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Making memories, one mile at a time

Progressive Dairy Editor Emily Gwin Published on 24 February 2021
Emily Gwin and family

When my now-husband started transitioning into his family’s business in the early days of our relationship, he assured me he’d still have plenty of time for me and our then-hypothetical children.

Fast-forward five years and two kids later and, while I know he does his best, the trucks – much like the cows would on a farm – often have to come first. But we have been able to get away for a week in the winter, when the business slows down a bit. We typically use this once-a-year opportunity to travel as a family to Florida.

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The last time we traveled, we used my preferred method: an airplane. But after both our daughters ended up with double ear infections (likely picked up on the plane, according to the Florida ER doctors) and we got the credit card bill from the vehicle we rented, he talked me into attempting to drive it the next time we went. And in this particular season of life, the driving option also offered our best chance of social distancing.

I’m happy to report: Driving 1,200 miles twice with two young kids went well enough that I’d do it again. Probably. In another year.

Leading up to our big adventure, we decided that on the way to Florida, we’d try driving through the night while the kids slept. We’d see how that went and then decide how to head home. Our 3-year-old was up until 11 p.m. that night, but once we reconfigured the seating and put her in the third row, she slept well. When we stopped at an isolated rest area around 5:30 a.m. to switch drivers, she told me, “I’m going to stay up all night.” She promptly fell back asleep as soon as we were on the interstate.

Our 20-month-old is not a great sleeper at home, but she did great on the road. Honestly, the only problem with this plan was: Once we arrived at our destination, my husband and I were both exhausted, and the kids were ready to go, go, go.

We lucked out with gorgeous weather, and we all enjoyed a socially-distanced week of swimming, playing outside and relaxing as a family. That drive home, though, tested all of us.

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While the original plan had been to drive through the night again, since it went well on the way down, there was a snowstorm moving in and we thought we’d try to drive around it, adding a couple of hours to our route. We decided our best bet was to get an early start and plan on getting a hotel room, breaking up the trip over two days. We drove from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that first day. The 20-month-old had not slept well the night before and was basically a bear all day. The 3-year-old, predictably, yelled out, “I have to pee. The pee is coming now!” once an hour and “I’m hungry” every 30 minutes. These stops necessitated many generous squirts of hand sanitizer and a never-ending search for misplaced face masks. We all crashed pretty hard at the hotel that night. Day two went much better, though my husband grew increasingly nervous about road conditions the farther we drove north.

We picked up lunch, hoping it was the last stop before we reached home, but of course we needed one more potty break. Both girls screamed for the last hour of the drive, and we finally pulled in to our house at 3:30 p.m. The second we got our youngest out of her car seat, she didn’t stop moving from one end of the house to the other until bed time.

Taking this trip during a pandemic meant taking more precautions than we ever have, but the memories we made were worth the extra effort. I can only imagine the stories we’ll have to tell if we continue to make this annual trek via road trip. But that’s kind of the whole point of vacationing with kids, right? In the moment, you survive it and you put up with the messes and the yelling and the potty breaks. And in your old age, you remember it as the best times of your life. At least, that’s what I’ll be telling myself in between now and our next vacation.  end mark

Photo provided by Emily Gwin.

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