Mommy Traveling Pants

Family of 5 traveling the 50 states before they graduate. We are a close knit family who enjoys road tripping in our 9 passenger conversion van. We have been traveling since our kids were 6, 8 and 9.
Living in: Michigan, United States
  • Day16

    Troy MI

    April 27 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    Well, when you take the time to look back and tally things up, you realize...

    It's All Numbers

    14 States

    3 New States

    5382 miles (approx)

    104 hours in the car

    366 gallons of gas

    8 Marriotts

    1 House/cabin

    7 friends and family

    1 Univeristies

    15 attractions

    16 restaurants

    4 Nationalities of foods

    82 bottles of water

    2 frozen desserts

    5 Starbucks

    10 pink jeeps

    4 parking fees

    8 big cities (with high rises)

    1 movies

    6 bodies of water (including rivers, lakes, oceans)

    6 pizzas

    1 boat

    2 beach

    1 pools (they swam in)

    3 toll roads

    6 capitals

    9 different beds

    20 sharks

    4 starfish

    6 bags of chips

    7 phone cords

    3 surface pros

    5 iPhones

    1 oil change

    3 national parks

    We didn't keep track of our spending like past years and I am not sure I want to know. I think I do know...

    Memories...

    PRICELESS!

    Thank you for reading. See you in Hawaii, #49 in 2020.
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  • Day15

    Ann Arbor

    April 26 in the United States ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

    On our last stretch home, we decided to call our friend’s son, Kevin Ghilani, who goes to U of M, to see if he wanted to have dinner. He said yes so we picked him up in Ann Arbor, surprised the kids and went to dinner. We had a great time laughing our butts off which is what we always do when a Ghilani is around. We had a great time. This made Kevin our finale trip friend. It was a great end. When we got home,our dogs were excitedly waiting for us. We literally spent the whole night loving them up. Every time I turned around one of the five of us was on the floor snuggling the dogs. Great to be home. It always looks a little different and feels a little different. It quickly welcomes us back and familiarity returns. Life comes back to it. Do you know why? Because home is where the family is. When we aren’t there, home is where we are. When we start on our trips, we don’t look back until we are coming back. Then we are glad to be back. Home sweet home.Read more

  • Day15

    Bloomington IL

    April 26 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Yesterday was our last long road trip to the 50 states. We have reached 48. Unknowingly, we learned from our Pink Jeep tour guide that Arizona was the 48th state to join the union and it was our 48th state to travel. If we flip flopped our last two trips and went to Alaska before Hawaii, Hawaii would be our 50th and was the 50th to join the union. I don’t think we will do that because Alaska will be a longer summer trip and it will be our finale for Ben’s graduation. Next year, we will go to Hawaii.

    On our drive from Columbia to home, we began reflecting on where we started and where we are today and how so many things are different. The most obvious difference being the sizes of the kids. Somehow, I have gotten smaller. Strange how that happens. Here are some others...

    -Sleeping- On our first trips, all three were able to share one bed sideways. They didn‘t love it so we had overman (over the sheet), underman (under the sheet) and sleeping bag so they wouldn’t touch each other in the middle of the night. Now, its just a fight for who gets a bed alone. Guess where being the only girl works out in your favor.

    -Food-Food has gotten way more expensive and yes it is our fault. We have taught them how to eat well and try new things over the years so their palates have matured and they don’t use the kid menu any more. We love that because Paul and I love food.

    -Packing- I have gotten the hang of things over the years so packing is almost eerily too easy. The first year was a blur of lists. The kids can also pack most of their own stuff now. Though, they learned this year what things they forgot on the fly and thanked me for suggestions they thought were stupid at the time, like Easter clothes. Hmph. Another difference is the size of their clothes. Except for Matthew who is still a beanpole and wears the same thing every day. Elizabeth is a girl. Ben is a MAN. Their drawers of clothes speak for themselves. I am still the one with the most clothes and shoes. You must be prepared and have choices.

    -Electronics- We’ve gone from controlling movies to now, controlling the phones. Yes it makes for a quiet ride but if we don’t have “no electronic” times,, they wouldn’t talk to each other. I am fine that they stay in touch with friends but there has to be some time away from the phones. They seem to do fine with it even if they don’t want to. When we are eating, or listening to the books or out doing things, they don’t seem to be distracted by wanting their devices. They also use their phones for the cameras and not just for social media but for creativity and capturing moments or sites that they want to remember.

    -Our dogs- My parents used to take our dogs on our trips which was great because I wouldn’t want them to be in a kennel and I know they love them. It is too hard for my parents now, so my friend Jen, who used to take care of our kids long ago, takes care of my pups now. I know she loves them, too. I trust her to love them. We are so thankful that she and Craig and Mila take good care of them.

