This summer my family and I went on a major road trip, from Arizona to Maine. My husband and I loaded up our minivan with our three small children and headed East! We drove cross country, spent two fantastic weeks in Maine, and then drove all the way back home.
As soon as we got home, life got super busy (as usual) with school starting and choir camp and theatre stuff, etc. I’ve barely had time to look through my photos! But I am so excited to share our adventures over several blog posts, and today is post #1!
We left home on June 30th. Everything was packed and ready to go the night before, and then the next morning I had to take Harrison for his 1-year checkup before we could leave.
He was very happy.
When we got home, Daniel had himself and Carter and Vanessa all ready to go, so we loaded up and got on the road by 9am!
As we drove off, Daniel surprised me by saying, “How should we start our road trip? Maybe you should look behind your visor.”
Our first day seemed to fly by. Daniel just drove and drove, and we stopped for food, gas, and restroom breaks, but that was about it! The kids were happily occupied with their toys and tablets, and Daniel and I listened to TV shows, and I read to him from a book we were both reading.
The time went by quickly, literally passing before our eyes as we crossed into New Mexico and changed time zones, and then again in Texas!
We had decided that we would power through our first night, trading off driving, and try to drive a full 24 hours, since we had plans to stop in St. Louis, which was just about 24 hours away. That would put us there at the perfect time to stop and visit the Gateway Arch and then get back on the road for the remainder of the day.
Our van has the stow-and-go seats which allow the center row of seats to fold down completely into the floor of the van. Before leaving home we set up the two older kids’ booster/car seats in the backseat, Harrison’s in one of the middle seats, and we folded the extra middle row seat into the floor, creating a large space behind the passenger seat, with lots of blankets and pillows. We both used that space many times during our trip to take naps while the other drove. It was fantastic. The kids slept really well in their car seats, and we figured it was better to get in some hours of driving while they were sleeping, rather than waking them to transfer into a hotel room, and it also gave them fewer hours of just sitting in their car seats during the day.
We got to St. Louis in the late morning of July 1st, and we ate lunch at a little corner cafe in an office building before visiting the arch.
As we drove into the city, I said, “Hey Carter, do you see anything cool that you might want to go check out?”
Carter: “Well…there is a huge arch over there!”
So we checked it out.
To get up to the top of the arch, you get into these little egg-like pods that travel up the sides of the arch, kind of like a cross between an elevator and a ferris wheel. If you are at all claustrophobic, this is not for you! We all thought it was really cool though.
At the top there is a narrow observatory where you can look out through tiny windows on either side. It reminded me a lot of the Washington Monument, just a different shape!
Harry and I stood on the very center of the arch!
The egg pods take just 3-4 minutes to travel up and down the arch, and there is a little gallery walk-through at the bottom, showing how the arch was built. It was very interesting to read about and to see the footage of them placing the final block. There was a net stretched across the two sides of the arch, but I was still nervous watching the people standing outside on top of the arch as the last piece was put into place!
After getting our feet back on solid ground, we decided to treat the kids to some ice cream sandwiches.
Then it was back in the car and onward to our next destination: New York City!
Daniel and I have visited the Big Apple many times, but our kids have never been. They were excited to see such a huge city. Or maybe not. Carter keeps saying that his favorite part of the whole trip was our NYC visit…because of the LEGO store in Rockefeller Center!
We took the kids on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. We really wanted to visit the statue, but I didn’t realize that tours are booked out months in advance! At least they got to see it from the boat.
After our ferry ride we got hot dogs from a street vendor and enjoyed them in Battery Park.
Then we checked into our hotel in Times Square. After getting everyone settled, I ran out to see what I could get for Broadway tickets at TKTS. We didn’t know for sure what we wanted to see, so I took all the brochures that were handed to me.
I felt like Buddy the Elf.
We had arranged with a friend of ours who moved to NYC just a few weeks prior, to come watch our kids in our hotel room while we went to see a show. He was so nice to oblige and came straight from work. The kids loved him (thank you Brian!), and he texted me at intermission to say that Harry was asleep, he and Carter had built a fort, and he and Vanessa were pretending to have ice cream pizza.
We ended up seeing If/Then (Daniel’s first choice), and it was super totally fantastic. Idina Menzel is seriously a star. So talented. I also wanted to tell Vanessa, “I saw Elsa!”
In the morning we checked out, left our luggage with the hotel, and headed out for a little sightseeing.
On the Times Square steps
Where are the kids? Can you find them?
There’s the kids!
We walked to Rockefeller Center where Carter got to see his beloved LEGO store.
Lego Rockefeller Center #meta
And Harry showed us the pizza parlor he opened when we weren’t paying attention.
The kids took their first subway ride, because I wanted to “get off at 181st and take the escalator.” Anyone?
We grabbed some pizza in Washington Heights for lunch, and then we rode the subway back to pick up our car and luggage, and finish out our drive to Maine. We arrived in Old Orchard Beach at about 10pm local time, on July 3rd.
To be continued…