Monday, June 16, 2008

Road Trip!

Yes, the Carpool Lane family is getting ready to hit the road for our Annual Tour of the South. I'm cleaning out the minivan as we speak. The kids and I head out every year to visit my parents, my sisters, my in-laws, and anyone else who will take us in for a night or two.

This year's tour includes a stop at my aunts' houses in Louisiana, a camping trip with my parents to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a weekend with Greg's family in upstate South Carolina, another week of lounging by the lake at my parents' house in Georgia, a night out with some old dear friends, and the trip ends with a condo filled with cousins on 4th of July weekend at a resort near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Well, no, really it ends with me driving back to Texas on one last frazzled nerve.

Have I mentioned that my husband is not coming this year? And that I am driving? The whole way? Ha ha ha hahahah. Ohhhh.

I asked Google Maps the other day how long my trip would be, and it turns out it will be over 2,000 miles, with 27 hours spent driving.

Ha ha ha ha ha hahaha. Hmmm.

I know this sounds totally nuts. That's because it is. But we do it every year, and I know people don't believe me when I say this, but it's really not that bad. The kids and I are seasoned travelers, and we actually enjoy it.

One thing that makes it a lot easier is that I am freakishly organized when it comes to road trips. Before we leave, I pack everyone a backpack full of art supplies/puzzle books/leap pad games, set up the DVD player with a few new movies, and then I pack breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks, placing them in the seat next to me so that I can toss them back when the whining starts. The kids sleep in their clothes the night before, so that when we wake up at the butt crack of dawn, all they have to do is go potty and get in the car. We stop whenever we reach 1/2 tank of gas (about every two hours) and fill up, restock everyone's toys and snacks, and strongly encourage everyone to go the baby potty in the car, while I'm filling up the tank.

(and then I fling the contents of the baby potty onto the side of the road and get out of there as quickly as possible)

(Yes, I know that is redneck.)

(But you try herding three children into a gas station potty every two hours.)

So there you have it. Another thing that makes it fun is that we have some quirky traditions that the kids really look forward to. There are certain junk foods that I buy only for road trips. I bake homemade chocolate chip cookies for each trip, just like my mom always did. I let the kids go into a gas station in the middle of Mississippi and pick out any candy their hearts desire. We eat dinner at Waffle House as soon as we cross the Georgia state line. We always eat at Cracker Barrel on the way home.

Wow, it looks like all of our traditions are focused on food.

I'm starting a new tradition this year of downloading songs that have to do with each state we will be passing through. I thought it would be fun to listen to 'Sweet Home, Alabama' while crossing the Alabama state line, for instance.

Corny? Me?

So anyway, if you have any suggestions for my road trip playlist, feel free. And yes, I already own James Taylor and yes I always play it when we get to South Carolina. And I know I will pick Ray Charles' Georgia on My Mind, but I'm open to other ones, because that song makes me cry.

Mainly because my freshman year of college, I was standing in a Piggly Wiggly (grocery store) in Charleston, South Carolina when that song came over the intercom and I was so overcome with homesickness that I stood right there in front of the Ramen noodles and sobbed.

So every time I hear that song I am transported back to the Piggly Wiggly. Or the Laser Show at Stone Mountain.

Wow, this got really off track. So anyway, submit your southern state-themed songs, and I'll publish my playlist later this week as if everyone were interested.


  1. yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay for road trip season! I have to say, I think I am going to try and bake cookies to bring to the condo. I'm sure your supply of chocolate chip cookies will have run out by then. I may even put them in a bread bag just for old time's sake!

    No music recommendations here, though I love the idea of state themed songs.

    I'm still trying to work up the nerve for the road trips again. I am hoping the trip to the condo will break me in nicely so I can get down to Georgia a few times this summer. We shall see!

  2. We just returned from an emergancy trip to Texas, no time for organization. I had all 3 kids and Bobby. It took us 16 hours both ways! I am not sure when I will even get in a car again. But thanks for the post I am now reminded that I was meaning to touch base with your sister before she left. Oops!

  3. Don't forget to the pimento cheese sandwiches. And you must put the chocolate chip cookies (and brownies) in a bread bag. Ahhh the memories... Sorry I'm gonna miss you. As for songs the only La type I can think of is "Calling Baton Rouge".

  4. I've always wanted to make a Georgia playlist, but I never got around to it. It would definitely include "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "Rainy Night in Georgia."

  5. aww too bad you don't get to hit "OKLAHOMA, WHERE THE WIND..."! be sure and take LOTS of pics.

  6. TWO THOUSAND MILES! You should stop by my place. I can't be that much further out of your way.

  7. Now THAT is the way to do summer! You are awesome! What a fun mom! And brave! All on your own! But I know you (and the kids) will have a blast. What amazing memories you and your kids are making. :)

  8. "Jackson" by Johnny Cash
    "Devil Went Down to Georgia" (another song to make you think of the laser show...)
    "Sweet Georgia Brown"
    "Tennessee" by Arrested Development
    "Stars Fell on Alabama" Harry Connick, Jr.

    Well, that's all I can think of at the moment. I still crack up at the Texas CD you made for me with the theme from "Dallas" on it. AWESOME!!!!

  9. these are great road trip ideas - we are doing a road trip in july and I've been stocking up on cheap clearance coloring books, stickers, etc, as well as DVDs from ebay!

    How about The Devil went Down to Georgia?

    and Louisiana songs. sister! does it have to have Louisiana title, because, erm, I can't think of any of those, but I can send you all sorts of louisiana music... some good classic ones of course are Jambalaya, Mard Gras Mambo, Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez....

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  11. I'm so excited! When I saw the words "chocolate chip cookies" I imediately thought "in a bread bag!" That's the only way to Road Trip! I was so laughing at your post while reading it out loud to David. He thinks I'm crazy. I fear he may be out of place in TN with all us giggling girls around!


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