I think this week I'm going to recap one of the highlights of last year - our family road trip to California. I thought I could do it all in one post, but there is just too much goodness to fit it all into one. And just as an FYI, some of the photography is my own (mostly IG) but a lot of it is Ian Bentley's. Thank you Ian for passing on the photos!!!
This past May we had a very unique opportunity. We have some very dear friends of ours who live(d) in California. We "met" Brittany and Ian on the AGCI waitlist back when our numbers were in the 20's or so. I would have never dreamed that we would wind up sharing that amazing journey in such a way and that we would become so close. We received our referrals for our precious baby girls just days apart. We traveled together in Ethiopia, shared a court date, and became forever friends. A year after arriving home with our daughters, the Lord called our friends back to Ethiopia, but this time to LIVE there and to SERVE there. Brittany and I had dreamed of a reunion with our girls for months, so once the moving date was decided...my husband and I knew we had to take the plunge and make the trip to California with our family before the Bentley's took off for the next three years.
So we did just that. We calculated the mileage, purchased some warm weather clothes, bought an SUV (Yep, dead serious! But don't worry....we had been planning and saving for that for months...), packed up our stuff, and drove the 19 hours to their house. In one night. Yep, we're a little crazy...mkay?
It was harder than we thought. We'll admit that much. In reality, several families pointed out our crazy and tried to talk us out of it. Yet I can safely say that even if we would have known how hard it would be....we still would have done it all over again (and we did...if you recall from our year recap).
We left around 8:00pm, just before bedtime for our kids. They were cozied up in pajamas, with their favorite blankets and teddy bears (or in Hollywood's case, a lion). We kept a bin of books, crayons, and toys between them for easy access and quick distractions. I also had a small cooler at their feet with their sippy cups/bottles, and beverages for mom and dad. The back was stacked with our stuffed suitcases, and perfectly arranged (by the Hubs) with easy access to the giganto cooler containing. The cooler contained our snacks, two gallons of milk (our kids are slightly obsessed) and filled to the brim with ziplock bags of ice (the ziplocks made it easier when they melted to empty out and refill). Next to our feet was some healthy snack options, water, energy drinks, and lots of new music to keep our ears smiling. Uhh, you know what I mean...
|Little mister at the start of the trip|
We decided to start with me driving since I hate driving at night and in unfamiliar areas. Not to mention I get tired more easily. Well - actually! That's not completely accurate. My husband gets tired faster, but he's had years of training with this night shift business and knows how to keep himself awake. I can stay awake pretty late, but when I hit my limit I am DONE and nothing can wake me back up. Our little schedule worked great for us. I drive until 2 or 3 in the morning before daddio took over and I could get some rest (with of course several pit stops and potty breaks in the meantime).
I admit, I'm deceiving you right now. Not intentionally, really....it's just that I'm leaving out a huge detail. Right now it kind of sounds like this road trip is going smooth as can be, doesn't it? It's not. See - this is how we found out that Cocoa Puff, our darling precious love of our lives, gets car sick. Bad. In fact, by 3 in the morning we had gone through ALLLLL the spare changes of clothes in her diaper bag and were peeling apart the perfectly organized luggage on the side of the Californian highway to find something for her to wear. And by this time, our entire car REEKED of vomit. And there was not a dang thing we could DO about it! Around the 8th vomit pit-stop, (I told you it was bad) I went to pull Cocoa out of her carseat to change her clothes yet again, and she was crying harder than usual. As I picked her up I noticed she couldn't move her neck...she had fallen asleep with it tilted to the side and apparently got stuck that way. During the day, I might have responded differently, but keep in mind I was exhausted and it was the middle of the night and I burst into tears and started screaming to my Hubby that she couldn't move her neck. She was obviously in pain and I seriously thought we broke our baby. I completely blamed myself for her misery and this whole stupid road trip. Hubs, being the calm and reasonable man he is, gently helped Cocoa move her neck slowly by massaging it and let her lay on my shoulder as he continued to rub it. Eventually her muscles relaxed enough that she could get some movement back and my heart rate slowed considerably. This is the point in which I ordered my husband to turn her bleeping carseat forward facing. My husband was happy to do it...in fact, he had been begging me for months to turn it around, but I am a stickler for keeping kids rear-facing until two. Well, I broke my own rule....but believe me, it was for her benefit. She actually stopped throwing up and was WAY more comfortable. And it was pretty nice that she could see the DVD player on the back of the headrests now.
But Cocoa wasn't the only one suffering (obviously...the smell was affecting all of us). Our little man kept waking up with a numb butt....the poor little guy. We decided to take more regular breaks to get out and stretch, which helped both of them, and daddy padded Hollywood's booty a little.
|The California Sunrise|
|Mid Morning Snack|
We had planned a pit stop around lunch time to meet up with another AGCI family in Santa Cruz, California. It was only a half hour out of the way, and well worth the detour. Although her husband was busy working, Cat and her girls opened up their home and gave us a much needed break. The kids played and played (and cried when it was time to go) and Hubs and I enjoyed some conversation with a family that had SO MUCH in common with us. We spent most of the break sitting outside on their deck sunning our backs. I returned to our car with a sunburn...but I couldn't have been happier about it! Haha!
|Cat and I|
|Eww....can you see the puke residue on her carseat straps? Bleck.|
The rest of the drive to Santa Barbara had quite a bit of traffic, as expected. And we only got turned around once....so all in all not bad! Haha! The drive into Santa Barbara was absolutely stunning. Besides a short trip to LA and Ripon, this was really my first time in California. I know this might sound cheesy to anyone who lives somewhere sunny, but it kind of felt like a dream. The beach, the palm trees, the sunshine - it was all so beautiful and NOTHING like what we have here at home (where beaches have more rocks than sand).
|Last bit of traffic before SB|
We drove up to Brittany's parent's home (where we all stayed for a couple days) to the whole family on the porch waiting for our arrival. I jumped out of the vehicle and unbuckled my girl so fast and ran to give Brittany and Selah a hug. Anyone who knows us, would not be surprised to learn that Brittany and I were both crying by this point. I mean seriously, it was ONE YEAR AGO that we met each other and met our girls and walked that amazing journey together. It was one year ago that week that we last saw each other and here we were with our girls in our arms and all grown up (well kinda).
After introducing us to their family, the Bentley's brought us up to our room for the next couple days and gave us a quick tour of the house. It was around dinner time, so we enjoyed some pizza outdoors and let the kids play until bedtime. Normally bedtime is pretty rough in a place that's not home, but it went relatively smooth, I think mostly because they were pretty exhausted from driving all night.
Thank you Mike and Susan for opening up your home and welcoming us with open arms! You were wonderful hosts and we appreciate your hospitality so much!
P.S. More to come so stay tuned. Have you ever done a road trip with your family? How did it go? What advice do you have out there for families giving it a go for the first time?