road trips ~ a favorite thing

So I took a road trip this past Saturday to see family and friends in the Bay Area.  The drive took me about 7 hours, which is what I had guessed it would with the kids.  I pretty much thought I had lost my mind to even think doing a drive like that with a 2 year old, 1 year old and 4 month old was a good idea.  My husband thought so too, but he didn’t do a very good job of convincing me NOT to do it.

(He WAS about to have 4 nights and 5 days without kids, can you blame him!?!?)

But the drive ended up giving me a few things I didn’t expect.

  1. It proved to me that I COULD do something that seemed impossible, by having a plan A and a plan B (maybe a C and D just in case…). Tips from what I learned will be posted soon.
  2. And it took me on a nostalgic memory trip that brought me to tears while I drove.  It brought back so many memories of the road trips our family used to take.  Thank you Mom and Dad for the experiences, and for your patience.

To back up for a minute, my parents have a lake house in Canada.  It’s in the middle of NO WHERE (which I say with fondness).  It definitely takes a little time to get there.  If you drive, it’s about 24 hours.  If you fly and then drive, it’s about 8 or 9 hours (unless you get lost trying to find a Walmart to buy a pack n play and it ends up taking 15 hours.  Which is not so fun when you have a 14 mos old and a 3 mos old. in the car..but that’s a story for another day.)

Back to the house.  This place is super special to us.  We grew up there in the summer.  There were some years we begged to go to summer camp with our friends, but my mom said “we were already going to the best camp”, we just didn’t always realize it until we got there.  A month later, we were all begging to stay.  We have family on this lake.  We have dear friends that have become our family. This place IS family.

I have not done the 24 hour drive in a LONG time.  As we’ve all gotten older and had limited time to take off, we’ve had to take the shorter traveling routes, to accommodate our shorter stays.

But as I drove away from our house this past Saturday morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was 10 years old again, in the second row captain seat of our pimped out tan striped Dodge van (with our matching tan monogrammed duffle bags.)  So excited about which VHS movie we would put into the little square TV in the back (kind of the size of an old Mac square computer).  For music, we would all take turns picking which cassette was going to be played next, mostly loving the mixed tapes my mom had had made for my dad with all their favorites songs from their album collection.  (Yes, I said ALBUM and CASSETTE).

My sisters and I know the route up the “I-5” like nobody’s business.  We learned to drive on that route.  We exhausted our learners permits on that drive.  We  can totally hang with the truckers in their semis.  We’re all best buds. We have sung “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” about a zillion times (it was on one of those mixed tapes) because we were allowed to say a “swear word” (it was in the song).  And that made us feel SOOOOOOO grown up!

We spent our summers completely carefree and blissful. Water skiing, riding horses, rounding up cattle, playing crib, picking berries, baking pies, eating pies, dancing, laughing, listening to the loons in the morning, waiting for Dad to make us all hot cocoa and bring it to us in our bunk beds, shooting cans, fishing, searching for moose, being lazy in the hammock, chopping wood (OK, watching Dad chop wood), singing songs by the campfire. It was an amazing place to spend our growing up summers “keeping it real”.   It may not sound it from the list of all that we did, but there was not a lot of luxury (for my mom’s 40th birthday, she got a dishwasher, and washer & dryer, and a bathtub – we were thrilled to say the least!!! Prior to we used a solar shower bag, out house and pot belly stove.) Those summers will remain the most special times of my life (right next to marrying the amazing man that I did, and giving birth to 3 of the most beautiful girls!)

So to the point, as I left our driveway Saturday morning and started to see all the familiar sitings, Six Flags, the Grapevine, the Harris Ranch.…it all came rushing back to me.  I drove with tears trickling down my cheeks as I thought how lucky I was that I get to relive those summers through my girls.  That WE will most likely do those same drives. Technology will have been updated, but the drive will still be the same.

We will pack up our sleepy kids in their PJs at “o-dark-hundred-hours” as my Mom used to say.

We will stare at a trucker’s backside for 23 of the 24 hours.  Know the code to “flash our brights” telling a passing semi it’s safe to move back in front of us, and we will wave our hands asking him to honk his horn!

We will see tomato trucks and be in awe that the bottom tomatoes aren’t crushed when they get where they are going.

We will see loads and loads of crops and try to guess what each one is, and almost always fail.  But we will have fun trying.

We will see the sign for the Harris Ranch. and start salavating….

Oh my goodness, almost there…

Oh Lordy, bring on a cheeseburger, or maybe steak fajitas….doesn’t really matter as long as beef is involved.  And on the way out, grab a box of Pecan cookies from the bakery.

Seriously, I am really not joking on this one.

These cookies taste like a Pecan Pie in a cookie.  And not any ole Pecan Pie, but one your Southern grandmother makes for Thanksgiving with loads of brown sugar chewy goodness.