    -Moods-Moodiness is still there. Grumpiness is still a thing. Fighting still occurs. It is just different. It isn’t as easy to snap them out of moods these days. Ice cream used to do it, now a Starbucks does the trick. They still fight but now they have the ability and less fear unbuckling their seatbelts and having a full on MMA fight in the back of the van. Where my mom was able to reach back and start swinging, this van is its own sports arena that I cannot even ref from the front because I can’t reach them and they can’t hear me. Also, when they are reprimanded now, they have this uncanny way of defending themselves and leaving us with a cocked head and a quizzical look like whose the boss here? I think they are now. Hmph. On top of it, now they defend each other when they think one of them is unfairly accused or they think we are being lunatics. Either our job is almost done or, I quit. There will be a day whilst sipping my buttery Chardonnay with my lovely and sweet grandchildren at my feet screaming and wailing when I will be slyly grinning (hysterically laughing inside) at my children as Karma bares its ugly face. Sip. Sip. Giggle.

    -Buy me-Those words that drain the life out of you and cash out of your wallet if you let it. When we started these trips we gave them an allotted amount of money to spend (so we wouldn’t hear, “buy me,” and they could do what they wanted with it. Often they would spend it on something stupid on the first day, even if we tried to talk them out of it and it would no sooner slip into the pocket on the side of the door and remain there until the following trip the next year. They learned over the years how to spend their money and get us to spend ours. Ben is the best at money manipulation. He knows how to hoard his money and squeeze money out of us or his siblings. He is so charming. Elizabeth has become very money savvy and is very careful how she spends it. When I hear the words, “oooo mom look at this shirt,” I am far more clever than she gives me credit. I know what that is code for...”Buy me.” I just say, “oooo, you should buy that.” Glare thrown my way. Smirk back at ya. If it is too much for her to spend, then I should buy it. Smart girl. Matthew is different. He will willingly give them his money and he will purchase something ridiculously priced without a thought (until he realizes he has no money). The good news is that Ben and Elizabeth both have jobs, caddying and babysitting, and have their own money. I am not sure how Matthew gets his money. They carry purses and wallets now and look forward to gas stops to buy crap in the store.

    I am sure a lot more has changed but one thing I do know is that our family is closer because of these trips. Paul asked me a scary question, “What would our family be like if we didn’t take these trips?” I don’t know. I don’t want to know because they have shaped us as a family. We have learned a ton from being locked in a car for 16 days at a times. I am proud of my kids and my family for who we are becoming. I love them all with my whole heart. I wouldn’t change a thing.
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  • Day14

    The Sycamore Columbia MO

    April 25 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    After we walked around, she took us to a restaurant she worked at over the summer, The Sycamore. It is a trendy small plate kind of place. Our kind of place. Once again, we filled the table with all kinds of food. Ben wasn’t eating or feeling well.He took his first Uber back to the hotel. He must not have felt well because he took me up on it immediately.

    After dinner, we started walking back to the car picking up a Bird (scooter) along the way. We all gave it a try. We dropped Lauren off at the house and Emily worked her magic and got us into the baseball field after dark. A friend of hers who is a starting pitcher met us there and gave us a tour of the field, the locker room (peeewww), and the cages and such. Super cool. The kid was so nice explaining everything and answering our questions. Nice end to the night. We dropped Emily off and said our goodbyes. We grabbed some tacos and went back to the hotel. Our last leg home tomorrow. We are getting anxious to be home. Another great trip. Good night.
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  • Day14

    Columbia MO

    April 25 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Weather: 70s and beautiful

    States: Kansas and Missouri

    Cities: Salina and Columbia

    Miles: 300

    Hours: 4 hrs 16 min

    Sites: University of Missouri

    Restaurant: Sycamore

    Hotel/Home: Springhill Suites (another revamped Marriott)

    Movies:

    Audible: Resisting Happiness and An Interview with God (Made into a Movie)

    A shorter drive today to Columbia to see Emily. We arrived around 3 PM, checked into our hotel and headed to pick up Emily and her friend Lauren. Unfortunately, Ben started feeling sick last night. We hoped it would pass by morning. He wasn’t great all day. He still wanted to try to come with us to see Emily. I could tell he was just going through the motions. Emily greeted us outside her Delta Delta Delta house and took us in for a tour. Fun to see where she lives. We drove near the well known rec center built by the founder of Walmart. We parked and walked to the rec center for a tour. Ridiculous place. They have a water park, racketball courts, basketballl courts, volleyball courts, a workout gym and a ginormous sport swimming pool. The place is ridiculous. She excitedly showed us around. We saw the journalism school. We saw where her store is going to be next year that she had to write a business plan for and compete for a store front, Housey Designs. Proud of her. She paints jackets, coolers and canvas. They also body paint. Emily took Paul to his Fraternity which had NO resemblance to his fraternity at MSU. It was a really nice building with rules and regulations that made Paull’s chapter look like vigilantes. Pledges have to study 4 hours a day, 5 days a week no matter what. Grades are super important. They cannot drink in the house or have parties in the house. Paul chuckled the whole time at the stark contrast. I was feeling relieved that if my kids join one, maybe it will be a little safer. We shall see.
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  • Day13

    Salina ks

    April 24 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Weather: 70s and beautiful

    States: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas

    Cities: Williams, Albuquerque, Dodge city, Las Vegas (?)

