Team effort

Ok, enough about Louise’s wardrobe and her penchant for mud flaps.

Let’s talk about the other heroes of this trip–our poor families.

While we certainly would like to take credit for planning an itinerary that appeals to all, there also has to be a lot of open-mindedness and cooperation and we have received a lot of that over these adventures.

I think Butch and Sundance have the words “Respect the Process,” tattooed on their forearms, and have not questioned much of our crazy until this point. They have good-naturedly jumped through the hoops to pull everything off, even though that isn’t easy 24/7.

Our two smallest passengers–Squish and Big G–have foregone naps, settled for truffle cheese and bug spray for meals somedays, and never know which strange bed they’ll get put down in at night or if that bed will be in the same place in the morning. They are troopers.

Our teenagers are super thrilled to be on this vacation, but they also have been helpful and cooperative and hopefully they’ve had a little fun so far.

And the middles are sweet and patient and are showing incredible grace when things may not go exactly as planned, or especially when they do. They’re doing a lot of the summer reading entailing sports plaques and MLB lineups.


The last few days have held a long rural stop and driving, a car rental and border crossing, to a downtown Toronto hotel all in the span of 28 minutes and a heatwave in Celsius.

But in that short time, we ate at some fun restaurants, visited the Hockey Hall of Fame, swam, shopped, and saw another baseball game from beneath the CN Tower. It was a whole lot of fun. And before leaving Canada, we stopped at Niagara Falls which was amazing. And there still is much fun to be had and beauty to behold.

Niagara Falls!

So thank you little (and big) troops for being you. The whole purpose of this entire journey is to spend as much time with you as we can before your next chapter begins.

Now secure the cabin for takeoff and let’s ride.

Road Warriors

Guys,

Louise is in an RV mechanics chat room right now diagnosing why the front floorboards are 437 degrees.

She just asked for my PayPal password.

She is reading responses from Pearl, Gene and Tito.

She is flipping through the RV manual and saying words I don’t understand like, “alternator” and “inverter.”

She’s talking to Pearl in this strange new lingo and I’m kind of scared she’s going to start macrame-ing seat covers with her in a minute.

She’s lol-ing and just changed her Bitmoji to a mechanics outfit.

She logged into my PayPal account again.

She’s checking gauges and reporting the situation back to Gene who is funneling the questions back to some machinists forum.

She’s scarily good at this.

If she wasn’t a vegetarian, I could swear she just snapped into a Slim Jim.

Her accent just got thicker. Even typing.

She switched the radio to AM Auto Talk.

It’s been 103 miles and apparently we are in no danger.

She needs the PayPal password for the final solution, though.

Tito says to invest in a good shag rug for her feet.

Which I kind of think she wanted all along anyway.

The road can change you.

That’s what Lou now says, anyway.

A Wet Day 4

When we look back on the days of this vacation, there will no doubt be some highlights as well as some lowlights. Day four was quite a mixed bag.

Highlight: The Pro Football Hall of Fame! As promised by our sweet hashtag, The first Hall of Fame was enjoyed (briefly) by all!

Lowlight: Rain. Of the torrential variety while we barrel 33 foot Viktor down the highway. We argue with drivers who can’t hear us. Thankfully.

Highlight: This picture.

Hall of Fame #1

Lowlight: Carbon Monoxide leak from a bottle of wine inadvertently hitting the propane stove knob on a ridiculously tight right turn.

Highlight: A working carbon monoxide detector.

Lowlight: Losing a perfectly good bottle of wine from a stupid right turn.

Highlight: An unexpected audible (football reference because I LISTEN) to travel a few hours longer to stay at a waterpark motel in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Lowlight: Completing the Football Hall of Fame so quickly that we had time to call an audible.

Highlight: Erie is 2 hours closer to Toronto and the waterpark has frozen margaritas.

Last Highlight: Day 4 is safely n the rearview mirror. Looking forward to meeting Day 5.

Day Three

We continued our own group heatwave with a trip to the ballpark on Day 3. Translate that to mean we certainly make a splash wherever we go and most of the time we’re a hot mess. But the unsuspecting folks with the Cincinnati Reds were amazing hosts, treating us to a ridiculous experience of delicious food and drink, spoiling us with this summer treat. They even managed to throw in a Grand Slam and a win for the home team.

Our full crew of 15 happy campers sadly dwindled down to 12 for a little while as those job things got in the way of our fun once again. So we spread out a little in our cramp quarters and then fed quarters to the campground laundry room a few weeks earlier than expected to prepare for the next leg of our journey: Canton, Ohio!

#HallsFallsMallsandBASEBALLS!

Hot up in herre

If you’re reading this, that means I wrote it, and my fingers didn’t melt into the keyboard as I feared mere hours ago when we began our first full day at our campsite on the surface of the sun.

