’t see from the air, and appreciate the size of the states. Plus, it makes for some fond family memories! (Maybe some of them more fond than others…) So I was dead set on driving which I’m sure gave my Dad a few extra gray hairs, he is a worrier.
After making all of our Disney shirts, packing said shirts, making a plan of travel and loading everyone up in the car we were off on our adventure on May 12th. I had planned 2 days of travel for the 1,700+ miles to Mickey’s House. We wanted to leave at 4am but Brandon needed to make a stop at the bank before hand, so we had to wait for it to open. So we actually left a little after 9am. So after that we were officially on the road!
The plan was for Brandon and I to switch driving and I was doing the 1st leg of the trip. The weather in New Mexico was overcast and very windy. I was doing ok driving until we were on I-40 near Edgewood, NM where the canyon winds were in full force. It was scary driving with those winds especially with the semi’s on the road with me that were swerving all over. In fact, we seriously almost got into a major car accident not 30 minutes outside of Albuquerque! A semi swerved into my lane and I instinctively swerved to the shoulder. The little road bump things on the side caused my van to swerve right into the middle of the road. I almost hit that damn semi! Then I was trying to correct and I swerved back into the median. Seriously, the van almost flipped! I was able to control the van to finally straighten out and I parked on the median. Holy BLEEEP!!!! All of us were freaking out. I was shaking and on the verge of tears! Still having PTSD from my accident last August didn’t help! Brandon and I decided that we would switch drivers and he got behind the wheel and we headed back out. Of course when we caught up to the stupid truck I gave him a dirty look. Idiot was on his cell phone while driving.
We made it to Amarillo, Texas where we made a pit stop to potty and fill up the van. I grabbed the sandwiches I packed for lunch while the boys watched Titanic. Riley had learned about it in school and wanted to watch the movie. Of course I missed fast forwarding the part where Jack is drawing Rose so the boys got an anatomy lesson too. Oh well, there are worse things for them to see!
Then the worst part of the trip. Driving across Texas. Holy Moly does it have to be so dang big? We saw miles and miles of wind farms which kept the boys interested for exactly 30 seconds. Other than that it was flat land and farms. Until we got into Dallas. It was already dark out by the time we got there so it was hard navigating the freeways. The boys enjoyed seeing all of the huge buildings especially lit up at night. Then we made another pit stop at a gas station that we soon realized was in a bad part of town. I made Riley stay in the stall with me turned around while I went to the bathroom, that scary! We hauled butt out of there and continued on. Once we got to Tyler, Tx Brandon was getting tired so I started looking for places to stop. I originally thought about Shreveport but many of the hotels near the freeway didn’t have the greatest reviews, dirty and unsafe. So I made Brandon drive further up to Bossier City where I booked us at Ramada Inn right off the freeway. Poor guy was exhausted and the last 30 minutes of the trip I was singing silly songs to him trying to help him focus and not be sleepy. We pulled in shortly before midnight where we grabbed what we needed and crashed. I was smart enough to pack us a bag of clothes and toiletries we could just pull out instead of dragging out all of our suitcases for the whole trip. I don’t think any of us slept very well. They had 2 double beds so I slept with Riley and Brandon slept with James, and Joseph slept on the floor with his camping mat and sleeping bag. Riley kicked me all night and I woke up several times with his feet in my face.
But the next morning we loaded up, ate from the continental breakfast and we were off again. Brandon and I had sneakily planned to head to Monroe, La. The boys and him are obsessed with Duck Dynasty and we wanted to go to their store. As soon as we pulled up Joseph recognized it immediately and started almost hyperventilating. He was so so excited! Riley was in a grumpy mood for whatever reason and was being such a pill. Probably tired and tired of being cooped up in the car. But Joseph and James couldn’t wait to get their picture in front of the iconic sign!
When we got into the store the boys were in awe. They were like kids in a candy store! Joseph had to look at everything and couldn’t decide what souvenir to get. The big boys decided on bobble heads and Duck Commander dog tags. Riley got a duck call cross necklace. We spent more time in there than planned but we were out of the car for a bit. No, we didn’t see the Duck Commander guys, but the boys didn’t seem to mind!
Then we were off again! Brandon was still driving and I was the navigator. Which worked out better anyway because the love of my life couldn’t read a map to save his life! We were planning on making our way to Mississippi before the next stop. We were making pretty good time and made it to the river in the early afternoon. When Brandon and I pointed out we were crossing the river the boys didn’t believe us! They were used to the Rio Grande River of ours that is more like a stream than a river. Riley insisted it was a lake! We stopped at the Welcome Center for a potty break and to take in the scenery.
It was a lovely Welcome Center and I recommend it for any of your road trips. So then we were back on the road heading up to Jackson, Ms. Either it was the Benadryl or Riley stopped fighting his grumpy sleepiness and finally fell asleep! Ah, nice and quiet! The boys watched a gazillion movies on the way. I had planned all of these activities, books, etc and the thing that kept them entertained was the DVD player. Thank you kind sir or madam who came up with this glorious invention!
We made our way into Mobile, Al where the boys got their 1st tiny glimpse at the ocean! We saw a cruise ship and some other barges nearby and they thought that was pretty cool. After one little wrong turn snaffoo we were back on track and made our way across the bridge heading towards Daphne, Al which is where by best blogging buddy Mandi lives! I had been updating her through text and let her know we’d stop by on the way back. We were so close to Florida now! Riley was beside himself with asking when we were gonna get there! Finally not long after we made it!
So we got here at about 5:30pm. About 30 minutes after the Welcome Center closed, so no freshly squeezed Florida orange juice for us. So we just had a little pit stop and headed back out again. About this time my mom called and said she was in Orlando and at Caribbean Beach. I was really wanting to make it there tonight so she wouldn’t be there by herself. By my calculations we’d make it in about midnight. So we were trucking along when about 2 hours later Brandon was exhausted. I tried to drive but I was exhausted too. We decided to be safe and pull into the next town. Which was Chipley, Florida. Remember this town, we will be talking about it later… We decided to stop at Quality Inn for the night. When we 1st got to the room we were happy to see Queen beds! But after Riley being a sleeping ninja the night before no one wanted to sleep with him! So he got his own bed, Brandon and I in one bed, and the big boys on the floor in their sleeping bags.
We had ordered pizza, took showers and hit the hay. We all slept like rocks. The beds were very comfortable! When we woke up the next morning we all felt better. We got breakfast at the continental breakfast, packed up and were on the road again! We knew we were getting closer and closer when we started seeing Disney billboards! And some not so Disney billboards advertising a very adult establishment that “welcomed couples”!
We finally made it home for the next week at Caribbean Beach Resort a little after 3pm! We made it! All in one piece! We didn’t have to tie any kid up on the roof rack! Now we were ready to be immersed in all things Disney! However, in the next post you’ll see a big “Oh No!” moment!
QOTD? Have you ever made a long family road trip? What is your favorite memory?