Thursday, May 10, 2012

Road Trip Diary: Day 2

The Navy is moving us from Waukegan, Illinois, to San Diego, California; driving across the country with a three-month-old baby and a cat who's afraid of the world is quite an adventure!

Using maps to prop the window up.  Bonus points for creative solutions!
Me: Nebraska has boring license plates.
D: Nebraska is a boring state.

And so went Day 2 of our journey. We woke up in our hotel room in Iowa and enjoyed a carb-tastic continental breakfast; D brought me a waffle with sugar-laden “table syrup,” toast with HFCS-laden jam, oj, and an apple. And it was all DELICIOUS. (Sometimes I use road trips as an excuse to eat badly. In this case, it was partially this and partially me needing to make sure I'm still getting enough calories in to keep up my milk supply for Little Bug. Plus, options were limited. But D certainly knows how to feed me to keep me happy!) I had slept better in the foreign hotel bed than I had in my last night in Illinois, cuddled with Little Bug in one bed while D slept in the other. (They weren't wide enough for all three of us.) We were on the road again by 0630.

When I drove through Nebraska nearly a year ago on my way to Illinois for D's boot camp pass & review, my mama and I were thoroughly unimpressed. Relatively flat, with road construction scattered throughout that required frequent slowing down and switching lanes, there was nothing special about driving through this state. Things hadn't changed much over the intervening time. D got frustrated by the frequent drops in speed necessitated by the construction crews, while I got tired of the monotonous landscape. We took breaks frequently at Nebraska rest stops, most of which apparently had bad water supplies.

One cool thing I've learned so far this trip is that roadside rest areas usually have state highway maps available for free. We've collected maps from every state we've driven through so far!

Our driving goal for Day 2 was Big Springs, Nebraska, which we thought would have good options for lodging due to its location at a fairly major freeway split. Instead, all we found was a single lonely motel of the variety that D & I lovingly refer to as a “murder lodge.” You know, the kind that feature frequently in generic horror movies, easily distinguished by their florescent signs declaring blandly, “MOTEL.” Some people might find them quaint, but I just know that I wouldn't feel entirely safe spending a night in one.

We looked at the murder lodge and then at each other dubiously, thinking the same thing. “Look,” I pointed. “Julesburg, 13 miles.” He nodded and we kept going. When we arrived at the Julesburg exit, we were greeted with a sign announcing “No Services,” along with another sign declaring that the next exit, Ovid, would be in nine miles.

Ovid proved to be disappointing as well. (“The O is for Oh-my-god-there's-nothing-here,” said D.) And thus it continued for awhile. Next exit, 10-15 miles. No lodging to be found. Most of them, no visible signs of civilization to be found either.

Seen on the side of a big rig.  Am I the only one who is disturbed by this?
The first hotels we finally came to were in Sterling, Colorado, a town that likely only exists because of the large prison there. Signs warned us not to pick up hitchhikers as we exited the freeway. But there was nothing for us here either; the Best Western was too expensive, the Super 8 looked like a murder lodge and the Comfort Inn didn't allow pets. We were told the next town with hotels was Brush ten-fifteen minutes down the road. The lady working the desk of the Comfort Inn assured us that there were lots of hotels, right off the freeway!

Forty-five minutes later, Brush didn't seem a very good option. A single murder lodge beckoned to us from the desolate-looking settlement. D and I looked at each other, and then at the sign indicating that Fort Morgan was less than twenty minutes away. We sighed in unison. “I'm not driving any further than Fort Morgan,” D warned.

Fortunately, we didn't have to. The Super 8 we stopped at didn't have a pool and was still pricier than we would have preferred, but after driving for two hours longer than we had intended, it would do. We were all ready to stop for the night.

All tuckered out.

Earlier that day, D and I had started playing the license plate game, trying to find plates from as many different states as possible. By the time we stopped, we had seen seventeen states and one Canadian province.

Arkansas       California       Colorado       Georgia
Indiana          Iowa              Maine            Maryland
Michigan       Minnesota      Missouri         Nebraska
Oklahoma     Tennessee      Texas             Utah
Vermont        Ontario

Our room here had a single bed, big enough for two people, but not for two people and a baby. In books and articles about cosleeping, I've heard babies described as “heat-seeking missiles,” in that they usually cuddle right up next to a parent. This definition fits Little Bug perfectly; after he finishes nursing at any given time, I usually back away a little in order to ensure that he has plenty of breathing room. Inevitably, though, I wake up with his head tucked up right under my armpit and his body as close to mine as he can scoot in his sleep. So, I'm not super worried about him falling out of bed in the night, but the bed was just too small for comfort, and I'm definitely not comfortable putting him between D & I unless it's a king-size mattress.

Instead, I opted to make a nest on the floor for Little Bug and myself, giving D the bed (since he's doing the hard work of driving the whole time!). It was actually surprisingly comfortable!

The adventure would continue on Day 3.


  1. Wow!! Gotta love those days where each town you hit seems smaller than the last, and you begin to wonder if you'll be boondocking in the car ... !! You guys powered through it though, that is so awesome you finally found a hotel. Glad you passed up the Bates Motel - who knows what lurks behind that shower curtain!?

  2. Also, I too find it annoying when after flying down the high way at 80 for six hours, you hit a patch of construction that says "Chip Seal Work Next 25 miles, Speed Limit 45 MPH" ... !! When you are just trying to hit the end of the road as fast as possible, those are tiring!