The Little Trip before the Big Trip
For most people, a drive across the US would be plenty of traveling for a good long while, and rightly so. For us, driving from Seattle, WA to Portland, ME was more about the practicality of getting ourselves, our car and trailer from one place to another.
Because we were so busy packing up our house, putting most of our belongings into storage, and saying goodbye to friends and places we had grown to love over the past five years, we didn’t put a lot of thought into planning our route and stops beforehand.
For all that, we had a great time. We were lucky enough to get reservations for a few nights in Yellowstone, and filled in the rest of the time easily with stops at Mt. Rushmore, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Wall Drug, Badlands NP and Niagara Falls. Friends fed us well and let us do laundry in Rochester, MN. Audiobooks, Archie Comics, searching for license plates (we got all but Hawaii, West Virginia and New Mexico) and a few movies on the really long days kept Miles happy. One nice dinner at Forequarter in Madison, WI and a special provisioning detour to Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI kept me content, too. I love a road trip anyway.
Our little trailer, which we bought five years ago used, was a great home away from home. In any given campground it was dwarfed by the other RV’s but its two burner stove, little fridge and table that folds into a big bed was all that we needed. And, could it be any cuter?
Did we learn any lessons to apply to the Big Trip? It was hard to get into a routine changing places every day. I was conscious that even though most days we only planned 4-6 hours of driving, by the time we made multiple stops (pee, lunch, a viewpoint or two) we still found ourselves setting up camp at 7 or 8 every night. If we had been trying to fit in homeschooling hours, I’m not sure when that would have happened. Flexibility came into play as well. One night, feeling beat, we ate the $20 reservation fee when we realized we weren’t going to make it to a campground until late, another time an unplanned stop at an indoor water park seemed too good to miss.
And now? We’re back to focusing on our Big Trip and counting down the days until we start (six weeks from today!)