Monday, June 08, 2009

Back to business

All right, I think I'm slowly but surely recovering emotionally and pictorally from the self-inflicted decimation of my blogs. Time to get back to business and take a look at some important issues. Namely, what on earth should I do with this blog once we move?

Here's the low-down: Jeremy defends his dissertation next week, and then we pack up and move to Utah for a summer job at the BYU. The bulk of our stuff will be in a storage pod heading off to Ithaca - we'll have to get by in Provo on stuff we can fit in our car. I thought we might get away with actually being surrounded in comfort with all our possessions this summer, but it looks like we'll be following the tradition of previous years of essentially living out of a suitcase.

After the BYU work is done, the plan is to - hear me out on this - drive 30 hours across the country to Ithaca. If you have any advice or experience on this front, bring it on. Do we book hotels in advance? Should we drive during the day or night? How much should we plan on stopping to see sights? Are we insane? I have no expectations of it being a neverending picnic, but I have to believe it's doable (and has been done before).

And what about this blog? Should I retire it and start a new blog with a new URL (I've reserved just in case)? Or keep the Tucson URL, and change only the name of the blog? Some other third solution that I don't see? I've been operating under the assumption that My Adventures in Tucson is my "American" blog, while My Adventures in Syria and My Adventures in Jordan get separate ones because they are different countries. You may recall that when we were in Middlebury, I just temporarily changed the name of this blog and did nothing to the URL. By those rules, I should keep the same URL and just change the name of the blog. Who even types in URLs these days anyway? Isn't it all just bookmarks and links?

Basically, I curse the day that I named any blog with a specific geographic location. Let this be a lesson to you.

Really, though, what should I do?


Liz Johnson said...

We have done the 21-hour drive to/from Utah, and are doing it again this summer. Here are my tidbits of advice.

Don't book hotels in advance; that will only stress you out in "having" to arrive at a certain place at a certain time. You can find a Motel 6 or Days Inn at virtually every exit across I-80. On a 30-hour roadtrip, the ultimate key is to be flexible. You could maybe make goals, but with two kids, I wouldn't make any definite plans. It's not worth the additional stress.

We always start the first day in the early evening, leaving around 4 or 5pm, and then we drive until midnight-ish. This is mostly to break our drive up into one 6-hour day, and two 7.5-hour days. We try to keep the days manageable, and stop for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. It makes it longer, but my sanity is worth it. We didn't really stop at any 'tourist destinations,' mostly because it wasn't worth the stress of deviating more than a mile from the freeway at any given time. We did, however, map out the Costco locations with gas stations and all Sonics along the freeway so that we could try to get cheaper gas and limeades when possible. :)

I would try to do some of your driving either in the early morning (when kids might be asleep) or late at night (when kids might be asleep). I would also plan to bribe them with ANYTHING that will keep them quiet and/or happy, including snacks that you normally forbid, DVDs, and toys. I recommend getting each of them a new toy or two before the trip, and busting it out on the first day. It might work to get two new toys, and plan to bust the second one out during the last half of the roadtrip.

Also, I vote for myadventuresinithaca, especially if you're going to be there for a while. Link back to this one on the sidebar, but that way you can create labels for Ithaca's various quirks. It's a new phase in life, why not get a new blog? :)

Shannan said...

I'll follow you wherever you go - you are one blog writer I love to read! Just give us a heads up on what you decide.

As for the drive - I've done this a time or two (namely, I've done this upstate New York drive - we lived in a small town outside of Syracuse - we drove back home to Seattle from NY via SLC)

Book hotels in advance (I like or I like to drive starting early morning and then quit around dinner with tired kids. car DVD player is a savior. You'll enjoy it - it is good memories.

Sharalea said...

Good luck to Jeremy on the dissertation & with the BYU move (we are also doing a 'summer home' experience in Wisconsin)--you are my hero for doing the suitcase living thing with 2 kids!

Our recent drive was NOT cross country --only 13 hrs-- but a few things we wouldn't do without:

1. GPS
2. basket of toys in the front seat to hand back as the darling one(s) drop/get tired of the previous ones along the way
3. some good driving music

Also, a friend of mine just did the cross country trek (Maryland to UT) with 3 kids & documented it well on her blog:

I vote for same URL. That's just me. :)

Love your blog, good luck with the packing & busy weeks ahead!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

We used to drive the route from Boise-S. Cal regularly which was 16-18 hours (first w/ 2 little ones, then 3) (in our VW Rabbit). We drove the entire stretch by leaving @ 3 p.m. & arriving there early in the morning. It only worked because it was basically one difficult day. Don't try this for your trip since it's nearly twice as long.

