Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break 2012 – Route 66 Trip – Packing the Van

Spring Break 2012 – Route 66 Trip – Packing the Van
After a winter of researching various books and websites and maps on traveling the historic Mother Road, Route 66, I felt well prepared to take this spring break with our son and his two daughters in mid-March. I was more than excited about it, and now that I am back home, I would love to do it all over again…it was a GREAT trip!!

Our oldest granddaughter turned 13 this year, and in part this trip was a birthday celebration. I had 13 different kinds of snacks packed into the cooler or cubby holes of Miss Holly, our high-top conversion van, purchased specifically for travel with the family. Another cooler held the water and soft drinks. I planned this trip on a tight budget, allotting $50 per day for food for five people. At breakfast and at lunch we could each spend $2 at a fast food chain…two items each. For example, our younger granddaughter chose Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and apple slices with yogurt for her two items at Arby’s. The other granddaughter and I each chose the mac and cheese and an Arby’s Jr. Roast Beef. Grandpa and Dad chose two sandwiches each. So, $10 for breakfast, $10 for lunch, and $30 for supper, where we could each spend up to $5. Some days we spent less than budgeted, and other days more…but it all came close to the budgeted amount when the trip was over.

Thirteen snacks:
1 – peanut butter crackers or Ritz crackers
2 – mini cereal boxes (variety of Kellogg’s’ cereal) or rice krispie treat
3 – lunch size bag of chips (variety of Lays’ chips)
4 – popcorn or cheese puffs
5 – pretzels or cheese bites
6 – pudding cups (lemon, butterscotch, chocolate, banana cream, tapioca)
7 – pop tarts or mini cinnamon rolls
8 – snac-pacs (turkey/ham w/cheese, crackers, mini candy bar) or hard boiled eggs
9 – cookies (Oreo, Chips Ahoy, NutterButter)
10 –carrots and ranch dip or celery and peanut butter
11 –fruit cups(applesauce, pears, peaches, grapefruit, pineapple, mandarin oranges, fruit jello) or fresh fruit (oranges, apples, grapes, bananas)
12 –cakes (brownies, chocolate cupcakes, Twinkies)
13 –sandwiches (peanut better & jelly or deli ham, turkey, & cheese)

Obviously each snack time had a choice. And how was it determined which snack to have when? Simply by choosing from the Granny Jar when the bell rang every couple of hours. Each granddaughter had the privilege of selecting a little card from the Granny Jar, and each snack was listed on a different card…plus there were other kinds of cards in the jar, which meant they didn’t always select a snack card. They couldn’t peek in the jar. But when they did select a snack card, that’s the snack we had.

With day long snacking in the van while traveling, we weren’t as hungry when it was meal time, thus we didn’t have to buy large meals. Also, we did have a few “ice cream alert” cards in the jar also…usually meaning a drive through McDonalds for a cone. We are an ice cream family, so there were a couple of times we did hit a for real ice cream restaurant. Hey, it was vacation…so we didn’t eat as healthy as we might have at home, but we knew this was just for ten days.

The next thing I packed, after the 13 snacks, was a bin of 13 games or activities to entertain us along the way. This was besides having the DVD player and several DVDs to watch. Of course we had to watch Disney’s “Cars”, since there were several Route 66 icons in the movie. In fact, we met a person along the route that was used for one of the characters in “Cars”. Christina, a waitress at the MidPoint Café in Adrian, Texas, and her sister were portrayed in the movie as Tia and Mia…the two fans. I had not seen the movie before, and watched it twice during the trip. I need to get a copy of it just for my “souvenirs” and mementoes of this trip. Another DVD we played along the way was the children’s version of The Jesus Film. We always take Jesus with us on our trips.

Thirteen Activities:
1 – travel bingo
2 – Trivial Pursuit, young players edition game
3 – tell a joke
4 – Yahtzee game
5 – read a book
6 – Rack-o game
7 – sing silly songs
8 – computer games (yes, we had note pads along with us)
9 – Uno game
10 – card game
11 – Battleship game
12 – make up a poem, rhyme, or riddle
13 – art lesson – using primary color highlighters (blue, red (pink), yellow) to mix and make secondary colors (green, purple, orange)

With a six year old and a teenager, one had to be creative to keep everyone entertained. And of course the teenager was busy with her cell phone and her iPod, and we were all busy with our cameras, taking pictures along the way of “Giant Alerts”…crazy things along Route 66 meant to entice customers to various gift shops and stores or motels and gas stations, or “spots”.

