Finally, my family and I are taking a real vacation away from everything that is familiar, so to speak. Ten days of work free, stress free, happy go-lucky days await me 876 miles from home. But first, we had to drive the 876 miles with our 4 1/2 month old baby girl and our gregarious 2 year old son.
We got a late start on Friday; Lindsay had to work until 4:45pm. Once her shift was up, we were off to the land of Utah. First off, we had to get gasoline, check the air in the tires, and stop by the local 7-11 to get some snacks for the long road ahead. The goal was to drive all through the night and get to UT by 6 am on Saturday. We knew there would be some delays due to the holiday traffic, but some delays on a trip this long are inevitable.
We didn't expect that traffic would be so good on I-5 and most of Hwy 18. We ran into about 5 miles of stop-and-go traffic at the end of Hwy 18, just before the I-90 junction. That is where the trip started to get interesting.
Of course, Rory started to get mad. We weren't moving at all and she likes to use the constant sound and vibration of the road to sleep. Without anywhere to stop, Lindsay started doing damage control by reaching back and attempting to bottle-feed her, with so-so success. Then out of nowhere, Michael blew chunks all over himself, his car seat, the back seat, the side window, and even on Rory. He didn't quite understand what had just happened (because he's never thrown up like that before), so he started to cry hysterically as Lindsay did her best to clean him up without exiting the vehicle. There was no place to pull off, so we soldiered on.
Finally, we made it to I-90 and started to really move. It was about 6:30 pm at this point. We had been on the road for an hour, and lost 1/2 hour due to the congestion on Hwy 18. No bother. If I could drive about 7 mph over the speed limit all through Washington, we could make up the lost time when we crossed over into Hell (I mean Oregon).
Of course, the traffic gods smote us with a huge 7 mile backup on I-90 just before the Snoqualmie Summit. Going less than 1mph, and losing time fast, we decided to stop and get some dinner (we had already planned on stopping at 7pm no matter where we were to feed the kids and get them ready to go to sleep). We stopped at the Family Pancake House at the West Summit. I guess everyone stuck in the same traffic had the same idea. The place was packed. It took 15 minutes just to get seated and then we waited for another 15 minutes for someone to acknowledge our presence and at least get our order going. With the kids getting anxious, patrons walking around trying to find waiters, people complaining about the lousy service, we decided that instead of wasting time in the restaurant, we should waste time on the freeway and at least do some moving. On our way out, we stopped at a gas station for some overpriced Pringles chips and some sort of soggy sandwich for Michael to nibble on. It wasn't ideal, but at least we could get moving. We had lost an hour and a half at this point.
The congestion did not relent. It kept up all the way to Easton, where after getting through a construction bottleneck, we finally started going 60mph+ again. Unfortunately, we had to stop again at Cle Elum so Lindsay could get some emergency formula for Rory. After waiting again, and realizing we were getting really crappy fuel economy, We started driving again.
Unfortunately, my nerves were completely shot. The combination of bad traffic, bad (non-existent) restaurant service, crying children, and a stressed out wife had blown my cool to hell. I decided to just focus on driving and that's what I did. We hauled butt to Oregon, stopping once only for gas near Sunnyside, WA.
Unfortunately, I was completely spent. It was just after midnight when we got to Oregon. All told, we lost 3 hours of time and instead of being out past La Grande and on our way to Caldwell (where Lindsay and I were going to switch driving positions), I pulled off the highway just after getting to Oregon. I told Lindsay I needed a couple hours to get myself refreshed. So, she took the wheel and I told her to drive as far as she could and I'd take over. Unfortunately, the night before, I had only gotten about 6 hours of sleep and didn't get a good nap during the day on Friday. I was completely wasted.
The next thing I knew, Lindsay woke me up and said she couldn't go any further and she was stopping in at La Grande to get us a motel room for the night. Normally, I'd just tell her to switch with me, but it was already 2am and it made no sense to continue. We were supposed to be at Twin Falls, ID by then, but were only in La Grande (not even close to half-way).
At the motel, Michael put on a show. He was tired, and scared, He had no idea where he was and the motel room was completely unfamiliar - not a good combination. I had to spend about 10 minutes calming him down by rubbing his back and whispering "It's okay" into Michael's ear. Lindsay turned on the t.v. and searched feverishly for some cartoons for Michael to watch. Unfortunately, the only cartoons on at 1:30 am are on Adult Swim and it was some video that damn near gave me a seizure and showed some rather questionable images. Still, it had Michael locked in and calmed down. I was too tired to care anymore. I just wanted to get to sleep.
Then it happened. I suppose it was 3:30 am. I heard this "THUMP!!!" and immediately jumped out of bed and turned on the light. Michael fell off the bed and was pissed off. Lindsay checked him out told me to turn off the light. Fortunately, Lindsay left an extra set of ear plugs out so I put them in and went back to sleep.
What an adventure so far. Everything that could have gone wrong went completely wrong. This whole trip had gone completely sideways and now that we were 380 miles from home, there would be no turning back.
I woke up refreshed and ready to drive. Michael was doing surprisingly well for only a few hours of real sleep, and Rory was chipper as always. Even Lindsay was doing good for only 2 hours of sleep.
We got moving around 8:30 am and started off to Caldwell, ID. Finally, after and hour or so we crossed out of Hell into Idaho. Ah, speed limit 75. After a quick fuel stop at the Flying J, we made tracks for Utah. The intention was to blast through ID as quickly as possible, stopping at the I-84 weigh station to let Michael and Rory out of their seats. Michael loved the big rigs. Every time one came into the stop, he'd said "vroom VROOM" and laugh and run around. He then discovered the garbage cans and had to touch each one.
Continuing on, we stopped in for fuel just after getting to Utah and drove the last 100 or so miles uneventful. All told, our kids did really well on the second day.
Michael's car seat still smells like puke.