When planning our trip to join the Dickson family at the Outer Banks in NC in August, I knew we just could not be that close to our beloved Winston-Salem without visiting! So, Carson and I looked at google maps and figured out a plan to drive from San Antonio to Winston-Salem, and then to have Rick fly in there to join us for the week at the beach. There was much back-and-forth about the best route to take and even whether or not I should attempt the trip alone. (Previous to this, our family has never taken a long road trip, and I was not optimistic about the kids' tolerance of the drive.) But, with friends to stay with along the way and promises from the boys that they would help take care of the girls, I felt confident about the plan and decided to go for it! I even asked my dad to please not come and help me drive like he offered, because I wanted the kids and I to work together to do this.
The drive turned out wonderfully!! We left on Sunday right after church and drove three hours to Houston. There we stayed with friends Marshall and Elise Snow, who were so kind to feed us and put us up for the night. I woke up very early Monday morning, packed up our car foods, and carried each kid from his or her bed to the car... that's four trips up and down the stairs, to the bathroom to sit a sleeping child on the toilet, and out to the car. I was sweating when we left! (And Houston is about 120% humidity, seriously!) That Monday was our longest day of driving. The kids knew our goal was to drive 10 hours and make it to Birmingham, Alabama. I had set up a small digital clock that sat right below the rearview mirror. When we pulled out of Houston, the clock read 12:00. Every time we hit one hour of driving, we celebrated and handed out a new treat or activity. This was the key to the success of our trip!! This way, whenever someone asked (or whined) for food or something to do, etc. I could point to the clock and say, "Sure! On the next hour!" I also had everything strategically placed, so I could hand a baggie to Carson and he could distribute everything to the rest of the kids. Carson was paired up with Faye, and Everett was in charge of Isla in the back. These preparations plus letting Isla have her pacifier made for a very pleasant 10 hours that day! We actually made it 11 hours, just past Birmingham, and stayed in a hotel that night after dining on PB&J in the hotel room.
On Monday we only had to drive four hours to get to our friends the Smith's house in Greenville, SC. I loved getting in the car and hearing the kids say, "Oh, four hours, that is so short!" Melissa fed us lunch and let our kids run around with their (8!) cute kiddies, which was the perfect break. After that, we only had 2.5 hours to go until our destination! It started to rain as we pulled away, and tired kids snoozed for a bit until we got close. Driving into Winston-Salem felt like coming home! Such a beautiful place with great memories for our family. We were reunited with the King family, who graciously hosted us for our stay in Winston.
|L for Louisiana|
|Push ups while we fill up with gas.|
|Chick Fil A in Mississippi.|
|Dinner at the hotel in Alabama.|
|Sips of Dr. Pepper = reward for making it 10 hours! (They had been eyeing my stash I had brought along to keep me awake!)|
|Leaving Greenville, SC headed to Winston-Salem, NC.|
|In North Carolina with the Kings! (The girls had gone straight to bed.)|
During our four-day stay in Winston-Salem, we played and played with the Kings. Baseball in their front parking lot was the favorite. The kids would plan to wake up and meet outside at 7 a.m. to begin the games. They even continued to play in the rain! We also had a fun movie night dressed up in costumes. We visited all our old stomping grounds: the Children's Museum; downtown W-S, including a general store and the IMG studio; a familiar walking trail where they reenacted spraying water from a fountain; our old house on Queen Street; Harris Teeter for subs; our old neighbor, Barbara; the SciWorks museum; Miller Park to reunite with old friends; and a Dash baseball game for the boys. Jared took us to explore the Wake Forest football stadium, and then Sunday after church it was time to leave and complete the final leg of our journey: to the beach!