It had us stopping often to get out and stretch our legs, take potty breaks, get some fresh air. Hubby and Son took turns driving so the girls and I could “play” the whole day long. I had taken Barbie dolls for them to play with also, but neither of them asked for the dolls during the trip. Too busy. Now…how was it determined which activity we would do when? Yes, you guessed it…each activity was written on a little card and placed in the Granny Jar. And when that bell would ring every couple of hours or so, a new card was drawn…perhaps a snack, perhaps an activity, OR…perhaps a GRAB BAG!

The third item taken in the van was a bin of colored fabric bags with handles. Whenever the girls would draw a “Bag Alert” card from the Granny Jar, they got to choose which color of bag they wanted. In each bag were two items (or more), something for each girl. These were all just cheap items from a dollar store, but just the anticipation of what was in the bag was enough to delight the girls. There was enough variety, they never had a let down…because they knew the next bag would hold another “surprise”.

Thirteen Grab Bags:
1 – notebooks with Route 66 maps to be used for marking the trip and scrapbooking
2 – paint by number set or velvet bright color & art book
3 – markers and sketch pads
4 – fan pens and animal crackers
5 – puzzles
6 – socks and chap stick
7 – tissue art or paper dolls
8 – kaleidoscopes
9 – crochet craft kit or puzzle
10 – stencil art
11 – beauty kits
12 – their purses from Grandma’s house with money in them
13 – comic books or necklace and candy
I always have a travel tote bag for each girl to keep her activities in. This time I also had individual craft bins to accumulate their items in and have for enjoying along the trip. The last thing I want is clutter, so whatever I can do to keep it organized, that’s my style.
We each had one suitcase and one overnight tote bag, and I had one more box that held western hats and scarves for us to wear…for after all, we were headed to the wild west!!

Five people, all that gear, and it all fit. Miss Holly, the van, may be a dinosaur (not many left on the roads these days, and at 15 mpg…it’s no wonder!!), but it is how we choose to travel and enjoy the road trip.

Here’s a recap of the fun activities planned for our road trip:
  1. Select and read Bible Promise each morning and have prayer before we start out on the road. (I found that my six year old could read the Bible Promise with little prompting, and it made her feel very important!)
  2. Tote Bags for each girl with travel notebooks and state maps and USA maps to mark the route we were taking with hi-lighters as we traveled. We also learned the states and their capitals.
  3. Water bottles as needed along the way…not drinking so much sweet stuff.
  4. Stop and take pictures of Giant Alerts (you will learn more about that in another blog), and anything else of interest. The pictures will be used in the scrapbooking of our trip, which we will work on this summer when we get together.
  5. The Granny Jar – each girl picks one card every couple of hours and what’s on the card is what happens. The many cards have the following items written on them:
· Grab bags
· Snacks
· Activities
· Ice Cream Alert
· Free Choice
· Hats and scarves
· Water Alert
· Soda Alert
· Candy Bar Alert
· Fast Food Alert
· Bathroom Alert
· Tote bag activity
· Convenience Store Alert
· Money Alert (a couple of bucks for spending on whatever)

So there you have it…the preplanning for the trip, what was packed, what was taken, ideas for fun along the way so no one gets bored on a long road trip. I figured Route 66 was going to be interesting enough, but I had to consider the ages of my traveling companions. I knew the two guys up front would either be driving or sleeping, or playing around on their computers or phones. All they needed was a little food now and then, and they would be happy!!

Did I say it was a GREAT trip?!! It was fun to laugh together and discover things together and be creative together…and to be a good sport about the ringing Granny Jar bell, and whatever was written on the drawn cards. Ice cream cones in the morning? On vacation…you betcha!!

Next blog we will start the trip…Michigan to New Mexico and back. See you next time!

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