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We've just come home from the trip of a lifetime. It was crazy fun. And now I'll tell you a bit about it, if you are interested. If not... feel free to skip it!
First, a little background:
My husband's parents have always wanted to go on a cruise, with the whole family, for their 50th wedding anniversary. So we've been planning that for a couple of years. Then, my brother who is a Southwest flight attendant, now and then gets buddy tickets (standby) which he gives out to the family. It was our turn to use these, so this is what we thought.... we'd fly to Ohio and visit the area where my son has been living and working the past two years, and then rent a car and drive to Florida at which point we'd meet up with the extended family, go on the cruise, and then fly home from there once it was over. It sounded a bit crazy but doable, right?
Well, we are a little bit nervous travelers to begin with, and since we've done the standby thing before, we knew sort of what to expect, which is to bump that anxiety level up several notches. It's especially hard to do with whole family of six, and our previous experience with it was not fun at all. So we weren't really too keen on that part of this plan. We'd planned to leave on Thursday of that week, and then my brother said, no, Wednesday looked better. So we rushed to get ready a day early. Then the night before, he told us that the plane had 10 seats left to sale and 20 people who had listed to fly standby. So that freaked us out and we thought, why are we doing this!
So we up and decided to just get in our car and drive! The relief was overwhelming. So we got up early that morning and drove away.
For those who want the short story, here's the break down of our experience by the numbers:
Miles on the road: 6378
Miles on the ocean: unknown
Gas gallons used: 379
States covered: 20
Countries visited: 5
Capitol cities seen: 10
Days on a boat: 7
Major freeways traveled: 12
Times laundry was done on the road: 3
Bus Tours: 3
Colds caught: 5
Amusement Parks: 2
Racetracks: 3 (one horse, 2 motor)
Downpours survived: 5
Books Read: 7
National Parks/Sites visited: 3
Key chains bought: 9
Shirts bought: 8
Magnets bought: 4
Salt and Pepper sets bought: 5
M and M's consumed: 3 monster bags
Public Restrooms used: countless!
Money spent: countless!
Now for the little longer version! We divided our trip up into five different phases.
Phase One: Get to Ohio. We drove for two days straight and arrived on the very night we'd planned to originally. We slept overnight in Council Bluffs Iowa.
|On the banks of the Mississippi.|
Phase Two: Visit Ohio. We drove all around both Columbus and Cincinnati, visiting friends of my son. We went to a party, to church, and to a barbecue. It was really fun. Three days were spent here in total.
|Making new friends.|
Phase Three: Get to Florida, and see the country. We drove through Kentucky and saw some horses (slept in Lexington.) We drove through Tennessee and saw the Smokies (slept in Knoxville.) We drove through South Carolina and saw an awesome lightening storm (slept in Columbia.) We drove to Savannah Georgia and saw that quaint town and Fort Pulaski. We drove to Orlando and went to Universal Studios (spent three days here.) Six days in all we took on this phase.
|Kentucky horse track.|
|Walking on the Appalachian Trail for a couple of steps.|
|River boardwalk in Savannah.|
|The town of Hell on Grand Cayman.|
|Swimming with the sting rays!|
|Bargaining in Jamaica!|
Phase Five: Get Home! We got off the boat the next Sunday morning, quite early and by that night we were in New Orleans. The next day, we walked around that city for a bit and then by that night we were in Denton Texas. The next day we stopped for a bit in Oklahoma City to see the memorial there, and then by that night we were in Santa Fe New Mexico. The next day, we just drove and drove until we got home! Four days in all it took to drive home.
|Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial|
|New Orleans on the Fourth of July.|
|Driving west into the sunset.|
Random Trip Thoughts:
* I love this country! So beautiful! I love how each state has it's own personality. I may have to do a separate post on that thought.
* Humidity is not my friend. It made me miserable.
* Hotel rooms are not created equal, even within the same chain. Oh, boy we had some REALLY nice ones and some really pretty yucky ones.
* Cruises are not relaxing when done with a crowd of 24 people.
* Ever wonder about all the shredded tire pieces on the road?
* I seem to be fascinated with bridges and cityscapes.
* In Jaimaica, they really talk like you think they do!
* It's impossible to read as much as you hope to on vacation.
* Having a smart phone on a road trip can come in very handy.
* M and M's can get you through many many miles!
* Love the rain, except at amusement parks.
* Drinking water should be free.
* We should have taken more cash!
* The kids did awesome.
* It's good to come home.