We decided to go to Pennsylvania on the way to Washington DC before our flight to South Africa, to say goodbye to my dad’s family. He is one of 7 siblings and they are a very close family. We have a “Miller” Christmas every year where we rent out a retreat center and all stay over on a Friday night to play games then have a big lunch together the next day. We counted in 2019 and I think if everyone were to come it would be 92 of us! That’s my aunts, uncles, cousins and then all their husbands, wives and kids. It is the coolest thing! It might even be more than that since Callum and another baby was born, and my cousin got married since our count was done in 2019. I have 25 first cousins, 21 on my dad’s side and 4 on my mom’s side.
It’s been the highlight of my year every year for the last 7 years but because of Covid, we had to cancel the 2020 get together. I hadn’t seen everyone in so long and no one had met Callum so we decided to go up and say goodbye to a few that were able to, especially as we don’t’ know when we will be able to come and visit again.
We packed up our life into 6 checked bags, 3 carry on bags, one diaper bag, a handbag, laptop bag and then the two car seats and stroller. We rented a minivan and left early Saturday morning (at 5:30am) and started our journey to Pennsylvania (PA). We were so exhausted from packing up our entire house and selling everything, but we did it and were finally down to just a few bags (and a couple boxes in my mom's attic). Read PART ONE of our journey here.
I have to stray off topic and just say that I absolutely LOVE minivans. I know people make jokes about minivans, but seriously they are the best! We rented a Dodge Caravan and it was so spacious, almost too spacious -I couldn’t rest my hand on Daniel’s leg while he was driving. Anyway, the captain’s chairs were clutch and everything fit in so well. I started seeing them everywhere on the road now that I was looking. That always happens with cars right?
Anyway, back on track – we stopped in Roanoke for our Covid test (we needed one to fly) and did a drive through at a CVS. It was so easy to drive up and get the kit but doing the nasal swab ourselves made us very nervous because we really wanted to get a good enough sample for them to send to the lab. We did not have time to get another test as it can’t be the rapid test, it has to be the PCR test and within a certain timeframe so it’s really specific. But, we poked and twisted and crossed our fingers that the sample would be ok. We didn’t have to do the kids, only us two adults.
After the Covid test, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then carried on towards PA. We only stopped one more time after a couple hours to use the restroom and let the boys stretch their legs. They are such great car riders, we are very grateful. I packed a new baby toy for Callum and I took out two toy cars that had been packed in a bag for Oliver for 2 weeks so they were like new for him again. We sang songs, played "I spy" and had a great drive up there. No other special activities or anything- I had packed them for the plane.
We got to Mechanicsburg at about 3:30pm and got settled in my aunt and uncle’s house. Our cousins met us and we hung out with them. We got hibachi from a food truck near by and Oliver enjoyed the noodles. He still doesn’t eat vegetables but we put them on his plate every dinner so one day he is bound to eat them right?
We put the kids to bed and played games with my cousins and it was the best. I come from a family that LOVE board games and card games so anytime we are together it’s so much fun to play all sorts of games. Settles of Catan is my absolute favorite.
The next morning we went to outdoor church and it happened to be the hottest day in history. The service was from 10:45-12:30 so it was right in the midday heat and I brought the suncream and was frantically putting it on the boys during the singing which was probably not a very polite thing to do, but it was cloudy and cold-ish when we left the house so I hadn’t put on them yet. Anyway, Oliver was in the foulest mood and was hot and bothered from the start. Then I brought “the wrong sandwich” and the meltdown of all meltdowns ensued. So there we were with the screaming child in the middle of the sermon. Daniel took him back to the car to calm down and I stayed and tried to shade Callum with my nursing cover while he sat on the grass. I had to feed him there in the middle of everyone and if you know Callum – he DOES NOT feed well in public. He gets so distracted and even with the cover or without the cover it is virtually impossible. But I have a theory that very hungry babies will drink, so I waited till he was very hungry, but not to the point of screaming to try and he did ok.
I can’t tell you one word the pastor said haha but it was lovely to be out in the fresh air singing with everyone.
We went back home for lunch and then my extended family started arriving for an early dinner. My aunt set up tables in the garage and chairs outside for us to relax and the kids to play outdoors. They played “around the roof” and I had totally forgotten about that game! It’s so fun! You get into teams, throw a ball up over the roof and if someone catches it on the other side, then everyone from that team runs with their hands behind their backs and tries to throw the ball and tag the other team. If you are tagged you have to join the other team. If you drop the ball, you just throw it back over the roof to the other team and it goes on until you get tired haha! There are so many kids of all ages so it was fun to watch. Oliver ran around and around with his baseball glove trying to catch the tennis ball. He ran and ran all day till he couldn’t run anymore. He had so many playmates to enjoy.
Callum had never seen so many people in his life but he had a good time and ate an entire red beet pickled egg that one of my aunt’s made.
The next morning was Monday and it was FLYING DAY! We did some laundry and packed up the last few things which took longer than I anticipated. I had packed a “weekend bag” plus stuff in our three carry ons so we didn’t have to touch the other 5 checked bags but as we were leaving Charlotte we weighed them and two were right at 50lbs so we wanted to shift a couple things around anyway. My aunt and uncle helped so much with folding laundry and looking after Oliver and Callum so we could get all packed up. I had to leave our baby monitor as it just didn’t fit and I’m sad about that but it is replaceable so it’s ok.
We loaded our minivan and waved our last goodbyes at about 2pm and Callum and Oliver slept almost all the way to DC. About 30 minutes into our journey I get a call from my aunt to say I had left my Apple Watch. They offered to meet us half way if we wanted to turn around but we really didn’t have the time so they kindly said they would post it to my step-dad who just landed in Durban for a visit so hopefully he brought it! I have missed it on my runs here in Hilton so I’m looking forward to having it. And it was my regular watch so Daniel can’t wait to not have to tell me the time every half an hour, haha.
I’ll write about our hectic flights from DC to Durban, South Africa in the next post. I can’t believe we did it, but we all here in one piece even if I did only sleep for an hour total in 30 hours of transit. Crazy! Stay tuned.
What are your favorite things to do on road trips?
Anyone else love board games?