When my folks drove us 4 kids coast to coast in July 1962 (in a Buick Special station wagon, no AC, no seat-belts, no CD player, no cell phone, 2-lane highway all the way) (and the 2 youngest in diapers), they drove 4 days 12 hours per day, & then a half day, so @54 hours. We usually were on the road by 4:30 a.m. & the kids went back to sleep. As per Liz's comment, they did not make motel reservations (ruins flexibility) and we did not sight-see w/one exception, a quick side trip to the Painted Desert. My Dad did not like to stop for anything which was a problem--I recall embarrassing stops by the roadside as a last resort to pee because he had insisted on keeping up the pace when we had passed through some convenient towns (did he think little kids could hold it for 12 hours??). So plan on regular stops for bathroom & have lunch at a park where the girls can get a break. We had some special toys to play with--you could get some inexpensive toys to give them a new one daily.

One handy diversion we used for our kids on trips was to bring along a small cassette tape recorder. They talked into it, then played it back; they recorded songs we sang along the way. The older ones interviewed the adults. All this amused them for quite a while.

As for lodging, at some point during the day you could check your map to get an idea of where you will end up, and then call me to do an internet search for affordable lodging. Be sure to bring swim suits along. Bring Dramamine. Bring pillows. Spiral notebook/coloring books for Meme. Spirals keep papers from cluttering the car.

Nancy said...

Meet my friend Lydia. She just drove from Idaho to DC with 4 kids in tow and blogged about what they did. She'd probably answer any questions you want to ask.

I think you should get a different domain can forward your old blog address to the new one until people get used to it, or even keep adventuresintucson and have it continue to automatically forward forever (I think).

AmandaStretch said...

There's definitely something to be said regarding flexibility with kids. When I made the SLC-DC drive, I booked hotels in advance, because I like having an end goal. So, we lodged in Random City, NE, one night, didn't get in until 10 or so, but made it to Chicago by 5 or 6 the next day. But it was my brother and me, and we're a little more patient than toddlers (though not by much ;) ).

As a kid, we road-tripped as a family a lot, and having plenty of toys and books and other entertainments was key. We were expected to help keep it clean (usually at the end of the day), which I'm sure helped my parents' sanity. Some side trips can be fun. I remember stopping at one of those drive-through outdoor safari places, where you drive through and feed the animals from your car. Breaks up the monotony.

Other lessons I remember:

1 - Getting out the heebie-jeebies. That's what my dad called it every time, as we had footraces at EVERY rest stop. Magdalena is too young to appreciate it, but Miriam would probably have fun.

2 - No crayons in the sun. We learned this the hard way.

3 - On one multi-day road trip, Mom had a new surprise (usually a new toy) for us each day. Liz mentioned this too. It was something to look forward to, and she would break it out at a different time each day.

4 - Road games - Alphabet game (great as a kid, bad for a date, trust me on this), count the yellow cars, etc.

I have fond memories of these road trips growing up. Yes, we all went a little crazy and they weren't without incident, but they really were good times. Good luck!

And I, too, vote yes on the URL change. Your loyal readers will catch up. :)

Jill said...

Having done the cross county trek with two kids in the past year, and then a half country drive less than a month ago, definitely get a portable DVD player. Its will be great for Miriam since she won't nap as much as Magdalena. Don't book hotels in advance - we learned our lesson on that one on our trip to Utah at Christmas - the flexibility is extremely important. Have a stop in mind before you go, and just shoot for that destination for the night.
When we came out from DC, we planned not to drive more than 8 hours a day. Have breakfast, get on the road, be off by dinner and let the kids run around, play in the pool, have some fun with mom and dad. Like others have said, you have to plan on stopping every so often and changing diapers, using the bathroom, nursing, etc.
We were able to leave a seat free in the back with the kids (or just transfer stuff to the passenger seat) so that if they really were getting restless, I could sit back with them and read stories or color or whatever they wanted to do. Stop for lunch, try to find a park.
Our GPS was awesome. It would tell us where parks were for lunches, close hotels with phone numbers so we could call for the price before we got there, and grocery stores so we could get something other than convienence store food or fast food.
We planned to stop for sightseeing about every other day. It's nice to have something for mom and dad to look forward to, as well as get everyone out of the car. If you can incorporate lunch or dinner in, that's a bonus. It's defintely doable - email me if you want to know more about what we did.
As far as the blog, my vote is to change it to Ithaca. Since you'll be there awhile in seems to make sense. I've never done it before, but can you export/import the Tucson blog into the Ithaca one?
Good luck!

