I'm going to ignore the static silence over here in my corner of the inter webs and just go for it.
A few weeks ago, my family of five plus my in-laws (and my parents for a part of it) travelled to Oregon for our 'big family vacation'. Except that I made sure everyone knew it's not a vacation with kids, it's a TRIP. Amiright?
Nate's only brother, Jon, lives in Oregon and this trip was based around Jon's wedding to Brittany. My first sister-in-law is the bomb dot com and I'm so excited to welcome her to the family. Another Mrs. Goolia....too bad she lives halfway across the world from me. We continually try to convince each other to 'just move here already', either to WI or OR, to squash that distance but so far neither of us is budging. ;)
Well, Oregon certainly SEEMED to be a million miles away from home during our initial day of travel, might has well have been halfway around the world. Let me break it down for you, since I know detailed travel posts are oh-so-interesting.
We woke up on Thursday, July 14th at 5am. Packing for a ten day trip that includes a wedding (fancy clothes!) and also hiking, exploring, being in different climates was not a joke and probably deserves it's own post. Next time I pack for such an event I should live-blog it or something, so that I can remember the process and what to pack/what not to bother packing. But for now let's just say that we were fully packed and multiple paper lists flew around the house last minute. We woke the kids at 6 and hopped in the van, with Tony and Lois, after Nate loaded an absurd amount of luggage into our beloved Honda Odyssey. You guys, we had one single BOB stroller, a gigantic red suitcase that we checked, then six 'carry on' suitcases that were bordering on the size restrictions, and also six swollen backpacks for the actual plane ride. In addition to the seven people in our van! I have no idea how Master Nate managed to fit everything into the back of the van but he did, so we were off to Chicago at this bright hour of the day.
The List. Mad I didn't get a picture of our trunk all loaded!
Traffic wasn't horrible, so I believe we arrived to O'Hare (ugghghghghghhhh, sorry but this airport is not my favorite) around 7:30. After a few minor speed bumps with finding the correct long-term parking lot, we hopped on the shuttle and got to the airport in one piece. Going up and down escalators with Truman and Cecelia each pulling their own new suitcases was a little terrifying. We did have to check the BOB because apparently it's 24 pounds and they only gate check a stroller less than 20 pounds. Porter screamed, 'Noooo! My BOB, MY BOB, MYYYYY BOBBBBBBBB,' all throughout security. But we emerged stronger than before....literally, because now we had to carry Porter through the airport or allow him to walk which takes approximately 1402831 times longer than just picking up the screaming babe.
We all decided to eat some breakfast since our flight didn't board until 10 am. McDonalds was the obvious choice, along with a supplemental Starbucks kick. I think I changed a poopy diaper after that and praised God for letting this happen before the flight (foreshadowing for the way home), and then we hung out by the gate for a bit. Porter spotted his BOB load under our plane and proceeded to lose his mind, yet again, the poor babe. The flight attendant said she won a bet about why Porter was screaming---she said kids cry over seeing their bags go under the plane all of the time, who would have thought?! Also, they announced that anyone who wanted to gate check their carry ons could do so and we immediately signed up for that stuff, because our bags already becoming a hassle.
We finally boarded and ended up sitting like this: me at a window, Porter in the middle seat, then Tony on the aisle side. Nate sat behind us with Truman and Cecelia flanking him, and then Lois was across the aisle from them. Tony and Lois flip flopped around between helping me with Porter and trying to catch a few zzzzs in their more quiet seat. I cannot say that I blame them and I am sort of pissy with Nate because he got the easy kids and therefore was able to watch real TV on his laptop, or some other sort of 'me time' entertainment.
So we were all strapped in, ready to take off, and then we sat on the runway for almost an hour. Because: O'Hare, I guess. Porter was super interested in a new magnetic train book that Memaw sent him so this actually didn't suck as much as it sounds like. Finally we did take off and began our 4 hour and 15 minute journey in the sky. I considered this our second leg of a three leg expedition (first leg was driving to Chicago and getting through the airport, second was actually flying, third was getting the rental van and driving to our destination. One guess as to which was the most dreadful.)
