And the kids join us...
After our maiden voyage, we had 4 days to build the kids some beds and then we had a weekend trip planned with them. We tried to set ourselves up for success by leaving a night early and splitting up the travel before Michael had to work at a retreat all weekend. We really wanted to show the kids a good time in the Airstream, but we knew it would be an uphill battle with the weather forecast of thirty degrees and rain for 4 straight days.
We tested out sleeping in the Airstream in the backyard on Wednesday and were hitched up and ready to go first thing Thursday morning. Even with Mass, a blessing from a local priest, breakfast, and dishes, we made it out of town around 10 AM. Pretty good time, I thought. The kids were looking forward to seeing our old house and had planned on getting the game "Hero Quest" out of storage. They were hopeful that we would have time to play it as a family sometime which I thought would be great considering the weather forecast. We stopped at the half-way point and took a bathroom break, then prayed a rosary for a successful weekend. After praying, I wanted to check a text message about our dinner plans that evening, but realized that I had set my phone down in the truckstop bathroom stall and did NOT pick it up! This was bad. My phone case also held my driver's license and debit card. Thoughts of having to cancel cards, change passwords, & wait in line at the DMV rushed into my head.
Panicking, I grabbed Michael's phone and called the Love's Travel Center we had just left from. They confirmed that the manager had my phone with my cards locked in the safe. That was FABULOUS...except that we were already 30 minutes away. We had to drive another 5 miles to the next exit to turn around, but I was very relieved. We got the goods back and were back on track. EXCEPT... Now, we were overdue for lunch. We stopped off at a rest area for a quasi-peaceful picnic lunch but suffice it to say that it took us well over the regular 2 hours to get to St. Louis. It may have been closer to 6 hours.
The day continued with a pattern of stressful environments, errands, and things in general just not going smoothly. Hero Quest was not played. Estimates of travel time were interpreted as "promises" by the kids. These estimates (that we had "promised") were routinely broken. Because of the errands and traffic, we spent a LOT of time in the van that day. We managed though, and the kids managed to not melt down. Finally, after a day of monotony that seemed to never end we got to sit down with for dinner at a friend's house. The kids dutifully played downstairs.
The next morning we were headed for Columbia, MO. There were once again a few errands that needed attention before we headed out. Unfortunately, these errands were tagged on the drive, and once again it felt like we spent the ENTIRE day in the van. When we arrived at the RV park, it was raining and we had just enough time to hook up before Michael had to leave for work. More "promises" to the kids were broken.
I won't say the weekend was fun. It wasn't. It was miserable. However, I don't think the misery of being cooped up indoors all day because of cold and rainy weather was exaggerated too much by the tight quarters. The kids were a bit bored and stir crazy, but they would have been that way at our old house. I was a bit short tempered, but I would have been that way at our old house. I was just thankful that the RV park had good wi-fi. Movies were watched. Thank God for Netflix.
Saturday it stopped raining and we ventured outside to the muddy playground several times. Since Michael was at work with the van that was about the only fun activity I had left to offer them, so we took advantage of it as much as we could. Michael soon began to realize that I was not exaggerating when I said that laundry would be a major issue.
After Mass on Sunday we headed back to St. Louis. This drive was much less arduous. We arrived safely, parked the Airstream, and we were going to sleep at our old house. The Airstream was only a block or two from our house, but I quickly realized how annoying it was to get our necessities - even for one night! The benefit of the Airstream is that even though we're taking a lot of trips, we don't have to pack and unpack every day! Our van had to go to the shop to get the air conditioner checked out. It took several trips back and forth to get settled, and we really did not have patience left to organize a fun activity with the kids. We resigned to let them watch several more Netflix movies and tried to enjoy this "day of rest." By the end of the night were were finally relaxing with the good company of our friends, but were remorseful that we did not have a fun "first adventure" with the kids.
Monday elicited the same emotion. We had many errands to run that only added to our drive that afternoon. Luckily, we would have a few days in Effingham to regroup and look at how to travel smarter, not harder. In all, we learned the following things on the first trip with the kids:
1) Never promise "we'll play outside tomorrow" - they might hold you to it and the weather may be worse than today.
2) Travel time estimates should be multiplied by a factor of 1.8 (2.3 in the rain).
3) Kids don't give a lot of notice when there is a bathroom emergency. Lucky for us there is always a bathroom available in the Airstream.