Jennifer said...

Since you'll be in Ithaca for a while, I'd go to the new URL. I don't know, maybe you should just do myadventuresinamerica so you'll never have to switch again? :)

The Ensign's said...

I've often thought about this same thing when it comes to your URL. Some people use there kids name when they only have one kids (shaylee., but what happens when they have another kid? Yours is fine since you have seperate blogs for each of your kids,but some people use that URL for their family blog. In my mind it's not a good idea. Which ever you decide we'll be a follower/stalker of it so let us know!
BTW- We are sooo very sad you guys are leaving. I dont know who Shay will play with anymore.

Hannah said...

Good luck to Jeremy with his dissertation defense! Good luck with the long drive, too. I don't have any great suggestions for it since I don't have any kids yet, but I like the idea others have mentioned about getting some new toys for the girls to play with during the trip.


Jeanerbee said...

We made the 40 hour drive from Tucson to Pittsfield last year with a 17 month old. Don't book hotels in advance. Yes, stop to sightsee it breaks up the trip. We avoided evening driving because that's when Eli was fussy and he didn't like going to sleep in his carseat. We would get up EARLY and hit the road because he was more likely to fall asleep that way, or at least be zoned out. Then finish by late afternoon or early evening. Bring good snacks and invest in a dvd player. And it will be horrible but awesome at the same time!!! =)

Hilary said...

Magnadoodles made all the difference in the world on our 12 hour drives last month. One for both the 3 year old, and one for the 1 year old, and it was by far and away the most effective of our tools.

And snacks, of course.

Mikael said...

back to utah? I fear the day some construction job will drag me back there. I won't stand for it!! NOO!! I am so done there. But at least you know it is short term!
Are you in Ithaca for good? Then change the address. But if you plan on moving around again, keep this address. Whatever you do, I will just change it on my links (I had to look up at the url to see what this was! haha. that is how much it matters) GOOD LUCK with the move, and the HONK drive. You will have to tell me how it goes

JackJen said...

I've done only one cross-country drive and it wasn't with kids. I WILL say, however, for the sake of the the DRIVER, our best driving came in the wee hours of the morning. We'd leave our hotel at 6am and make sure to stop before dinner. Avoiding nighttime driving was key for us.

I ALSO vote for myadventuresinithaca. We're not talking a summer blog here...this is the next phase of your life. your readers will follow....I know this one will. =)

Lindsay said...

Most of our road trips have been between 10 - 18 hours. New toys work great, and will keep them entertained briefly. Also, let Miriam pack a bag with a few of her favorite toys. Portable DVD players are life savers - but I do have a suggestion for these. We always wait until everything else has stopped working and/or the kids are tired to start a movie. If you start one right off the bat, you'll have nothing to turn to later. Also, bring plenty of snacks, toys for baby, etc. We also try to have a seat empty in the back, because sometimes the little ones just need you to look at them. We usually drive all in one day - like ripping off the bandaid, but in your case, you'll have to split it up. I say don't book hotels ahead of time - you never know when the kiddos will be done for the day. Good luck!!!

Fromagette said...

I don't have any advise on long car trips. Sorry!

I do think, however, that you should use the new blog address. If you are going to be in Ithaca for a while, you might as well.

Ashley said...

Yay! You are coming back here! We have a pool if you ever want to come by. Right now it is too cold to use, but I guess that is a relief to your hot summers in Tucson.

Kristen said...

I loved reading these great ideas for the road! We aren't moving across the country, but in a few weeks are leaving on a long road trip which we have planned--on purpose--for the sake of a vacation. So for us it's a little different because the journey is the whole idea, rather than an end destination (well, I guess getting back home on the date we've specified is the final destination, with several 1-2 night stops along the way). I think if you view your cross-country trip as a "family vacation" of sorts, it will be fun and memorable and you'll know what to do. Take the time to enjoy it and don't be stressed.

I also vote for a new blog. The temporary Middlebury thing can be justified by the fact that it was only for the summer and you still owned a residence in Tucson with plans to return. It's time for Adventures in Ithaca!


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