Is it a pain? Yes, because vacation days are super valuable to me. I love days that I don't have to go to work but I still get paid. It's my goal in life to figure out how to make that a full time gig!
But, because I hoard them and don't ever want to use them unless I am actually doing something fun, I never just take days off. School breaks force me to take time off. Weeks at a time off. And it's SPRING!!! Spring break is like a gazillion times better than winter break.
So since I had a whole week off I felt like I needed to do something. One problem...totally broke. So what's almost free and kind of like a vacation?
My sister's house!!! Anything that takes me away from my crap hole town house and the DC suburbs is a vacation in my book. So Wednesday morning I packed up the kids and the car and headed south to my sister's house. Clif would fly down Friday to join us for the Easter weekend.
My kids love a picnic, so first money saving vacation idea...picnic at a rest area. It was a win-win. I wouldn't have to deal with my three hyped kids in a restaurant, they could run around outside, we wouldn't have to eat any fast food, and I wouldn't have to pay for said food.
So I packed a cooler and planned on stopping around Richmond. Guess what, there are no rest stops near Richmond. Actually, if you're on 95 South in Virginia and you pass the rest stop that is just between Fredericksburg and Kings Dominion because it's only 11AM, and you're only an hour into your trip, and you know your kids will just be hungry again near Richmond...well then get ready to wait it out. There are zero rest stops between that one and the North Carolina border. Believe me, I looked.
That means around 1:30, we stopped to have lunch. There was a lot of complaining in the car, but once we stopped and set up our picnic Mommy was forgiven for trying to starve her poor, neglected children.
Seriously, other than the slight timing snafu...this was the most amazing idea ever!!! See, going on any type of road trip with kids means that you're guaranteed to add an hour or two to your arrival time. Someone always has to pee, some one's always hungry, and they are miserable in the car. So having a wide open space to let them run, easy access to a bathroom, and plenty of picnic snacks was a dream. It does take some extra prep time, but I will definitely be doing this more often during nice warm months.
We spent the next few days doing the most kid friendly activities ever. This was totally normal for me. I'm used to spending all my free time at playgrounds and petting zoos and farms and kids concerts. It was new for my sister who only has one baby and last year when the weather turned warm he was still a bitty baby.
We went to playgrounds.
We rode bikes...and Freddie is totally solid on his now. Balance bike...get one for your toddler. Amazing the difference between teaching him and Ainsley to ride.
We went to a farm with goats.
We rode trains.
It was a lot of fun. Exhausting, but the kids had a blast and I was happy to be away from home and spending time with my sister.
We spent Easter morning there and then packed up to head home so I could return to work the next day. Amazingly, and for the first time ever, we managed to get the car packed and everyone in it well before lunch time. We figured we could stop for lunch in a couple of hours and be half way home.
We popped our front tire when we swung around and hit the drain grate on the curb. And when I say popped, I mean POPPED!!! It was like a sound I've never heard. And it happened right there, in front of my sister's house.
Suddenly my almost free vacation became really expensive.
Also remember, Easter Sunday...so there were not very many places open and we did not have a full size spare. No way we could drive all the way home on 95 with the donut spare.
We did find a place. If you're wondering, Walmart service center is always open.
Also, just in case you didn't know, you shouldn't ever buy just one tire. I even talked to my mechanic, not-looking-to-screw-me brother about it and he suggested I absolutely not buy just one tire. Buy two. The silver lining there is in about 30,000 miles, I'll only need to buy two more and not all four. So there's that.
So two brand new tires, a lunch at Ruby Tuesday's (in the Walmart parking lot), and 4 hours after we "left" my sister's...we were on our way home. And my plan of being home by early-mid afternoon, before dinner...became my plan to try to get home before bedtime.
All in all it was a great spring break and we learned once again that the universe is just so funny. I have a lot of other words for what the universe is, but I don't talk like that...in public.