It’s always an adventure this “vacation” with kids thing. It’s usually the last half hour of every leg of the trip that we all lose our will to live. Memories. We’re making ’em.
Several months ago, some of the Godparents living in Indiana
begged called us and asked if we would drive to Indiana at the end of June/beginning of July to see them and our dear friends who were flying in from Italy. Our true Roman-born, Italian friends. We hemmed and hawed, not because we didn’t want to see all these lovely people, but because it was a timing and money issue. We knew we had Disney, a trip to Charleston, five kids entering Catholic schools in the fall and, you know. Life. But, we figured out a way to stay with lots of friends, picnic along the way and in the process make some great memories.
So we bit the road trip bullet. Shoot, we figured if we could tackle 2,400 miles with six kids, including a newborn, during last year’s Texas Forever vacation, surely we could handle 2,900.
Oh, we like to aim high.
Everywhere you see a letter was a stop we made.
STATE #1: TEXAS
We rolled out nice and early on Saturday, June 27, to attend our niece’s baptism in Richardson, near Dallas. We skated in juuuust in time. It was a lovely day full of family, birthday cake (Clare’s birthday was the next day), checking out Uncle Cory’s new investment firm and office and basically destroying my brother and sister-in-law’s house. The highlight was when Aunt Jennifer and I brought the two babies home early from dinner to bathe and get them in bed. Imagine our horror when we opened the back door and saw them both COVERED IN LIPSTICK. Evidently that empty tube that Granny let them play with wasn’t empty after all. Sheez, imagine when they’re 16.
STATES #2 / #3: OKLAHOMA AND KANSAS
The following day, we hit it hard, leaving before dawn and arriving in Wichita, Kansas, around lunchtime. Sorry, Oklahoma, we had a good stretch and the only stop we made was at a gas station for peeing. We were overwhelmed with gratitude to dine with two amazing families, their moms, Jennifer and Susan, are among our very bestest friends. They made a FEAST. And our kids got to play baseball, get dirty, hang out on slides and fill their bellies. Just. So. Lovely. Look at all those sweaty, happy kids (and we were missing three!) Gianna even snuck in a little flirting time with her main squeeze, Joey.
Then, it was back on the road to our final destination for the night, Kansas City.
That last 30 minutes almost killed us. See above.
Boy we were relieved, and oh so thankful, to have dinner with a vendor and dear friend of the family, Mr. Reilly. He takes such good care of our kids and he filled our bellies with *the* best Italian food from Garozzo’s. Get the Spedini. You’ll thank me later. I’m pretty sure my kids pilfered all Mr. Reilly’s tschozksy’s, too. One of them may have been a Brett Favre jersey and an old Blackberry. I don’t know.
STATE #4: MISSOURI
Another early morning and we headed east to St. Louis. We were in no shape for a long lunch and the kids were hangry, so Lion’s Choice it was. Fortunately, it was just a half block away from Ted Drewes. All you people who said stop there? ONE MILLION THANK YOU’S. We had our Texas gear on and got lots of smiles, high-fives and “y’all came to the right place for custard” comments from the locals. It was awesome.
We checked our watches and figured we had the right amount of time to swing by the famed St. Louis Arch and then head to our final destination for a few days, Indianapolis. Remember that.
Unfortunately, they are doing a ton of construction, so we got routed, then re-routed and re-routed. It was like National Lampoon’s. We could see the arch, but it was just out of our reach. Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament. Finally, a parking spot, only to walk over to the arch and realize the wait was crazy long to get to the top. We made an important parenting decision. Cut our losses. Sometimes parenthood is a shrug, a quick photo and “well, let’s do it next time” kind of day. I nursed Gianna and we were finally on our last few hours of driving for a few days.
STATES #5 / #6: ILLINOIS AND INDIANA
All this time, we were texting a friend who was so gracious to open her home to many of our friends that evening. “Oh, we will definitely be there by 5:30,” turned to 6, 6:30, 7 and then 7:30.
And then we crossed the Illinois-Indiana state line.
You do not want to know what came out of my mouth.
Scott almost wrecked the van. It seems as if a slight miscalculation would have us arriving at 8pm, Central Standard Time, but really 9pm, Eastern. And that seems like an appropriate place to end.
See, there’s a reason people don’t trust me with math.