Friday, July 10, 2009

Family Vacation Roadtrip

We had our first lengthy roadtrip vacation as a family of four last week. We had a blast, although it was exhausting at times. We're actually all still exhausted, and Owen has actually come down with some sort of fever.

Briefly, we drove from H-ville to Toronto and on the return trip, spent some time in Pittsburgh.

Here are some things I learned:

  • The portable DVD player was the best $100 I've spent on Owen yet -- minus medical costs and food, of course. Even if he watched the 10 minutes of bonus features of Cars about 400 times in the 28 hours we spent in the van.
  • The engineers who blasted the West Virginia Turnpike out of those mountains way back in the 1950s deserve some sort of commendation. What a long and winding road. People really overlook the importance of the highway system and Eisenhower's leadership in this area. Shame we got the idea from Adolf Hitler...
  • We broke the drive up in two halves, staying in Morgantown, WV the first night. It was a perfect amount of time on the road -- around 8 hours or so, with frequent stops.
  • Speaking of stops, Owen did an excellent job with potty stops -- only a couple more than what Lisa and I would have done if we were driving sans kids.
  • Toronto is a wonderful city. Even with a city worker strike, the city was clean and most everyone was marginially friendly -- it doesn't help to have a cute baby with you either!
  • Canadians are proud of their country. We were there during Canada Day, and most everyone wore flags or red shirts -- even the skate punks at the coffee shop in the Beaches. Much more patriotic than in the U.S., it seemed.
  • One cool thing (and I wish I got a picture of it) is that the city of Toronto gives each household a larger recycling bin than garbage can! In fact, my sister-in-law informed me that the trash can has a false bottom, making it even smaller than it looks. How great is that? Darlington County is so far behind in recycling that it's pathetic. They don't even take office paper or junk mail unless it is shredded. Like public education here, it isn't a priority.
  • Wyatt learned how to crawl during the trip, which was amazing considering how little floor space we had at our hotels and in-laws. I rarely put him on the ground for fear he would have been trampled by his brother and cousins. But he is moving around pretty well, and he has four teeth in with two more coming in.
  • We tried to go see Niagara Falls. But traffic from Toronto to Niagara Falls was pretty heavy, and it was really crowded when we did get there. Owen saw the Falls, but wasn't impressed. On to Pittsburgh!
  • Owen called Pittsburgh "Rothelisberger"
  • We ate at a very loud and crowded Primanti Brothers Restaurant while waiting for the fireworks. It was excellent, but I don't think Lisa was impressed. Oh well. What's not to like with french fries and slaw IN your sandwich?
  • Our hotel in Pittsburgh was expensive, but very close to PNC Park and the fireworks. What a show! And only a five minute walk from our hotel down to the Allegheny River. I realized that this was the first 4th of July fireworks I'd ever seen in Pittsburgh because we were always on the Outer Banks that week.
  • We planned to go to the Zoo, but we were all out of steam by that point. A seventh night in a hotel room might have put us over the edge, so after a couple of stops (for food and formula), we decided to head back to Hartsville.
  • We borrowed a GPS, which made the trip a little more interesting. We changed the voice to French and British English for fun. It was nice to have a list of close hotels when we got to Pittsburgh, and we could find a Wal-mart with ease. It definitely was good to have, and if we travelled more often, we would buy one ourselves.
  • The GPS said it would take almost 11 hours to get home from Pittsburgh, but we made it home in under 10 with three stops.

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