A New Chapter, An Adventure, A Journey
As I look back at these pictures and updates from our road trip a year ago, I feel such a flood of emotions. I felt nervous and excited, sad but also motivated…we had waited so many years for this day, and here we were. We were starting our road trip/move to the United States. I felt so grateful I wasn’t doing it alone as I squeezed Brendon’s hand. This one minivan contained most of our earthly belongings and our entire family, our entire life! We were leaving everything but our memories, experiences and the two additions to our family, to head West and South towards an opposing coast to begin a new chapter of our lives. What an adventure!
I can remember the busy-ness of this day! We had pushed back our departure date by a few days as we were waited for yet more car paperwork, a car, mind you, which was packed to max capacity with all our essentials, plus a few treasures we couldn’t bear to leave behind. This was a painful process: I stood by as we packed and unpacked all the things we loved in a real-life Tetris game, eventually choosing to unload and store our precious Christmas decorations, a computer display, a stroller and a few other “wants” in favor of “needs” sealed in vacuum bags. Detachment is so hard!
I chuckle about it now, but I remember we went around the car and stuffed every empty crack we could find with 3 weeks’ worth of diapers! Haha. They were EVERYWHERE: oozing from between and under the seats, in every pocket and unused cup-holder we could find. With 2 in diapers for the next 2 weeks on the road, I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to be left unprepared! I was also very particular when it came to the type and price of disposable diapers they wore, as I had cloth diapered them both until this point, so gas-station Huggies were not going to do the trick.
Sharing our Road Trip, Day by Day
From the day we arrived here and settling down, I’ve dreamed about sharing the daily logs from our road trip (which I shared only on my private Facebook page), photos and videos, as well as some funny adventure stories and practical tips/lessons for anyone planning to travel long distances in a very full car with very busy babies and/or toddlers. I wrote these daily updates as a way to keep our family in the loop and let them know, every night, that we had arrived at our next destination point safe and sound. Little did I know that we would get such a following of friends and relatives who were interested in following our trip! I am so grateful that God gave me the perseverance to keep them up because they are such treasures to our family now, and an online journal we can always look back on.
Note: I have put the updates I wrote last year in italics so you easily differentiate what I wrote last year and what I’m adding today.
I hope you join us for the next 15 days as we relive this forever epic #peitocaliforniaroadtrip!
Day 1: July 5, 2016
Summerside, PE to Bangor, ME
It was a beautiful day to begin a journey. Mostly sunny, with a blessing to send us on our way, and a car so stuffed we can’t see out the back! Haha.
We started off our trip way later than we expected due to packing and sorting what things to leave behind and repacking and still forgetting quite a few important things! Yikes! Thank goodness for family and packages to come! I was able to admire the beauty and charm of the Maritimes as we drove and knew in my heart that I would miss PEI and Canada, the place where Brendon and my life were forever changed and enriched in so many ways but most of all with the greatest gift of our children: Dominic and Audrey.
We made it through the border safe and sound and were able to import our car without any issues. Praise God! Poor sweet Audrey found the drive to be much more difficult than anyone else but we are hopeful she’ll get better as we continue on our journey.
We are nestled in bed (finally!) in Bangor after devouring a late supper at Chipotle. My sweethearts are all already snoring away. I should join them. More tomorrow! #peitocaliforniaroadtrip
But Before We Go…
Practical Tips & Funny Stories of the Day
- We made sure to pack everything we could possibly need within an arm’s reach in the front 2 rows for easy access. I placed a basket of favorite toys by Dominic’s feet so I could easily swap them out. I also had stashed a few new toys/books to gift to them at the opportune moments (when all else failed). We had pretty much everything on my Top 5 Baby Feeding Gear For On the Go and At Home list except for the bibs, which I so wish we’d had on the road trip! The smelly, semi-wet and floppy bibs on the road was NOT delightful. I also had a basket of snacks (food pouches, Mum-Mums, crackers, juice boxes and snacks for the grown-ups) and wipes on hand. Our Odyssey’s dashboard cooling box was particularly nice for snacks.
- We packed up our nightly needs into suitcases, luggage and a cooler that we would take in every night, last so we had easy access and to minimize the effort to repack the van the next day. We had a cooler with food and drinks to save money and eat healthier on the road. By Day 3 I think we were pretty much done with greasy fried foods.
- Food: Chipotle is not a great choice for feeding babies/toddlers. Too spicy! Delicious for adults and pretty fresh, but even the rice was too spicy for our little ones.
- Shopping: Costco trips are great for a few things, but a packed car + buying in bulk: not the smartest idea. However, prepackaged hummus, juice boxes, beef jerky and a few other snacks were nice to have on hand.
- Formula: Babies get used to room temperature formula pretty quickly when they are hungry enough. I worried about warming up Audrey’s bottles but she adjusted pretty quickly. Before heading out each day we filled our Dr. Brown bottles with filtered water and pre-measured out formula in Tommee Tippee Formula Dispensers for a quick bottle prep on the road or at a rest stop. I packed a little travel bottle with dish soap and a bottle scrubby to clean and refill our bottles/dispensers every night.
- Entertainment: We quickly found that the DVD player in our car bought us about 20-40 mins of pacified driving time. If you have one, use it! Bring several different DVDs with you. If you don’t, consider a tablet of some sort to give to the kids as a last resort. We ended up with a rotation of 5 different DVDs through our road trip. Of course, we purchased a full season of Paw Patrol at an early rest stop. So much peace!
- Car Seating Arrangement: We sat our kids next to each other so an adult could have a comfortable captain’s chair to sit in when the kids needed one of us. Seating them together also allowed them to entertain each other which was a plus.
- Port of Entry: Be prepared for at least an hour stop. On the plus side, we gained an hour once we crossed from Atlantic to Eastern Time Zone, and given the entry port we chose, things were pretty empty so all we had to wait for was a rookie officer to sign and stamp paperwork.
- Floor Mat: Gramma gifted us a easy fold-up tent floormat to lay down for the kids for our hotel/motel stays. The beds were too high for the kids to sleep or play on safely while we unpacked/packed but I also didn’t want them on the floor finding things in the carpet etc. It didn’t guarantee the kids stayed on it all the time, but it gave me more peace of mind to make them a little play spot on the floor that was safe and clean. It also served as a great picnic meal area for our family. We did a lot of picnicking.
- Sleeping: Most of the time we placed Dominic (2.5 years) in a pack n play and co-slept with Audrey (9 months) in a king size bed. That worked for us as Audrey still wasn’t sleeping through the night at that point and I was able to rest easier knowing she was right next to me.
- Sleeping: We bought an extra noise machine for this road trip. One stayed in the car with batteries and the other was in our night bag. This helped create a familiar sleeping environment for the kids. I also packed a small diffuser which truly saved the day on Day 2…. but more on that tomorrow…