Friday, April 03, 2009

Planning for a Summer roadtrip

We canceled our cross country trek over this past Christmas. Scheduling would have meant I'd have been driving alone with three kids and dog, with Dad flying in to join us for just a few days. Turned out that the cancellation was a good idea. The weather would have made the long snowy drive even longer, due to short driving days - not to mention the short fuse I'd have had from dealing with dangerous driving conditions during the latest round of "she took my gameboy - he's using my pillow - the dog won't stop breathing on me..."

It's rescheduled for this summer. I'll still be doing the driving, but only by myself one way, with long days, warm weather for leg stretching at break time, and hotels with open pools for kids to exercise before eight hours of driving.

Our time in CO is fixed (more on that later), but we'll be able to spend a little over a week each way, exploring on our way to and from Colorado. We'll be seeing two sets of grandparents, as well as spending some time with the two great-grandparents. We'll take a southern route through Arkansas, Texas & New Mexico one way; Nebraska, Missouri, Southern Illinois and Tennessee the other. (Don't know which is which yet.)

I'm taking requests from everyone (kids & grownups) for things they'd like to see and do along the way, and working a few of them into the driving routes. So far, I have general requests for horseback riding, rafting, lots of hiking, and ice cream. For specific locations, I have:

St. Louis Gateway Arch. All three kids are interested in this stop. Not just because we've driven by it before, or because I told them about going to the top as a kid. We read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan last year (read to 4th graders at school this year), and the Arch is the setting for a big battle with Echidna, the mother of all monsters, and the Chimera. Percy Jackson, the hero, is blasted from the arch and falls into the river. The children are dying to look from the top to see exactly how far the drop into the Mississippi River would be.

Capulin Volcano National Monument, in New Mexico. We passed it pretty late in the day on our way back from Colorado a few years ago. The boys kept the idea of a hiking down into a volcano crater tucked away, and brought it up as soon as they heard we'd be back through NM again this time.

And, thanks to blogger Slamdunks' Off the Beaten Path series, I'll be adding a second geologically-themed stop to our southern route. Last time we passed through Arkansas, we stopped once for breakfast and gas, and once at a rest area. This time, we'll be stopping either in Murfreesboro, at Coleman Mining (quartz), or at Crater of Diamonds State Park, in Hot Springs. Even though it's the boys who are into geology, the little girl in our group will be more than happy to climb around looking for rocks which might turn out to be sparkly.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. Heck, I'm even looking forward to the planning. I get to pull out state guidebooks, loads of maps, and work with the kids to build our very own little atlas for the trip.

For right now though, I need to get back to building an area map for a retail district.


Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the plug. I will have to read about the NM volcano--looks wonderful.

At least now, if the Arkansas stop turns out to be dreadful, you'll have material for an additional blog post entitled: "Off the Beaten Path Leads to Disappointment and Anger..."

mappchik said...

Nah. Our off the beaten path stops usually end up as our favorite trip moments. If you ask the kids what they remember from last summer, they'll tell you about the waterfall-climbing snake in NC, not the day at an amusement park.

I anticipate nothing but sweaty, tired children who will be happy to spend the next day of the trip in the air conditioned car. And a lot of laundry.