    Miles: 995 miles

    Hours: 14 hrs 45 min

    Restaurant:

    Hotel/Home: Fairfield

    Audible: Resisting Happiness (a couple chapters at a time), Adrift

    We packed up early and hit the road at 6:30 AM. We had a long day ahead of us. It always seems so impossible to drive these 14 hour jaunts. It is daunting. We just keep ticking off the miles and hours. It is actually pretty cool to pass through towns and down roads across the country that you may have never know existed. The landscape keeps changing. The people keep changing. When you hear about a storm or an event on the news, you can say you’ve been there. You have left a footprint there.

    Our weather has been fabulous the whole trip. No rain, mostly blue skies and beautiful spring like weather. Warmer in California and Las Vegas. Our trips have been charmed. I will admit that we are all ready to get home and give each other some space but that is expected, right? We have been within 5 feet of each other for 15 days. We all have our own personalities (which are much different with teenagers) which often conflict. I will say that our kids don’t dread being on these trips though. They never complain about doing any of it and never have. Thank God. They truly enjoy seeing different places,eating different foods from different places in the country and even meeting people from those places. This trip has been great because we have been able to see family and friends along the way and see where they live. We saw my sister, Heather in San Francisco, the McCormicks in Santa Cruz, my nephew Cody in LA, the Lanstra’s in Pasadena, Paul’s brother, Dave in Vegas and our niece Emily in Missouri. They are all part of our blog of trips and our blog books. A part of our history. Life is good.

    We have spent a lot of driving time listening to books as well. This Resisting Happiness book is a good one. It is a Catholic based book that makes you dig deeper into your faith and even more, creating a better version of yourself. It really got all of us thinking and wanting to be more active in that pursuit. We listen to a couple of chapters a day because it is a thinking and processing book. The kids have been listening, too. We don’t expect them to get everything we do out of it but they will pick up things here and there. Its about being a good person, using faith as a guide, helping others, how you present yourself and more. It is funny that a lot of the topics hit on things we were already talking to the kids about like how you present yourself to others. We all need to process what we learn in different ways. Paul likes to talk about it. I like to internalize myself. No way is better as long as we are all willing to look at ourselves and want to create a better version of ourselves. Break bad habits and create new and positive ones. It is a great book and the author reads it on audible.

    For most of the 14 hour drive, we listened to the book, Adrift. A true story that was made into a movie. I have not seen the movie but Elizabeth had and said it was totally different than the book. It is a good driving book because it takes you on a sailing journey where the detail emerges you in the experience but at the same time, it’s not all critical to the story. At one point, I fell asleep and didn’t seem to miss anything and later Paul did the same. Not to say that it was unimportant to the story but not so important if you missed something, you missed the point of the story. It really passed time. Nothing terribly exciting or as engaging as Lion (A Long Journey HOme which we LOVED).

    As night fell, we ended up on these smaller highways that got up to 70 miles an hour and down to 35 miles per hour as they led us through one little town America after another. Each having corn or wheat fields flanking each end and giant grain silos and factories in the towns. We know that if you live there, chances are you will work there like your father or mother did and as your grandparents may have. Each town no longer than a mile stretch. In and out for hours. We finally reached Dodge City, yes the city where the cowboy phrase, “Get outta Dodge,” came from. I can see why. It smelled like poop all through the town. It is actually a fairly nice town until you get out of the car.Cow poop smell everywhere. I suppose you get used to it. Maybe the wind changes. I don’t know. We grabbed our Pizza Hut Pizza and got outta Dodge.
    We arrived in Salina around 11PM. We hit the sheets for our 4.5 hour drive to Columbia, MO to see our niece Emily at Mizzou. I will tell you that the Fairfield that we stayed in was one of the nicest that we’ve stayed in across the country. Marriott, Bonvoy, is revamping their hotels again and their image. I like it. I love Marriott. They are so consistent across the country. They never feel dirty, the people are nice and the rooms are comfy. I am creeped out by hotels but never a Marriott. We have stayed in close to 40+ different ones across the country. Different levels from Renaissance to Courtyard to Fairfield. We are now Platinum Elite with three night short of Lifetime Platinum Elite. We get some perks from that. Just know that Marriotts are consistent across the country, Fairfield’s and Springhilll Suites have suite rooms accommodating up to 6 people and they have free breakfast, they have clean rooms with clean white bedding and are never in bad neighborhoods. Important when traveling with a car full of stuff. They really take pride in their brand.

