Top Five Road Trip Essentials
1. Entertainment – We could not have driven across the country without music, podcasts, coloring books, and Kindles. I would have gone absolutely bonkers. We have an amazing car charger that can charge four electronics. It’s kind of the best thing ever. We were always quick the Kindles once the kids started to fidget. It bought us many extra hours on the road. Never discount the power of distraction.
Food– As the head car chef, I can tell you that snacks are crucial. Being hangry in a car with eight other people is no bueno. While we did a lot of snacks type food, we also made sandwiches and ate tons of fruits and carrot sticks. Just be sure to have a place for garbage.
For Christmas, the girls received a Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore. It was a magical way to learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly.
We weren’t quite sure how this would turn out. There are two types of Butterfly Gardens offered by Insect Lore, one contains live caterpillars, while the other contains a voucher to redeem for live caterpillars. We received the livings ones. If you have been following along, we were leaving Chrismas night for the better part of two weeks. Much to our delight, the caterpillars seemed to thrive in their cups and had plenty of food to sustain them while we were gone. After careful inspection of the instructions, when we returned, we would have to immediately remove the lids from the cups, with chrysalis intact, and place them in their position to emerge. So that’s what we did.
The girls spoke of their butterflies throughout the trip, wondering which stage they were. They were anxious to get home. Since they were missing key points of metamorphosis, we promised we would get another cup of caterpillars in the spring. This seemed to ease their minds a bit.
Once we returned home, we were pleased to find that we had six chrysalides dangling from the lids. We followed the instructions and prayed they would open.
Five days later, we saw our first little friend!
I can’t fully describe the excitement and enchantment that was in our home for the next several days. The girls sat on the top bunk for hours watching their butterflies flutter about their habitat.
Release day was met with mixed emotions. They couldn’t wait to watch their beloved pets fly about outside, but they were also saddened by the thought of not watching them every day.
We waited for unseasonably warm weather for the release. It was absolute magic.
The girls giggled with delight as their butterflies danced around them, warming up their wings.
They were able to observe the eyes and proboscis up close.
What this Butterfly Garden was able to convey through observation and experience was more than I could ever teach with printables and lessons. We are already planning our next cup of caterpillars! The great thing about the kit is the reusable habitat. We already have everything we need for our friends in the spring!
We are not above staying in a motel, and we’ve stayed in a couple of Days Inn locations. Days Inn, Titusville was going to determine if we would ever book with Wyndham again. We ran into a dodgy location this summer in St. Louis and lost a little faith. That being said, Titusville wasn’t bad for a Days Inn, though you may want to skip the free breakfast.
When we arrived, everything was clean and in proper working order, with the exception of a lamp. The rooms were pleasant enough, and the bathrooms were adequate for what we needed. We were supposed to have access to a microwave, but neither room had one. We made due with the gear in the trailer and we were able to feed everyone.
As with most locations, they offer a free continental breakfast. It was just meh. Though to be fair, we came in 10 minutes before breakfast was over. We tried to go to the IHOP that was connected, but there was a long wait despite many empty tables. We learned that John needs to practice his waffle maker skills.
If you are a large family in need of several rooms, on a budget, or passing through, Days Inn, Titusville is a good value. We would definitely stay there again and it has restored our faith in the Wyndham Hotel chain.
We always err on the side of ambitious. Our Florida trip was no different. We planned to visit 2 national and 2 state parks while in Florida for 9 days.
Our trip would take us all over Florida, and with the snowbirds heading south, our route was admittedly not the most efficient. We would go to Canaveral, Everglades, Naples, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Myakka State Park, and finally Siesta Key.
Today, Team Horn took on the Wright-Patterson National Air Force Museum.
This has been on our list for awhile, and coincidentally, today was Homeschool Day. They had demonstrations, scavenger hunts, and plenty of volunteers to help guide us in the right direction.
To begin our day, we headed back to the new exhibits in Hanger 4. This included the replica of the space shuttle. We tried our hand at landing the shuttle in the flight simulator. John even bested the Boy Scouts and successfully landed his shuttle on the first try. While in Hanger 4, we also walked through three versions of Air Force One, and saw a ship that looked like a UFO.
From there, we explored the fighter planes and warheads. We were in awe of how massive the aircraft, missiles, and rockets were. The kids were familiar with stories of the Cold War from the Minute Men Missile Monument in South Dakota. Still, there was an ominous feeling that lingered in the air. It was inspiring and unsettling.
Overall, we had a great day learning and exploring. The kids enjoyed seeing the various aircraft and learning about the Wright brothers.
To see more pictures from our visit, go to our Facebook Page.
Our first big road trip as a family! Our itinerary is ambitious! Here are our planned stops:
- St. Louis, MO
- City Museum
- Lumiere Sculpture Park
- Hays, KS
- Estes, CO
- Day trip to Boulder
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Dinosaur National Monument and Split Mountain
- Moab, UT
- Dead Horse Park
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Yellowstone National Park
- Mt. Rushmore National Monument
- Badlands National Park, SD
- Maybe a stop on the way home.
- Buying a small enclosed trailer for towing our gear. Since the van will be packed full of us, we need to add the additional storage space with a trailer. In my mind, we will tow a 4’X6′ enclosed trailer. This will be plenty of space for our tents, clothes, food, camping supplies and maybe even bikes. The challenge is finding a trailer that is affordable and also practicing towing the trailer behind the van. (anyone looking to sell a used trailer?)
- Meal planning for kids with allergies. We need to figure out a way to make vegan granola bars and trail mix. What can be cooked at a campsite that we won’t get burned out on after being in a tent for over a week? How many hot dogs are just to many hot dogs?
- Water! We need to make sure we bring enough water with us and have the capability of finding and filtering water if needed.
- Kids safety is a major concern. There are the medical issues. Noah’s epilepsy and SEVERE food allergies always seem to be lurking. Eli and Kam constantly deal with Elhers Danlos stuff. But there are other safety concerns also. Philip will be learning to walk while we are journeying through canyons and mountain ranges. Naomi has no fear and loves to climb. Both of them will likely spend a significant amount of time riding in backpacks or slings.
- Lots of supplies. Sunscreen, bug spray, compass, warm weather clothes, cold weather clothes, lots of socks