During our flight, I had jam-packed Cecelia and Truman's backpacks with goodies. They each had their loveys, headphones, an electronic device with pre-loaded movies and shows, Mambas for chewing with pressure changes, granola bars, water bottles, new coloring books and crayons, educational activity books, books to read for real, Cecelia had a bunch of random stickers, and Truman had an Origami book to complete with Nate. Porter's goodies were in my bag, and included his loveys, headphones that he refused to wear, a Kindle with a few Thomas movies pre-loaded, the magnetic train book, Wikki-Stix that I enjoyed more than him, a huge pack of fruit snacks for ear popping, water, granola bars, pretzels, stickers, regular books to read, and a regular magician for ultimate entertainment. I wish! But really, age two might be the hardest age for flying----too old to sleep or nurse or cuddle, too young to stay focused on anything for too long (including screens) plus the insatiable desire to stay.moving.at.all.times. We had to buy Porter a plane ticked because this was three days after his second birthday, but in hindsight he would have needed that seat even six months ago----definitely not a lap baby anymore!
Oh, hey, wing shot!
The flight was pretty good. Porter bounced from various activities and was totally enthralled with his apple juice and cookies from the attendant. We tried to convince him to nap but failed, and I know I was listening to a movie that American Airlines was playing for us. I didn't really *watch* it but I tried to follow along to one with Walter White from Breaking Bad, and the movie industry back in the day. Seemed interesting! Anyone know the title?
We landed in Portland around 1pm-ish, I think. There's a two hour time change which completely killed us after our trip, back in Milwaukee, but this day it didn't seem too bad. Next was retrieving our luggage while Tony went to hunt down Thrifty rental cars. The luggage was fine and Porter was oh-so-happy to reunite with his BOB. Nate and Lois and I hauled around all gajillion pieces of luggage and tried to find Tony, without much luck. Apparently Thrifty was one of the companies that requires a shuttle off the airport property. After that borderline ride (everyone was getting pretty hungry and exhausted by now, who knew that meals consisting of granola bars and candy wouldn't cut it?), we found Tony and our rental van. It seemed much smaller than our Odyssey, I believe it was a Chrysler? But we rented two five point harness car seats and one booster for Truman, installed those, played Tetris with our luggage to make it fit in the trunk, and we were off to Eugene from there. We considered waiting for my mom and dad to get their car and follow us down, but they were about an hour behind us and we were worried about hitting traffic so we decided to meet them at the hotel.
Making our way through the airport, happy as clams to be on these moving walkways.
Thus begins our problematic leg of the journey, because Portland traffic at 2pm is NOT A FREAKING JOKE, people. Truly. Maybe it was just the perfect storm for everything combusting in our face at this point, but we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic for seriously 2 hours. Porter fell asleep for 20 minutes (so did the other two kids!), then woke up in hysterics, probably just so tired and hungry and over it that he couldn't deal. Listening to my baby scream non-stop, inconsolable, running out of tears was the worst. After those two hours of hell, we found a small town and stopped at Panera for a real meal (I feel like the town was maybe 50 miles outside of Portland or something awful). This was a quiet time in our journey, none of us were really verbal and couldn't form a sentence anyway. But the kids did appreciate some protein and non-granola bar food as did the adults.
This is the last picture I took on this day, symbolizing the car ride that hated us (and we hated it).
We decided to stretch our legs a bit by walking around a strip mall for maybe 30 minutes. Then back in the van we went. We had no traffic but still a solid hour and a half awaiting us by road. Finally, FINALLY, by the grace of the good Lord we arrived to our hotel in Eugene, Oregon at 6pm Eastern time. Which calculates to be fourteen hours of travel from door-to-door, and is the reason that we crumpled into pathetic balls of despair when we arrived at the hotel. There was some confusion with our rooms, the king suite Nate and I wanted for the addition of a pull out couch for the kids wasn't available next to Tony and Lois's room. And I really felt like we needed to be as close as possible to them if we had any chance of going out after the kids went to bed, so we ended up getting two queens that connected to my in-laws' room. Porter's pack-n-play took about an hour to arrive and then it was seriously microscopic, made for a seven pound infant or something. HILARIOUS!
We told the kids we would swim at the hotel pool when we arrived but there was just no freaking way. Instead we sort of unpacked and fed them some leftovers from lunch, chatted with Nate's aunt and cousins for a bit, and then put the kids to bed at 9pm (which was 11pm central time, OMG). My parents also came down to our room right before bedtime, just arriving from Portland, and the kids were so stinking happy to see them that I relaxed a little on the 'must do bedtime now!' stance I had earlier. Somehow Nate talked me into walking with his cousin, aunt, mom and my parents to get food after that. We stumbled upon Pita Pit in the little downtown Eugene and it was good but we were so exhausted I barely tasted it.
We crashed into bed with me sharing a bed with Cecelia, Truman with Nate, and Porter in the microscopic pack-n-play that made him exclaim over and over again, 'I don't fit!'.
(Stay tuned for nine more days of our trip! I'm not sure I will divide each day up into posts but this one was too long to combine).