Harper and I put nearly 1,000 miles on the car this weekend.
I wish I was exaggerating.
On Friday we drove from Ohio to my parents' house in Sussex, Wisconsin. On Saturday we drove from Sussex to Waunakee (near Madison) for a bridal shower, then from Waunakee to Chicago, Illinois. We drove to Chicago to spend the night with a friend so we'd be a little closer to home when we drove back to Ohio on Sunday.
Whew, I feel tired just typing that.
It was a lot of driving for one weekend, especially since only one of the travelers was old enough to drive. On a weekend like this, I make no apologies for the use of entertainment technology in the car. (Or maybe I do make apologies, hence the rest of this paragraph). Harper made use of both the DVD player and, despite my distaste for children playing video games, the Nintendo DS. I feel like we do a fairly decent job of limiting our children's screen time and, more importantly, what they are doing during that time, but I still feel really defensive about letting them zone out in the car. I feel like I need to repeat for you that we only do it on LONG trips, and that the children know it isn't an option during our daily driving or on most trips less than two hours, like driving to Cincinnati or Columbus. And I KNOW that we all survived road trips when we were kids without DVD players. We DID use portable tape and CD players, read books, and eventually in my family we had a couple of Game Boys to fight over. So it isn't as though I spent all my childhood car time in a jovial family sing-along or playing endless rounds of the license plate game, did you? Do you think our parents wouldn't have used a DVD player to shush us if they'd have had the option?
The point is, I was very, VERY thankful for all that tech this weekend. Especially since I kept myself entertained/distracted from the many, many miles by seven Wait wait... don't tell me! podcasts. (And now your picture of me as a pretty big nerd is complete. And accurate.)
WHY would we do all that in one weekend you ask? Well the bridal shower was for my little brother's fiancée, thrown by the aunts on both sides of my family. The travel was worth it to help celebrate Molly joining our family and to see many family members that we miss being so far from my original home. Harper had a blast playing with my cousins and, after some initial shyness, enjoyed the attention from the adults who were happy to see her, some of them for the first time in years.
The night in Chicago was kind of a last minute decision, but between the time change and the time zone change we were set to lose two hours on Sunday - it seemed a good trade off to drive them on Saturday and be that much closer to Ohio on Sunday morning. We stayed with a dear friend of mine from college (who feels like a friend I've known my whole life) and Harper enjoyed her first taste of Chicago.
Saturday night Harper kept leaning over the back of one of my friend's chairs and I had to repeatedly remind her to stop. Eventually she said, clearly exasperated, "I'm just not used to living in the big city!" She was fascinated by everything about the city and Cindy's condo. She loved looking at all the storefronts as we drove into the Chicago and she kept exclaiming over how busy and crowded it was. She was surprised by all the cars parked along the street and how we had to be buzzed into the building where Cindy lived. She was irritated by the noise from the upstairs neighbors and worried that she wouldn't be able to sleep because of the cars on the street (it wasn't a problem).
On the way out of town Sunday we drove right along the lake. Harper gawked at the huge buildings, Navy Pier, Soldier Field, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the list goes on... We even got to see the Chicago River, all in green for St. Patrick's Day. Harper has decided she'd like to live in Chicago when she's grown up.
It was a good weekend and I'm glad we went. I'm also glad we don't have plans to drive anywhere until Easter weekend - it will take me that long to recover!