Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On the Road

Elsa--and Jon and I--survived her first road trip.

And not only survived, but also thrived. With the exception of a few fussy moments that were alleviated by a meal, Elsa slept nearly the entire time. That she is a good traveller bodes very well for us. Neither of our families lives close by, and we can't go very long without taking a trip somewhere.

We knew we wanted to make a trip to the Midwest sometime this summer, and the stars aligned to make that possible at the end of June. Unfortunately, however, we began the trip under a bit of a dark cloud, literally and figuratively.

The only thing I had to do the day before embarking on our eight-hour (sans baby--who knew how much longer it would take this time) journey was pack. Elsa had other plans. She nursed like she was storing up for a winter hibernation, not napping for a significant period of time all day. Needless to say, there was a very frustrated and tired mama throwing clothes in a bag at 11pm.

This also meant that we were not able to load up the car the night before as planned. Jon had to jump into action the morning of our drive, playing a complex game of Tetris in the back of our car. Who knew such a tiny person could require so much stuff?!?

After successfully squeezing all of our stuff into the car, Jon returned to our apartment to make one final adjustment to the batch of beer he'd brewed the day before on Father's Day (a present to himself). Much to his dismay, this aeration caused the beer to overflow slightly into the deep freezer, necessitating an immediate clean-up. To say Jon was frustrated as well would be an understatement.

So, under this figurative dark cloud, we hit the road. Luckily, things brightened up a bit as we settled into driving north through Arkansas toward the bootheel of Missouri. Elsa slept so soundly that we needed to eat before she did.

This is when the literal black cloud rolled in. Our timing was impeccable as we all needed a food/bathroom break moments before the sky opened up. The thunderstorm was right on top of us, and we learned that Elsa is not a fan of lightning. We waited out the storm--which also included hail--at Panera*, enjoying lunch and free wi-fi.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. I spent most of it in the backseat, although rather than entertain Elsa, I think I just made Jon seem like a chauffeur. We arrived at Grandma's house in pretty good time (just in time for dinner, which is the best time), at which point she met us on the porch and swept Elsa out of our arms. Clearly, Grandma was only interested in one of the travelers.

Mom, I know you're reading this, and I jest. We felt extremely welcome and are grateful for the attention you lavished on all of us. It's just that we know who the celebrity is.

Our stay in Missouri was short-lived as we loaded up the next morning and drove to Nebraska. Uncle shared the backseat with Elsa this time, and once again, the trip was not especially noteworthy. Well, except for the runzas. Those were pretty delicious.

The next three days were spent introducing Elsa to grandparents, cousins (and their respective little people), and aunts and uncles. Elsa was a charmer, satisfying the "baby fix" of many a female.  There were lots of special moments, and we took a  lot of pictures**. I'm so glad we were able to make the trip.  

You can't go to Nebraska without wearing your Husker red.

We headed back to Missouri for more family time. Elsa had yet to meet her other uncle, aunt, and cousins, and we did so while taking family pictures. Photos with kids are always a bit of a crap shoot, but all three girls did extremely well; I'm excited to see how the pictures turned out.

Just like in Nebraska, our time in Kansas City was full of introductions and baby snuggles, and even a graduation party for a brand-new Doctor. Again, lots of pictures**. Thank you to everyone who took the time to meet up with us (and if we missed you, until next time). It was lovely sharing/showing off our daughter, and I definitely appreciated the extra help (thanks especially to Grandma and Uncle) as Jon had to get back to Memphis for work several days before Elsa and I had to leave. He took the train in a bit of a roundabout fashion, which I'm sure was quite the adventure (but you'll have to ask him for details).

In order to take the train, he had to have a ticket--obviously--which unfortunately could not be obtained at the suburban train station he was departing from. This meant that we had to go to Union Station in downtown Kansas City. I emphasize we because I went with him, both of us leaving Elsa for the first time. Rather than fret about such a monumental event, I confess that I didn't worry at all and didn't even really miss her. I'm hoping this is because a) we were only gone for a little over an hour and b) Elsa was with my mom...not because I'm a terrible mother.

At the end of the week, it was time for Elsa and I to join Jon back in Memphis. As expected, the drive took much longer than it would have had I been driving solo. What I did not expect, however, was that Elsa was not responsible for the delay.

If I never see another hot pink road sign proclaiming "TRAFFIC INCIDENT AHEAD. BE PREPARED TO STOP" again, it will be too soon. Elsa was a trooper, though, not protesting when the highway turned into a parking lot or when I decided to take detour on some gravel roads.

The combination of these hold-ups plus a fun stop in St. Louis for lunch with a friend caused us to roll into Memphis quite late, but the enthusiastic welcome we received from Jon made it all worthwhile. I think it's safe to say that there will be more roadtrips in our future.

*Not necessarily an endorsement for Panera, although we did frequent at least three throughout the trip.

**If you are interested in viewing any of these pictures, please become a member of our "share site": We prefer to not post pictures of anyone on this blog without their permission, and we don't want to overwhelm anyone with baby pictures unless they want to see them.