The main highlight of our month long road trip, of course, was getting to spend four solid weeks with our families. We laughed a lot, cried a little and got to share our little tike with all of the people who love her more than we could have imagined. We even managed to squeeze in some time with some of our best friends in Moline, Denver and St. Louis. The rest of the notes are less important, but important enough for me to have on record. :)
- Altogether, we traveled 4804 miles through eleven states. The blog received 3615 hits while we were gone, or 103 hits a day. I believe 3412 of those hits came from my wonderful mother.
- We spent most of our Road Trip Meal Money on Steak N' Shake, a guilty pleasure that we never get the pleasure of having in Los Angeles (or anywhere on the West Coast). I must have had over a dozen bowls of Chili, enough to make me not want another one until next year. If there wasn't a Steak N Shake or a Chick Fil A, we tried to find a local spot, which we rarely succeeded at. Unfortunately, there aren't many small town folks using yelp.
- Stella withstood all of the changes, new environments, processed food and endless hours confined to a tiny space with relative ease. Not to mention a mild case of roseola, new teeth, a dog bite to the face and a runny nose that didn't stop until we got back to California. She certainly sacrificed her comfort and need for stability on a daily basis. I honestly didn't know it was possible to feel so proud of a ten month old. Though I understand she'll never be able to remember this trip, I'd like to think that this was her first road trip. I'd also like to think the travel bug has deeply rooted itself in her.
- There is a chance that we, the parents, had to sacrifice and suffer as much as Stella. Like when we listened to Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds on repeat for five hours straight, not turning it off for fear that our little Bella would wake up from her car seat slumber. We made this sacrifice every time she slept in the car and I'll now have to forever deal with the tune running through my head.
- Our Element braved the weather and pavement with gusto and averaged 19-26 miles per gallon, depending on wind, speed, gas and other factors I wish I could figure out. The only problem our Honda gave us was when her windshield wiper fluid froze and left me scrambling to see the road after a tractor trailer passed us in the Rockies. Even though our car has only been with us since July, she is officially part of the family. We have now slept in that car, which brings a certain kind of intimacy. We have drizzled cheerios, bananas and applesauce on her floor and in her crevices. And we have christened her with endless songs from several Pearl Jam records, the final piece to the Element becoming a Jackson.
- It is quite possible that during our trip I gained ten pounds from the lack of exercise and not having Kari's cooking made up of mostly organic and local food. I walked 1.8 miles yesterday, our first day back, and it's more than I walked the ENTIRE time I was home. I have a new appreciation for fit midwesterners because it requires so much time and energy to stay that way. We definitely have it easier here in the city (and year round warm weather), where doing just about anything requires walking or biking.
- I was able to chronicle our first family road trip all on my iPhone - something that astonishes me enough to include it in this list. Every blog and picture from the road came from my phone and we used it as an iPod during our seventy plus hours of driving. AND we used it to play games during those oh so sweet moments when Stella slept and there was nothing to look at in Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.
- Returning home to Los Angeles was more sweet than I imagined. Though we will only be residing here in Downtown for a few more days, I love the beauty and warmth of our eclectic neighborhood in the Old Bank District. I love that even after a month away, Stella still had that same curious look in our elevator. I love waking up the hustle, bustle and noise of our city. I'm certainly as thankful as ever that I love where I live.
- A few of my favorite road trip pictures: