I don't want to jinx us but so far, this trip has been wonderful. While it seems like a lot of travel, we've done a good job of not being in the car for more than a few hours at a time and the kids seem hardly phased by it. We just told the t it hem would be 6 hours from Columbus to Chicago and they were like, "psh...that's nothing." Clearly they're being de-sensitized.
While we're still just starting out, I've already learned a few things, a few little tid bits from the road:
1) Travel does weird things to your body. It messes with your circadian rhythm which means that while you're exhausted and can hardly see straight, you lay in bed at 1:15am and stare at the ceiling, unable to fall down the rabbit hole. It also messes with your digestive system, makes your feet and hands swell up and causes shoulder and back pain. I'm going to return to my chiropractor all twisted up like a hard, day-old pretzel.
2) Rest stops. They are a traveler's oasis in a vast and empty world of highways void of toilets. They are sanctuaries for the weary and just happen to be a great equalizer of humanity. It doesn't matter if you're driving a Mercedes or a Minivan, a Bentley or a Bug, if you are old or young, black or white, everyone looks the same as they walk desperately, stiffed-legged yet as fast as they can, to the nearest toilet.
We arrived in Ohio on Saturday night, June 15th. A good number of Hal's dad's side of the family live in Ohio and we arrived to a house-full of aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors...all eager to hug us.
|Krissy and Claudia|
|Mike, Hal and Harry|
|Janiah and Maryn|
Hal's family lives in Lucy Depp Park, an area just outside of Dublin. This place has an interesting history. Back in the 1800's a man named Abraham Depp was the first black man to purchase and run a farm in Ohio. He bought close to 400 acres and the land stayed in the family and was eventually inherited by Abraham's daughter Lucy who sold some of her land off to her nephew. He developed the area and created beautiful and affordable subdivisions for the black community.
Lucy Depp Park was the place to stay in the early 1900's. People like boxer Joe Louis and many famous musical acts who came to Columbus, all stayed there when they came to the area. It is also believed to be a stop on the underground railroad.
Hal's cousin Buddy, who recently passed, and his wife Claudia own a house there. Buddy's sister Gwin and her husband Manning live right next door so between the two, it's like the family gathering place for parties and reunions.
The family had the grill and the music going. The house smelled like grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese and fruit punch. It was packed with old and young as they laughed, danced, hugged and enjoyed each others company. Our kids crawled out of the minivan and made their way, in the dark, through the woods from Gwin's house across a little bridged crick to Buddy's house and immediately disbursed. We didn't see them for the next three hours.
Even though it had been at least two years since they'd seen their cousins, they picked up right where they left off and wandered around Lucy Depp until nearly 11pm when Carter wandered inside, blurry eyed and looking for a place to collapse from exhaustion.
We'd originally planned on staying with Hal's cousin Krissy and her family but with it being so late, we ended up staying next door at Manning and Gwinny's house that night. Gwinny was out of town so Manning welcomed the company. I think Carter fell asleep before he hit the pillow.
|Hal and Manning|
The next morning we headed to the Columbus Zoo. We spent seven hours there. SEVEN HOURS, people. It was like the zoo trip that would ever end. We saw everything from tigers to manatees.
|Entrance to the zoo|
|Alan! Alan! Alan!|
|"There's a little green frog....sitting in the water..."|
|Next to this polar bear, Hal looks positively tiny!|
|Any way you cut it, elephants are fascinating|
|Oh the hu-manatees|
|WARNING: Never stick your head in the mouth of a T-rex, for you will lose it.|
We took a tour of the new Dinosaur adventure area, toured the aquarium, enjoyed the aviary and finally drug our butts to cousin Krissy's house at 8 that night.
We stayed there until about 12:30 and honestly, we enjoyed hanging out with them so much that midnight seemed too early to leave. Krissy and Brandon have four kids and while their kids are teenagers, our kids still had a blast with them. While we talked inside, the kids rode their scooters outside until it got dark.
Maryn had a blast following around her cousins. She followed Nick around until he left to a friend's house and then went upstairs with Asia where she re-arranged all of her nail polishes and then crawled in her bed and fell asleep.
Sure, this is totally out of the ordinary for our kids. They are usually in bed by 8:30 but it's vacation and it's family and it was fantastic and worth every missed wink. There is something so comforting, so lovely and wonderful about relaxing at your family's house. Being that we don't live close to family in CT, it's such a joy to do it on this trip. It makes me wish we lived closer to this family. I could see us spending time with them every weekend, they are fantastic. Just love them and their smiles and tight hugs and the fact that they cry when we leave. We have been loved to the point of overflow and that should last us for a bit as we make our way to my family out west.
We got back to Manning's house at about 1am and crashed with a loud thump. In the morning it was time to head to Chicago and that's where we are now, on the road, a few minutes from Indianapolis where we will stop for a bit on the way to Chi town.
Our odometer just turned over the first 1000 miles. The land is starting to flatten, the hills of Pennsylvania fading in our rear view, the highway narrowing from the broad northeast four lanes to a cozy two lane. As if to welcome us to the bible belt, the first thing we saw in Indiana was a cross that was easily 40 feet tall.
Well, hello Midwest. It's nice to see you :)