It’s hot here in Ohio. In a metal can with wheels. With an A/C unit capable of cooling a whopping 3 1/2 square inches. Louise and I did our best to keep the children entertained and cool with our mad Uno skills and me reading the average temperatures in Maine on Weatherchannel.com, but I think the real relief arrived when the rest of the crew showed up and they could commiserate with all of their siblings.

So I’m going to gloss over the heat–mainly because the sheen from our sweat makes us all appear rather glossy–ignore the one vomiting incident and the fact that we’ve used all of our super-jumbo data plan before we crossed our first state line and focus on the wins on Camping Day 1.

~I didn’t hit anything or anyone backing Viktor into the site and hooked up all of the hoses and whatnots like a boss. Even the gross ones.

~Louise can dress a mean first degree burn caused by scalding vinyl jump pads.

~When the sun eventually goes down and they’re rehydrated with a little birthday cake and piñata treats, this is the scene that will remain in your head for a long time.

Movie night. Our neighbors love us.

Not the best travel guide in the world, but it’ll do

Alright, enough messing around. We really have to get semi-serious for 6 minutes to pull this off.

It’s logistics day, and I’ll take just a minute to provide some real details on the trip planning before we get back to our regularly scheduled nonsense just in case anyone was looking for some real travel advice (which seems like a huge error in judgement on your part) or are simply morbidly curious.

We’ve been planning this trip since we disembarked from our western adventure two years ago. It turns out the kids ended up having a marvelous time–more so than even first admitted by rolling-eyed teenagers. So over the course of months, we polled and discussed our next dream destinations, and Louise and I came up with itinerary last fall to incorporate a good many of those lofty goals.

We knew we wanted to go in a different direction this time–literally–and decided the East Coast would check off a lot of boxes. Acadia National Park seemed like a popular place amongst our families, so we planned a route that would take us through some other suggested destinations, and the idea of all of the Halls of Fame was born. We also have a joyous wedding to attend in the middle, so that was also taken into account. Oh yes, and all of the business that gets taken care of in early July in the sports world. And school. And graduations. And camps. And college orientations. And new jobs. And old jobs. And paychecks. If those pesky details weren’t a factor, the trip would’ve started in April and we’d be looping around Land’s End for the third time stocking up on summer clearance duck boots and blueberry scones right about now. But alas, reality is a killjoy.

Instead, we’ve compacted it into about 3 weeks, with the Dads, a.k.a Butch and Sundance, traveling for over two of them.

We’ve learned many lessons from our past adventures. We will still keep the same lodging arrangements–the biggest RV site in the campground as well as the the largest and most modern cabin–but this time we will also have a car following to carry stuff and passengers for all of our non-camp excursions, which are many. We have a fairly good amount of hotel stays mixed in there as well, especially at the larger cities where driving Viktor through may result in increased insurance claims and marital separations.

The kids’ ages range from 1-22 and it was a surprisingly easier sell this time than last. I’m still not sure if that’s a compliment on our fun-planning skills or if they just have devised a more sophisticated patricide plan, but we’re risk-takers. Apparently.

They are aware of about 75% of the itinerary I’d say, but through the Herculean planning efforts of their parents, there’s a good deal of surprises that still await. Some items–like getting passports updated and measurements for their trip uniforms obviously revealed some of the treats that were in store, but we’ve managed to keep a few things secret. After we planned our route, we made reservations at each location, secured advance tickets to where we could, even went to the bank and ordered foreign money (but then quickly gave all of said cash back to Costco, Target and Publix so don’t even think about robbing us). There’s very few details that haven’t been anticipated with the exception of where all of this stuff is going to physically go and if a pallet of marshmallows is going to be enough.

After the final load-in today and filling Viktor the RV up with gas, we should be ready to roll to the first destination: Cincinnati. Don’t question. It’ll all make sense as we go.

As will these robes.

Robe Trip 2018!

You can follow along here, on Facebook or on Twitter, @Subdiva. We’d love to have you join us.
#HallsFallsMallsandBaseballs

The Packing List

1. Clothes and stuff

Me: Even if we do laundry twice during the trip, that makes about 90 T-shirts and 180 socks just for reference.

Butch: Over/under that we return with 11 of the original sock total?

Me: Under is how that works.

2. Outdoor Movie System with 70′ Screen and Projector

Sundance: Um, do we really have the space for that and the 90 T-shirts?
Me: Yes! Because it hooks up to our Netflix account–which I’ll access from our new Wifi hotspot I’m also bringing aboard–we won’t need to pack physical movies, so it’s actually a space-saving item.

Sundance: Um, I’m not sure that’s how that works…

3. Portable Air-Conditioning Unit

Louise: This might not work on the RV since the exhaust is supposed to be mounted in a window.

Me: I’ve anticipated that, so I’ve purchased a second unit to cool the hot air coming out of the back of the first unit because I’m good at Science.

Louise: I’m not really sure that’s how that works…

4. Portable Ice Maker

Butch: Doesn’t the freezer on the RV do that already?