    Tomorrow to Columbia.
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  • Day12

    Williams AZ

    April 23 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    We got home after dark and started to load up the car and clean up the house. We have a long drive tomorrow, 14 hours and we want to leave by 6:30 AM. We are trying to make it to Salina, Kansas so we only have 5 hours to Columbia, MO to see our niece at Mizzou. We are so excited to see her at her school. We packed up and hit the sheets but before I fell asleep, I started reading about people who have died in the Grand Canyon which led to a murder story of a couple on the Appalachia trail. I got spooked since we are kind of in the woods (though there are houses not to far between but maybe they are murderers). I had a hard time falling asleep. Why do I do that? “What was that noise?”Read more

  • Day12

    88 Agave Sedona

    April 23 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We all loved the Jeep tour. Everyone expressed their liking to it. After the tour, we went to 89 Agave for what we thought was a snack but ended up a dinner. Paul and I ate there before and enjoyed it so we ate outside overlooking the red rocks as the sun set.We ordered a bunch of chips and guacamole with bacon, some kind of Mexican pizza looking thing and salsas. I had a yummy drink that was their specialty. It was supposed to be rimmed with worm salt but they were out.Darn.It was really crushed worms. I was disappointed. Not really. As we were leaving town, the sun was just at the point where it lights up the red rocks. Stunning. Everyone stopped to watch. Gasps everywhere.Read more

  • Day12

    Sedona pink Jeep tours

    April 23 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    There were bright pink jeeps for 8; so 5 of us and 3 others. No one really knew what to expect. There had to be 10 jeeps that took off at once in different directions for different types of tours. We were on the broken arrow. We were all guaranteed a great time as everyone who gets done says they loved it. Ok, lets go. It ain’t cheap (unless I’m talking to Paul- wink). It better be worth it.

    We hopped in the Jeep and headed south of town toward the towering red rocks framing the city. Our guide, Daniel, was great.Very knowledgeable of the area, seasoned in hiking, biking and off-roading expert and a funny guy. He was super friendly. He turned off of the main road toward the rocks. To the left, a parking lot. To the right, an uneven road that he informed us was to remind any drivers that were going the wrong way and would have some explaining to do to the car rental places. We bumped and bobbled over the ground as he informed us that this was nothing. We all half-heartedly laughed with a little worry in our chuckle.

    Let me tell you, we had so much fun. It was some true off-roading. He drove us to the top of the red rock for some views you won’t get just walking around. You can hike it but the jeeps are fun. You bounce around everywhere. He got us on some angles that caused to get real close to our neighbors. We got out a few times to climb higher up for better views. He even said the jeeps used to drive to the tops of some of these rocks. Aww, hella no. I was already scared. The red rocks are not mountains but caused by erosion. They are continuously eroding. One end of the canyon where we were was actually connected to the other end a million years ago.
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  • Day12

    Sedona AZ

    April 23 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Weather: 70s and beautiful

    States: Arizona

    Cities: Williams, Flagstaff, Sedona

    Miles: 63

    Hours: 2 hrs 48 min (driving there, through, and back)

    Sites: Sedona, Red Rock PInk Jeep tours

    Restaurant: 89 Agave

    Hotel/Home: Lovely Little Log Cabin in Williams VRBO #1083110

    Movies:

    Audible: Resisting Happiness (get you thinking book- has a religious base- it is good)

    This is a book that you can listen to a chapter (short) and ponder it.We are listening to it

    in bits. Everyone seems to like it.

    Today was a great day. We got up leisurely, had breakfast, and headed to Sedona for the day. Paul and I have been there and we like it there. We thought the kids would, too. We stopped in Flagstaff for an oil change which Ford was supposed to do at the last check up I had. Grrr. The drive to Sedona is beautiful. You travel through the mountains along switchback roads with breathtaking views. It still amazes me on these road trips how different every turn of the roads can be. The types of rocks change, the shapes of the rock changes and the trees change from one area to the next and sometimes only a few miles apart. Once you traverse the mountains to Sedona, the layered red rocks begin to frame the landscape. Where the day before we were looking into the Grand Canyon, now it feels like you are in it. It is a stunning landscape.The town emerges from the red rock nestled tightly into what the locals call their island within the rocks. It is strikingly beautiful.

    We packed a lunch and had a little picnic before exploring the town. We went in and out of gift shops which Ben just did not understand. “Everything is the same in every place. Why...?” Dad, “I know. It doesn’t make sense. Come on.” After we wandered for a while, played some instruments in the street and pet some animals, we checked in for our Jeep tour which started at 4 PM. We grabbed some homemade ice cream and waited for our tour.
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