You will thank me for telling you about these cookies.

Then we will get back on the road and wonder if we see a cop car ahead (because on this trip I counted 17 cops in total), and then breathe a sigh of relief when we see it’s just a split personality Honda.  Just not sure who it wants to be when it grows up.

And when we get where we are going, we will share a box of Harris Ranch. Cookies.  They wont quite be the dozen plus 1 that we started with, but there still might be 1 or 2 left.  HEEEYYYY, it’s a long drive!  We’ll need the sugar rush!!

Thank you Mom and Dad for our amazing childhood summers.  Thank you for the lake.  And thank you for the Harris Ranch and Pecan Cookies, can I have another please??

(As you read this, I will be back in the car headed home and will be sure to share lots of tips on how it all worked, assuming of course that I survive the next 7 hour drive!)

19 thoughts on “road trips ~ a favorite thing”

  1. Harris Farms looks like so much fun. I can’t wait ’till the day I have littles that I can take on road trips. Looks like you are creating some great memories for your girls!

  2. Shanna, I just loved that story. Brought tears to my eyes of my childhood summers spent in the Adirondack Mountains with my family, throughout my teen years. You are a great storyteller. Jessica is so lucky to have you as a friend. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us.

  3. Shanna,
    You continue to amaze and inspire me! Thanks for sharing your favorites…wondering about your car DVD player. I think I need one for my 15 mos old- he’s not such a good traveller… Thanks!

  4. Oh I wish I could share with you, it is actually built into our car (which I love!) I never thought we would buy a car with a DVD player, but this one came with the Navigation feature (which was a must for my lost brain cells), so we have it by default. If I ever hear of a could one though, I’ll be sure to post it! It was a LIFESAVER in both directions of the 7 hour drive!

  5. AWWWW….This made me cry! I may live in NJ now….but I traveled the 5 many a times when I lived in Cali. I grew up in Northern Cali and we’d take trips to Disenyland and such….then I lived in SoCali after college and would visit sister, family, and friends in Northern. My favorite trip was for christmas and the Grapevine was covered in snow. It was oh so beautiful!! (sigh) I miss my California and the 5 freeway…..good times!

  6. At Target and Best Buy you can buy a DVD system that comes with 2 screens that velcro to the back of the front seats and the player plugs right into the car. It’s great! We have used it for many 18 hour drives down south. Might I also suggest that you go to Radio Shack and get the multi plug so all kids can plug in their headsets and then you don’t have to listen to the movie the entire trip. There is nice silence.

  7. Wow. I do NOT miss the 9 hr drive to my in-laws with 2 young children at all so I wish you well AND more important – have a cookie for me!!


  8. We leave tonight for a 5 hour drive to NJ…hoping for a sleeping little one on the trip there. The trip back on Sunday will be another story…
    Thanks for the vote of confidence that it really can be done!

  9. I totally get what you mean about the “I CAN do this” thing. This spring, when I had a 8 month old, 3 year old, 5 year old and 7 year old (which I know isn’t as insane as you have it) I decided to take a 18 hour, both ways (so 36 hours of car riding total) road trip to see my parents by myself. No DVD player.
    It ended up being so much fun, so exhausting and so liberating at the same time! My kids did really well. The only glitch…on the drive home we hit a snow storm and the highway was down to one lane for what seems like forever. It tacked on an additional 4 hours of stressful driving to our last day.

    But, I did it!

    Your trip looks like a lot of fun :)

  10. Thank you for inspiring me to be bold enough to do a road trip with just mommy. Our family leaves this Sunday late at night to drive 10 hrs to Colorado.. any ideas for a 1 year old to keep her busy?… We usually leave that late because she will sleeps the whole way.. Loved the Harris Ranch Story because my family would road trip to the delta when i was little and i loved that place.. Odd thing is i remember buying stationary with a yellow bird on it. Is that Suzy or something? too funny! Dying to hear how your trip went.

  11. Best of luck to you!!! I went to Target and Toys R Us and did the usual load up of cheap toys that I would for a plane ride. Best most favorite toy was a spinning lights globe wand (Have no other way to describe it)! It was about $5 and she played with it FOREVER in the car! Anything that they can do with their hands (that is easy for you to pick up with then drop it) is good. A new sippy cup, board books, a rubber snake….

    And YES the yellow bird is Suzy!!! My sister remembered the same thing!!

  12. OK, seriously, you are AMAZING!!! 36 HOURS!?!? I’m not sure I would have survived! But it does feel like you have studied for a final exam, taken it, and gotten an “A”, when you’re back home again! Totally liberating!

  13. I have travelled that 5 freeway WAY too many times – last weekend most recently. We have never stopped at Harris Ranch but you can be sure that the next time we sure will and I will stock up on Pecan cookies!!

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