My dearest bloggy friends, I must apologize. I am using you. *hangs head in shame* It’s true.

You see, we went on a road trip. We left on March 4th. We returned on March 13th. We had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. But you see? Once again I took TOO MANY PHOTOS. I am simply overwhelmed by them. I have tried repeatedly to wade through them, delete the blurry and poorly lit and whydidItakethat? photos, file the they’regoodbutnotgreat ones, and process the ILoveThis ones. And I have only made it through about 1/3 of the photos.

And so, in an attempt to just deal with it, I’m using you. Since it’s Monday and apparently the need to clean applies to not just my house but my hard drive, I’m going to use you. I will post a recap of the trip over the next 5 days. That’s 2 days of road trip per post. I reckon that’s doable. So let’s get started!

(Side note – for most of these posts the “royal we” referred to herein includes me, the Boy, the Girl, and my Mom.)

The whole basis of this trip was to visit my relatives in Avon, IL. We lost my Uncle Bill back in January. Since most of our family still lives in Illinois, my Aunt had a plethora of visitors for the funeral as well as the days before and after. We suggested instead of a marathon 3 day trip when we’d hardly have time to visit, that we’d come in March when we could really spend time together. And so it was decided. But of course if we’re driving 15 hours to Illinois, we might as well tack on some more time and visit Chicago and some more relatives there, plus Milwaukee and my brother. As for timing, Josh has traditionally worked a sports show in Milwaukee during March, so this way he could meet us there and take part in a bit of the fun. Bonus for him – he missed the marathon driving days.

Friday morning, we loaded up the Prius and hit the road about 7:30ish am. That baby was PACKED. As in you can’t see out the back window. The kids have stuff packed below their feet and between the car seats. Packing included: a queen sized air mattress, baby jogger, baby sling, pack-and-play, three suitcases, another small bag for mom, my camera case with extra lenses and such, camera tripod, a bag of snacks, a bag of drinks, a cooler for the Girl’s milk and other snacks, a back-pack for the Boy’s toys, an aircraft carrier (um, no, not kidding. But it’s a toy sized one. Even the Prius has limits.), two travel bags full of books and markers and crayons and art pads. Oh, and 4 pairs of shoes for me. What? There were nooks I could fill so why not? (Obviously this was not my most efficient travel packing. Please note when I travel for work I can go 7 days in one carry-on sized suitcase.) I think that might be it. Maybe. But I might have missed something.

This is the only photo I have of the car:

And see? I did forget – blankets and pillows for the kids. Because you know you can’t go overnight anywhere without them. And yes, both kids are freaking out in this photo. I’m sure the valets at the hotel thought we were nuts. Personally I felt like I was driving a clown car. You know – they just keep pulling clowns/stuff out of it and you have no idea how they fit it all in there.

So Friday. We left. We drove. A lot. We stopped in Chamberlain for lunch. Yes, McDonald’s. Advantage of McD’s – they still have playlands at many locations that are in frequent travel areas. When traveling with small children I’ve found McD’s can be very yummy if it is combined with an area for my kids to burn off all the energy they’ve been saving up while strapped into their car seats for hours on end. Also – Shamrock shakes. Much to my chagrin, THIS McD’s playland is outdoors. Covered in snow. Also? No Shamrock shakes in stock yet. So instead my children amused the other diners running laps around a few tables. Luckily the other diners were not near us, thought the Girl was absurdly cute, or had children of their own and totally “got” it. I am not typically one to let my kids run amok in restaurants. But hello. 15 hour car ride.

We made it to Iowa City by about 7 ish and stopped to have dinner at Apple Bee’s. Yeah, not so creative on the food front the first day. We talked to my Aunt and figured we had at least another 4 hours before we made her house. We hit the road again and eventually decided to call it a night in Davenport instead of arriving at her door past midnight. We found a very nice Country Inn and Suites. The “King suite” consisted of a nice sized bathroom, a sitting room with pull out couch, and a bedroom with king sized bed separated from the sitting room by french doors. And it was cheap. Decent breakfast too although the fruit was a bit frozen. If’n they’d had a blender for smoothies, I’d say it was perfect.

And so, back on the road we go. Another 2.5 hours to my Aunt’s. But we stop at Target first. Mom forgot to pack her swimsuit. And yes, under-pressure swimsuit shopping is on everyone’s bucket list, isn’t it? Ha. I pick up a new pair of sunglasses since the Girl decided to break mine the day before. (Thank you for cloudy weather to save my eyes!) I also buy the boy a new pair of rain boots which look like fireman boots. No luck finding the Girl a pair though.

And finally! We make it to my Aunt’s house! We unload and spend the rest of the day relaxing and catching up. My cousin and her grand-daughter come over as well. Little C is 2; she and the Boy have fun tormenting each other playing together.

My Aunt and Uncle have an assortment of very collectible and antique toy tractors. The Boy would have loved to get his hands on them. A huge thank you to my Aunt for letting the Boy play with these two. And yes, he attached dog leashes to them and then was “mowing” or “plowing” the carpet. (Hi Jewel! I’m sorry my kids kept pestering you! But you’re a very nice doggy and they sure do love you.) A huge sarcastic thanksalot to my Aunt because now he keeps asking when we can get our own. And do you know how hard it is to find real metal toy tractors for a price you’d feel okay letting your kid play with them?

And so, you see? Just like that I’m at the end of Day #2. Unfortunately these two days combined have about 1/8th of the photos of Day #3 alone.  So stop back by tomorrow (probably late afternoon) to see just what kind of trouble we can cause in a small Illinois farm town.