Lower-Slower Delaware

Continuing north, we left the I95 corridor and headed for the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It was the closest and fastest route, and I remember crossing it as a kid and thinking it was really fun. Though the tolls were a bit steep with the trailer, it was a welcome break from miles of endless interstate. Both bridges and tunnels are exciting for kids in the car, and the CBBT offers about 20 miles of both. (More information: http://www.cbbt.com/)

It was extremely windy and cold when we reached the restaurant and gift shop area so we chose to take our picnic lunch inside. We sat by the window and watched the Chesapeake birds as we ate. Emelie and Pappa braved the fishing pier for a closer look, while Mamma and Peter enjoyed the shelter of the gift shop.

IMG_3100Sometimes I worry that they’ll start to expect fantastic views every time they eat!

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Yes, he’s barefoot. Again.

After crossing the Chesapeake, we continued north into southern Delaware, which we affectionately refer to as “Lower-Slower” Delaware. We have cousins* who live on a beautiful rural plot of land bordering a state park there. They have turkeys and guinea hens, and in November, big piles of leaves to jump in. We enjoyed visiting with relatives and the kids had a blast exploring their yard.

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“Napping” in the hammock with a leaf pillow and a leaf blanket

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Our plan had been to set up the camper in their yard and continue sleeping outside, but the weather turned so much colder that the space heater just couldn’t keep up with the uninsulated tent walls of the pop-up. We reluctantly admitted that it was time to move inside and gratefully accepted the guest room.

*Not my first cousins, but my mom’s. We have great relationships with extended family on that side of the family and see them regularly. It’s not always easy, though, to figure out exactly how everyone’s related, so we decided years ago that we’re all just cousins. It’s easier that way!

The Impact of Hurricane Sandy

While Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast, we were high and dry in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. Our media exposure was limited and while we’d heard there was a big “superstorm” back east, it took us a few days before we understood the impact the storm would have on our route.

Recalculating route… Recalculating route…

Our plan had been to start heading north just east of New Orleans, visit some friends in Atlanta, spend some time in the Smoky Mountains and then head into West Virginia to visit cousins. Because of a miscommunication, it turned out our friends in Atlanta would be out of town about the time we estimated we’d get there. And then along came Sandy and dumped several feet of mid-October snow on our cousins in West Virginia. Much of the region had no power, a lot of damage from fallen trees, and plenty of work to do. Our cousins sent word that they wouldn’t be able to host us under the circumstances and we began to wonder if we would be able to find any campgrounds or even hotels that were operating normally along the remainder of our route.

The wisest decision, all things considered, was to avoid the whole area affected by Sandy as much as possible. We’d stay as far south as possible until we reached the Atlantic coast around Jacksonville, FL before heading north. The new header picture shows our adjusted route.

*Note: This post is intended simply as an update to explain our change in plans. We were thankful to be safely out of range of the storm when it hit and to have the opportunity to change our plans to keep our family safe. This was little more than a minor inconvenience for us. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones or experienced other significant losses as a result of the storm.

Zzyzx Rd

IMG_3155 croppedWhen was the last time you saw a 5-letter word using only the last 3 letters of the alphabet? No? Me neither.

It’s in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California, but the car ahead of us exited so apparently people go there.

Imagine my surprise when I asked Mr. Google about this word and it turns out it has its own Wikipedia page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zzyzx,_California if you’re interested) And it seems I’m not the only one to take this same picture. Apparently it’s some kind of landmark on the way to Vegas. I didn’t know. I just thought it was the strangest road name I’d ever seen.

Californians may laugh at my ignorance, but now I know. And so do you.

5000 Miles

Assuming that our trip is 10,000 miles (which we’re now thinking is a pretty big underestimate), then 5,000 miles would be the halfway point distance-wise. Our trip odometer reached 5,000 miles exactly on September 24, not far from Mt. Rainier in Washington.

If our trip is 90 days (which seems like it’s probably a pretty good estimate) then the halfway point time-wise would be day 45, October 3.

Recalculating Route…

“Recalculating route…” is what you hear the voice of your navigation system saying over and over again when you’ve made a wrong turn or decided to leave the route to get gas or a bite to eat. If you have made a wrong turn and are trying frantically to get back on track, the ever-calm voice of your GPS repeating this phrase over and over can be a bit irritating. But don’t read that feeling into the title of this post! The route that we had previously posted was a work in progress. And posting it enabled us to mine the collective wisdom of social media to make our trip even better!

Had we followed our initial plan, we would have missed Mount Rushmore, for example. But this is now included on our itinerary. So thank you, friends, for helping us improve our experience.

Unlike the presidents at Mount Rushmore, this new route is not set in stone (momentary pause to groan at the bad pun), so we hope others will speak up where they see opportunities we might be missing or other ways to improve our plans. Here’s our most current planned route:

Just 40 days left now until we fly to the United States to begin this grand adventure!

The Route

So here it is! This is our planned route! We’re hoping that by choosing a northern route as we drive west and a southern route as we drive back east, we’ll avoid both the heat of the South in late August and early September and the cold of the North in late October and November. You could say we’re trying to follow the summer. Really we just want to have the best possible chance to have good weather to enjoy all of our stops along the way. And hopefully avoid packing clothes for multiple seasons.

There are long stretches of road without a stop marked – which doesn’t mean we won’t be stopping. We just don’t know exactly where yet. We’re open to suggestions if anyone sees that we’ll be driving right past (or a minimal detour from) something that we should see. We don’t want everything to be a major attraction. There are some great attractions on our itinerary but we need to keep a pace that’s maintainable for all four of us for 90 days. Our kids are too young to get much out of theme parks, though we might hit one or two along the way. What we want is fun things to do as a family… a nice lake we can swim in or canoe on, for example, or local festivals, children’s theater productions, even just a really good playground.

What an adventure this will be!!