Me: Technically, yes. But I had to remove the trays to make room for the refrigerant for the new air conditioners.

Butch: Is that the way that’s supposed to work?

5. Portable Propane Grill

Sundance: Don’t all the campgrounds we’re going to provide grills at each site?

Me: Yes, but then we’d have to pack charcoal and lighter fluid and 2 is more than 1 so we’re saving room because I’m even better at math.

Sundance: Now I know that’s not how that works…

6. Extra large capacity Blender

Louise: Should we limit our cocktail choices to selections that don’t need appliances that take up counter space?

Me: Louise, we’re campers not barbarians.

Louise: You’re right–that’s exactly how that works.

#HallsFallsMallsandBaseballs

It is time.

Well, it is time to begin the countdown to the time of actual departure, anyway.

In this episode, Thelma and Louise, Butch and Sundance, and the 11 offspring and travel companions will embark upon this year’s offseason adventure: The Halls, Falls, Malls and Baseballs 2018 Tour.

In the luxurious RV–affectionately named Viktor in honor of the patron player of trailer transportation–we will wind our way through 13 states and 1 foreign country visiting all of the sports halls of fame, 3-ish baseball stadiums and Niagara Falls amongst other attractions in the aggressive itinerary Louise and I have planned over pinot grigio-fueled lunches over the past six months. It’s going to be epic.

Perhaps you’ll recall our Western adventure 2 years ago when we packed up our crew and spent almost 3 weeks driving 5000 miles through the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone making friends and testing personal space boundaries along the way. This trip will differ in that we will snake through the northeast and Acadia National Park rather than western destinations, we’ve added another member to the camping family and that Butch and Sundance will accompany us on most of the journey rather than a smaller portion like last time. This is either because A) they realized how much fun we had at places like the Corn Palace, or B) they saw our Google history from our last planning lunch and won’t trust us with the minor children for that long. I choose to believe it’s the former.

Our official departure date is Friday, so for the next few days we will somehow manage to pack a month’s worth of clothes and equipment for 15 people onto unsuspecting Viktor without flattening the tires or violating weight limits on U.S. and Canadian highways. Super doable. We may be only able to go 7 miles per hour, but that’s how many miles we will get to the gallon anyway, so it seems serendipitous.

So buckle up, chill the Cupcake wine and get ready to join us on our adventure–there’s plenty of room.*

*At least that’s what I tell Louise when she starts to question if there’s space for the wine fridge I ordered from Amazon. “It’s just for 18 bottles rather than 80, Louise, because we’re ROUGHING IT.”

A Tale of Two Boxes

After a recent brush with local tornadoes, my husband and I simultaneously placed mail orders for surviving any upcoming disasters we may encounter.

Me: Honey, we got two huge deliveries in the mail today. The box addressed to you is heavy, has been inspected by the NSA and is wearing camouflage.

Him: Oh great, the supplies I ordered from the Preppers website came.

Me: Ugh. Izod is so 1983.

Him: (Opening the really big box.) Not preppie—“Prepper.” You know like those people who prepare for an impending doomsday?

Me: I prefer to be called a Progressive. But whatever.

Him: (Ignoring my passive-aggressive politics.) With that tornado that touched down this week, I thought we should have more emergency supplies on hand.

Me: (Inspecting the contents.) Just how long do you think tornadoes last because you’ve got enough nonperishable food here for months.

Him: 2 months worth for 10 people to be exact.

Me: Is there a weather phenomenon that renders your tastebuds useless because I’m not sure the circumstances that would make me want to eat a pouch of creamed chipped beef.

Him: That will be a luxury if the power goes out for more than an hour.

Me: (Unimpressed.) An hour-long power outage would be the luxury if you couldn’t order from weird websites.

Him: (Checking out the 5 gallon drum of apple cobbler.) What was that, dear?

Me: I said, good thinking. (Inspecting one of the bags.) Um, what are these pouches of purified drinking water?

Him: In case there’s no fresh water supply, duh. And if we run out of those I have tablets to turn our urine into safe drinking water.

Me: (Horrified.) If we are ever in situation where we’re considering drinking human waste is a good idea I hope there’s cyanide tablets in there too because I’m out.

Him: Here’s a campstove made from a pie tin and a fire pit that needs no matches, but I also got waterproof ones just in case.

Me: The future looks grim.

Him: The future looks prepared. (Looking over at my ordered box.) What did you order for the emergency cause?

Me:

Me:

Me:

Him: (Opening my box. Coughing, choking, and then what appears to be sobbing.) You ordered a case of margarita glasses?

Me: (Backing out of the room.) We all have our coping mechanisms.

Him: (Disgusted.) I’m taking this stuff downstairs.

Me: (Apologetically.) The glasses are shatterproof…

© 2017 Tracey Henry

Just in case you needed visual proof to this tale…