15 July 2010

stats and trivia

There have been a lot of comments made about how we ever survived such a long road trip with seven bodies in such close proximity. Well, it wasn't easy, but it wasn't as bad as one might think. There was a learning curve, for sure.

When we started out, the car was packed to the gills, there was a highchair strapped to the roof, the kids were in their car seats, Stephen & I were in the front, Nika (our dog) shared the second row with the kids, and the cats were in individual crates. By the time we got to Cleveland, though, one of the cats (Rosie) had made it widely known that she preferred to roam about the car, so we let her do so as long as it did not interfere with the driver's perspective or reflexes. After we left Cleveland, we discovered that our other cat (Al) had become acclimated to traveling enough that he also preferred to roam about, and since we had a little more room at that point, we allowed him to do so as well. The only difficulty with doing things this way was that we had to make sure the litter box was accessible in the car at all times. There was no smell, since Stephen did well to scoop it at almost every stop, but it does take up quite a bit of otherwise stackable space that way. I had Rosie in my lap and Al was under the driver's seat for probably a third of the total trip or more. All of the animals were very well behaved and we had little trouble with them at all.

Seren & Porter were happy enough in the back seat. We had a tote bag full of books, coloring books, crayons, and small toys for Seren to occupy herself with. Of course, this didn't keep her busy the whole way, but it was a big help. Once the contents of the bag started to lose her attention altogether, we had to be more creative and draw her attention to sights and sounds outside of the car. By the end, she was pointing out every train, track, boat, bridge, body of water, and wild animal that could be seen from the car. (Seren also did quite well with some of her favorite music. By the end of the trip, we could ALL sing almost all of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack as well as her favorites by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Tenacious D, Queen, and Simon and Garfunkel. Naturally, I'm very proud of her musical tastes. --Stephen) Porter was a little more difficult, as he is not yet of an age where his attention can be captured for any extended period of time. We had a few toys in the car for him, but he was happier just to sleep away the miles. When he was awake, we tried to let him have healthy snacks (apple chips were a hit!) or play with Seren as well as he could with the limited range of vision that his car seat affords. Most difficult was trying to find ways and places to get them out of the car to get the exercise, stimulation, and interaction that they both needed. Canada has some very nice rest stops with playgrounds, but we were never able to stay very long and it always felt as though we were tearing Seren away from much-needed play time to get back on the road. Porter would get very upset if he didn't feel like he was able to romp and play with us and Seren enough. As I said, his car seat doesn't allow him to see much more than the seat directly in front of him, so there were a few stops made just to take some face-to-face time with him. All in all, they both did very well and made us both very proud parents for the way they behaved for the majority of the trip.

Stephen and I whiled away the hours taking in the scenery and talking about any silly thing that popped into our heads. We both enjoy road trips, so we didn't have many issues - with each other, or otherwise - the entire way. Sometimes we preferred silence, but mostly we had the radio* on in the background. We talked and played with the kids from the front seat as much as we could and I took a few naps in the passenger seat. We laughed at billboards, enjoyed weather changes, and dreamed together about the end of this long, long road to Sitka.

*By radio, I don't mean broadcasted stations. That would have been far too much work, considering all the areas we were passing through so quickly. Instead, I loaded over 1,000 songs onto a hard drive and plugged that into our stereo receiver. Once in a while we would tune in to see what kind of local stations there were, but never for long. We had the music we liked to listen to with us and it only just started to get old by the last leg of the trip.

Another thing we did was count license plates on the highway. Here are the game rules:

  • Collect as many license plates from as many different places as possible.
  • Plates only count if you are inside the vehicle when you see them.
  • Plates on large commercial trucks (semis) do not count, but those on passenger buses do.
We did this collectively, not individually, on this trip to earn a more complete collection. We started the game on I-17 soon after we left Orme. The results? Inside the U.S.: ALL 50 states, plus a large number of tribal plates from Oklahoma. Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory. Mexico: Chihuahua.

Finally, for all of you who have been with us since mile one, here's our total mileage. We left Orme with 78780 miles on the odometer. We arrived in Sitka with approximately 84650 miles. That's a grand total of...

5870 MILES!
(2 oil changes, 1 tire rotation, and too much gas to even think about)

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