Maybe you didn't know I was gone, but I was. And now we're back, the Odyssey needs an oil change and I could use a walk. I feel like a shelf sitter doll, one that is made of beans and has porcelain hands and feet and a face in a sort of fixed, dull expression. Just drove the kids 1400 miles in 5 days, mostly concentrated on two days one of those being today. Everyone had a good time, we saw lots of family, and most importantly for you, I have some recommendations for taking a road trip with one driver and two young passengers.
Plan ahead. Plan every square foot of interior car space because things will tip while you are driving. Also practice aiming snacks at targeted passengers, and have extras, as some will miss their target. Plan every snack, time it out, and if you map out your trip using google maps, you can jot the snacks and est. time for breaks in the margins. It employs the brain e'er so slightly and saves on monotony, chicken nuggets, malnutrition and most of all, noncompliance.
Some fun caffeinated products I found on the road (oh, right, I drove to Omaha, Kansas City, then Omaha again, and home!)..Snickers with caffeine and taurine! Tasty, and wicked. Made me notice shadows on the dashboard with a startle, but wow we made good time. Chocolate covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's. (Note: these are potent and have a lag time. You may have already reached your destination by the time they kick in (like me, now, at 10pm wired for sound and long home). Also, they leave plentiful and evasive residue in the teeth. Plan to have (and I'm not kidding, it's embarrassing) a toothbrush handy to flick the little tiny coffee bean grit before going in to the gas station.)
Bad Snacks with Caffeine: Anything "Quick" available at those scary smokey truck stops, and any beverage in a can called "Rock Star." You've seen it, you've marvelled at the inexpensive price, and you will be surprised how far you can drive doubled-over, peeking through the steering wheel trying to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" at the top of your lungs and clinging to the wheel after you have 1/4 of a can. The rest of the open can will smell like an ill-chosen potpourri infuser the rest of the way. Also they make chocolate Skittles now and that to me just seems gross.
Don't bring your "Keep Mom Awake Snack Box" inside to any of your destinations. A)People will eat from it, causing problems when you next hit the road and expect it to be full, B)You will be considered a little OCD on the caffeine and C)you may forget it! Leave it in the car unless it's too hot in there.
Don't teach your 4 year old son to enjoy peeing in the cornfields. He may pee on someone's front lawn while you're visiting. SORRY AUNT PHYLLIS!!
Cruise Control. If you are feeling lonely on the road, like you're the only "adult" around understanding that no, we're not there yet, and no, we can't just stop and pee in a cornfield, we have to look for an EXIT, with a RAMP, etc.. Anyway, if you're feeling lonely, start playing with the cruise control. I can write this because I know my husband (who was not along for the ride) doesn't read this...anyway, set the cruise control kind of high and then tell it it's going too fast. It's a great way to stimulate inner dialogue. Then try the "RESUME" button after decelerating and shriek and say "WHAT are you DOING??" it's too much fun. Especially after that caffeinated Snickers. (Also eat too many sweets and that's a good way to start arguing with yourself more than normal.)
It's good to stay totally engaged to the outside world. Even though it's a Safety Violation to talk on the phone while driving, I would argue that for a good 300 miles on a stretch of I-80 from Nebraska to Illinois, it is a bigger safety violation to stare blankly at the back of a WERNER truck for very long also. I call people, especially people I haven't talked to in a while. It's good! And you can ask them funny things, such as:
Call people and have them google for the closest Starbucks. I did this, today. My awesome sister-in-law (and no, I'm not joking, I have two and they and the rest of my in-laws are very welcoming and comforting people) guided me right in to a double shot mocha on exit 242 off of I-80 today and it was great. OnStar, beat THAT.
So friends, the worst part of the road trip is before me now. Cleaning Out the Van. Ugh. There are mysterious collections of things in there that are cold and wet, and I'm not talking about a pet.
Happy Spring! See you 'round the Village!