Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Big Trip!

View The Big Trip in a larger map

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
Days: 22
Nights: 21
Weeks: 3
Hotels: 10
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
Sunburns: 3
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.

Phase Four: Go on a Caribbean cruise with the whole family! We met up with everyone who had all gradually arrived in Orlando. That Sunday morning we got on the big huge boat, Freedom of the Seas, and spent the next week seeing Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Beautiful places, but hot. The humidity sapped me big time! Seven days were spent on the cruise during this phase.

The town of Hell on Grand Cayman.

Holding turtles.

The Boat!

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.


  1. Awesome trip! And awesome post! I love the stats, the photos, and the random thoughts (all of which could be elaborated upon in future posts).

  2. Wow, I think I got a tiny tiny bit jealous, there. Not of the humidity or the driving but of the whole experience! It looks like you had a blast! I can't believe all the stats. Crazy! I've never done a road trip and as much as I hate driving I've always wanted to take one. Thanks for sharing pics.

  3. Sounds like an amazing trip! And it looks like everyone survived! Congrats! :)

  4. I hear you on humidity. It is very humid here. It just makes me feel like I have no energy!

    Sounds like a great trip, though!

  5. Wow! What a trip! You put on a lot of miles, saw a lot of things, and I may be feeling a bit jealous about it right now! :)

  6. Wow, what a great trip! I wish I would have known you were driving right through Omaha. I would have stood on the side of the Interstate and waved as you drove by!

  7. AHHH, you were in Cincinnati and didn't let me know?!?! We could have gotten together and dished over our love of MUSE! ;)

    Your trip sounds absolutely fantastic. I agree that driving was the way to go!

  8. Alison: Yes, lots more could be said about this whole experience!

    Jenny: Ah, man, you need to plan a road trip!

    Alexia561: Yes, we did survive! I wondered when we left if we would.

    Kailana: I imagine one could get used to it, but not sure I ever could.

    Lisa: We slept in Council Bluffs at a Country Inn and Suites in the middle of a bunch of casinos! Know the place?

    Michelle: I always forget where all my book bloggin' buddies are from, so it will be interesting to see who speaks up and says, hey, you were in my city! Yes, that would have been fun to dish about Muse! :)

  9. want to become a travel agent??
    Having done a trip like this I know that you are giving us the highlights!!! It's fun to hear the "Are we there yet"s as they are teenagers. Soon it will feel like a dream so revel in the memories now. You and your family certainly made some and they are more precious than most things!

    Welcome back!!
    (PS - fun photos!)

  10. Wow! I love the stats. Sounds like you need a vacation from your vacation. But glad to have you back to blogging :)

  11. And I thought my trip was manic! This makes me tired. :) Although I'm sure it was a memory of a lifetime for all of you.

    FYI, my mom's family is all from Ohio! Part of the family lives in Columbus and the rest live down in Mansfield. In fact, I was born in Columbus. Anyway, I just thought I'd share that! :)

    Glad you're home. You read way more on your trip than I did on mine. I only finished one book the whole time I was away. *sigh*

  12. Wow, what a trip! What memories you've all made. How fun.

  13. Your trip looks awesome. My daughter enviously read this post - we are all amazed by everything you saw.



Related Posts with Thumbnails