|My Little One Playing in the Trees|
I'd like to take a moment here to pat my family on the back for a job well done. We've just returned from a whirlwind 4-day road trip from our Atlanta suburb to Charleston, South Carolina, during which we logged approximately eleven highway driving hours as well as a couple hours per day visiting local attractions. Not once - repeat: NOT ONE TIME - did we eat from a fast food restaurant of any variety! It took some planning, some putting down of the foot, and a little restraint, but I'd count it among the largest measures of success (besides arriving home with the same number of fingers and toes with which we departed) of any vacation we've ever taken.
Our victory was due in large part to a new cooler that I received at work as part of a safety reward giveaway, which means it was FREE - Yippee! We had a perfectly serviceable cooler and I nearly turned this new one down except for the fact that it has wheels and a thick, large handle. I couldn't have made a better move - it seems to keep its cool (heehee) far better than the old one. We filled two 2-gallon Ziploc bags with the ice from our icemaker, threw those in the bottom then strategically placed smaller ice packs amongst the various foods.
My cooler packing list was ambitious:
Shredded carrots and zucchini
Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, celery and red onion
Boars' Head sliced turkey and chicken
Cheddar and mozzarella cheese sticks, sliced Colby-Jack, and cream cheese
Grapes, grape tomatoes, and pineapple
Homemade hummus & tzatziki
Peanut butter & grape jam
Freshly juiced Kiwi Pear Zinger & Honest Organics beverages
French Onion dip
Additionally, we took two reusable shopping bags, one with a zippered top, with:
Two boxes of Triscuit Thin Crisps and a box of Wheatables
Toufayan Lavash bread & regular wheat bread
Bananas, pumpkin seeds, raisins, Craisins, chocolate-covered fig bites
Fruit-filled cereal bars, protein bars, bottled protein shakes
Chips Ahoy & gummy fruit snacks (hey, I didn't say it was all healthy - And I didn't buy those)
I should mention a couple things here regarding logistics. We took my Honda Fit for this trip since gas prices are ASS-tronomical right now. This was feasible for a few reasons: Our boys are only 6 and 2, so they don't take up much space. We were going for only a few days, not weeks or months so we only had two bags of clothing for the four of us. Despite the fact that my spouse packed TWELVE library books* for the 6-year-old, all told, the toys only took up about 2 square feet of the Fit's formidable cargo area and backseat. Finally, I'm an awesome packer. Yup, I claim this title by birthright. My dad taught us all how to pack so I have my hubby help bring everything to the curb then he knows to just stand back.
There were a few inevitable fails: forgotten camera battery charger, forgotten salt and mustard, forgotten advice to ALWAYS pack a hoodie, forgotten shoes (What? Flip Flops aren't appropriate everywhere?), forgotten paper towels and plates. Some we corrected during the trip; some we managed (oh the horror) without. At least I remembered to pack a bag of yarn and grab my hook case just before we ducked out the door.
About an hour and a half out of town, I spotted signage on I-20 East for the AH Stephens state historical park in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, and convinced my husband to make a detour. According to Wikipedia, Taliaferro (pronounced "Tolliver") is the least populous county east of the Mississippi River, a distinction that seemed borne out by the ghost town nature of the Crawfordville city center. Still, the park's pavilion was a lovely little spot in which to enjoy a picnic and some much-needed playtime for the boys. The 2-year-old kept pointing to the slide while we ate, saying, "Whee? Whee? Whee?" ('Cause that's the sound you make going down a slide, right?)
Now, I know there's one thing (at least) on my list that likely caused a raised eyebrow: lavash bread. It's a Middle-Eastern flatbread that I've come to adore because it's flatter and more pliable than pita bread - though not as thin as a flour tortilla, you could still use it to make rolled sandwich wraps. I usually fold each piece and tear it into halves or quarters. Squishy stuff has a tendency to ooze out the ends, though no worse than any other wrapper-style bread, which makes it a fine bread to use for deli meat and cheese sandwiches for children. Plus, it doesn't fill you up as much as traditional bread. My creation during our park picnic had hummus, tzatziki, zucchini, carrots, cukes and red onions on it so I had a bit of a mess to clean up but I was so happy with the breeze, the park and the meal that I couldn't have cared less.
*The boy did well - he got through almost four Magic Tree House books during the trip.
**Update: Dunno where "Mom" was hiding, but the boy actually read EIGHT of the MTH books and knocked out another two after we returned home - that only leaves two remaining and he still has a couple weeks until they're due back at the library. Sweet boy.