After a 9-hour road trip with littles, I have to say, I prefer flying. On the other hand, I like having my own car in the places that I’m going and the benefit of having a giant suitcase on wheels to throw all of our stuff in. It was great that I got to spend time with my niece and sister with the long drives, but it’s just exhausting driving for that long with small children. Being the driver is the best job, because the passenger is refereeing and constantly trying to satisfy the demands of a 3 and 4-year-old. That being said, it did go well, and the girls didn’t do too badly. They took some naps, they watched some movies, they watched for flowers out the window, and they didn’t put up any huge fights about getting back in the car.
Visiting the relatives
Our main purpose for traveling south was to see my dad, who lives outside of Nashville with his wife. Mind you, she’s never had kids so having us stay even for two nights in her little house was quite an adjustment for her, I’m sure! She put on a brave face though and was genuinely welcoming toward us. The girls had a great time when we pawned them off to grandpa and grandma so that we could get a much needed couple of hours of peace and quiet. They were treated to a trampoline park and an ice cream cone and I was impressed that no one got lost or injured!
The road to Tennessee
I wish I could say that the trip down was uneventful, but it wasn’t. We got off to a very late start (8pm) and didn’t make it to the hotel until 3am. Unfortunately the booking had gotten screwed up, and there was no room at the inn so to speak. So we drove to another random motel. Upon opening the door to this particular room, it was immediately clear that we couldn’t possibly spend the night there, as the stench of the room was overpowering (think cigarettes, pot, sweat, B.O., dust, alcohol, and a dash of desperation). We high-tailed it over to the fanciest place in the hotel area and lucked out with a $90 room in which we slept for six hours before leaving again. Also, my sister made me laugh while drinking, which caused me to vomit while driving. It was just a little vomit, and only water and red bull in my stomach. Nothing like the vomit that happened later in the trip.
Dinosaur World and The Hermitage
Our planned stop at Dinosaur World was a huge success. M acted like she was going to heaven, even getting up early in the morning begging to go see the “dinosaur bones”. The girls enjoyed the playground, fossil digging, and the little hike in the woods in which you can spot herds of “dinosaurs” and mammoths. Lots of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise was just what the doctor ordered!
Next we planned to see a cave via river boat, but previous rains had filled up the cavern too high and it was cancelled. All the easy, short tours in Mammoth Cave Park were booked up as well. So we detoured to the Hermitage, the former plantation of Andrew Jackson and his descendants. Not only did the adults get to learn about plantation life for both white families and slaves, but the girls got to run around barefoot on the beautiful grounds. We made them take quite a long walk to the old field slave quarters and back (my sister and I personally thought this was the best part of the trip) which tired them out enough that they finally fell asleep in the car afterward. (I highly recommend a visit to the slave housing area, even though the original structures no longer exist. It’s very moving.)
Lucky Ladd Farms, Soul Food, The Discovery Center
My sister’s main objective was to eat “real soul food”, so we planned a stop to a very small cafeteria-style lunchroom where they serve up a variety of traditional southern foods. It’s not my favorite, but my sister was over-the-moon. Prior to that we took the kids to the local children’s museum where they went down a two story twisty slide about 50 times. My dad even got in on the action! Afterwards we had our soul food experience. The ladies running the place weren’t thrilled to see us (or they just don’t care about customer service because they do plenty of business) but the food was ok. I’m not a fan of cafeteria-style dining, teeny little packed lunchrooms, or grumpy servers, but it’s cool.
After that we headed to this mega-farm, where you could feed goats and other animals, jump on a giant inflatable, take tractor and train rides, and ride down huge slides on sacks, among other very fun activities. We’d love to go back there!
Quiet time, Louisville, and the long slog home
After breakfast and a trip to my dad’s work, we handed the girls off to their grandparents so us moms could get a little R&R and pack our stuff. Then we went to lunch. Both girls were crabby and whiny, and not having slept great (or not at all) the first night and the last night (M decided to have a massive fit at bedtime), we were all feeling a little edgy. Even with a nice swim before bed at the hotel pool that night, the girls were still not their chipper selves. Actually, I think us moms had just completely run out of energy and patience. What we needed was some sun, fun, and good times and we found that in Louisville the next day!
First stop was the River Side Park’s Adventure play area, and then we rented a buggy bike and crossed the Ohio river on it, grabbed a delicious lunch plus some Kentucky rum, and crossed back. All four of us had a blast on the buggy, and we soaked up that sunny 70-degree weather! It’s fair to say not a one of us was ready to leave Louisville.
After an hour of driving north, the temperature plummeted from 70 to 38 degrees, with snow and clouds. Also, my sister made me laugh again, and I choked, this time my entire lunch came up. It was chunky and smelly and disgusting, all over the car and my clothes. I had to pull over and we cleaned out the car and changed clothes. I continued throwing up for ten or fifteen minutes after that. It was so out of nowhere! Our moods continued to sour with the greying skies and long hours, and I didn’t get back to my house until after 10. It took me nearly an hour and a half being at work to feel like I could keep my eyes open. Major wooziness. But a fun time was definitely had!