After two very full days of setting up house, managing two small children, costume measurements, cast meetings, first read-throughs and rehearsal, I finally have a quick moment to check in. It's always daunting to shove two kids into a small car and drive for three full days. My husband and I were both nervous and hopeful. Miraculously, both kids - one is six and one is three - did quite well with the long days, strange motels and the open road.
I don't claim to have all the answers to traveling with kids, but I've done a lot of it and have a few pointers for long car journeys.
1) TAKE YOUR TIME
It is possible to make it from Dallas, Texas to Cedar City, UT in two days of driving, but why torture ourselves? We extended our travel to three days so that we could minimize the consecutive hours that our kids were in the car.
We'd start out early and find a nice half-way point for a long lunch. Instead of eating in fast food places, we grabbed food and took it to a near-by park or grassy area with shade and have a picnic. This allowed the kids to handle 3-4 hours of driving followed with the pay-off of fresh air and open time for eating lunch at their leisure. For instance, on our second day of driving we planned a mid-day visit to the Old Town Square in Albuquerque. The kids loved the old cannons and the sunny Gazebo.
2) FIND A FUN OVERNIGHT STOPPING POINT
The second half of each day was 3-4 more hours of driving followed by an overnight stay in a place where the kids could explore a bit. For instance, the first night we stayed at a vintage Route 66 motel in Tucumcari, NM called the Blue Swallow. Our older son loves the Pixar film "Cars" and he felt like he was staying in the Cozy Cone. We all loved the desert view, the neon lights and star gazing.
3) DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It's important that while you're researching fun places for mid-day breaks and overnight stays that you also consider stretches of road where you might not have amenities available. On our final day of driving, we knew that the road from Flagstaff to Cedar City while beautiful, was very inhospitable to family stop overs. We turned on the DVDs, made sure we had a full tank of gas and made a B-line for our final destination.
For instance, if you just look at a map without doing your homework, you might think that Colorado City seems like good stopping point to refuel and have a meal. But a a quick Google search reminds you of why that town sounds familiar. It's the hold out of the Fundamentalist LDS sect overseen by the now imprisoned Warren Jeffs. Yeeee-ah.... I think we'll skip the closed-off polygamist community and just push on.
All in all, it was a relaxed drive and the little bumps were smoothed over with Wiggle DVDs and juice boxes. Here are some more photos from our travels.