Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Notes on large family car trips

We're back after three long days on the road. Everyone was tired after a fun week and was a little crabby about heading back home to the drearier weather. All in all, though, the car trip went smoothly.

The trip required two nights of hotel stays, both directions. The trick to doing this is that when you pull in late to the hotel, the last thing you want to do is have to schlep every piece of luggage into the hotel, only to have to repack it and schlep it back. For a long time now, for trips like this, I have packed bags solely for the hotel so that we only have to take in a few things. This trip, I think I have perfected the hotel bag. Here is what I did.

We had two hotel rooms, so there were two hotel bags. The children had already been assigned which room they would be in, so it was easy to pack for each room. Each child had two gallon size ziplock bags, labelled with their initial and what night it was for. For instance, in the night one bag would be that child's pajamas, clean underwear and socks, plus a clean shirt if needed. (I assume that people can reuse pants and sometimes shirts if all we are doing is riding in the car.) The child puts on the pajamas, in the morning out comes the clean clothes and the dirty clothes are put into the night one bag. The pajamas are then put in the night two bag. The plus of the ziplock bags is that nearly all the air can be compressed out of them and you can fit quite a lot in a small bag. The other plus is that they are inexpensive, unlike the popular packing cubes. The only other thing to go in the hotel bag was another ziplock bag containing each person's toothbrush, each housed in their own smaller ziplock bag, plus a tube of toothpaste. I'm happy to say these all worked like a charm and even the room without an adult to help keep things organized was able to make the system work. I have all the nicely labelled bags now stored with our luggage for future use.

We also traveled while listening to recorded books, and had varied success. The first two books we tried sounded really good in the summary, but the writing was so poor that none of us wanted to continue after the first disk or two. We finally landed on Ghost Canoe by Will Hobbs. This is set in the very western tip of Washington state in 1874. It was well done and is equal parts mystery and life about the Makah Indian tribe. It is by the same author as Jason's Gold which we all enjoyed on a previous trip.

The next book we listened to was A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. We started it and were enjoying the story, but as the book progressed, J. and I looked at each other and both said that we felt as though we were dropped in the middle of a bigger story. No where on the case did it indicate that it was a sequel, but by the end, we were convinced that we were missing major pieces of the backstory. After a little looking upon arriving home, not only were we missing one previous book but three! It turns out this book is the fourth of The Queen's Thief series. No wonder sometimes we felt lost. It was a good enough story, though, that we kept listening to the end. Probably older children would find it most interesting, but L. declared it her favorite book of the trip. If the previous three are as good as the last (and based on the reviews I quickly read it sounds as though they are better), I would recommend it. But start at the beginning. As someone who compulsively reads books in order, I find having read the last one first, a bit distressing.

The last book we listened to was, I think, the best. But then is has reached classic status in young adult literature, so that is not surprising. It is The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. This is a book I read as a child and adored. I knew my children had never read it, but was a bit hesitant to choose it because sometimes the books of our youth do not stand the test of time and we hear them with different ears as adults. I am happy to say that I probably enjoyed the book more as an adult than I did as a child. It is just very, very well written. You wouldn't think that a book about three animals... an English bull terrier, a Labrador, and a Siamese cat... travelling cross country would be terribly engaging, but it is. (Spoiler alert!) I did tell my children ahead of time that all three animals survive the journey, otherwise I don't think they could have managed the suspense. I also don't think that knowing ahead of time there is a happy ending dilutes the drama of the story in the least. If you have never read it, you should. Highly recommended.

The unpacking is done and life has begun back into full swing. Isn't it funny how it sometimes feels as though you never left?
I have another article published and the little "0" next to the number of shares looks so lonely and sad. Wouldn't a nice big number look better? Please feel free to read and share. 7 Bible Verses that Helped me on my Adoption Journey


Patty Mueller said...

I'm so sorry we never told you about the Megan Whalen Turner series! I assumed you had found them already. We love, love, love all of the books. Definitely a must read, and sadly for you, best read in order.

Welcome home!

Amy said...

Great travel tips and great article. I shared it with two friends.

Katie said...

I love the Queen's thief series! Definitely worth a read.

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